Logo_WhitekThe Walking Tiger Tai Chi Qigong Club

A non-profit club providing free group lessons in metro San Diego: Phone 619-647-6938 Email: TheWalkingTiger@Cox.Net

Snake_Creeps 

 

Qigong is an ancient Chinese art of self-massage, meditation and meditative exercise; similar to Yoga, which strengthens, adds flexibility, enhances the nervous system and reduces stress.

 

Qigong has always been a people's art. It is not regulated by any agencies in most countries and most of the long established schools don’t assign the title of "master" or "grandmaster". So, when you hear someone refer to HIMSELF as a master - be wary.

 

Unfortunately, it is very easy for someone with no real background to learn only a little, proclaim himself a master, and start his own organization.

 

For this reason, our club only practices long existing, well-proven Qigong sequences sanctioned by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Or, methods supported and taught by well proven, long standing masters like Suzanne Friedman, Ken Cohen, Lam Kam Chuen, Micheal Tse, Bruce Frantzis, Wong Kiew Kit, Yves Requena and Baolin Wu.

 

 

CONTENTS (click below to select)

 

About Tai Chi Qigong

About the Teacher

Commentaries (Editorial opinions by this teacher)

What is Chi

Class Schedule and Locations

Quotes From Some Masters of Tai Chi and Other Arts

Tai Chi Qigong Forms

The Taoist Timetable

Recommended YouTube Videos

Recommended Reading, Book Reviews

Essay by Dr. Robert Chuckrow (reprinted here with the author’s permission)

Essay by Jane Golden (reprinted here with the author’s permission)

Article About Standing Meditation (by Karel Koskuba) (PDF file, reprinted here with the author’s permission)

Standing Meditation

Studies and Anecdotes

Tibetan Sound Meditation

 

 

CLASS SCHEDULE and LOCATIONS

 

Tai Chi Saturday : At Morely Field in Balboa Park, San Diego

 

Saturdays our Tai Chi class will meet at 10:00 AM at Morely Field, part of Balboa Park, which is at the corner of Texas Street and Upas Blvd. In San Diego. (map attached)

 

No registration or fees required. Just wear loose, comfortable clothing and soft soled shoes. Bring water.

 

To arrange attendance, please e-mail me at TheWalkingTiger@Cox.Net or call me, Walter,  at 619-647-6938.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Tai Chi For Seniors: (Every Thursday morning at 9:30 AM at the LGBT Center in San Diego)

 

We also offer a free class in basic, health oriented Tai Chi every Thursday morning the LGBT Center in San Diego. The Center is located at 3909 Centre Street in San Diego. This class will focus on the 18 movement form; known as the Shibashi, as its core element. The class will also include basic standing and walking meditation as well as the self-acupressure routine developed by our club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Tai Chi Qigong

 

“A toned body that is strong as an ox, as supple as a tiger, and as quick as a striking snake requires a type of strength that is much more complex than just power lifting. To acquire this type of strength requires gaining skills of strength, agility, grace, relaxation, readiness, effective breathing and confident movement. Tai Chi’s simple movements provide all that is needed to retain these qualities for yourself.”

 From Stay Young With Tai Chi; by Ellae Elinwood

CIMG0121

 

Like Yoga, Tai Chi Qigong frees and mobilizes the body’s energy to enhance health, awakens the mind, reduces stress and improves flexibility and strength.

 

It (Tai Chi) is different from Yoga in that one doesn’t move into a posture and stop, but you keep moving continuously and smoothly; while breathing slow and deep, through a series of postures; all the while shifting the weight from one foot to the other. This movement, done with the right state of mind and with calmness, energizes the body and relinquishes trapped or blocked energy from the body. In this respect it is very similar to acupuncture, but without using any needles.

 

Most of us recognize Tai Chi Qigong when we see it slowly performed. And, it is quite true that one will gain the most health benefits and learn better by practicing in slow motion. But, Tai Chi may be performed at any speed-including very fast.

 

 

“In Tai Chi there is no final result. Rather, there is a gradual accumulation of benefits…” Dr. Robert Chuckrow

 

 

 

The truly defining qualities of Tai Chi are actually structure and rooting.

 

Structurally, Tai Chi emphasizes a relaxed but very strong alignment of the lower and upper body, which is very strong, but also very relaxed.

 

Above all Tai Chi emphasizes “rooting”, which is a very deeply relaxed but energized state where one sinks into a posture so centered that it is very difficult to move the practitioner out of balance. This also provides a deep leverage which creates enormous power in movement.

 

 

Chi (The life force energy nurtured and enhanced by Tai Chi Qigong)

 

Chi refers to the animating energy of the body; sometimes called life force.

 

Front and Back MaiUnlike western medicine, the ancient healers of the east see the human being; as well as everything else, as a form of energy. When this energy flows freely, it may be enhanced, strengthened, channeled and focused for healing, elevated consciousness or self-defense.

 

What does Chi feel like?

 

The flow of this energy feels at first like a flush of warmth. It really is the fluid flow and pressure of the whole body moving loosely, like a snake. Later, one is likely to feel pulsation. This is a sensing of the body pulse.

 

Eventually, one will feel tingling, like sand flowing over the skin. Wriggling, twitchiness, flushness, mottled hands and the sense of a feeling like a “thrill” are all commonly reported feelings which are manifestations of the flow of Chi energy.

 

Have you felt Chi before? You may have felt the flush of warmth and energy after stretching. Or, if you hold your arms up in the air until they become tired and heavy. That feeling when you drop your arms and relax is very much like the fluid pressure and flush of warm energy from Chi.

 

Do you believe; as most people, that your state of mind can change your health? Causing ulcers, reduced metabolism, and damaging the heart?

 

If this is true, then the opposite is also true. A different state of mind; one that is uplifted, energized and centered, can produce better health.

 

 

 

About the Teacher (Walter Jackson)

 

I began training at the age of 13. In those days the small town of El Cajon, California had little to offer, and most of the schools that started went out of business in a very short time. As a result I was exposed to many styles over a very short period of time. Each of them convinced that theirs was the only truly effective system.

 

This continued until the 1970’s when EC McGilvery; who was not only a master artist but also a good businessman, started the American Colleges of Karate and Martial Arts, as well as The International Martial Arts Association.

 

Master McGilvery developed a system he called Aam-Ka-Jutsu; a mixed martial system which focused on effective self-defense martial arts. Hence the term, Jutsu, which conveys the idea that this art is all about self-defense. Master McGilvery did not care about, nor had he any allegiance to, any dynastic system of self-defense. He collated every worthwhile and effective technique into his system.

 

I remember hearing him laugh out load for several minutes when he heard someone referred to as “a third generation master”.

 

At the same time, he had enormous respect for true masters. He recruited masters of many arts, including Karate, Kung Fu, Aikido, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Tai Chi.

 

 During this time he created a virtual renaissance-offering first class training in a wide variety of arts to all of his advanced students. It was during this period, from 1970 to the late 1990’s that I was able to take Tai Chi training from a number of teachers, including Michael Brown and William Funchin.

 

Jackson_Walter_Certificate

 

Degree from the American Colleges of Martial Arts and the International Martial Arts Association

 

There is a saying from Zen; “Humility is the key to mastery”. This means that all too often, those who seek mastery cannot put aside their pride and ego. The way to mastery is in deciding one will always and forever be a student. One must never put their hands on their hips, swell their chest and say; “I am a master”.

 

The term “master” is widely exploited in the United States. There are some martial organizations in the world that will assign this title, but it is very, very rare. Further, anyone who calls HIMSELF master, probably has very serious ego issues.

 

Arrogance, pride, ego and fear have been the cause of the downfall of great institutions, countries and masters. During my journey I have known too many people who, upon reaching a certain level of skill, stopped learning and closed their minds.

 

These same people sometimes claim to have created their own art; forgetting that masters have labored to create these arts. And, that sometimes there is a reason; not instantly obvious, why things are done a certain way.

 

 

 

Acupressure Certificate from The Institute For Integrative Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Taoist Timetable 

 

This is based upon early Yoga sutras that state that the body energy shifts dominance from one region of the body to another throughout the day. Using this concept it is believed that one may maximize the balancing affect upon a given organ and meridian by regularly practicing qigong during one of these periods.

 

 

 

 

If you routinely feel an excess or lack of energy at a given part of the day, or if you regularly feel coldness or heat at the same time of day; it might be attributed to an imbalance in a given meridian. One excellent way to compensate is to practice Nadi Shadana, one nostril breathing for about five minutes during that time.

 

Generally, it is ideal to practice near dawn, but if one wished; for example, to focus on heart energy, they might do supplemental heart Qigong from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

 

Please note that this information is forwarded for your general information and is not as any kind of medical prescription.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing a School-What to watch out for…

 

·        Anyone who uses the term “Blood Sport”

·        Teachers who think they are a spiritual Guru

·        Any references to Ninja

·        A teacher who calls HIMSELF master or grandmaster

·        Signs that claim the school teaches several different and disparate martial arts

·        Those who claim to be students of Bruce Lee (even if it’s true)

·        Mullets

·        Swaggering

·        Swastikas

·        A window full of tournament trophies

·        Ancient fundamentalist religious symbols

·        Contemporary fundamentalist religious symbols

·        A “king of the hill” attitude toward the “Pushing Hands’ exercise or sparring

·        A wall full of weapons that don’t apply to the 21st century

·        Long-term contracts

·        Shrines

·        Foreign flags

·        Few female students

·        Starry-eyed allegiance to ANYTHING

·        Pee wee black belts

·        Instructors who groan when they get out of their chair

·        Stoic, superior, impolite, cross eyed, smelly or unhealthy looking instructors

·        Impatient, unkind, ill mannered or intimidating instructors

·        Smiling out of context

·        Smugness

·        Eyes whose “whites” show all the way around

·        Shiny silk uniforms

·        Preoccupation with lineage

·        Bruised, limping or twitching students

·        Topknots

 

 

Tai Chi Qigong Forms

 

The “forms” are preset sequences of Tai Chi Qigong movements, performed in a very precise pattern. They are designed to build up and cultivate Chi energy in different parts of the body. In some sequences a single movement is repeated several times because the masters found this was the most effective way to cultivate and augment Chi. Tradition also allows for changes in sequence, repetitions or direction, as long as all of the postures are performed.

 

It is the “process” of learning the forms that is most important. While practicing, it is the “way of moving” that is most important. Tai Chi has so many principles that it is very difficult to learn it in the way we learn in a History or Physics class. Mimicking the teacher and allowing its many principles to “seep into your bones” is the best way learn Tai Chi.

 

 

 

 

 The 18 Step Shibashi Sequence (on YouTube)

The 8 Brocades (pdf file)
The 5 Breaths Tibetan Qigong (pdf file)

Kenneth Cohen’s 100 Day Qigong Program

The Cornerstone Form

The 37 Posture Yang Form

 

 

The 18 postures (the Shibashi Sequence):

 

Shibashi (pronounced sher baa sher).  This is the first sequence taught.

