Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

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Before proceeding with breathing techniques, I thought it would be better to introduce a group of exercises that Da Shi Yin Zhao recommends for men who have allowed their groin muscles to weaken. Master Yin Zhao gives these techniques as part of an advanced meditation regimen; but since they're also applicable to martial arts' training programs, I'm including them now. Master Yin Zhao may repeat them later. (Ming Zhen adds that many of these exercises are similar to Kegel exercises and are also excellent for women.)

Just as any person can benefit from proper martial arts' training, any person can be harmed from improper training. Usually the cause of injury is the student's desire to quicken his progress. He or she becomes impatient and instead of working carefully, with the mind absorbed into the technique so that body, mind, and spirit are simultaneously engaged in performing the exercise, the student assumes he is doing it well enough for his purposes, or that future repetitions will refine his performance sufficiently. I tell my students to get beyond the need to compete or even to accomplish something. It's better to think of each exercise as if it is a game of solitaire. We often play solitaire, one game after the other, and there is mild and momentary satisfaction if we "get it out" just as there is mild and momentary disappointment if we "get stuck." But we keep playing and don't even consider that it is the same game over and over.

We also need to proceed patiently. A muscle that is stretched beyond its natural point of accommodation frequently tears - a painful and debilitating result. We need to check any tendency to become overly ambitious. In learning any physical skill, a slow, steady tempo, with the mind fully engaged, is the best way to acquire proficiency.

And, needless to say, before beginning any exercise program, the student should consult a physician.

In the martial arts as well as in many advanced forms of meditation, it's necessary to develop abdominal, pubococcygeal, and other groin muscles. In the training hall (the dojo) men wear equipment that protects genital areas. But if a man studies the martial arts because he wants to be able to defend himself, he is not likely to be wearing any protective equipment while he is out in the world in which he fears attack. A proper exercise regimen will help him to develop his own natural protective muscular sheath.

All people, of any age or physical condition, can acquire competence providing they follow the first rule of training: "Gradual improvement of the whole man is the only true improvement." There are so many facets to each exercise that simply performing one in a physically satisfactory manner does not mean that the full range of benefits have been obtained by the practitioner.

The total body merges with the total lifestyle. We don't try to lose weight by exercising while at the same time ignoring our diet or sleep requirements. Additionally, the body's muscles "interlock." As one flexes, another extends. This interdependence must be kept in mind. We don't strengthen one muscle by damaging or neglecting another. Smoking, drinking, being sleep-deprived, easily becoming irritated by family, friends, or co-workers, eating junk food or overeating healthy food are all detrimental to any program. Still, as the ancient Chinese said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." We have to start someplace; and in matters of health, evolution is better than revolution. People who try to change every aspect of their lives overnight never seem to succeed in making any permanent improvements.

In the present lesson, we'll start with a problem that is often experienced by older men, by overweight men, and by men and women who have problems with incontinence.

For example, overweight men often fear that their genitals are shrinking. What is usually happening is that their abdominal muscles have sagged under excess belly weight and the penis is being enveloped by fat - which may also contribute to a constriction of blood vessels. To solve this problem many instructors tell their students to strengthen the abdominal muscles by performing various "crunch" or sit-up exercises, or even to hang from a bar while trying to raise their legs up to a perpendicular position. For the average man this is wrong. Completely wrong. There is no surer way to damage the lumbar spine than by performing these exercises. The muscle that acts as a support for the entire groin area is the pubococcygeal which is connected to the bottom of the spinal column. To strengthen this vital muscle without damaging the lumbar spine we can begin with the following exercises that were compiled in China years ago. In the U.S. they were submitted to a urologist for his approval. His comments are in brackets.

I also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements. But a person needs to be careful. Large quantities frequently tend to raise blood pressure or to create joint pain or stiffness. [Doctorís note: Most vitamins donít {have this effect} if taken in health food store doses.] For example, larger doses of Vitamin E will usually relieve joint pain but will also tend to raise blood pressure. [Doctorís note: Yes, larger doses of Vitamin E have this effect.]

