Shaolin Eye Exercise - Part 1

Discussion in 'Articles' started by SifuPhil, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    This introduction to Eye Training Arts or “Ienshu” recognizes the eyes as the foremost and most-used organs of perception and thus, by implication, the most valuable for a martial artist to train. The following 3-part article sets out basic drills and practice routines to help with this.

    The eyes are a vital part of our humanity - “The windows of the soul” says a popular maxim. To be a martial artist and not to train them is folly, because you might encounter someone who has trained them - if so, then watch out! But it would be better still if you had the invisible advantage which eye-training provides. Training Iengong is considered a fundamental basic “Gong” or “Kung” in Shaolin Kung Fu, along with Muyugong (ability to withstand blows), Qigong (energy work) and others.

    “Eye-arts” in Kung Fu help the coordination and accuracy of blows and blocks with hands, feet and weapons. Careful observation before combat may reveal an opponent's preparedness, stamina, fitness, mobility, flexibility, ability and alertness levels, and even which techniques they're likely to use. You can also incorporate Ienshu into your own techniques via feints and stratagems - “Looking High and Kicking Low” for example.

    Connection with TCM

    The ophthalmology of traditional Chinese medicine features a long history evidenced by multiple records, such as the "eye diseases" recorded in oracle-bone inscriptions found in Yin ruins, and records about nebula, optic atrophy, red eye and Tunica albuginea (“white covering”) in Shennong's Classic of Materia Medica, which also mentions as many as 70 herbs for eye diseases. In the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the ophthalmology of TCM achieved great progress, with many accurate records referring to nyctalopia (night blindness) and cataracts, coupled with the application of multiple external treatment methods and surgeries. The earliest records about cataract treatment by "curing cataract with gold needle" were found in Arcane Essentials from the Imperial Library. There also emerged the ophthalmic books such as Longshu's Treatise on Ophthalmology.

    Training


    Shaolin monks trained in several different varieties of eye exercises. Presented here are just a few of them for your consideration.

    1. Knowing Your Environment
    Keeping your head still, look diagonally upwards to your right. From this point, move your gaze slowly left-wards counting all the features on the ceiling, continue down the wall on your left, count all the features on the floor beneath your feet and then do the same to the wall on your right.

    Repeat this drill four times in all, ending your last repetition, as far left as possible (i.e. diagonally upwards on the left) in the opposite position from your departure point. Repeat the drill from this new starting point, in the opposite direction.

    Moving and stopping the eyes, plus the discipline of counting, improves peripheral vision accuracy in particular and the ability to note small changes in local circumstances, which you might otherwise miss. Counting tiles on house-roofs is a related exercise–an earlier (and more difficult) version was to constantly count and re-count chickens (which obviously move around a lot). So in this case you would have to count your chickens AFTER they hatch …


    2. Eyes Closed!
    Close and rotate your eyes 30x clockwise and then repeat the exercise anticlockwise. Tiring at first, this exercise gets easier with practice. As the lids provide slight resistance, this exercises the muscles involved in rotation and cleans the eyes’ surface.


    3. Corners of the Eyes
    Make two fists with thumb knuckles protruding at the top (“Detour Hook-Fist”) and strike the two temples gently, near the eye sockets, 72 times. With both palms massage from the corner of the eyes upwards to the ‘Bahui’ point on the crown of the head eight times, simultaneously.

    The repeated strikes ‘tenderize’ the location (over time) making it more amenable to subsequent massage and stimulate the underlying optic nerve. The palm movements (over time) smooth away wrinkles from the eye sockets, improving peripheral vision from this vital viewpoint.

    Eventually the bottom outside corners of your eyes, begin to turn up. This slightly increases the amount of light they collect, while decreasing the amount of dust/grit they accumulate.

    Shaolin Eight Eye Exercises


    It is believed that if you practice the Shaolin Eight Eye Exercises you can improve your visual acuity sufficiently so that corrective operations may not be needed. These Eye Exercise Techniques have reportedly helped many people with eye problems.

    Not only are the Eye Exercise Techniques highly effective, they are also safe to be practiced on your own without supervision. All the exercises are performed while standing upright in a relaxed manner.


    Technique 1 - Counting Leaves: Stand a comfortable distance from a tree or plant and count its green leaves with your eyes. Start with 50 leaves, then gradually increase the number to 300, increasing a few leaves after a few days.

    Technique 2 - Rolling Stars: With the eyes open, roll both eyeballs in big circles (as big as possible) 10 times one side, and then 10 times the other side.

    Technique 3 - Angry Eyes: Open both eyes as big as possible, then shut them as tightly as possible. Repeat about 10 times.

    Technique 4 - Far and Near: Stare at a distant object, like a cloud or a tree on a faraway mountain, for a few seconds, then stare at a nearby object, like the tip of your nose or some grains of sand on your feet, for a few seconds. Repeat about 10 times.

    Technique 5 - Focusing One: Gently stare at a point about 5 to 10 feet in front of you with steady eyes as long as you can, which may range from a few seconds to a few minutes. At first your eyes will become tired or painful, and tears may roll down. This is part of the training and recovery process. Initially when your staring time is short, you may repeat the exercise a few times, but as your eyesight improves gradually you can stare at the point for many minutes comfortably and steadily.

    Technique 6 - Nourishing Spirit: Gently close your eyes and let your qi nourish your eyes and spirit. At first you may feel your eyes itchy. This is a good sign, indicating that qi is working on your eye problems. As you progress, you will find your eyes restful and your mind fresh.

    Technique 7 - Point Massage: Massage the face with both palms and then using your fingers massage energy points around the eyes, at the base of the nose, at the temples (here, use the base of the palms to massage) and behind the ears. If you do not know where the energy points are, just massage the face and around the eyes, nose and ears.

    Technique 8 – Beating The Heavenly Drum: Close your ears firmly with your palms and strike the back of your head with your fingers 24 times. You should hear inside your head sounds like a resonating drum.


    Practice once every morning. At first, start with Technique 1 and complete with Techniques 7 and 8. After about a week or two of daily practice, add Technique 2, then Technique 3, and so on. Then practice all the Eight Techniques in that order in one session.

    Like all other Qigong exercises, these Shaolin Eight Eye Exercises are not just for those with eye problems. Those with healthy eyes will also gain many benefits from these techniques. As the Chinese say, “Not only their eyesight is good (even at an elderly age), but also their spirit is fresh”. The saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul is seemingly not just poetically but literally true as well.




     
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