Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chen Style Taijiquan Broadsword (Dan Dao)

Chen Style Taijiquan Broadsword. Research by Michael P. Garofalo. This popular webpage includes a comprehensive bibliography, scores of links to webpages, an extensive listing of the names and name variations for each movement (in English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish), selected quotations, sword techniques, performance times, a comprehensive media bibliography, and suggested instructional media for the Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan single Broadsword (saber, Dao, Dan Dao) 23 movement form. © Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, December 2007. 85Kb.

Taiji Saber

Taijiquan Sword

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Labor Passes, Good Remains

"If you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains; If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains."
- Cicero

"To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals -- this alone is worth the struggle. We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life."
- Sir William Osler

"The future is made of the same stuff as the present."
- Simone Weil

All the so-called "secrets of success" will not work unless you do.

"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there."
- Indira Gandhi

Working: Quotes, Sayings

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rooting in Taijiquan, II

Rooting in Taijiquan
By Sifu Yeung Yun Choi

"Therefore, rooting in Taijiquan should embrace the concepts of absorption, transmission and neutralisation of the incoming force with possible counter attack.

Relaxing the muscles of the body will produce a sinking effect, which will make full use of the body weight to absorb the incoming force. Being relaxed will also minimise resistance upon impact and allow the incoming force to shift the body mass. Thus, the resulting force will be the incoming force less the body weight and will be further reduced by shifting the body mass away from the original position. In a way, this is borrowing the opponent's force to move one's own body mass and deflection will come very easy to deal with what is remaining of the incoming force.

Extension or stretching of the tendons will facilitate connection of the joints, which will assist transmission of the incoming force to the arm, shoulder, mid-section, hip, thigh, calf, foot and to the ground. When a person is in a proper Taiji posture; he or she will experience this transmission. The incoming force will travel from the hand down to the foot smoothly. A good way to test whether one is in a proper posture or not is to apply a force on that person. Tension will build up to stiffen the part that is not extended nor relaxed otherwise it will be grounded. This is how one can "listen to forces" or "interprets forces".

Once transmission is facilitated then neutralisation is easy, by moving various joints or shifting the whole body with the legs depending on the magnitude of the force. The mechanics of the legs allows the rotation of the hip, opening and closing of the thighs, bending of the knees, and flexing of the ankles for neutralisation. Therefore, the movements of the legs can be a little subtle to accommodate the weight of the body, the incoming force and to initiate motion."

Principles And Practices In Taijiquan
By Peter Lim Tian Tek

"Stability By Sinking (Wen, Chen)

Stability is a result of coordinated body structure in relation to the downward pull of gravity resulting in a net force against the earth from both body weight and downward projection of mass through a singular point identified as the root. Lowering the centre of gravity is essential to stability, we should lower it to the centre of the sphere of influence of our physical body.

Agility (Ling)

Agility is a result of non-double weighting and non-dead rooting. By only maintaining one point of substantial contact with the ground you gain the ability to move quickly, much like a ball which moves easily across the ground because it only has one point of contact with it.

The key is the word "centre". We should avoid "dead rooting". The idea is to lower your centre of gravity to your proper centre which is at the Tan Tien, there it should have a net downward force but is "hung" from the torso in the correct location. This would give you a centred but light feeling. If you are trying to get your centre to the oot of your feet, that is not centredness. Ask yourself where the centre of your body should be and there is where the mass of the centre should be. Some information on the external and internal methodologies adopted to train this. The external way of training is to force the centre down as far as it can go and then slowly the reaction force from the ground would build up the musculature to support the downward force back up to where it should be centred. The internal method would be to centre the centre of gravity first, get a proper structure to support it and when that is done then slowly lower the stance through time to foster proper development without sacrificing efficient structure and alignment."

Rooting in Taijquan, I

Rooting in Tai Chi Chuan
By David West.