 

Shibashi (meaning 18 in Mandarin) is a series of 18 energy-enhancing exercises that coordinate movement with breathing and concentration. It is a gentle, beautiful and flowing Tai Chi Qigong exercise routine that is both a joy to do and deeply relaxing for people of any age.

 

Shibashi was developed by Professor Lin Hou Sheng in 1979. Professor Lin is a renowned Qigong Master, scientist and Master Healer. His remarkable credentials include Professor of the College of Chinese Medicine in Shanghai, Director of Qigong Research Institute in China and Honorary President of the International Society of Natural Cures. He based the Shibashi on the philosophies of Tai Chi and extracted some of the movements from Yang style Tai Chi Chuan while keeping the exercise simple to learn and practice. He places great emphasis on synchronizing the 18 movements with proper breathing techniques.

 

Shibashi is designed to improve the general health and well-being of the practitioner. The gentle rocking motions and stretching movements improve circulation and digestion. The chest exercises and controlled breathing are good for lung conditions and asthma. The overall effect of the exercise is to reduce mental stress and physical tension carried in the muscles of the body. This Qigong is very effective and easy to learn. It is practiced around the world by over 10 million people, and is considered a national health exercise in Malaysia and Indonesia

 

The Eight Brocades

 

8_brocades-mpg002The centuries old Eight Brocades Qigong sequence is one of the oldest and most widely practiced Qigong sets.

 

It is revered in China because if it is performed regularly and correctly, it opens up the body’s energy pathways, sending nourishing energy to the organs, bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles in a very efficient way.

 

The eight exercises here are a superb set of overall strengthening and health enhancement exercises which have been practiced in China for centuries. If you progress gradually, do them daily and follow the instructions carefully, you will almost certainly see surprisingly good benefits within a few weeks.

 

The Eight Golden Treasure Brocade has been known to increase muscular strength and assist in the development of pectoral muscles to make the figure graceful. It is also good for the prevention and treatment of kyphosis, scoliosis, and common chronic diseases such as cervical spondylopathy, pain in the lower back and legs, and stomach ache. Most experienced practitioners believe that with persistent practice this exercise set can also tone the brain, strengthen health and prolong life.

 

  

The 5 Breaths of Tibetan Qigong (View PDF file)

 

This sequence is so old that no origin story exists except in myth and legend. It was practiced widely throughout China since at least since the 1700 ‘s. Historians believe it predates the Shaolin Temple, some 2000 years ago.

 

It is the most challenging, but the most beneficial of all the Qigong sequence. Though only five movements, done 20 times each; the form is so effective it can be considered a very complete, and very effective, advanced form.

 

 

The 100-Day Qigong Program of Kenneth Cohen

 

I highly recommend and daily practice the 100 Qigong program designed by Kenneth Cohen (author of The Way Of Qigong)

 

It is a five-stage program that is comprised of meditation and warm-up, cleansing, strengthening, Chi distribution and Chi disbursement.

 

·        Whole Body Breathing

·        Bone Marrow Cleansing

·        6 Healing Sounds

·        Standing Meditation

·        Walking Meditation

·        Self Massage

 

Master Cohen’s video program is available from SoundsTrue.Com 

 

 

The Cornerstone Form

 

This form was developed specifically for seniors to combat issues with balance, bone strength and the affects of arthritis. It also mobilized the Chi ( life force) by combining the most beneficial health movements of Tai Chi into a simple 24 posture form. It is also excellent preparation for learning the 37 posture Cheng Man-ching form.

 

Click here to view the video (or right click to download)

 

It does require the same amount of physical space as the Cheng man-ching form so it may not be suitable of practice in a small room.

 

Preparation (N)  1

Raise the Hands  1

Ward Off Left  1

Grasp the Bird's Tail   (ward,pull,press,push) (e)  4

Single Whip   (w)  1

Lift Hands R (N)  1

Strike With Shoulder    (N)  1

Crane Spreads Wings  (w)  1

Brush the Knee (w)  1

Play the Guitar (w)  1

Brush the Knee R (w)        1

Deflect, Parry and Punch  (w)  1

Wipe Off Wrists and Press  (w)  1

Cross Wrists  (N)  1

Apparent Close   1

Embrace The Tiger & Return to The Mountain  (se)  4

Diagonal Single Whip  (ne)  1

Work the Shuttles R, L, R 9e) 3

Ward Off Left  1

Grasp the Bird's Tail   (ward,pull,press,push) (e)  4

Single Whip   (w)  1

Wave Hands in Clouds (N)  3

Single Whip (w)  1

Snake Creeps Down (w)  1

Rooster Stands One Legged L, R (w)  2

Repulse the Monkey (w)  4

Raise Hands  (N)  1

Cross Wrists  (N)  1

Close  1

 

 

The 37 Posture Yang Form click here to view a selected Youtube video

 

 

CHENG2Developed by master Cheng man-ching; containing all the 37 postures of small circle Yang style, this form actually has 64 complete movements. Requiring 8 to 12 minutes, depending on one’s speed, it is our most advanced form and the most widely practiced form in the world.

 

“Tai Chi, practiced correctly and regularly, will gain one the pliability of a child, the health of a lumberjack and the piece of mind of a sage.” Cheng Man-Chi’ng

 

 

 

 

 Though usually called the “short Yang” form, it should be understood that master Cheng’s form is far more than an abridged version of the longer Yang form. In creating the form he returned to the tradition of a 64-step form followed by most Tai Chi styles until the late 20th century. The forms performance is based upon internal energy, whole body, “small circle” movement, which is far more explosive and nuance filled that the so-called “Long Yang”. Though the form “seems” less blatantly martial than conventional Yang form, a deep study will also reveal that it contains dozens of hidden self-defense movements.

 

Master Cheng’s style appeared to be very different, but it was actually a return to the explosive, spiraling snakelike movement of the original Yang style before it became homogenized into the stylish and acrobatic competition style it is today. All movement is “propelled” movement; that is, all movement originates and occurs BECAUSE of body rotation. There is little independent or unassisted movement of the arms and legs. None of the kicks are suspended high in the air, there are no big waving movements of the arms and none of the flourishes and superfluous wrist twirls of big-frame or competition style Tai Chi.

 

 

Posture  / Repetitions (or total movements)

 

Preparation (N)  1

Raise the Hands  1

Ward Off Left  1

Grasp the Bird's Tail   (ward,pull,press,push) (e)  4

Single Whip   (w)  1

Lift Hands R (N)  1

Strike With Shoulder    (N)  1

Crane Spreads Wings  (w)  1

Brush the Knee (w)  1

Play the Guitar (w)  1

Brush the Knee R (w)        1

Deflect, Parry and Punch  (w)  1

Wipe Off Wrists and Press  (w)  1

Raise Hands (N)  1

Cross Wrists  (N)  1

Apparent Close   1

Embrace The Tiger & Return to The Mountain  (se)  4

Diagonal Single Whip  (ne)  1

Fist Under Elbow (w)  1

Repulse the Monkey (w)  3

Diagonal Flying (ne)  1

Wave Hands in Clouds (N)  3

Single Whip (w)  1

Snake Creeps Down (w)  1

Rooster Stands One Legged L, R (w)  2

Separate Foot R, L  2

Turn and Kick with Heel (e)  1

Brush the Knee and Twist Step R, L  2

Brush the Knee and Low Punch (e)  1

Grasp the Bird's Tail   (ward,pull,press,push) (e)  4

Single Whip   (w)  1

Work the Shuttles (ne nw sw se)  4

Ward Off Left (N)  1

Grasp the Bird's Tail   (ward,pull,press,push)  4

Single Whip   (w)  1

Snake Creeps Down (w)  1

Seven Stars Punch (w)  1

Retreat and Embrace the Tiger  1

Spin and Lotus Kick  1

Draw Bow and Shoot Tiger  1

Deflect, Parry and Punch  (w)  1

Wipe Off Wrists and Press  (w)  1

Raise Hands  (N)  1

Cross Wrists  (N)  1

Close  1

 

YouTube Links to Tai Chi and Qigong Performances

 

There are thousands of videos available on YouTube. Unfortunately, most of them are very poor and quite a few use tricks and hype to try to sell the idea of supernatural powers and mystical cures. The list below is my list of videos that are authentic, no nonsense representations of modern, demystified Tai Chi and Qigong. To view, copy the LINK and paste into your browser.

 

Qigong Stance of Power:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvd-zVk-twQ

 

Whole Body Breathing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzvj74uDYnE

 

The 18 Movement Tai Chi Form:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fh6JPkBPV4

 

Standing Tree Meditation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGtYxOOo7sA

 

Energy In Motion doing Tai Chi:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7ZUcvKwzAI

 

The Five Animal form:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-myF7nwc5eE

 

One of Nigel Sutton's students doing a good 37 postures performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aprobqc3VhA

 

BASIC Tai Chi walk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bhk03Wc3Is

 

 

 

 

Why Study T’ai Chi?

 

©Copyright 2010 by Robert Chuckrow

 

At present, you don’t have to look far to find classes in Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique, Tae Kwon Do, aerobics, belly dancing, weight training, ballet, and other forms of movement, exercise, and self-development. All of these activities can be quite beneficial depending on who is teaching them. So why consider learning T’ai Chi? Having studied T’ai Chi (and other movement and self-development arts) for over forty years, I feel that I can provide some perspective

regarding its benefits.

 

T’ai-Chi (pronounced tie jee) originated in China centuries ago. It is a meditative exercise based on Taoist philosophy and other ancient Chinese principles of health, self-development, and self-defense. In China 100 years ago, the ability to defend oneself against a skilled attacker was essential, and T’ai-Chi was studied primarily for attaining martial skill. In today’s world, however, it is much more likely that we will become harmed by a health problem or an accident than by another person trying to injure us. Therefore, T’ai Chi is now taught mainly for health and self-development, and most people who study it do so primarily for those benefits.

 

As an exercise, T’ai Chi consists of a series of natural, relaxed movements that are ideally learned one at a time over a period of months. Typically, classes are once per week, and the student is expected to practice for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. For those who lack motivation and self-discipline, practicing on one’s own may seem unrealistic. However, practicing the movements alone produces such a delightful feeling of serenity and well-being that little self-discipline is required.

 

Unfortunately, much popular exercise focuses on the muscles and circulatory system and disregards the mind, nervous system, and internal organs. It is not uncommon to see people exercising on treadmills or stationary bikes and distracting themselves by listening to music on headphones and reading a book or magazine—often simultaneously. On the other hand, T’ai Chi is not boring or repetitive. Instead, one’s mind is actively involved in releasing all unnecessary tension and coordinating and sensing the constantly changing movement of every body part. Being aware of the myriad elements involved produces a feeling of elation and connectedness to the ground, gravity, and one’s breathing and movement.

