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


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


Michael P. Garofalo

September 2003

Index to the Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal

Cloud Hands




September 28, 2003,  Sunday



When threatened or attacked one's natural reaction is to tense up the muscles.  Dangerous
situations can suddenly cause the muscles to tighten, sweat to appear, emotions of fear to
overpower one's consciousness, and even one's hair to stand on end.  A frightening 
experience can lead to extreme muscular tension to the point of shaking, paralysis, and 
even moving into a state of shock.  A martial artist can ill afford to allow this kind of bodily 
reaction to occur during a martial confrontation.  

One approach to overcoming this natural tendency is to toughen the body - physically 
condition it to a high level by rigorous and painful training.  Appropriate response to
attack becomes more automatic, thoughtless, conditioned.  The martial artist might
not be relaxed during combat, but he is not physically paralyzed by fear.  

The martial artist must use psychological training techniques, value systems, and 
religious beliefs that encourage him to face danger with fearlessness, courage,
tenacity, bravery and resoluteness.  A belief that he is willing to die in battle as 
a worthy sacrifice to a higher social-religious-political cause is a strong foundation 
for fearlessness.  The Way of the Warrior, Bushido, the Goodness of the Martyr, and 
other Soldier's Codes of Conduct provide these sorts of value systems that contribute 
to courage, bravery, self-sacrifice and fearlessness.  This pathway can sometimes 
produce the fighter who is relaxed during combat.  

One can also train consistently in staying relaxed, centered, focused, and loose
during combat simulation situations.  This practice leads to confidence in his
improved fighting skills insofar as relaxed movements can be more agile,
quicker, correct, and technically proficient.  He comes to realize that superior
performance requires that he stay relaxed, calm, loose, and in control of emotions.  
This confidence leads martial artist to believe that he will succeed, will prevail,
will overcome the opponent.  Relaxed confidence contributes to fearlessness.  





September 26, 2003, Friday

Karen, Betty and I went to Chico this afternoon.  Chinese food for lunch,
shopping, new and used bookstore browsing.  Delightful autumn afternoon.

I have been reading two books:

Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style: The Complete Form, Qigong and Applications.
By Yang, Jwing-Ming.  Edited by James C. O'Leary.  Boston, Mass., YMAA 
Publications, 1999.  Index, glossary, list of form postures, 205 pages.  
ISBN: 1886969744.  MGC.   

Ultimate Guide to Tai Chi.  (The Best of Kung-Fu Magazine).  Edited by John R.
Little and Curtis F. Wong.  Chicago, IL, Contemporary Books, 2000.  301 pages.
ISBN: 0809228335.   MGC. 

Continued to improve the Taiji Sword webpage.



September 25, 2003, Thursday

I did some reading and research on the Tai Chi sword (jian).  I hope to 
begin learning to use the Taiji Jian (sword) in October.  This is an 
activity that I have never done before.  Kind of goofy - an old man 
sword playing??   Goof On!!!

Today, I purchased my first Tai Chi sword, four books, and two 
videotapes on the subject.  This should get me off to a fine start in the 
coming months.  I purchased the Doc-Fai Wong videotape on the traditional
Yang sword form because the people I study with in Chico at a monthly workshop
do this sword form; and Master Wong comes to Chico or we go to San Francisco
to his events.  I also purchased the Paul Lam 32 sword form.  I really like Dr. Lam's 
videotapes for learning.  He is an excellent teacher via videotape.  Also, I will meet 
Dr. Lam at a workshop in Monterey this coming October.  I am sure I will also
study Tai Chi Sword with others in the years to come.  



September 24, 2003, Wednesday

After surgery for my double hernia on Monday, I was back walking
today and doing Yang style Tai Chi sets.  Although I still have some
soreness and cannot get up from my bed or chair very easily, I 
feel pretty energetic and have little pain.  .  

One of the real advantages of Tai Chi is how one can do sets in high, 
medium or low stances.  Generally, I do Yang style in a medium stance
with legs fairly widely spaced.  My teachers frequently tell me to shorten
my stance and stand up higher.  I feel more powerful, more martial, 
more focused in a medium stance.  I cannot go as low as my friends
who do Chen style because of my long legs, age, and flexibility.  But, 
I like getting lower.  Someday, I need to learn Sun style sets which use
higher stances with legs closer together and use more nimble and agile
leg/foot movements than we do in the Yang style.  Today, I did Yang style in 
a high stance with legs closer together.  It felt good!  Only low kicks
were made.  For the next few weeks - high stances, gentleness,
easy does it form work.  

Tai Chi does have proven advantages for persons recuperating from 
some health setbacks.   

Spent a lot of time reading and writing the past few days.   I did some
research on Ba Gua Zhang.  I'm going to a one day Ba Gua workshop 
in two weeks.  


September 20, 2003, Saturday

My Tai Chi practice and physical conditioning program has been set back 
somewhat by my having an enlarged left inguinal hernia.  I will have surgery on
the hernia on 9/22/03.  

I've been working on the Yang style long form notes.  Reading books and 
looking at videotapes on the subject.   The Terence Dunn videotape is
the best instructional videotape I have studied on this subject.   

Added a number of links to the Chen style Taijiquan document.

I split the large bibliography/webliography into parts on Taijiquan and


September 14, 2003, Sunday

Read Tai Chi Classics.

Lots of walking and Tai Chi today. Beautiful cool mornings, windy, with an autumn feel.  


September 13, 2003, Saturday

Added a number of links to the Northern California and Oregon Tai Chi Directory.



September 12, 2003, Friday

Updated the Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan webpage.