"Rooting is the process of making a good connection to the ground in stances and during transitions. ... When we refer to rooting we are talking about rooting the legs (and thus the entire body) of the completed postures as well as the legs during the transitions as well. When we are trying to achieve rooting in Taijiquan, we should visualize below the surface of the floor or ground... much like the roots of a tree. The "Bubbling Well" an acupoint called Yong Quan (KI-1) located on the bottom of the foot should be used as the point from which this imaginary root extends into the ground from which to draw strength. Rooting in Taijiquan will transfer from foot to foot, but never stays equally rooted on the right and the left. The weight should remain on the outer edges of the feet and remain a slight gripping feel with the toes, the ball of the foot, and the heel. Although the Yong Quan never touches the floor, you should still focus on this area as the root of each movement. Techniques to build this skill vary from person to person. I recommend using different visualizations and thoughts to see what works best for each person."

"Rooting: The Secret of Getting Power from the Earth"
By Gaofei Yan and James Cravens

"People lose root because they use the wrong part of the body to focus their strength. For example, when the shoulder moves first in an action to strike, it is incorrect. One should use the lower body to drive the force. No matter how hard one attempts to be soft, they will never truly relax and have power until the lower body drives the force.
Even when one uses the lower body to drive the force, the root can be lost because the shoulder, as well as any other joint or part of the body may interrupt the transference of power. When there is tightness or loss of coordination between the various joints and parts of the body, root will be lost. The hip, leg, etc. must act as one! Many times things inside the body fight against each other. For example, if the inguinal crease (part where the legs connect to the torso) at the hips is tight, the flow of energy will be broken in the body, breaking the root. When one practices in this way, the tightness or lack of body unity can give one the tendency to get injured. Sometimes one locks a joint. The hips and shoulders are typical joints that students will lock which breaks the root."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Eight Section Brocade Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong
Eight Silken Treasures Qigong
Ba Duan Jin Qigong
History, Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes
Research by Michael P. Garofalo

Provides information about the history and purpose of this popular Chi Kung practice. Detailed descriptions are provided for each of the eight movements; including information on movement variations, health benefits, qigong meaning, and cautions. The document includes the most extensive bibliography, link guide, and comments on Ba Duan Jin Qigong resources available anywhere. Some animated graphics are provided in linked files. This document is updated as new information is discovered. This qigong set is the most popular set practiced around the world, and is also known as: Baduanjin, Pa Tuan Jin, Eight Silken Treasures, Ba Duan Jin, Pal Dan Gum, Ba Duan Gin, Pa Tin Kam, Otto Pezzi di Tesoro, Acht Delen Brokaat, Les Huit Exercices del la Soie, Eight Silken Treasures, Brocade Qigong, Wudang Brocade Qigong, Brocade soft qigong (Rou Gong), Eight Treasures inner qigong (Nei Gong), Silk Treasures Qigong, and the first eight Buddha Lohan Hands. This document is about 110 pages in length, 26,000 words, and with a filesize of 340Kb.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sword Dance by a Pupil of Lady Gongsun

"There lived many years ago the beautiful Lady Gongsun,
Who, dancing with her sword, drew from all four quarters
An audience like mountains lost among themselves.

Heaven and Earth moved back and forth, following her motions,
Bright as when the Archer shot the Nine Suns down from the sky
And rapid as angels before the wings of dragons.

She began like a thunderbolt, venting its anger,
And ended like the shining calm of rivers and sea.

But vanished are those red lips and those pearly sleeves;
And none but this one talented pupil bears the perfume of her fame,
This sword dancer from Lingying, the Town of the White Goddess,
Who still dances and sings in the carefree old ways.

After the dance, we chatted for awhile.
We sighed together, saddened by the changes that have come.
There were a thousand ladies in the late Emperor's court;
But Lady Gongsun's sword dance was first among them all.

Fifty years have passed, like the turning of a hand;
Wind and dust, filling the world, obscure the Imperial House.
Instead of the Pear Garden Players, gone like the fog,
Only two girl musicians remain to charm the cold Sun.

