Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Liked on YouTube: PUSH HANDS "Jade Girl Works at the Shuttles"

PUSH HANDS "Jade Girl Works at the Shuttles"

via YouTube

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Yin and Yang is more than "cosmological"

The video of Stephen Hwa shows him doing a 1/4 body move.  It requires 3/4 of the body to be Yin (not moving) while 1/4 is Yang (moving). 

In "The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi" one of the statements is "This book is audacious".  I would agree.  Where I disagree is with the author's "audacious" statement that Yin and Yang are "cosmological notions".  This smacks of having a kind of "belief in the right mental state of mind as the precursor which makes almost any movement a Tai Chi movement. The result of that has given us an unbelievable number of Tai Chi varieties.

Stephen Hwa's teacher Yeung Wabu said that his own teacher Wu Chien Chuan told him: "Every movement in Tai Chi Form has to have two complementary parts of the body, a moving part (called the yang part) and a stationary part (called yin part). When the yin-yang junction is located in the torso of the body, it is an internal move. When it is outside of the torso, it is an external move."

I won't go into the health or martial benefits of disregarding those previous discussed "right mental state" notions at this point.  I will simply say that Yin and Yang are indeed an "...ology", not a "cosmology" but a "methodology". As my own teacher says in "Uncovering the Treasure": One (contribution) is that this statement by my teacher Yeung Wabu is the key to a methodology that enables Tai Chi practitioners to mobilize the powerful core of the body for Tai Chi movements, to generate internal energy and internal energy circulation in the body.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Martial Art and/or Good for Health?

"Don't argue with students over doing Long Form or Short Form". Those were the words that Master Stephen Hwa spoke to me. I mentioned the statements of a student on the ultimate utility of doing short form instead of the Long Form. The student had learned a short form from a former teacher and rather more loyal than pragmatic was holding to their previous learning.

This is but one example of the work of saving Classical Tai Chi that Master Hwa has taken on. Through study with him, I have come to an understanding of why. In my professional opinion the art has been dying, simply put it has degenerated into something that is barely recognizable. As to what one is up against: "As a disciple of Wu Chian-Chuan,(Young Wabu) was faithful to the art he was taught by Wu. He could not understand why so many tai chi practitioners were so feckless with the art that resulted in the rapid degeneration of the art during his lifetime."

Largely, the Tai Chi is divided into what seems like 2 camps. Those who insist that it is only a martial art, pure and simple. Don't argue with them on Youtube or anywhere else, they have been calling for Jihad for some time now. Then there is the other camp. Those who insist that it is not a martial art, pure and simple. Don't argue with them anywhere either. Take your pick...what they seem to define it as is anyone's guess.

The martial arts crew will say "if someone gives you the finger, give them the finger back". The other side will say much what was said by a beginner at one of my classes. "Tai Chi did not originate in China, it was developed in San Francisco".  No doubt at the same time as "Rice a Roni". Kind of like what a local restaurant owner said to a couple at the next table to us when they asked for Chow Mein and said they sure hoped it tasted like the "good stuff they bought at the supermarket". The proprietor responded with: "would you like it served in the can or out?"

It might be helpful to remember that what is necessary for a fight is called good health and what is conducive to good health is good in a fight. However, if one takes their 8 bones of the wrist and 19 of the hands and fingers and punches someone on the 1 bone of their head (hence the term "bonehead")consider the odds of breaking at least one of them. How the purist martial art camp considers that to be healthy really escapes me?

On the other hand (no pun here)if one takes the 1 bony head and applies it with vigor to notions, expectations, preconceptions, media misrepresentations and misinformation about the art...the head does not break. New Age Tai Chi, Tai Chi is only for the old, Really Easy Tai Chi, Tai Chi while swimming, Tai Chi for what ails ya, Short and really short Tai Chi, Tai Chi without all that troublesome discipline, Tai Chi while running, Tai Chi for beating people up, and on and on...

The head does not break under the constant infusion of such notions, it instead fills up and rises to be full of itself. This is the flight of the kite under the influence of hot air. To wit, we have the wordy mathematical expression: The definition of Tai Chi is directly proportional to the amount of hot air that it receives and rises appropriately.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Elements follow certain rules, rules form a logical structure

Forward lean posture & movement (video)

Although we only show one posture, that posture is central to the Classical Tai Chi experience. It is important to remember that doing this or any posture badly will always override what we call "wishful thinking" or the right mental state. An excerpt from "Uncovering the Treasure" by Stephen Hwa Ph.D.  "Those early Masters who developed Classical Tai Chi Form must have had in-depth knowledge about body mechanics and its effect on joint health and energy transmission and generation in the body. They meticulously incorporated their knowledge into every move in the Tai Chi Form. After all, a bad posture will stop internal energy generation and qi flow."

"No mental state or wishful thinking can overcome that. At first glance, it (Classical Tai Chi) appears to be very complex, but gradually it becomes simpler because every element in it, no matter how minor it is, follows certain rules and these rules form a logical structure with calculated, scientific reasoning behind it. Every element is optimized toward two objectives; martial art applications and health benefits. As a result, every element is tightly coupled with other elements even though they may appear to be unrelated. The entire structure is rooted in Chinese philosophy. It is truly a world heritage treasure."

