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Home Training Tips Tian Gan (Heavenly Stems)

Tian Gan (Heavenly Stems)

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This set of exercises is concerned with the rooting of the martial body. They can be practiced at different hieghts of stance and rates of vigour to train the internal movements ( commonly called jings ) that teach the techniques explored by the circle forms and the straight line ( Ho Tien ) sets.

The meaning of tian gan as a “heavenly stem” in Mandarin, relates in a deep cultural way the Daoist models of the universe. Its esoteric muddling can be quite complex if you type “heavenly stems” into a search engine on the net . See for yourself!
I’d venture to suggest that at a low to intermediate level these theories need not concern the martial development of the body.

These movements are well conceived and if practiced properly can be very demanding. The body work produces strong legs and thighs over time and straightens the lower back to help the bodies bowing movements. It is possible to see the body as the “trunk” and the arms as the “branches” of a tree symbolising the doaist concept of the universe.

Tian Gan express the way the body should work in a martial technique. By reducing the amount of variables of movement, the low stances of the Tian Gan focus the body work on the area prescribed by their names. 1.Ban 2.Kun 3.Tiao meaning 1. Parry 2. Chop 3. Ladle...

Ban - to move












Ban - to move













There are 10 all together in the Gao Yi Sheng sylllabus and they can be practised in intelligent ways.

Some use them to train as part of a circuit, practicing them in sets. For instance you could choose to do them 20 either side in between some crane dips and spot pad work.

As a warming exercise to help stretch the legs and torso, practicing them long and low, extending all through the body.

Power development by strengthening the heart. These exercises improve the circulatory system, massage the guts and lengthen the spine.

The power produced by diligently practicing these well over time is quite substantial. The opening and closing shapes of the body in tian gan will focus the training directly into simple and practical martial applications.