Saturday, November 26, 2022

Keep the hand guarding face!

This link below shows a student’s dropped hand. It's repeated and corrected repeatedly in “watch whole video”. 1:16, Master Hwa repeats “…hands up…” several times. 😳There is a golden rule I learned in Freestyle push hands, Tai Chi and Karate sparring. And that is “Drop hand from guarding face and lose Face”! 
👀 Teacher:  “Keep you hand up”, Student:  “I know that”, Teacher: “Ouch, that must have hurt, are you ok?KEEP HAND UP VIDEO CLIP

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Stay the Course


There is a saying, "learning postures is easy; changing them is hard." Or, as Master Hwa says, "...sometimes it is more difficult teaching a student not to move than how to move..." This difficulty expresses the "stubbornness" of the mind and body in relying on preconceived notions in thought and habit. 

Just as some students will find the following statements uncomfortable, most students will not endure the discomfort of proper training without consciously or subconsciously seeking relief. Constant vigilance on the part of the teacher is required to keep the student on the correct path.

However, in "staying the course," we can become aware of sensations and, thus, the effects of the errors of muscle actions. I speak of  Yin and Yang:  "…to achieve internal movements, the Yin and Yang are a pair to form a junction at the right place in the torso. If there is any movement in the Yin, the junction will be altered, resulting in an entirely different kind of move…." However, are you cognizant? Are you sensing when there is movement in the Yin?

An instance of this not perceived in muscle action is a medical checkup. You are familiar with the Doctor putting a stethoscope on your chest and asking that you breathe in. In doing so, the chest heaves up, and the body becomes top-heavy. While the body is in physical balance, our belly gets hollowed.  

This hollowing of the abdomen weakens our waist as a support column, thus weakening the support of balance in body structure. Not that the Dr. would do it, but I think the body would fall easily with a gentle nudge. I confess I have been breathing from the abdomen for decades. When the Dr. tells me to take a "deep breath," I never "heave up" the chest, and the Doctor never says otherwise. 

The body can learn from the top heaviness as an effect of the yin-yang imbalance of muscle actions. Do we know, do we notice, and if we see, do we care? In routine activity, we make internal imbalances in the body structure,  such as when we raise a hand excitedly to attract attention. Honestly, can you say you use quarter-body movement all the time? 

Many combinations of muscle actions underlying a body's posture and motion exist. The differences in support do not matter much for everyday activities, but in sports, they determine the performance outcome. Master Hwa has elucidated this in many YouTube videos. I notice that some people do not agree with this, but chances are none are proficient at Tennis, Football, Baseball, etc., much less Taijiquan. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Liked on YouTube: Ji Squeeze mpg

Ji Squeeze mpg
Ji is fajin with a longer power delivery than either Peng or Tsai. Why Tai Chi uses “follow the opponent” and how this is done with the proper footwork is explained. This video link, like several others, is on my private Youtube studio. channel. Its intent is not to compete with Master Hwa but to share my thoughts and experiences with his videos. It will not compete since it is private and is shown in this private group. I observe that Master Hwa is "following the opponent" by allowing his arm to be stretched. By doing that, he engages his core muscles and the source of his internal strength. In addition, Tom has his arm "crimped" against his side. This makes the issuance of "long-duration fajin" fairly straightforward, with little to no resistance from Tom. It behooves you to sit back and turn from the core when practicing push hands. Or else, thus losing the capability to neutralize "Ji." If one cannot neutralize in cooperative push hands, there is little skill to bring to "Ji" as an application. I suggest for everyone to practice pulling forward and sitting back, "pushing hands" with imaginary opponents as a separate exercise, and do it dozens of times in a row.
via YouTube

Monday, November 7, 2022

“Crunch Time”

 The silk reeling exercise "turning + crunch" is very energizing internally. You will feel the intense energy circulation in the dantien. The “folding the body along the spine move” was discussed extensively in Forum 14. Several variations of “folding move” were tried in my class. The one shown in this Youtube video appears to be the most effective in training this move and also has great relevance to form practice. The movement gives strong stretching and contraction sensations at both the front and the back of the torso. Since it is carried out in square form, it is not a silk reeling exercise. There is not much continuous energy circulation. Because the folding movements exercise the muscle and tendon along the spine and stimulates blood flow in that region, it is a good way to keep the spine healthy.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Glasses on Foreheads

 Are you fooling yourself?

