Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I'd like to say that everyone I have taught over the years including advanced students and teachers, needs to remember to look down a couple of times and check which direction their feet are pointing in, each time they practice. In moves where the feet are supposed to be parallel, a toe even slightly out here, a toe out there and I recall images in my mind of each student I've taught being reminded consistently to point their feet in the forward direction. The phrase "...feet are parallel..." is more than just talking about it. Now here are some of Master Hwa's practice reminders from the Classical Tai Chi Forum that mesh with his recent videos on keeping the knees and back healthy:
"I wish to reemphasize some of the points in the video to help you visualize and think about key elements of practice.
In the instructional video one has to be concerned with many aspects of the position of the body. Two of primary importance are the (Master Hwa has changed this to "stretch the tailbone down" in his videos) tuck in and the knee over toe Tuck in or bringing the pelvis forward and up is easy to forget when you are thinking about all the other aspects of practicing tai chi. Yet it is of utmost importance. If done correctly then the practice of tai chi will alleviate lower back problems. If not done, then the movement can exacerbate lower back problems.
Knee over toe eventually can harm or injure the knee. Your step size can more or less determine whether your knee will go over the toe. The step size in the video with the front foot heel even with the back foot toe should normally avoid the problem of unconsciously bending the knee over the toe.
If you have a knee problem to start with,, you should try to use an even smaller step size. Keep the front foot heel just behind the back foot toe until your knee feels more comfortable. With such small step size you can till learn the form movements and develop the Internal Discipline."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Master Hwas Square Form Instructions analyzed and excerpted here by Sifu Jim Roach.Students do these wrong and miss the martial intent and ultimate application of the movement: The "hand has to end up in line with the curve of the elbow" as in photo 3, otherwise, it is out of position to have intent on the fingertips thus able to strike upward to the throat. These 4 photos represent movements at the end of Posture 2 and the beginning of posture 3 of the square form. I see students get the position of the elbow wrong in the 3rd photo. They do not draw in the elbow by keeping it down but allowing it to rise to a right angle, sometimes to the level of the shoulder. 
One key is the right palm becomes centered, behind left palm but IT IS ALSO IN LINE WITH THE CURVE OF THE LEFT ELBOW, then after the shift of the body forward into posture 3, we can talk about "the right elbow pull slightly down and out, causing the right hand to slide slightly to the right"

Monday, October 9, 2017

Delineation between moving and non-moving in Classical Tai Chi

In the above video the movements of the Square Form are crisp, resolute and due to what we see as a "delineation" between what is moving and not moving:
Is this Yin/Yang symbol, a white figure on a gray figure or a gray figure on a white? Is this what one might call "ambiguous"? Yet, when not caught up in ambiguity we see a yin-yang "pair", clearly delineated. The Classical Tai Chi Square Form has this "delineation" as its primary purpose and it is our "template" for learning the "Round". This is necessary because most of us move instinctively, one might say "ambiguously".
Most do not understand the fact that our bodies have segments, we are naturally segmented but have never learned how to use it. One part of the body moves, the other part is non-moving, this has to be taught to the conscious mind but as Stephen Hwa states in his book "Uncovering the Treasure", the subconscious also has its role: "We gradually absorb the essence of the forms and shapes we practice into our subconscious. Eventually, every move we make will instinctively follow the way." Note he says we will not continue to move instinctively, ambiguously but that the moves we make will "...instinctively follow the way..."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Liked on YouTube: Tai Chi Exercises for Lower Back Pain. Improve Your Spine & Back

Tai Chi Exercises for Lower Back Pain. Improve Your Spine & Back
Classical Tai Chi Form is designed to keep a healthy spine and healthy back. This video shows those key considerations to achieve this. Many examples are shown here. For more information see: http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q See our website for other training: Introduction to Wu Style Tai Chi - http://ift.tt/2vBxltp Tai Chi Martial Arts Application - http://ift.tt/2wupeew Tai Chi Internal Discipline - http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q Tai Chi Health Benefits - http://ift.tt/2vBzghu Tai Chi DVD Library - http://ift.tt/2wuoqX1
via YouTube https://youtu.be/72OGPbcIlcQ

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Liked on YouTube: Healthy Spine and Healthy Back through Classical Tai Chi

