November 30, 2003, Sunday
Standing - 5 hours.
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Reviews and feedback about this website.
November 29, 2003, Saturday
Tai Chi and walking for two hours in the morning on a cold and drizzling day.
30 minutes in weight room.
Updated the Sun Taijiquan webpage - now 64Kb in size.
Yoga class from 11:30 - 1 pm with Gudrun Volpar. I met her husband Frank.
The parallels between yoga and taijiquan are manifold. Both emphasize controlled
deep breathing, relaxation while doing postures, specific eye focus techniques,
a fairly consistent sequence of postures/movements, not forcing, mental concentration
and intentions for each movement, having a calm mind and emotions, smoothness,
gracefulness, rooting your body on the earth, balance, and a spiritual dimension.
November 28, 2003, Friday
Enjoyed a trip up to Shasta Caverns with the group.
Tai Chi and walking for two hours in the morning on a cold and drizzling wet day.
November 27, 2003, Thursday
Thanksgiving Day National Holiday in the United States of America.
Tai Chi and walking for two hours in the morning on a beautiful
clear and cool day.
You could see all the way to Mt. Shasts - 100 miles north.
A family gathering at our home with Alicia, Sean, Beryl, Lori,
Karen and I.
Lately, a close study of:
Classical Yang Style - The Complete Form and Qigong. By Yang,
Jwing-Ming. Boston, MA, YMAA Publications Center, 1999. Index, glossary,
333 pages, 562 illustrations. ISBN:188696968X. There is also an instructional
videotape and DVD to supplement this book. The DVD contains the complete
form, gigong, details instructions for each movement, and 13 postures. Performed
by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and Robert Was. 240 Minutes, DVD9-NTSC, 2003.
DVD ISBN: 0940871645. MGC.
November 26, 2003, Wednesday
"The first level of stillness is about being with yourself in order to know yourself. This is
accomplished by being wide awake and aware as you deliberately relax into yourself.
The idea is to consciously enter into a state wherein you temporarily suspend everything
you think you know about who you are, including anything you have ever been taught,
and simply be attentive to what's going on right there where you are. You practice
being quiet, both physically and mentally, as you pay attention to the sensations in
your body, the various thoughts in your mind, and your current experience of being
conscious and alive. You practice simple body-mind awareness, being conscious
of the moment you are now in, and thereby experience with clarity the energy of you.
You consciously experience yourself as you actually are. In this way you open yourself
to a new, truer, less distorted experience of you and the world."
- Erich Schiffmann, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, 1996, p. 7.
Sung: Relaxtion, Looseness, Effortlessness
November 25, 2003, Tuesday
A question from Ron Zanetti, Seattle:
"Thanks for the guidance. I will think about your words as
I begin teaching.
By the way, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask you about a local school and
its Grandmaster. Have you heard anything about "Oom Yung Doe" and Grandmaster
Iron Kim? I have been looking into one school locally and my intuition tells me
it's not for me. There is a lot of bad stuff on the web about the style, but
there is very little available in print on it, yet it claims to be the only
unique 'combined' martial art offering quick success and good health."
I have no knowledge about Oom Yung Doe or Grandmaster Iron Kim.
No exercise system can give "quick success."
"Good health" is a function of eating quality food, drinking pure
water, exercising regularly, sleeping well, having a positive mental
and emotional attitude, realistic beliefs, good genetics, fulfilling
employment, positive social relations, avoiding dangerous activities,
affordable quality medical services, and a large dose of good fortune.
I had too many injuries doing hard style martial arts.
Now, nearing 60, I exercise by walking, weight training, Taijiquan and Yoga.
November 24, 2003, Monday
"The names of the 108 Forms are each symbolic and signify concepts
removed from the literal
physicality of the object - horse, tiger, bird, and so forth. Each name has its separate allusion,
and metaphorically may connote an aspiration, a philosophical attitude towards self and
conduct, a turn of mind, a sense of being, some thought about life and spirit. The true
meanings are revealed when the T'ai-Chi Ch'uan exponent has advanced to that stage of
experience comprehension where he can utilize the implication of the philosophical
intentions, and where the symbols can be part of his growing consciousness. This happens
only when the mind and body have "changed" and absorbed the reasons for mental,
emotional, and physical unity."