Friday, August 2, 2019

Tai Chi for the most part is "Square Form"

If one pushes back with the forward foot as an opponent is pushing you does it not stand to reason that you are aiding them? As much as we would like to believe it not true when a Karate punch or kick reaches its endpoint, the momentum of the movement has to be absorbed by the shoulder or hip joint to stop the movement. This could cause hyperextension of the tendon in that joint. This to some degree also takes place in some Tai Chi particularly where there is much emphasis on sparring and to a lesser degree, it shows in their "forms". Not readily seen by untrained observers but a finer analysis shows "stops" and "starts" instead of conclusively continuous movement.
Master Stephen Hwa told me when I first met him that the "stops/starts" of Yang Style, Wu Style forms I learned were "square form" and used some considerable "momentum force" as their source of energy. I had no idea. External martial arts such as Karate use even more momentum force. Here's that square form in operation: You decide to drive down the highway alternately and indiscriminately pressing on the accelerator and the brake You would be using your engine to give the vehicle kinetic energy/momentum then throw the energy away by hitting the brake, over and over. You would consume much less fuel if you only drove steadily.
Master Stephen Hwa, a Ph.D. Engineer, talks a great deal about varieties of momentum force, aka pushing forward with the back foot, pushing back with the front foot. As much as one may not wish to admit, Wu, Yang, Chen all are Square form, etc. All of these contribute to a movement that has "stops and starts" in it, one way or the other. When it comes to ClassicalTai Chi "round form" using a "pulling" coupled with internal energy and a considerable minimum of momentum that difference is a really big deal. One might say that Tai Chi relying on "pushing with a foot" is extravagant of energy, whereas "pulling" truly stores it and releases only when needed.

Doing the Lions share of repairing the hole where logical reasoning disappeared, "righting the ship" and saving Tai Chi.

from Instagram

Monday, July 22, 2019

A good teacher

Friday, July 12, 2019

Firmness & Relaxation

Firmness & Relaxation

J.T.. writes:
…… I understand the utility of redirecting incoming force, but when blocking, how is it that the arm remains soft and subtle (in order that we may listen), and not rigid as in external martial arts?
"Follow the opponent's motion until it dissolves into my own. Only when I can unite with the opponent to become "ONE", then I may prevail.". From an older article which may shed some additional light on what Master Hwa speaks about and demonstrates in this very recent video. I would encourage everyone to read J.T's quandary, try the "experiment" Master Hwa speaks about at the end of this article.
Master Stephen Hwa's response: In short, the rigidity in an external martial art is indiscriminate with every muscle in the arm stiffened up to the maximum. In tai chi, only the necessary energizing is employed. In addition, your blocking of the opponent’s arm should use a force just enough to ward off his arm. If you use too much force then it's no longer redirect, but push back, and you lost the advantage of redirect. Therefore your ward-off move is very fluid and delicate. This can only be achieved when you are not stiff or rigid. I have an experiment I want you to try: Try to press the back of your hand against say a door frame, just like you are blocking an opponent's incoming arm. Do you find that one side of your forearm muscle is energized while the other side, the muscle is relaxed? Let me know your results.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Fajin Part II

Fajin Part II
Classical Tai Chi presents Fajin (part 2 of 2)
via YouTube

Liked on YouTube: Fajin Part 1

Fajin Part 1
Classical Tai Chi presents Fajin (Part 1 of 2)
via YouTube

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Power and Grace of Classical Tai Chi

The Power and Grace of Classical Tai Chi

Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo gets featured on page 23 of July's "In Good Health" magazine. In an interview with IGH at Buffalo State College, I explain what, how, why's, etc. of Classical Tai Chi. No, I never said I was a "Master"😉 the onus for that falls squarely on the reporter. Read the entire article at the link above.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Training internal opens channels for Qi

A student asks: "Is the Qi generated from Yin or from Yang"? Maybe this is putting the "cart before the horse" before one has a chance to learn "internal discipline" of movement and establish what is called "energy channels" in the body first as you see in the video above.  Above all one has to adopt the attitude of training to achieve this and then Qi flow will come naturally. After all, as Master Stephen Hwa says: "Learning Internal Discipline leads to Qi improvement without specifically training Qi" 

I also recommend you view the entire video if you have the chance:  Qi and Internal Energy in Classical Tai Chi Master Stephen Hwa:  "At the beginning of the learning process, you are instructed to relax or forget about the shoulder and the arm, just concentrate on the abdomen and the back for the internal movements. This is to eliminate the common habit of moving from the arm or shoulder. The shoulder and arm just follow the movements from the internal core. (My student Ernie said that trying to relax the shoulder did not work for him, because of the act of “trying to relax” placed too much attention on the shoulder which kept the shoulder in play.) For most people, the difficulty here is to find the neural pathways in the core which can make the internal move you intended.  After you practice the form in this way for a while you will develop some knack for moving from the core. Now comes the second stage of learning that is to integrate your arm with the internal movements and to expanding the circulating internal energy and qi from the torso to the arm, the palm and the fingertips.  

I previously talked about the incorporation of “yi”, or martial art intent, in the movement. With practice, one will achieve the state where the arm and the internal core move as “One” and, that the internal energy and qi flow with the “yi” of the movements to the palm and the fingertips. By examining my own movements I found that, in this state, my arm constantly exerts a slight stretch or pull on the shoulder. This stretch firmly engages the arm to the shoulder. Since the elbow is always lower than the shoulder, there is a downward stretching force on the shoulder causing the shoulder to sink which in turn connects it to the core enabling the arm and the core moving as “One”. The stretching force involved here is quite subtle and small, just sufficient to achieve the engagement. Those of you who have already achieved such engagement in your practice probably feel this already. "

Monday, July 1, 2019

Fa-jing "time delay" and "time constant"

Youtube of Bruce Lee.