In fact, to the strong, healthy male, ejaculation is only possible when the testicles are elevated and drawn-in close to the body. Ejaculation is impossible when the scrotum is lowered and pushed away from the body. In advanced martial arts' and meditation programs men learn to control and relax these delicate muscles so that when they attain deep erotic states during meditation they will not abruptly end the session by ejaculating. This control is also part of the "self-protection" of the genitals. Many men of the Right Hand Path try to skip these exercises and just wear scrotal collars or rings that force the scrotum down and away from the body. Contracting the groin muscles actually increases the urgency to ejaculate. [Doctorís note: Good. Pain (from scrotal rings) also causes sexual urgency.]

To get control over these muscles it is necessary to master the contraction AND extension of many delicate groin muscles.


Contained within the movements and postures of Hatha Yoga, Tai Ji Quan, and other oriental disciplines, are many subtle but extremely effective exercises which strengthen the muscles of the groin, abdomen, buttocks, and upper thighs.

Because the following exercises concentrate on genital-area muscles and many of them can be practiced anywhere and anytime, they produce results quickly. Years spent in routine Hatha Yoga programs do not yield the results that can be had after only a couple of months of conscientious practice.

Muscles are strengthened by repeated contraction and extension, especially when they are forced to overcome resistance to that contraction or extension. For example, we strengthen the muscles of our arm if we raise and lower our arm repeatedly. But we will strengthen those muscles more and faster if we hold a weight in our hand and the downward force of gravity on that weight resists our upward movement. The more weight we hold, the greater the strengthening of the muscles involved. (Repetitions and resistance are the principal features of any muscle-building program.)

250px-Gray404.jpg Photo credit: Wikipedia. In every young, healthy male, two or three inches of the penis are embedded in the pubococcygeus muscle which acts as a foundation for the organ. Age, disease, injury, surgery, or other conditions may allow the PC muscle to weaken and become flabby.

Usually, the muscle which requires most rebuilding is the pubococcygeus (pew-bow-cox-ih-GEE-us) ("PC" muscle). This large groin muscle supports the pelvic organs and acts as a floor of the pelvis. It interacts with other important genital muscles as well as the muscles of the buttocks, abdomen, and upper thighs. (You use this muscle whenever you try to push-out or restrain bowel movements or the flow of urine.)

Ancient prescriptions which suggest that the penis can be cured of certain behavior problems by roughly manipulating it or by thrusting it into a sack of dry rice, etc., are never to be followed. [Doctorís note: Gee... this is new to me.]


A combination of the following exercises should be practiced every day, several times a day.

Because most exercise sessions end by interruption or by the loss of control induced by muscle fatigue, it is necessary to begin each session with Exercise 1, the Bearing-down exercise.

Exercise #1. Bearing-down.

Take a deep breath and hold it. Slowly press down on your groin muscles as though you are trying to expel the last few drops of urine from your bladder or are trying to initiate a bowel movement. Make the extension as slow, gentle and deliberate as you can. Hold the extension as long as you safely can. Relax and breathe again. After a few normal breaths, repeat the exercise.


(1) Shift all the body weight onto one buttock and perform the exercise.

(2) Clasp the knees, spread them apart and raise them upward toward the chest and then perform the exercise.

As you gain confidence bearing-down on the groin muscle, try to involve more and more of the body until the extension-press is felt in the throat, solar plexus, abdomen, buttocks, anus, and down into the thighs.

Perform this exercise for a minimum of five times before commencing any of the contractions.

2. The Butterfly Flutter Exercise

Contract the PC muscle as rapidly as you can for as many times as you can. Most beginners fail miserably when they attempt this exercise. The exercise is mastered when you can contract and relax this muscle two or three times a second and to continue these rhythmic contractions throughout several minutes.

Rhythm is the key to this exercise. Begin by contracting the muscle as rapidly as you can while keeping the contractions rhythmic. Try to do at least five contractions in a row. Go as slowly as you must in order to maintain the rhythm. In a few weeks you will achieve short bursts of butterfly flutter. The duration will lengthen as you continue to practice.