- Sophia Delza, The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience, 1996, p. 24
After Bone Marrow exercises, we did a new exercise. We tightened up
fingers, forearm, elbow,
biceps, triceps, shoulder, back chest - from one hand to the other and back. As you tensed up
and imagined the internal energy flowing across the boday, you would try to release and relax
each part that you tensed a few parts ago. It required effort to concentrate on tensing new
parts of the body as you relaxed previous parts tensed. It required imagination to keep the
energy moving across the body.
After Taiji class, Kevin and I did some push hands together. We enjoyed
smiled a lot. I always enjoy doing serious push hands.
I did a 50 minute weightlifting workout before Taiji class: 10 reps @ 165. Moving Up!!
November 23, 2003, Sunday
Spent time this weekend slowly reading Sophia Delza's T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Experience.
Her writing style is detailed, complex, academic, and elusive. A book for advanced
readers, and mature and sophisticated Taijiquan practitioners.
The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience: Reflections and Perceptions on Body-Mind Hamony.
By Sophia Delza. Foreward by Robert Cummings Neville. State University of New York
Press, 1996. Index, 330 pages. ISBN: 0791428982. MGC. Ms. Delza was a student of
Grandmaster Ma Yueh-Liang, and a famous Wu style Taijiquan and dance teacher in the
New York area. She had many books, essays and articles published in her lifetime. She
was a true pioneer of Taijiquan in America.
Worked on updating Sun Style notes and handouts.
Lots of walking, Taijiquan practice, and home chores. A very enjoyable day. Feeling
good about myself!!
"T'ai-Chi Ch'uan exists for itself, in itself, and by
itself through the very complex nature
of its own physical, mental, emotional world. Music is extraneous to the essence of
T'ai-Chi Ch'uan. It is a distraction, a crutch, to woo and reduce the student into
thinking that calmness is being attained. It is a deception to make T'ai-Chi Ch'uan
palatable by romanticizing the exercise.
Actually, music prevents the doe from concentrating on the harmonious relationship
of form and self, of being "aware" and developing insight and conscious tranquility.
Instead of "listening" to oneself, with music one leans on the outside world, which
undermines the essential spirit of T'ai-Chi Ch'uan. Away with the notion that sound
must bombard the ears."
- Sophia Delza, The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience, 1996, p. 233.
Dancing Within the Silent Dawn: Taijiquan
November 22, 2003, Saturday
"Hay Way Jen had a student, Sun Lu Tang, who had previously learned the internal martial arts
schools of Pau Kua and Hsing-I. Sun Lu Tang added these non-TaiChi elements to the Wu form to
create a new form. In my opinion, the only possible evolution of the Wu School is towards
formlessness, and Sun Lu Tang's achievement must be regarded as a variation, not as a new
- Jou, Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan, 1980, p. 70
Sun Style of Taijiquan
is not enough to be busy, so are the ants.
The question is, what are we busy about?"
- Henry David Thoreau
Upaded my webpage on Diabetes Therapy - Exercise: Taijiquan and Qigong. Getting
material together to market my services in this area.
Yoga class for 95 minutes with Gundrun Volpar. Qigong and Yoga have many, many
parallel concepts, techniques, movements, philosophical elements. Qigong is Taoist Yoga.
The emphasis upon deep, relaxed, full belly breathing is found throughout in both.
November 21, 2003, Friday
"The perfect man has no self;
the spiritual man has no achievement;
the sage has no name."
- Chuang Tzu
I updated the statement of my qualifications as a Taijiquan instructor, and updated
the Valley Spirit Taijiquan Club Winter Schedule and overview. Full of self,
boasting of achievements, naming names - mere imperfect marketing hype.
Always far from who we really are or are not.
Tired - Jeez!
Six students in our Taiji class tonight. It is always interesting to observe new students.
