Valley Spirit
T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung


Reflections, Notes, Suggestions, References, Questions and Answers, Links, Quotations, Blog


Michael P. Garofalo

August 2003

Index to the Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal

Cloud Hands







August, 2003, Valley Spirit Tai Chi Chuan Journal



August 31,  Sunday

Reading and writing about Confucius.  


August 23 - 30,  Saturday

Busy with travel, conference attendance, and starting a new job.  

My Tai Chi Chuan practice has been set back a bit due to problems 
with a inguinal hernia.  I see a surgeon in September.  

The staff weapons webpage is the most popular at this website.



August 22, 2003, Friday

Reading about and making notes on the subject of exercises for diabetics.  


August 21, 2003, Thursday


"These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind.
To take this posture is itself to have the right state of mind.
There is no need to obtain some special state of mind."
-  Shunryu Suzuki



August 20, 2003, Wednesday


Good tai chi walking workout with Sifu Weaver in the morning.  Weight
training afterwards.  

"The form of energy composing the chakras and currents in the subtle body is unknown to
science.  The Hindus call it prana, which means literally "life" - that is "life-force."  The Chinese
call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Amerindians orenda, and the ancient Germans od.  It is
an all-pervasive "organic" energy.  In modern times, the pyschiatrist Wilhelm Reich attempted
to resuscitate this notion in his concept of the orgone, but he met with hostility from the 
scientific establishment.  More recently, Russian parapsychologists have introduced the
notion of bioplasma, which is explained as a radiant energy field interpenetrating physical
-   Georg Feuerstein, "Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy," 1989, p.258.  



August 19, 2003, Tuesday


I enjoyed reading the book:   

There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing and His Tai Chi Chuan.  By
Wolfe Lowenthal, 1939-.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1991.  142 pages.
ISBN: 1556431120.  Wolfe Lowenthal was a student of Cheng Man-ch'ing.  Inculdes 
numerous photographs of Master Cheng.  Lots of very good observations about 
Push Hands.  

The Three Treasures (pp. 54-58) are: 1.  Erect posture, straight spine (Pillar of Heaven),
and keeping the head up and "suspended from Heaven."  2.  The middle of the foot
(Bubbling Well or Rushing Spring) must be rooted deeply in the Earth.  3.  "Keep the
ch'i and heart/mind mutually guarding one another in the tan tien."


August 18, 2003, Monday

I added the instructions for exercise "Pressing Heaven and Earth" in the 
Eight Section Brocade.  

Good tai chi walking workout with Sifu Weaver in the morning.  Weight
training afterwards.  Yang long form Taiji training in the late evening.  



August 17, 2003, Sunday


"I have two doctors, my left leg and my right."
-   G. M. Trevelyan

I added the instructions for exercise 9 to the Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong.



August 16, 2003, Saturday

"Consciousness is imbued with the three qualities of luminosity, vibrancy and inertia.
Through the discipline of yoga, both actions and intelligence go beyond these
qualities and the seer comes to experience in his own soul with crystal clarity,
free from the relative attributes of nature and actions.  This state of purity
is samadhi.  Yoga is thus both the means and the goal.  Yoga is samadhi and
samadhi is yoga."
-  B. K. S. Iyengar, Light of the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, 1996, p.5.  



August 15, 2003, Friday

"Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with
retention.  It is to be practiced only after perfection in asana (physical
posture/form) is attained.  Pranayama has three movements; prolonged and
fine inhalation, exhalation and retention; all regulated with precision according
to duration and place.  The fourth type of pranayama transcends the external and 
internal pranayamas, and appears effortless and non-deliberate.  Pranayama
enables the mind to become fit for concentration, and removes the veil 
covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom."
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 11:49-53, c 500-200 BC
    Translated by B. K. S. Iyengar

Essential to the practice of qigong and taijiquan is the control of breathing,
the coordination of breathing with specific movements, the requirement to
do deep adominal breathing, relaxing and opening the upper torso to
allow for deeper breathing, and the release of breath when power is
given out.   

Good workout on Mandarin form with Sifu Weaver in the morning.  



August 14, 2003, Thursday

Walking and 13 Treasures Walking Qigong for 70 minutes.  Beautiful
dry cool morning, few clouds, and quiet.  Mowed and edged gardens and 
watered in the evening.  The ditch was running with fresh water - all the 
plants and animals were rejoicing.  .  

Did some research on Push Hands.  

My Tai Chi practice has been done very slowly, very gently, with smaller
movements and narrower stances.  I feel very relaxed and calm.  I've been
doing lots of standing on one leg exercises.  

The mind is one of the most hard to reach and inflexible body parts to train.  


August 13, 2003, Wednesday


I decided that I would enter a Push Hands Tournament in 2004.  I plan to 
study techniques, engage in strength training, improve my balance and 
flexibility, reduce my bodyweight, improve my endurance by means
of aerobic conditioning, and find partners to practice Push Hands with
during the year.   Accomplishing all of these objectives, and reaching my
goal would constitute winning, succeeding, being a champion.  

Tai Chi class with Kevin Weaver this morning.  We did some good drills for
improving our balance and practiced the Grasping Sparrow's Tail set.  


August 12, 2003, Tuesday

"Of what is the body made?  It is made of emptiness and rhythm.  At the ultimate
heart of the body, at the heart of the world, there is no solidity.  Once again,
there is only the dance."
-   George Leonard


Six Illusions About the Body
By Larry Dossey, M.D.

