Advanced Tai Chi Balance Training Tips

Tai Chi Parry and Punch
Zeng Nailiang’s Xin style Taiji
Parry and Punch

The positive effects of Tai Chi Chuan training on balance and stability are well known. Clinical studies have shown that, with as little as a few weeks of Tai Chi practice, students are significantly less likely to fall down accidentally, inside or outside of class. From a martial arts perspective, they are also less vulnerable to trips, throws and takedowns.

Not every slow-motion exercise routine is worthy of the name Tai Chi, though. The subtle details of your performance will determine whether your practice is excellent balance training, or just marginally beneficial. Here are three adjustments to enhance your Tai Chi form practice for improved balance: Continue reading Advanced Tai Chi Balance Training Tips

Why Pretty Boys Avoid Taijiquan

Tell the truth, pretty boy. You don’t really care whether your martial art works on the streets. You just want to burn calories and build muscle, because that is what works on the beach.

So let me warn you: although Taijiquan can benefit your health, your physical appearance will pay the price. Continue reading Why Pretty Boys Avoid Taijiquan

Master Wang Says: “Taijiquan Sucks”

This is a distillation of previous published interviews with Master Wang.

Having traveled across China, I know that Taijiquan has the most practitioners of any martial art. Upon hearing that this boxing method was handed down from Zhang Sanfeng, I despised him for a long time.

Taijiquan is far from the art of actual combat; they have nothing in common with each other.

Later on, I read the collected edition of Zhang Sanfeng’s teachings, and realized that he had progressed deeply into the great Tao—and I came to believe that Taiji was not handed down from him at all! Actually, it doesn’t matter; even if one is a descendant of Sanfeng, he is not worthy to talk about this method without first gaining its essence. Continue reading Master Wang Says: “Taijiquan Sucks”

Totally Nude Tai Chi: A DVD Review With Pictures

Can the fire of man breathe within the waters of woman? Only if she allows. From Eden’s Gate, through Taoist teachings, through sexual revolutions and on into time eternal, women have been, are, and always will be the masters of ultimate sexuality.

Totally Nude Tai Chi is the most comprehensive, and most bizarre martial arts instructional video I have ever reviewed. Five naked female models demonstrate Tai Chi theory, the solo hand form, sword and saber practice, circle walking and palm changes, push hands and fighting applications, all within one hour. Continue reading Totally Nude Tai Chi: A DVD Review With Pictures

An Alternative to Traditional Bullshido Theory and Application

Rene Descartes

With his proclamation Cogito ergo sum, Descartes set the stage upon which most Western philosophers have played for the last four hundred years. Under his model, the human being is composed of two distinct entities: mind and body. Some thinkers agree, and others disagree, but few challenge the validity of the model itself, and its silent implication that nothing lies between.

Following George Orwell’s advice, I will begin by stating the obvious: East Asian martial arts training was never meant to be performed within this framework.

Although Descartes’ model allowed for each aspect to influence the other, he did not recognize the full breadth and depth of the mind-body relationship. So, like the atomic model of physics failed to explain observable and repeatable quantum phenomena, Descartes’ atomic metaphysics obscures the potential of high-level martial arts. When authentic traditional training is reformatted to fit into the duelistic model, the result is typically and predictably Bull-shido.

Theory and Application, and Nothing More

Two tragic outcomes result from the application of duelistic mind-body theory to martial training. First, the Complete Martial Art is defined as one containing both Theory and Application—and where Theory is given undue precedence. Continue reading An Alternative to Traditional Bullshido Theory and Application

Ordosclan, The Grumpy Savant of rec.martial-arts

Long before the invention of the blog, and even before the creation of the World Wide Web, there was Usenet. The world’s first electronic social network was established in 1980, and martial artists have been arguing there ever since.

Back in the late 1990s, I started reading the rec.martial-arts newsgroup as most people do, with posts sorted by discussion topic. I soon discovered that, since 90% of the replies on any given topic were rubbish, it made more sense to sort by author instead. Although I abandoned rec-martial arts years ago, due to its low-signal-to-noise ratio, I can still remember the names of some of my favorite writers. At the top of that list, I place the mysterious Ordosclan, also known as Turiyan Gold.

I don’t know Ordosclan’s real name, or his training history. I don’t know how many of his posts were written under the influence of anti-psychotic medication, as his critics claimed. Perhaps not enough of them.

Black Belt Mama's Admired Martial Artists Month

Ordosclan’s martial arts commentaries were sagacious and entertaining, sometimes cryptic and unfortunately brusque. In honor of Black Belt Mama’s Admired Martial Artists Month, I’d like to highlight a few:

Why punch from the hip?

In boxing, the boxer keeps his hands up on either side of his face for protection. Punches are thrown from this position. One hand goes out, the other stays by the face for protection.
Why does karate require that you throw a punch from the hip? What is gained by this?

