Thursday, September 16, 2021

Liked on YouTube: Compression

Compression
From Uncovering the Treasure by Stephen Hwa, Ph.D. available on Amazon.com we take snippets of information about "Compression forces that exist in the body". "Our spine is constantly under compression forces due to the action of gravity on the body. I suspect the repetitive stretching of the spine by this move is one of the contributing factors to keeping the body's structure robust even in old age. The up and down energy flow is an important contributor during Form playing to maintaining continuous internal energy circulation." P. 59 "Not keeping head, neck, body, and the back leg at a straight line: A major problem for most new students especially those who have studied other styles of Tai Chi before. They will try to straighten the body perpendicular to the ground instead of leaning, or have a knee bent on the back foot, thus the body forms a crescent moon shape instead of a straight line. This weakens the forward fajin power similar to the problem with "heel not on the ground". Also the compression at the lower back is unhealthy to the lower spine. There are reports of a group of tai chi practitioners, practicing such style, all having lower back bone spur problems in their old age. The knee bend of the back leg puts uncomfortable strain on the Achilles tendon and calf muscle, and most likely will result in "heel not on ground"." P. 125 "Attention on the spine includes: protecting spine from excessive compression forces, giving the spine opportunity to stretch from time to time, strengthening the muscles and tendons around the spine through Form practice. Attention on the hip, knee, and ankle includes: avoiding overextension of the joints, such as the knee projecting beyond the toe and high kicks, avoiding torque or shear force in the ankle, knee, and hip joints by following rules such as "hand follows the foot, elbow follows the knee, and shoulder follows the hip" or "upper and lower body following each other"." P. 127 "The concave curvature in the lower back region in Picture X-1 indicates localized compression and stress concentration of the spine in the lower back region. The punch motion in the Form will create a reaction force adding more stress at that location. This situation will be substantially worse if the punch hits the opponent since the reaction force will be much higher. In fact, it may bend the body further backwards hurting the lower back and losing the power. A group of Tai Chi enthusiasts of this style in Shanghai practiced together regularly, including push hands and sparring. At old age, every one of them had lower back bone spur problems. In Picture X-2, the spine and back leg form a straight line to allow the reaction force transmitted along the straight path to be absorbed by the ground, without any stress concentrated along the spine. In addition, the energized abdominal muscles exert an upward stretch force on the spine which serves to minimize the compression stress along the spine."
via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ3Lw45NH1Y

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Liked on YouTube: Square Form end cloud hands mpg

Square Form end cloud hands mpg
This is a slow-motion video snip of the Classical Tai Chi Square Form. There is no sound. What is important are the many hand movements, the turning of the feet, and the timing of them all. If one learns Cloud hands then this section will undoubtedly be of concern because of its complexity and timing.
via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_shXC7kC5cA

Monday, September 13, 2021

Tai Chi world is small with a narrow mind

 











