How to use Dao Yin as a martial arts warm up
Dao Yin or Tao Yin is the original name for Qi Gong (also refered to as Chi or Ki Gong) which is an ancient Chinese martial art. It shares many similarities to the training involved in Qi Kung, and Tai Chi. I was taught a Dao Yin warm up by a Fifth Dan mixed martial artist who had traveled extensively. His version of Dao Yin is a method of striking your own pressure points to produce beneficial results. He placed great importance upon Dao Yin and encouraged us to do it at least once a day. It is best performed after a brisk warm up, he used this as his primary form of pre-training exercise.
Dao Yin is based on the principle of Chi. Many martial arts use the concept of Chi as a way of explaining the energy flow around the body. Through Dao Yin the Chi pathways (or meridian lines) are opened allowing for the expedient application of power. Dao Yin is different from Chi Kung training in that it does not use hard strikes to activate the nerve points. Chi Kung is designed to toughen the body against blows, Dao Yin is used to give you inner strength.
Skeptics amongst you will be pleased to know that there are physical causes for the pleasant feelings that come from Dao Yin. By tapping the muscles you encourage blood flow to them, this can make you stronger for a short period of time. By striking the nerve points you force the nervous system to become alert and responsive improving your reaction times and speed. It is possible to test these assertions in the dojo before and after doing Dao Yin.
Dao Yin is an excellent way to introduce martial artists to the primary set of strikeable pressure points. Primary pressure points are areas of the body that are particularly vulnerable to pain. All of the points I am going to show you are capable of causing pain if struck hard. They are applicable to any martial art. For this reason Dao Yin should always be done gently.
What follows is an in-depth guide to Dao Yin as I have been taught it. The problem with an in-depth guide is that it will seem overly complicated. It is my genuine intention to encourage everyone to do Dao Yin. With this in mind I would like you to be clumsy on your first attempt. Remember that half of the benefits of Dao Yin come from hitting the muscles and not finding the precise pressure points or using the correct hand techniques. Please try to follow along as you read.
It is important to remain relaxed throughout and not to tense the muscles or joints.
The methods of striking; a glossary.
Leopard's paw: Half clenched fist, the palm should be exposed with all the fingers pointing in. The hand should be square.
Blade hand: Karate chop, all fingers pointing straight out.
Fist: Clenched hand, used in Daoing for thumping not punching.
Heal palm: For pushing with more force, like the hand action used in CPR
Order of application:
Dao Yin on the Arms
Hold your left arm out straight with the finger and palm facing upwards. Using the leopard's paw strike down softly onto the wrist with your curved fingers, just like you are knocking on a door. To find the correct point push your thumb down the arm between your ulna and radius (the forearm bones) until you feel some nerve pressure. The strike should make your relaxed hand reflexively jump upwards.
Continue up to the center of the forearm. Strike again in the same way. The pressure point is situated a little bit closer to the elbow joint than the wrist. If you're not getting it try turning the striking hand so the knuckles are hitting along the arm rather than across it.
The next strike is to the biceps. The pressure point is easy to find. Almost any strike will activate it.
The next two strikes are around the shoulder joint and are found in the places with the least muscle. The first intersects the pectoral muscles and the upper arm. It is similar to the hand position used in the American pledge of allegiance except two inches higher and two inches further over.
Next we hit the opposite side of the shoulder joint. This requires an adaptation of the leopard's paw. Before we have been hitting with the second set of knuckles now we will hit with the third (the ones closest to the finger tips) After the strike the palm should be resting on the shoulder and the knuckles should be in a natural space between your back and your shoulder joint.
Going back along the arm we will now hit the triceps. Keeping the left arm straight-out as before we now approach with the striking arm from below. Using the blade hand and hitting with the side of the index finger make an upwards jab to the center of the triceps. This should land approximately where a T-shirt sleeve stops.
Move down to just under the elbow. Strike above the elbow but do not strike the elbow joint itself. This is the funny bone so take it easy! It is dangerous to hit the elbow joint directly so as I said before these techniques should be done gently.
We now turn the left arm over for the first time. Coming back round to the top of the forearm and adopting the leopard's paw again we hit just a few inches away from the elbow. You may also use the blade hand. This is good to find out where to hit because you can rub the karate chop across the muscle to help the nerve into revealing its position.
The last strike on the arm can hurt. Be careful some don't teach this. Strike along the metacarpals. (the parts of the fingers that are still in the hand) Do this by bringing the hands together in the center of you're body both hands facing down with the bottom hand loose with the fingers extended and the top hand in leopard's paw. Line it up so first knuckles nearest the finger tips are above a corresponding finger and strike.
Begin again on the other arm. After you have done that repeat the process another two times. You can see how the movement fluidly continues onto the opposite wrist. Each strike should take less than a second to do. Do not worry if you cannot find the places just carry on. It takes a few attempts to find all of them. Hopefully you will have done the actions to your left arm while you were reading and will be feeling the effects. To me it feels like I have done maybe 50 pushups only without the tiredness; strange isn't it?
Dao Yin on the Chest
This is lots easier than the arms!
Starting at the top of your chest on your left hand side strike the gap between your collar bone and your pectorals with the leopard's paw.