There are now man-sized trees by the Emperor's Golden Tomb.
I seem to hear dead grasses rustling on the windy cliffs of Qutang.
The song is done, the slow strings and quick flutes have ceased.
At the height of joy, sorrow comes with the eastern moon rising.

And I, a poor old man, not knowing where to go,
Walk away slowly into the lonely hills, tired, facing the sunset."

- Du Fu, The Sword Dance Performed by a Pupil of Lady Gongsun
"300 Chinese Poems" The poet Du Fu (712-770, 杜甫) mentioned in his poem "Witnessing Gongsun Da Niang's Disciple Sword Dance Performance" (观公孙大娘弟子舞剑器行) that there was a female sword dancer in the court of Emperor Xuan Zong (唐玄宗) who was probably the greatest in her field.

"Another aspect of the martial dance is the "sword dance," devised by master swordsmen. Ancients sought to combine the ethos of swordsmanship with the sword dance, calling it "sword vigor." The most famous sword dancer of the Tang Dynasty was legendary beauty, Lady Gongsun. As a child, the celebrated Tang poet Du Fu once watched her dance, and the specter created by her superb skill remained forever fresh in his memory. The square in Yancheng, Henan Province was a sea of people. Following a roll of drums, Lady Gongsun appeared, rapier in hand. The sword glinted with every change of posture and stance, whispering like silk on being unsheathed and flashing at each thrust. Her dancing seemed to evince a power that could hold back rivers and repulse oceans. Years later, Du Fu watched the sword dance performed by Li Shi'erniang, one of Gongsun's adherents. Her execution of it was so reminiscent of Gongsun's original performance that Du Fu, now in his 50s, was fired with new vitality, and wrote a poem, 'The Sword Dance Performed by a Girl-Pupil of Lady Gongsun.'"
- Tang Dynasty Dances

Taijiquan Sword: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instruction, Guides, All Styles

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword: Poems, Sayings, Quotations, Wisdom

Tai Chi 32 Sword

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sword of Wisdom

The Sword of Wisdom

Ever since the adepts handed on
The secret of the sword,
The true imperative has been upheld
Completely, truly adamant.

If someone asks me about
Looking for its origin,
I say it is not ordinary iron.
This lump of iron
Comes from receptive stillness;
When you obtain it, it rises up.

Forging it in a glowing fire,
Through repeated efforts
It is refined
And forged into steel.

When students of the Tao
Know this secret,
The spirit of light is intensely powerful,
And devils of darkness vanish.

The subtle function of spiritual work
Is truly hard to measure;
I now give an explanation for you.
In telling you about it
I divulge the celestial mechanism.

Setting to work when one yang comes back,
First have the six yangs pump the furnace bellows;
Then the six yins work the tongs and hammer.
When the work of firing is complete,
It produces the sword;
When it is first done,
It flashes like lightning.

Brandish it horizontally
And a cold clear breeze arises;
Hold it upright,
And the shining bright moon appears.
Auspicious light illumines heaven and earth;
Sprites and ghosts are distressed.

It stops turbidity, brings out clarity,
Sweeps away weird defilements;
It slays volatility,
Cuts down aggressiveness,
Destroys monsters:
Influences draining away
Vitality, energy and spirit
All vanish in the light of the sword.

Entanglements are cut off, rumination dies down,
And the web of feelings is rent asunder.
Where the spiritual edge is aimed, mountains crumble;
The demon kinds of mundane planes are all routed.

This precious sword fundamentally has no form;
The name is set up because it has spiritual effect.
Learning the Tao and practicing reality
Depend on this sword:
Without this sword,
The Tao cannot be achieved.

Opening up the vast darkness,
Distinguishing heaven and earth,
Dissolving obstructions, transmuting objects -
All is included.
If you ask me to show it to you,
I bring it out before you -
Do you understand or not?