Sifu Jim R. writes: Pictures show small and compact frames, so do not think large, very large and mid-frame were the only ones he knew. The last picture shows a young woman because of the torque in her right knee and foot making a very painful stance. Whereas Master Wu's very large stance seems excellent and very comfortable. As a metaphor, the world is vast but very small at times. If one has a narrow mind, it can look even smaller. Barbara R., a student asks questions of Master Hwa about Wu Chien Chuan's large stance and its usage in all situations.
From Classical Tai Chi Forum Volume 5 August 2003. https://www.classicaltaichi.com/forum/pdf/forum5a.pdf
Barbara, a student, writes: When watching a video of the 1995 International Wu Style Federation Convention and heard a speaker refer to "Lao Jia" and "Xin Jia" From the translation, it appeared these referred to the long-form as taught by Wu Chien Chuan and as taught by his son, Wu Gong Yi. The speaker said he had studied with both and set out to describe the differences, which seemed to be mainly differences in depth of stance—he kept using Drop Stance (Downward Posture, Snake Creeps Down) with a deep drop; as an illustration of "Lao Jia,"……… Master Young Wabu was a student of Wu Chien Chuan and Master Hwa was a student of both Master Sonia Young and her father Young Wabu. Master Sonia was a student of Grandmaster Wu Gong Yi and her father was Wu's colleague and also taught Wu's classes when Wu was not there. It seems very clear that Master Hwa is in about as good a position as the speaker (whose name I did not catch) to comment on this. The difference in "Lao" and "Xin" as I understood it is mainly a difference in how much external exercise you want to get along with the internal or whether you are looking for a practical fighting form or a showier one…………. Pictures of Wu Chien Chuan doing Tai Chi suggest that he did do Drop Stance with a reasonably deep drop, at least for the camera—but did he do it that way even in his last years? Would he have done it that way in free sparring? …………
Master Hwa's response: One listens to that "speaker" and cannot believe he said that. Just because he was taught "large frame" by Wu Chien Chuan when he was a teenager, he thought that was all Wu knew! If he thought that when he was a teenager, it is excusable. However, now at his old age, with all the published discussion about Wu's prowess at Compact Form, and still thinks that way. He is genuinely clueless. Unfortunately, this kind of person, who saw a master play one style, immediately assumed that it was that master's style, or that family's style, who has muddied the water about the history of tai chi. Prime examples are: Yang Ban-Hou had other teachers besides his father, Yang Lu-Chan, and therefore his style is different from his father. "Large frame" or "large circle" is the hallmark of Yang style, ignoring that several Yangs are known for their zeal for compact forms, such as Yang Shao-Hou, brother of Yang Cheng-Fu. He reminds one of a Chinese saying, "sitting in the bottom of a well trying to figure out how big is the sky."
It is correct that what they did for the camera was not representative of their style. During that era, printed pictures in the book have inferior quality (I have several such books), challenging to see any details. If a pose was in the compact form, it probably showed very little of what was going on. Master Wu's pictures are all in a substantial size frame style. As told by one of Wu Chien Chuan's students, an interesting story was that he asked Wu why one of his tai chi photos had the wrong posture. Wu said that the photographer told him to do it this way. The story shows that these masters did not give a hoot about their photographs. Master Young Wabu described how Grandmaster Wu, during sparring, could stick to the opponent, keeping the opponent constantly out of balance. (Master Young is the "opponent" describing what happened to him when meeting Master Wu) Master Young shows the epitome of tai chi martial art. It is formless; an abstract of all the training he had undergone- leg power from "large circle," internal power from "small circle," movements from form practice, sense and touch developed during push hand, sparring exercise, and more.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

