Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Direction is the first thing to learn

Direction is the first thing to learn
To learn Tai Chi "Form", you must first learn where to step and what direction those steps must take. It is pointless to concern yourself with the hands and arms if you do not know the direction to take.
via YouTube https://youtu.be/kDjUahG3wLs

Classical Tai Chi is implicit "Mindfulness" of the direction

from Instagram

                 (video link)

It is pretty easy for most people to watch a movie and be "mindful" not being distracted at all...it is pretty stimulating.   For most beginners in Tai Chi however there is little stimulation, one might say mind/body sensation to be had when learning "does this arm go here, does that leg go there" etc. So one might say Mindfulness in Tai Chi at least for beginners is upstaging distraction with even lower stimulation, not higher...this is quite a task. Classical Tai Chi takes a different tact, it gets you going in the right direction first thing. Of course, this does take practice at home after class unlike the many forms of exercise where one can go to class then come home to days of no exercise.  Classical Tai Chi is also not a panacea for not being mindful, it requires daily maintenance.   So for most beginners in Tai Chi mindfulness is a practice for training your mind to focus more on what stimulates less and then move on to learning hand position, timing then internal discipline.  Notice I used the keyword "focus".  

Lots of Tai Chi instruction coupled with "mindfulness" asks that you be "aware", "be present", " know what all of your body is doing, etc. but this is all pretty difficult for beginners. Classical Tai Chi, on the other hand, assumes if you don't know which direction to be aware or present in it matters little how you are moving the arms and legs.  If you are lost in a giant forest and do not know which way to walk you could probably wave the arms for a long time and literally not get anywhere. Waving arms with no "internal movement" from the core is called "external" Tai Chi. 

In Classical Tai Chi  the ultimate goal is to learn "internal discipline" and every move inward directs every move outward.  Arm and leg movement without an inward movement is called "external" Tai Chi not "internal".  First things first however, moving in the right direction,not only teaches direction but also teaches the "internal discipline" of the lower body...how to move the legs from an internal movement of the core muscles.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Can everyday walking improve balance?

Classical Tai Chi walk goes to numerous dimensions of movement  (video)

Can everyday walking improve your balance?
I told a friend I was going to write this article. They said they vividly recall the time when they broke their femur from attempting to learn rollerblading. One of the family dogs had run in front of them and they crashed onto their side. OK, enough of the anecdotes but I just want to add that their Dr. did not tell them to "take walks" and improve their balance.  Reason being he knew that the friend practiced Tai Chi. He was familiar enough with its pros and cons however to know that it may not keep beginners from falling on rollerblades.  Taking a walk will not improve balance and here's why:  It is well researched that everyday walking improves cardio. Walking however just keeps you moving your body in one dimension and most often that is forward and upright.  Tai Chi multiplies those dimensions as you see in the video, side, back, up, down, bending, arms, legs, angles, etc. Your area in which you can viscerally learn postural stability is multiplied, its size is increased. One literally learns to "catch" themselves and right their balance in any situation where they go off-kilter. How's that for logical reasons for you to start learning Classical Tai Chi?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A photo of Tai Chi Square Form and Square is a great template for learning to do Round Form. It is analogous to the way one learns to write by first learning to print then learning cursive script. See us at facebook.com/classicaltaichijimroachDoing the Lions share of repairing the hole where logical reasoning disappeared, "righting the ship" and saving Tai Chi.

from Instagram

Square form is analogous to printing

Learning kǎishū or regular script ("printing") then cǎoshū cursive script ("writing") is analogous to learn Square Form with its stops and pauses then learning Round Form with continuous internal motion. Every movement in square form has a clear-cut moving part of the body and a stationary part of the body. Normally we call them the yin and yang pair of the body Yin is the stationary and yang is the moving part of the body. The junction of the Yin and Yang is where the power of the movement is generated. When the junction is in the Torso of the body the power of the movement is generated by the Torso of the body. You can refer to this as internal power or internal energy. The movement is an internal movement that is what we try to learn from practicing the Tai Chi form...how to make “internal movement”. The difficulty comes in learning to set the stationary part of the body precisely. Any smearing or vagueness in the stationary part of the body will result in inefficient power generation. This inefficient power generation will occur at the joint or at the junction. This is an indication that the practitioner does not have sufficient control or efficient control of the body. The movement will look precise and robotic. It is also important in learning the square form to learn how to set the correct body posture or body structure during movement. People want to practice the Forum day in and day out for years this could result in injury if the body structure or postures are not correct. Square form is a great template for learning round form every movement has a clear starting point and a clear endpoint. This is similar to the way we all might have learned to write first we learned to print and then we learned to do the cursive script without stopping our movement. Learning to print as you remember goes from point to point in making the letters clear and precise.This learning of using a square form carries over from one generation to the next so that learning the form practicing the form maintains its Integrity and precision over the years.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Stretch out opponents arm gently then...fajing!

