J.C. Barrera had been asked by course instructor Assistant Police Chief Richard Cantu to conduct a demonstration of an ancient Chinese method of healing and cultivating energy called “qigong.”
Fortunately for Barrera, when he offered up two pronunciations of the word (chi gong or chi gung), a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese, Annie Yu, was able to provide the correct way to say the word.
“Chi gung,” the student said.
Upon introduction, Cantu explained that Barrera had been his instructor when he first started learning the martial arts.
Barrera said he had begun to study techniques like karate in 1975. Today, he is considered a master of martial arts and other Oriental methods of self-defense and healing exercises.
“I’m 65 years old and I’m still learning,” Barrera said.
The master explained that qigong is not an exercise, but a science. The practice of the science leads to nourishment and healing of the body, affecting organs and even sending positive messages and nutrients to the cells.
Barrera instructed the students on breathing and body exercises before showing three of the women some relaxation steps he could take by putting his hands on their heads.
He had each of the three women lie down on a table he brought to the class and then rubbed the heels of his hands together before placing them on the heads of the women.
Each one had a different experience but all three said they felt more relaxed and experienced the relieving of pain some had been having.
Yu, a native of China, said she felt heat and relaxation.
Sandra Hernandez said a headache she had been having went away when Barrera held his hands on her head.
Mei Yates, another native of China, said she felt the transfer of heat into her body and a sensation of a ball of heat in the back of her neck.
Barrera said he learned of the ancient Chinese method of transferring energy and healing as he practiced martial arts techniques over the years.
The instructor started out by teaching the women breathing methods and then showed them some of the power that the science could provide someone in a self-defense position.
In one example, Barrera used a gentle shove to push Cantu almost off his feet.
Fortunately, Barrera had a couple of women standing behind Cantu to catch him.
Barrera explained that the Chinese had developed hundreds of movements for the practice of qigong. He said the ancient method was developed years before even the development of the popular Tai Chi.
At one point, Cantu asked each student to produce one item from her purse that could be used for self-defense. The items ranged from keys and water bottles to pepper spray and even a Glock handgun.
Cantu said the handgun is a legal method of self-defense in Texas, but he encouraged anyone who wants to carry a pistol to receive training and then become legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
The instructor said the BPD is considering offering another self-defense course for women in the future and during the next one he hopes to introduce the use of firearms in the course.
Cantu said that would include a day at the BPD’s firing range. The students expressed interest in learning about the use of guns.
He stressed the use of car keys and showed the women how a metal drinking cup could be a really effective weapon if used correctly.
But Cantu stressed the need to remember the pressure points, nerve-sensitive points and other vulnerable parts of an attacker’s body.
Cantu said the class started out full but attendance fluctuated. He said he expected about 15 of the students to graduate on Aug. 28.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.