倾斜 Weight distribution in Classical Tai Chi

 倾斜 Weight distribution in Classical Tai Chi


Michael wrote that he purchased Master Hwa's DVD series and has some questions about the Tai Chi Classics saying not to lean the body, the weight distribution of the body, the Tai Chi Classics, and Yin and Yang:
"As I watched the video more intently, I'm being drawn to the movement of the lower limbs from the hips down. Can I assume that master Hwa advocates the separation of yin-yang footing with 100% weight on one leg and the other 0% in all postures (except the end of the single whip)? While I understand the significance of the weight shifting from one stance to another - I'm interested to know the weight distribution of the brush knee step at the end. Is it 100% in the front leg, and the back leg is insubstantial? I'm studying the classics by zhang sang Feng, and the classics mentioned that one should not lean on any side. I would interpret this as leaning forward, backward, or at the sides - but if there is 100% weight on one leg, I do assume that there is a leaning force involve? "
Sifu Jim R. said: "In Classical Tai Chi, my teacher, Master Stephen Hwa, explains the principles of movement (the how and why) in terms of Yin and Yang. He also explains the principles in terms of "bodyweight distribution." When one moves, they do not let their weight "distribute" itself in an out-of-control manner. Carrying the weight in an out-of-control way is a grievous error and can have both health and martial consequences. This concept is explained in detail: DVD series, Yahoo Email Group, Classical Tai Chi Forum, Classical Tai Chi Website (Table of Contents for DVD) and nowadays on his very streamlined Classical Tai Chi course at Teachable.com."
"When one takes a step forward in Classical Tai Chi, the weight stays 100% on the back foot until the front foot is flat on the ground 0%. The practitioner will then pull the body forward till the bodyweight of 100% is on the front foot, with the back foot becoming 0%. The body weight distribution is both dynamic, fluid, and continuous through all postures with no exception. The correct movement for weight distribution is illustrated in the Tai Chi Walk, as seen in the attached video link to Youtube."
"An understanding of "leaning" in Classical Tai Chi should encompass the thought that one should take the Tai Chi Classics with the proverbial "grain of salt." The Classics are, as Master Hwa has said "attributed to various authors." Regardless of who wrote them, we did not hear of them until Wu Yu Xiang supposedly "finds them in a Salt Shop." The Classics, for one, do not specify what they mean by "lean." Did "do not lean" by the mystical Zhang Sanfeng mean do not lean at all, do not lean too much? 倾斜, is defined as "incline, tip, bias, slope, tilt, oblique, slope, lean" and in pinyin one says "Qingxie."
"There is also the term "incline" found in the Wu Family Gold Book as elucidated by Grandmaster Wu Kung Cho. What he means is do not "incline" by breaking at the waist. You see a lot of "breaking at the waist" in some styles of Tai Chi; it is painful to watch. Master Hwa does use the term "lean". In his explanation, he makes it work in English where "incline" might not. He does not caution against it, as does Zhang Sanfeng; on the contrary, he tells us how and why we need to do it. Recently, you can see "lean" used when demonstrating the use of "Ordinary Force" vs. "Internal Force" in his Youtube.com video called "Fajin". You can read it in detail on page 56 and more of his treatise in "Uncovering the Treasure" by Stephen Hwa on Amazon.com. I think there is a crucial point regarding not "breaking at the waist" when he says: "The head, the body, and the back leg form a straight line in the lean forward." There is an attached photo of Master Hwa perfectly stretched from top of head to Achilles Heel, demonstrated by a red straight line. It is coupled with another one showing a curve formed when one does not observe the aforementioned principles. Examining the photo with the "straight red line" one can readily see, even imagine that "breaking" at the waist would break the perfectly straight line and any energy flow"
"To sum it up, while having some key insights, the Classics are often filled with "contrariness" and can be very cryptic. Therefore, I would not attribute deviation in basic principles of Classical Tai Chi to what are often contrary statements in the Tai Chi Classics, hence "take it with a grain of salt." No pun on the "Salt Shop" of the Classics discovery intended."
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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Classical Tai Chi is a scientific martial art

  A scientific video



Classical Tai Chi is a martial art, and if it were an art like painting, a "one-inch punch" would merely be one type of brush stroke in a universe of methods. I digress, but I have a particular place in my heart for those who belittle Tai Chi's fighting ability, a special place in the heart, especially for those who engage in Tai Chi learning for only a short time and say that. Digressing further, let me tell you of a Judo vs. Kung Fu story, but it could be any martial art. I was personally acquainted with both teachers. It seems a Kung Fu Master who was renting a Judo Dojo said: "… don't do Judo, Kung Fu is better…." He meets the Judo Master while in the Dojo, who, with an upraised chair, said, "…so Judo is no good, Kung Fu is better…"?