To follow your progress, record the date that you first attempt this exercise and not your flutter rate. You will truly be astonished to see how quickly you become competent in this exercise.

3. The Pulsing Exercise

This exercise is easily mastered with background music or with the aid of a clock (such as a battery operated clock) that makes a clicking noise to mark each passing second. A pendulum clock also works well.

The importance of the noise is that it develops the power of a mantra... a repetitious sound to which the mind does not habituate. In other words, it is a thoughtful sound which you constantly hear in the background of other sounds and thoughts upon which your attention is more focused. However, instead of repeating a mantra (such as "Om, mani padme hum") over and over again, you contract and relax the pubococcygeus muscle. You can do this while talking on the phone or watching television. With practice, the exercise will take on a life of its own. Donít worry, nobody can see that youíre doing it. Mastery consists in automatically maintaining these one-each-second-pulse-beat contractions.

4. The Bamboo Contractions.

Visualize an upright, five-segment length of bamboo, as though it were your lower spinal column.

Sit comfortably on the edge of your chair with your legs apart.

This entire exercise is done between the exhalation of one breath and the inhalation of the next. (lungs are kept empty).

Blow all the air in your lungs out forcefully and immediately begin to contract the PC muscle, lifting the muscle upwards as though you are trying to reach the first, bottom-most segment of the bamboo. Quickly relax the muscle and then immediately begin to contract it again. This time, however, you will contract it harder and higher, as though you are trying to reach the second segment. Immediately relax and contract it again, even harder and higher, until you mentally reach the third segment of bamboo. When youíve reached this, relax and contract again until you reach the fourth segment. (By now you will find that your buttocks and abdomen are involved in the contractions.) Again, giving it all the strength youíve got, contract the muscles of the groin, abdomen, and buttocks and squeeze them upwards until your stomach feels as though it is pressing up against your spine. This is the fifth segment. Hold this contraction as long as you can. When the muscles begin to droop despite your attempt to control them, or you absolutely require another breath, relax and breathe-in deeply.

This exercise is strenuous and you should wait a minute or so before attempting to repeat it.

5. The Snapping Exercise

Ideally, this exercise should be performed on knees and hands or at least while being bent forward so that the force of gravity pulls on your entire abdomen.

Blow all the air out of your lungs forcefully. As energetically as you can, suck-in the abdominal muscles in a short, hard, snapping contraction. Immediately relax the muscles and begin another contraction. Try to imagine that you are slapping your spine with your navel. Do as many contractions as you can before you require another breath. You should be able to do 25 snaps between breaths.

Variation: Take a deep breath and then begin the contractions, making each contraction expel air from your lungs in a noisy burst (Ugh!-Ugh!-Ugh!-etc.)

6. The Pigeon-toe/knock-knee Exercise

Stand with your legs 12 inches apart, weight on your heels. Pivoting on your heels, bring the toes of both feet together while also touching your knees together. In this stance, contract and raise the PC muscle as hard as you can. You will feel the muscles of your inner thigh contract.

7. The Hula-Hoop Exercise

This, quite simply, is performed with a hula hoop or other large ring. Hula hoops can be purchased at most toy stores.

Place the ring around your waist and begin to gyrate, moving your hips in a circular motion. As soon as the ringís position is stabilized, place your hands behind your head and gyrate as long as you can, moving your shoulders and knees as little as possible.

For strengthening the PC muscle, this exercise is excellent - however, it is not easy to do and the student may have to work his way up to it by mastering some of the other exercises first.

8. The Buttocks Walk

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Put your hands behind your head and then move along the floor first in a forward direction, then in a backwards direction, and last in a side-to-side direction. Go about ten feet in each direction.

Repeat as often as you can.

9. The Duck Walk

Squat and clasp each knee with the corresponding hand, holding your knees as wide apart as possible and your buttocks raised 12 or 18 inches above the floor. While maintaining a stooped or squatted position, walk for at least ten paces.

10. Testicle Elevations

This is a difficult exercise to perform. But even if your progress is so slight as to seem worthless, it is important to persist in the exercise.

