by Glen Moore
[Edited by R. Mattera and F. Hriadil]
The young disciple had looked for years to find a martial arts Master for himself.
His father, who had studied martial arts for many years, told him often that it was much better to go deeply inward in one art than to jump from art to art. He had seen plenty of evidence of this fact so he had taken the time to find what he felt was just the right teacher. However, at this moment in time he was beginning to doubt his choice.
He arrived at his teacher’s home with a terrible ache on one side of his neck and his shoulders were very tired and sore. He told this to his teacher and the old Master had only looked at him and said,“use your ears,” and walked away.
He was totally lost and did not know what to do so he tried to tell his teacher his problem again, but this time the old Master held up his hand for silence. He turned from his tree trimming and looked him square in the eyes and said, “I told you to use your ears.”
The disciple knew that this meant that if he continued complaining that he would get a beating. There must be something he had already been taught that would help him, he thought.
Totally confused, he decided to meditate on his dilemma.
He found a comfortable place and quickly settled into his breathing pattern, when suddenly he remembered the ear massage his teacher had shown him many years earlier and he became very excited. He remembered that he had been shown this technique early in his training but since it was not very exciting and his body did not need it at the time, he had written it down and promptly forgotten about it. *
* How often have we all done this?
Many years ago I was so focused on growing spiritually and becoming “enlightened” that I constantly looked for the “great secret” or the “great white neon buffalo” of Native American legend. As a result, I missed or overlooked many of the small things in the details of my training.
After years of being aggravated with me, one of my teachers finally took me aside and said,
“Glen!! Enlightenment is not the huge discovery of some new fantastic esoteric truth but the recognition and application of the little things given to us as we strive to grow.”
Now, every day I take a moment to sit and give thanks to that individual. His words totally changed the way I perceive things. He changed my life.
Master Park often teaches things that we, through our own inexperience, do not find exciting at the time. Often not looking at the detail, we focus on looking for that special technique that will make us invincible internal Masters. Ha! Ha! Dream on. The only secret to martial arts is hard work and perseverance.
The Ear Massage Method of Qiang Shan (Strong Mountain) Ba Gua Zhang that I am going to discuss here is just such a small detail technique. It is one of those little things that speaks softly and quietly without asking for any recognition, but it packs quite a punch when used properly.
Master Park taught this technique in a seminar several years ago in Baltimore, and yet I have rarely seen anyone doing it. It is great for relieving tension, pain and stiffness in the neck and increases range of motion as well. I find it particularly effective just prior to doing the Neck Exercise routine in the Ba Gua warm-ups, but it can be done anytime you feel tension creeping up on you.
Chinese acupuncture is based on the premise that there are energy pathways with specific points that are connected throughout the entire body. When these points are activated with the aid of needles or through touch, it is believed that diseases and imbalances related to the corresponding points can be alleviated or cured.
In addition to the acupressure points along the meridians it has been found that the ears contain an acupressure micro-system. The Chinese have been aware of this system for more than 3000 years. According to the U.S. Kinesiology Institute, the first published picture of the anatomical map of the ear was presented in the west by a French physician in 1957 (Paul Nogier, “Treatise of Auriculotherapy.”)
The ears can be considered a holographic projection of the entire body. Essentially the same principle is embodied in foot reflexology. As noted by many acupuncturists, there are points that form an outline of a miniature person on the ear. These points have been used successfully for both diagnosis and treatment for many years. Acupuncture, massage, and electrical stimulation of these points have been successful in treating chronic pain, weight problems, hearing loss, and many kinds of addictions.
For the general purpose of this article, I will not be concerned with the specifics of each of the ear points. Instead, I will focus on the stimulation all of the ear points through a good general massaging of the entire ear.
In addition to the potential benefits to all parts of the body from stimulating the reflex points, ear massage has proven effective for relieving tension in the muscles of the neck and jaw. This effect may be due in part to the nerve endings that innervate the ear from the head and neck areas. When they are stimulated they communicate with the brain and the brain responds by relaxing muscles and moving Qi, blood, and lymph.
Before starting the actual Ear Massage you should first check your neck to determine its existing range of motion, and the presence of any stiffness or pain when the neck is moved. You can do this, for example, by using the first three movements from the Neck Exercise sequence in the Qiang Shan (Strong Mountain) Ba Gua Zhang Warm-up Exercise routine. Jot down the results so you can determine any improvements that occur after the massage is performed. I always like to do this and I am typically amazed at the results.
To massage the ear, start at the top of the ear, grip the rim, and attempt to unfold or flatten the natural curve of the ear rim. Continue this process, moving down the outer edge of the ear until the earlobe is reached. Then, gently pull the earlobe down several times.
You must continue to work the ear until you have completed this pattern at least three (3) times. Though it has been my experience that three (3) times is generally enough, you can do it as many times as you desire.
When you feel you are ready to move on, begin the next step by placing a finger inside the ear at the ear canal. Follow the curving path on the inside surface of the ear and apply gentle pressure against the ear surface.
Rub along the path of the ear from the inside of the canal to the outside edge of the ear following the natural curving passageway created by the contours of the ear. Repeat this part of the massage three (3) times as well.
Last, firmly rub the along back of the ear where it meets the head. Start at the bottom, rear of the ear and rub upward to the top, rear of the ear. Then, return along the same path back down to the bottom, rear of the ear to return to the starting point. Repeat this part of the massage three (3) times.
The procedure is now complete.
This Ear Massage will commonly cause the ears to feel hot and look red for a short period of time. This is to be expected as Qi is being brought to the ear along with blood and lymph.
Now, check for any improvement in your feeling and condition. It never fails to amaze me at the progress I see obtained by most people who use this simple massage method regularly
It is just so easy to disregard a small technique such as this, in your training, because it is so simple. Yet like much of life, it is the simple things that make the difference.
So, keep this small detail in mind and don’t forget to “use your ears!”
Glen Moore is a Senior Instructor, Lineage Disciple of Master Park Bok-Nam. Shifu Moore is currently teaching Ba Gua Zhang at Blue Dragon Martial Arts and Bodywork (https://www.bluedragonarts.com) in Richmond, Virginia. He has a very extensive background in the martial arts, which includes Karate, Judo, Arnis, Escrima, Wing Chun, Tai Ji, Ba Gua, and various other styles of Japanese and Chinese martial arts. Mr. Moore has studied with Master Park since 1987.