What is Liu He Ba Fa – Water Boxing?

Hua Shan

Almost 1200 year’s ago on Hua Shan, a mountain known for its Taoist monasteries lived Taoist sage Chen Tuan, the 5 patriarch of the Hua Shan sect. His council was sought by emperors and he was known for his exercises to cultivate health and longevity and also for his dream yoga.

One of his exercise systems was Liu He Ba Fa, the six harmonies and eight methods of mind and intention. The six harmonies map out a clear route from the physical into higher states of conciousness. The Hua Shan sect has its roots in the northern school of Taoism known for its dual cultivation of mind and body so this form is not only Taoist in origin but an integral part of Taoist practice.

Liu He Ba Fa is an advanced health system and internal alchemy practice as well as being a highly effective and revered martial art. Its core training focuses on Daoyin and Qigong methods comprising of unique breathing and meditation techniques. There is a 66 posture form practised adopting the intention of 12 different animals, which has more than 800 movements and over 2500 practical applications making it the most complex of all internal martial systems.

The Liu He Ba Fa form flows and is beautiful to watch. Also known as Water Boxing or Water Style the depth of the movements reflect the practitioners ability to let go and be like water. Speed, height and timing of the moves vary from slow to fast, high to low and gentle to crashing as the analogy to water is explored. Water is often used as a symbol of the Tao so the arts ideal to become like water reflects the goal of practice to merge with the source, the Tao.

Until recently Liu He Ba Fa was passed on in closed circles from Master to student. Considered by some to be the cream of Chinese internal martial arts systems Liu He Ba fa is little known even today. In the late 1920’s Grandmaster Wu Yijin began to teach the system more openly. It is because of him and his students that the art and benefits have begun to spread around the globe.

I have recently has the good fortune to bump into Jennifer Lee, a 6th Generation Liu He Ba Fa Master Living in Germany. Jennifer will be coming to  London a few times this year as part of her commitment to sharing this wonderful art. You can find more information about Liu He Ba Fa and Master Lee here – Liu He Ba Fa Water Style in London