Monday, July 20, 2020

What's the difference rob a store, get killed, and not wearing a Covid-19 Mask?

NY Times article on Chuang Tzu

Spoke to an employee at a business today who mocked my N95 mask as I approached the back garage door. He said, " only wear a mask if there are sick people..." I said, "...but there are sick people all over and I happen to know that there is no difference between you robbing a business thus getting shot, different than someone not wearing a mask and both cases, lives are thrown away for an opinion, a cause, a belief..." He said, "...well, right, yeah right..."

Friday, July 17, 2020

Liked on YouTube: Section 1 Connecting Arm Movements with the Movement of the Torso Upper Quarter Body Movements New

Section 1 Connecting Arm Movements with the Movement of the Torso Upper Quarter Body Movements New

via YouTube

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The highest level of Taijiquan is high stance and small circle


In this video link, The highest level of Taijiquan is high stance and small circle my student, J.W. Bulger is doing an "authentic" high stance, small circle, square form. Let's talk "authenticity" since there has already been too much disagreement with no substantive rationale for why. The video link is of my student J.W. Bulger doing "high stance, small circle Square Form" which is misunderstood by many people, many of whom do "low stance, large circle". 

While we were making the video "The Tao of Martial Applications" and now in "Section III, group discussions, of the Classical Tai Chi Teachable coursemy own teacher, Master Stephen Hwa told me Internal Discipline, (the key to Fajin) can only be cultivated through "high stance, small circle because the biomechanics of "low stance, large circle" Tai Chi will not support it"  In his book "Uncovering the Treasure," he says it is sometimes called the Torso Method" by Master Jou Tsung Hwa in his celebrated treatise, "The Tao of Taijiquan": "The Second Stage. The hallmark of the second stage is the use of the torso method. Torso method is characterized by the 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."

I don't have an ultimate source but other Masters such as Yang Jwing Ming in one of his writings is attributed to have said it is of the "highest level": "The highest level of Taijiquan is the high stance and small circle. In a high stance and small circle, you can conserve your energy to a maximum level. This is very crucial in battle. Endurance has always been a crucial key to surviving a long battle. Moreover, in high stance and small shape you can reach a very relaxed state, the mind is highly concentrated and alertness can be extremely sharp"

THE TAO OF TAI-CHI CHUAN: Way to Rejuvenation", Tai Chi
Foundation, 1991, page A31,

Uncovering The Treasure: Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health Paperback – May 12, 2010

Liked on YouTube: Walking is square form

Walking is square form
It is interesting that other Tai Chi states the Square Form of Classical Tai Chi is "Robotic". Actually for the purposes of doing the Square Form, the more "robotic" it is practiced...the better. Surely, other Tai Chi cannot think that they know every "Form" that Wu Chien Chuan knew, can they? In light of how recorded History muddies so much, Isn't this a bit like sitting in the bottom of a well, looking at the sky and yelling out "look how big the world is"? One has to think as well that old masters did not have super slow-motion video ability to analyze their movement after the fact. Besides its many other facets, Classical Tai Chi Square Form provides us with this ability to analyze movement as it is being done and correct it in the same time frame.
via YouTube

Monday, July 6, 2020

" it an internal move, or is it an external move..."

Classical Wu Tai Chi turning movement

For most of the video link above, my teacher Stephen Hwa said this about " it an internal move or is it an external move...":   "The most important instruction on Internal Discipline passed down from Wu Chien Chuan to my teacher Young Wabu is that":  "Every movement in Tai Chi Form has to have two complementary parts of the body, a moving part (called Yang) and a stationary part (called Yin).  When the yin-yang junction is located in the torso of the body, it is an internal move.  When it is outside the torso, it is an external move".

David M. said: " I have two of Master Hwa's DVDs and I find his concepts fascinating. I am a practitioner of Wu Style TCC (disciple of the Wu Family). However, we have been taught that all of the movements are generated by the "hips" first, not the "waist". I still do not understand why Master Hwa thinks that the hips should remain less mobile than the waist. The hips are the fulcrum of the body and connect the upper with the lower.