- The Sword of Wisdom
From "The Book of Balance and Harmony"
Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1989, p. 115-117

Taijiquan Sword: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instruction, Guides, All Styles

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword: Poems, Sayings, Quotations, Wisdom

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tai Chi 32 Simplified Sword Form in the Yang Style

32 Sword Form, Simplified, Yang Style, Taijiquan Jian. By Michael P. Garofalo. This popular webpage includes a comprehensive bibliography, scores of links to webpages; an extensive listing of the names and name variations for each movement in English, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish; a detailed analysis of each posture and movement sequence with explanations and numbered illustrations and detailed instructions; selected quotations; comments on 20 Taijiquan sword techniques; a comprehensive media bibliography; a chart of performance times; and, a comparison of the 32 and 55 sword forms in the Yang style. This is the standard, simplified, orthodox, 1957, 32 Taiji Sword Form, in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. © Michael P. Garofalo, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, January 2008. 245Kb+.

32 Taijiquan Simplified Sword Form

20 T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword Techniques

55 Classical Yang Taiji Sword

The Wild Horse Jumps Over the Mountain Stream

Zhong Kui
Vanquisher of Demons
Protector of the Home

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sword Master - Character

"In ancient China, the way of the sword was widely respected. This was so not just because sword techniques and skills were difficult to learn. The main reason was that moral and spiritual qualities were required in order to attain the highest levels of its art. In order to build a proper foundation for the study of the sword, the martial artist had to master other short weapons, which meant that he had to spend a long time in preparation. Therefore the sword master (know in Chia as Jian Ke) had to have willpower, endurance, and perseverance in order to get through the long and hard years of training. It was said that the word is: "The lord of a hundred arms and the king of short weapons."
Because the sword is mainly a defensive weapon, it requires a strategy of calmness in action, and to achieve this quality one needs patience, calmness, and bravery. Sword users commonly practiced meditation to acquire the calmness they needed. In addition to these qualities needed to develop the required level of skill, sword students learned about ethical virtues from their masters."
- Yang Jwing-Ming, Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style, p. 17

Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style: The Complete Form, Qigong and Applications. By Yang, Jwing-Ming. Edited by James C. O'Leary. Boston, Mass., YMAA Publications, 1999. Index, glossary, list of form postures, 205 pages. ISBN: 1886969744.

Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style: the Complete Form, Qigong and Applications. Instructional VHS videotape and DVD. Presented by Yang, Jwing-Ming. YMAA Publications, 1999. 82 minutes. ISBN: 1886969817. The standard 54 Yang sword form. This instructional media is now available in both VHS and DVD formats. Multi-language Menu: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Polish.

Classical Taiji Sword - Yang Style Taijiquan. By Mike Garofalo. This webpage includes a bibliography, links, media resources, detailed and simple lists of the movements in the long Yang Taiji sword form (55 movements), history, 13 sword techniques, comparison with the 32 Taiji sword form, and quotations. 116 Kb.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chief Star Posture - Tai Chi Sword Form

Among the first group of postures in the Taijiquan sword (Jian) form is a movement called the Chief Star, Great Star of the Literary God, Big Dipper, Big Chief Star, Major Polestar, Indicate the Major Luminary, etc. The posture is related to stories about Zhong Kui and Kui Xing.

In the Taijiquan sword form, the Great Star of the Literary God or Big Dipper or Chief Star is performed by holding the sword in the right hand above the head, extending the left hand and pointing upward with the sword fingers, and lifting the left knee in the air. The one leg is the ladle (handle) of the Big Dipper, and the hands form the sides of the cup (ladle, gourd) of the Big Dipper or Drinking Gourd; and the tip of the sword points to the Polestar or North Star. The Big Dipper or Chief Star posture is the most frequently depicted posture used to represent the Taijiquan Sword form.

For information about the symbolism, myths, and lore about this posture, I have prepared a webpage on the subject:

Great Star of the Literary God: Symbolism, Myths, Legends, and Lore
Research by Mike Garofalo
December 2007