Yin Yang Acupoint Patting Qigong is both a health method of Qigong and an excellent warm up method especially well-suited to training outdoors in cold weather. The basic method is to pat or lightly slap your body in a pattern that follows the flow of Qi in your meridians where your Qi is circulating. The goal is to pat your meridians in the direction of their normal flow to open them up, and to stimulate your blood to move from the center of your body to your limbs and larger, exterior muscles.
When we sleep or are otherwise inactive, for example sitting for hours while working (or watching videos and eating snacks) our body is not ready for exercise or martial arts training. If the weather is also cold this is even more true. When we are sedentary our blood is deep inside our body and not in our muscles and tendons. Of course, there is some blood in our muscles and tendons while they are in a rest mode, but not that much. While resting our muscles do not need as much blood and our blood stays more in the center of our body. At night this allows our liver to cleanse our blood while the world is quiet.
So, part of the warmup process, any warmup process is moving the blood into the muscles and limbs. This can be done any number of ways from simply doing the activity you are preparing for lightly at first to using a more elaborate series of warming up movements. Once your muscles are full of blood you feel warmer, and your muscles and limbs will feel warmer to the touch. When your muscles are full of blood, they are also larger. “Getting Pumped” is getting warmed up so your muscles look larger and more impressive, and you look more muscular even though you are only “pumped up” not actually more muscular. Classics for guys were doing push ups or pull ups before modeling or acting. By getting properly warmed up you are less likely to injure yourself.
The secret sauce of the Yin Yang Acupoint Slapping method has three flavors. First patting is both a great way to warm up and is a valuable manual therapy from classical Tui Na, the therapeutic massage techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Second, since the Qi leads the Blood, and is regarded as the Commander of the Blood, using our Qi to help move our blood during warm up aligns exercise, martial arts, and medical theory. This method is also a convenient way for normal people to sense the direction of flow of Qi in their meridians. The third flavor is the martial aspect of developing the bodies resiliency to blows and familiarity with contact.
As a warm up, Patting or Slapping, is a vigorous way to get moving. The overall plan is to pat all of your meridians covering the front, back, inside, and outside of both your legs and arms as well as the belly, lower back, and hips three times. It is a bit of patting, you have to keep patting and this alone warms up your arms. As you bend and twist a bit to pat your legs and feet this warms you up too. The actual method of patting in Tui Na is used to dispel the internal effects of being exposed to wind or other harmful vibrations and either invigorate or sedate the flow of Qi I in the meridians. I learned the Yin Yang Acupoint Patting Qigong from Liang Zhen Pu Ba Gua Zhang master Zhang Hua Sen in Beijing. I learned the Tui Na manual therapy method of Patting from Xie Pei Qi. Xie Pei Qi was also an extraordinary Ba Gua Zhang master as well as one of the top four traditional doctors in Beijing. Xie had great diagnostic ability and highly refined Tui Na skills. Xie would sedate certain meridians and invigorate others to deliver the same results as using acupuncture needles. In the Yin Yang Acupoint Patting method we only invigorate the meridians by patting in the direction of flow. As we practice everyone gets a good sense of the direction of flow of their Yin and their Yang Meridians.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Qi is said to lead the Blood – “The Qi is the Commander of the Blood”. This means where the Qi goes the blood follows. You lead your Qi with your mind, your attention, your focus, and your intention or will power. You also lead the Qi with your movement and your state of tension and relaxation. As we pat our body in the directions of the Qi flowing in our meridians, we systematically turn our attention to every part of our body. We lead our Qi from the center of our body and our Tan Tien, or lower belly area, where we store our Qi, to our limbs and to the exterior surfaces of our body. If we are successful we will also fluff up our Wei Qi or Protective Qi. The Wei Qi is the outmost layer of our Qi, just surrounding our skin and protecting us from injury and illness. The stronger the health of your internal organs the stronger your Wei Qi will become. The more you cultivate and store the Qi at the center of your body the stronger your Wei Qi will become. By cultivating your Qi, developing your inner heat, and strengthening your Wei Qi you are much better prepared to be outdoors in cold winter. You are also much less likely to be injured in martial arts training.
Learning all the meridians and acupoints is way beyond what non physicians are interested in. Getting a sense of the flow of Qi in your meridians and their general location and flow is certainly easily achievable. Getting some basic familiarity with the flow of your meridians at an appropriate lay person’s level is incredibly helpful to understand both martial arts and massage therapy.
As we practice Yin Yang Acupoint Patting our body gets used to the patting. At first it seems odd. Pat, Pat, Pat, and more patting. It’s a lot of patting. And some places that get patted might be a little tender. After a short period, your body starts to adjust and become more resilient. It toughens up a little. This is a good thing. Sometimes, life is a little rough and being a little tough gets you through it. As your body gets used to being patted minor bumps or contacts won’t bother you or bruise you. You will start to like patting more vigorously, perhaps sometimes even strongly, and it will feel great. The patting can start to feel very energizing and invigorating. When you finish you feel awake, aware, pumped, and ready. Fully energized we interact with the world for the rest of day in a completely different fashion.