In Black Jaguar Baguazhang and White Tiger Qigong in Bali, we work with not only animals for health, protection and healing, but we also work with certain plants, and trees. We work not only with the physical aspect, but also the spirit of that plant for health, meditation, for qigong, self-defense and energy protection, and self-introspection.
The Native American Indians, Taoists, Balinese and many other tribal cultures have forms of animism where they believed everything has a spirit. We work with certain trees for protection, for healing and for other purposes. We believe our weapons possess a spirit and we must work with that spirit. When we learn a weapon we not only practice the physical aspect, but also work with that weapon’s spirit through meditation. This is not a religion; this is simply working with spirit.
“Be like empty on the inside. Be strong as wood, but as flexible as a whip. Listen to my leaves rustle in the wind, I am speaking”
Secret Teachings of the Bamboo
Listen to the wind through a bamboo forest and you will never hear anything like it. It is the sound of the wind blowing through many hollow tubes. I have meditated on bamboo straight for long periods of time. There are indigenous cultures that practice plant communication. I have studied various degrees of it including for healing purposes, calling plants into dreams. They believe that plants can become like friends, and even more than friends. They can offer protection in time of danger, healing in time of sickness, relief in times of grief, relaxation in times of stress. have long felt a strong connection to bamboo for as long as I can remember. Wild cats like to camouflage themselves inside it’s thick forest. Pandas eat it like candy. I have traveled to the largest bamboo forest in the world, which lies in Anji, Zhejiang Province. The feeling of that forest was unlike any other experience I had before. It was extremely quiet and calm, but I could feel a strong energy to it as well that filled my body. The colors were purple, green and even some yellows. These colors of primarily green and purple are good for instilling a calm feeling as well as good for the liver.
Qigong Uses of Bamboo
Martial arts masters use it for training Qigong as they can use it to increase Qi feelings. Some martial arts masters do this by doing their pushing and pulling movements with the bamboo as it has a certain elasticity about it. This elasticity creates a soft tension that allows you to feel the natural energy of the movement more easily.
In Baguazhang, we walk the circle for a variety of applications. When doing Qigong circle walking we are absorbing energy from nature and the universe. Not only that, we typically walk around a tree or a plant with a trunk that grows straight up. Bamboo is a great tool for this as it is almost perfectly straight. In addition, it has rings that grow around it so that while circle walking you can stare at the ring as you walk the circle for great concentration on a single point.
Using Bamboo for Health and Massage
Focusing on green bamboo is good for the liver as the color green is associated with the liver in Chinese medicine. You can use it for a variety of self-massages or massages for others that we teach here in our Qigong and martial arts school in Bali. There are rolling massages, where you roll the bamboo back and forth across the muscles of your legs, back, arms and more.
The Japanese have discovered it’s benefits in absorbing radiation and or keeping radiation away. They use charcoal bamboo for this purpose. They also use it as water filter and put it in their rice cooker to absorb toxins.
Martial Uses of Bamboo
Bamboo has also been used as a weapon. It can be made to use as a variety of weapons. The most basic is a staff. It has a lethal blow as it has a whip like quality, but the outside is so hard and can feel like iron striking you, making it a favorite staff. In addition it is so light it can be used for a quick striking style. Training with the bamboo staff has health benefits as well as it can teach you how to use your body like a whip in connection with an outside object. In order to execute a good whipping strike with the bamboo staff you must first have a good whipping body.
It has also been used as a spear where they cut the end in a way that it has a dagger like quality. If you cut it shorter it can be used as a bamboo dagger.
Others have used it as a blowgun.
The simple fact is, it is an extremely versatile weapon in martial arts. Bamboo is also great to use for target practice as it springs back at you and if you use one that is not too thick it will not hurt you when you strike it.
Sit quietly and comfortably with your back straight, mouth closed and relaxed, natural breathing with a bamboo tree directly in front of you. Stare gently at a bamboo tree. Let your thoughts go. Anything that comes into your mind, acknowledge it and let it go. If you feel inclined ask the bamboo tree questions. Don’t expect an English answer or words, let whatever messages come to you, come naturally without force. The bamboo reveals its secrets by being. By simply observing the bamboo in a meditative state you will learn a lot about it and how it can apply to any aspect of your life.
Martial Arts and Qigong in Bali, Indonesia