Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spirited Calligraphy, by Chungliang Al Huang

Chungliang Al Huang is spirited and engaging, and here he speaks about the simplicity of calligraphy.  When you find yourself losing it, you can turn to it.  Notice how he expresses the calligraphy as T'ai Chi postures and he suggests centering the chi (life energy) in our tan tien (lower abdomen).  It is one of the five excellences that Cheng Man-ch'ing possessed.

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Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing regarded a set of five disciplines—the "five excellences"—to be the mark of a well-rounded person: calligraphy, painting, poetry, t’ai chi, and medicine. Although he is best known for his teachings on the martial arts (in particular, his highly influential adaptation of t’ai chi), versatility was central to Cheng’s philosophy of life, and he encouraged his students to combine artistry with scholarship. This inspiring book is a commentary on and working compendium of Cheng’s literary and pictorial interpretations of these subjects. Of interest to aficionados of Chinese art, culture, and history, Master of Five Excellences also offers internal techniques for practitioners of the martial arts, as Hennessy provides an insight into the rarely-glimpsed creative side of Cheng Man-Ch’ing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

T'ai Chi to Bach, by Chungliang Al Huang

Michael Fitzpatrick performs Bach on the cello, while Chungliang Al Huang performs T'ai Chi to the music.  How wonderful!  There is a reason, for sure, that T'ai Chi is called a martial art.  

I imagine Al Huang simply aligns his movement and spirit to that music, and is not following a particular sequence.  See how well he adapts the posture for the marble steps leading up to the altar.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Savage Chickens on Self Awareness

Be mindful only of your good qualities, if you'd like 
Poke fun at yourself and others in a good-natured way

Yang Long Form 103, by Conny Landskröner

Hello, I am Conny from Germany and I practice the Yangfamily Style. I will look around this group to partizipate. Here you can see me some Years ago (I just learned the Longform 103 in this time) Best Reagrds an I hope you'll enjoy ;-)
Conny Landskröner is in the early years of her study and practice, and does T'ai Chi really well - with good precision in movement and yin-yang separation in her posture.  Press and Push express the release of chi, and the energy expressed in the movement ought to extend to infinity.  So I suggest more extension, that is, outward flow of chi, in her Press, Push and the like.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mike Critelli Builds Strength and Mobility

A personal story on how the practice of the Taoist Tai Chi™ internal arts have helped with recovery from illness, losing weight, building up strength, regaining mobility, better breathing and just feeling better.
Mike Critelli must have had serious health concerns at 700 pounds.  I imagine he had a full health program at his disposal and had to work diligently at recovering from his illness.  But T'ai Chi is an integral part of such a program, as it emphasizes simple but sustained effort to build strength and improve mobility.

Even raising your arms with full concentration and weight underside may be akin to lifting dumbbells to build your muscles.  Even squatting down, even slightly at first if that is all you can do, uses the weight of the body to increase strength in those legs.  

Self Defense Applications, by Yang Jwing-Ming

Taijiquan, or 'Grand Ultimate Fist', is a highly effective form of combat specializing in short and middle-range fighting. 
This program offers practical martial applications for each of the 37-postures of traditional Taiji, based on the forms passed down by Yang, Ban-Hou. Once the viewer has a basic understanding of these universal principles, you may use them to devise further applications for every movement no matter which style of Taiji you practice.
We must first learn the concepts, plus postures and movements, of T'ai Chi before we delve into its martial arts application.  It's a matter of building the right foundation, and instilling in our mindset how T'ai Chi may in fact be different than the martial arts from the external school.

For one, there is more direct application of the yin-yang a circle within a circle, that is, via turns and twists, coils and spirals of movement, as Yang Jwing-Ming demonstrates.  For another, there is greater reliance on chi, both to repel an opponent's attack (emptying energy) and to press or push him down (releasing energy).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Interpreting Tao Te Ching, by Stephen Mitchell

Scott London, interviewing Stephen Mitchell
To understand T'ai Chi and to practice T'ai Chi properly, we must study Tao Te Ching.  The Tao Te Ching is at once the philosophical underpinning and the everyday application of T'ai Chi.    

Health Benefits of T'ai Chi and Qigong

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By all accounts, I live a fortunate, privileged life. But I work a lot, I do a lot of things. For example, when I was traveling a lot across continents years ago, I'd clock a 60 - 90 hour work week. Daily T'ai Chi was my saving grace.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Music for T'ai Chi Meditation and Practice

I love music, and occasionally meditate and practice T'ai Chi to it.  If you haven't done so, give it a try.  I suggest this piece by Gulan.  But it can be any music you enjoy, as long as it's conducive to T'ai Chi - that is, meditative, calming, rooting.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Confidence Is Something We Work At

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Perfection of T'ai Chi movement may never happen, as we're only human after all.  But if we work at it daily, we most definitely can be on track toward it.  Confidence is like that.  There is no such thing as feeling perfectly confident, but drawing on it and building it up regularly and confidence does get stronger.

From Confidence Comes Beauty

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Those experiences may have been rough. Some things may not have gone well.  Just as some T'ai Chi lessons can be confusing or difficult.  But it works out, at the end of the day.  You learn those lessons, and you prove to yourself that you can do.  You gain confidence about doing something, precisely because you've done it before.