My point is that my teacher, Master Hwa, has said, "…in a fight anything goes…". Working Shore Patrol in the Marine Corps, I saw this, but it was entitled "…in a fight, anything goes but first go the tables and chairs…". My teacher has previously spoken at the College about "...old masters, wanting to prove their art..." They, in so many words, were saying:..."... come on, let's fight"…".
To say nothing of contagious diseases, in this very different world today, I am sure there are many reasons besides law and human decency why we should not use that approach. It is no longer a matter of expounding Chinese wisdom via Western Science since China has also arrived in the 21st century. Master Hwa has spoken (after all, he is a retired Ph.D. Engineer) of his Fondness for his own teacher's systematic and scientific approach to the art. As an engineer, I like his expert and scientifically disciplined explanations for some pretty amazing things I have personally witnessed in Classical Tai Chi. His reasons come in the form of analysis and exposition of physiology and mechanics.
As my teacher, and in this video, I like his "physiological and mechanical" teaching of constantly reminding me to turn at the waist (Yao) using "internal discipline," Not turn at the hip girdle (Kua) to merely turn the "full" upper torso a complete turn. Classical Tai Chi, on the other hand, uses even, "quarters," "halves," "x, y, and z-axis, of the "Yao" in a very advanced level. This consists of complex combinations too numerous to mention of "quarters, halves, and x,y,z" axis movements.
"Fajin"??? "One-inch punch"??? Those are the tip of the iceberg. There is a veritable smorgasbord of Fajin from all angles and striking surfaces of a proficient practitioner's Classical Tai Chi body. In light of the plethora of combinations, it is a "palette" of functional movement rather than one brush stroke-like "one-inch punch." To conclude: The physiological effect of a lowered twisting action he speaks about in the video, exaggerates the signal and thus the stability of the core. If you are throwing yourself off balance, damaging your knees through excessive torque and shear force, then you have done much of the opponent's work for them. After all, my teacher and I have several videos showing the disparities, and you can see them all on Youtube. Let it not be said that I am "talking through my hat" because I did "twisting at the Kua" for many, many years before Classical Tai Chi.
Do you admire Master Hwa's use of the "one-inch punch"? One should respect the Science and Art behind it and put their admiration to work learning this art from A to Z. Rather than taking violent methods to prove our art, let's try to understand it. Yes, in Classical Tai Chi, we demonstrate many applications, but they always come with detailed scientific analysis. Once we know even one thing with the help of modern science, we are one significant step closer to the truth.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Liked on YouTube: Learning and evaluating students for Internal Discipline of Small Circle Tai Chi mp4

Learning and evaluating students for Internal Discipline of Small Circle Tai Chi mp4
Learning and evaluating students: With the https://ift.tt/2OfwbtJ Master Hwa has made a Gem for learning. I cannot say enough and rightly so because as he says, "...it is streamlined to facilitate student learning..." I only tell a little of my own experience here as I have gone on to digest what he passes on through "Teachable" and use it for my own classes. My experience has been: There is an adage that only those who pay the most $$$ for Tai Chi lessons will stick around. I have found in many ways, this only works if the $$$ also comes with a good student. Above all, In the relationship between teacher and student, the ball is ultimately in the student’s court. No one can teach you if you’re not willing to be a student. The corollary is true as well: A motivated student can learn from even a mediocre teacher. And when a real student meets a real teacher—that’s when the student’s world changes...I have been motivated to learn. That happened to me when I met Master Stephen Hwa. Years ago when I was teaching Wu's Style large frame at my own studio, my calligraphy teacher told me there was a Tai Chi teacher at the Chinese club who was called the "General" because of his strict teaching and call for dedication. Well, I had approached him years before that, in my early 30's and although he was strict, he was fair. My own teacher from "T" Tai Chi came with me to approach him to learn Chen Style, we had both grown disenchanted with "T" style. He told me that he would teach me but he would not teach my own teacher...why? Well, as Master Hwa says at about 17:15, teachers not only taught but they EVALUATED students attitude to see if they not only can learn, have talent, show promise but above all have a good attitude. I still do much the same, it is ingrained when I teach. I don't tell students I can't teach them but their "attitude" does do the "weeding out" process itself. My hopes in a non-pandemic future lean toward making it much more of a discipline that keeps students interest. Master Hwa talks about "...students complain because they think the teacher holds back...". My experience has also been that students complain about everything under the sun and I will leave it at that. The story from the calligraphy teacher was that the teacher told prospective students the charge for the class was $100 but if they stayed the course he would give it back to them...I like that quite a bit. However, much like Master Stephen Hwa, that teacher never charged me one thin dime...I learned a lot and above all am still continuing to learn and how to teach...I like that even more.
via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGO77LzDRps

Sunday, August 22, 2021

"Muscle Memory" means putting brains into muscle



 "Square Form Manual", Stephen Hwa, Ph.D. , "J.R." James Roach, "Classical Tai Chi Forum Index", J. B. Milne "Wuji (無極) Positions & Zhan Zhuang (站桩) Applications".