The point of pulling the fists back is to open the chest. Doing so during stance changes makes it harder to use the arms for balance. It’s not for punching. Punches done from the hip are just a training exercise. The Japanese simply copied basic Shaolin from the Chinese. Some teachers try and read ridiculous theories into why something is the way it is: “It’s for qi,” “it’s for jing,” “It trains you to monkey elbow a guy that puts you in a bear hug from behind”, etc.

If you start taking things out of MA that are not combat-relevant, you’re left with punches and kicks, knees and headbutts. The simple answer is: it’s not martially oriented. Its just a myth that Shaolin monks are/were “fighting” monks. That’s nonsense. And everyone knows it.

Continue reading Ordosclan, The Grumpy Savant of rec.martial-arts

Qigong and Energetic Arts a Danger to Health?

Welcome to the fourth edition of Qigong and Energy Arts Forum, a monthly collection of the best new articles on qigong (chi kung), reiki, kundalini yoga, meditation, and other related disciplines. This edition focuses on the risks and dangers–physical, intellectual, and spiritual–of improper practice.

Army’s New PTSD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, and Bioenergy by Noah Shachtman (The Danger Room)
The military is scrambling for new ways to treat the brain injuries and post-traumatic stress of troops returning home from war. And every kind of therapy–no matter how far outside the accepted medical form–is being considered. The Army just unveiled a $4 million program to investigate everything from “spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga” to “bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, [and] distant healing” to mend the psyches of wounded troops…

Feature articleDangers of Kundalini Yoga by Anmol Mehta (Mastery of Meditation, Enlightenment and Kundalini Yoga)
Kundalini Yoga is certainly a powerful science and if not approached with intelligence and respect it can produce some challenges and difficulties for the practitioners. That is not meant to discourage you from taking up its practice, it is meant to help guide you so that you undertake Kundalini Yoga practice safely and thus, enjoy the enormous benefits that this form of yoga bestows… Continue reading Qigong and Energetic Arts a Danger to Health?

Cure Your Sore Lower Back with Tai Chi Ruler

Vertebral column

Although Tai Chi is an effective treatment for stiffness and lower back pain, the complexity of its forms discourages some from learning the practice.

Fortunately for back pain sufferers, not all Tai Chi forms are long and elaborate. While some traditional forms contain more than one hundred movements, others contain less than a dozen. The short forms are easier to learn and faster to complete, but no less beneficial to the practitioner’s health.

Among the short forms, Tai Chi Ruler is the easiest to learn. The ruler, or chih, is a simple wooden dowel, approximately one inch thick and one foot long. Fundamental ruler practices consist of a single movement, repeated a few dozen or few hundred times.

Many of the Tai Chi Ruler movements do not actually require a ruler, and can be performed just as well without it. Here I will describe one such exercise, which is suitable for any age and fitness level. Continue reading Cure Your Sore Lower Back with Tai Chi Ruler

Letter From a Seattle Tai Chi Exhibitionist

A Seattle Weekly reader asks:


Credit: Rod Filbrandt

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

Please explain the compulsion some Seattleites feel to practice tai chi in public. This week on the Seattle-bound run of the Winslow ferry, I observed a middle-aged man practicing tai chi who looked like he was going to mate with the bulkhead, until he almost fell down. Note that it was a calm day and there were no swells. A regular on the ferry told me the man does this every morning. My dog and I always see this other guy who’s tai chi’d to death all the grass around a tree in a park near my house. I see the same thing at Volunteer Park, Green Lake, and other places around the city: middle-aged white guys sweeping the air in elaborate, self-conscious slow motion. Why do they have to do it in public?

Signed,
Why Chi?

Dear Mr. Chi, Continue reading Letter From a Seattle Tai Chi Exhibitionist

If It Doesn’t Look Fake, Then It Isn’t Real Taiji

The position of refinement of consciousness in the theory and practice of martial arts is utterly critical. It pervades the fundamentals of training in martial arts as well as the most advanced contents of their highest level. This is the technical and theoretical core and quintessence of martial arts.

To abandon this is tantamount to throwing away the living soul and fundamental work of the techniques and theories of martial arts, leaving only low level “external exercises” with their peculiarities of outward form…

Consciousness as we use it here does not mean consciousness in the ordinary sense, abstract logical thought, or abstract ideation; neither is it formal thinking in the ordinary sense…it is always a result of combined refinement of body and mind.

from Mind Over Matter: Higher Martial Arts by Shi Ming

Master Shi Ming, from Bill Moyers’ Healing and the Mind

Shi Ming’s demonstration, and similar performances by other Taiji masters always draw criticism from the incredulous.

The most common objection is at the appearance of cooperation between teacher and student: the disciples appear to be throwing themselves. In many cases, that is exactly what they are doing. This fact alone does not, however, prove that the master is a fake. Continue reading If It Doesn’t Look Fake, Then It Isn’t Real Taiji