Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sun Taijiquan Characteristics

"The Four Characteristics of Sun Shi Tai Ji:
1. The natural position of the body. The position of the body is more natural than in other forms of Tai Ji. The basic position - San Ti Shi - comes from Xing Yi. It differs from the traditional basic position - Hun Yuan Zhuang. The position of the body is higher (angle with the knees of 135°), the axis head - centre of gravity falls on only one foot and not with equal distance of the two feet, the feet are positioned one compared to the other according to an angle of 45° and not in parallel or are aligned like usually used in other schools of Tai Ji. All these characteristics respect the natural positioning of the body with two consequences. Initially a practice more favorable to health, without excessive wear (of the knees in particular). Then, a good balance between stability and flexibility.
2. Flexible and fast movement. The movement of the feet is flexible and fast: as soon as a leg advances or moves back, the other leg follows immediately. One does not find in Sun Shi Tai a horse riding stance with feet equal distance apart or the bow and arrow posture of traditional Tai Ji. In Sun Shi, one uses the free steps coming from Xing Yi and of Bagua. The centre of gravity always falls on one leg; a foot supports all the weight of the body, the other follows, free. The steps forwards are the steps of Beng Quan, and backwards the steps of Pi Quan. The steps of rotation correspond to the steps of Ba Gua. Sun Shi is light, fluid and fast. It is compared with the water which runs and with the clouds which slip into a windy sky.
3. The specific figure of Kai He. Sun Shi Tai Ji has a very specific figure; Kai He (to open - to close) which is found neither in other forms of Tai Ji, nor in Ba Gua or Xing Yi. This Kai He appears with each connection and transition. It makes it possible to control and adjust breathing and to accumulate the Shi (energy potential) in order to prepare for the next change.
4. It is an art which aims at effectiveness in combat. Sun Shi Tai Ji is truly an art of combat. The amplitude of the gestures is limited, the course of the hands are direct, natural and aims to be effective. . It is not the force of the arms which strike, but the sum total of the elastic force of each movement carried out on a correct and uniform axis of gravity."
- Master Bob Melia, Sun Shi Tai Chi

Sun Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instructions, Quotes, Glossary
By Mike Garofalo. 1MB+

Research by Mike Garofalo

Sun Taijiquan Website Index Page

Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933) Biographical Information

Sun Tai Chi Chuan International Competition 73 Form
Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Resources. 115Kb.

Sun Taijiquan Blog

Sun Taijiquan Dictionary

Sun Lu Tang's Xing Yi Quan (Hsing I Chuan)

Sun Lu Tang's Baguazhang (BaQua Quan)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Playing Cloud Hands and Down Dog

T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Qigong, Hatha Yoga and Gardening are all me, among other things, a way of "playing." Playing to lift my spirits, playing to meet a challenge, playing for delight, playing to show off, playing for exercise, playing to pass the time, playing for keeps, playing for no reason at all.

"We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing."
- Charles Schaefer

"The true object of all human life is play.
Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground."
- G. K. Chesterton

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doing More With Less Of ....

"Simplicity is power. The power to do less of what doesn't matter and more of what does."
- Bill Jensen

"The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose."
- E.M. Gray

The simplest way for the average American to free up more time to accomplish new goals (e.g., to exercise, to write, to learn a new skill, etc.) is for them to watch less television.

Will Power - Quotes

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Way of the Wizard, Lessons 11 - 20

The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons in Creating the Life You Want.
By Deepak Chopra, 1995.

Lesson 11. The wizard is the teacher of alchemy. Alchemy is transformation. Through alchemy you begin the quest for perfection. You are the world. When you transform yourself, the world you live in will also be transformed. The goals of the quest - heroism, hope, grace and love - are the inheritance of the timeless. To summon a wizard's help, you must be strong in truth, not stubborn in judgment.

Lesson 12. Wisdom is alive and therefore always unpredictable. Order is another face of chaos, chaos is another face of order. The uncertainty you feel inside is the doorway to wisdom. Insecurity will always be with the quester - he continues to stumble but never falls. Human order is made of rules. The wizard's order has not rules - it flows with the nature of life.

Lesson 13. The reality you experience is a mirror image of your expectations. If you project the same images every day, your reality will be the same every day. When attention is perfect, it creates order and clarity out of chaos and confusion.

