By Senior Instructor Bill Ryan
Within the Energy Arts world, there is a lot going on with Dragon & Tiger Qigong (Chi Gung) these days.
Three of the exercises from the system are featured in Bruce’s new book, The Chi Revolution. Bruce’s next book, Dragon & Tiger Medical Qigong instruction manual, is at the printer. And perhaps most importantly, in March Bruce will offer the first instructor training he has ever held in Europe and the subject will be Dragon & Tiger Qigong.
My Introduction to Dragon and Tiger Qigong
I first heard of Dragon & Tiger Qigong twenty years ago in a swimming pool in Cozumel, Mexico.
Bruce Frantzis had just done a demonstration at a tai chi competition in Houston. I met him there, and we came to Cozumel for a few days. Our goal was to spend a few days “away from it all” to discuss plans for his future writing and teaching.
Tired of sitting in his hotel room, we took to the pool to talk. As we discussed ideas, I asked him, “Isn’t there some chi gung set that you know that is easier to learn than Opening the Energy Gates Qigong?”
Bruce said, “Well, there is a system called Dragon & Tiger Qigong that I’d be willing to teach. I know a lot of even simpler sets, but I won’t teach any of them. I’m only interested in teaching sets that are powerful enough to deeply benefit the people who learn them.”
“Dragon & Tiger Qigong isn’t as powerful as Energy Gates Qigong,” Bruce said. “But it’s an excellent system.”
A few months later, I got my first taste of Dragon & Tiger Qigong at a weekend workshop that I organized for Bruce in Boston. It was the first time Bruce taught Dragon & Tiger Qigong in the U.S. or Europe.
There I first began to understand the importance of Dragon & Tiger Qigong within the Energy Arts system of practices. And for the next twenty years, as Bruce has fully integrated Dragon & Tiger Qigong into what is now his seven-part core chi gung program, my appreciation of that importance has been growing. It is important to me both as a practitioner of Bruce’s Energy Arts and as an Energy Arts Instructor.
Dragon and Tiger Qigong – A Unique Energy Tool
\I like to think about the Energy Arts practices that Bruce teaches as tools that promote personal health and transformation.
When you work with hand or power tools, each tool has one or a few things that it does especially well, either for everyone or for you in particular.
The same is true for Bruce’s Energy Arts. The Wu Style Tai Chi Short Form especially helps me relax my nerves. The Ba Gua Single Palm Change centers me and gives me more yang chi to make me energetically stronger. Gods Playing in the Clouds Qigong never fails to help calm and balance my system at all levels. I use all of the other arts in the system in particular ways for particular effects.
For me Dragon & Tiger Qigong is a particularly unique tool within Bruce’s system. All of the other tools rely in large part for their success on how well you use your mind to feel and move the chi in your body. They all require that you be relatively present with what you are doing and apply that presence of mind quite subtly, both in the way that you move your physical body and the way you move your energy.
In contrast, Dragon & Tiger Qigong in large part relies on how well you move your hands in the energy field around your body across particular energy pathways on your body. What you do with your mind – including how present you are – doesn’t make that much difference. If you move your hands consistently across the right pathways on your body, you’ll get results.
If you are a beginner practitioner, this is very important. All of the other practices Bruce teaches require that you settle and apply your mind in very subtle ways. Dragon & Tiger Qigong doesn’t. You can mentally space out and Dragon & Tiger Qigong will still work for you. Thus you can get tangible results more quickly and easily.
All you have to do is learn the physical aspects of the seven movements to get energetic benefits. Just do the physical movements and the movements will do the basic energy work for you. As you are able to become more present, you can then learn the more subtle energy work of the system.
This quality alone makes Dragon & Tiger a great place to start learning about chi.
If you are an experienced practitioner, Dragon & Tiger Qigong’s reliance on the hands and not the mind to move chi can also become a great advantage. I learned this very quickly and forcefully during and just after that first workshop I took with Bruce. At that time I had been studying with Bruce and practicing fairly seriously for seven or eight years. During that time I had released a lot of places in my body where energy was blocked. But there were also a lot of blocked places in my body that I still wasn’t able to feel with my mind.
When I learned the Dragon & Tiger Qigong tool my inability to feel didn’t limit me. When I moved my hands through my energy field over my body, my hands swept energy through many of these long-held blocks. The results were quick and powerful. With each practice more and more energy began to move through my system, not only at the chi level, but also at the emotional level. I felt like I made more progress in a couple of weeks than I had in the previous year. In fact, the reactions were so strong, that I had to cut back all of my practices significantly for a while so that I could again find and stay within my 70 percent comfort zone.
You may not have the same experience as I did with Dragon & Tiger Qigong. But as a tool it can help you in a different way than Bruce’s other arts. If you learn it, my guess is that you’ll find particular and special uses for it within your own practice.
Dragon and Tiger Qigong for Instructors
For thirteen years from 1992 to 2005 I directed and taught full-time at Brookline Tai Chi in the Boston area. During that time, the other instructors and I taught thousands of students energy arts ranging from the Wu Style Tai Chi Short Form to Opening the Energy Gates Qigong to Ba Gua to Dragon & Tiger Qigong.
From this experience I concluded that if there is one of Bruce’s energy arts that Energy Arts instructors can teach to millions of people and help offset the effects of the coming health crisis that Bruce has predicted for years, Dragon & Tiger Qigong will be the one.
The reason? While the other arts all are more powerful for promoting health once learned, for the average person they take too much time and dedication to learn to a high enough level that the benefits start to accumulate.
In contrast, an average person can learn all of the seven movements of Dragon & Tiger Qigong in just ten to fifteen hours of instruction. They may not learn it very well, but that brings up another great advantage of Dragon & Tiger Qigong. You don’t have to do it well to benefit. In fact, my and other’s experience is that you can do it poorly and still gain benefits.
In addition, the seven movements of Dragon & Tiger Qigong can be taught in many ways. You don’t have to start with the first move and end with the last. Someone could learn a version the seventh move first and the first move last. This would not be ideal, but it is possible. Therefore you can adapt Dragon & Tiger Qigong to many teaching situations, whether weekend workshops or drop-in classes at a health club or seniors center.
Also, I believe that Dragon & Tiger Qigong delivers the most bang for the buck in terms of helping to improve people’s health quickly. I’ve had students who’ve used Dragon & Tiger Qigong to gain relief from conditions as varied as cancer, repetitive stress injuries, insomnia, and arthritis. Read about some of my students’ experiences.
This is not to say that Dragon & Tiger Qigong is really easy to get people to learn. In fact, these days tai chi is much easier to market to people in part because it has become well-known and is attractive to watch.
Dragon & Tiger Qigong doesn’t have these advantages. Qigong is not well-known, and many people think Dragon & Tiger’s movements look funny. Yet chi gung is growing in popularity, and as people grow used to seeing similar movements, Dragon & Tiger will become more attractive.
Perhaps the most important advantage that will make Dragon & Tiger Qigong easier to market to many people is that you can encourage people to laugh and play while learning and practicing. One can’t really laugh when you are doing tai chi or Energy Gates Qigong and stay within the practice as it is designed to be done. Dragon & Tiger Qigong will work even better for you if you do.