Sunday, January 13, 2019

Neuromuscular Control via Classical Tai Chi

A Facebook link: Neuromuscular control
Aging is associated with a progressive reduction in neuromuscular control, but it can be headed off. "A healthy nervous system is prized in China", Stephen Hwa Ph.D. Try an easy movement to test yourself: Raise your whole arm out to the side...easy? Now raise to the side and stop, note where your elbow is, hold it completely still and raise just the forearm...harder? Master Stephen Hwa: "Explanation is that you have to tune your neuromuscular control (using principles of Classical Tai Chi) so that you move one but not move the other".

Monday, January 7, 2019

New to Classical Tai Chi? Start here!

New to Classical Tai Chi? Click here!

"Classical Tai Chi's Square and Round Forms are critical to learning Internal Discipline. Square form is taught first because it is easier for a student to realize if they are making an error due to the specific robotic nature of the move. Comparing several general characteristics between the Square Form and the Round Form: Every movement in the Square Form has a clear starting point and
ending point. The movement between these two points is usually in a straight line and done very crisply and resolutely. Directional changes are usually carried out at these two points. These characteristics are completely opposite to the Round Form, which should have a continuous movement with no apparent starting point or ending point. The hand movements are mostly rounded with few straight-line movements. Therefore, directional changes do not appear at a point rather it is incorporated into the movement itself as a smooth curvature. The movement in the Round Form instead of
crisp and resolute should be deliberate and thoughtful. People are often surprised at the directly opposite requirement between the Square Form and the Round Form. Actually, this is not unique, just think about how you learned the art of calligraphy.  You first learned how to write in print form. Then, you learned the cursive form. The differences between these two writing forms are very much analogous to the
differences between the two Taiji Forms.

The Square Form also avoids the use of upper quarter body movements and other
advanced internal movements present in the Round Form. These advanced internal movements will only be taught in the Round Form. As a result, some of the movements in the Square Form are different from the Round Form. In the Round Form, one does not touch oneself, however, there is no such restriction in the Square Form. Since the Square Form is for beginners there is no internal Chi flowing in
the body.

In the above discussions, I have emphasized the differences between the Square Form and the Round Form. Actually, there is more sameness than differences. The lower body movements are identical except at certain places that the pivoting on the toe  is different between these two forms. The starting point and the ending point of every movement in the Square Form provide definition to the curved movement in the Round Form since the curved movement has to pass through these two points.

Therefore, the Square Form is a template for the Round Form.

One of the most important missions of the Square Form is to learn how to keep the nonmoving part of the body (yin) still. It is the nonmoving part of the body that defines the junction between moving and nonmoving (yin and yang junction.) Any movement of the yin part alters the junction and thereby changes the character of the movement. To achieve the stillness is almost as difficult as making the correct movement. Both requires intense tuning of the neuro-passage way and neuro-muscular control.
The “full stop” between Tai Chi moves is important in preparing the next move by gathering the energy for the coming move. That is why the moves in the Square Form are resolute and abrupt. Many students are impatient about the “full stop.” which results in tentative and weak moves.  The Round Form,  generates energy or power continuously and smoothly which shows in the movements of a seasoned practitioner"

Master Stephen Hwa

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Stephen Hwa, p. 50 Uncovering the Treasure " To be able to keep part of the body still, by itself, is also important training to eliminate unwanted habitual motions (some disciplines call the unwanted habitual motions "Parasitic movement") "Sometimes it is more difficult to train students NOT to move than HOW to move" For example is Yin/Yang pairing of the quarter body: "Burst of energy" or "Fajing" impact force of a strike or punch then equals the amount moved in the desired direction by 1/2 of the "pair" minus the force generated by not moving the muscle of the other 1/2.

Friday, December 21, 2018

You studied a "short form"!

