Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"....Classical Wu Style Tai Chi with other martial arts..."

Master Hwa's Florida "Roots"
"Mastering others is strength": There is no end to the use of strength and there will always be others who are stronger, others who can learn to counter your strength, others to compare yourself to, in light of what is said in the Blog, why engage in such comparisons, there is only one of you however, "Mastering yourself is true power". 

"How can such a soft, slow moving Tai Chi Form be preparation for martial arts?". I guess some people missed this chapter in Master Hwa's book, for he says this and then explains.  At about 4:30 of the video we hear even a long time student repeat the same refrain:  "How does Tai Chi fare against Brazilian JiuJitsu?". You can hear the  refrain echoed in a thousand Youtube Videos and in those same videos you will sometimes hear the fighting  capability of the individual asking the question. Speaking only for myself, I have never been bothered by this question AND for myself there are far more important questions I ask of Master Hwa.  I flew to Florida over the weekend of May 11 (the Jet Blue tickets were my birthday present from my wife Barbara) and spent a great, long weekend visiting with my teacher Master Stephen Hwa and Eva.

After I wrote thank you emails, I sent a hand written card of thanks to Master Hwa and Eva for their wonderful generosity and hospitality.  While I was there, he would come to the apartment at least 2 times a day and spend hours at a time with me on my form, one might say I lived with him.  We also ate all our meals together, we took walks together, the training went on nonstop. I asked question after question about my form and he never wavered in giving answers about my form.   I had hour after hour to both question and do my form for him.  Not once in all of that time did I think of saying: "How does Tai Chi fare against (insert your  martial art)?" 

Perhaps it is because I finally realize in my heart, there is no end to it and more importantly, I cannot put an end to it...for it truly is endless.  How do people miss hearing him say: "There are no winning strategies, applications, etc. (insert your martial art), there are only winning executions of those strategies, applications, etc."? Listen to  4:30 of the video in response to: "How does Tai Chi fare against Brazilian JiuJitsu"?   Here is the link to the Youtube video from a workshop in 2011: "...Classical Wu Style Tai Chi with other martial arts..."

Master Hwa: "You know this is all individual. You know, we practice the form and we can reach a certain stage and this is called Mastery. You know you can learn and do the form so that every move is internal, that you don't have to think (about what comes next) . You know at that stage, you are mastering the form, BUT with martial art application, there will be no mastery.  With martial art applications there is endless improvement.  So it's harder to compare one to the other.  "

"You know when the first Tai Chi master  went to Beijing most Tai Chi was in the countryside, and people don't know that much. So he went to Beijing, liked to challenge people and beat up everybody. So he went to one master there and wanted to challenge him, "Oh, I know you are better than me now" the master said.  The challenger said "Please let's just do some". He just wanted to try it out on other martial artists.  Sincerely, not to just build the name, so he begged the guy. "Let's do something"

"So in that sense, at that time, he beat up everybody, there is no other martial art that can beat him, Certainly at that time, consider your knowledge, that is another thing, people do not know about Tai Chi. So people may not have developed a way to counteract it."

"Now if you know Tai Chi like in the fight between Wu Gong Yi and the other guy. Now both sides know each others art very well.  Now, I'm sure they both develop a strategy to counteract the other guy's strength. Now the other guy, if you watch the video (click here for LINK). Now I know (pointing to Jim) you watch it many times, you find (the other guy an "external" White Crane martial art) he changed the way, in other words, he doesn't use momentum, body momentum at all. He knows the Tai Chi is really good to counteract momentum, body momentum. Body momentum, that is what Tai Chi is really good at.  And he just chopped away, just using his arms, so there is no body momentum...remember that? There was just a flurry of arms without any body momentum. Certainly in that way, he cannot develop all the power and so forth. At least he tried to avoid being thrown by the Tai Chi. In that case Wu Gong Yi is not using Tai Chi, you cannot blame him, because the guy is not using body momentum. 