(Some people will also do strikes into the arm pit with the thumb knuckle at this point but it is quite dangerous. I do it and if you are careful you can too. Hitting the nerve there can make the whole left side of your body go numb and cause you to collapse.)
Next move your left arm out of the way and strike the side of your pectorals with leopard's paw (with the third set of knuckles).
The next strikes are to the ribs. Genuine training of the ribs and their pressure points involves bamboo sticks and lots of pain. This is more of a symbolic gesture. Breathe in and descend the outside of the ribs with a number of taps. I can usually hit them all with three taps. Stop before the floating ribs. Move back towards the center of your chest.
The solar plexus is one of the weakest parts of the human body. It is located above the stomach muscles (the 'six pack' for you super-fit everythingians) and below the center of the rib cage. If you have ever seen a boxer knocked out from a body shot this is normally the cause. We are now going to utilize the heal palm technique for the first time. Place the wrist of your right hand onto the top of your stomach muscles with the fingers pointing directly left, as though you are about to bow. Push down with the heal of your wrist. This will produce slightly asymmetrical pressure but it will be reversed when you go around again on your right side. you can also push up into the ribcage as you become more advanced but again be careful. Now beat your chest back up to the starting position with a series of leopards' paws. Women can skip this one as breasts tend to get in the way. It's OK to do the chest exercises only once.
Dao Yin on the Stomach.
Begin by half breathing out. You must then 'breath back in again' but without taking in any air. I know this is a contradiction but it is possible. It pulls your gut into your body and forces the muscles to relax. Imagine you are a fat guy who is about to sleep with a girl who is far too good looking for you; suck it up!
Beginning on the RIGHT hand side place your right hand on the top right of your stomach. Put your left hand on top of this on so that both set of finger tips are touching the opposite wrist. Use a rocking motion moving from right to left across the top of your stomach using the heal palm of your right hand and left hand alternatingly. This should happen once (i.e. right left. move. right left.)
Now from the left hand side. Starting a hands width lower down do the same again but in reverse (i.e. left right. move. left right). Finally move over the bladder from the right hand side to the left hand side in the same way. Basically you are moving the 'solids' along the digestive track in a caterpillar action. This is why it is important to start from the right hand side. Obviously your innards are far more complicated than this but these methods were invented a long time ago. (However I have used this method to win drinking competitions because it shoves beer through the system faster.) It is OK to do the stomach exercises only once.
Dao Yin on the Legs
Putting 90% of your weight on your right leg hold your left leg out in front of you, toes touching the floor, or for the balance impaired you can sit on a chair.
Using fists pummel in short jabs down both sides of the front thigh. The outer thigh pressure points should be familiar to bullies around the world as the place to aim for a dead leg. The inner thigh should be familiar to martial artists as the femoral artery, which is far more painful than a dead leg and starts from the crotch.
When you get to the knee use both hands and drag your leopard's paws down to your ankles. You should be digging in behind the bone a little bit. If you do this enough (again the bamboo and pain) you wont cry when someone kicks you in the shin. Repeat this as much as you like.
Making sure the toes are pointed, it is possible to activate the pressure points on the back of the leg. The rear of the shin should be gently heal palmed into the bone with both hands. Move up towards the knee using this movement. It is important that no part of you foot is touching the ground (or chair) when you do this so you stay relaxed. You can also hit into the back of the muscle directly with a blade hand if you need more pressure.
Using the blade hand strike up into the muscle moving towards your back side . You are now using the thumb side to dig into the muscle. Aim directly for the bone. you can be quite rough with this one.
Repeat this method on the right leg. Then go over the whole process another two times. Now is a good time to warm up your feet with some rubbing of the toes and rotation of the ankles.
Dao Yin on the Back
This is so good for back pain. Basically you are about to learn how to massage your own back. Put the thumb side of both fists in the small of your back an stand upright. Whilst leaning forward, hit into the muscles that run either side of your spine (this will make a popping sound from your hands). You should make it to the shoulder blades. Turn your fists so that the forefinger is touching the same muscles and now with some pressure run your fists back to the start whilst standing upright.
Repeat two more times but try to go further up and down the back.
Dao Yin on the Head and Neck
The head and neck are obviously full of dangerous and painful parts. They are also full of pleasurable areas. You will be glad to know that we shall be focusing on the latter.
Start with the leopard's paw from the back of your neck and tapping with both hands bring them up the back of the spine towards the top of the head. Continue over the center of the head to the brow and tap around to the side of the head. Avoid the temples. Striking the temples directly hurts but it is possible to activate the pressure points with a circular motion with the fingers. Go over the top of the temples and behind the ears.
There is a pressure point here that can knock you out but don't worry you'll have to be tapping damn hard! Experimenting with this method can lead to a great head massage. Repeat the motion three times.
You have now finished your first Dao Yin session!
This has been a rough guide to Dao Yin exercise.
Once you start to do it you will find new areas that can be struck such as the feet, front of the neck and face. You might also adapt the method to suit your own personal physiology.
The most important ones for every day use are the arms. If you understand how to Dao Yin the arms then the rest will follow. Ideally you are looking for a Kata-like fluidity of motion from one part of your body to the next. The arms link together at the hand and move on to the chest and stomach which moves to the legs and back up to the back until you are standing upright again and can finish on the neck and head. Just remember that it's good to hit yourself!
Thanks to ascorbic for hand anatomy lessons.