"Hello, I'm interested in talking with you about studying Tai Chi but I'm not sure about what style. I have studied a "short form" and concerned about taking on learning a Long Form, can you explain these differences in things a little?"
First of all I would welcome you in my classes and like to state that I have also done "simplified" and "short" forms myself. If you could indulge my quip here as I paraphrase Mark Twain I should explain that it would take too long to write a "short" answer to your question and so I have to write a "long" one. My teacher has addressed this very well by explaining that the very few old Grandmasters in China dealt with the popularity of Tai Chi by "simplifying" the Long Form. This "simplification" meant it was taught with no "internal discipline" and no explanation. Later these sets of movements were abridged further to containing even fewer movements. These "Short" forms of different styles have become very popular in this day and age. He tells me that the popularity conundrum still exists and the problem is to still teach only a few movements but he has found a new approach to do this. Yes, we teach fewer movements in this additional approach to our "long form" instruction but each movement is to be studied in depth with "internal discipline" as the essential component. The thinking of the "short form" was "less is more" and our approach can be summed up as the same "less is more" with the understanding that teaching a lot of movements will not bestow health benefits. But teaching a few movements with an emphasis on learning even one internal movement very well will give much in the way of health benefit. You can see an introduction and a subsequent series of these movements here starting with the "Introduction" then "Tai Chi Exercise 1 through 11":

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Can you imagine (of all things) the question "How do I breathe while doing Tai Chi" has to be frequently addressed by teachers? For something that really is natural, I have found that people have some pretty unnatural ideas about it. Master Hwa addressed this in explicit detail in his book "Uncovering the Treasure", but I found some information about how his "teacher's teacher" dealt with it. In so many words, old Tai Chi masters never had a doubt about the four words:
'The breathing is natural."

Wu Chien Chuan allegedly said: "While eating or drinking nobody thinks about the breathing. I also never heard, that somebody got harmed by eating or drinking. Let us suggest, that while eating and drinking you also have to think when you have to breathe in and out and how to use the qi. Then it would unavoidably become harmed. That is the easiest way to explain it."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Liked on YouTube: Using Internal Discipline of Classical Tai Chi in Soccer

Using Internal Discipline of Classical Tai Chi in Soccer
Examples of top Soccer Players using Internal Discipline of Classical Tai Chi to generate power in their long ball kicking movements-examples from World Cup 2018.
via YouTube

 Master Hwa's latest video showing the high-level movement of professional soccer players shows and explains detailed momentum based external movement followed by internal movement. Lower quarter body movement of soccer players in this latest Youtube video also shows Yin/Yang pairing quite vividly. As does this photo of Stephen Hwa and Tom Kostusiak I made where it shows blurred/clear mirroring Yin/Yang "pair" separation. Thus putting "...when one part moves, everything moves..." of the Tai Chi Classics out to pasture.

Monday, December 3, 2018

What "it" is

What "it is! 

 Regarding the above "What it is" discussion link and s a teacher of Classical Tai Chi I guess I will never be happy with "...being happy with misplaced praise than ruined by well-placed criticism...". 

 What I think about Rum Soaked Fist's praise on "internal discipline" in sports: First of all in this newest video  Joe Montana and Tom Brady   stabilize the hips and use "upper quarter body" (above the hips). so the statement "...shoulder, hip harmony..." is not germane to explanations. Nor is " ...5 stage map..." as concerns development in Tai Chi and it is off the mark as an explanation of "internal discipline" and thus not sufficient to explain "upper quarter body", etc. However " not something anyone can agree on ..." is somewhat promising. Well, I am somewhat relieved that people at least admit to being bewildered in light of the fact that as my own teacher has said: "...don't argue Jim, it is pointless because they don't do "Internal"..." 

Regarding what Rum Soaked Fist said about videos and "internal" it is difficult to explain, much less "agree" if one has not actually done the trials and tribulations of learning and experience as shown in this video   for example. 

So when they say ( "it's too bad "it" is not something anyone can agree on as to what "it" is, even on an IMA board, when we probably all can agree that it can help in many other ways.") I can only quote my own teacher from his book "Uncovering the Treasure": "There are so many books, classes, and styles of tai chi today. In many of them, there is talk of "internal energy" yet the definition is vague and the route to achieving it left unexplained." ; "The most important instruction on Internal Discipline passed down from Wu Chien Chuan to my teacher Young Wabu is "Every movement in Tai Chi Form has to have two complementary parts of the body, a moving part (called the yang part) and a stationary part (called yin part). When the yin-yang junction is located in the torso of the body, it is an internal move. When it is outside of the torso, it is an external move."