While being unencumbered by clothing - at least from the waist down - sit at the extreme edge of a chair with your legs spread comfortably apart, your feet being 18 or 24 inches (or half a meter) apart (and flat on the floor).

The aim of the exercise is to raise and lower the scrotum (i.e., tense and relax the delicate scrotal muscles and testicular cords) without involving any abdominal or other groin muscles. At first, however, it may be necessary to involve these muscles. By performing regular practice you will be able to isolate the specific muscles you wish to activate.

This exercise is difficult. Progress can be measured, however, simply encircling the top of your scrotum with middle-finger and thumb and gently pulling down. As you perform the exercise you will be able to feel tiny muscular contractions. Use this manual pressure to supply strengthening resistance to the contractions.

11. Erection Weight Exercise

While sitting with an erection, lay a folded washcloth over the penis and attempt to raise the penis. As you gain control over these muscles you can increase the resisting weight by wetting the washcloth. Many men practice this exercise by standing, legs apart and slightly bent, with a weight tied to their penis. They are able to lift a surprising amount of weight.

12. Rocking Ball Exercise.

Because of the anatomy of the ejaculatory process, seminal retention can be achieved by applying pressure to the perineum - a point midway between the scrotum and the anus. Small tufted cushions (like upholstered hockey pucks) or other soft ball like objects can be purchased. These are placed on a meditation cushion, positioned behind the scrotum. The practitioner gently rocks back and forth, flexing and extending all muscles involved in the pressure the "ball cushion" exerts.

In the tropics, most yogis are discalced. Anyone who walks around barefoot long enough will find that the skin on his heels forms a bone-hard ridge. Yogis assume a position called Siddhasana (the Adeptís Seat) in which the heel of one foot is snugly inserted into the area just behind the scrotum. Then, when the weight of the entire trunk pressing down upon the bony ridge of the heel, ejaculation is suppressed. Yogis will also rock back and forth on their heel as they expand and contract their PC muscle making, in effect, a pumping action which forces more blood into the penis while restraining ejaculation.One final note: If orgasm is considered a two-part event, then the first part is the "emission" phase in which clear fluids are discharged. This phase culminates in an urgent desire to ejaculate. The second part is the actual convulsive ejaculation phase. Once this second phase has begun nothing should be allowed to interfere with it. [Doctorís note: Yes. This is very important.]

In the practice of yoga (Daoist, Buddhist or Hindu) it is the first phase that is prolonged during meditation. The second phase is never entered except by novices.

Also, prolonged ecstasy is largely a question of finely attenuated (slowed-down) breathing. [Doctorís note: Yes! ] Such minimal breathing results in a controlled state of oxygen-deprivation which enhances orgasmic ecstasy. (Recall nitrogen narcosis, the so-called "Raptures of the Deep"; or ecstatic Near-Death experiences; or, the more distressing newspaper accounts of foolish boys or men who attempt to duplicate meditative oxygen-deprivation by tightening cords around their necks to stop blood from flowing to the brain while they masturbate. Frequently they strangle themselves, the cause of death being officially listed as "auto-erotic asphyxiation").

It is therefore necessary to master pranayama (to control oxygen intake).

Incidentally, it is in the attempt to shutoff breathing altogether that yogis employ the Khecari Mudra (curling the tongue all the way back into the pharynx.) To facilitate this curl, the membranes which attach the tongue to the floor of the mouth are severed. The idea of curling the tongue up to the roof of the mouth to act as a connecting switch through which the Microcosmic Orbitís energy can pass is nonsense. It is helpful only as a visualization.

Sexual yoga should always be considered as merely one part of a complex religious program, a program in which ethics and other spiritual disciplines are rigorously followed.

The above exercises are preliminary. For specific yoga meditations, such as Psychic Heat, Kundalini, Microcosmic Orbit, etc., Master Yin Zhao will discuss these techniques in a later chapter. The practice of visualizing a ball of light moving through the meridians or other channels will be given in my next section.

Humming Bird