Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 236
Lao Kung Point
I want to share with you something I was playing with during this morning’s practice session. It is in regard to an energy center called the Lao Kung point. It reaches the surface of the body in the center of the palm. It is one of the most familiar energy points, as we use his constantly in our day to day activities. We use it to accept things given to us by others, or give from us to others. Hold something, pet your dog, shake hands, push away or pull to yourself. All involve the Lao Kung.
Where is it?
One way to find the Lao Kung is to make a firm fist. Where the middle finger touches the palm, that is it or very close. Another way is to hold an open hand (both have Lao Kung points), say your right, up at around chest level, palm upward, hand relaxed. Gaze at the palm. Gazing is the yin stage of seeing. Information comes in while you are in a passive state. Notice a depression in the center of the palm. Keep the fingers straight but not stiff. Now gently start to fold the palm inward, thumb and fingers move softy towards each other. Notice how the center of the palm retreats, the Lao Kung point becomes more concave.
If you do the opposite move, extend the fingers back, the center of the palm expands up. Look actively at the Lao Kung. This is the yang phase of directing energy. You can play with this by expanding the fingers back and then relaxing the fingers by softly folding. Gaze/Look. Gaze/Look. You can make the point act like a trampoline – up and down. If you remember a couple of weeks ago in the Tips, I talked about the Steller Jays and how Master Yang could keep the bird from taking off from standing on his palm. This is how he did it. As the bird pressed down to push off, he yielded the Lao Kung point.
In Tai Chi, we have three levels through which energy expresses itself – earth (yin), heavens (yang), and the human (neutral – can go either way). The Lao Kung point is the opening for the human level (the Yung Chuan on the bottom of the foot relates to the earth, while the Dei Wui on the top of the head relates to the Spiritual or Cosmic energy). As I stated in one of my recent Tips, people who are energy aware, do not shake hands, preferring to keep the Lao Kung point private. There are also prohibitions against patting a child on the top of the head, or sitting so the bottoms of the feet point to someone else.
One of the strongest and easiest Tai Chi meditations is to focus on the opening and closing, expanding and contracting, gather and release of the Lao Kung point while doing the form. Let’s look at one example, after we do a breathing meditation for working with the Lao Kung point.
Breathing Meditation for Lao Kung Activation – One arm to start
Standing or sitting comfortably, imagine you have a rubber blub in your TanTien (lower belly). In a previous Tip, I talked about the image of a turkey baster (appropriate for this time of year). Attached to it is a tube that runs up your torso, down the arm and ends at your Lao Kung point. If you are sitting, gaze softy at your palm. If standing, hand can be at your side, elbow bent, palm upward. Start with an exhale to clear the blub and tube. The belly squeezes (contracts) and the Lao Kung point opens (expands) as the palm opens (convex). Image that you are emptying (squirting) the liquid in the bulb out the Lao Kung point. Then as you inhale, you relax and allow the blub to expand (belly expands), sucking in energy through the Lao Kung Point. The palm contracts (concave).
Take your time and really understand the image, the how and why. Once you get the idea, play with this exercise for a while until it gets to be natural. Then do the other hand, and then two hands together. Once you feel how this works, try one movement of your form and see if you can apply this breathing/meditate practice. Here is one example – Left Brush Knee.
Left Brush Knee
The left brush knee sequence is generally thought of being comprised of several parts – join, lead, control, return the energy. Face your partner, both of you are in Wu Ji stance or just standing. Partner steps in with his left foot and punches with his right fist towards your upper body.
First is the outreach where our left hand joins with the partner’s right hand punch to our face or upper chest. We outreach and join with our left Lao Kung point on partner’s right wrist. Our Lao Kung point is about 10 to 20% active at this point. Soft, yet connected to the center of our body. Too hard and we might knock his arm away, which might free him up to come back at you from someplace else. We stick to his wrist and follow his energy, leading it slightly to our right.
When his energy is exhausted, passing to our right, our left hand wraps around his wrist and applies a downward pressure with our left wrist. The left Lao Kung continues to fill.
The right hand has meanwhile come up to the right side of the front of the chest. The hand is rather empty, Lao Kung about 10 – 20%. We step to the left side of partner, and strike him with our right open palm. As the hand strikes forward toward the partner, the Lao Kung fills, the fingers expand up and slightly back, until the point has 100% filled at the moment of contact, not before. The energy that has been gathered in our lower belly, squirts out at the moment of contact. The most common error of this application is to have the Lao Kung filled from the very start and push it toward partner. Remember, this is more like a gun shot than a steam roller.
I hope you will contemplate what I have suggested. It will bring depth and understanding to your practice. Good luck.