 

Frequently, people will say, “I wouldn’t be good at T’ai Chi because I am so uncoordinated.” Actually, the more uncoordinated you are, the more you can benefit from learning and practicing T’ai Chi. Another thing that people say is, “It’s way too slow.” One reason it is so slow is that, if it were any faster, the mind would have trouble encompassing the many things that are going on. Also, once the movements have been learned, there is a natural rate of motion that coordinates the breathing and flow of something called ch’i (pronounced chee), which will

be discussed next.

 

In our part of the world, ch’i is not usually mentioned—there is not even a word for it in English. In Asia, however, the concept of ch’i is commonplace—it is called ch’i in China, prana in India, and ki in Japan, and other Asian countries have other names for it. In fact, one way of greeting a person in China is to ask, “How’s your ch’i?”

 

There is no current scientific understanding of ch’i, but it is most easily felt as a tingling sensation, first in one’s hands. Ch’i is the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of whose tools is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a method of inserting needles at specific points to free blockages of ch’i. T’ai Chi achieves similar benefits naturally, without the needles.

 

My interpretation of ch’i is that it involves the natural movement of cells as they absorb oxygen and nutrients and release wastes. When the body is very relaxed and moves naturally, its cells are more able to carry on such activities. Of course, fixations of muscular tension act oppositely. So when we relax our habitual fixations of tension, the cells are given an opportunity to carry on their cleansing and restorative activities, which are essential to health and healing. Over time, and with the correct teaching, T’ai-Chi practitioners can not only feel the ch’i throughout their bodies but also guide it to an injury. When a minor injury such as a bruise is thus treated immediately after t occurs, it usually disappears within minutes! Read a biological interpretation of ch’i

 

One of the nice things about doing T’ai Chi is that no equipment or special clothing is required, and it can be done in a very small space. It is suitable for people of all ages from teens on up. When you are old or infirm, you probably cannot do Tae Kwon Do, aerobics, or weight training, but you should be able to do T’ai Chi. That is why it is best not to wait until then to learn it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essay:

Qigong the Power of Intention

Qigong

 

This is a marvelous essay by renowned Tai Chi and Qigong teacher Jane Golden.

 

 

Qigong is an ancient Chinese exercise that is literally translated as "breathing exercise". Qi is "life force", which essentially means breath. Gong means "work" or "cultivation," hence the literal translation.

 

References to this art can be found as far back as we can trace the history of the Chinese Culture. Qigong is core to the foundation of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Martial Arts, and Chinese Meditation. Glyphs from centuries past portray figures in postures that are recognizable as some of the forms we see practiced in modern times.

 

There are many stories about famous Qigong masters reaching extraordinary levels of ability as Healers, as Martial Artists, as Sages. Today, great numbers of people practice Qigong daily for its simple pleasures and benefits. Created in the inspiration of Nature itself, Qigong is learning to stand like a tree, move like the wind.....with bones as strong as a Tiger's and eyes as fiery as a Dragon's.....developing inner and outer strength, a clear and calm mind, and an increase in the spirit with which you move through your life.

 

The focus of this art is to increase vital energy in the body, lead it with the mind, and direct it with intention. This aspect of intention determines the specific type of exercises you choose to practice. For example, if your intention is to develop prowess as a martial artist, you would choose the more strenuous postures and practice them with an intensity that would be directed towards increasing physical stamina, speed, and agility. You would also practice "discharging" this increased energy or power, with the intention of defeating an opponent. To reach a high skill level as a martial artist, the mind and the spirit must become as clear and strong as the physical body. Therefore the result of Qigong practice, with this intention, will integrate the mind, the body, and the spirit.

 

Another intention or purpose of Qigong practice is healing -- healing yourself and healing others. This practice is referred to as Medical Qigong, and is based on the Chinese Medical theory that illness results from imbalance or blockage of vital energy that flows through the body. The flow of energy in the body occurs in specific pathways called meridians. As the acupuncturist uses needles to increase or decrease the flow of energy through the meridians, the Qigong practitioner uses posture, movement, breath, and mind to cultivate and circulate "qi" for the purpose of maintaining and improving health.

 

Qigong is active participation in healing while receiving acupuncture is passive. Therefore, in practicing Medical Qigong, you not only benefit from the result of balancing energy, you also develop confidence and trust in your own ability to heal and stay healthy. Again, this requires the integration of the mind, the body, and the spirit -- the essence of Qigong practice.

 

Another intention or purpose of Qigong practice is to develop or cultivate Spirituality. This practice takes the form of meditation, including moving meditation as well as stillness. The meditations often take their forms from Nature. The practice of moving like a river increases circulation and encourages fluidity of movement. Standing like a mountain builds strength and endurance, increasing longevity. Walking with the grace of a deer or soaring in the sky like a bird brings you into harmony with a spirit much greater than yourself. It connects you to a resource of nourishment for your own spirit -- spirit being as vital to your health as the food you eat.

 

No matter what type of Qigong you practice, Martial, Medical, or Spiritual, you'll find that any one type of Qigong will benefit the other aspects of yourself. Practicing Martial Qigong will benefit your health and enhance your spirituality; Medical Qigong may include the practice of "discharging" qi (for healing rather than martial purposes); Spiritual Qigong practice can enhance both martial prowess and health.

 

The experiences and benefits of all three types of Qigong practice overlap because Qigong is a holistic practice. It's all about balance -- about developing balance between the many aspects of ourselves -- again referring to body, mind, and spirit. We can restore imbalances in the body, indicated most often by pain or tension in a muscle, joint, organ, etc....we can restore imbalances in the mind, most often indicated by stress, depression, unhappiness, etc....and we can restore imbalances in the spirit, most often indicated by lack of enthusiasm, lack of ambition, etc.

 

The practice of Qigong is the active participation in restoring balance within yourself, and developing a healthy relationship to the environment outside of yourself. Qigong is simple and profound. With diligent practice, your health will improve, your frame of mind will improve, and your Spirit will shine in your eyes.

 

 

 

Tibetan Sound Meditation

 

(October 2011)

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This method is based upon the writings of  Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in his book; “Tibetan Sound Healing”. This master has also very generously provided a seven step video program, completely free for viewing on YouTube.

 

Most of us today recognize the value of meditation. It is a very beneficial means of relaxing, focusing energy and restoring vitality. But, the method I write about here is not merely a means of relaxing or “zoning out”. It is a means of expanding awareness, sensitivity and sense of connection. It is not a means of escaping from this plane; it is a highly active meditation.

 

Among the meditation disciplines, this is one of those that one may use to transform and heal, to embrace change and to overcome addiction and what is called “the Monkey mind”. The Monkey mind is the undisciplined mind, the mind addicted to distraction, which is everywhere at once; unable to focus clearly for long periods of time.

 

The masters knew that stillness, calmness, centered reflection is the key to true enlightenment, expanded awareness and true self-knowledge. As one becomes more calm, more relaxed, more centered, details of the world become more vivid and more numerous. One who meditates regularly will find they begin to notice many details and nuances in simple things. Details in art, in films, books and our interactions with others and the world around us become more distinct. These insights can continue, growing stronger and more vivid as our state of awareness expands.

 

In order to do this, we must not only overcome the Monkey mind, we must learn to ignore the chorus of voices, the voices of parents, friends, teachers, Aunts and Uncles, which echo in our consciousness for our whole lifetime. The voices saying;” Why aren’t you this way, you should look like this, you should think like this, you should, you should.

 

We discover that many of our addictions are emotional. As the pioneer in the study of the mind and emotions, Dr. Joe Dispenza, points out that if we find ourselves feeling and dealing with strong emotions on a daily basis, we might very well be addicted to those very same emotions. Even negative emotions are energy in motion, and carry a “charge” some find difficult to resist.

 

“From the Tibetan, Taoist and Hindu traditions, vibratory breathing transforms into beneficial electromagnetic pulses by virtue of the piezoelectric properties of crystalline molecular structure in the bones, connective tissues and electrolytes.”

 

Daniel Ried

 

 

Then one begins to see Time itself as the illusion it truly is. One begins to feel connected to those who came before. One becomes more interested in the simple day-to-day lives of everyday people in the past, rather than the lives of Kings and Princes.

 

A WORD ABOUT SOUND

 

As we learned from the book; The Subtle Body, by Cyndi Dale, every part of  the body, from the cells to the toes, moves. The resulting sound waves and fields help to regulate more than 50% of the body’s processes.

 

The heart’s electromagnetic field is 5,000 times stronger than the brain. Its electrical field is 60 times greater. Information that vibrates flows constantly between the heart and the brain, assisting with emotional processing, sensory experience, memory and derivation of meaning from events and from reasoning.

 

AWARENESS: the AH Sound

 

To begin sit comfortably in a chair, or site cross legged on a pillow. Maintain a straight posture but try to keep the back very relaxed. Breathe slowly and deeply from the belly, but don’t force the breath.

 

Through centuries of deep study, through trial and error, the ancient masters discovered that certain sounds, said a certain way and with the full intent and attention of the mind, stimulate and energize the nervous system in a very profound way.

 

After a little practice with the Sound Meditation technique, you will find that you feel energized, relaxed and something like a finely tuned instrument after doing the meditation. Close the eyes.

 

The “AH” Sound

 

The Third Eye point, the area between the eyebrows and a few inches inside the brain is considered the center of awareness, the Chakra or energy center that is “beyond words”.  Focus your attention there. Feel the sound as it dissipates blocks in the body, emotions and obscurations of the mind.

 

Sometimes called the GOD sound, the AH sound occurs over and over in different forms: Jehovah, Allah, Krishnah, even Amen. Sing the sound at a moderately high pitch, long and slow. Follow the sound. Embrace the feeling of wakefulness, full awareness. Repeat at least seven times.

 

 

OPENNESS: The OM sound

 

This rhymes with the sound of “home”.

 

Bring attention to the throat area, from the base of the skull to the base of the neck.

 

Embracing the feeling of awareness, feel open, balanced, not seeking but not resisting. This is the sense of equanimity, freedom, and the feeling of seeing all things in balance without bias or prejudice.

 

Feel confidence in deep openness. Like images in a mirror, all experiences are clearly reflected. Repeat at least seven times.

 

 

COMPASSION: the HUNG sound

 

Love and compassion cannot be taught. But, they can be awakened. Love and clear openness feels like planting and watching a tree grow.

 

Master Tenzin Rinpoche points out that love is the antidote for anger. Compassion is the antidote for a self-centered view of the world. Joy can be the antidote for depression, and equanimity is the antidote for emotional volatility or unclear boundaries.

 

 

Or as Pema Chodron has said; unconditional love is the thing we value most, yet we cannot even give it ourselves. How then can we hope to give it to others? Befriending yourself comes first. This and freedom from fear open one to unconditional love.