So at that time (and even today on Youtube) people are saying how come Wu is not using Tai Chi?  So he is not using Tai Chi and so everytime, he has to block.  So he is using this (side of the hand)  and hitting him (on the arms) and after awhile.  So after awhile, the guys arms got tired because the muscle got hit.  So he, himself, goes in and hit his nose (he walked into Wu's blocks and his nose started bleeding profusely).  You cannot blame him for not using Tai Chi because the other guy does not use body momentum (he moves, I move, if he does not move, I do not move).  So the guy did this with his arms and Wu did this to block him, block his chops. One of his hands he cannot raise or something."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Correct Stepping in Cloud Hands

(video link)

"The way leads from the sacrum upward in a backward-flowing way to the summit of the Creative and on through the house of the Creative; then it sinks through the  two stories in a direct downward-flowing way into the solar plexus and warms it. Therefore it is said: "Wandering in heaven one eats the spirit-energy of the receptive".  

Excerpted from : "The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life", Richard Wilhelm, Translator, Translated from German, Cary F. Baynes,  C.G. Jung, Commentary, see p. 61 for the passage.  Richard Wilhelm, C.G. Jung and Cary F. Baynes also being collaborators on the Wilhelm/Baynes edition of the I Ching or Book of Changes.

In the context of "secrets", I see that there is no shortage of books being published that tout learning "...the secrets of Tai Chi..." in some cases they claim that the "secrets of the masters" are to be found in the "Tai Chi Classics".  Certainly we know that there have been high level masters of Tai Chi in the early days but as Master Stephen Hwa states: "These Classics started becoming known in the 1930-40s when books about Tai Chi first started to be published in China. These writings reported in those books are a collection of short works attributed to different authors from Chang San-Feng to anonymous authors. Even though their authorship cannot be verified, they are considered to be the holy writ on Tai Chi. They do contain some insights and principles of Tai Chi; but also some glaring mistakes."

We know now however, that regardless of any supposed or real literary accomplishments, the early masters structured the Tai Chi form to serve two purposes:  It was designed to be useful for martial applications and also to be good for health purposes.  One has to admire the thinking behind such structure and I think it can be safely said that it was designed by people with sound reasoning skills.  Reasoning however that was no doubt based in whole but certainly in major part of their own martial art experience.  Thus we have the 2 major components of the "logical structure" of Tai Chi but they built it with an understanding that it need be composed of many facets or building blocks for the structure. An example of only one building block  but a major one is how "...every move in Tai Chi needs a moving part and a stationary part (yang and yin)..."  Those "parts" come together at junctions in the body, some can be in the torso, some can be outside of the torso.  These junctions can be said to be the repositories of the two parts or what are "yin-yang pairs" but regardless of what they are called, their location whether inside or outside of the torso is what is of major importance.

When inside or "internal" to the torso the yin-yang pairs will have the most profound effect on the "two purposes", when outside the torso, it is simply an "external" movement and cannot provide such enhancement to the internal system of the body. There are so many movements in the Tai Chi form however, can there be one that provides an examplary illustration of what we say here?  I think if there is to be any outstanding example it must be the "Cloud Hands" movement of the Tai Chi form. I have included this video link which specifically shows Master Hwa not only demonstrating the movement but discussing how to do it correctly:  

"Correct Stepping in Cloud Hands with application"
"Correct Stepping in Cloud Hands showing pullback"

I will let Master Hwa do the rest because I can certainly explain it no better but will conclude by saying IMHO that the movement you see in his back is the characteristic "ripple effect".  In this video you see the force, an "intense muscle undulating motion" .  This is a premier example of the saying about Tai Chi that it is "outside cotton but inside steel" . In my humble opinion or at least conjecture,  I see parallels in the up and down motion of his back or "undulating motion" and how this is described in so many writings about Taoist meditation (see the Golden Flower comment). Or parallels as to how the "chi" is "tapped" along the spine, travels to the extremeties, then moves back to the body core for further use. 

 On the other hand, although I think the Secret of the Golden Flower is written in such an ethereal style (it has been long associated with "hippy-dippy, flower style Tai Chi of the 60's in the U.S.") that it is almost unintelligible to me in English, there is nothing ethereal about what we see demonstrated by Master Hwa, After all, and as we correct our stepping in cloud hands, it is  as Master Hwa says in Uncovering the Treasure: "...a bad posture will stop internal energy generation and qi flow. No mental state or wishful thinking, (etheric or otherwise) can overcome that".