Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meditation in Action

"Simply speaking, drushti is sensitive awareness to that which you are doing. This has two aspects that are vital to every aspect of our practice. First it means bringing your mind to bear exactly on what you are doing. Not doing one thing while thinking another. This actually means learning not even to be thinking about what you are doing. Rather, just be doing it, feeling it. In the beginning we must think before we act. Then we act. Then think again. But we must learn to separate these two processes so that we can act with precision and clarity, without the distraction of thought. Eventually we will learn to trust the intelligence of the body and will be able to dispense with the thinking process more and more. Then our practice becomes meditation in action."

"The second aspect is to feel the effect of what we are doing. Not only at the point of the action itself, but throughout the whole structure of the body and the quality of the mind. We must feel its impact on the functioning of the body, breath and mind. We use this feedback to go deeper into the poses by making adjustments according to the four secondary techniques of asana, vinyasa, bandha and pranayama. Then through the dynamic created between our intention and our actions, a meditative awareness emerges."

- Godfrey Devereux, Dynamic Yoga, 1998, p. 24

A Momentary Retreat

"Everything about Tai Chi is relaxed, deliberate and focused in the moment. The simple truth is, when you engage in Tai Chi you're temporarily disconnecting your awareness from your present life situations - be it family, work, friends etc. Think of it as a momentary retreat from life to regroup your energies. If properly learned and practiced, the resulting benefits of bringing your life energy into a balanced, harmonized and integrated state can serve to increase your vitality, reduce stress, better control your emotions, modify your habits and much, and much more!"
- Si Gung Tiru Sadasivam, Tai Chi Chuan

When moving in Taijiquan forms, remain open, alert, untensed, free, and fluid. This state of being is called Sung.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Valley Spirit

“The dragon and tiger are none other than yin and yang, the female and male. They are the cauldron and furnace of alchemical literature, the medicinal substance required to compound the golden pill. The cauldron, cool and limitless as the element Water, fills herself and nourishes the Fire that would not die. You have read in the Great One of the miraculous pass, the portal into all knowledge. I will tell you what this pass is. It is none other that the inexhaustible female. Must I be blunt? Can you grasp the concept of the dragon and the tiger, water and fire, cauldron and furnace, pestle and mortar? The mysterious female is the key to the firing process. This talk of base metals into gold and drinking an elixir of mercury is not the real alchemy. Enter into her and take it into yourself, again and again. Lao Tzu said, “The valley spirit is the mysterious female. Her door is the root of heaven and earth.” It replenishes itself continuously. There is no coercion, but it is freely given. Opening up, you will enter the cinnabar chamber where all knowledge is stored. Conserving your essence, you will draw her into yourself, up through the lower and middle tan tien into the seat of ecstasy. Her you will find madness and death … or the knowledge that will give you eternal life.”
- Simon Marnier, White Tiger, Green Dragon, p. 23

White Tiger, Green Dragon: A Tale of the Taoist Inner Alchemy.
By Simone Marnier. San Jose, California, Authors Choice Press,
2000. Bibliography, 143 pages. ISBN: 0595125751.

Valley Spirit (Gu Shen): Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 90Kb

Valley Spirit
Gu Shen, Ku Shen
The Dark and Empty Ground of All Beings
The Ever Giving Mysterious Mother of Life

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan Creativity

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
- C. S. Lewis

"“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
- Albert Einstein

Just the act of doing Taijiquan, Qigong and/or Yoga in America puts you on the creative edge of mind-body fitness. You are in the avant-garde of the internal martial arts. Hold your head high, practice diligently, spread the practices, be open-minded, and cultivate enlightenment amongst others. You are helping to create the foundations for a new mind-body arts Renaissance in America. You are very creative!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rooting Down Like a Tree

"The most basic method of training is zhan zhuang. Zhan zhuang is an exercise common to many Chinese martial arts, including Taijiquan. Usually, the practitioner stands with the arms held as if holding a large ball. However, the zhan zhuang exercise can be practiced using any of the end postures of the Taiji form. During "standing" practice a static posture is maintained for a period of time while using just enough strength to maintain the posture. ... Benefits of zhan zhuang include deep relaxation, strengthening of the legs, and increased internal qi. The first requirement is to have a calm mind. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, concentrating on the Dantian, paying attention to one's breath, or silently counting. Through standing practice, emphasis is place upon developing awareness of maintaining the most efficient and relaxed structural alignment necessary to hold the position. Prolonged practice, along with enhancing postural awareness and tranquility of mind, greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong and can bear weight firmly, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. ... Taijiquan requires lightness and sensitivity in the upper body. At the same time, the lower body should have a feeling of extreme heaviness and connection to the ground. This feeling is often compared to a large tree with deep roots. While the branches move and sway in the wind, the trunk is solidly anchored by its roots."
- Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 106.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Family in Portland

Karen and I were in Portland, Oregon, from last Wednesday until Sunday evening. We enjoyed visiting with our children and their families. We all celebrated Thanksgiving together in Portland. Great fun, delicious food, good company, and fun activities for everyone.