Healthy Spine and Healthy Back through Classical Tai Chi
Classical Tai Chi Form is designed to keep a healthy spine and healthy back. This video shows those key considerations to achieve this. Many examples are shown here. For more information see: http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q
via YouTube Youtube Link

Liked on YouTube: Healthy Knee through Classical Tai Chi

Healthy Knee through Classical Tai Chi
Classical Tai Chi Form is designed to keep healthy knee. Those measures to keep knee healthy are illustrated here and should be used for everyday life. For more information see http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q
via YouTube Youtube Link

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Liked on YouTube: Forward Lean Posture In Tai Chi

Forward Lean Posture In Tai Chi
There are much discussions about this posture. Here, the health benefits and martial art application of this posture are presented. See also related video https://youtu.be/f4Oxx12QRNY http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q See our website for other training: Introduction to Wu Style Tai Chi - http://ift.tt/2vBxltp Tai Chi Martial Arts Application - http://ift.tt/2wupeew Tai Chi Internal Discipline - http://ift.tt/2wuNs8q Tai Chi Health Benefits - http://ift.tt/2vBzghu Tai Chi DVD Library - http://ift.tt/2wuoqX1
via YouTube Youtube Link

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Integrating mind and body


The simple movement of rotating the thumbs toward the body will cause the palms to face the rear.  However, unless it is trained not to move, the chest will hollow as well. To the casual observer, nothing is happening here. This is where the integration of body and mind can consciously occur. Humans are complex beings, however, and so we need training and practice in integrating mind and body. This is where "ting jin" comes in and sensing of one's own movement before learning to sense the partners. Here's where I find a fascinating example of how the mind and body are not intrinsically integrated for even a simple movement. It also shows how to achieve integration in both simple and complex movement.
The words "...when one part moves everything moves..." found as glaring error in the Tai Chi Classics is not integration of mind and body. For how do you take a lack of consciousness in movement, lack of yin/yang delineation and turn it into a Tai Chi principle? So you see it is a natural fact that if you move one part of the body, your body will always move another part extraneously unless your mind consciously intervenes.

Friday, June 30, 2017

An overwhelming majority of people I meet are learning Tai Chi for something other than serious understanding of martial arts. This is a good discussion on martial arts, ballet, dance, walking dogs and more from a student Barbara R :"I found Master Hwa's discussion of YI (martial intent) and cold hands and dancers' problems in taking up tai chi interesting because of my own experience. When I used to do ballet, the palm side of my hands and fingers would get very warm and flushed and so would my teacher's. As she was older and had high blood pressure and none of the other students seemed bothered by "hot hands," it really kind of worried me a little. When I started doing tai chi and found out warmth and flush and tingling in the hands could all be signs of chi flowing correctly ( Very true- Master Hwa), I was relieved in retrospect, but disappointed, because I didn't have any of those experiences playing the form. I thought maybe it was because of so much keyboarding in the years between—enough to cause some carpal tunnel syndrome problems.
Then, in the last few months, I began to have some color and tingling while practicing and hoped it was some healing effect taking place, although I still have to use wrist braces now and then and curtail my activities a little. Master Hwa's piece offers another explanation. When I first started doing tai chi, I had no idea what most of the motions were for. Since then, I've learned a good bit more about applications and now often play the form to an audience of imaginary opponents "walking the circle" around me like ba gua players. (That is the way to practice- Master Hwa) This is actually much nearer the way I used to practice ballet--with the intent of expressing to an audience, real or imaginary, whatever character or emotion the dance I was doing was supposed to represent.
The "yi" in ballet--mind intent if not martial intent--seems to come in with the desire to project ( “To Project” is the key- Master Hwa); so maybe it is learning about the martial applications that's making my tai chi playing better for me, whether it looks better or not. Actually, I've gotten so I rather like catching a glimpse of myself in the "on guard" position (lute hands, or long arm and short arm, or even grasping the bird's tail), whereas I used to feel ridiculous doing it, particularly in exercises like "walking in the presence of the enemy." I think that women in the west even today often have a problem in perceiving fighting skills as being "artistic" enough to be appropriate for them because of the way they are often depicted in our culture and because of a tendency in the culture itself to label "art" as being more of a woman's thing than a man's and "defending" as being a masculine prerogative. That attitude may make it more difficult for women who are attracted to tai chi because of its graceful movements to see that there is any martial aspect to it. I can't think of any fighting skill in western culture that has anything like the same cachet of art and beauty about it except mayb swordsmanship--as it has come down in fencing………………
Maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to Wu style was Wu Ying Hua and Wu Yan Hsia, although I'm not sure I knew about them until I got into it, just as I didn't know about Master Young's daughter until I found your website.The only difference any of this makes is that it can create a kind of little barrier that you've got to get over in your own mind. Punches still feel quite alien to me, although a "one inch" punch is certainly an improvement over a haymaker. I think the biggest help is to find something in the martial essence of tai chi that you can relate to and use it as a bridge to the rest. For me, maybe one of the best is something I read recently about peng ( I think you mean ting jin, which means listening to opponent’s jin(power). I will talk about this laterMaster Hwa) or which mean as an attitude that permeates tai chi and almost incorporates the "audible force" rather than as any specific action. I certainly ought to be able to relate to that, after spending so much time walking herding breed dogs off leash and having to "listen" to their muscle tension and for anything about to come our way so as to be able to "ward off" their attacks on cars and cats before they start. That may sound bizarre, but just as you mentioned applying the principles of tai chi to everyday life, I think you have to find your point of entry to a martial arts mindset,if it seems alien to you, wherever you can."
Master Hwa’s reply:
I enjoy reading your piece very much, many good insights!.....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Concerning integration of internal discipline into Round Form

