Kung Fu Eye-Training

This introduction to Eye Training Arts or ‘Ienshu’ recognises the eyes as the foremost and most used organs of perception and thus, by implication, the most valuable for a Martial Artist to train. The following article sets out three basic drills and practice routines to help with this.

The eyes are a vital feature of human beingness ‘ The… windows of the soul,’ says a popular maxim. To be a martial artist and not to train them is folly! Why? Because you might encounter someone who has-if so then watch out! But it would be better still if you had the invisible advantage which eye-training provides. Training in this area (Iengong) is considered a fundamental basic ‘Gong’ or ‘Kung’ in Shaolin Kung Fu, alongside ‘Muyugong’ (ability to withstand blows). and Qigong (breath control) and others.

Eight Sectors Eye Training Exercise

Keep your head still, look towards the wall on your left and then towards the wall on your right and back again. Do this eight times. Repeat this the other way around (look right first then left and back eight times). Now look at the floor then the ceiling and back again eight times before repeating the exercise the other way around eight times similarly. Next (remember–keep your head still throughout) stare left diagonally upwards and then right diagonally downwards and back eight times. Then repeat the exercise in reverse (look right, downwards, then left and upwards diagonally and back eight times) Finally, stare upwards,diagonally, to your right and then downwards similarly left and back eight times. Repeat this in the opposite direction (look downwards left diagonally then upwards right and back) for eight repetitions and the whole exercise is complete.

Congratulations! Having just surveyed the eight compass points/directions of your environment (eight times each) you will (after many repetitions) begin to notice small things others miss, things out-of-place, that were there earlier–tiny openings in guards or defences for instance (linked to knowledge of vital point strikes this can represent real progress if you have a good teacher).

Candle Meditation

Eye training can be taken forwards in a number of ways and candle meditation is one of these: 5-10 minutes sustained meditation on a tea light’s flickering flame, in a darkened room, increases one’s ability to concentrate on a fixed point. Place a sheet of green tissue or crepe paper between you and your view of the flame (you may need to construct a frame of some kind to facilitate this) and your ability to see in darkened rooms will improve.

Two-Way Rotation

Rub your thumb and first two fingers of both hands together until the latter are warm. Place the fingers gently on your eyeballs (lids closed) and then rotate your eyes eight times clockwise and then a further eight in the opposite direction. This helps train and strengthen the muscles involved in focusing.

Perform these exercises 3–5 times a week for best results. Small improvements should begin after 2–3 months practice. Maintain this momentum for a year or more and then check how you are doing at darts, table-soccer, pool, table tennis etc and you should note performance-improvements indicative of those you have transferred imperceptibly to your martial arts.

Nicole Thomas

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