It rained most days, and snowed in the higher elevations, during our trip north and back.

On Saturday evening, USC defeated Notre Dame in football, 44-24. YES!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Choiceless Awareness

"Because self-actualizing people ordinarily do not have to abstract need-gratifying qualities nor see the person as a tool, it is much more possible for them to take a non-valuing, non-judging, non-interfering, non-condemning attitude towards others, a desirelessness, a 'choiceless awareness.' " ... This kind of detached, Taoist, passive, non-interfering awareness of all the simultaneous existing aspects of the concrete, has much in common with some descriptions of the aesthetic experience and of the mystic experience."
- Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 1962, p. 38

Both Taijiquan and Qigong emphasize cultivating this type of neutral, clear, open, aware, and engaged state of consciousness while practicing mind-body arts.

Taoism: Links, Bibliography, Resources

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stepping Round the Circle

"Hidden in a remote corner of Beijing's Ditan ("Temple of the Earth") Park is a small area with gongfu enthusiasts practicing their eight directions exercises. The men (and all visitors to this area seem to be men) balance precariously on a series of bricks and stones, carefully stepping from one to the next, the best proponents able to make many rounds."
- Xiaming, Flickr Photos and Notes

Walking the Circle.

Ba Gua Zhang is an internal martial arts style that involves dodging attacks and attacking while moving in complex circular patterns. A few practice Bagua Zhang while walking in a circle and stepping from post to post which are set in the ground in a circular pattern; or, walking on the ground between large posts sent in the ground in a circular or figure eight pattern.

Walking in circles for meditative focus is also part of the labyrinth traditions.

The symbolism of the eight trigrams also has relevance in this context.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Currently Reading

Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California

The books that I am currently reading and studying include:

Essential Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and
Meditation. By Olivia H. Miller. San Francisco, Chronicle Books,
Ohm Works, 2003. Index, 239 pages. ISBN: 0811841154.
Includes most stanards poses and some good sequences.

Tibetan Relaxation: Kum Nye Massage and Movement. A Yoga for
Healing and Energy from the Tibetan Tradition. By Tarthang Tulku.
London, Duncan Baird Publishers, 2003. Index, 144 pages.
ISBN: 1904292674. The self-massage techniques are extensive
and excellent.

Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace,
and Power. By Peter Ralston with Laura Ralston. Berkeley, California,
Frog, Ltd.. 183 pages. ISBN: 1583941592. Like Ralston's other books,
the layers of philosophy make for a slow read.

The Serpent and the Wave: A Guide to Movement Meditation.
By Jalaja Bonheim. Berkeley, California, Celestial Arts, 1992.
Index, 258 pages. ISBN: 0890876576. A very satisfying
presentation on movement arts with considerable mythical
and spiritual insight.

The Complete Book of Zen. By Wong Kiew Kit. Boston, Tuttle
Publishing, 2002. Index, 324 pages. ISBN: 0804834415.

The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung Fu. By Adam
Hsu. Boston, Massachusetts, Tutle, 1998. 204 pages.
ISBN: 0804831386.

My Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong reading lists are located at the Cloud Hands website.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mostly Standing Still

"My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Mary Oliver, Messenger

Green Way Wisdom - Spirituality

Friday, November 17, 2006

Standing Meditation: Trinity Stance

"Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still,
learning to be astonished."
- Mary Oliver, Messenger


"Standing still in the circle of trees, in the sacred space,
one wet and chilly morn,
feet rooted, toes clawing the earth, sunk deeply down;
twisted like a dragon, alert, poised, ready to fly;
settled like a bear, strong, full of power, gathering;
looking through the tiger's eye, mind-intent, penetrating;
embracing the Trinity of Body, Mind, and Spirit,
as ancient as Now, the Three Bodies, all still, all one.