Master Hwa is right,"…not everyone wants to be a proficient practitioner…." However, I meet many people who" talk a good game." about learning Classical Tai Chi. Years ago, I visited a hard-style Kung Fu master. He was very friendly and said he admired Tai Chi, although he did not do it. He was famous on the cover of" Inside Kung Fu" Magazine. He had perfected the art of drilling his index finger into a brick. I don't remember his exact words but his words were something like this as he did not specifically talk about how to" drill." "Do you want to learn "iron finger"? Go home for one hundred days and practice punching a bag with the finger for two hours each morning and night." How many people are willing to do that and that is quite a point he made.  I question the value of using all that energy to perfect such an overly specialized art/skill. I would say that the so-called" secret" is sheer persistence.

I would say that type of "sheer persistence "is somewhat cliche. But, for the sake of argument, let's say you do that. You have what one might call" self-realization" from your persistence. But after 100 days, how have you changed? From my point of view, I have not "changed" over 40 years, particularly the last 20 with Master Hwa.

On the contrary, I have become a "changing" person. I have met many students over the years, and there seems to be what one might call a "hunger" for Tai Chi as "exercise." Down deep, what they don't say is "self-improvement." What many don't see is they are initially fooling themselves. 

As a long-time proficient practitioner said recently, many do not see the difficulty facing themselves in starting Classical Tai Chi. Like the guy who stormed out of the Tai Chi, muttering," I already know how to walk." To paraphrase what the "…know how to walk…" student said in his estimation, he is personally knowledgeable of how his body works. So how should" walking" come from" inside" of himself? As the proficient practitioner wrote to me recently. I love their analogy regarding "inner experience." "We can end up looking for our glasses when we already have them on." Yes, not everyone who starts wants to be a proficient practitioner. Many fail to realize whether they wish to continue or not is still there. One could go around for a lifetime with "glasses on the forehead," blaming Tai Chi. It will always remain for the "long haul" as a sustainable way of life, as a long haul discipline.

In other words, I don't know how people feel that Classical Tai Chi merely supplies a sophisticated justification for personal and social inertia. What makes them think it dispenses happily with organized activity and serious effort? 

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Taking a walk? It is “ordinary force”!

Taking a walk is “ordinary” force

It occurs to me that "Ordinary Force" is also built into our everyday leg movement, all 7 billion of us. A familiar "Ordinary Force" example to explain Newton's third law of motion is the walking of a person on the ground. I say “explain” because Newton’s Laws are not intuitive and if they were, then excuse my wishful thinking, but so many more people might well have “internal discipline”.   When a person walks on the ground, then the person exerts a force in the backward direction. However, as you see in the video by Master Stephen Hwa, there is a "backward" direction from an ordinary force arm push. This force applied is known as action. 

In walking, kicking, etc., as a result of this force applied, an equal and opposite force is used by the ground to the other foot, and this force helps to move, kick, etc., in the forward direction. This force is called the reaction force. When you walk and are not using internal discipline, it is an ordinary force. When you do a Karate kick above the waist, your Wing Chun kick to the shin, etc., it is a force. 

I did Tae Kwon do for years, and take my word for it seemed like 99% kicking. A typical incident was seeing novices kick a heavy bag with an above-the-waist kick and then are knocked backward. Of course, students in any art get better, but it is nowhere near the martial, internal skill, and "core" dexterity of a proficient student of Classical Tai Chi.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Get a kick out of Tai Chi walk

 I will paraphrase Master Hwa from his book "Uncovering the Treasure" p. 110. "Many of the movements in the Form are designed this way. In other words, one limb practices a move for one purpose,  while the others practice for some other purposes." He uses the example, "The hand movements  in the pictures practice the Cai (Tsai sometimes spelled, pull, yank, etc.) move while the foot  movements practice the kicking routine

Here's what I'm after and from the book. Hwa talks about "purposes," so in the case of the "walk" shown here, I'll take a little poetic and martial art license and delve into multipurpose. The "walk" is a Kick in disguise. "The forward foot with its heel firmly planted on the ground serves many purposes. It is useful for the balance and stability of the body. It is ready to kick the opponent, pull the body forward, or take a step back."

