Liu Wai Sang


Wholistic Boxing Way: Quan Quan Dao

A harmonic fusion of the external and the internal school of Chinese martial arts.

Of the over 300 different styles of Chinese martial arts schools, some are generally regarded as external school of Chinese martial arts, and the rest as internal school, mostly based on their methods of training. External school of Chinese martial arts seems to work more on the outer part of the body and often practises its routines in a faster, harder and stronger manner while internal school seems to work more on the inner part of the body and often practises its routines in a slower, softer and gentler manner.

Traditionally, many enthusiastic Chinese martial artists had and still have managed to practise very well both schools, but few had or have managed to integrate both into one integrated wholesome school. Hence, the development of Quan Quan Dao - Wholistic Boxing Way - may be considered a bold attempt at achieving such an integration. In fact, this development is just to provide a humble suggestive system of martial arts, and to try and inspire others to develop more similar or better systems.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the main purpose of the development of Quan Quan Dao is to use the practice of this new system of integrated martial arts to improve the skills of keeping fit first, and of combat second; as an effective means of self-defense against ill health first, and against hostile opponents second. As everybody should know, ill health is a common enemy for everybody. In this respect, in order to reap the optimal benefits from each part of the exercise, the practice methods concerning the harder or softer part of this system should be based on the comfort zone of the participant, but not upon the capacity of physical and mental exertion. This means that each participant should try and seek the most flexible and specific individual guidance available in order to follow this system.

There exist two famous and wise old Chinese sayings regarding the practice of Chinese martial arts which can also be conveniently employed as basic guiding advice to the development of Wholistic Boxing Way – Quan Quan Dao.

Here is the first old saying: "Nei Lian Yi Kou Qi, Wai Lian Jin Gu Pi" - "Internally exercise one mouthful of Qi – breath -, externally exercise tendons, bones and skin". This saying provides valuable guidance to every traditional school of Chinese martial arts, whether external or internal. In itself it has already been hinting at a more integrated and wholesome practising approach. It is only a matter of properly and seriously following deeper into this saying.

On top, the above saying further hints that although external school of Chinese martial arts may stress the importance of strengthening the outer body, tendons, bones and skin during exercise, such strengthening practice cannot really succeed without the proper coupling of breath strengthening, considered to be an internal exercise. Internal school of Chinese martial arts, on the other hand, may emphasise the importance of vitalising the internal body, the viscera, through gentle and calm breathing. Such a manner of breathing cannot be easily attained without the closer participation of the active relaxing exercise of the outer body, tendons, bones and skin, an external exercise, at the same time.

Many innovative means of modernising the traditional Chinese martial arts are possible. The injunctions of an updated approach and incorporation of knowledge on the myo-fascial system, can be used as a contemporary approach to applying this old saying. This is because the muscular system is responsible for the mobility of the whole body and the fascial system for the connections of every part of the body into a whole fascial web. With proper coordinations of the muscles for locomotion and breathing at the same time, it is possible to really integrate the practice of external and internal Chinese martial arts into a wholesome system.

The second old saying goes like this: "Lian Quan Bu Lian Gong, Dao Lao Yi Chang Kong" - "Practising boxing without practising effectively and efficiently the most basic work of each routine, even with devotion up till an old age, all the efforts will eventually become futile". Many martial artists devote their practice more to further perfecting it without spending too much time on the routines of forms, without spending too much time on the basic building up of Gong: the effectiveness and efficiency of each movement. Gong is not a simple Chinese character that can be easily explained. Actually, Gong itself is made up of two separate Chinese characters. The left side of the character means 'work'. The right side of the character means 'strength'. Put together it implies that the work is regular, effective, efficient, skilful and purposeful. Practising Gong may at times seem boring but it is necessary to keep the body fit, as many parts of the body renew regularly. Every renewal of the body parts can be reinforced, will function better and will last longer with the help of Gong exercise. In this case, Gong itself and foremost, can be treated as a vital physio-anatomical exercise instead.

Wholistic Boxing Way – Quan Quan Dao – prioritises improving health. Therefore, the practice of Qi and Gong also become more of a priority. There are so many Qi Gong routines that can accompany this new system of Chinese martial arts, including Dan Tian Gong, Primary and Secondary Breathing Qi Gong, Musical Qi Gong, Fan She Gong, Qi Qiu Gong, and more. Any of these can further facilitate the advancement of progressive combat skills.

Besides the above two old Chinese sayings, the Daoist principle of Yin Yang interactions and harmony can also be naturally put into progressive stages of integrating the external and internal schools of Chinese martial arts. To follow Dao is to follow the best Yin Yang interactions and harmony. This implies to follow closely the best cyclical flow of the energy of nature: the harmonising flow of five elemental Yin Yang interactions.

According to the Dao, every being is made of and controlled by two opposite but interdependent forces or aspects, called Yin and Yang. This applies to entities as big as the cosmos or as small as a human being, and even smaller still as a human cell. As long as the Yin Yang force or aspects within each entity are in a good homeostatic state, that entity will last.

To improve the well-beings of the mind and the body is to improve the homeostasis of the mind and the body. Such improvement can be easily guided by following the principle of the five cyclic elements. This means to follow the best that the five cyclic elements in nature can offer. The cyclic interactions of Yin and Yang Qi – Energy - in nature provide the seasonal change which can affect the wellbeing of all living beings. Yang in Yin, the element of wood arises, and spring comes. When the Yang is in Yang, the element of fire arises, summer comes. When there is a balance of Yin and Yang, the element of earth arises, late summer comes. When Yin is in Yang, the element of metal arises, autumn comes. When Yin is in Yin, the element of water arises, winter comes.

Since Yin usually refers to being soft, slow, and gentle and to the internal part of the body, Yang usually refers to being hard, fast, and strong and to the exterior part of the body. This provides some hints as to the practice of Wholistic Boxing Way - Quan Quan Dao - in five different Yin Yang passages. The first passage, of Yang in Yin, is to practise the outer body in a relatively more soft, slow and gentle way while practising the inner body in a more hard, fast and strong manner. The second passage, of Yang in Yang, is to practise both the outer and inner body in a relatively hard, fast and strong way. The third passage, of balance of Yin and Yang, is to practise the whole body relatively in between hard, fast, and strong, and soft, slow and gentle. The fourth passage, of Yin in Yang, is to practise the outer body in a relatively harder, stronger, and faster way while practising the inner body in a more soft, slow and gentle manner. The fifth passage, of Yin in Yin, is to practise both the outer and the inner body in a relatively soft, slow and gentle way.

Ultimately, using Dao as a life philosophy, means using it as lively as possible to transform and transmutate daily circumstances that can cause adverse effects into more favourable ones instead. This also applies to daily stressful situations, both internal and external. Therefore, the practice of the above five Yin Yang passages is very important so as to constitute a durable basic readiness for a living Daoist philosophy. Furthermore, the practice of Wholistic Boxing Way – Quan Quan Dao - should include more, especially old, wise and famous sayings like the above two.