 

These qualities are the four immeasurable qualities. Repeat at least seven times.

 

COMPLETENESS: The RAM sound

 

The sound is issues from the mouth as if opening to swallow, and then the lips come together with slight tension and vibrate during the sound.

 

Bring the attention to the solar plexus area and the navel. Feel the fire of energy that ripens the quality you felt in the heart. Repeat at least seven times.

 

You are a complete being. You have within you all the answers you seek. You don’t have any deficits. During this meditation ignore the echoes of other people’s voices.

 

 

SPONTANEITY: The DZA sound

 

 

Bring your attention to the Base Chakra, the base of the body and the tailbone.

 

Similar to the AH sound, this begins with the lips forming the “D” sound.

 

Embrace awareness, compassion, openness, and completeness as if they are growing, ripening qualities within you. They become second nature, spontaneous in relaxed, effortlessness. Repeat at least seven times.

 

End by sitting quietly for a few minutes.

 

 

 

Standing Meditation

 

 

Most of us recognize that meditation has value. The process can increase awareness, calm the mind, balance our perspective and make us more patient.

 

Physically, standing meditation in particular can calm the heart and strengthen the whole body. From the standpoint of  the mind/body arts, it balances and strengthens the Qi, while freeing us from stagnant or trapped Qi from physical damage and incomplete emotional experiences.

 

An especially beneficial point is that when does Qigong, or standing in particular, the body is exercised to a level one might not be able to reach otherwise, because the lungs and heart would become too stressed before the muscles.

 

Technique

 

There are a wide range of meditation techniques and usually the more difficult the method, the greater the payoff. Using some sort of mental focus is often used as a means of disciplining and directing the mind. One may direct their attention to a sound, an object, a color or even a idea. The most widely used method, and the one we use for standing, is to focus attention on the breathing.

 

Now, regarding posture, most teachers, including me, can go on endlessly about correct standing posture.

 

Although all this concern about posture is very important, be assured that no one, even masters, ever get the standing posture perfect. My point is that you should not let the worry of making a mistake prevent you from doing the meditation. In many ways the process is much more important than the goal. Just remember, you can’t do it wrong, as long as you do three things: Relax completely, breath slowly and deeply from the belly, and pay close attention to the feeling of your energy rising, spreading and falling off as you inhale and exhale.

 

Just remember, you can’t do it wrong, as long as you do three things: Relax completely, breath slowly and deeply from the belly, and pay close attention to the feeling of your energy rising, spreading and falling off as you inhale and exhale.

 

Now that I have said that, let’s take a look at posture.

 

As master Robert Chuckrow once said, “If you can relax and center your body, you can relax and center the mind.”

 

In Qigong and Tai Chi we recognize three major energy points we call “Dan Tien”, a Chinese word meaning “field of Elixir”. There are other key energy wells, but these three are very important in standing. As Jan Diepersloot points out in his book, “Warriors Of Stillness”, aligning the lower, middle and upper energy wells with one another is essential to correct standing. This centers the body’s energy and enables one to feel connected, like a conduit,  between Earth and the Universe.

 

One concentrates on, but also must try to really feel, the first of these energy wells, the lower “Dan Tien”. This point is a couple of inches below the navel, and is considered to source of our life essence. This essence is called “Jing” in Chinese.

 

While keeping the attention at this point, one tries to really relax and “open up” the “Gate of life”, called “Mingmen” in Chinese. The Mingmen is the small of the back and is the backside of the lower Dan Tien.

 

Once this alignment is achieved, one must try to fully relax into posture as follows:

 

·        Relax and very slightly elevate the head

·        Touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth

·        Relax all the muscles and let the chest “sink in” slightly

·        Round the back by separating the shoulder blades

·        Relax the small of the back and bring the hips slightly forward

·        Relax and open the hip joints

·        Bend the knees slightly

·        Relax the feet and center the weight between the feet on the soles, just behind the ball of each foot

·        Breathe slowly and deeply, but never force this breath-just get the feeling of “watching” the breath

 

As you stand, with each breath, try to relax even more, all the while scanning mentally for any subconscious tension.

 

You are just standing, hands at the sides, in the relaxed posture, the most important of the postures, called ‘Wuji Zhang”. The weight is centered at a point called the “Vertical Axis” between the feet and a few inches forward about even with the balls of the feet.

 

This point will move inward slightly as one becomes more advanced. When very deep tendon strength and leg strength has developed, the “Vertical Axis” will naturally move in closer to the heels and the posture will elevate slightly. One is now able to assume a strong and deeply rooted posture with the legs only slightly curved.

 

“Empty standing” is the translation, and it means one is very awake and aware, deeply relaxed, clear of any preconceptions, not resisting thought but not seeking it.

 

The Standing Tree

 

After one has become centered and relaxed in the starting posture, the next step is to raise the arms into the “Standing Tree” posture on must try to relax completely, breath slowly and deeply while quieting the mind.

Raise the hands and turn them so they face inward, even with the shoulders. The elbows droop down and the back is rounded and relaxed. The hands are about two feet away as if one is has his arms out embracing a tree. The hands are open, fingers spread apart slightly and the thumbs point toward your eyes.

 

As we stand, we try to “just stand”. That is, as we try to relax, we breathe slowly and quiet the mind.

 

And as we breath, mentally following the rising and falling of our Chi or energy, we must try to relax and “fill the Mingmen’. This means that we must keep the center of our awareness in the lower abdomen and try to open up, relax even more in this area of the body. One must not simply be aware of the Mingmen, one must embrace it it like a beloved child.

 

As Master Diepersloot wrote, “…if we look distantly but softly at a distant object, it wakens our peripheral vision-the ability to see all around our field of vision. If we simultaneously direct our attention inward our little developed sense of kinesthetic awareness in awakened. Our awareness and our sense of the body, motion, and muscle memory”.

 

Always end this exercise by placing the hands palm down near the hips and standing for a couple of minutes. This drains off any tension, which might have built up, and releases any built up Chi.

 

When you stand for a period of time, at first you may feel that sense of emotional stress. This is because your body IS under stress. However, if you decide you are determined to continue you will redirect your mind to something else. You will focus on relaxing, staying calm, and doing deep breathing. This causes us to develop a new stress response; one in which we find ourselves becoming calmer and more centered to more stress we feel.

 

 

How Long Do We Stand?

 

Most experts agree that we should very gradually work on our standing until we can stand for about twenty minutes. Most have also found that the benefits diminish after 20-25 minutes of standing.

 

The best way to approach this is VERY gradually. The first day you may only be able to stand for about 30 seconds. That doesn’t matter. All That matters is that you add just a little time each day.

 

One favorite way to measure the time is by counting breaths. Start by holding the position for 12 slow, deep breaths. Then add a breath each day until you can stand for 200 breaths.

 

I like to use music. You can select a musical piece which lasts for a given time, say twenty minutes.

 

 

The Postural Muscles

 

The muscles we use to move around are “fast twitch” or mobilizing muscles. The other type of muscles is what are called “stabilizing” or postural muscles. These are postural muscles are involuntary and react against force without our volition.

 

Control of these postural muscles respond to intention; as in riding a bicycle. These muscles  “acquire” through trial and error. These muscles are most affected when we balancing or, in the case of Tai Chi, we are transitioning between postures. This also enables us to train the postural muscles to “let go” at the proper time.

 

In order to achieve real endurance and balanced strength, these muscles must be trained equally with the mobilizing or fast twitch muscles.

 

Science has learned that most muscular-skeletal health problems are caused by an imbalance between these two types of muscles.

 

We also know that what psychologists call “incomplete” emotional experiences or unresolved trauma often result in excessive subconscious tensions that are “held” in the postural muscles. We are “just standing”.

 

We have learned through the study of body language and somatic science, that the mind and body are constantly expressing outwardly, what it is experiencing and feeling inwardly. But, like most things, this works both ways. One can influence and change inner feelings by changing the posture or attitude of the body in a mindful way.

 

Dr. Maoshing Ni, author of “Secrets Of Longevity”, has taught us that standing deeply energizes the heavy muscles in the legs and back, and will augment and strengthen natural human growth hormones. This makes us more energetic, more youthful and more resistant to disease.

 

The Experience of Standing

 

Standing has some challenges, which Master Cohen described as the three trials:

 

The Trial of Discomfort: One must develop the ability to disregard the physical discomfort which accompanies standing meditation. If a sharp pain is felt, one must stop and rest. Otherwise, the trial is to direct the mind away from the distraction of physical discomfort and instead, direct the mind to give its full attention to what is “going on”.

 

You will feel your nervous energy rise up, along with the almost irresistible urge to move. Relax into this energy and, instead of letting it rise, use you adult mind, you’re “I’m the master here” mind, to send that nervous energy down into the lower abdomen.

 

The next trial is the Trial of Fire. In this phase, we often experience a great deal of body heat. This arises because we have not yet acquired the ability to simply “let go”. As we grow stronger, and begin to relax even more deeply INTO the discomfort and the body heat, the discomfort will pass.

 

As this is happening, we are also freeing ourselves of internal blockages where the Chi is too weak or too abundant.

 

Finally, there is the Trial of Patient Growth

 

All the way through this experience, we find that random thoughts enter our minds. Concerns about day-to-day life and our problems, but also the echoes of other people’s voices; parents, friends, relatives, managers and teachers. Our mind is tempted to “flit around”. This is what the Chinese call the Monkey Mind, the undisciplined, unfocused mind which is trying to be everywhere at once.

 

One of my best sources is the work of Karel Koskuba, a master of Zhan Zhuang who wrote in his article; The Foundation of Internal Martial Arts, that we humans are “addicted to distraction”. Mostly this is based upon two things: fear of boredom and fear of stillness. Fear of that quiet, still, empty place our mind goes to when we are completely still. But, be assured, there is absolutely nothing to fear. In this state, you are simply the “observer”, watching, listening, but not seeking or resisting.

 

We have reached a level where we are “cut loose” and free to practice what Master Cohen calls, “restorative awareness”. Like food to a hungry body, a sense of being restored to full energy, full awareness and the sense of interconnection to everything will become abundant.

 

Advanced Standing Meditation

 

Dr. Lam Kam Cheuen, in his book: The Way Of Energy, describes several techniques for “going beyond” the basics. These are well worth looking in to.

 

Also, have a look at the writings of Yang Jwing-ming in his book “The Roots Of Chinese Qigong”. In his book you will find discussion of something called “Almost Movement” or “Nei Dan Cultivation”. In this practice, one learns to send the mental signal for movement, like lifting the hand upward, but not actually moving, and then “sensing the strength or energy” of that movement.