Now, besides the potential for "sweeps," the heel can stomp the opponent's foot, the toe can kick straight ahead to the shin, the heel can step back and stamp, and the foot can turn and kick with the edge of the foot or heel. I can take any kick I learned in 4 years Tae Kwon Do except the "skyscraper high ."My point is moving the foot not only with "walk" intent, but thinking Martial Intent when you practice walking or even in Form. Imagine an opponent in front, back, side, and angle and this step as your "kicking" all-purpose and foot itself as a "swiss army knife" capability tool.

Friday, September 23, 2022

You know all about Tai Chi because…?

Teaching these 45+ (I forgot how many actually) years. What I hear however for the most part is: “I know all about Tai Chi because I’ve heard a bunch of stories about it”; “because of those stories I know everything I need to know”; “so if someone asks me something about it I could tell them everything they need to know and it would all be true”.
That’s “tip of the ice berg” in illogical thinking,however. For instance,”know everything” yet turning their bodies or hips, not turning their feet, and leaving the foot behind? I say, "...that's not Tai Chi..."
Studying Classical Tai Chi is very scientific, so how can I make apologies or diplomacy for Newton's 3rd law, for instance? If you bang your head against that wall, it will bounce back. It works the same for logic about what we do in Classical Tai Chi, particularly how and why we learn. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Students don't like "how long it takes." "How long it takes" is faulty reasoning, and one might say, "throwing the baby out the window with the bath water." Whoever said scientific rationale has to be pretty and fit a student's "wishful thinking"? There has been too much belittling of Tai Chi, and I explain that below. To the best of my ability, as I do here, I also teach students to check their reasoning in Tai Chi.
It is great to study with someone who teaches you and, in the process of learning, also fine-tune your "bullshit detector." My teacher does not pussyfoot with me either; he calls me on it when my reasoning is wobbly or way off. We both have also explained in videos such as DVDs and in great detail in writing for many years why there is great reasoning behind video learning over classroom learning. I have also written about my own experiences in learning from his videos.
There was a "golden age" of Tai Chi; well, I think this is a golden "golden age" because of technology and its ability to facilitate learning. Those "old masters" could only cover so much ground, even if there were electric cars. They were so much in demand, and every student wanted Wu Chien Chuan himself, so to speak. How does the myriad of details even get to a Tai Chi family when so many outside students clam for the Grandmaster? Of course, many students want it straight from Master Stephen Hwa, not his disciples, and I am happy about that and know he is glad he can make videos and online courses. As many videos as he has made, however, he will be the first to not misdirect you but simply say each one of the 50+ only covers one (1) detail of a myriad of details connected with learning. Do you recall the saying "the devil is in the details"?
I invited Master Hwa in from Rochester to teach my class in Buffalo. The picture is from about 20 years ago, and if people don't know how to walk, how can they do Classical Tai Chi "Form"? When you read my blog and Facebook in-depth, I think you'll find the purpose of Classical Tai Chi is not stress and inner peace. Many things call themselves Tai Chi but are merely dance, exercise, or "wine and cheese" excuses to socialize...they are not Tai Chi. In my experience, those so-called Tai Chi's all cut corners in the learning. I have students who make no bones about telling me what some other martial art teacher is doing and how that should affect Classical Tai Chi. That's B.S.! Some Tai Chi adds moves, principles, and techniques from other martial arts. Add movements here, take out movements here, take out moves there, and pretty soon, it does not resemble its original purpose. You do all that cutting of corners, and the logical structure collapses.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