Concerning the integration of Internal Discipline into Form Play. This cloudhands exercise just done on the heels is a great precursor to eventual integration of internal discipline with round form cloudhands... IF and WHEN there is good quality of round form. Students may be making good progress in the class but need to keep in mind there is a qualitative minimum before we worry about quantities. If we have good quality in our form and it is the standard, then moving often with internal discipline is within reach. This is why it is so important to do internal movements, quarter body, upper body turn, etc. separate from form practice, LITERALLY ANY CHANCE YOU HAVE ANYTIME. Too often I see students attempting in vain to do internal in the form when they are constantly corrected for making mistakes like "wrong direction", "incorrect position of hands", "bad timing of movements".  I understand this day and age is impatient for results but find a teacher that can  thoroughly immerse you in the principles and explain those same principles behind all of this in Classical Tai Chi.  Please keep all of these principles in mind and catch yourself when you try to force internal on a movement that is wrong in so many other ways.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What is "small circle" Tai Chi, what is "internal"?

http://youtube.com Besides my own personal study in the 70's, 80's and 90's for a considerable time at numerous locations, particularly Youtube. I did a search of all of myriad sources, websites, videos, images, articles for actual instruction on true "small circle" Tai Chi and I do not find "small circle" Tai Chi being taught. Although I saw the words "small circle" used quite frequently, a critical examination (with an accompanying comparison to Classical Tai Chi) of the body structure, foot positioning, size of footsteps, (in many cases "extraneous") movement of the extremities, and lack of "internal movement" from the core of the body, demarcation/delineation of yin and yang, positioning of yin/yang pairs, etc. revealed to me that there is no "small circle" Tai Chi being taught. This picture gives a good comparison of what is "small circle".

 In the truest sense, saying one's Tai Chi is "small circle" is like saying their Tai Chi is "internal". Recently, a new student said "...internal is what my teacher is teaching in a particular Style short form.." yet I asked the student to show me their "internal" and they said"...well, that is what my teacher said he was teaching...". I think "caveat emptor" is particularly germane to what we discuss along with "all that glitters is not gold". wherein the attractive "external appearance" of something is not a reliable indication of its true nature.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Your body and mind on stress


Try a little experiment: This is what happens to your body on stress. Squeeze fists, arms, shoulders, face, core, etc. into as tight a squeeze as possible...now without letting go of the self-inflicted tightening STRETCH DOWN YOUR TAILBONE as you see in this picture, whether you are standing or sitting. If you cannot do that then pull in your lower abdomen until you feel the tailbone stretch down, then hold the stretch for 5 or 10 seconds. You will feel all the tenseness leave the body. This is a remedy for stress, anger, fear...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Liked on YouTube: Internal Discipline in Baseball