CLASSICAL TAI CHI IS A MIND/BODY DISCIPLINE
HERE IS A MIND/BODY SKILL INSTRUCTION TO TRY
IT'S ALL ABOUT A "MIND/BODY CONNECTION", NOTE THE WORD
"CONNECTION"
(ALSO "MUSCLE MEMORY" IS A MISNOMER)
I have heard the term “muscle memory” applied as a “rubber stamp” to the skills of Classical Tai Chi for years and it is misnomer, a disservice. It is definitely true although that skills in Classical Tai Chi require the strengthening of certain muscles, namely core muscles, leg muscles, etc. The learning process and memorization of new skills occur almost exclusively in the brain and not in muscles. The term “neuroplasticity” comes to mind as there are changes well into older age that occur in the brain even altering the information the brain sends to the core muscles, etc., then “changes” the movements that are made.
As an excerpt from Joe Milne’s Wu Chi treatise states, it is extremely important not to rely on “muscle memory” aka “auto-pilot” when practicing….autopilot makes practice worthless.
"Sensing Practice - Wu-chi / Wu-Ji"
Before stepping the first step in your Classical Tai Chi walking practice let the concentration now center on the soles of the feet, upper body weight should flow evenly down the legs and spread out along the soles of the feet
 In the beginning, the weight might only be felt at the heel and points on the ball of the foot, behind the little & big toes
 From your standing position (Wu-chi), slowly lower your left knee moving your weight to the left foot (notice the upper body turns to the right)
 Return to Wu-chi, now try the right knee
 Return to Wu-chi, now square the shoulders, feel the weight move to the heels.
 Return to Wu-chi, slowly try to squat, most people, in the beginning, will feel the weight transfer either to the outer edges or inner edges of the feet.
 From Wu-chi, raise one or both arms, un-tuck the tailbone, move your eyes to the horizon, try any and all movements and notice the pressure changes on the soles of the feet, neck and the rest of the body parts.
 As we progress through the various position/postures of the Form practice remembering the even displacement of weight on the soles of the feet & the natural movements of the body becomes very important.
Let us relegate muscle memory to the learning of “external martial arts” or conventional “exercise” because they come with their own starting and finish lines. Internal discipline is internal, works from inside out and conveys many sensations of feeling good and well being
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Liked on YouTube: Lower foot Lower quarter body

Lower foot Lower quarter body
Think you have the video right from just one view?...think again... "Grasshopper". You can send me your own video OF YOURSELF doing this and I will be happy to critique it...you need to view it several times initially and read these instructions: Stepping, walking, shifting weight are all dependent on the lower body and it is not easy. My own teacher Master Stephen Hwa says "...it is difficult...". The physical internal discipline of the core for the lower body is not readily recognizable for many just starting out and even for many, they think they "...got it..." and they do not. Most think that simply putting the toe down slowly is "internal" but it is not and it has to be powered by the core...not the leg. Per his instructions from 2007 and the DVD, you will note at .20, (20 seconds) into the video you will see a "crimp" appear in Master Hwa's shirt. This is indicative not only of the foot lowering the toe BUT ALSO MEANS THE PELVIS HAS PUSHED BOTH SLIGHTLY FORWARD AND DOWN TO LOWER THE FOOT. THE MOTION IS REALLY THE BEGINNING OF WHAT THE FOOT AND LEG WOULD DO IF THE PRACTITIONER TURNED 90 DEGREES "HALF-BODY", ETC. EXCEPT IN THIS CASE THE ENERGY JUST PLACES THE FOOT DOWN FORWARD. HIS LEFT SIDE REMAINS STILL WHILE JUST THE RIGHT SIDE MOVES. He talks about it here from the book, p 91: Lower body movements are the foundation of Tai Chi. Poor footwork and poor lower body posture will prevent one from learning Internal Discipline later .I. using core power for leg movements, such as lifting and stretching the leg 2. keeping the body's center of gravity under control, not allowing the body to fall forward as in the common walking motion 3. pulling the body forward or backward not pushing by the leg. During push hand and Form practice, the sitting back move is often followed by the body moving forward move. To make this transition from "sitting back to moving forward" smooth and effortless, one can take advantage of the stored "sitting back" energy in the forward leg by depressing the toe down with the pelvis drawing the body forward to start the forward motion by pulling with the forward foot. The cycle of back and forward moves can be practiced while waiting in line, watching TV, etc. It strengthens the lower back and stimulates the internal organs.
via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCL9aZjSPUU