An account of Young Wabu

 Grandmaster Young Wabu

I hope I do justice to this account of Grandmaster Young Wabu. In "About my Father," his daughter Lin Yi, reports on how much he cared for his family and how busy he was as a businessman, later studying then practicing Osteopathy, teaching many Tai Chi students, and running a healing practice. The bottom line is that he was super faithful to the Tai Chi he learned from Wu Jianquan. Master Hwa also said his teacher felt every student's "duty" to pass on the art.
From "Uncovering the Treasure, Introduction":
"We can only celebrate what is transmitted from Wu Chien Chuan and the good fortune that the turmoil of war brought Wu to Hong Kong. Wu appreciated Young's natural ability and dedication by discarding the external martial arts for which Young was known. Wu was willing to stay at Young's home to teach him. They worked night and day with very little distraction. This is reflected in the rigorous and in-depth material that is passed on. If Young had sought Wu as a teacher at Wu's home base in Shanghai, he would not have had such dedicated attention since Wu was a much sought-after teacher with many students. For this, we should be thankful for what fate brought about."
I also have some information from the Qi Journal account of the Taiji vs. White Crane fight in 1951. I also put in some of my own accounts of what my teacher, Master Stephen Hwa, has stated. I should also say in addition to Master Hwa's account, that qi Journal reports Master Young was told to give up previous training to learn Taiji. I concur with that because I was told to do the same thing when I learned from the Wu Family in Toronto and became a disciple/teacher. History is beautiful but seemingly fickle if events are not recorded accurately and passed on intact. Please bear with me as I make this account.
From the Qi Journal August 2002: Grandmaster Young Wabu was one of the well-known students of Wu Jianquan. He started in Monkey Boxing. There Young was so good that his teacher, the Gatekeeper of Monkey Boxing, had him on the top of the shortlist for "Master" status. In " Uncovering the Treasure, Master Stephen Hwa reports in "Uncovering the Treasure" that Master Young was versed in several external arts that he gave up learning from Wu. However, Grandmaster Young liked Taijiquan and sought to learn it. It is reputed that the Monkey Boxing teacher asked him who he planned to learn from and stated so many were of poor skill. The story goes the Master had tears in his eyes and sighed when he heard Wu Jianquan. Apparently, the response was also like, "Okay, let me introduce you to Wu Jianquan."
The story also states the Gatekeeper was a teenage friend of Wu's, and they "fought together" in Beijing streets. So Young switched to Taijiquan Now, the stipulation from Wu was that Young had to completely give up all the skills and methods he had learned in the other system. He had to do that before even starting to learn Tai Chi.
Master Stephen Hwa has reported that Wu lived in Young's home in Hong Kong during the Japanese invasions. He reports that the intensity of the training was incredible and went on night and day. One story reported in qi Journal is Young was made to practice single movements hundreds of times before being taught a new one. Grandmaster Young was this way a very senior family student. When Jianquan returned to Shanghai, Master Young was teaching students in the Wu family classes. Those were where his daughter Sonia, then a young girl, was learning and sparring with the men. One story from Qi Journal also reports that Master Young felt junior students were too leisurely in their practice. I think Master Hwa has said his teacher could not understand why students were "so feckless" about Tai Chi. The Journal reported that as a senior student, Master Young debated hotly with Wu Gong Yi about taking the Hong Kong challenge fight with Chan Hak Fu.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A scientific explanation of Yin and Yang

 Science of Yin and Yang video

Looking at the video from 4:00 forward: Here is the scientific explanation of why "turning the hip," turning the hip in a small frame, small circle Tai Chi is strictly verboten and goes contrary to science.
"Moving forward and backward this motion does not affect the upper body to any movement because the two forces are orthogonal. But if the pelvis also has some turning motion, then there will be an effect on the upper body turning force. If the pelvis turns now, we have two turning springs in action one is the internal waist turning spring the other is a leg crossing turning spring which is a very weak spring. Therefore hip should not have turning movement. "

Very thought-provoking! The closed captions instead of default are quite thoughtful. I think this will be the “gold standard” for Tai Chi, particularly in Scientific thought. The analysis and subsequent redesign to accurately reflect the science I think Master Hwa learned from his teacher is quite an accomplishment. Not only that, but as shown in the content and presentation, it seems to reach all levels for the uplift of others and is quite impressive.