Thursday, January 16, 2020

Why so hard to develop Neigong (internal discipline)?

Jim R said: Pathological reasons aside I ask myself as a teacher why it is so hard for students to develop internal discipline? I have suspected for some time that people, in general, think of themselves as looking out from inside their heads and simply riding around inside their bodies. I think this is where the essence of Classical Tai Chi as "mindfulness meditation" comes to fruition. The head in this scenario reigns supreme but really is a purveyor of the illusion. . I'm not talking about eyesight per se here but the neuroscientist Sam Harris has pointed out research that shows people always think of objects as closer to their head than say their knees, back, etc.

In his book, Uncovering the Treasure, Master Stephen Hwa talks about the Mental state of a beginner and elucidates on how we think of the torso: "We think about the dexterity of hands or feet but think
of the torso as a dull part of the body, not knowing that the torso can be developed to have just as much
dexterity. As a result, almost everyone who starts on Classical Tai Chi is awkward in their torso. Precise
command and control of the neuromuscular system in the torso area are nonexistent.Yet, it is crucial in the development of Internal Discipline. During early Form training, students have to look intensely inward trying to establish communication with the torso, not just for command and control but also to develop sensitivity to the sensation of the body's feedback. Knowing the correct sensation of a movement is one of the best tools to achieve self-improvement."

Monday, January 13, 2020

Why do the 關節 Guānjié form and not etc., etc.

The link to be "square"

Why do the 關節 Guānjié form and not etc., etc?

I practice and teach a Compact Square, also called "Joint" or 關節 Guānjié Form in addition to Compact Round Form. Specifically, this is directed to interested readers who may or may not practice the Square Form of Classical Tai Chi.  Generally, one must assume that not many people are familiar with the Square ("Fang") Form.  To my knowledge, it came to fruition during the 20th century. It arose as inception and development by the Wu Family Tai Chi and its representatives. In its various incarnations and variations, it has been introduced and taught by the disciples and family of Wu Chien Chuan. What is not agreed upon even among the family and representatives is which version is correct. To explain this I can only offer that there is a very obvious difference between large frame square form and compact frame square form...a size difference.  

All of the commentaries that have been offered about Classical Tai Chi-square form leads me to think that even the very obvious difference of size is not apparent to practitioners of large frame.  To be fair, there also appears to be a majority of practitioners in large frame practice who have never heard of the Compact frame.  In addition, the most current commentary  from the mass media and the uninitiated (including Tai Chi practitioners and even some who practice another version of large frame square form)   is that the Compact square form looks "robotic", hence the following article:

In regard to the "Robot" portrayal: I have for some time now not concurred with any representation, narrative or designation that fails to accurately explain the rationale of any Tai Chi movements to students. It would be injudicious to assume a priori that a robot's Tai Chi could be any more or less correct than a human's. Particularly because IMHO the majority of Tai Chi that is taught nowadays is not correct, to begin with. The reason for this is simply because it demonstrates time and again that it deviates from its origins and roots.

I have also seen it time and again over 40 years that Tai Chi forms become watered down if not passed on intact from one generation to the next. The Square form ensures that there is no deviation in this process, no moves are added, no moves are subtracted. For that reason, I am happy for this opportunity to reiterate that the performance of Square Form should look Robotic. In fact, the more robotic the portrayal, the better the performance.

Anyway, in the final analysis, the delineation of yin and yang is the eventual goal. That is to teach students what parts of the body to keep still and what parts to move. The part that is still is Yin and the part that moves is Yang.

The majority of people who start Tai Chi, however, cannot keep much still when it calls for it. Additionally, that rule to delineate yin and yang is the most important lesson Wu Chien Chuan passed on to Young Wabu.

What most often happens is that students by habit move from the individual joints, eg; shoulder. It is difficult to teach students to keep a shoulder still, elbow still, a hip still. The movement at these joints "muddies" the overall quality of movement and in many respects drains off the power that could have been generated had it remained still. Correct Tai Chi thus becomes difficult to teach because the nerve impulses that govern movement from the joints have been cultivated over a lifetime. It is no wonder then that students struggle with learning, thinking all the wrong reasons for their difficulties. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Many times in Tai Chi students cannot find correct neuromuscular control. One can stretch the students arm so they feel the connection of arm to back and also to a lesser degree the abdomen. Eventually one can use back and abdominal to power arm movement.Doing the Lions share of repairing the hole where logical reasoning disappeared, "righting the ship" and saving Tai Chi.

"Helen A." who is a student on Master Hwa's Classical Tai Chi Teachable course: Helen said: "When I try to move my arms from my back muscles, as you recommend, I feel the movement of the muscle in my stomach area (core muscle?). Does this mean that I am doing the movement correctly?" Master Hwa said: "You got it!! It is the purpose of this exercise to connect arm movement to the back and the abdomen muscles so that eventually you can use the energy of these muscles to power the arm movement."