Centering and Rooting Underpin Confidence

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In T'ai Chi practice, we work at centering and rooting ourselves.  We keep our center of mass low at all times, so we are as stable as possible.  We imagine planting our feet into the ground, so we cannot easily be toppled over.  In time, we can ask those tough questions and we can speak up when necessary.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mindfulness is Paying Attention on Purpose

Attending is what many people have to learn. 

Mindfulness is:
  • paying attention
  • on purpose
  • in the present
  • without judgment
Check your watch, and what time is it?  The time is now.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

T'ai Chi Movement Like Reeling Silk

Move gently like reeling silk
Move continuously like reeling silk
Move gently and continuously like pulling toilet paper
You see, one instructor had a sense of humor, and had knack for applying T'ai Chi principles in everyday life.

Self Defense Applications, by Ken Gullette

The Yang 24 Form is the most popular Tai Chi Chuan form in the world. Millions practice it daily for health and meditation. But Tai Chi was designed as a martial art. This video includes one minute of clips that show some of the 108 self defense techniques that Sifu Ken Gullette demonstrates in his new Kindle ebook -- Yang Tai Chi 24 Form Self-Defense. 
The essence of T'ai Chi is one of peace and kindness and also of calm and strength.  It is very much a martial art, and thus belongs in fighting annals.  There are stories of masters being challenged to fight and proving their T'ai Chi prowess as a self defense system.

It takes a long time, and much study and practice, to learn T'ai Chi as a martial art.  So it's unlike martial arts from the external school, where self defense techniques are taught from day one and are built upon forthrightfully over time.  Still, because some T'ai Chi students are keen to learn sooner than later, it makes sense, if done cautiously and properly, for instructors to teach the self defense applications of T'ai Chi.

Ken Gullette does a fine job in a one-minute video.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Here is Life

T'ai Chi Builds Strength from Within

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Building Strength Through Qigong

Qigong is also spelled Chi Kung. It is an ancient form of meditation that is easy to learn and helps you calm the mind and body, relieve stress, and because stress is a killer, when you ease stress your body functions and heals more efficiently. In this video, Sifu Ken Gullette gives you a brief introduction into Qigong and leads you through a 5-minute exercise.
Ken Gullette does fine instruction and demonstration in this video.

Qigong is about chi study and development, and it does so by holding postures and repeating movements.  It builds your body in ways that may correlate with isometric and isotonic exercises, and it also build your mind by instilling focus and discipline in your workout.

A Wonderfully Performed and Filmed T'ai Chi

A few moments inside the eye of the storm.
With Michael Acton and Faisal Ahmed Mian to the music "Wandering Saint" by L. Subramaniam.
A wonderfully performed and filmed T'ai Chi.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brush Knee, Twist Step in Self Defense

At the 5:05 mark of my video T'ai Chi Empower - Form and Flow, I begin a series of Brush Knee, Twist Step movements.  

Now watch Rick Marantz demonstrate the martial arts application of this movement:

Sometimes you don't have to do much to defend yourself.  Moreover, what you do to defend yourself may be as natural as circling your arm up then down and stepping forward with a hand.

Integrative Medicine at The Osher Clinical Center

If you have an ailment, you may choose a strictly Western treatment.  You may choose a strictly Eastern treatment.  You may choose some balance of both.  

It stands to reason that if you're chronically tense in one part of your body, over time that tension emanates through other parts of your body.  Arthur Anton related just that, as held the car steering wheel so tightly he felt pain in his neck.  

T'ai Chi builds awareness of your whole body, so you can better identify where they might tension that you were not aware of previously.  Moreover, because shoong (relaxation) is such a vital part of T'ai Chi, you can gradually release such tension. 

I also appreciate hearing Bonnie O'Connor acknowledge how the hands are diagnostic and therapeutic.  Educational, too.  

Many of us first feel the chi as heat or tingling in our hands.  That chi can be a sensory and healing touch for yourself or for someone else.  

I appreciate The Osher Clinical Center's efforts to understand and integrate Western and Eastern medicine.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mystery of Chi, by Bill Moyers

"The Mystery of Chi" is part of "Healing and the Mind" series by Bill Moyers.  You may or may not be familiar with chi, but I ask that you simply note your thoughts and reactions as you watch this documentary.  Please share them with me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life with Awareness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Meditation means living your life, as if it really mattered.  That means you have to be here for it.  With awareness and a certain degree of kindness.
 Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about living a life that embodies clarity, wisdom, kindness and well-being.  It's not some Mount Everest we have to travel to and climb, but it's right here closer than close.  There is no one right way to meditate.  But finding it, we can turn to meditation to live more meaningfully.

Mindfulness Meditation, by David Nichtern

David Nichtern offers a good, practical lesson on mindfulness meditation:
  • It doesn't matter how you sit or where you sit.  As long as your back is straight, but not rigid, and you feel comfortable, you're in fine position to meditate.  
  • You neither invite thoughts in, or push thoughts out, of your mind.  You simply observe them openly but neutrally, and keep quiet and still.  In time your mind will settle.    
  • Breathe naturally, and be aware of your breathing.  Keep it relaxed.  You can use your breathing as a way to anchor your concentration and promote your awareness.