Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Camping in Northern California

Phil and Marcella Garofalo, and Marcella's college friend, Jill, and I, all went camping along the Pacific coast in California, from 8/15 - 8/19.

Here we are getting ready to pack our vehicles on Wednesday morning.
Red Bluff, California

We camped two nights at Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the Albee Creek Campground. The campground is located along Bull Creek and Albee Creek, near the Big Trees and Rockefeller Groves along Bull Creek.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

We camped two nights at the Salt Point State Park, Woodside Campground.

 Salt Point
Salt Point State Park

Phil and I at Gerstle Cove at Salt Point State Park.

 Salt Point
Point Arena Lighthouse

Northern California coastal forests.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Choosing a Qigong Practice

"Dear Mr. Garofalo,

Thank you for your informative blog on Taiqi.

If you have any advice to offer, I am writing to seek suggestions on selecting a Qi Gong style -- a disciple suitable for an out-of-shape novice in her 30s.

I live in the San Francisco Bay area and understand basic Chinese, so I've got of options. I am writing to you because you seem to have familiarity with a wide variety of styles, and are near enough to perhaps know of options here without having a personal allegiance.

The immediate motivators are to reduce weight, increase energy flow, and improve concentration. I enjoy breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, swimming, and dancing.

One problem is a mental-block against imitating things I don't understand. I'd prefer a style which is good at explaining itself, well documented, or for which an exceptional teacher can be recommended.

I have taken Tai Qi Quan before,and quickly fell behind the sequence. Rather than relaxing, I found myself feeling inadequate at the task of imitating the sequences. Would like to put myself in a different situation this time.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.

Andria J."

Dear Andria,

1. Purchase and use good instructional DVDs, videotapes, and books. These allow you to repeat, review, repeat, study carefully, and get a sound foundation. You will never fall behind anyone - classmates or teacher. After you have a solid and comfortable foundation, find a teacher and group with which to practice and learn more together. Good books help you learn the history, theory, concepts, and traditions of the internal martial art.

2. Wild Goose Qigong has more movement and flow than other styles of Qigong. It might appeal more to your background and interests in movement arts. There are many good Wild Goose Qigong teachers in the Bay area, including Dr. Bingkun Hu; and, there are many good books and instructional media on the topic.

3. Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan has a nice flow and faster pace, and is far less martial than Chen or Yang styles. There are many good books and instructional media on the topic.

4. All Qigong and Taijiquan styles require concentration, focus, Qi management, relaxation, and some understanding of Taoist principles.

5. Think "Long Run" learning, improvement, skill acquisition, and development. Take your time, enjoy yourself, and do not be frustrated by somebody else's timetable for learning.

6. As for loosing weight: increase walking and eat less.

7. Knowing how to speak/read/write in Chinese is a wonderful skill you have, and will open doors to you in your study of the internal martial arts. However, millions of people learn, practice and benefit from these arts who only speak English or other languages, and can't even say "thank you" in Chinese.

Best wishes,

Mike Garofalo

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Taijiquan Class Schedule

We will have our Taijiquan class, Yang Style, at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff, California, each week:

Wednesday 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Saturday 9:30 to 11 a.m.

For more information:

Class Program and Information

Cloud Hands: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Qigong

I'm working on updating the Taijiquan 32 Sword Form webpage.

Cancelled Classes: Wednesday, August 15th and Saturday, August 18th. We will begin our Taijiquan classes again on August 22nd.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Taijiquan 32 Sword Form #1

"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

Sword - Jian

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

Sword - Jian

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.