Stephen Hwa's one inch punch is similar to Bruce Lee's in terms of "time delay" (no time to step back from punch) it is different in terms of Bruce's "momentum force" and Stephen Hwa's "internal energy". Also different in terms of "explosion" vs. implosion", stance of persons giving the punch and stance of persons receiving punch.  Although Bruce Lee's "1-inch" punch was an "explosion" on the outside of a body, the person had a "time delay" so there was no time to react, to step back to relieve the power from the strike (he hit the person on the solid chest,  a large stance, back foot heel leaves the ground, seems "momentum" based). Stephen Hwa's is an "implosion" on the inside of a body, the person had a "time delay", no time to react, to step back to relieve the power of the strike (hit the person on the belly, an extremely small stance, both feet stay on ground, "used a quarter body move, no "momentum") What seems like "sci-fi" is the "implosion" involves a "time delay" and a "time constant". In visiting him in Florida I had a discussion with Master Hwa who is a Ph.D. chemical engineer. This got really interesting for me about terms like "time delay" that he refers to in the video. My layman's understanding is that all materials including human bellies also have a "time constant" in their elasticity. Well, in this case, the force is coming at Tom as Master Hwa later says with so much force, so much speed it creates a "time delay" (irrespective of the "time constant") in Tom's body going backward. Measuring how far the punch penetrates during and after the pad is really only about 2 or 3 inches of compact movement. Regardless of that it still penetrates into Tom's body and one might say completely. I call it an "implosion", on the inside of Tom's body as opposed to an "explosion" on the outside. He receives the whole force before his body begins to move back, so much for "pulling the punch", don't you think? It is aptly called a "spike" of power because like a spike, the opponent's body has no chance to get away from the full force.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Internal Discipline is a necessary condition for Compact Form

Internal Discipline is Necessary

D.F.'s opinion: "It's the same for all martial arts; Jujutsu, karate, aikido... Start with big moves and gradually make them smaller."
J.R. replied: Thanks for the opinion, please note 1:40  of the link "Internal Discipline is Necessary" and similar reference to the abdomen, back, core in the video.  Master Stephen Hwa is referring to the presence or absence of "internal discipline in Classical Tai Chi as a necessary and sufficient condition for "compact frame". Big moves of the arms and legs can indeed and sometimes of necessity be made smaller in Karate, Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu.   BTW Master Stephen Hwa taught Classical Tai Chi for years at a Karate studio, Faust's USA Karate, in Rochester, NY and one of my students owns an Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu Dojo and learned the Wu's Style Large Frame from me. I taught the Wu's Style Large Frame (learned from Wu Kwong Yu, Eddie) to the owner of a local Karate Studio, Universal Martial Arts who first saw me doing the Wu's Style Sword Form. Eddie Wu never once mentioned "make them smaller" to me about the movements and I was a disciple. The Karate teacher was featured in Black Belt Magazine for the sheer number of martial arts that he practiced, but I don't recall him mentioning "gradually making his martial art movements smaller". Master Hwa's own teacher's daughter has a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and teaches the Classical Tai Chi at the Jiu-Jitsu Dojo in Chito, California. To continue, however, the bigness of limb movement being made into the smallness of limb movement even of necessity is not a sufficient condition when it comes to the presence of "internal discipline" where movement originates in the core In one of the Tai Chi classical writings it says: "First seek to stretch and extend (large frame); later seek to be compact (small frame). Then it will be refined and impenetrable". So extend (large) form is first, then compact (small form) is advanced.
Master Hwa said: There is saying in China 内传小架,外传大架, “small Frame reserved For family insider; large frame for everyone else” Small Frame does not mean just have smaller movements. There is a fundamental difference between the small and large frame. It is the internal discipline in movements (all movements are carried out from the torso, not from the limbs) resulted in a small frame.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sit back but do not bend elbow

Thanks, Tom for your understanding of the critique offered by Master Hwa in this video who said: "...when you go back the arm does not bend so much...". This could also result in being hit in the face by the opponent's elbow. This video is indicative of how push hands "illustrates" the Tai Chi Form. We spoke in yesterday's post about results of incorrect timing and the subsequent lack of engagement with the body core that comes with bending the arm this way. DON'T MOVE THE FOREARM AS YOU MOVE THE WHOLE ARM. Moving the forearm as the upper arm moves makes the forearm the weakest link in the movement and drains off the power, there is no engagement with the core to turn the body, and it is what we call an extraneous movement

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Tai Chi 108-Round style

Tai Chi 108-Round style

via YouTube

Liked on YouTube: Tai Chi 108-Square style

Tai Chi 108-Square style

via YouTube

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Fall every day (so to speak) so you never fall

Fall every day so you never fall video of "Tai Chi Forward Lean Posture & Movement"

Don't take this picture the wrong way, if you check the video you will learn how to do the "forward lean posture & movement"...we won't ask you to be swept off your feet. The point is you need to put yourself in a position of almost falling on a daily basis...the more you tilt your torso the better. I repeat: " need to put yourself in a position of almost falling on a daily basis...the more you tilt your torso the better..." A Youtube comment on this video link, "It seems like over extension.. off balance" is one of the comments. Yet there is a beautiful life-saving irony to " balancing..." oneself on a daily basis. This is in light of the fact that falling down is killing more and more people each year. JAMA: "Mortality From Falls Among US Adults Aged 75 Years or Older, 2000-2016...(has doubled)" According to a June 4, NY Times article by Katie Hafner, the implication is that "... you need to put yourself in a position of almost falling on a daily basis...the more you tilt your torso the better...".  According to the article, this daily training in Tai Chi "trains the body to remain stable when put in an off-kilter position"
“When you fall, your body has not figured out how to stay posturally stable, and Tai Chi helps with that,” said a geriatrician.