Internal Discipline in Bassball
How to generate power in baseball using Internal discipline in Classical Tai Chi. For more information, see classicaltaichi.com
via YouTube Youtube Link

Liked on YouTube: Internal Discipline in Tennis by Roger Federer & Serena Williams

Internal Discipline in Tennis by Roger Federer & Serena Williams
How to generate power in tennis by Roger Federer & Serena Williams using the internal discipline of Classical Tai Chi. For more information see classicaltaichi.com
via YouTube Youtube Link

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why "Uncovering the Treasure" is not digital

There will never be a digital version of "Uncovering the Treasure" coming to a Tablet, Cellphone or PC near you. For one thing those electronic devices cannot "open and close the body along the spine" like this book can...for another that book smells so good when one's "nose is buried in it". Unfortunately batteries are not included with the book but you can smile when the flight attendant tells everyone to turn off their electronic devices. The book feels different each time, much like the Classical Tai Chi form.  To paraphrase my teacher as well I think there will always be more books passed on to other people than tablets.

"Uncovering the Treasure" by Stephen Hwa, PhD available at Amazon.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Understand "fajin" as being multifaceted

Let's not continue to conflate "fajin" only with "one inch punch" which time wise is of short duration. As you see in the photos which show "longer duration" and "short duration" of force. How do we do either or both? If there is a "secret" to success it is to be found by us in our discernment or non-discernment of small differences in sensation that we feel and our subsequent ability or inability to both note and choose options and movement efficiency. In a workshop Master Stephen Hwa said "...the amount of fajing you can deliver is proportional to how compact you can make the delivery..." AND as I have said "... It is an established principle that the smallest difference in sensation we can discern is proportional to the magnitude of the larger sensation..." The "larger sensation" for all of us is the much larger section of the body that is away from the much smaller area that we wish to move.

IMHO: There are no "SECRETS" of Tai Chi, if you want to develop "one inch punch" in a hurryyyy, go home and do slowwww quarter body movement as a punch for 2 hours a day for a hundred days. The thing is there are slim and none people willing to do that...the "secret" is in sheer persistence for a "short duration" of time. Or you can do it spread out over years as a "long duration" with the same persistence.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Liked on YouTube: Classical Tai Chi Individual Moves Foot work

Classical Tai Chi Individual Moves Foot work

via YouTube Youtube Link

Classical Tai Chi individual moves footwork

Video of how to do footwork

I never hear feedback from my Classical Tai Chi students regarding difficulty in doing this, this is reasonable to understand...they do not yet know what it feels like. So, the teacher, a mirror or one's own personal video to monitor the moves and one sees they are pushing with either front or back foot. Also, important to check stance, structure, distance between feet, etc. To the nitty gritty of this they are really in the beginning and most difficult stage where they are learning to gain and keep attention in the core region. Any attention on the leg as evidenced when one pushes then the move will be partially initiated by the leg and as you say "external" movement. I like the expression "...it feels like a suction force pulling the body..." when pulling. If done correctly there will be no feedback of sensation from the leg. If pushing one first feels sensation in the calf, if pulling one feels just the sole of the foot as it seemingly "grips" the floor...no feedback of the leg, calf, thigh, etc.

Friday, April 21, 2017

History of Classical Tai Chi "small circle form" and methods of practice

...and another student's comment, with a response from Master Hwa including a video link to "Hand Push Forward" as a quarter body internal movement. Published by Jim Roach on behalf of William C. and Master Stephen Hwa, excerpted from Classical Tai Chi Forum https://www.dropbox.com/s/2kkxzlewru64s3p/Hand%20Push%20forward.mpg?dl=0
William C. said: "I have been working with the classical tai chi tapes for a couple of weeks now and as a twenty year practitioner of the Yang family style I want to make the following comments. I have never been so clearly informed on the differences in moving the waist while the pelvis and hips are still. I feel like a towel that is being wrung out with the center of the wringing out dynamic is in my abdomen. Also, I have never been instructed in pulling from the leading foot. I was having a hard time with this until at last in practicing the walk I had the feeling at first in the backward walk that there was a suction force pulling me back and it felt quite effortless. It is taking some time to get used to but my practice formerly was to play the form with such big steps, now I really need to think a new dynamic and remind myself to place my heel near the toes of the other foot. It's amazing that this small step produces such a good whole body stretch. I am finding ways to practice the quarter body movement in a repetitive manner in many situations including the physical work that I do. Mainly though in repetitive single tai chi moves. I have never been shown the difference between the internal discipline and momentum before..I am interested in the history of this form, not to prove its validity, that is borne out in the practice." Thank you Master Hwa for the wonderful instruction! William C.