Kevin was compassionate, careful, and encouraging.
November 20, 2003, Thursday
"Here is a metaphor about truly feeling life as you embark upon an ultimate physio-spiritual
experience and dance to your own inner rhythms and beat doing it your way, on your terms.
You start to feel better and better about yourself and your choice to take the time to celebrate
the gift of the physical life. You will begin to feel the magic of total surrender as your body
becomes a temple and you cease to be spiritually homeless. No longer separate from your
body, you once again become one with the rhythms of nature and somehow feel in sync with
them, the way the physical is supposed be as you coordinate body with mind and spirit.
With this experience, you encounter for the first time, perhaps, the beauty of being alive
and the truth about full-spectrum fitness for the ultimate game of life as you "dance with the
- Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang, "Working Out, Working Within," p. 259.
Dancing Withing the Silent Dawn: Taijiquan
Never just One:
fruit, a hoe,
the moving Sun
Attended an evening Yoga class led by Grundin Volpar at the
Tehama Family Fitness Center.
This practice seems very compatible with Taijiquan: deep and regular breathing, relaxation,
not overdoing, mental focus (concentration, awareness of body) , emotional attitude (calm
peaceful, open). The stretching and strengthening of the midsection with the Yoga
conditioning exercises seems especially beneficial to me. Classes are offered: Tuesday and
Thursday at both 5:30 and 6:30, and on Saturday from 11:00 - 12:30. I plan to attend
November 19, 2003, Wednesday
"Relaxation of the whole body means the conscious
relaxation of all the joints, and this
organically links up all parts of the body in a better way. This does not mean softness.
It requires a lot of practice in order to understand this point thoroughly. Relaxation also
means the "stretching" of the limbs, which gives you a feeling of heaviness. (This feeling
of heaviness or stiffness is a concrete reflection of strength.) This feeling is neither a
feeling of softness nor stiffness, but somewhere in between. It should not be confined to
a specific part, but involves the whole body. It is like molten iron under high temperature.
So relaxation "dissolves" stiff strength in very much the same way. Stiff strength, also
called "clumsy strength," undergoes a qualitative change after thousands of times of
"dissolution" exercises. Just like iron which can be turned into steel, so "clumsy strength"
can be turned into force, and relaxation is a means of gradually converting it into force.
Our ancestors put it well: "Conscious relaxation will unconsciously produce force." There
is truth in this statement.
- Yang Zhenduo, "Yang Style Taijiquan", p 16
Relaxed, Open, Yielding, Free, Responsive
A Defining Characteristic of Taijiquan
We worked on one leg dips and squats. We used a folding
chair for balance as
we did the exercise. We also did two leg dips and squats, knees and feet close
together, using the chair for balance. Finally, we did Tai Chi stepping to both
right and left side, shifting weight fully to one side before we lifted the moving leg.
A focus on weighted and unweighted leg.
November 18, 2003, Tuesday
"Pain is the best instructor, but no one wants to go to his class." Choi, Hong Hi
November 17, 2003, Monday
Kevin had Roberta and I doing lots of balancing on one leg movements tonight in our
training class. I got very discouraged but kept on trying. Maybe I will get better if I continue
to try, was lighter, was stronger in my legs, was able to practice more each day. Maybe
not!! Part of learning Taijiquan is working through discouraging phases. Just when it seems
you will never make progress, you reach a breakthrough point and then start to make progress.
Progress takes many months. I should enjoy the walk and not fret about the destination.
"Given Tai Chi's apparent ability to prevent falls, it is not surprising that literature and clinical experience supports the notion that Tai Chi Chuan can improve balance. Several studies have compared Tai Chi Chuan practitioners to sedentary people. Each of these have concluded that the Tai Chi practitioners had significantly better balance. Prospective studies have also found improvement in balance tests including significant improvements in lateral body stability, single leg stance, moving platform posturography test and the Dizziness Handicap Inventory questionnaire scores and velocity of anterior and posterior sway. Another study found Tai Chi to be effective in maintaining balance improvements gained in an orthodox training program."