 

A study of modern day hypnotism and also the writings of Dr. Joe Dispenza, (“ Evolve Your Brain”), helps us understand that this meditation is a state of very deep relaxation combined with deepened awareness. Hypnotists know that all hypnotism is really self-hypnosis, and that meditation is, in fact, self-induction into a hypnotic state. The indicators of true hypnosis are stillness, relaxation, body warmth and what is called “catalepsy”:

 

Catalepsy (from gr. κατάληψις "catch") is a nervous condition characterized by muscular rigidity and fixity of posture regardless of external stimuli, as well as decreased sensitivity to pain.[1]

 

Catalepsy is also a term used by hypnotists to refer to the state of making a hypnotised subject's arm, leg or back rigid. "Arm catalepsy" is often a pre-hypnotic test performed prior to an induction into a full trance.

 

Conclusion

 

Master  Wang Xiang-zhai, ( 1885 – 1963), is considered the modern founder of Zhan Zhuang and one who popularized and developed the practice in the 20th century.

 

He and his students were renowned for being unbeatable in martial arts contests because of their dedication to the very simple practice of Zhan Zhuang.

 

He wrote that Zhan Zhuang could “cure anemia, normalize blood pressure and make the heart beat calm and regular.”

 

He described Zhan Zhuang as ruled by four important contradictions:

 

1.       Holding the arms up is relaxing

2.       Time flies when standing

3.       Static postures promote fluid coordinated movement

4.       Standing still is good exercise

 

 

Bibliography

 

“The Way Of Energy” by Lam Kam Chuen

“Warriors of Stillness” by Jan Diepersloot

“Chi Kung by Yves Requena

“The Way Of Qigong” by Kenneth Cohen

“The Web Of Life” by Fritzof Kapra

“The Subtle Body” by Cyndi Dale

“Timeless Healing” by Dr. Herbert Bensen

Documentary film: The Quantum Activist by Amit Goswammi

“Heal Yourself With Qigong” by Suzanne Friedman

“Hypnotism: Keys To TheMind” by Nathan Thomas

Foundation Of Internal Martial Arts by Karel Koskuba

“Evolve Your Brain” Dr. Joe Dispenza

“The Roots Of Chinese Qigong” by Yang Jwing-Ming

 

 

 

Quotes From Masters

 

Great quotations are like vibrant little jewels. They contain wisdom and insight. The greatest quotes can summarize ideas, often very abstract ideas, and are all the more resonating because of their brevity. Think of all that is said, by what is unsaid, in the following:

 

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”  Martin Luther King

 

“…And because the goal is God, rather than thin thighs fabulous pensions, and geriatric erections, the old in India enjoy a peace, after the storm of youth, that is largely unknown to aging Americans.” From Still Here, by Ram Dass

 

“The greatest impediment to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”  Daniel Boorston

 

“Beauty is found in the ordinary, mystery is found in the everyday.” From The Way of Qigong; Kenneth S. Cohen

 

“I have come to believe that the visualizations are the most important part of Qigong.” From Heal Yourself With Qigong by Suzanne Friedman

 

“A fanatic is always concealing secret doubt.” John Le Carre

 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

 

“By controlling our breath and learning to take it deep into the abdomen, the store of pre-natal chi can be replenished and the aging process delayed.” CHI” by Paul Wildish

 

“Egotism is fear turned outward.” Lao Tzu

 

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.” Mantak Chia

 

“If you find that you are going through hell-keep going.”  Winston Churchill

 

 “When a fool sees the Tao, he laughs. Otherwise it would not be the Tao.” -Tai Chi parable

 

 “One who thinks everything should be easy inevitably finds everything difficult.” Lao Tzu

 

“Eliminating blame cultivates patience and the ability to forgive ourselves or others when we or they fall short of perfection.”- Dr. Robert Chuckrow

 

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” - Carl Gustav Jung

 

“The white man builds very large fire and sits far away; the Indian builds a small fire and sits close by.”- Cherokee parables

 

Being able to say; ‘I’ll try again’, is one of the deepest expressions of faith in oneself.”- Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt

 

“The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and watch someone else doing it wrong, without comment.” Theodore H. White

 

“There are two kinds of liars; those who want others to believe them, and those who want to believe themselves.” Scott Turrow

 

“Embrace your pain, for there your soul will grow.” Carl Jung

 

“Anyone can teach a gifted student, the real test of a teacher’s skill is how accomplished his novice students are.” EC McGilvery

 

“The truth dazzles gradually, otherwise the world would go blind.” Emily Dickinson

 

“What we do not make conscious, emerges later as fate.” Carl Jung

 

“Defining things limits them.” – Dr. Robert Chuckrow

 

“The sharp point of the treasure sword was honed on the grinding stone. The fragrance of the plum blossoms was conceived in bitter cold.” – Kuo Lien-Ying

 

“When we focus inward, away from the distractions of daily life, and concentrate on beneficial objects such as our breathing, body, movement, or intent, then our mind naturally rebalances itself and we become more in tune with ourselves.” -“Total Tai Chi” by Mathew Rochford

 

“He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.” - Albert Einstein

 

“Qi can be defined as the energy produced when complementary, polar opposites are harmonized.” Kenneth Cohen

 

“All great truths begin as blasphemies.” - George Bernard Shaw

 

“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.” - Claude Bernard

 

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” - Albert Einstein

 

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true art and science.” - Albert Einstein

 

"Every idea was once an absurdity; every custom was once an eccentricity"       A. Einstein

 

"Only the truly mediocre are always at their best." A. Einstein

 

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”- Galileo Galilei

 

“The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired. “- Stephen W. Hawking

 

“In pursuing knowledge, one accumulates daily. In pursuing the Tao, one loses daily.” – Lao Tzu

 

“Your aim is to change and change again…nature itself ensures that conditions within you and around you are never the same.” Jou Tsung Hwa

 

“Any ardent human quest teaches us about ourselves.”  Mark Chen

 

“The lymph fluid does not have a pump (like the heart) to move it around the body. It relies upon physical movement instead. The expansive non tensile movements of Tai Chi are ideal in this respect.” Robert Parry

 

“The restoration of man to the harmony and integrity of his psychological and mental self will transform the universe.” Wen-Shan Huang

 

“All objects, both living and dead, are surrounded by an electromagnetic field. Matter is held together at the subatomic level by magnetism created by the oscillation of positive and negatively charged ions. In other words, our bodies are vibrating masses of electricity”.  Baolin Wu, Qigong For Total Wellness

 

“The only knack, as committed students learned, was to work through the frustration whenever it arose.”  Return to Stillness by Trevor Carolan

 

“One way of making a breakthrough is to think deeply about things other people take for granted.” Jou Tsung Hwa

 

“Tai Chi has been employing Skinnerian methods of behavior modification for thousands of years.” Lawrence Galante

 

“Meditation isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” Pema Chodron

 

“The greatest of all arts is the art of life, and the best of all music is the harmony of the spirit.”  Max Muller

 

“Stress is actually a survival mechanism and a manifestation of unresolved conflict in the mind-body.”  John Loupos

 

“When any of the strong emotions lasts too long, the mind is unable to properly regulate them, destroying the energy of the organs, which then results in disease or illness.”  Shou-Yu Liang

 

“…the mind must be encouraged to give up its obsession with endless mental chatter. Paying attention to the breath is one method of slowing down and eventually stopping mental restlessness.” Erle Montaigue

 

“Invisible wisps of thought and emotion alter the fundamental chemistry of every cell.” Deepak Chopra

 

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  Marcel Proust

 

“To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” Sun Tzu

 

“The goal of a rich and satisfying life is the great leveler. The movement [ of Tai Chi ] have endured for thousands of years because they contribute to and support a goal that binds us all as one.” From Stay Young With Tai Chi by Ellae Underwood

 

“Only by training [in Tai Chi] and strengthening our point of contact with the ground; he taught, could we truly relax our upper body for optimum responsiveness in self defense. The only knack; as committed students came to learn, was to work through frustration whenever it arose.” Trevor Carolan

 

“Functional training may be gained through the solo exercise by imagining an opponent vying with you as you go through postures. Your mind operates to create this imaginary opponent. If you disregard this vital aspect, your postures will lose meaning and trueness, and the exercise will become merely a mechanical charade.” Cheng Man-Ching

 

“The ultimate aim of Tai Chi is to do without method-the response to an attack is a reflex done without cognition.”  Cheng Man-Ching

 

“No one can tell you what makes your body live. Scientists have an explanation for how your lungs breathe air, and how your heart pumps blood around your body to nourish its cells, but they cannot say why life began in your body and what makes it continue. For two and a half thousand years, the Chinese have called this subtle life force qi (or chi).” From “TAI CHI for the Body, Mind & Spirit” by Eric Chaline

 

It [Tai Chi] becomes most potent when the intention of your subconscious mind parallels exactly the intention of the conscious mind.” John Loupos

 

“Practicing Tai Chi is an opportunity to step out of the addiction to getting the most done in the least amount of time. “ Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt

 

“Twisting, turning and spiraling should be present either in an overt or hidden way within Tai Chi techniques.”

Bruce Franzis

 

“Like a kinked garden hose, a body that isn’t aligned, relaxed, breathing and visualizing can’t let its energy flow smoothly and efficiently.” From “TAI CHI for DUMMIES” by Therese Ikonoian

 

“Let your mind be like a hawk-hunting for a rabbit, let your movement be like a bow-preparing to fire an arrow; when moving-move like a river…” Tai Chi Classics

 

“All Tai Chi exercises are fundamentally holistic, benefiting the whole body as well as the mind.” - from “The Complete Book of Tai Chi “ ;by Stewart McFarlane

 

“…Concentrating on natural breathing frees the mind from mechanical, everyday, fixated thinking. This mental shift is a first step towards entering a meditative state.” Robert Chuckrow

 

“I have seen many students sabotage their own progress with the words: I can’t. All thoughts and verbal expressions affect the subconscious mind, which slavishly accepts what is repeatedly said or thought”  - Robert Chuckrow

 

“However much Tai Chi observers might identify or equate Tai Chi with moving slowly; slowness is really just a means to an end. …This produces a rejuvenating effect rather than a dulling of the mind and body as one might expect with such a deep level of relaxation.”  John Loupos

 

“…the goal, is formlessness.” – Jou Tsung Hwa

 

 “Tai Chi cannot settle into a dull habit, something they go through absentmindedly, by rote. It becomes an imperative, a kind of necessity, to approach the exercise on very occasion it is done as though going through for the first time… This is partly the reason of why the exercise, no matter how often it is performed, must feel quite spontaneous, as though always being newly explored.” -Wadsworth Likely

 

“…The speed of a deer, the calmness of a crane, the patience of an ox, the courage of a tiger-all features that a martial artist can expect to attain.  From THE COMPLETE BOOK OF TAI CHI CHUAN by Wong Kiew Kit

 

“Most students who quit Tai Chi after a short time do so not because Tai Chi is difficult to learn but because their expectations are not satisfied quickly enough. They leave because they do not want to face disappointment. Not wanting to feel the pain of disappointment is often what holds us back…”  Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt

