Charles Manson and the Many Faces of Tai Chi

Writer and Tai Chi expert Scott Meredith recently made this keen observation about Tai Chi marketing:

Tai Chi faces

This graphic shows the unconscious cultural bias that affects internal training. What do all these have in common? Yeah – they show only upper body, arm gestures, or at least massively emphasize the upper body, arms, hands and heads, to the partial or complete exclusion of feet, legs, and hips…

Our profound entrancement with the upper body has made us all tense as hell up there. That’s one issue. The other issue is that, paradoxical as it may seem, the only way to get the real internal in the upper body (arms, hands, whatever) is by relentless internal conditioning of the lower body (feet, legs, hips).

All of that is true. Modern humans really are obsessed with their upper bodies. Our middle and upper class jobs are performed with hands and eyes, while the lower body is resting in a seated position. And even after forty to fifty hours of office work, leading to pathologically tight hip flexors and hamstrings, most of us would still prefer to skip leg day at the gym.

Lower body workouts are a tough sell. I myself have accidentally frightened away new students in the past, by demonstrating a low posture in an introductory Tai Chi class. As Scott implied, Westerners have been conditioned to expect a vibrant new level of health, as a result of adopting exotic Asian hand positions. To be confronted with the coarse reality of a low squat is a deeply dissonant experience.

Marketing professionals and cover designers know this, and respond to the desires of the marketplace.

It’s fun to make cynical observations about advertising. Nevertheless, let’s acknowledge that martial artists and marketers have a common goal: influencing others’ behavior with minimal cost and effort. Tai Chi fans ought to learn from the wisdom displayed by these ad packages. It’s not about excluding the waist and everything below. It’s about focusing on a human face. Continue reading Charles Manson and the Many Faces of Tai Chi

SlowFlo: The Christian Alternative to Tai Chi?

Are you feeling run down? Suffering from tired blood? Do encounters with foreign cultures leave you confused and angry?

WholyFit SlowFlo Christian Tai Chi

If so, then we have a solution for you. It’s called SlowFlo, the Christian alternative to Tai Chi.

Inspired by Chuck Norris, the art of SlowFlo reforms the inscrutable pagan art of Tai Chi Chuan into a safe and guilt-free form of Christian exercise. Continue reading SlowFlo: The Christian Alternative to Tai Chi?

“This I Believe” On Martial Arts

This I Believe

This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays that describe their core values. More than 90,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived on their website.

Naturally, some essayists shared their beliefs on, and experience with martial arts. Here are a few of their stories.

Life Is A Spiritual Struggle
by Joseph Laycock (Brighton, Massachusetts)

Over the din of boxing gloves pounding against leather bags, I struggle to hear this Brazilian explain yet another way to choke someone unconscious. This is a martial arts gym. Most of the regulars are amateur fighters with dreams of going professional. When they’re not here, some of them work as firefighters or bouncers. I’m definitely the only schoolteacher in the room.

My students take interest in my training. Sometimes I’ll enter the classroom with bruises or a slight limp from the gym. In world history, I’ll discuss the cultural significance of the fighting styles I study. In Thai kickboxing, the eight striking weapons — fists, shins, elbows and knees — represent the eight-fold path of the Buddha. Brazilian jujitsu has more improvisation than Japanese martial arts, which reflects different cultural attitudes towards tradition.

Every class asks me the same questions, “Have you ever beat anyone up?” And, “Why are you a teacher instead of a professional fighter?” When I tell them the truth — that I have never been in a fight and have no aspirations to go professional — I get a range of reactions from disappointment to accusations of cowardice.

“So why do you do it,” they always ask.

I believe that life is a spiritual struggle. My battle is not against another fighter but against the unjust and apathetic system that is attacking my students… [continued]

Continue reading “This I Believe” On Martial Arts

Taiji Robot Showdown!

The advances in robotics over the past ten years are amazing to see. Every year, they get harder, better, faster, stronger.

It is inevitable that they will get tired of vacuuming our floors, and rise against us. Fortunately, nobody is teaching them how to fight…right?

Sony QRIO

Continue reading Taiji Robot Showdown!

The Martial Arts Styles of Hip-Hop Heroes

Nicki Minaj

Artist: Nicki Minaj
Video: Your Love
Styles: Kenjutsu, Karate
Facts: Michael Jai White, who plays the sensei in “Your Love”, holds black belts in seven different styles of martial arts, including Tang Soo Do and Kyokushin. Continue reading The Martial Arts Styles of Hip-Hop Heroes

Qigong 102: Secrets of Meditation and Emotional Balance

Introduction

  • Qigong (chi gong) is most often understood as a set of active exercises, guiding qi (chi) energy around the body through intention, movement, and sound. It is less well known that Qigong incorporates rigorous courses of standing and seated meditation. These active and passive, external and internal modalities are mutually supportive.
  • One of the first goals of Qigong meditation is to reach a deep level of quietude within the mind and body. Sustained quiet allows a student to perceive increasingly subtle objects and movements inside their body.
  • In a quiet meditative state, relationships and correspondences that were previously hidden or overlooked, become clear and credible. In other words, meditation allows for biofeedback training without the need for electronic biofeedback instrumentation.

Continue reading Qigong 102: Secrets of Meditation and Emotional Balance

Penn and Teller: Two Morons Learn Martial Arts

Penn & Teller: Bullshit

In a recent episode of their hit Showtime series, stage magicians Penn Jilette and Raymond Teller warn viewers away from the universally fraudulent field of martial arts. Now a real expert martial artist rescues us from their half-baked debunkings.

For their own convenience, Penn and Teller divide the world of martial arts into three categories: traditional, mystical, and murderous. Continue reading Penn and Teller: Two Morons Learn Martial Arts

Qi Magazine: Free To Download Today

Qi Magazine covers

For almost twenty years, Qi Magazine featured original articles on kung fu, qigong, and other facets of Chinese culture, many written specifically by and for martial artists. (Qi Magazine is not to be confused with Qi Journal, which seems more targeted to the Goji berry set.)

Qi Magazine ceased production in early 2009, and publisher Michael Tse has since opened the archives. Continue reading Qi Magazine: Free To Download Today

Yang Jwing-Ming: “Tai Chi was the only doctor I could afford”

From his recent interview with Lama Somananda Tantrapa…

“Between the ages of 9 and 12, I had almost no food. Taiwan was preparing for a war against mainland China. Most of us kids were starving.

There were nine children in my family, and at that time, feeding nine children was not easy. All our problems gave me an ulcer by the time I was 16 years old.

One day, I was sitting in the corner in a cold sweat. My White Crane Kung Fu master said I had a stomach problem. “What should I do?” I asked him. I had no medicine, and no money to see a doctor. Continue reading Yang Jwing-Ming: “Tai Chi was the only doctor I could afford”