- Bill Gallager, East-West Rehab
I think that if I were leaner I could improve my Taijiquan. It stands to
reason that a lighter body would be easier to move, to balance, to execute
complex movements. Starting today I will reduce my eating
somewhat and aim to loose 9 pounds by the end of December.
I walked for 90 minutes this morning. It was a cloudy, cool, and dry
day. The autumn colors
in the neighborhood were beautiful. A prefect day for a long walk.
November 16, 2003, Sunday
Continued to make progress in learning the Sun style of Taijiquan, International Standard
Competition form. I now can do movements 1-17 fairly well from memory: body and mind.
I'm practicing this form each day in the morning. The more upright stance, tighter and more
active foot movements, and the more active pace appeal to me a great deal. I will start this
week on movements 18 - 24. My feet are mostly on the ground - something I am more
capable of managing rather than the much more demanding balancing requirements in
Kevin Weaver's Mandarin form I study three days a week.
November 15, 2003, Saturday
"When you train, free yourself from distracting thoughts:
Keep your hear buoyant, your body buoyant, too.
Do not forget the principle of "return to the center":
Strive and strive, with single-minded devotion.
This is the true path of softness.
This is the true path of softness."
- Kyuzo Mifune (1883-1965), Judo Master, The Song of Judo
Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters, p. 30
November 14, 2003, Friday
"The reason that one can acquire the art of T'ai Chi by slow motion is that its
practice is based entirely upon the natural way, not stressing external muscular
force and holding of the breath, but emphasizing the use of the mind to direct
all movements. Using external muscular force make movement clumsy; holding
the breath hinders the circulation of the blood. Therefore it is of the utmost
importance to sink the ch'i to the tan t'ien and completely relax the entire body,
without exerting the slightest energy. The principle of T'ai Chi is to control
action by tranquility and to conquer the forceful and unyielding with the gentle
and yielding. From nothingness something is produced: it look s like nothing,
though it is something; it looks soft, but in reality it is firm."
- T. T. Liang, T'ai Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self-Defense, 1977, p. 74.
Relaxation and Taijiquan
November 13, 2003, Thursday
"Then there is the question of whether or not to practice with music. Like everything
else, it should be done in moderation, if at all. Sometimes putting on some soothing,
meditative music can help to create an atmosphere that encourages us to train. The
music quiets us down and fills the space so that it does not feel so empty.
If you know a form well, it can be great fun to put on music with a strong beat, Latin
or reggae music, for example, and just dance the form. I encourage my students to
let the music carry them and to let the movements open up and flow spontaneously.
To begin with it might feel strange, and you may loose your place. If you have been
practicing for a time and the form sits well, then it will fell less like your are doing
something completely different than that you are stretching the boundaries of what
- Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt, T'ai Chi as a Path of Wisdom, 2001, p. 239..
Dance and Taijiquan
November 12, 2003, Wednesday
"Tai-chi used to be only for women and children, old people and the weak. It is a very
interesting practice because it teaches the right kind of breathing (as in zazen),
together with suppleness of the body and concentration of the mind. It has been
called "standing Zen"; but when all is said and done, it is just a dance, a sort of
gymnastic without the true spirit of Zen."
- Taisen Deshimaru, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts, 1982, p. 40
Deshimaru Roshi goes on to praise Kendo, swordsmanship, as the noblest of the
martial arts and closest to the spirit of Zen. Taijiquan does have some of the
spirit of Chan/Zen, and swordsmanship has always been part of Chinese
martial arts including Tai Chi. Lacking the "true spirit of Zen" is hardly a
fault. And, "just dancing" is "just" as useful as the "just sitting" that Deshimaru
Roshi so wholeheartedly praises as the path to profound awareness, peace,
Started "Dancing at Dawn: Taijiquan" webpage.
November 11, 2003, Tuesday
"The beginning point is Wu Ji. The posture of which is
facing to the proper direction,
hanging down both hands, and keeping a 90 degree angle between the two feet. This
means going along with the natural principle. Before training, there is no thought or intention,
no figure or image, no self or others, only Qi exists in the chaos of the body. The state
is called Wu Ji in Xing Yi. "
- Xing Yi Quan Xue: The Study of Form-Mind Boxing, p. 68.