Master Stephen Hwa said:  "Turning at the waist vs. turning using Kua/Hip When you teach or demonstrate the internal move “turning at the waist” in Classical Tai Chi, you likely will encounter questions “why not using Kua/hip”. Most external martial arts and  large numbers of tai chi schools practice the use of Kua or hip for that turning motion. Jim Roach, our first certified instructor, spent his early years of martial art training using “turn with Kuo/hip”, then he switched over to learn Classical Tai chi using “turn at the waist”. He has good insight to this discussion. " 

Jim Roach:  " It would seem the only thing that is not said is "you will lose your balance" IF "you turn in these postures from the hip" IF you are in a "small frame" Tai Chi stance. I partially agree with "only turn the hip" side of the discussion on what I experienced. What I never heard stated is how "frame size" has such bearing on whether hip turning causes the feet to move. One can indeed turn such amounts of the hip in the large stances that some teach. Also what both sides seem to miss is the proper use of the hips via such things as timing. For instance one can turn the waist, THEN turn the hips in a follow-up We see this in the cooperative push hands of Tao of Martial Applications.  This is indicative that turning the hips is not eschewed, it just means it should be done in the right situation.  After all, I am sitting in a chair as I write this, lo and behold, I cannot turn my hips but I can turn my torso.

Uncovering The Treasure: Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health Paperback – May 12, 2010

"Two complementary parts...", Chapter 1, The Internal Discipline of Tai Chi, page 2, Uncovering the Treasure, Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health, Stephen Hwa available

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Correct Stepping in Cloud Hands

Correct Stepping in Cloud Hands  (A "...look at the logical...")

Click the "Correct Stepping..."link above for video, then "like" it on Master Hwa's Youtube post: " 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".  Cloud  Hands involves constant  body  turning.  Notice,  in  these  turns, the  movements follow the  rule  of"hand  follows  the  foot, elbow  follows  the  knee".  There  is  no  torque  or  twist within  each  side of  the  body, right  side or  left  side. Each side  of  the  body  is  geared for  up  and  down  energy flow without  any  hindrance.  Each  side  of  the  body  follows the yin-yang rule  that  one  side is  turning  while  the  other side  remains still.  Therefore,  two  sides  of  the  body  fold and  unfold  using  the  spine  as  the  hinge"

"A Look at the Logical", page 125, Uncovering the Treasure, Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health, Stephen Hwa available

Uncovering The Treasure: Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health Paperback – May 12, 2010

"A Look at the Logical", page 125, Uncovering the Treasure, Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health, Stephen Hwa available

Monday, June 29, 2020

What about "Tension and Relaxation"?

What about "Tension and Relaxation"?

The picture was taken in 2006 and the video (link)  was taken in 2020.  In the picture Master Stephen Hwa points out that one side of his arm is firm and the other side is relaxed.  You can see the student in a red shirt starting to tip from the pressure and firmness/tension of the top side of the arm.  You can see the other student touching underneath and on the bottom side of the arm to sense the softness/relaxation of the underside. Master Hwa is using "internal discipline" from the body core so that his strength comes from inside the body and affects the external, namely the arm.  

It is interesting that the arm "by definition is relaxed" even though the forearm exhibits "tension".  This is because the entire arm does not exhibit tension but only part while the other part remains without tension or "relaxed".  The arm presents "substantial/insubstantial", aka "Yin and Yang".  Even more interesting is what happens when arms make contact and the body core tenses up to provide power, leaving the arm relaxed.  The arm moves imperceptibly but the core movement is more noticeable in response to the push. One can say there is a "spike" of tension under external pressure and when the pressure is removed it returns to relaxed. 

"The topic of "energized" and "relaxed" has been touched upon before. A relaxed body and mind is the most commonly cited benefit of Tai Chi. Students spend countless hours trying to relax their shoulders, arm, face, breathing, etc. Therefore, the word "tension" is abhorred. The word "energized" used here is partly to avoid this stigma and partly to indicate that there is an active, transforming muscle tension for a specific purpose. The energy generated from this tension is called "jin" in Chinese. When an advanced practitioner plays the Form, there is a streak of active, transforming muscle tension circulating, zigzagging in an otherwise relaxed body giving rise to the sensation of stretching and energy flow."