Lesson 14. Wizards do not grieve over loss, because the only thing that can be lost is the unreal. Lose everything, and the real will still remain. In the rubble of devastation and disaster are buried hidden treasures. When you look in the ashes, look well.

Lesson 15. To the extent you know love, you become love. Love is more than an emotion. It is a force of nature and therefore must contain truth. When you say the word love, you may catch the feeling, but the essence cannot be spoken. The purest love lies where it is least expected - it unattachment.

Lesson 16. Beyond waking, dreaming, and sleeping there are infinite realms of consciousness. A wizard exists simultaneously in all times. A wizard sees infinite versions of every event. The straight lines of time are actually threads of a web extending to infinity.

Lesson 17. Seekers are never lost, because spirit is always beckoning to them. Seekers are offered clues all the time from the world of spirit. Ordinary people call these clues coincidences. To a wizard there are no coincidences. Every event exists to expose another layer of the soul. Spirit wants to meet you. To accept its invitation, you must be undefended. When you seek, begin in your heart. The cave of the hear is the home of truth.

Lesson 18. Immortality can be lived in the midst of mortality. Time and the timeless are not opposites. Because it embraces everything, the timeless has no opposite. At the level of the ego, we struggle to solve our problems. Spirit sees that struggle is the problem. The wizard is aware of the battle between ego and spirit, but he realizes that both are immortal and cannot die. Every aspect of yourself is immortal, even the parts you judge most harshly.

Lesson 19. Wizards never condemn desire. It was by following their desires that they became wizards. Every desire is created by some past desire. The chain of desire never ends. It is life itself. Don't consider any desires useless or wrong - someday each one will be fulfilled. Desires are seeds waiting for their season to sprout. From a single seed of desire, whole forests grow. Cherish every wish in your heart, however trivial it may seem. One day these trivial wishes will lead you to God.

Lesson 20. The most good you can do for the world is to become a wizard.

The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons in Creating the Life You Want. By Deepak Chopra. New York, Harmony Books, 1995. 169 pages. ISBN: 051770434X.

The Green Wizard: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes.
Research by Mike Garofalo
100 Kb, 2007

Wizard's Way, Lessons 1-10

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Standing Meditation

Standing, taking a posture, remaining quite still, holding the posture, settling the mind, breathing steadily, and finding center is a common practice among taijiquan, qigong and yoga practitioners. This kind of "standing meditation" is called Zhan Zhuang (Post Standing), Embracing the One, Tadasana, San Ti Shi, Wuji, Standing Like a Tree, Holding the One, Yiquan, etc..

I have prepared a webpage on this subject:

Standing Meditation: Zhan Zhuang, Post Standing
Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Instructions
By Michael P. Garofalo

"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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Way of the Wizard, Lessons 1-10

The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons in Creating the Life You Want.
By Deepak Chopra, 1995.

Lesson 1. A wizard exists in all of us. This wizard sees and knows everything. The wizard is beyond opposites of light and dark, good and evil, pleasure and pain. Everything a wizard sees has its roots in the unseen world. Nature reflects the moods of the wizard. The body and mind may sleep, but the wizard is always awake. The wizard possesses the secret of immortality.

Lesson 2. The return of the magical can only happen with the return of innocence. The essence of the wizard is transformation.

Lesson 3. The wizard watches the world come and go, but his soul dwells in realms of light. The scenery changes, the seer remains the same. Your body is just the place your memories call home.

Lesson 4. Who am I? is the only question worth asking and the only one never answered. It is your destiny to play an infinity of roles, but these roles are not yourself. The spirit is nonlocal, but it leaves behind a fingerprint, which we call the body. A wizard does not believe himself to be a local event dreaming of a larger world. A wizard is a world dreaming of local events.

Lesson 5. Wizards don't believe in death. In the light of awareness, everything is alive. There are no beginnings or endings. To the wizard these are only mental constructs. To be most fully alive, you have to be dead to the past. Molecules dissolve and pass away, but consciousness survives the death of the matter on which it rides.

Lesson 6. The wizard's consciousness is a field that exists everywhere. The streams of knowledge are compressed in revelatory moments. We live as ripples of energy in the vast ocean of energy. When the ego is set aside, you have access to the totality of memory.