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Lower foot, lower quarter body...is difficult



 Lower foot, lower quarter body...is difficult

(video link)


Think you have the video right from just one view?...think again... "Grasshopper".
You can send me your own video OF YOURSELF doing this and I will be happy to critique it...you need to view it several times initially and read these instructions: Stepping, walking, shifting weight are all dependent on the lower body and it is not easy. My own teacher Master Stephen Hwa says "...it is difficult...". The physical internal discipline of the core for the lower body is not readily recognizable for many just starting out and even for many, they think they "...got it..." and they do not. Most think that simply putting the toe down slowly is "internal" but it is not and it has to be powered by the core...not the leg.

Per his instructions from 2007 and the DVD, you will note at .20, (20 seconds) into the video you will see a "crimp" appear in Master Hwa's shirt. This is indicative not only of the foot lowering the toe BUT ALSO MEANS THE PELVIS HAS PUSHED BOTH SLIGHTLY FORWARD AND DOWN TO LOWER THE FOOT. THE MOTION IS REALLY THE BEGINNING OF WHAT THE FOOT AND LEG WOULD DO IF THE PRACTITIONER TURNED 90 DEGREES "HALF-BODY", ETC. EXCEPT IN THIS CASE THE ENERGY JUST PLACES THE FOOT DOWN FORWARD. HIS LEFT SIDE REMAINS STILL WHILE JUST THE RIGHT SIDE MOVES.
He talks about it here from the book, p 91:
" During push hand and Form practice, the sitting back move is often followed by the body moving forward move. To make this transition from "sitting back to moving forward" smooth and effortless, one can take advantage of the stored "sitting back" energy in the forward leg by DEPRESSING THE TOE DOWN WITH THE PELVIS DRAWING THE BODY FORWARD to start the forward motion by pulling with the forward foot. The cycle of back and forward moves can be practiced while waiting in line, watching TV, etc. It strengthens the lower back and stimulates the internal organs."



Saturday, August 7, 2021

Multitudes of Yin/Yang

             Multitudes of Yin/Yang Junctions



I call this "Multitudes of Yin & Yang Junctions" and we talk about the use of "multitudes" of Yin/Yang junctions here in what for many is an abstract area of the body...but we talk in technical NOT abstract terms: The PHYSICAL internal energy in all your movement eventually needs to penetrate the gluteus maximus. So let us talk about where it is, how to find it by simple relaxation standing and once you have it you can use it better as you gain proficiency. When you just stand with the waist relaxed you are able to take the stress off of the hips. When the waist is tense, the pelvis is braced on the hips. That puts a torque pressure on the knees and ankles, causing the feet to pronate or supinate.
When you open up the lower back and turn your feet parallel, about shoulder distance or hip distance apart, you can take a lot of tension out of the tailbone area, relaxing the buttock and hip muscles. This is important for mobility because it allows you to turn the pelvis without tilting the pelvis. This way, you can learn to keep the femur in line with the foot, and move the pelvis around the hip joint.
So, if this post gets you thinking even a little bit about that area, we have done our job. Did you know that you can simultaneously improve your posture, stabilize your knee and hip joints, and relieve your lower back pain by engaging the trio of muscles that make up the gluteals? Primary among these muscles is the underappreciated "emperor" of postural integrity, the gluteus maximus-along with its retinue of the deeper gluteal muscles: gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These gluteals play a vital role in the health of our lumbar spine, sacrum, hip joints, and knees- when and if we use them properly. If we don't (which is quite often the case), the result is joint problems as well as overdeveloped and tight hamstrings.