Do You Make This Zhan Zhuang Mistake?

Standing Like a Tree
Yao Chengguang performs zhan zhaung

Even an exercise as simple as zhan zhuang has its subtle points, the ignorance of which may hinder your progress in wushu. Wang Xiangzhai, the founder of Yiquan and a master of zhanzhuang, said:

We must, first and foremost, avoid the use of clumsy force, in body and in mind. Using this force makes the qi stagnant. When the qi is stagnant, than the yi stops; when the yi stops, than the spirit is broken.

To be sure, this is good advice, but even the greenest student is familiar with this principle of no-force. So, instead of dwelling on that, I would like to examine a more specific problem. Continue reading Do You Make This Zhan Zhuang Mistake?

Cultivating Happiness with the Secret Smile

This horse knows the secret

Happiness does not happen to us, it happens by us.  That is, by our specific intentions.

The Secret Smile is a simple and powerful meditative technique for cultivating happiness, to improve your health, your work, your relationships and your outlook on life. To practice the Secret Smile, follow these steps:

  1. Sit quietly and relax, until you have reached an emotionally neutral state. Continue reading Cultivating Happiness with the Secret Smile

Emotional Mastery and Self-Defense

Effective self-defense requires a chain of complementary skills: awareness, discernment, agility, and so on.  This chain, like any other, is only as strong as its weakest link.  Many practitioners of martial arts concentrate on strengthening one end of the chain—the tactics of physical attack and defense—and give only cursory attention to other important links.

Emotional mastery is one such underappreciated skill.  Continue reading Emotional Mastery and Self-Defense

How I Gave Up Coffee and Increased My Relaxation

Years ago, my typical morning meal consisted of espresso and a donut or pastry.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to make a proper breakfast before going in to work, and a brief stop at the coffee shop was quick and easy.

At that time, I was practicing taijiquan and meditation 2-3 hours per day, and the coffee seemed to be hindering my ability to relax. Although I had read articles claiming that moderate coffee consumption is good for health, my own experience suggested otherwise.  So I devised a simple experiment, to help me decide whether I should quit: Continue reading How I Gave Up Coffee and Increased My Relaxation

Investigating the Dim Mak Death Touch

The old Kung Fu master touched his assailant, with no apparent effect.  Days later, the assailant died a sudden and mysterious death.  He was a victim of the legendary dim mak, the touch of death.

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Dim mak is a popular discussion topic among martial arts enthusiasts.  Some instructors claim to have the skill, or believe that it was used to kill Bruce Lee.  Others insist that dim mak instructors are frauds and the skill itself is a complete fantasy.  Is there any evidence to support the existence of dim mak?  Could it possibly work? Continue reading Investigating the Dim Mak Death Touch

Kung Fu Version 2.0

Version History

Kung Fu version 1.0 was released at the dawn of human history, and it was truly a killer app.  Though it contained only two basic features—kill people and kill animals—it was useful in solving the problems of the prehistoric age. 

Kung Fu 1.0 provided end-users with critical advantages in the constant struggle for food, and an opportunity to reproduce.  By leveraging bleeding-edge innovations in Rock and Stick technology, early adopters were able to live to the ripe old age of 30 years, and perhaps even become grandparents. Continue reading Kung Fu Version 2.0

The Costs of Fighting with Anger

While reading another martial arts blog, I encountered this advice on the use of anger:

You have to be aggressive and attack your opponent, attacking them will make them block more and hence stop their attacks… So how do you become aggressive, if it’s just not in your nature? It’s all about how you process the situation, psychologically. Start thinking “I’m not going to let them do this to me. Fcuk them!”. You have to get mad.

I believe that, if you practice martial arts for personal development, rushing to rage is a counterproductive strategy.  And truthfully, anger isn’t all that useful for fighting either. Continue reading The Costs of Fighting with Anger