Lesson 7. When the doors of perception are cleansed, you will begin to see the unseen world - the wizard's world. There is a wellspring of life within you where you can go for cleansing and transformation. Purification consists of getting rid of toxins in your life: toxic emotions, toxic thoughts, toxic relationships. All living bodies, physical and subtle, are bundles of energy that can be perceived directly.

Lesson 8. Power is a double edged sword. Ego power seeks to control and dominate. The wizard's power is the power of love. The seat of power is the inner self. The ego follows us like a dark shadow. Its power is intoxicating and addicting but ultimately destructive. The eternal clash of power ends in unity.

Lesson 9. The wizard lives in a state of knowingness. This knowingness orchestrates its own fulfillment. The field of awareness organizes itself around our intentions. Knowledge and intention are forces. What you intend changes the field in your favor. Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power. The wizard does not try to solve the mystery of life. He is here to live it.

Lesson 10. We all have a shadow self that is part of our total reality. The shadow is not here to hurt you but to point out where you are incomplete. When the shadow is embraced, it can be healed. When it is healed, it turns to love. When you can live with all your opposite qualities, you will be living your total self as the wizard.

The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons in Creating the Life You Want. By Deepak Chopra. New York, Harmony Books, 1995. 169 pages. ISBN: 051770434X.

The Green Wizard: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes.
Research by Mike Garofalo
90 Kb, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007


"T'ai Chi Ch'uan bases itself exclusively on gentleness, softness, naturalness and bringing you back to your original nature. Daily training makes the muscles and bones become softer and more pliable, and it especially causes the breath to become natural. These are the results of disciplining and refining the ching, ch'i, and shen to the end of your days. How then can you consider dispensing with your kung or wish to suffer bitterly."
- Chen Yen-lin, 1932, Cultivating the Ch'i,
Translated by Stuart Alve Olson, p. 30.

I find that emphasizing the quality of "Sung" while practicing Taijiquan or Qigong is very useful. For me, "Sung" includes meanings such as relaxed, loose, pliable, yielding, responsive, open, soft, flexible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Baguazhang - Wudang

"Baguazhang, originally called Turning Palm is a very tradtional Wudang style of wushu. Since the propogation of Baguazhang by Dong Hai Chuan (1813-1882) over one hundred years ago during the Qing Dynasty, there have been many inheretors of the style. Presently, there are styles which have originated from Yin Fu, Cheng Ting Hua, Liu Feng Chun, Li Chun Yi, Huang Bo Nian, and Jiang Rong Qiao.

The basics of Baguazhang is walking in a circular fashion utilizing the walking in the mud step. The stepping of Baguazhang is centered around the cyclical changes of motion. The basic stepping method includes raising, lowering, hooking, opening, advancing, closing, blocking, crossing, and turning all of which is the manifestation of change within Yin and Yang. Baguazhang is based on circular movements with hitting points. The practitioner spirals to the left and turns to the right whereupon the opponent cannot come near. The two main palms are the dragon and ox-tongue palms.

The main fighting characteristics of the style is to push, to hold, to carry, to cling, to move, to grab, to encircle, to intercept, to hook, to hit, to block, to close, to weave, and to poke. The basic palm mentods include the Eight Mother Palms, the 64 Palm style, the Eight Animals, Dragon shape Palm, Swimming Dragon Continuous Palm, Nine Palace Palm, Thirty Six Leg Methods, Seventy Two Leg Methods, etc...

Baguazhang also has an extensive array of push hand methods and weapon sets utilizing the Bagua Broadsword, Bagua Straightsword, Cresent Moon Knives, Bagua Spear, Bagua Staff, etc."

Yongian Taiji Martial Arts, Introduction to Wudang Wushu

Bagua Zhang: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes

Wudang Qigong

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tai Chi Sword (Jian, Dao)

"The same principles of the basic t'ai chi ch'uan form are used with both the tao and chien: natural breathing, body upright, keeping the movements integrated, coordinated, and flowing smoothly, etc. The difference is in the focus. For the tao, the broadsword, the focus is on the blade. For the chien, the narrow, double-edged sword, the focus is on the tip. The chien is considered the higher art form, and is more difficult to learn. The tao is basically a chopping and slicing weapon; little skill is needed for that It was generally the weapon of the common soldier. The chien was used by the more scholarly and aristocratic Chinese. ... Sword tai chi is a very rewarding experience at any level. It’s movements, done correctly, develop one’s awareness, timing, grace, and continued good health"
- Dorothy A. Odsen, Tai Chi Chien

The Taijiquan broadsword (Tao, Dao) or sword (Jian, Chien) forms are frequently taught to intermediate level Taijiquan students. Each Taijiquan style (Yang, Sun, Wu, Chen, etc.) has their own sword movement forms.