Updated the Sun Style Taijiquan webpage.
November 10, 2003, Monday
While practicing Tai Chi with Kevin Weaver, his form came alive for me in a new way.
He does the entire form only once a week. The big picture suddenly came into view. I "knew"
what was coming next in many cases. It has taken me about four months of practice to
get to this stage. I can't do it alone at home.
November 8 - 10, 2003
A family business trip to Exeter, California. A cold and wet weeked with lots of rain and
November 5, 2003, Wednesday
"It is important to spend time with a living teacher, one who can
correct mistakes and discipline
you. But the object of such study should not be the creation of a new orthodoxy. Rather, your
goal should be to bring yourself to a state of independence. All teachings are mere references.
The true experience is living your own life."
- Deng Ming-Dao, Scholar-Warrior
"Dean Ornish, M.D., observes that while having a spiritual teacher is a
it can be difficult for students to walk the edge between deferring to the teacher's
judgment and giving up too much of their own power, as opposed to owning it
and trusting their own integrity. "It's very tricky to find a middle path - not to be
seduced either by surrendering to the guru or by taking a rigid stand that surrendering
is always dangerous. The ego can be very subtle.""
- "The Education of Dean Ornish." Yoga Journal, October, 2001, p. 81+.
Dean Ornish is a longtime friend and student of Swami Satchidananda.
How many Tai Chi Chuan stories have you read or personal
testimonies have you
listened to about strange or bizarre relationships between Tai Chi masters and
their students? I have read scores of tales about fledgling Tai Chi students begging
masters to teach them, sitting for days outside the master's door, humbling and
humiliating themselves before a master to show their passion for submission,
working as a servant in the master's household, or in giving huge sums of money
or elaborate gifts to a master in order be admitted to the master's school. I have
read scores of tales about students who did nothing but submit to standing in
Qigong postures for months or years, alone, outside the doors of the class or in
a corner in the back of the class, before the master allowed them to practice
"Grasping the Sparrow's Tail" with the classroom group. Some new students are
humiliated by senior students just like pledges in a fraternity. I have seen senior
students, superior in skill and knowledge to the master, submitting in silence to
corrections and negative comments by the master-teacher in front of lower level
students. I have watched experienced students defer to the master, express
devotion towards the master, pledge obedience to the master, harass someone
who questions the master's judgment or actions, kowtow to the master - and behave
in other ways that turn away many new students because of the fear that the school
is really a disguise for a cult.
Many Tai Chi teachers do not claim to be "spiritual
teachers," but their manners and
attitudes reflect their obvious and pompous assumption that they are indeed worthy of
being guides, authorities, and superiors on the path of body-mind-spirit progress. They
know far less about Taoism, Buddhism, TCM, or the history and philosophy of Taijiquan than
a few of their accomplished students, but they will always lecture themselves, never
once mentioning or encouraging anyone else in their group to speak to their paying
students. They frequently ask "Are there any questions?" They seldom ask, "Does
anyone here know the answer?" or "What do you think about this, Maria? You have a
master's degree in Asian languages and literature."
There are some real values in humility, teamwork, and keeping "The Big
I" in check,
showing respect towards and cooperating with your teacher, and Tai Chi may help
you understand these values. There are also many real setbacks from unwholesome
teacher-student co-dependence, slavish adoration of masters, and abuse by leaders.
Indeed, the "middle path" mentioned by Dean Ornish is a tricky one to follow, and
requires tact, maturity and intelligence.