"According to a long-held tradition, Huang Ti, the so-called Yellow Emperor, who began
his rule around 2700 B. C., practiced a form of exercise called Tao Yin with the aim of 
increasing his life span.  The word Tao means "guide," and Yin means "leading."  These
terms give a hint of how the exercise works: the movements of the limbs guide the 
circulation of the blood so that the tissues throughout the body can be repaired and 
cleansed more efficiently.  The movements also lead the breath in and out of the lungs,
so that more oxygen can be inhaled to nourish and energize the body and the poisons
can be exhaled more efficiently.  ...  Essential to the practice of Tao Yin was the way in
which the movements of the limbs were combined with the breathing.  It is actually this
combination that make the exercise so beneficial for health.  Huang Ti's exercises 
were also know as T'u Na.  The word T'u means "exhale," and Na means "inhale."
-   Dau Liu,
T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Meditation, 1986, p. 3.



September 11, 2003, Thursday


"Breathing Out -
Touching the Root of Heaven,
One's heart opens;
The Dragon slips into the water..
Breathing In -
Standing on the Root of Earth,
One's heart is still and deep;
The Tiger's claw cannot be moved.

As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating
between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does
not shift.  Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink
of existence.  Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become
one with it, and then the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made."
-  Chang San-Feng,  Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet
   Translated by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 187. 
    Poetic interpretation by Mike Garofalo of expository text of Chang San-Feng.  


Let us hope our leaders in the United States can revise their thinking and change
their course of action.  Let is not remember our fallen citizens from 9/11 by  
unleashing destruction, pain and suffering on innocent people in Afghanistan and
Iraq because of what 20 Saudi Arabian citizens did on 9/11.  Let us not ourselves
continue to behave like terrorists, striking out in anger and bitterness, leaving 
the path of peace, friendship, cooperation and compassion.  We need to
move beyond fear and anger and revenge to a higher vision and path.  



September 10, 2003, Wednesday

Added a link on the Cloud Hands Homepage to the Chen webpage, and improved the 
Chen Style Tai Chi webpage.



September 9, 2003, Tuesday

The Harvest Moon 
rises in a cloudy sky -
Taijiquan students smile.

Ten students joined me in the Gerber School Gymnasium for my class
on Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form.  We did some push hands and
the Bear (5)  and Archer (2) movements  from the Eight Section Brocade.
I enjoyed myself and hope they did.  

Some people hold tension and weight in their upper back and shoulders.
The stiffness comes from awkwardness, imbalance, uneeded tension.  
The natural tendency when uncomfortable, awkward, or feeling out of
place is to tense up and stiffen up.  Taijiquan works to counter this
tendency and emphasize Shoong.  How can we be alert, aware,
and assertive as well as relaxed at the same time?

Used creative hand gestures to emphasize key points about Taiji and
Yin-Yang philosophy, and about Taijiquan.  



September 8, 2003, Monday


Cheng Man-ch'ing: Master of Five Excellences.  Translation and commentary by
Mark Hennessy.  Berkeley, California, Frog, Ltd., 1995.  166 pages.
ISBN:  188331903X.  Discussion of Master Cheng's work in calligraphy,
poetry, painting, medicine and tai chi chuan.  MGC.  


"The Tao of Heaven is yin and yang;
The Tao of Earth is hard and soft;
The Tao of Man is compassion and duty."
Cheng Man-ching's comments on I Ching, 
Cheng Man-ch'ing: Master of Five Excellences., p. 156.  



September 7, 2003, Sunday

I enjoyed reading The Way of Qigong by Ken Cohen.  This book is essential reading
for all Qigong practioners.   

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing.  By Kenneth S. Cohen.
Foreword by Larry Dossey.  New York Ballantine Books, 1997.  Index, notes, appendices, 
427 pages.  ISBN: 0345421094.  One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, 
practical, and scientific.  MGC.  



September 6, 2003, Saturday

Updated some information in the Northern California and Oregon Tai Chi Directory.

"How many taiji players does it take to change a light bulb?"
The answer; "One hundred. One to change the bulb, and ninety-nine to say 
how their teacher does it differently!"

Met with Carmen Farruggia at his home in Redding.  Carmen's house is right on
the Sacramento River in a beautiful setting.  We talked about our interests and 
shared some of our experiences.  Carmen showed me exercises for silk
reeling, tan tien rotation, jing training, pole shaking, and gave me many good 
ideas about how to begin training in Chen style Tai Chi.  We did some Push 
Hands work and discussion of techniques.  His jing energy in part of our 
play was real and strong.    


September 5, 2003, Friday

"Regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind."
-  B.K.S. Iyengar

The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama
.  Boston,
Shambhala, 2002.  Index, notes, 304 pages.  ISBN: 1570628890.  MGC.


Reading and writing about Breathing during Tai Chi Chuan.  



September 4, 2003, Thursday

Prepared handouts and flyers for the Tai Chi class that I will be teaching on Tuesday

"Far from my body's being for me no more than a fragment of space, 
there would be no space at all for me if I had no body."
-  Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception



September 3, 2003, Wednesday

Reading and writing about Tai Chi Chuan and Diabetes.  
A beautiful summer morning for walking and tai chi practice - cool, spectacular
sunrise, and cloudy.  


September 2, 2003, Tuesday

Reading and writing about Silk Reeling - Chan Ssu Jing - Spiral Energy.  


September 1, 2003, Monday

Reading and writing about Shoong - Relaxed, Open, Yielding, Loose.











Cloud Hands - Yun Shou

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Valley Spirit Taijiquan Club

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
Close to the Cities of Chico, Orland, Corning, Los Molinos, Cottonwood, Anderson, and Redding CA


Michael P. Garofalo, 2003, All Rights Reserved






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