From the edge, the cosmic circle opened,
Chang San-Feng slipped inside, smiling,
he stroked his long beard and spoke softly,
"Ah, another old man standing so still in San Ti Shi.
Continue, my friend, stand in peace, touch the mind.
The subtle winds of understanding blow down the centuries.
When still, fly like the Eagle; when moving, walk like the Mountain.
Tame the Tiger within, ride the Tiger to the temple, and roar in silence.
Awaken like the Bear from the winter of the soul, and rise like a Man.
Feel the vital energies from bone to brain,
Sense the Great Tao before you Now,
Drop delusions, break through the Gate of Mystery,
Embrace the Center, Empty, unattached, ready to be filled
With boundless beauty, everything There, marvelous beyond words."

The cottonwood leaves spoke with the wind,
the sun rose over the shadows,
my legs shook a little;
the cosmic circle trembled,
the Master had gone."
By Michael P. Garofalo, Poetic Reflections on Chang San-Feng.


Mike Garofalo in San Ti Shi posture.


A commonoly used standing posture in internal martial arts is the San Ti Shi. This is the "Trinity Posture, Three Bodies Posture, or the Three Legged Posture...." For a description of the posture, photographs of the posture, and the purpose of standing postures visit my notes on the webpage San Ti Shi, Three Body (Heaven, Man, Earth) Standing Posture

Zhan Zhuang (Standing Like A Tree)
Rooting Deeply Into Tranquility, Power and Vitality
A Chinese Meditation and Qigong Discipline
By Mike Garofalo, 137 Kb.

Chang San Feng, Taoist Master, Circa 1300 CE

Sacred Circle

Meetings with Chang San-Feng. Poetic reflections by Mike Garofalo.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Circles in Tai Chi Chuan

"The basic unit of Tai Chi is the circle. Circle, circles, everywhere. The first stage in Tai Chi is relaxing to the point where the upper body is so floppy that strong turns of the waist from a sunk, rooted, bent-legged stance, will fling the arms into either complete or partial circles. Strong, powerful, loaded legs and a fluid waist directing a loose and relaxed upper body. The difficulty with the postures of Tai Chi, stylized as they are – to the point of being highly compromised in many cases, is to connect our main circle to the incoming energy and to get both arms involved in that circle. The circle can be on the horizontal or vertical plane so can connect with the incoming energy from the left, from the right, from underneath or from above. Returning the energy is simply completing the circle.

Relaxation is the key and we initially encourage a flat detachment to cultivate this relaxation. Philosophically this fits with Buddhist/Taoist concepts of non-action and emotional detachment – we may be doing something but it is minimal and devoid of the tensions associated with striving or desire. This is only the first stage, but it is absolutely vital. Without it the student may succeed quite well in the later stages but they won't fully understand or feel or connect to the energy as energy. It should be realized that a student doesn't need to master the first stage before she can proceed onto the next. She just needs to have become so thoroughly infected with interest, and with the need to practice, that success is a foregone conclusion – is just a matter of time."

From the Blog called Tai Chi Heartwork

Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Qua Chang): Walking the Circle

Walking Meditation

Sacred Circle

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cloud Hands Website Usage in 2006

The statistics for October 2006 usage at shows that readers around the world requested 180,243 webpages excluding graphics files (.jpg and .gif).

For the 2006 year, based on statistical analysis, sent out the following number of webpages:

Mind-Body Arts
Cloud Hands: Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong Website;
Yoga, Meditation, and Fitness Websites
1,123,900 webpages in 2006

Months Website and Green Way Blog
749,300 webpages in 2006
Of this total, the Green Way Blog is served to an average of
438 persons each day or 160,000 each year.
The Cloud Hands Blog is hosted by Blogger and usage statistics are not available.

Total for in webpages served:
1,873,200 webpages in 2006

I estimate that the Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong Website will have served 2,263,900 webpages to people around the world from January 1, 2003 until December 31, 2006.

2005 Statistical Report

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Staff Weapons Video Clips

Staff Weapons: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes.
By Mike Garofalo. 146Kb.

