Improve health and increase longevity through practicing Pal Gae
By: Colin Orr
(Published in Squirrel Hill magazine)
Traditional martial arts teaches more than just self defense; it is a way to bring the mind and body back into harmony. What is of crucial importance to promoting health, according to traditional Asian medicine, is the free flow of chi or qi along the body’s energy meridians. Accordingly, there are thousands of pressure points that lay along these meridians and people often employ acupressure or acupuncture to stimulate these points to ensure that chi, or vital energy as it is sometimes referred to, moves freely through the body. Another way to promote chi is through practicing traditional martial arts movements which, when paired with correct breathing and hand positions (this is important, as specific hand positions connect to internal organs), stimulate pressure points in the body.
As an example, certain low impact movements and breathing techniques have been shown to lower blood pressure by stimulating the baroreceptor, a pressure sensitive point in the carotid artery that supplies the brain with information to control systemic blood pressure. Recently, a student practicing these types of movements just two-three hours a week over the course of 10 weeks experienced a 15 point drop in her blood pressure as a result.
The martial arts form known as Pal Gae is particularly strong and effective in improving health and increase longevity. Pal Gae was developed over the course of two generations by traditional martial arts masters who wanted to lay the proper foundation of internal development for practitioners to absorb advanced martial arts movement.
Pal Gae develops an internal and external foundation for all other martial arts forms (or sets of movements) and it has been known to improve the practitioner’s flexibility, coordination and strength. Other benefits include: increased bone marrow strength, overall improvement in joint flexibility, overall improvement in joint strength, and oxygenation throughout the entire body.
As individuals practice the form in its entirety, bone strength is developed evenly. With proper positioning of the body during practice, every joint is conditioned and made stronger. The bones of the spine are realigned as a result of practice which allows individuals to sit comfortably in the same position for a very long period of time. This was useful to monks during extended periods of meditation. Many of our students find that Pal Gae counteracts the negative effects created by sedentary office work. It is important to note that individuals of any age can benefit from practicing Pal Gae.
It has been found to be a very strong method of correcting curvatures in the spine. In just the past year, an Oom Yung Doe student in her mid-50s, who had been practicing Pal Gae regularly, went to a routine check-up with her doctor. When the doctor measured her height, he noticed she was an inch-and-a-half taller than at her previous visit. The doctor was astonished to see that she was improving her physical condition at an age when so many people start to lose their posture. The student has also found that after just a relatively short period of practicing Oom Yung Doe, she is comfortable doing things that she has not done in years.
We always remind our students that they only have one mind and body; neglecting them will lead to pain in one form or another. But, by committing yourself to improving both, you can ensure peace and comfort for many years.