"To practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, the first thing a practitioner must be able to do is to have a flexible body and wrist so that the sword and the body will coordinate and move in unity. The second thing is that the intent should direct each movement so that all the movements have applications, speed and accuracy. The third thing is to have spirit and natural breathing in each movement. In usage, it also emphasizes the concepts of sticking and adhering, running and following. In summary, in order to practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, a practitioner must execute all the movements in an even, soft, continuous and smooth manner. All the movements are initiated by the waist, controlled by the wrist, with the upper and lower parts of the body coordinated so that when one part of the body moves, all parts follow. When one part stops, all stop. Therefore, all the movements are very light, speedy, flexible, nimble and stable. People often describe these kinds of motions as
like a "swimming dragon and flying phoenix."
- Vincent Chu, Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation Tai Chi Sword Practice

Tai Chi Double Edged Sword (Jian): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Instructions Research by Mike Garofalo. 227Kb.

Tai Chi Saber/Broadsword (Dao): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations Research by Mike Garofalo. 114Kb.

32 Standard Sword Form: Bibliography, Links, List of Movements
Research by Mike Garofalo. 134Kb.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Higher Level of Kung Fu

"Practicing Taijiquan is the same as other Qigong practices: from regulating the body, breathing, mind, Qi, and spirit, it aims at the goal of eradicating the layman nature and returning to the original pre-birth nature, from Taijiquan practice to comprehending the meaning and goal of life. It the goal is not as such, then it is near sighted in Taijiquan practice. From regulating the body, you are looking for the comprehension of your body's physical structure and function. From keeping the body loose, soft and calm, you are searching for the higher level Gongfu of internal vision."

Taijiquan Theory of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming: The Root of Taijiquan. By Yang Jwing-Ming. Boston, Massachusetts, 2003. References, glossary, index, 270 pages. ISBN: 0940871432. Page 91.

"Body is the bow,
Asana is the arrow,
Soul is the target."
- B.K.S. Iyengar

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


"My father considered a walk among the mountains
as the equivalent of churchgoing."
- Aldous Huxley

"If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are."
- Tung-Shan

"It is good to collect things; it is better to take walks."
- Anatole France

"It is good to have an end to journey towards;
but it is the journey that matters in the end."
- Ursula K. LeGuin

"A fact bobbed up from my memory, that the ancient Egyptians
prescribed walking through a garden as a cure for the mad.
It was a mind-altering drug we took daily."
- Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks

Walking: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes

Walking Meditation

Walking Quotations

Walking in the Garden

General Index to the Cloud Hands Website

Standing Meditation, Zhan Zhuang, Standing Like a Post

Standing Meditation - General

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Feedback From Readers in May 2007

"Michael Garofalo has created a wonderful, informative website."
- Flow Like a River,

"Thank you for your years of hard work to advance Taiji! So valuable!"
- Don C. Reed, 5/10/07

"By the way I am astounded at the amount of information you have in your database/website."
- Vic in Danville, IL, 5/8/07

"Eine der umfangreichsten und tiefgreifendsten Fundgruben, die ich über Taiji bisher gefunden habe. Ein muss für jeden Englisch sprechenden Taijiler."
Taiji-Netzwerk, 5/15/07

"Dear Mike,
I want to thank you for the wonderful, beautiful, and inspiring quotes and thoughts on your website. I have been using some of the quotes and ideas to help give inspiration to my monthly newsletter. I send it out to many people, and would like to mention your link and even say a few words about you if that is all right with you. The focus on nature, the garden, and the mysticism of all life is really unique and beautifully presented.

I often find favorite poems there that have helped me in my life; I pair the poem with a great photograph either from the web or my own collection, which leads writers into an essay about creativity, inspiration, and gratitude, for instance. Thank you for your hard work, and I wish you well in your own creative journey.
- Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., Author of "Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story & Don't Call Me Mother,", 29 May 2007