Video Clips Online of Staff Weapons Demonstrations

Eight Immortals Staff, Ba Xian Gun, Chinese Kungfu Weapons, 1 minute and 32 seconds

Eight Immortals Staff, Ba Xian Gun, Chinese Kungfu Weapons, 1 minute and 34 seconds

Karate Bo Staff, Clint Leung, 1 minute and 33 seconds

Shaolin Staff (Gun), Performer: Dennis Navikov, 2 minutes and 6 seconds

Wu Shu Three Section Staff, 1 minutes and 46 seconds

Aikido Staff Kata #2, Richard Polichetti, 25 seconds

Aikido Jo Kata, 13 Moves, 16 seconds, Wałbrzyski Klub Aikido

Aikido Jo Kata, 31 Moves, 33 seconds, Wałbrzyski Klub Aikido

Okinawa Kobudo, Bo Kata: Cho Un No Kon, Theo Theloesen, 1 minute and 15 seconds

Explore and Flow, 2-Shinai Sword and Staff Flows, Max Andranov, 16 minutes and 45 seconds

Max Andranov's Shinai Wars

Monday, November 13, 2006

Walking Meditation

"In Bodh Gaya, India, there is an old Bodhi tree that shades the very spot where the Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation on the night of his enlightenment. Close by is a raised walking path about 17 steps in length, where the Buddha mindfully paced up and down in walking meditation after becoming enlightened, experiencing the joy of a liberated heart.

In his teachings, the Buddha stressed the importance of developing mindfulness in all postures, including standing, sitting, lying down, and even walking. When reading accounts about the lives of monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha, you find that many attained various stages of enlightenment while doing walking meditation.

In walking meditation, the primary object of attention is the process of walking itself. In other words, to sharpen awareness and train the mind to concentrate, you pay close attention to the physical act of walking, the way you take one step after another. Thus the object is more obvious and tangible than in the more refined meditation techniques, such as focusing on the breath or a mantra, which are often used in traditional sitting meditation. Focusing the mind on this more obvious object helps to avoid sleepiness (or restlessness) that meditators sometimes experience during their sitting meditation.

The guidelines for walking meditation are similar to that of sitting meditation: Choose an appropriate time and decide how long to meditate; for beginners 15 to 30 minutes may be suitable. The walking path can be either inside or outside, depending upon your preference and the area available. Also, whenever possible, it is better to practice in bare feet, although this is not essential.

Stand at one end of the path and hold your hands gently together in front of your body. The eyes remain open, gazing down along the path about two yards ahead. The intention is not to be looking at anything in particular but simply to see that you remain on the path and know when to turn around.

You should now try to center yourself by putting aside all concern for the past and future. In order to calm the mind and establish awareness in the present, abandon any preoccupation with work, home, and relationships, and bring the attention to the body. The meditation exercise is simply to walk at a slow, relaxed pace, being fully aware of each step until you reach the end of the path. When you arrive at the end of the path, stop for a moment and check to see what the mind is doing. Is it being attentive? If necessary, reestablish awareness. Then turn and walk back to the other end in a similar fashion, remaining mindful and alert. Continue to pace up and down for the duration of the meditation period, gently making an effort to sustain awareness and focus attention on the process of walking."
- John Cianciosi, Yoga Journal

Green Way Wisdom - Walking Meditation

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bagua Zhang - Eight Trigrams Boxing

"Baguazhang (Emei Baguazhang): Theory and Applications."
By Liang, Master Shou-Yu, and Wu, Wen-Ching, and Yang, Jwing-Ming.
YMAA Publication Center, 1994. 364 pages. ISBN: 0940871300.

Instructional videotape also available.
Chinese Internal Martial Arts.

Excellent introduction to the subject. Includes many translations of seminal Baguazhang texts and sayings. Index, glossary, appendices, lists of movements. Another excellent YMAA publication. This text includes many detailed charts of Baguazhang lineages.

One reader is of the opinion that the "8 palms Master Liang presents comprises the basic Baguazhang set that seems to have been taught at the Central Kuoshu Institute at Nanking. The lineage is Fu Chen-Sung's, and the form is also known by the name of 'Old Eight Palms.' ... The "Swimming Dragon" form presented seems to have come from Sun Lu Tang's lineage."

Bagua Zhang: Links, Bibliography, Resources, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Qigong: Wild Goose

“Breathing in and out in various manners, spitting out the old and taking in the new, walking like a bear and stretching their neck like a bird to achieve longevity - this is what such practitioners of Dao-yin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng, enjoy.”
- Chuang-Tzu, Chapter 15, circa 300 BCE.

The Wild Goose Qigong webpage includes references to books, websites, videos, DVDs and instructional resources on this popular Chinese exercise system. A list of the 64 movements of the form is included. Information on all of the masters of the form are included. Lore and Taoist legends about geese and mythical birds are included.