Youtube video: Tension and Relaxation -Insight Into Small Circle (Frame) Tai Chi, Stephen Hwa, May 24, 2019, URL

Text article:  Chapter 7, "Relaxing and Energizing", p. 89  

Uncovering The Treasure: Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health Paperback – May 12, 2010

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Mind-Body Connection ("sticking") and Cognitive Load

There is "sticking to the opponent" (connection to the opponent) in Tai Chi but why is it so important for the mind "sticking" (mind-body connecting)  to the solo movements of the body?'s more than you think. Students think I am thoughtlessly relentless in keeping them on track, but there are reasons that you probably have missed. You know it is not easy but don't you wonder why Master Stephen Hwa says Tai Chi is so enjoyable? My student Jason tells me he has tried meditation but never been able to do it for more than 20 seconds because it’s too boring and his mind wanders to more interesting aspects of his life. 

Even as a very long time practitioner, I still, fortunately, experience what is called "Cognitive Load" and it is that which prevents my mind from flitting around here and there. I have to get full concentration but I have no Master Stephen Hwa to see if I am not moving precisely. So I have to have a "sticky" mind and think precisely about body movement, every little detail. This "stickiness" (mind-body connection)  keeps me from thinking about stress such as COVID 19, health, and/or family conflicts. This cognitive load prevents my mind from wandering. "Calming the body sends signals to the brain that complement the re-appraisal that comes from not being able to think about stressful aspects of life. Tai Chi lowers stress by regulating emotions as well as by diverting thoughts" 

There is a more advanced stage that still has a "connection" and cognitive load but for the most part, works subconsciously.  This is called the "Evolvement of Mind". Beginners struggle to engage the mind and body with no clear goal for their Form training.  "The goal is to make ALL movements internal originating from the body core. The eventual goal for Form training is that during form playing, all movements are internal and are fully integrated with the limbs to achieve "using internal movement to direct external motion". Internal energy will circulate in the body continuously without break. At this stage, the advanced practitioner should be able to play the Form without thinking, entirely subconscious.
Also, one should be able to integrate internal moves into everyday life, naturally, without effort.

The mind-body relation starting from the intense struggle and engagement of the beginner's stage progresses to total disengagement. The mind is now free to enjoy the pleasurable sensation of stretching and energy circulation in the body during Form practice as if the mind belongs to an independent observer. This last state of mind is indistinguishable from motion-induced Qi Gong exercises. This is when Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises become one."

Hwa, Stephen, May 12, 2012  Uncovering the Treasure, Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health
Thagard, P. 2020 Why does Tai Chi Feel Good Psychology Today
Huston, P., & McFarlane, B. (2016). Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? Canadian Family Physician, 62(11), 881-890.
Wang, C., Bannuru, R., Ramel, J., Kupelnick, B., Scott, T., & Schmid, C. H. (2010). Tai Chi on psychological well-being: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med, 10, 23. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-23

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Student concern over "perpendicular" vs. "leaning" in Tai Chi

Viewing the link above: There is concern among students  over "perpendicular" vs. "leaning" while doing Tai Chi. Concern because of its bare-bones reasoning of not being able to defend oneself while leaning. Analysis of this video shows the reaction force effect of remaining "perpendicular" while applying force vs. "leaning". On the other hand, the video also shows "perpendicular" can be used effectively with "fajin that uses internal discipline". Master Hwa is perpendicular with a tight compact stance in the photo yet it is Tom Kostusiak that lurches back and there is no reaction force on the 50 lb. lighter and smaller Stephen Hwa. He is perpendicular in the video when he does "Cai" and yanks Tom, using internal discipline then he is going into a moving lean with the "reaction force" as ordinary force kicks in.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Liked on YouTube: Single Whip Intent mp4

Single Whip Intent mp4
Single whip is a wonderful example of "martial intent" and how to use it with "internal discipline".
via YouTube