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only two other Chinese internal martial arts: Baquaquan and Xingyiquan. The Japanese art of Aikido is considered an internal art. Internal martial arts focus on the generation and controlled circulation of Qi. They focus on the internal bodily functions (such as the internal organs) and energetic interpenetration of the body as an integrated whole. Internal martial arts are closely related to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. In internal martial arts, it is critical and there is an emphasis to relax both body and mind. The mind is intensely involved in all aspects including meditation. The objective of internal martial arts is to strengthen the whole body from within, bestowing better health and more effective martial arts techniques. This means better martial techniques such as more powerful strikes, more capacity to withstand strikes, and more rapid reflexes and movements. Better health means a better ability to maintain the skills and the execution of same even at “senior” ages, such as the 70s, 80s and beyond. There are many benefits of qigong for fitness and health such as the following: loosening of muscles, organ strengthening, heart and cardio-vascular functioning, nervous system strengthening, and it can be done by then seriously ill or handicapped. It also helps prevent soft tissue damage and strengthens

joints, ligaments and tendons, stabilizes and helps emotional health, builds athletic prowess, eases stress, and benefits the sedentary worker. Energetic work through qigong and internal arts can also expand spiritual awareness and self- mastery. While most qigong and internal arts exercises have been presented as active, there are standing practices which are also highly effective, such as the horse stance or standing exercise like holding the ball of energy for extended periods. Many qi Masters are long-lived, extremely psychic and highly spiritual. Breathing exercises are also very important in calming the mind and helping reach a calm spiritual state of mind. This reduces stress and is cumulative. The more often it is done, the more beneficial it is. Less stress can not only improve the emotional state of the internal arts practitioner but strengthens and permanently uplifts the individual. How does this all affect “fitness”? Fitness can be described as existing on more than one level – it is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The above illustrates the effectiveness of these internal energetic modalities on all levels. Thus it can be seen, that energy disciplines can in effect “fill” one with energy and contribute to a more complete and healthy, less stressed and spiritual life for those who indulge in those practices.

REV.CHARLES ZINNER, M.S. holds a Master’s Degree in Education and is a spiritual teacher, healer and Reiki Master. He has developed and taught courses in Tarot, numerology, consciousness studies and the teachings of the modern ascended masters. Charles was tenured faculty member of the University Of Florida. Charles and Marcella are co-founders of Pathways to Awakening Center For Intuitive and Spiritual Studies. 727-785-8780, mzinner@tampabay.

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