Response from Master Hwa: Your method of practicing the quarter body internal movement is right on. Students in my class tell me that they practice such a single movement when they are driving, standing in the line, during working. One could, therefore, be concentrated on learning the external aspects of the form movements initially, without worrying too much about internal discipline, keeping the learning of internal discipline .offline.. Later on, one can integrate the external aspects with the internal discipline. The history of this form is well recorded up to the Yang family founder. There is a very interesting article talking about large circle tai chi and small circle tai chi, and how Wu, my lineage, learned the tai chi from the Yangs: http://www.wustyle.com/about-us/our-history


Earlier history about the form which passed down from the Chen to the Yang is not quite as clear. The form I am teaching is actually an intermediate circle, simply because small circle or the compact form as I mentioned in the video, should not be taught to a beginner. When one is proficient with the intermediate circle, you will be able to evolve into small circle naturally.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tai Chi is Tai Chi is Tai Chi is Tai Chi...In my classes and discussions I hear comments that "Internal Discipline is LIKE belly dancing...so I will dust off my belly dancing dvd", "Internal Discipline is LIKE isometrics or IS Isometric exercise", "Tai Chi is LIKE Yoga, like upright Yoga", etc., etc. These are all wrong because the art is not an "analog" and therefore is not subject to "analogy"...this is due to the concept of "Yi", the martial intent of movement. Read on gentle reader to see what my teacher Master Stephen Hwa says to Lori N. when she calls it dance and subjects it incorrectly to being an "analog" and therefore analogous to dance. 

From Forum 6, October 2003, Lori N. writes:
"I just completed my first lesson -- the walk. Very tricky but also very
fun. This is going to be exactly what I have looked for so long. I have always loved to dance but never enjoyed performing for people. This dance of Taiji will be that dance I have been needing for so many years!"

"I am glad you have made a good start. It is important that you feel fun and challenged while you doing it. Your comments about Tai Chi as a kind of dancing is what prompted me to write about the topic Yi  click here for article on "YI" (martial intent)– the martial art intent. I remember my teacher became unhappy when someone referred to Tai Chi as an exercise. Again, the “intent” is lost when it was called as an exercise. "

Monday, April 3, 2017

My student is entering his 2nd year in a Master's Degree Occupational Therapy program. He is also very good with anatomy because he is a teaching assistant in the dissection lab. He tells me these "pnf" PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching techniques look very similar to movements in Master Hwa's "10 exercises"...and I think they do as well, for instance "d1" flexion (click lower left picture) looks like exercise e8. In discussing this with him he made the point that OT in general works upper body while PT works lower...yet Tai Chi works both ends of the spectrum in a holistic manner.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Sometimes an illusion..."

Sometimes an illusion  (a link to video)

At some point a student needs to realize that teacher's know what they are doing and not second guess them, it will be a long difficult journey otherwise. It can be very embarassing for some after arguing with a teacher to see a video of oneself doing something incorrectly and/or Master Hwa doing the same thing correctly...particularly after saying "...I watched the video at home, you are wrong.." I can play and replay all sorts of videos at the studio location. Upon correction for "bobbing up and down" the student in this video told me "...I watched the video and when Master Hwa lifts the pelvis with the core, he straightens his leg and stands up..." I showed this video along with a video of Master Hwa and explained to the student that bobbing up and down/straighten the leg and stand up is not the same as lifting the leg with the core. Master Stephen Hwa has said before: "You need to remember “sometimes the appearance of reality is actually an illusion. My students in class often told me that they thought I was moving a certain way and tried to do the same. Later they found out that their observation was not correct. That was the reason I incorporated different views in my dvd video so you could see my moves at different angles to lessen the chance of wrong impression. Using a fresh eye to review the lesson video could also uncover any misinterpretation of my movements. "

Master Hwa doing correct walking (a link to video)