Monday, June 3, 2019

How to move by "pulling" not "pushing"


Master Stephen Hwa: " do you PULL the body forward, how do you PULL the body backward..."
Jim Roach: Note this next instruction can be done while watching TV, at the computer desk, etc. One other method I use for training to PULL the body backward and forward training is to have students simply sit in a straight back chair with one foot slightly in front of the other. PULL forward with the front foot and notice any sensations in the lower abdomen, PULL backward with the back foot and notice abdominal sensations, repeat, repeat, etc... this means the CORE IS FEELING SENSATIONS OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE FEET. I then tell the student to contract (pull in) the muscles of the lower abdomen below the navel while leaning the upper body slightly forward. From the “lean” position, I then tell students to contract (pull in) the lower abdomen below the navel while pulling the body back to a straight and perpendicular sitting position. Notice any sensations in the bottom soles of the feet...this means the feet and legs are feeling sensations of ENGAGEMENT WITH THE CORE. This is similar to “holding” onto support, wall, kitchen counter, chair, etc. while one stands. This sitting in a chair method can generate many, many repetitions to train such core contractions and body movement. The student thinks and feels what sensations are happening and to look for such things as engagement with the feet, engagement with the core to coincide with the pulling action. One can also gradually learn to detect engaged muscle groups such as the back, buttocks, etc.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Tension and Relaxation -Insight Into Small Circle (Frame) Tai Chi

Tension and Relaxation -Insight Into Small Circle (Frame) Tai Chi
Tai Chi practitioners are deeply concerned about relaxation and tension in its execution. To provide clarification on this subject, this video journeys through the entirety of Small Circle Tai Chi Form from its martial arts application to form playing, using demonstration and technical analysis to present conclusions.
via YouTube

Monday, May 20, 2019

Maintaining "exactly" parallel feet

From a Workshop at Buffalo State College is a discussion of the rationale for maintaining "exactly" parallel feet. Also a picture of railroad tracks which are "exactly" 4',8.5" wide, so how far apart are the feet in Classical Tai Chi? The feet when parallel should be the length of one foot apart. So if you wear a size 8 shoe, or a 15 shoe the feet are exactly that length apart. Also, imagine a set of tracks that are exactly a size 8 or 15 wide and when parallel you could stand with left foot on one track and right foot on the other. If you began to turn either foot an inch you would start to fall off the track. Let me clarify that and say "rationale for maintaining exact... no, a better word is exactly parallel feet". I say "exactly" because the common thread is the emphasis on body mechanics and the concern about preserving and improving the health of the joints, such as those in the spine, hip, knee, and ankle. Parallel means side by side and having "exactly" the same distance continuously between fudging and allowing either of the feet to even peek a little bit to the side.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Sports & How Tai Chi Can Improve Mechanics (Enhanced)

Sports & How Tai Chi Can Improve Mechanics (Enhanced)
See more tai chi instructional videos at: Examples of top athletes using Internal Discipline in Classical Tai Chi to generate power in their movements: Roger Federer's tennis, Jose Bautista & Prince Fielder's baseball, & Manny Pacquiao's boxing. Online School: For more information:
via YouTube

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Feel Qi or Feel evidence of Qi?

Feel Qi or Feel evidence of Qi (video on Qi)

Sifu Jim Roach said: Master Stephen Hwa, Here's my question: At 7:30 approx. of the "...Qi...internal energy..." youtube video you state in so many words "...the qi is something you cannot feel...but you do feel the energy..." To sum this up might it be correct to say one does not feel the qi, one feels the evidence of qi? I'm thinking of an analogy to electricity like "one does not see electricity but one does see the evidence of electricity when a light bulb goes on". Or, one does not feel electricity but one does feel the evidence of electricity when they get an electrical shock.

Thanks for that video, as some would's "awesome" as far as a down to earth explanation and how to do things.


Yes, Jim. You may feel finger tingling, but you will not feel the Qi flow. Because it is there instantly. Other people may feel your Qi when you touch them. Sometimes works quite well. .

Monday, May 6, 2019

Barbara and I visited with Sifu Jason Bulger who has been my student for the last 8 years. He is graduating top of his class at D'Youville College with a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. Congratulations Jason! Here he is giving a presentation of his current research on May 2 along with 120 other presenters. His research is on "How Effective is Tai Chi in Reducing Hospital Readmission Rates for Heart Failure Patients. With patients, there is a positive impact on psychological, psychosocial and physiological needs. For Healthcare providers it is an immediate cost saving intervention.

 It is interesting what happens with the Heart when we talk about "internal motion", "internal discipline" and "internal energy" in Classical Tai Chi. In facilitating the compression of the abdominal cavity it massages the internal organs. In particular the abdomen is drawn upwards towards the chest cavity, this compresses the intestines, liver, pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, kidneys and above all the HEART.

The activity of internal movement from Classical Tai Chi creates what I believe is a veritable tidal flow of blood, qi, etc throughout the body. It would seem that along with this inreased blood flow the HEART does not have to work so hard don't you think?

