Category Archives: Climbing Energetics

Igniting the Flame

In my opinion, most modalities skip a vital step, which is igniting the fire in the lower belly. Called the Lower Dantien in Chinese traditions such as Taoism, it is typically located 3 finger widths below the belly button. I would start there, but understand that there can be variations between different people, with the lower belly energy center located a bit higher or lower. Once you get this energy moving you’ll be able to feel the exact location for yours.

The basics are to feel the lower belly center as a ball of energy. The natural movement of the ball is to rotate forward, 1 time per day. The goal for igniting the lower belly energy is to increase the rotation to many times per second, to spin as fast as possible.

This is best done in a seated position, either cross-legged, or seated in a chair with feet planted on the ground, and spine straight.

To increase the amplification, you can clasp your hands, with one hand over the other as you rotate the lower abdomen energy center.

This is again a first step in a journey of a thousand steps. This will ignite and activate the body’s energetic system, and you’ll start to feel the lines of energy flow. Once the energy is flowing, you’ll be able to benefit from the increased energy in both climbing and in life.

How does this apply to climbing?

The first thing that I noticed is that my balance improved. It was as if Ii had a gyroscope inside me, helping my balance, and the experience of a “center.”

Later, I experienced some manifestations of the energy, such as an increase in grip strength beyond what I was physically capable of by simple muscle contraction.

But these are simple results when applied to climbing. The results have a bigger impact when I consider their impact on my life. After a period of time you’ll feel the streams of energy nearly all the time. I’ve also felt the energy feel especially strong when I get woken in the night.

Other practices that I will outline in future posts will help in your meditation practices.


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3 Types of Ways to Increase the Energy Stream

Energy and energy development has many names: Chi, Kundalini, Orgone,  etc. Without getting into the esoterics of each I’m just going to call it Energy Streams. Because that’s what it feels like in the body once activated.

There are 3 main ways to develop and magnify this energy: seated meditation, standing postures, and movement sequences.

Seated Meditation

Seated meditation is the base, and there are many traditions that teach different methods for attaining certain states, but we are just going to focus on methods to activate and increase the energy stream.

Standing Postures

Standing postures, mainly referred to as Standing Chi Gong is a powerful method for magnifying the Energy Stream. Like a glowing lightbulb, you can increase the amplification of the energy stream.

Movement Sequences

Movement Sequences can also be used to develop and amplify the Energy Stream. Many traditional methods exist such as Tai Chi, the Whirling of the Whirling Dervishes, and the Quaking and Shaking of the Quakers and Shakers.

I will get into the specifics in future posts, but at the base of all of these is breath. Deep breathing is a good base to start from. Belly breathing through to the diaphragm is essential to developing a strong energy stream.


Breathing is one of the few autonomic processes of the body where we can also have conscious control. Most spiritual traditions start with breath as their base – such as following the breath as it enters the nostrils and fills the lungs – is a basic type of meditation exercise to calm both the mind and body.

Everyone should start here, with breath and relaxation. Most people can’t start the process of feeling the energy streams until they have relaxed their body and released tension. Through breath you can relax not just the muscles of the body, but even the fascia, all the way down to the marrow of the bones and the interconnective tissues of the organs.

Once the body systems are relaxed and relieved of tension, then the sensation of the energy stream can be felt and then developed.

A Basic Exercise

Breath in to a count of 6, hold for 2, exhale for 6, pause for 2.


If you can’t manage 6 seconds, reduce this to the count that you are comfortable with. At no time should you feel tension.

The goal is to increase the amount of time for the inhale, the pause and the exhale: 10-15 seconds is a good goal for length of inhalation and exhalation. 4-6 seconds for the hold and the pause.

Those are just guidelines. At the heart is breathing in relaxation, and exhaling stress out of the body. The method and count is just the “how” to get to the state of “alert relaxation”.

This can be done either lying down, or in a seated position, or even standing. In any case, you want to make sure you spine is straight. The reason you want a straight spine is that the trunk is the path where the energy stream flows. Too much of a “bend” or “collapse” of the spine will create kinks or blocks in the energy stream.

How will this help in rock climbing?

This is just the first step in a thousand step journey, but basically this get one in touch with how much tension we hold in the body – and how to shed it. The energy stream is easier to feel and amplify once the body systems are completely relaxed.

There is a state sometimes called “flow” or “state” where the climber just seems to be in tune with the climb, moving as if by magic from hold to hold in complete synchronicity with the rock. Most climbers kind of reach this state by accident, by simply climbing over and over they reach this state spontaneously.

Yet, there is a way to achieve this state more consistently. And we start with breath and relaxation.


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Climbing and Qi

QiGong, or Chi Gung is a practice that has been used in China for thousands of years to increase Qi (or Chi), or “lifeforce”.

At one end of the spectrum is the development of Chi simply for improved health. At the other end, martial artists use it to develop strength and power.

Its association with martial arts is extensive, mainly with the internal styles, such as the Chinese martial Arts of Tai Chi, Xing Yi, and Bagua Zhang.

In Japan, the energy called Chi in China is translated to Ki, and is used in both the hard styles as well as the more internal Japanese styles such as Aikido.

But the development of Chi can be found in other non-Asian areas of the world, with practices ranging from Native American, Indian, European and even to the Quakers and Shakers. They may call it by other names, such as Kundalini, but the energy is the same.

Daoist Nei Gong

I’ve studied various martial arts for several years, ranging from Xing-yi, to Bagua Zhang, Aikido Tai Chi, Kenpo and Silat. Every one of the martial arts had some sort of connection to developing power through a form ofQiGong.

Climbing and QiGong

After climbing for several years, I have been experimenting with the use of QiGong as a way to amplify strength and power specifically to climbing. I am at the beginning stages of integrating practices used for Martial Arts, and experimenting with applying this to Rock Climbing.

There are some similarities between Martial Arts and Climbing. Both use graceful movements combined with explosive power. Both use powerful grips, in martial arts for throwing and controlling, and in climbing for grasping holds and to make upward progress.

Opening the Energy Gates

In practice, I’m finding that the techniques for raising Chi can translate to climbing. After practicing QiGong, I’ve found that I’ve used it to heal joint dysfunctions (shoulders), as well as increasing grip strength through the application of Chi rather than sheer physical strength.

At a certain level, movement and physical mechanics can be directed by the mind, with very little apparent strength involved.

In this section I plan to outline some of my findings and experiences as I discover how Chi is expressed in climbing. I think it can be useful to climbers in improving their abilities both in the present, and well into old age.

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