 

“A toned body that is strong as an ox, as supple as a tiger, and as quick as a striking snake requires a type of strength that is much more complex than just power lifting. To acquire this type of strength requires gaining skills of strength, agility, grace, relaxation, readiness, effective breathing and confident movement. Tai Chi’s simple movements provide all that is needed to retain these qualities for yourself.” From Stay Young With Tai Chi; by Ellae Elinwood

 

“The first principle is to always use calm against action (calm against excitable). The second calls for using soft against hard (relaxed against tense). The third principle is slow against fast (precise against rushed). And the fourth, single against a group (one technique can defeat many).” Doc Fai Wong

 

“Through research in the exciting new field of  Craniosacral Osteopathy, a very subtle rhythm has been located. Called the “cranial rhythmic impulse”, …this rhythm, generally 12 to 14 beats per minute, is precisely that at which the Tai Chi form is enacted. One cycle of Yin and Yang around every four or five seconds. Tai Chi seems to work at a level wholly in tune with our body’s most basic rhythmic impulses…” Robert Parry

 

“Regular practice of Tai Chi helps you to focus your mind without forming rigid attachment to a single point of view. This is known as Tai Chi mind: perceiving the unifying elements of a situation rather than those that divide, and remembering that there is always an element within you of that which you oppose. This perspective on life encourages harmony and a sense of connection.” From Tai Chi Mind and Body by Tricia Yu

 

“Where the intent goes, the Chi follows.” Waysun Liao

 

“Forcing Chi can cause disruption of involuntary processes, resulting in sickness.” Robert Chuckrow

 

“In Tai Chi there is no final result. Rather, there is a gradual accumulation of benefits…” Dr. Robert Chuckrow

 

“Ten minutes of Tai Chi is better than ten minutes of sleep.” Cheng Man-Ch’ing

 

“The most prominent mistake made by many is to misinterpret the word ‘soft’…it also means suppleness; represented by the suppleness of metallic springs. Small wonder, some people regard Tai Chi as an exercise merely for health.” Lee Ying-Arng

 

“It [Tai Chi] is a system of reeducation and can only happen slowly, since there are years of moving wrongly to contend with.” Paul Crompton

 

“…using your imagination, feel that you are as pliable as water, totally flexible, yielding to the shape of the container. When [you] the water is poured into a lake, you become the lake.” Waysun Liao

 

“…Many Tai Chi students today have gone to the extreme, thinking that hard external training and application are alien to Tai Chi. An appreciation of the Yin-Yang principle helps to overcome this superficial view…” Wong Kiew Kit

 

“Tai Chi movement may be likened to the movement of a long river.” From The Tai Chi Book by Dr. Robert Chuckrow

 

Doctor Chuckrow describing the result of “being in the moment during practice”: After regularly practicing Tai Chi movements over a period of time, we may suddenly become aware of how much we have changed in our approach to the world. However, this change is so natural and gradual that it is often barely noticeable.”

 

and

 

“Almost from birth most of us are taught that the erroneous idea that the result of an endeavor is more important than the process by which the result is achieved.”

 

 

 

“It should be understood that Tai Chi is a highly individual art, and no two masters; even at the same school, will perform it in exactly the same way.”  Lu Hui Ching

 

“The slow motion approach of Tai Chi doesn’t just allow, but rather compels, an enhanced state of self awareness. Tai Chi students learn to cultivate two important concomitant states; those of attention and intention, combining them into an inseparable one.”  John Loupos

 

“Tai Chi, practiced correctly and regularly, will gain one the pliability of a child, the health of a lumberjack and the piece of mind of a sage.” Cheng Man-Chi’ng

 

“…its superb effectiveness [as a martial art] is a result of the fact that it teaches the practitioner to use her body and mind normally, correctly, and with purpose.” Mark Chen

 

“Tai Chi is an exercise in discernment. Expertise consists of being able to differentiate between subtly different situations and conditions.” Dr. Jay Dunbar

 

 

“Tai Chi Chuan reconnects the mind to the body, the consciousness to the subconscious and the individual to his environment.”  From Movements of Magic by Bob Klein

 

“…Tai Chi people speak though maintaining a ‘cool heart even in the direst circumstances.” Return to Stillness by Trevor Carolan

 

“The mind must be trained to develop a state of ‘non-attachment’ whereby it is possible to allow the body to work naturally and in a relaxed manner, despite being placed in an extremely stressful situation.” Applied Tai Chi Chuan by Nigel Sutton

 

The most compelling and elegant explanation of Chi I have ever read was offered by Koichi Tohei in his book: “Ki in Daily Life”:

 

“Our lives are a part of the universal Ki (Chi) enclosed in the flesh of our bodies. Our lives are like the amount of water we might take from the great sea and hold in our hands. We call this “I”. Yes, it is the same as calling the water our water because we hold it in our hands. On the other hand, from the standpoint of water, it is a part of the great sea. Although if we open our hands the water will fall back into the sea, even as it remains in our hands it is in conflux with the outer great sea.”

 

 

“The Health care industry in the United States is second in size only to the defense industry; an estimated 750 billion dollars annually. The first thing one might conclude is from these figures is that people in the USA must be incredibly healthy. They are not. They are nowhere near as healthy as the Chinese, and comparatively, the Chinese have nothing at all.” -  from The Complete Book of Tai Chi: by Wong Kiew Kit

 

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.“  Eleanor Roosevelt

 

“It is a bloody shame for a man to die, well known to almost everybody-bur unknown to himself.”  Francis Bacon

 

“I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life." 

Anne Rice

 

“Reality is the enemy of prejudice.” Congressman Barney Frank

 

“Zen is spiritual ophthalmology.”  Allen W. Watts

 

“Historically, the martial arts have been viewed with some ambivalence by China’s government. While on one hand seen as a source of national pride and a means of improving one’s health and vigor of the masses, the martial arts were also traditionally viewed with suspicion as potentially posing a subversive threat. Many lament the watering-down of the traditional martial arts in their appropriation by the government to become Wu Shu, the “arts of the nation.” Forms have been shortened, simplified, assembled into hybrids by committee, all in the interest of packaging the martial arts as a kind of exhibition sport rather far removed from their traditional origins.” From Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan by Louis Swain.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED READING

 

Personally I read everything I can get my hands on, but, during that process I have found some books which are exceptional. Some of them, simply because they are so thorough and well written, and some because they offer an extraordinary viewpoint, technical principle or idea which makes the work stand out. This is a list of those books.

 

 

Teach Yourself Tai Chi; by Robert Parry

Chi Kung, The Chinese Art of Mastering Energy; Yves Requena

Heal Yourself With Qigong; Suzanne Freidman

QIGONG FOR TOTAL WELLNESS; Dr. Baolin Wu

The Way of Qigong; Kenneth S. Cohen

The Theory and Practice of Taiji Qigong, Chris Jarmey

Complete Book of Tai Chi; by Stewart McFarlane

Essence and Applications of TajiQuan; by Yang Cheng Fu   (Translated by Louis Swain)

Exploring Tai Chi; by John Loupos

Inside Tai Chi; by John Loupos

Mastering Yang Style TajiQuan; Fu Zhongwen  (Translated by Louis Swain)

Tai Chi As A Path To Wisdom; by Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt

The Tai Chi Book; By Robert Chuckrow Ph.D.

Tai Chi Chuan; by Douglas Lee

Tai Chi Connections; by John Loupos

 

 

REVIEWS of SELECTED BOOKS

 

Teach Yourself Tai Chi; by Robert Parry:  This book appears at first glance to be a run of the mill Tai Chi book. A closer look reveals that it is an unpretentious but superbly written book, with deep detailed explanations of all the Tai Chi postures.

 

As a long time Jiu Jitsu practitioner and teacher, I applaud the simple logic of this writing. It is only in the later part of the twentieth century that some have turned Tai Chi into a performance art, wherein one vies for trophies. But, it is all frilly showmanship. There is no sound reason for kicking above the knee, locking out a kick, or holding a foot suspended in the air.

 

Chi Kung, The Chinese Art of Mastering Energy; Yves Requena: This author writes with real emotion, but it is tempered with sound and very thorough logic and a scientific awareness of Qigong.  His is the best explanation of the real intricacies of the Eight Brocades exercises.

 

Personally, I am turned off by writers and practitioners; Like Roger Jahnke or Daniel Reid,  who are too “starry eyed”.  “Epiphany addicts” will find these authors quite satisfying but as a long time practitioner of Zen, I discount things, even supposedly pleasant emotions, which are out of balance.

 

Qigong For Total Wellness; Dr. Baolin Wu: A superb book for anyone who wishes to understand the traditional Taoist viewpoint of Qigong. In addition, this book contains the most complete self-treatment and self massage Qigong sequence I have ever seen.

 

The Way of Qigong; Kenneth S. Cohen: This book is an absolute masterwork. It is the most detailed and well written book on Qigong you can find in English. If a practitioner has only one book on Qigong, this is the one to get. As a further step, I strongly recommend Master Cohen’s video programs.

 

The Way of Energy; Lam Kam Chuen. A very clear and well written explanation of how to go about the most important practice in Qigong; Standing Meditation.

 

The Theory and Practice of Taiji Qigong, Chris Jarmey: Well written and very well illustrated, this is a book I recommend as a primer for a basic understanding of Qigong. And, it has best step by step guide to the 18 exercises known as the Shibashi. Armed with this book and Kenneth Cohen’s, you have it all.

 

Complete Book of Tai Chi; by Stewart McFarlane: I make sure all of my students have this book. It is without question the best book of step by step instructions in the 37 posture Cheng Man-Ching form.

 

Essence and Applications of TajiQuan; by Yang Cheng Fu   (Translated by Louis Swain), and, Mastering Yang Style TajiQuan; by Fu Zhongwen  (Translated by Louis Swain): I list these together because they are by the same exceptional translator, but also because they contain words from great masters and a detailed explanation of the Jing dian, a vital concept I have never seen written anywhere else.

 

The Tai Chi Book; By Robert Chuckrow Ph.D.: My favorite book of Tai Chi. Master Chuckrow writes with real authority on the deeper concepts of Tai Chi. It is a must have book for any serious student of Cheng Man-Ching’s style of Tai Chi. It is a masterwork. Master Chuckrow has also published many other exception books and a video series which contains the best performance of the 37 posture form I have ever seen.

 

Tai Chi Chuan; by Douglas Lee: one of the earliest and best step by step instructions on the long Yang form. Mr. Lee has obvious stylistic differences with the more conventional performers, but it is in all ways the best for any one learning the long Yang form.