Stretch out opponents arm gently then...fajing (video)

In push hands exercise, the sitback and lean forward pair of movements alternate repetitively representing offensive and defensive moves. So, both are extremely important moves in the Tai Chi form.  During application, when an opponent attacks, stick to them, stretch the opponent forward by sitting back, thus draining off some of their forward force, and turn the body to ward off to destabilize them.  Here Master Hwa works with someone who is just beginning Tai Chi and most people will be unstable as well.  The Tai Chi form is really where you can gain skill in the push hand essentials of "sitback" and "lean forward".  After much practice in the form one should feel comfortable and agile moving in and out of these positions.  At this point one is really ready to do push hands.  In addition both the sitback and forward lean contribute to the up and down flow of internal energy and the qi in the body.  Therefore they are important components in the internal energy and qi circulation during the playing of the Tai Chi form. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Waist turns, hips do not! Most who do this are surprised when they are told how much their hips are moving...unless trained one simply does not feel such extraneous movement.Doing the Lions share of repairing the hole where logical reasoning disappeared, "righting the ship" and saving Tai Chi.

from Instagram

Junction of movement has to be in torso to be "internal"

Starting at 1:15 you hear Master Hwa address "hips vs. waist" and ask "...some of you were here last time, I want to see...turning movement, how do you turn...". The fellow behind (who I recall from the previous year at this same workshop) turns at the hips and turning his whole body.  You know it is very interesting that 
Did you know that the ability to turn from the waist, not turning the hips is considered the “second stage” of learning in Tai Chi. Did you know that if you don’t reach this stage you are not truly practicing Tai Chi? Did you know that THE TAO OF TAI-CHI CHUAN: Way to Rejuvenation" Jou Tsung Hwa,  Tai Chi Foundation, 1991, page A31, stated that "The Second Stage. The hallmark of the second stage is the use of torso method. Torso method is characterized by use of the body, specifically the waist and spine, to initiate and empower the movements of the arms and legs . Only those who reach this stage can truly be said to be practicing Tai Chi, yet these are few indeed."  Master Hwa once told me that he would have liked to meet Master Jou “…he was someone that really was searching for the truth about Tai Chi…”

Hips a fulcrum powered by the waist

The waist turns the hips, not vice versa (video link)

Waist turns, hips do not! Most who do this are surprised when they are told how much their hips are moving...unless trained, one simply does not feel such extraneous movement. An "oldie but a goodie" classic video that includes hips vs. waist instruction at the video link. Hips v. Waist continued: Keep the hips still, even sit on a chair to do this, turn the waist and then try another experiment, standing or sitting where you turn the hip "
first" (you will find it impossible but you can turn the waist to turn the hip) and you can readily see the difference in the "generation" of power. What exactly is the mechanism that is used to move in and of itself when one is urged erroneously to "turn your hip"? The hips are a major joint in the body and like any joint, there is no such self-perpetuating mechanism in the hips wherein one can "generate movement". Your hips "permit", "allow", "tolerate", "provide for" movement, but they do not "generate" movement.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sitback and Lean

Dear Master Hwa:  Now as to the "sitback" as shown in Wu's posture my student Tom Kostusiak says: "When I first started Classical Tai Chi, I experienced back pain while playing the form. My teacher pointed out (as Master Hwa points out in the video) that I was not sitting back and stretching down the tailbone. As I progressed with this correction, my back pain subsided. I saw that incorrect posture was the cause of pain as I was not properly aligned for the moves."

A student some time ago asked me via email: "How does the second generation of Wu's family change the posture from the original upright posture of Yang's Tai Chi to a straight lean?"  Perhaps one answer is to ask why ask this question before you practice instead of practicing and finding the answer for yourself?  I was thinking about what you said on "lean" in the forward posture.  As we know very well, there is indeed much commentary as you say along with youtube video. I decided to look up exact definitions of English "lean". Then I said why not look up what Chinese translation of "lean is" and so...I find it ironic that other Tai Chi has so much commentary from allegedly reading the Tai Chi Classics and interpretation of Chang San Feng's edict to not "lean". Yet the simplified Chinese translation is 靠 or kào which in English is translated as "Lean" using a striking force with shoulder or body. The irony is "lean" is one of the 8 postures that Tai Chi is noted for. Also, the very same postures that they tout as needing to be done in the "perpendicular".

Hi Jim: "We just have to continually plug at it. To change the preconceived thinking of such a large portion of the tai chi practitioner is a herculean effort!"

Sunday, August 25, 2019

One is external self defense, the other is self defense of the self through internal discipline

from Instagram

The folding move involves one entire side of the body; arm, torso, and leg, moving as a unit. In the example shown in the video left side then the right side of the body are folding and unfolding by keeping the other side of the body stationary.  The stationary part provides support, some of the power for the move and grounding. The left side of the body is yang, the right side yin, then it alternates with right sidy yang and left side yin, etc. The Yin-yang Internal Discipline of the Tai Chi junction is at the spine. One can visualize that the spine is a hinge, so each side of the body, like a door, can fold or unfold using that hinge. This is also a half-body move, right side vs. left  This move in Tai Chi Classics is described as "upper and lower body following each other" Another classical description is, "hand follows the foot, elbow follows the knee, and shoulder follows the hip". This is an important example of how to make a move but still keep each side of the body's alignment intact. This move can be achieved only when the turning power comes from the waist and the entire back's muscles. If one uses the upper body power for this move, the lower body will not likely be able to follow the upper body's move. The left foot will likely be lagging behind the move to form a twisted structure on the left side of the body greatly reducing the power of the move. see https://www.facebook.com/classicaltaichijimroach/