Some contend that real martial arts, like real military
training, requires intense
training and a rigid chain of command, so as to build devotion to the group, to develop
an automatic willingness to fight and be injured as a representative of the group,
and to develop physical and mental toughness, obedience and discipline. The secrets of
the group's fighting skills were not to be given to anyone but those who had demonstrated
in word and deed that they could be trusted and relied upon under even the most
difficult circumstances. These standards apply more often to hard style martial arts
schools and organizations; but, one can see them in a few Tai Chi schools. You must
have other students and teachers to practice techniques with in hard styles or to compete
with. If you are not doing push hands, Tai Chi and Qigong can easily be a lifetime solo
I have been fortunate to have taken classes from many fine Taijiquan teachers that were
exemplary teachers, true athletes, worthy masters, and true leaders; but, I have also met,
heard from other students about, and read about both hard style and soft style teachers that
do not embody these virtues.
Sometimes, it is simply a matter of making money from teaching Taiji or Qigong. The
teacher as businessman wants to have as many paying students as possible study with them
for as long as possible, and with them and them only. They would keep these persons
as "students" for decades as long as the money kept flowing in. Students need to
be aware of this compromising economic situation and just move on to lots of solo practice
and to new teachers of different Taiji or Qigong styles after a reasonable period of
time. If you can earn a Bachelor's and Master's degree from a prestigious university in
5 years, it makes little sense to continue to pay well to "study" Taiji or Qigong exclusively
with someone for 10 or 15 years unless they were truly a worthy and advanced "spiritual
guide," or "extraordinary Master," or "cultural treasure," or "Real Guru." If they were a
respected and valued friend with whom you study and practice Taiji or Qigong for decades,
then you would be paying only for reasonable shared overhead expenses and would
relate with each other as equals.
As for the mediocre instructors and pseudo-masters: learn from them what you need to
learn as quickly as possible, pay them as little as possible, and move on to solo practice
and better teachers. Don't let them bring you down, limit you, or control you. You don't
need their blessing!
And the above advice applies to me also - move
on if my free advice, quirky opinions,
and endeless blogging irritates you, is wrong, does not benefit you, or wastes your time.
I like to recall the advice of Deng Ming-Dao:
"It is important to spend time with a living teacher, one who can correct mistakes and discipline
you. But the object of such study should not be the creation of a new orthodoxy. Rather, your
goal should be to bring yourself to a state of independence. All teachings are mere references.
The true experience is living your own life."
Eight Section Brocade
November 4, 2003, Tuesday
Continued to develop PDF files for the 73 Form Sun style Taijiquan competition
form. Finished work on Movements 1 -16, Part I. I also plan to offer MP3 files
with my verbal instructions for doing the form slowly and at normal pace. I use
these myself as I am learning a new form.
November 3, 2003, Monday
Updated the webpage on the use of the staff weapon.
"I just wanted to drop you an email thanking
you for your webpage
on staff weapons. It was very helpful. My dojo is starting a
cane program and I listed your webpage as a must read."
- Sensei Jason McIntyre, Nidan, Shotokan Ryu Karate Jitsu of Chatham, 11/2/03
November 2, 2003, Sunday
I walk for 60 to 90 minutes each day that I do not have to go to work early. This gives
me four long walks each week. While walking, I continue to do the
Thirteen Treasures Walking Qigong as I walk. I have developed many new forms
while experimenting with this style of Qigong. I am working on a 2 to 4 hour workshop
on this topic. Now reading Morocamo's book on the subject of Tai Chi walking.
November 1, 2003, Saturday
Did research and updated the Sun Style Taijiquan webpage.
"There is a central idea. Merely practicing is not understanding. Seek
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)
"When a modern day "New Age" practitioner of tai chi
speaks of the art as being "good
for his health and a way to align his energy with the energy of the Tao," that viewpoint
came largely for Sun Lu Tang. Or when pa kua practitioners walk the pa kua circle on a
California beach and talk of how "pa kua forms are physical embodiments of the I-Ching,"
their ideas derive largely from Sun Lu Tang. Or when modern day practitioners of xing yi
opine that "the five forms of xing yi interact like the five basic elements in Taoist
cosmology," they to owe their thinking largely to Sun Lu Tang."
- Elisabeth Guo and Brian L. Kennedy, Sun Lu Tang: Fighter, Scholar and Image Maker.
Cloud Hands Homepage
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Spirit Tai Chi Chuan Club
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