 In addition to the "internal massage" of the heart enabling it to operate more efficiently, people doing internal discipline report feeling "warm". One can say internal heat also helps to activate heart muscle and in addition to the increased blood flow we mentioned improves the tonus of the heart muscle also making it more capable of doing work without undue strain

Monday, April 22, 2019

Liked on YouTube: Pair Tai Chi - Left-Right Hand Player in Mirroring Position

Pair Tai Chi - Left-Right Hand Player in Mirroring Position
Left-Right hand, small circle tai chi are played from a mirroring position.
via YouTube

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Movements require 2 complementary parts of the body

When an infant simply moves an arm the whole body reacts and starts to move...this kind of uninhibited movement is of no help in Tai Chi, yet millions of students do it. Master Wu Chien Chuan's words are simple, unremarkable and yet fall prey time and again to "run of the mill" reasoning found in much modern Tai Chi. This is called "if one part moves, everything moves" ..."everything goes" faulty logic. In fact, without logical reasoning, it never occurs to students that holding "one part still" (inhibiting neural activity)is actually more of a skill than simply moving the other part which even an infant does constantly without inhibition. "As discussed before in "Uncovering the Treasure", Stephen Hwa, Ph.D., to achieve internal movements, the yin and yang must be paired to form a junction at the right place in the torso. If there is any movement in the yin, the junction will be altered and result in an entirely different kind of move. The Classical Tai Chi Square form provides a drill to tune the neuromuscular control of the student. Most beginners cannot keep their neural signals focused on a narrow segment of their body. The diffusion of the signal creates unintended movements. This is called sloppy movements. The correct Square Form movement should look crisp and robotic. To be able to keep part of the body still, by itself, is also important training to eliminate unwanted habitual movement. A good example on the importance of stillness (yin) is the sweeping leg move in which one stands on one leg and sweeps the other leg outward to kick the opponent's feet out from under him. During this move, if the body moves slightly with the sweeping foot, the power of the sweep will diminish. In addition, the knee of the standing foot will feel pain. Since that foot is firmly planted on the ground with the entire body weight on it, so any turn of the body above will result in torque in that knee joint causing pain or injuries (see Picture). In other words, the yin part of the body's alignment has to be instinctively maintained.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Get a crease while sitting back

Get a crease while sitting back

Sitting back see video at 30 seconds with a prominent "crease" in the clothing comes from sitting back correctly. It is very easy to get rusty with push hands and crimping (bending) your own arm at 60 seconds in if there is no opponent to practice with. Reasoning logically, however, shows that is a "red herring" since "sitting back" correctly comprises half of the movements in the Tai Chi form...quite an implication. I practice it while waiting for water to boil, the dog doing business, in line at the supermarket, etc. It is logical to think that we all have a subconscious fear of losing balance. Good to lightly touch something which relieves subconscious fear of losing balance and frees up the mind to check your structure so see the picture of Master Hwa's at the post which shows legs even with one another. He tells me Wu Chien Chuan told Young Wabu to constantly check this point during sitting back by examining the upper part of both legs to see if they were even with each other. I quote: "Sitting back and turning is an important move to neutralize and ward off an incoming thrust and destabilize the opponent. If the body is not facing the opponent squarely, one will not be able to turn the upper body on the weak side sufficiently to be effective."

Friday, April 12, 2019

Keep good structure while lower body moves

Internal Discipline and good structure

Sifu Jason Bulger is demonstrating a practice I devised for the internal movement in the core that takes place right before you take any step in Classical Tai Chi whether "walking", "Form", etc. Note he turns the foot to several angles, has toe down when lifting, toes up when "stepping". But actually, he could be kicking at any angle. Also, a signature sign that internal movement is taking place in any movement is the "crimping" movement that one's clothing in the torso makes before a limb moves and that can be seen by even the uninitiated. There is a definite "crimp" and not just slight movement. This is why Master Hwa has on repeated occasion, urged me to wear close-fitting shirts in order for students to not only see the movement but to see that internal precedes external. In other words, in the case of Classical Tai Chi walking the core movement precedes/leads the lift and lower of the leg, arm, etc.

In Uncovering the Treasure p. 16 by Stephen Hwa Ph.D., re. health benefits of Classical Tai Chi: "We often see the elderly walking with a shuffle -- the walking movement no longer extends into the may assert that the onset of internal rigor mortis actually precedes death!"

Additionally, not only is the "internal rigor mortis" he speaks of an issue, but being challenged by balance problems with everyday walking is an issue as well. When we consider that putting one foot in front of the other requires balance, when we consider that day to day walking requires us to balance on first one foot then the other...aren't we always doing this with the risk of losing our balance?

Monday, April 1, 2019

"Preparation Posture 太極起式" Martial Application

 Preparation posture

See "how to do it" in the link You are invited to learn this and more at absolutely free Classical Tai Chi classes Buffalo State College. Sunday, 10 A.M - 11 A.M. Rockwell Hall, Room 302. Cold weather we are inside at BSC but during warm weather also across Elmwood Avenue and outside at Marcy Casino. Free parking either location. Please register: and/or 716-241-1845, Information:

The teachers are Sifu Jim Roach with Sifu Tom Kostusiak and Sifu Jason Bulger. Master Stephen Hwa Ph.D. is doing much more in online instruction at
 The preparation Form 太極起式 Posture 1 – The Preparation Form although called "preparation" really feels and looks like 2. Raise Hands 提手上勢, using relatively the same "internal discipline", engaging the core where the difference can be seen and felt in the angles of the arm. Of course, the "form" is done slowly as seen here not done by using such a burst of energy as in martial application. We are using this as a martial application to "ward off" an opponent and illustrate the "form". Here the bending of wrists being used first "forward" "Z" axis then on a vertical or "Y" axis, then forward on a "Z" axis is beneficial as opposed to what we spoke about in the previous Facebook discussion of Master Hwa's "Fundamentals of Push Hands" Without the inward contraction of the abdomen and stretching down of tailbone to raise the arms using other Tai Chi one is relegated to an "external" motion of the body even actually tilting forward and back to move the opponent.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Turning at the waist for push hands