Video, Wild Goose Qigong, 35 seconds, 2nd 64 movements, Performed by Jing Shang-Tang. However, I cannot recommend doing Qigong in a silk kungfu outfit on a snowy day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Relaxation (Sung) in Tai Chi Chuan

"I have been practicing Tai-Chi Chuan for over fifty years. Only two years ago that I started to understand the word “relax”. I remember my Tai-Chi Chuan teacher Yang Cheng-Fu who did not like to talk much and he used to sit all day without saying a word if no one asked him questions. However, in our T’ai-chi class he would tell us to “relax” repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed like he would say the word hundreds of times during the practice so that the word could fill up my ears. Strangely enough he also said that if he did not tell me of this word that I would not be able to learn T’ai-chi in three life-times (meaning never). I doubted his words then. Now that I think back, I truly believe that if he did not keep reminding me of the word “relax”, I doubt if I could have learned T’ai-chi Chuan in six life-times.

What is the meaning of “relax” in T’ai-chi? Here is an example to help you understand the word. When we go visit a Buddhist temple we usually see a statue of Me-Lo Buddha. The one who has a big rounded stomach with a big smile on his face. He carries a large bag on his shoulder. On top of this statue we see a motto: “Sit with a bag. Walk with a bag. It would be such a relief to drop the bag.” What does all this mean? To me, a person himself or herself is a bag. Everything he or she owns is baggage, including one’s children, family, position and wealth. It is difficult to drop any of one’s baggage, especially the “self” bag.

T’ai-chi Chuan is difficult to learn. To relax in practicing T’ai-chi Chuan is the most difficult phase to go through. To relax a person’s mind is the most significant obstacle to overcome in practicing T’ai-Chi. It takes a great effort to train and exercise one’s mind to relax (or drop one’s “self” bag)."
- Cheng Man-Ch'ing

Cheng Man-ch'ing: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes. By Mike Garofalo.

Cheng Man Ching Video 7 minutes. Some Yang form, push hands, and sword form.

Relax (Sung) in Tai Chi Chuan: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes, Instructions. By Mike Garofalo.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Qigong: Eight Section Brocade

“Chinese medical chi-gung emphasizes soft, slow, rhythmic movements of the body synchronized with deep diaphragmatic breathing. The purpose of these exercises is to stretch the tendons, loosen the joints, and tone the muscles, to promote circulation of blood, and to regulate all the vital functions of the body. The medical school adapted many forms of ‘moving meditation” exercise for therapeutic use, including the ancient Dao-Yin and ‘Play of the Five Beasts’ forms based on animal movements, martial forms such as ‘Eight Pieces of Brocade’ and Tai Chi Chuan, and special exercises developed specifically to treat various internal organs.”- Daniel Reid, A Complete Guide to Chi Kung, p. 52.

The Eight Section Brocade Qigong, Ba Duan Jin Qigong, includes a detailed description of the movements, information on the benefits of each movement, a historical introduction to the form, references to books and links, quotes, and other resources. The webpage is quite large - over 330 Kb. Written and researched by Michael P. Garofalo, and published by Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Qigong: Five Animal Frolics

Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Links, bibliography, resources, quotes, and notes by Mike Garofalo.

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," Zhou Lishang. T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 4, August, 2005, pp. 42-49. Translation by Yan Shufan. Part 1. A detailed article on how to do the Frolics. This version of the Frolics set was developed by the Shanghai University of Sports and approved by the State Physical Culture and Sports Bureau. This article includes set by set photos, instructions, and some very interesting illustrations from the Ma Wang Dui Tomb No. 3 findings.

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," by Zhou Lishang. T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 5, October, 2005, pp. 42-49. Translation by Yan Shufan. Part 2. This second article includes detailed instructions and photographs of the form. Includes information on the internal benefits of this form and TCM meridian theory related to the movements.

