Thursday, February 14, 2019

Is every Classical Tai Chi movement internal?

Internal Discipline in Tai Chi walk (see the link) "Very good discussion here and even bobbing the knee up and down while "walking" is a clear case of what is called localized nerve activity that one needs to minimize and eventually stop. Other foot movements really involve the power from the torso which moves the entire leg. Even the lift of the toe when sitting back should be an integral part of the sitting back and engaging the torso, not an isolated move of lifting the toe. The Tai Chi Form is developed such that every arm movement, every leg movement is initiated from internal movement so that the circulation of internal energy and qi will maintain continuity during Form playing. My students in the class often mention that they thought I just externally moved the arm or the foot in certain Form movements, but later realize that it is actually internally driven. They would ask, "Is that internal, is this internal?" My answer is always yes. "  Stephen Hwa, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

ALL senses are needed with an opponent

 This is indicative of modern-day Tai Chi where mistakes are made, no one is there to correct, it ends up being good exercise but it is definitely not Tai Chi. Classical Tai Chi has to be good for both health AND martial purposes. The martial teaches one to "stick" by first touching then following the opponent's movements. Why practitioners are not being corrected when the arm goes way behind the back and the hand is touching one's own body (which muddles your senses and one can infer they are training to follow only themselves, not an opponent) is indicative of modern Tai Chi.  A good example of sticking shown in the video of Master Hwa is that in certain instances Tai Chi trains one to vigorously follow the opponent. For example in a Forum, Master Stephen Hwa said:  (as shown in the video) " Tai Chi uses the ball of the foot to push off such as the skipping steps after Needle at Bottom of the Sea. This enables one to pursue the opponent quickly. The purpose is to maintain "sticking"  to the opponent; not letting him get away from one's touch. It is not used to build a momentum of the body; that is against the principle of Tai Chi. Also, before the nineteenth century, the Chinese did not have the habit of inventing new words whenever new things came along. So, they not only borrowed old words for new uses but also avoided the use of misleading words. For example, a student mentioned  “ting jin”. That literally means listening (ting) to the opponent’s power or force (jin). In other words, you will sense what the opponent is trying to do so one could respond accordingly. All senses are needed to get the information: touch and feel, look, and anticipation based on experience with that person. Early masters avoided the use of the word "feel". Because, if one uses the word “feel”, then students will concentrate on touch and feel, and lose out on developing other senses. So they picked a neutral, completely abstract word “listening” (ting) as a name"

Friday, February 1, 2019

"Tell me how to open meridian?" and "Why did Wu change Yangs Style"?

Develop Internal Energy and open your meridian.

Mr. Hwa, could you tell me how to open my meridian?  "Learn the internal discipline of Classical Tai Chi. When you practice Tai Chi this way, you will develop internal energy circulating in your body which will open your meridian.  I encourage students to look at my YouTube channel found in the hyperlink above"


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 have expanded on my original response to this individual for a more detailed answer.
The modern-day Tai Chi Classics do refer to "not leaning" when doing the Tai Chi, but who knows what those words were before the work was "interpreted" by various authors. I did Yang Tai Chi before Wu, I never cared for the way it made my back feel. Also, "Leaning" to me is leaning as in "he was leaning on me". I think of the postures as "tilted" but one does not say he was "tilting on me". The Classics also refer to postures as being "straight" and the misconception is that a "tilted" posture is not straight. Note you do not even see the word perpendicular in the Classics. However, "straight" could also be a flagpole planted in the ground at a 45-degree angle could it not?
Regarding any questions about why "the second generation "changed" from upright to lean: I can only repeat what I am told to my limited understanding and ask you a couple questions: Don't you think Yang Family would have plenty of opportunities and objected strenuously since Wu's later did many push hands with them? How could it be changed when it was already in a state where it was far ahead in its progress? My teacher tells me Wu Chien Chuan told Young Wabu "it cannot be changed". I see he did not say it was changed or it was not changed... he said: "it cannot be changed". Over time, I eventually began to understand this when I realized not only the learning is multi-generational but the eventual consequences...the "benefits" as well..."time" invested is the ultimate and deciding factor to all understanding. In other words, since "time" is the catalyst, asking such questions early on in one's study leads inevitably to a bitter taste as one will not like any answer that is given, asking when one is experienced will always leave a good taste in one's mouth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What a versatile move is Cloud Hands


Cloud Hands

It has been said in so many words that Jazz is the epitome of variations on a theme. I believe that good Tai Chi can encompass such spontaneous embellishment or variation of a preexisting theme as well. Note in the video link above what a beautiful combination of movements goes into Cloud Hands. Also an epitome of good ways to practice by practicing one move over and over. That first walking step is a thoughtful addition which mobilizes the internal because of that initial stretch where you see "ah ha" expressions on smiling faces. That first motion made by Master Hwa is a quarter body movement that connects the arm to the core.  His motion of pulling something with both hands is what he actually does gently to arms of students so they can feel a connection from arm to the core.  The great thing about this is that the more you initially stretch forward, the more you feel the stretch pulling backward.  

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":  

https://www.youtube.com/user/parea10/videos

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 https://youtu.be/Sbuz6BZne04

 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.