 

Exploring Tai Chi; by John Loupos, Inside Tai Chi; by John Loupos, Tai Chi Connections; by John Loupos: All of Master Loupos’ books are  essential for any serious student of Tai Chi. He provides deep scientific explanations of the psychosomatic reasons why Tai Chi is so beneficial. He also provided the best written explanations of the technical aspects of the body movement in structure, proprioception, rooting, structure, awareness, balance, posture and breathing. His video series is well worth the investment. I have never seen a better explanation of rooting and structure.

 

Tai Chi As A Path To Wisdom; by Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt: I include this book because it, along with Return to Stillness by Trevor Carolan, is my personal favorite about the journey, experiences and awakenings many Tai Chi practitioners discover. I list many of this author’s writings in my book on greats quotations by Tai Chi teachers.

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

QiGong

 

18 Buddha Hands Qigong; Larry Johnson MD

A Complete Guide to Chi-Kung, Daniel Reid

Ba Duan Jin, Eight Section Qigong Exercises; Chinese Health Qigong Association

Bone Marrow Nei Kung; Montak Chia

CHI; Paul Wildish

Chi Gung; L.V. Carnie

Chi Kung, The Chinese Art of Mastering Energy; Yves Requena

Chinese Qigong, Outgoing Qi Therapy, by Yong sheng

Chinese Healing Exercises: The Tradition of Daoyin  Livia Kohn

Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong by Bruce Frantzis

Earth Qigong for Women; Chunna Zhang

Essence of the Healing Dance; Garri Garripoli

Heal Yourself With Qigong; Suzanne Freidman

Knocking At the Gate of Life; Official manual of China

Liu Zi Jue, Six Sounds Approach to Qigong Breathing Exercises; Chinese Health Qigong Association

Medical Qigong Exercise Prescriptions; Suzanne Friedmann

Miracle Healing From China, Charles T McGee MD

Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body; Bruce Frantzis

Qigong For Total Wellness; Dr. Baolin Wu

Qigong Basics; Ellae Underwood

Qigong: Essence of the Healing Dance; Garri Garripoli

Qigong For Beginners; Stanley D. Wilson

Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal; Stuart Alve Olson

The Swimming Dragon; T.K. Shih

Taoist Qigong for Health and Vitality; Sat Chuen Hon

Tendon Nei Kung; Mantak Chia

The  7 Secrets of Sound Healing; Jonathan Goldman

The Art of Chi King; Wong Kiew Kit

The Tao Of Tai Chi Chuan, Jou Tsung Hwa

The Tao Of Meditation, Jou Tsung Hwa

The Tao Of naturdal Breathing, Lewis

The Way of Energy; by Lam Kam Chuen

The Way of Qigong; Kenneth S. Cohen

The Chi Revolution; Bruce Fantzis

The Complete Guide to Qhi-Kung; Daniel Reid

The Healing Art Of Qigong; Hong Jiu

The Healing Promise of Qi ; Roger Jahnke

The Healer Within, Roger Jahnke

The Roots of Chinese Qigong, by Dr Yang, Jwing-Ming

The Tao of Natural Breathing, Dennis Lewis

The Theory and Practice of Taiji Qigong, Chris Jarmey

Warriors Of Stillness,by Jan Diepersloot

Walking Qigong, Lam Kam chuen

Women’s Qigong For Health and Longevity; Deborah Davis

Wu Qin Xi, Five-Animal Qigong Exercises; Chinese Health Qigong Association

Yi Jin Jing; Chinese Health Qigong Association

 

 

 

Acupressure / Shiatsu

 

Acupressure’s Potent Points; Michael Reed Gach

Acupressure for Emotional Healing; Michael Reed Gach Phd and Beth Ann Henning Dipl ABT

Do It Yourself SHIATSU; Wataru Ohashi

Reflexology and Acupressure; Janet Wright

The Book of Shiatsu, Paul Lundberg

SHAITSU; Suzanne Franzen

SHIATSU; Tokujiro Namikoshi

 

 

TAI CHI and related arts

 

 

Applied Tai Chi Chuan; by Nigel Sutton

Big Book of Tai Chi; by Bruce Frantzis

Body Mechanics Of Tai Chi Chuan; by William C.C. Chen

Cheng Man-Ching’s Advanced Form Instruction; Wile

Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods; by Robert Smith

Complete Book of Tai Chi; by Stewart McFarlane

Complete Tai Chi; by Robert Huang

Dao of TajiQuan; by Jou Tsung Hwa

Essence and Applications of TajiQuan; by Yang Cheng Fu   (Translated by Louis Swain)

Exploring Tai Chi; by John Loupos

Fundamentals of Tai Chi Ch'uan; by Wen-Shan Huang

Handbook of Tai Chi Chuan Exercises; by Zhang Fuxing

Healing Art of Tai Chi; by Martin Lee

Inside Tai Chi; by John Loupos

Ki in Daily Life; by Koichi Tohei

Long Life Good Health; Simmone Kuo

Mastering Yang Style TajiQuan; Fu Zhongwen  (Translated by Louis Swain)

Movements of Magic; by Bob Klein

New Style Tai Chi Ch'uan; by Dr. Wei Yue Sun

Old Frame Chen Family TaijiQuan; by Mark Chen

Power Taji; by Erle Montaigue

Return to Stillness; by Trevor Carolan

Stay Young With Tai Chi by Ellae Elinwood

Study of TajiQuan; by Sun Lutang (translated by Tim Cartmell)

Tai Chi According to The I Ching; by Stuart Alve Olson

Tai Chi As A Path To Wisdom; by Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt

Tai Chi Book; By Robert Chuckrow Ph.D.

Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle; Kuo / Guttman

Tai Chi: Tranquility In Motion; Christian F. Hanche

Tai Chi Chuan Martial Applications; by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming

Tai Chi Chuan, the Supreme Ultimate Exercise; Cheng Man-Ch'ing and Robert W. Smith

Tai Chi Chuan: 24 & 48 Postures; by Shou-Yu Liang

Tai Chi Chuan: Roots and Branches; by Nigel Sutton

Tai Chi Chuan; by Cheng Man-Ch'ing

Tai Chi Chuan; by Douglas Lee

Tai Chi Classics; by Waysun Liao

Tai Chi Chuan-Becoming One With the Tao; Petra & Toya Kobayashi

Tai Chi Connections; by John Loupos

Tai Chi for Beginners; by Claire Hooton

Tai Chi Dymanics; Robert Chuckrow Phd.

Tai Chi for Health; by Edward Maisel

Tai Chi for Health; by Lee Ying-Arng

Tai Chi for Staying Young; by Lam Kam-Chuen

Tai Chi for the Mind, Body and Spirit; by Eric Chaline

Tai Chi Walking; Robert Chuckrow Phd

Tai Chi Handbook; by Herman Kauz

Tai Chi Mind and Body; by Tricia Yu

Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmission; translated by Douglas Wile

Tai Chi Workbook; Paul Crompton

Tai Chi: A Practical Introduction; by Paul Crompton

Tai Chi: The Supreme Ultimate; by Lawrence Galente              

Taijiquan ; by Sun Lu Tang

Taijiquan: Through The Western Gate : by Rick Barrett

Tao and Tai Chi Kung; by Robert C. Sohn

Teach Yourself Tai Chi; by Robert Parry

The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan; by Wong Kiew Kit

Theory and Practice of Taji Qigong; by Chris Jarmey

There Are No Secrets; Wolfe Lowenthal

Thirteen Treatises On Tai Chi Chuan; by Cheng Man-Ch'ing

Total Tai Chi; by Mathew Rochford

Walking Meditation; Paul Crompton

 

 

 

Commentary

 

Personal comments by senior teacher Walter Jackson

 

 

 

Martial Art or Self Defense Art:

 

“Martial Arts” is a common term that elicits all sorts of reactions. Mostly, I think, negative reactions.

 

It conjures images of people flying, somersaulting backwards or of mean looking tattooed men facing off in so-called “Mixed Martial Arts” contests.

 

But for most people, health benefits aside, these arts are studied to acquire solid self-defense basics. The fact is that self-defense is not about winning. It is about avoiding harm. Self-defending may include running away, hiding, avoiding or even screaming for help. In action to prevent injury or death the “defender” doesn’t need to win-she simply must avoid losing.

 

There are no cowards in Nature.

 

Consider the example of General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. He didn’t necessarily have to win, he just had to avoid losing. Thus he could draw his attackers in against entrenched positions, lead them in confusion going in all directions at once, and keep up a constant terror by using “Hit and Run” attackers to harass and demoralize. Had he not made a couple of blunders during this time, the South might have lasted a good deal longer, and may have actually avoided losing the war.

 

Thus a defender may stun, confuse or shock an attacker and then escape. The defender, in such a situation, may prevent harm even though the attacker is stronger and more skilled.

 

Unless you’re interested in being the toughest kid on the block or beating a rival senseless in a contest, self-defense is much easier than martial arts.

 

You don’t even have to learn to fly.

 

 

 

The Energy of Self Defense

 

Even today, in Tibet, the practitioners of Tummo, an ancient meditation technique, are able to create enough body heat to dry out ice-cold wet sheets thrown over their bodies. Harvard studies have also shown that these monks can maintain their health at elevations that would cause life threatening Oxygen deprivation in a normal human.

 

The monks explain that the source of their power is from imagining the “breathing the fire” of the Universe, the energy or Chi, of a woman protecting her young.

 

There is no more powerful energy; there is no more dangerous creature, than a mother defending her young.

 

Self-defense energy is the most powerful of all human energies. Hunger, reproduction, and every other drive we experience is not as strong as this energy.

 

This is why; if like most of us one isn’t really interested in the self-defense aspects of Tai Chi, they will still gain the most benefit from Tai Chi by visualizing the imaginary attacker when practicing.

 

If self-defense actually is of real interest, you should know that this imaginary attacker, whom we visualize during practice, is very important. Even more important is the “state of mind” during practice. A deeply focused and serious mind during practice, practicing in deadly earnest, is the key.

 

This is a fact not really understood by many practitioners who think that kata (Karate shadowboxing), and form practice is mere demonstration.

 

The ancient masters knew that one who trains in earnest is programming the mind to act instantly, without a second thought, if attacked.

 

Nurturing of the spontaneous nature enables us to acquire and absorb changes in ourselves and make them a part of our character.

 

 

The Nature of Practice

 

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. Or, at least, it gets us something near perfect. If you decide to become good at throwing darts one of the things you will do is obtain a dartboard and begin practicing.

 

But, why does it improve our ability?

 

It is because every time we perform the same movement or process, neural receptors on our cells are “fired”. More important, the number of receptors increases. This has the affect of making our movements even more precise, more refined, smoother and more powerful.

 

When practicing Tai Chi we use a number of facilities that are rarely used. We reinforce our sense of balance, distance from objects, and research has shown that deeply rooted meditative postures elevate our energy levels.

 

Many consider standing meditation, form practice and “pushing hands” the foundation of Tai Chi. Each time we do them, we improve just a little bit more.