Friday, November 23, 2018

Classical Tai Chi is Internal Discipline

Laoshi Stephen Hwa Ph.D. performing compact round form "brush knee" utilizing "internal discipline", Rochester, NY

 Since post-Qing Dynasty, about 1911 and the "popularization" of Tai Chi in China the few Tai Chi Grandmasters "simplified" the "forms." This "simplification", circa 1950's was avidly and no doubt promoted as "Beijing 24 movement Form"  with appropriate governmental intrigue per the PRC. It was taught to the general public but also to internees in the many Communist "re-education" camps.In simplification, they removed more than the "internal discipline" that you see here: Internal Discipline  

In removing what the essence of Tai Chi movement was, they also did away with the need for explanation. The learning was made more difficult in doing this because it became an act of constant memorization of a sequence of movements with no explanation of rationale. In so many words i
n teaching the "internal discipline." people were told and to this day are told to "just follow along, and you will get it."    

Internal Discipline enables you to initiate movements specifically and exactly from the torso above the hips, the internal core of the body (abdomen and back) rather than from the external parts of the body (the limbs) and even the hips in some cases since they are a major joint of the body.  It cultivates and mobilizes your internal energy for health benefits and martial arts applications. 

Classical Tai Chi or Tai Ji utilizes the philosophy of yin and yang in every aspect of its practice. For every internal movement, a moving part of the body "yang" works against a stationary part "yin" that provides support and power. There then exists what is called a "junction" between yin and yang and it always is located in the torso. When an internal move is performed correctly the practitioner feels sensations of stretching and intense energy flowing across the junction in an otherwise relaxed body. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"In a fight anything goes"

Link:  Classical Tai Chi in a fight ...Not

and here's all the  Link:  speculation why "not" and the speculation is way off the mark

From Master Stephen Hwa: "Now if you know Tai Chi like in the fight between Wu Gong Yi and the other guy, Chan Hak Fu. Now both sides know each other's art very well.  Now, I'm sure they both developed a strategy to counteract the other guy's strength. Now the other guy, if you watch the video (click here for LINK). Now I know (pointing to Jim Roach) you watched it many times, you find (the other guy an "external" White Crane martial art)  changed the way he moved.  In other words, he doesn't use momentum, body momentum at all. He knows the Tai Chi is really good to counteract momentum, body momentum. Body momentum, that is what Tai Chi is really good at.  And he just chopped away, just using his arms, so there is no body momentum...remember that? There was just a flurry of arms without any body momentum. Certainly, in that way, he cannot develop all the power and so forth. At least he tried to avoid being thrown by the Tai Chi. In that case, Wu Gong Yi is not using Tai Chi, you cannot blame him, because the guy is not using body momentum. 

So at that time (and even today on Youtube) people are saying how come Wu is not using Tai Chi?  So he is not using Tai Chi and so everytime, he has to block.  So he is using this (side of the hand)  and hitting him (on the arms) and after awhile.  So after a while, the guys' arms got tired because the muscle got hit.  So he, himself, goes in and hit his nose (he walked into Wu's blocks and his nose started bleeding profusely).  You cannot blame Wu for not using Tai Chi because the other guy does not use body momentum (he moves, I move, if he does not move, I do not move).  So the guy did this with his arms and Wu did this to block him, block his chops. One of his hands he cannot raise or something." It is to be noted that in subsequent interviews Chan Hak Fu talked about the soreness of his arms and difficulty in moving them after the fight. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Video Link
Link: Pulling body back and forth...not pushing

     aka Momentum Force vs. Internal Energy
Master Stephen Hwa told me when I first met him that the Yang Style, Wu Style forms I learned were "rounded Square Form" as is the universe of Tai Chi out there...I had no idea. Here's that "rounded" square form in operation: You decide to drive down the highway alternately and indiscriminately pushing your foot on the accelerator and the brake You would be using your engine to give the vehicle kinetic energy/momentum then throw the energy away by pushing the brake, over and over. You would consume much less fuel if you only drove steadily...think "Round" form in ClassicalTai Chi. Master Hwa, a Ph.D. Engineer, talks a great deal about momentum force, aka pushing forward with the back foot, pushing back with the front foot, referred to as "other" Tai Chi and all are "rounded" Square form...look for yourself on Youtube. All of these contribute to a movement that has "stops and starts" in it, one way or the other. When it comes to Classical Tai Chi "round form" using a "pulling" coupled with internal energy, not momentum and that difference is a really big deal. One might say that Tai Chi relying on "pushing with a foot" is extravagant of energy, whereas "pulling with a foot" truly stores it and releases it only when needed.