1.  The body is solid.
2.  The body is stable.
3.  The body is individuated.
4.  The body belongs to the Earth.
5.  The body is stationary.
6.  The body is mindless.



During the last seven days, we enjoyed a nice vacation in the northwest.  Our 
children, Alicia and Mick, both live in Portland.  We enjoyed many sightseeing 
trips in Portland and Seattle.  The weather was perfect for outdoor activities. 
We enjoyed visiting with family in Ashland, Portland, and Oregon City.  A trip
to Powell's books netted a number of good used books on Tai Chi Chuan.  

I've been reading a number of books about aging and also about Yoga.   

August 6, 2003, Wednesday

Improved my Eight Section Brocade webpage.  This webpage is now over
150 Kb in size.  



August 5, 2003, Tuesday

Improved my Tai Chi Staff Weapon webpage.  




August 4, 2003, Monday

Improved my Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan webpage.  

I started learning this form four weeks ago.  I am using videotapes and books
produced by Dr. Paul Lam.  



August 3, 2003, Sunday


I've been reading many books by Cheng Man-ch'ing in the past few days.
I also did quite a bit of reading about Master Cheng (1901 - 1975) and his many fine
students using the Internet.  I prepared a bibliography and webliography, and
posted my notes as a webpage at:  

Cheng Man-ch'ing and Tai Chi Chuan

"Harmony is itself paradise.  The "miraculous" element is the way that relaxation,
well-being, and harmony allow the heart-mind to take control of and focus the
greatness of the ch'i, the power of thought, and the effect that this can have in
ourselves and in the world."
-   Wolfe Lowenthal, Gateway to the Miraculous, 1994, p. 14.



August 2, 2003, Saturday

Head's Up!

Lift the head.  Push the top of your head upward (ding jin). 

Tuck you chin in and slightly downward.

Relax the neck.  

Hold your head as if it were suspended by a string from above.  

Slightly part your lips and softly smile.  

Keep your eyes open, and hold a wide angle and soft focus. 
Professor Cheng taught that in Push Hands one should not look into the 
opponent's eyes (Lowenthal, 1994, p.5).

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

You head should be aligned along an axis through your center and down to your feet.
The head should not extend beyond the feet. 
The head, torso and waist should move as one piece.  

Your tongue should rest gently on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth.
Swallow all clear, thin and watery saliva.  

"The upright direction has always been the most s alient, constant, and 
unique direction in our world."
-   Roger Shepard and Shelley Hurwitz


"Professor Cheng often talked about the position of the head, "as if pressing up
against heaven," "as if being suspended by the pigtail: worn by Chinese during
the Manchu dynasty.  He said that, while there are a number of good images for
the head position, he especially recommended the idea of "hanging" because
it counteracted the tendency to hold the head stiffly in place."
-  Wolfe Lowenthal, Gateway to the Miraculous, 1994, p. 5.  

With respect to the position of the head, Cheng Man-ch'ing says,
" Cause the energy at the crown of the head to be light and sensitive.  The
head should not incline backwards or hang forward.  It should not wag to the 
left or right, but should be as if suspended from above.  Whe this is supplemented
by keeping the wei-lü vertical, the spirit extends to the crown of the head, that is,
it reaches all the way to the zi-wan point."
Cheng Man-ch'ing, Advanced T'ai-Chi Form Instructions, Wile 1985, p. 21.





August 1, 2003, Friday


"There is a central idea. Merely practicing is not understanding. Seek to understand
the human ability. Study diligently for deep ideas. The result after a long time is that
one is able to know."  - Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932)

"The essential characteristics of Sun Style Taijiquan consists of the following: advancing 
mutually follows retreating; advancing must have a follow step, retreating must have a 
moving back motion; the movements are relaxed, comfortable, rounded, and full; 
movements follow nature. During practice the feet should be able to differentiate 
fullness and emptiness. From beginning to end, the movements of the routine must 
be like flowing water and clouds floating in the sky, continuous without interruption. 
Within each turn of the body, there is a "opening" and "closing" action. This is 
why the style is often called Open/Closing Taijiquan."
A Brief Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan


"Sun Lu Tang would crystalise his teaching, experience and methods into his own 
style of Taijiquan. It was primarily based on Hao's Wu Yu Xiang style Taijiquan. That 
he chose Taijiquan as his final art expressing the essence of his art is indicative. He 
is supposed to have incorporated the rapid foot work of Pa Kua with the leg and 
waist methods of Hsing-I with the soft body of Wu Yu Xiang's Taijiquan. In actual
terms of the form, it retains many characteristics of the form Hao taught him as 
well as the sequence of postures."
The Development of Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan


"The creator of Sun Style, Sun Lu-tang was about 50 years old and was a well-known 
expert of two other internal styles (Baguaquan and Xingyiquan) before he learnt Tai Chi. 
So naturally, the style has the advantage of the influence of the two other internal styles. 
Sun described his Tai Chi as using Baguaquan's stepping method, Xingyiquan's leg 
and waist methods and Tai Chi's body softness. 
Sun Style has a higher stance, less 
kicking and punching, all movements have the same tempi, and a very strong Qigong 
emphasis making it more popular with older practitioners."
Comparing Chen and Sun Styles, Dr. Paul Lam











Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

Cloud Hands - Yun shou




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