Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: Uncovering The Treasure On The Classical Tai Chi Path

"Create Space" has this book, please click on the link below this line:
Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health by Stephen Hwa

"Amazon.com" has this book. Type in the name Stephen Hwa in their search field.

An Editorial Review of Master Stephen Hwa's Book
Modern Tai Chi teaching has been shrouded in ethereal language as if logical thinking and scientific analysis do not apply to Tai Chi. Without a rational framework, Tai Chi practice has degenerated into multitudes of forms varying from a slow dancing exercise to tight fisted, muscle-bulging external martial exercise. Many of them contain harmful movements. In the long term, these movements will cause problem for the practitioner rather than improve their health. The rational and scientific discourse presented in this book enables readers to have a different perspective and mindset about Tai Chi from what is preached today. Readers will acquire sufficient knowledge here to be able to critically evaluate what is beneficial and what should be avoided. This book is a distillation of the Wu style teaching from Young Wabu (student of Wu Chien Chuan) and thirty five years of discovery through practicing and teaching by Master Stephen Hwa. It offers personal experience and insight into Master Hwa's road of discovery. Much of the information is spread throughout Master Hwa's DVD series, his webpage, and his Forum. He reorganized the information so that the multitude of topics in Tai Chi, such as internal energy or internal power, Large Frame Form, Compact Form, Square Form, body posture, Fajin, Qi Gong, Silk Reeling exercise, martial art applications, health benefits, and etc. fit into a concise and easy to understand format. In conjunction with the Classical Tai Chi DVD series, this road is open to anyone who sets their mind to travel it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another letter to my teacher

Dear Master Hwa,

Hope the recent trip to the mainland was fruitful and that air travel remained healthy.

This has puzzled me since we made "Tao of M.A.". In the DVD you refer to the word "Bing or Peng" as "push". This push you go on to say is either "high" or "middle" which is also known as "one inch punch". I agree whoever it was who said that discussions of Peng are like trying to talk about any color, red, yellow, etc. It will make no sense unless one can give specific examples. As I said in the previous blog as well, the Tai Chi Classics have no tutelage on how to do Peng, Lu, Ji, etc. and of course reading what someone from another style has written most often is interpretation from an "external" point of view, not "internal".

Additionally, it is kind of useless to say to a student (although many teachers do, without referring to these principles) that one can do a specific application for Peng or even Lu, Ji, etc. So in light of what I said about discussing "color" without giving examples, here goes:
  • Peng is often thought of as the application ""ward off" in push hands, etc., it is not "ward off", Peng is merely an intrinsic quality of the application "ward off". People engage in this much the way people say "tingling fingers" are Qi. "Tingling fingers" are not Qi, they are evidence of Qi, much the same way a "red", lit, light bulb is not electricity.
  • Peng is referred to in the Tai Chi Classics as a "spring like" energy, this quality of "spring like" is present in all the other "methods", Lu, Ji, etc. This "spring like" quality sounds remarkably like internal energy which is generated through internal discipline in movement. It is a necessary but not sufficient quality to performing any of the other methods correctly. Hence, one cannot say they uprooted an opponent using "Cai" or "Tsai" (pick, pull, pluck) if the quality of Peng was not present as well.
  • Peng as any application is not a valid quality in for example "ward off" if external force, eg. pushing with legs, extraneous movement at shoulder, disconnect at shoulder, tension in arms, etc.
  • Peng has an intrinsic "rising" quality that is only generated correctly from using internal discipline. The "rising" is referred to in Tai Chi Classics as analagous to "water supporting a boat", etc. I think you referred to this before as Intrinsic "upward quality" that things like "quarter body movement" can induce. Example being, I do one inch punch and I feel that my arm, palm, fist, kind of spontaneously goes upward.
  • Peng as quality of say "ward off" is also rather expansive. It seems to originate at my core and seems to "fill" me up like a tire. When I ward off an opponent (hold them away from me) Peng is in direct line with them, when I move forward, Peng rises at where I touch them, it goes up. I use less force than he does but once he is off balance, I can add more. So Peng has these Yin and Yang qualities however dependent on the quality of one's internal energy.
  • Peng with such Yin and Yang in consideration can keep an opponent from getting to my core and as such is basis for any abilities I have with "Ting Jin". If my arm is too tense for example, I cannot have quality of Peng, since I cannot "ting jin" the opponent. I simply am too tense, therefore cannot "sense" what opponent is doing. Conversely, Peng can with Yang in consideration be essential quality of "one inch punch" and as such have that "rising" quality even in the burst of power.
Hi Jim: What you said about Peng is very correct. Especially the upward motion is an excellent observation. I discuss that in the book as you will see.

Master Hwa

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Benefits of Tai Chi, imagined or otherwise

Mr. Roach

 click here: Tai Chi.

There was no specific event, except that I had started Shorin Ryu Karate while in the Marine Corps and always maintained a great interest in the martial arts.  I think ego brings us to the door, and the discipline takes care of the rest. The key is not to let the ego stand in the way of progress.

I came to find out over years and several teachers that all Tai Chi is not the same, nor is it of equal benefit in terms of health. I had novice teachers that did not know much about it and famous teachers that were interested in teaching it as a martial art. I now have a teacher for the past 7 years that truly believes the ultimate purpose of Tai Chi is "longevity while living in the springtime of one's life", I believe that as well. I am 63, he is 76, his teacher lived to be 101, dying in 2005. I feel the greatest benefit has been the vigor and zest for life that the Tai Chi has bestowed. I very, very rarely get sick, and when I do, my recuperative powers are excellent.

I teach people that are decades younger than me, some of them have been famous martial artists in their own right. It is a fair deal, it gives back what one puts into it. I suppose the largest negatives are what I have seen in terms of both teachers and students.  I think this negative is directly proportional to the amount of misinformation promulgated by the popular media. 

I hope that those who take my classes will come away with not only some appreciation for the discipline and work that it entails. But, I also hope they will come away with an appreciation for what the discipline and work can offer. Seeing Tai Chi as a panacea without seeing what it really entails in order to do it is, as my teacher says, called "being a frog in the bottom of a well". All the frog can do is croak to anyone who will listen "how big the sky is". In other words a myopic view or perspective on things.

The Tai Chi itself is "selfless" I hope those that I pass it to can be the same. "Things in this universe endure because they are selfless". I have students now who I have great hopes for. My hopes are they will come to understand that doing service and justice to Tai Chi is the key to getting the benefit. 

Good luck,
Jim R.