 

Ultimately, we must also remember the main reason Tai Chi and Qigong are so absorbing. Why they don’t become boring.

 

It is because they are meditation in motion. This is not a meditation where one “zones out” to relax. It is a highly active and deeply focused meditation. Doing this a few times a week is in itself, something that makes practice very worthwhile.

 

 

The Amazing Demonstration

 

Many times people have told me of magical demonstrations they have seen. Demonstrations in which a Tai Chi master “just touches” someone and sends them flying. Or, maybe they did it to a whole row of people at once.

 

Unfortunately, there are many disreputable Tai Chi teachers who use such tricks to inspire awe in potential students, or to sell their books and video programs. There are no such powers.

 

Next time you see such a performance look closely at the person being pushed or hit. What you will see is that person using their legs and back muscles to make it appear that they are being blown away by the master’s touch.

 

While it is possible to sends someone flying in that way, it requires a complete whole body movement by the pusher. You should see a flexing of the legs, a rotation of the waist and an upward movement. Most often, you will also see a forceful exhalation from the pusher’s diaphragm, too.

 

You will also see a sudden wave of force that “shakes” both the pusher and the victim. This explosion of force is called “Fajin” among Tai Chi practitioners. It is not magical, but it does require very sophisticated and fluent movement to perform correctly.

 

Fajin itself has an addictive power. Many masters have become intoxicated by this compelling power and have damaged themselves internally. There is a high incidence of brain injury and cerebral hemorrhage littering the otherwise proud history of Tai Chi.

 

In addition, it must be understood that it is very difficult to do this if the victim is deeply relaxed. The victim would need to tense their upper body sufficiently to afford the needed leverage.

 

Finally, I must note that even though some demonstrations of the second type, the legitimate one, is considered an immoral demonstration by a growing number of experienced Tai Chi practitioners.

 

This is because doing it properly requires that one perform a “cavity press” on the ribs of the victim. This sudden explosion of force compresses the rib cage, causing a corresponding counter expansion of the compressed area, resulting in a large “bouncing” force through the victim. It is very dangerous.

 

As Allen Watts once pointed out, mystical language and ideas can sometimes express concepts in ways, which cannot be expressed otherwise. This was true when the students of Tai Chi were illiterate peasants, but in the modern age there is no need for this.

 

Modern day demystified Tai Chi and Qigong has a sound basis in science and physics. Mysticism is for con artists and “sham” masters.

 

 

Everyone’s Doing It Wrong

 

It’s a funny thing. Most people who do Tai Chi and take it seriously instantly recognize the little imperfections in someone else’s form performance. In fact, virtually everyone I ever saw watch a performance has said it was being done incorrectly.

 

There are people out there who are so fixed on “doing it right”, that they, no kidding, use a ruler to measure the precise distance of the hand from the face and so on. These are the type of people whom we send in after a battle to bayonet the wounded.

 

Of course, I also dislike performances by a half-baked performer who has learned only the surface content of Tai Chi, but I have equal dislike for those who “pretty it up” with lots of big circles and superfluous flourishes like we see in competitions.

 

But, let us not forget what Tai Chi is all about. Especially when it is done as a health exercise.

 

If someone obviously takes it seriously, and follows the basic rules of rooting, structure, weighting, whole body movement and a focused mind, who cares if it is not textbook perfect.

 

After all, once one has learned a form, it becomes their form. Just as on two singers ever sing a song precisely the same way, just as our handwriting takes on our personality no matter how hard we try to avoid it, a person’s form grows with subtleties and nuances unique to that person.

 

Let’s lighten up and enjoy.

 

 

Fear Is A Gift

 

Gavin De Becker’s landmark book, “The Gift Of Fear”, is an exceptional book and a “must read” for any parent. It is also, in my opinion, is a “must read” for anyone learning the internal art of Tai Chi.

 

De Becker recognizes that fear is a natural and needed facility for avoiding danger. But, it also recognizes that humans, like all other animals in nature, have powerful instinct and intuition. Further, he points out that intuition is a real thing to be taken seriously. Intuition is thought at warp speed.

 

When you suddenly feel or sense something, what is happening is that your mind is assembling data at a speed beyond that of normal thought.

 

For example, your mind might recall an overheard conversation from years ago, while also recognizing someone standing to close or holding a gaze too long for comfort, together with dozens of other fragments of information and logic at lightning speed. Trust your intuition. It is the key to awareness, a power we must not allow ourselves to ignore.

 

How does Tai Chi use this power? It uses it in two important ways. First, we must remember that in doing Tai Chi, we are defending ourselves against an imaginary attacker. But, we must do this in deadly earnest so that our self-programming is accomplished and our innate abilities are awakened.

 

The latter part of that explanation; the part about “deadly earnest” is the part not understood by those who claim forms, shadowboxing or kata are useless. The ancient masters understood this very well.

 

Second, and also very important, is that practicing the Tai Chi form makes us familiar and comfortable with fear. This prevents us from being paralyzed by fear, but teaches us to react correctly. It does this in a very clever way.

 

The Tai Chi form exploits our innate fear of falling. As we progress through a form, such as the Yang form, we go through several difficult turns involving the whole body. We begin with simple 45 degree turns, then 90, 135 and even 180 degree turns. It ends with a virtual 360-degree turn. We also learn to walk backwards, sideways and to suddenly change direction in difficult ways. As we discover, doing these in a calm, centered and poised way teaches us not to over react to the fear of falling and to maintain a poised, relaxed status even when performing very trying movements.

 

As Master Robert Chuckrow once said, being consciously balanced, centered and relaxed in our body teaches us to stay calm, centered and relaxed in our mind.

 

Or as Carl Jung said, “Embrace your fear, for there your soul will grow.”

 

 

Why Practice Tai Chi So Slowly?

 

The very slow practice of Tai Chi often mystifies typical martial artists. Their conventional wisdom is that to be fast, you practice fast.

 

This is one of the paradoxes presented by Tai Chi practice.

 

It is easy to understand from a health perspective. Very slow movement, focusing on all the requirements of slow, meditative, deep breathing, relaxation, rooting, structure, weighting, whole body movements and directing the Chi with the mind-that calls for slow and deeply focused movement.

 

Another not so obvious benefit is that slow practice enables one to exercise the body to a level we normally can’t reach, because the lungs and heart become too stressed.

 

Most beginner’s classes begin at moderate speed because slow, or very slow practice is too taxing for beginners. Gradually, over time, the teacher slows the performance down. By the time several classes have been done, the class is moving very slowly.

 

Advanced practitioners practice at different speeds. Slowing the 37-posture form way down, so that it requires 20 minutes. That’s a workout. But, the advanced practitioner will also practice a moderate speed (say 8 minutes) and very fast (2-3 minutes).

 

But, advanced practitioners will also tell you that slow practice enables them to move at blinding speed. This is because the deeply relaxed but explosive spiraling POWER of Tai Chi requires that all of the many principles are followed. One who has trained his mind and body slowly is able to do this movement easily.

 

Could the same be accomplished with fast practice? For most of us, the answer is no. We automatically use shortcuts, excessive muscle contraction and especially momentum, to move that fast.

 

Besides, if you generate Chi in a movement, think how much more you can generate if you stretch it out in slow, slow movement.

 

 

You Are A Child Of The Stars: Taoism, Quantum Physics and the Big Bang

 

Even the most staunchly religious among us must recognize that many great minds combined with advanced technology have proven that our Universe is expanding outward. Further, the math proves that it has been doing do for about 14 Billion years.

 

In the realm of science, the word “theory” has a very different meaning. It is not an educated guess. It is a set of facts and a conclusion that is subjected to testing by many brilliant minds, and no errors found. Only then does hypothesis become theory in science.

 

But, what caused the Big Bang? That we cannot know. Or, possibly, cannot conceive. But, most of us feel that some sort of consciousness, with focused intention, caused all of this to happen.

 

After all, as Allen Watts said, have you ever considered ‘Why is there is anything at all?’ Why is there existence, matter, anything? After all, existence is effort. Intention.

 

What’s more, it is difficult to ignore the metaphor when applied to humankind. We ourselves arise from the microscopic and, in a relative twinkle of time, expand into (big bang) full-grown beings. And, each of these big bangs results in subsequent big bangs, (our children), into infinity. We are born and grow in the body of another being, and then we ourselves do the same thing.

 

That intelligence, that intention, stays with us all our lives. As Dr. Joe Dispenza said, “this is the intelligence that pumps blood, manages millions of chemical changes per second and enables us to acquire new skills which become second nature. All of this is involuntary and cannot be overruled by our minds. This is what Yoga and Tai Chi practitioners call “the Subtle Body”. This is the  “Energy body”, or “Rainbow Body” concept of the Taoists. They do not call it God, but consider how much more logical this is than the hyper simplified concept of some pastoral Great Father watching over us.

 

It is also important to remember that the Taoism written about in the Tao Te-Ching is not a warm, embracing, benevolence; nor is it cruel, it simply is.

 

Consider too, that one of our newest sciences; Quantum Physics, and our oldest eastern and native shaman’s philosophies conclude that matter is a temporary state, visible and felt by our limited senses, but that everything in the Universe is composed of energy in different forms, traveling at different speeds. And, as Louis Allen Selzer observed, all matter is breaking down into energy.

 

Therefore, we must see that no new matter has been added to the Universe, but that original stellar matter and energy have just changed form. And, that we humans and all that we can see, are made of the same stellar matter that has existed since the beginning of time itself.

 

When performing Tai Chi or Qigong, it is very useful to remember this, and to see our own intention can be used to mobilize the chi (energy) of the Universe to strengthen, balance and cleanse.

 

We are the Children of the Stars.

 

 

Mimicry Is A High Form Of Learning

 

Humans and primates have this innate ability to acquire skill at movement by “aping” or mimicking someone else.

 

This is what most training in Qigong and Tai Chi is really all about. Most of the time we are following a teacher and trying to move like them.

 

This is a very effective method of absorbing the art at a subconscious level. When we impersonate we can absorb not just the movement, but the attitude, demeanor and feelings of the person we are imitating. At first we try to be a carbon copy of the person we imitate, but when one has truly immersed themselves in the movement, it becomes their own movement, taking on its own unique quality.

 

But, there is more to this than just imitating. Closely following another persons movement, we finely tune and sharpen our reflexes at a very deep level. If you watch a football team preparing for a game, you will see that they go through similar drills of quick hand movements, sidestepping and comparable movements just before the game to sharpen the team’s reflexes.

 

Later, when one has learned to perform the solo pantomimes by themselves, they are programming their minds and their nervous systems in a very powerful way. When done with the proper state of mind, this is the most effective way to communicate directly with our subconscious.

 

Imitation isn’t just the highest form of flattery; it’s the highest form of learning.

 

 

 

Logo_Whitek The Walking Tiger Tai Chi Club