Fundamentals of Push Hands (turn at the waist)  Click link for video

Jim R. Wu's Disciple and then 1st Certified teacher of Classical Tai Chi

“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, the author of this Blog is the  first certified instructor of Classical Tai Chi. Jim spent his early years of martial art training using “turn with kua/hip”, then switched over to learn Classical Tai chi using “turn at the waist”. He has good insight to the many discussions whether one should use  the hip or the waist in push hands. Here’s his comments regarding such discussion.” Master Stephen Hwa
Jim Roach on Turning at the waist vs. turning using Kua/Hip 

It is said nowadays in Wu's Style that one cannot develop any power (to do such things as punch) from turning at the waist, that one must “use the hips”. 
Another Wu Style says one must "turn the body around the waist not using the hips.” 
That commentary says one will lose their balance if they turn in those postures from the hip. 
"Ma Jiangbao: This is connected to the last question. In the Wu style, the feet are often parallel. If you turn in these postures from the hip, you will lose your central equilibrium. So we turn the body around the waist. In this, it is also easy to divert an attack and let it fall into the emptiness without losing your own central equilibrium."
Anatomically, the hips and waist are different but one could certainly turn the waist without turning the hips but the reverse is not possible. "Distinguishing the Hip and Waist"
May I humbly submit, I have direct knowledge of that apparent conundrum. I studied with both sides of that question with the Wu Family, then with Master Stephen Hwa. 

Not stated is how frame size has such bearing on whether unjudicious, called “overturning” hip causes feet to move upsetting the balance. Also, one can indeed turn such amounts of hip in a larger stance. What is also not mentioned is that the legs play a major role in such movement. What really happens is that one leg is literally pushed down at the ground resulting in the body moving into the other leg. However, in the smaller frame of Classical Tai Chi, one leg is used to pull the body into the other leg.

Left unsaid is proper “timing” use of the hips. For instance one can turn the waist, THEN turn the hips in a follow up movement. Another example is the fact that the hips always turn by default when one does such movements where “hands follow the feet, elbow follows the knee”
Proper use of hips in coordination with waist as shown in the cooperative push hands (although push hands is not shown in this clip one can certainly see the up close "fa jing" power and it is minus ANY hip it not?) training of Tao of Martial Applications DVD . This is indicative that turning the hips is not eschewed, it just means that it should be done with the right timing. For example, one could offset an opponent’s balance in a close-up confrontation using internal discipline (internal movement) then a much larger step (stance) could be taken whereby the opponent is thrown to the ground using the motion of the hips in the process (external movement). The motions of the "Repulse Monkey" section of the form come to mind there as an example "Repulse Monkey"

Monday, March 18, 2019

Push Hands or NOT to Push Hands, that is the question!

Push Hands
Push hands is really an application of Tai Chi form practice. Usually, a student is not taught push hands until the student has practiced tai chi form for a while and has a feel about the form movements, in particular: a. The sitting back movement appears very frequently in the tai chi form and is not easy to master. It is the defensive position in the push hands. b. The forward movement when you move your body weight to the front foot, such as in the walking forward brush knee is the offensive position in the push hand. c. Turn of the upper body with pelvis essentially not moving as shown in the section of Internal Discipline in the Tai Chi Overview is the ward off move in the defensive position and push off move in the offensive position. d. There are several other more subtle moves. All these moves you will learn in the form practice. What is unique about the push hands is that it provides the opportunity for extended contact time with your opponent, so-called stick to your opponent, when you can learn how to control your emotions, your body, and how to detect your opponent's intention and respond accordingly. Other kinds of sparring exercises all have such short contact time with the opponent. There is no time to learn such subtle aspects about yourself and your opponent in sparring as opposed to push hands. 

Liked on YouTube: Qi and Internal Energy In Classical Tai Chi

Qi and Internal Energy In Classical Tai Chi
The interaction between Qi, Internal Energy, Martial Art Intent (Yi), and movements which could block Qi flow, inherent in Small Frame (Small Circle Tai Chi) are discussed. More detail learning: More Information:
via YouTube

Liked on YouTube: Learning Push Hand Fundamentals

Learning Push Hand Fundamentals
Learning Push Hand Fundamentals from Tai Chi Form practice. Some notable examples are shown here. Learning Tai Chi Form see For more information see
via YouTube

Monday, March 11, 2019

Some footwork fundamentals

Tai Chi Walk

A question from S.T. "The beginning forms of Classical Tai Chi are very difficult to learn. There are just too many things going on at the same time, without even including any internal discipline yet. The few movements that I think I can do feel very awkward, not the smooth movements shown in your video. Help!" 