These two articles are the most detailed printed description of a version of the Five Animal Frolics that I have ever seen. Approval by the Chinese State Physical Culture and Sports Bureau will greatly contribute to the dissemination of this version of the Frolics, the production of DVDs, VCDs, and videotapes on the form, and more widespread teaching of this ancient popular qigong form.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Practice as Ritual

"There are two ways of looking at rituals. On the one hand, rituals are an external expression of our inner state. And on the other hand, we strengthen and reinforce our inner state by these external actions. Of course, in reality there are not two things, but rather a unified whole. As we practice together sincerely, we become increasingly aware that such notions as internal and external cannot be separated. This awareness is actually the growing realization of the real harmony that underlies everything."
- Taizan Maezumi, On Zen Practice

Monday, November 06, 2006

Polishing the Spirit

"The sword is known as the "soul of the Samurai", and in Japanese mythology it was one of the three sacred gifts given to the emperor by the Sun Goddess. A Samurai's sword was believed to be imbued with certain spiritual qualities of its owner. The forging of the blade itself was considered a religious ceremony, swathed in ritual, passed down in secret from father to son for generations. The ceremony was consistent, precise, unvaried, and beautiful -- in action, dress, and color. Forging was often done at night and temperatures were set by holding the blade to the color of the morning sun. The exact hue was transmitted from master to apprentice down through centuries.

The sword forging process itself became a metaphor for character development and many of the metallurgical processes parallel the tasks required for shaping the spirit. The concept of “tanren” is central to this theme.

Tanren means to forge in the same way that a sword blade is forged, with hard work, and sweat, and many hours of dedication, folding together the hard and soft elements in the body, mind, and movement just as the sword gains its strength out of hard and soft steel.

This is followed by “Renshu”. Ren means to polish, to perfect by continued practice. It also means to polish the spirit and character through the requirements of detail and interpretation. To demonstrate a compassionate nature that can pass on knowledge without egotistical pride and arrogance.

Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary 16th century Japanese sword master, states in his “Book of Five Rings” that it takes 1,000 days to forge the spirit and 10,000 to polish it."

Budo Blues
By Yonjuhachi Ronin

Tai Chi Sword and Saber

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Qigong Power

"Inwardly alert, open, calm.
Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit.
This is the foundation of stillness.
Add the hard and the soft, the powerful and the relaxed,
Motion and stillness, contraction and extension:
In the instant these converge, there is power."
- Wang Xiang Zhai

From, The Way of Power, Lam Kam Chuen

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Eight Pieces of Brocade Chi Kung

The DVD "Shaolin: Wheel of Life" includes numerous movements from the Eight Section Brocade Qigong.

8 Pieces Brocade Qigong. By Master Jesse Tsao. Video clip: 5 minutes.

Eight Section Brocade Qigong (BaDuanJin): Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 300Kb

5 Animal Frolics, Healing Qigong Chi Kung. By Master Jesse Tsao. Video clip: 7 minutes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Shaolin: Wheel of LIfe

The DVD release of "Shaolin: Wheel of Life" will give everyone the opportunity to see the stage performance featuring the martial arts and acrobatic skills of the troupe. The music and songs are dramatic, and stage and lighting impressive. The performers are 40 ordained Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China.

The 84 minute performance (2000) will keep Shaolin martial arts fans enthralled. Be sure to view the trailers on the video.

A couple of books I have enjoyed reading lately about the Shaolin arts have been:

The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior's Way.
By Sifu Shi Yan Ming. Rodale Press, 2006. Index, 293 pages. ISBN: 1594864004.

The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu: The Secrets of Kung Fu for Self-Defense, Health and Enlightenment. By Wong, Kiew Kit. Charles E. Tuttle, 2002. 215 pages. ISBN: 0804834393.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wholehearted Attention

"The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention. Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives. Every relationship, every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it. In the complexities of our minds and lives we easily forget the power of attention, yet without attention we live only on the surface of existence. It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched. We need to be fully present in order to love a single thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it."

~ Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart

Green Way Wisdom - Seeing

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stilling the Mind

Let the Void be your cauldron.
Let Nature be your furnace.
For your primary ingredient, take stillness.
For your reagent; use quietude.
For Mercury, take your vital essence.
For Lead, use your vital energy.
For Water, use restraint.
For Fire, take meditation.

When the Mind is Stilled,
Spirit Brightens.
Great Mysteries are Illuminated.
- Chao Pi Chen

"The Triple Equation of Essence, Energy and Spirit unites to form the Golden Elixir of Immortality during deep meditation. According to Master Chao Pi Chen, the generative force changes into vitality when the body is still; vitality changes into spirit when the heart is unstirred; and spirit returns to nothingness because of immutable thought. The Elixir Field (Dantien) under the navel is where the generative force [essence] is sublimated into vitality [energy]; the middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus (Middle Dantien) is where vitality is sublimated into spirit; and the upper Elixir Field in the brain (Upper Dantien) is where spirit is sublimated for its flight into space."
Daniel P. Reid, The Tao of Health, Sex & Longevity