Friday, December 20, 2019

A review meant as FAQ

This is dedicated to my teacher and to all my students past, present and especially those (all of us) who find things "difficult", read on please:  Review of "Uncovering the Treasure: Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health by Stephen Hwa

Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2010
Verified Purchase
Format: Paperback

Stephen Hwa has written a book called "Uncovering the Treasure", Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health. This review concerns that book and largely I try to be in accord with Amazon's recommendations that reviews should be succinct, yet detailed and specific. As a rule Amazon suggests that the review informs readers whether or not the book measures up to: "What I wanted to know before I purchased the book"? For this, I hope the reader will bear with me because I have to play the role of both beginner and practicing student. This is equally difficult because I am a teacher of this art and often find myself lacking the "mind of a beginner" or novice, which as it is said is open to many possibilities, that of the expert being few.
Over and above all of this is my abiding appreciation for what I have learned all these years from Stephen Hwa, Ph.D., whose academic qualifications alone provide ample ability to provide us with such a rational and scientific treatise. This is in addition to the 30+ years he has spent studying and teaching the art. Equally little known is the fact that he was the single student of Yang Wabu (Young Wabu) who was a personal student and disciple of Wu Chien Chuan. I say "single" because Stephen Hwa started in Yang's class with many other students, all dropped out leaving Stephen as the lone student for the next 30 years. One teacher, one student for 30 years.
Yes, it is easy to see I am a "ringer" but the book may really be for those who have wandered the Tai Chi path many years and felt unfulfilled. For those who feel like they have been taken down too many one-way streets and wrong routes regarding the "internal" of this "internal martial art". You will understand my appreciation once you read the book. There is no "flowery", "ethereal" or "new age" language to be found in the book, there is however lots to puzzle over and to practice. The routes to solving the puzzle are clearly delineated however, all the student needs is a small place to practice, a desire to enjoy what they do rather than straining to achieve something and some time and gumption. Here in brevity is what I might have wanted to know (as a beginner or practitioner) before I purchased the book.
* What is meant by "internal energy" and what is the way to get it?
* How do all those types of "forms", (large, compact, square, etc.) fit into a learning program?
* What pieces am I missing in order to learn Tai Chi?
* How does the way I align myself contribute to gaining internal energy?
* Why are there seemingly so many rules to follow when learning this?
* Why does it seem so complex and difficult many times?
* If Tai Chi originated from martial artists, why is it what I see many times looks like dance?
* What in the world can I gain from doing Tai Chi?
* Are there any dangers in doing this, what should I cultivate, what should I avoid?
* Why does it take so long to learn?
* This art has no "belts" what distinguishes beginners from advanced?

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Welcome to CTC

NEW INFO: Starting the first Sunday, January 5, and Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo will offer free and ongoing Tai Chi classes. The classes will be at 10 A.M. on Sundays and 6:30 P.M. on Wednesdays, Rockwell Hall, room 302. For those who come on Wednesday and do not have a parking permit, please contact the instructor at the phone number or email address below. Anyone wishing to attend is urged to register ahead of time. Tai Chi is often referred to as mindfulness meditation in motion. Classes are taught by James Roach who has over forty years of experience in several styles of Tai Chi. Please contact them at or leave message at (716)218-0094 to register. More information can be found on their website and Facebook page.

Open to: students, faculty, staff, everyone

Sunday, December 8, 2019 He will tell you himself: To an untrained eye what you see as "continuous" movement is an illusion.Doing the Lions share of repairing the hole where logical reasoning disappeared, "righting the ship" and saving Tai Chi.

from Instagram

Classical Tai Chi is an the "untrained eye"

He will tell you himself: To the eye of a body/mind not trained with "internal discipline", what you see at the Facebook video link is an illusion. What you see is really the illusion of continuous movement and the untrained eye does not see the Yin/Yang (not moving/moving) of each movement. First you learn that Yin/Yang for each move then connect the moves. Other than that and one is dancing no better than training for the "Prom".New free Tai Chi classes, starting Jan. 8, 2020, 6:30 - 7:30 PM. Free classes also continuing Sundays 10-11 AM. Rockwell Hall, Room 302, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Bflo., NY. Prior registration for class is mandated at

Sunday, December 1, 2019

"Ordinary Force" v. "Non-ordinary Force"

View the video and more at:

Jim R. said: New free Tai Chi classes now available Wed., Jan. 8, 2020, 6:30-7:30 PM and free classes also continuing Sundays 10-11 AM. Rockwell Hall, Rm., 302, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Bflo., NY. Try this little experiment: "Ordinary Force" can be felt if you stand absolutely perpendicular and push with your arms as hard as possible against a wall. The "reaction force" will make you careen backward. In this video, I am in a discussion about the pitfalls of external ("ordinary") force with Master Hwa, Tom K., and Ike Schultz. What Ike says about the "snapping" REACTION FORCE effect on the shoulder joint when punching is also true of "snapping" REACTION FORCE effect on knees and hips when kicking. So, doesn't logic also dictate "ordinary" force stopping at the hips when pushing with the back leg? Stand with the same hand position but not using arm muscles to push, just legs. It can be felt if you stand perfectly perpendicular and push with your legs as hard as possible through your arms and hands against a wall. The "REACTION FORCE" will make you careen back as well.

Jim R. said: "There is a thing called "NON-ORDINARY" Force that is not "external" and is a skill to be learned via internal discipline. The comment at this point might be, "but what if I take a large step forward and tilt my body forward?" Of course, you won't careen back because the "Reaction Force" is absorbed by the back foot...but your force is still "external and ordinary". The conundrum is how to take a "SMALL" step (small frame, small circle), tilt the body forward or even stand perpendicular like Master Hwa in this photo...and not careen back from "reaction force". He used the "non-ordinary" force."

Adarsh Vazhakandy said: "clear explanation. this student has grasped the essence of internal power"