MASTER HWAíS REPLY: "One way to simplify the learning process is to first concentrate on the footwork and the corresponding shifting of body weight, pay less attention to the upper body movement. In that way, the amount of complexity is reduced greatly. Once you are more comfortable with your footwork and its corresponding shift of body weight, you can pay more attention to the upper body movement. A common mistake of the beginner is that they are attracted by the graceful upper body movements and therefore eager to learn the upper body movements. The footwork appears to be unremarkable and attracts less attention. The fact is that footwork and its corresponding shifting of body weight is the foundation of tai chi and any glitch in that area will result in a loss of balance, awkwardness, the heaviness of the foot and worse, a foot glued to the ground cannot be moved. It is very important to practice the Tai Chi Walk. This will give you a good foundation in footwork. "

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

No winning applications, only winning execution of applications

Jim K. said:  I fluctuate from wanting to be a Tai Chi fighter to just being happy mastering the 108 forms.  This dilemma comes from my age. When I hear you learning push hands, and sticking to your opponent takes a long time, it seems that in my late 60's, I may not have enough time to accomplish my first love - martial application. So the question is: Should I take on a lesser goal of mastering the form or should I when the time comes to push on to do push hands, sticking and sparring?
Master Stephen Hwa's reply Hi Jim: Practice of Tai Chi form is to develop power, especially explosive power such as fa jin. Practicing the form cultivates the internal power and the ability to maintain a relaxed body with the flow of internal power. This enables one to develop explosive power and the ability to deliver it. All these are best accomplished by practicing Form only, not depending on practicing push hands or sparring. Push hands and sparring are important to develop the "Timing" - when to use the power, the "Strategy" - how to take a position of advantage and put the opponent in an inferior position and the "Sensing" - knowing what the opponent is trying to do. When one reaches the stage that internal discipline becomes second nature, then one could concentrate more on push hands and sparring. Otherwise one might develop bad habits of using external move during sparring. The problem is that people try to study and learn the 13 Movements: "peng, lu, etc." without first developing the internal energy for fa jin.  It is like putting the cart before the horse. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Turned on sole in Karate, turn on heel in Tai Chi

Tom L. writes:
"I am enjoying learning your lessons very much. As you said the internal movement especially gives a good feeling, even though I can only do just a few of them. I do have problems turning on the heels. It seems that I can not cleanly turn on the heel and some time I find that I am really turning on my front sole or the entire foot is in contact with the ground during turning.
I took several years of Karate before and familiar with several other martial arts, very seldom the turning is done on the heels. In fact, most of the stance is on the ball of the foot. I know you said that the power comes from the heel. Could you elaborate?"
"Difficulties in turning from the heel are often due to the following factors:
1. Too large a stance or not sufficient knee bend. In this situation, when one shifts the weight to the front foot, the back footís heel will not be able to touch the ground.
2. Not able to lift the front of the foot off the ground. Lifting the front of the foot is not an everyday movement. Some people have difficulty in executing the lift in a timely fashion, especially when the leg is at an acute angle with the ground as in the case of the back foot when all the weight is at the front foot. Without the lift, one cannot turn on the heel cleanly. That is why the Tai Chi Walk lesson practices the lift movement.
3. Not using the power from the waist region to make the turn, instead of using power from the upper b

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Is every Classical Tai Chi movement internal?

Internal Discipline in Tai Chi walk (see the link) "Very good discussion here and even bobbing the knee up and down while "walking" is a clear case of what is called localized nerve activity that one needs to minimize and eventually stop. Other foot movements really involve the power from the torso which moves the entire leg. Even the lift of the toe when sitting back should be an integral part of the sitting back and engaging the torso, not an isolated move of lifting the toe. The Tai Chi Form is developed such that every arm movement, every leg movement is initiated from internal movement so that the circulation of internal energy and qi will maintain continuity during Form playing. My students in the class often mention that they thought I just externally moved the arm or the foot in certain Form movements, but later realize that it is actually internally driven. They would ask, "Is that internal, is this internal?" My answer is always yes. "  Stephen Hwa, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

ALL senses are needed with an opponent

 This is indicative of modern-day Tai Chi where mistakes are made, no one is there to correct, it ends up being good exercise but it is definitely not Tai Chi. Classical Tai Chi has to be good for both health AND martial purposes. The martial teaches one to "stick" by first touching then following the opponent's movements. Why practitioners are not being corrected when the arm goes way behind the back and the hand is touching one's own body (which muddles your senses and one can infer they are training to follow only themselves, not an opponent) is indicative of modern Tai Chi.  A good example of sticking shown in the video of Master Hwa is that in certain instances Tai Chi trains one to vigorously follow the opponent. For example in a Forum, Master Stephen Hwa said:  (as shown in the video) " Tai Chi uses the ball of the foot to push off such as the skipping steps after Needle at Bottom of the Sea. This enables one to pursue the opponent quickly. The purpose is to maintain "sticking"  to the opponent; not letting him get away from one's touch. It is not used to build a momentum of the body; that is against the principle of Tai Chi. Also, before the nineteenth century, the Chinese did not have the habit of inventing new words whenever new things came along. So, they not only borrowed old words for new uses but also avoided the use of misleading words. For example, a student mentioned  “ting jin”. That literally means listening (ting) to the opponent’s power or force (jin). In other words, you will sense what the opponent is trying to do so one could respond accordingly. All senses are needed to get the information: touch and feel, look, and anticipation based on experience with that person. Early masters avoided the use of the word "feel". Because, if one uses the word “feel”, then students will concentrate on touch and feel, and lose out on developing other senses. So they picked a neutral, completely abstract word “listening” (ting) as a name"

Friday, February 1, 2019

"Tell me how to open meridian?" and "Why did Wu change Yangs Style"?

Develop Internal Energy and open your meridian.

Mr. Hwa, could you tell me how to open my meridian?  "Learn the internal discipline of Classical Tai Chi. When you practice Tai Chi this way, you will develop internal energy circulating in your body which will open your meridian.  I encourage students to look at my YouTube channel found in the hyperlink above"

A student some time ago asked me via email: "How does the second generation of Wu's family change the posture from the original upright posture of Yang's Tai Chi to a straight lean?"  Perhaps one answer is to ask why ask this question before you practice instead of practicing and finding the answer for yourself? 
I have expanded on my original response to this individual for a more detailed answer.
The modern-day Tai Chi Classics do refer to "not leaning" when doing the Tai Chi, but who knows what those words were before the work was "interpreted" by various authors. I did Yang Tai Chi before Wu, I never cared for the way it made my back feel. Also, "Leaning" to me is leaning as in "he was leaning on me". I think of the postures as "tilted" but one does not say he was "tilting on me". The Classics also refer to postures as being "straight" and the misconception is that a "tilted" posture is not straight. Note you do not even see the word perpendicular in the Classics. However, "straight" could also be a flagpole planted in the ground at a 45-degree angle could it not?
Regarding any questions about why "the second generation "changed" from upright to lean: I can only repeat what I am told to my limited understanding and ask you a couple questions: Don't you think Yang Family would have plenty of opportunities and objected strenuously since Wu's later did many push hands with them? How could it be changed when it was already in a state where it was far ahead in its progress? My teacher tells me Wu Chien Chuan told Young Wabu "it cannot be changed". I see he did not say it was changed or it was not changed... he said: "it cannot be changed". Over time, I eventually began to understand this when I realized not only the learning is multi-generational but the eventual consequences...the "benefits" as well..."time" invested is the ultimate and deciding factor to all understanding. In other words, since "time" is the catalyst, asking such questions early on in one's study leads inevitably to a bitter taste as one will not like any answer that is given, asking when one is experienced will always leave a good taste in one's mouth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What a versatile move is Cloud Hands

Cloud Hands

It has been said in so many words that Jazz is the epitome of variations on a theme. I believe that good Tai Chi can encompass such spontaneous embellishment or variation of a preexisting theme as well. Note in the video link above what a beautiful combination of movements goes into Cloud Hands. Also an epitome of good ways to practice by practicing one move over and over. That first walking step is a thoughtful addition which mobilizes the internal because of that initial stretch where you see "ah ha" expressions on smiling faces. That first motion made by Master Hwa is a quarter body movement that connects the arm to the core.  His motion of pulling something with both hands is what he actually does gently to arms of students so they can feel a connection from arm to the core.  The great thing about this is that the more you initially stretch forward, the more you feel the stretch pulling backward.  

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Neuromuscular Control via Classical Tai Chi

A Facebook link: Neuromuscular control
Aging is associated with a progressive reduction in neuromuscular control, but it can be headed off. "A healthy nervous system is prized in China", Stephen Hwa Ph.D. Try an easy movement to test yourself: Raise your whole arm out to the side...easy? Now raise to the side and stop, note where your elbow is, hold it completely still and raise just the forearm...harder? Master Stephen Hwa: "Explanation is that you have to tune your neuromuscular control (using principles of Classical Tai Chi) so that you move one but not move the other".

Monday, January 7, 2019

New to Classical Tai Chi? Start here!

New to Classical Tai Chi? Click here!

"Classical Tai Chi's Square and Round Forms are critical to learning Internal Discipline. Square form is taught first because it is easier for a student to realize if they are making an error due to the specific robotic nature of the move. Comparing several general characteristics between the Square Form and the Round Form: Every movement in the Square Form has a clear starting point and
ending point. The movement between these two points is usually in a straight line and done very crisply and resolutely. Directional changes are usually carried out at these two points. These characteristics are completely opposite to the Round Form, which should have a continuous movement with no apparent starting point or ending point. The hand movements are mostly rounded with few straight-line movements. Therefore, directional changes do not appear at a point rather it is incorporated into the movement itself as a smooth curvature. The movement in the Round Form instead of
crisp and resolute should be deliberate and thoughtful. People are often surprised at the directly opposite requirement between the Square Form and the Round Form. Actually, this is not unique, just think about how you learned the art of calligraphy.  You first learned how to write in print form. Then, you learned the cursive form. The differences between these two writing forms are very much analogous to the
differences between the two Taiji Forms.

The Square Form also avoids the use of upper quarter body movements and other
advanced internal movements present in the Round Form. These advanced internal movements will only be taught in the Round Form. As a result, some of the movements in the Square Form are different from the Round Form. In the Round Form, one does not touch oneself, however, there is no such restriction in the Square Form. Since the Square Form is for beginners there is no internal Chi flowing in
the body.

In the above discussions, I have emphasized the differences between the Square Form and the Round Form. Actually, there is more sameness than differences. The lower body movements are identical except at certain places that the pivoting on the toe  is different between these two forms. The starting point and the ending point of every movement in the Square Form provide definition to the curved movement in the Round Form since the curved movement has to pass through these two points.

Therefore, the Square Form is a template for the Round Form.

One of the most important missions of the Square Form is to learn how to keep the nonmoving part of the body (yin) still. It is the nonmoving part of the body that defines the junction between moving and nonmoving (yin and yang junction.) Any movement of the yin part alters the junction and thereby changes the character of the movement. To achieve the stillness is almost as difficult as making the correct movement. Both requires intense tuning of the neuro-passage way and neuro-muscular control.
The “full stop” between Tai Chi moves is important in preparing the next move by gathering the energy for the coming move. That is why the moves in the Square Form are resolute and abrupt. Many students are impatient about the “full stop.” which results in tentative and weak moves.  The Round Form,  generates energy or power continuously and smoothly which shows in the movements of a seasoned practitioner"

Master Stephen Hwa