Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tai Chi Chuan Cane, Zhang, Short Staff Weapon

Way of the Short Staff. By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons. A detailed and annotated guide, bibliographies, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons. Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, walking and hiking. Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff. Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way." Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California. Updated on a regular basis since October, 2008. Filesize: 265Kb. Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December Greetings

Karen and I went to Portland, Oregon, the Thanksgiving week to enjoy the holiday with our children and grandchildren.

We both have been fighting off the effects of colds and coughs.

I've let some of the newly trained yoga instructors take my classes in December. They need some practical experience.

We have both been busy with working at our regular jobs, and keeping up the house and yard.

A cold late autumn, but, unfortunately, no rain. We are in a drought.

Thanks very much to the kind "friend" that sent me a book and 6 DVDs of the Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan. I appreciate your generosity and positive support.

My Tai Chi Chuan focus has been on learning the Eight Immortals Cane Form, Routine One, and cane exercises and martial arts drills.

We both look forward to our unpaid Winter vacation from school.

I hope to begin a very active walking and Taijiquan exercise program starting tomorrow.

Happy Holidays!!

Learning from DVDs or Videos

"Whereas a form-instruction video is no substitute for a qualified teacher, those who live far from any teacher are still better off learning from a video than if they had no instruction at all. For those who have a teacher, a video can augment and accelerate the learning process. Finally, those who have had prior instruction in internal arts should be able to attain a substantial benefit from a video.

One method of learning a form from a video is to repeatedly do the entire form or blocks of the form along with the video. However, this method is not efficient because there is insufficient opportunity to reinforce each movement. A better way is to refrain from doing movement while watching the video. Rather, it is good to choose a small block of material, watch it a few times. Then, without any major physical action, visualize the sequence of movements as clearly as possible. Next, go back to the beginning of that block of material, and view and visualize it again a few times. Only after clear and complete visualization is achieved should the movements be attempted physically.

At first it will seem extremely difficult to work this way. With persistence, however, it is possible to achieve a level of visualization so intense that the imagined movements are almost as vivid as those seen on a TV screen. The dividends of the process of visualization are twofold: (1) By subduing the physical aspects of movement (e.g., balance, coordination, kinetic sense, timing), you can completely focus the mind on the details of the movement. (2) By cultivating the ability to visualize and mentally encompass complex details, you become increasingly able to observe and learn new movements quickly, especially in situations where it is not feasible to move while observing (e.g., dreams, teacher showing movements while the class watches). Referring to the dimension of self-defense, the more you can observe and mentally encompass the movements of the opponent, the greater the advantage achieved."
- Robert Chuckrow, The Tai Chi Book, YMAA Publication Center, Boston, MA, 1998, pp. 119–120

Refer to my suggestions and remarks about learning the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form using DVDs, videos, and books.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

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 09, 2008

Yoga and Taijiquan Class Schedule

Current Taijiquan Class and Practice Schedule
Mike Garofalo, Instructor

Outdoors, Monday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Mondays, 5:30 - 6:30 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Outdoors, Friday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Saturday, 9:30 - 11 am, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Outdoors, Sunday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

We practice the Yang Style of Taijiquan (24 Form and 108 Form), 32 Sword Form and Eight Immortals 36 Cane Form in the Yang Style of Taijiquan.

Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.

Green Way Blog

Cloud Hands Blog

Cloud Hands Website

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Curriculum, Instructors, Class Schedule

Current Yoga Class Schedule
Mike Garofalo, Instructor

Starting Thursday, November 13, 2008:

Yoga Class, Thursdays, 5:30 - 6:45 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Yoga Class, Saturdays, 11:00 am - 12:15, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Yoga Class, Tuesdays, 5:30 - 6:45 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Yoga Information

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Standing Meditation

“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, turtle 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 World of Body, Mind, and Spirit,
as ancient as Now, the Three Realms, all still, all one.

From the edge, the cosmic circle opened,
Chang San-Feng slipped inside, smiling,
he stroked his long black beard and spoke softly,
“Ah, another old man standing so still in San Ti Shi.
Continue, my friend, stand in peace, touch the mind.
Xuan Wu guards the Gate, the Turtle chants, the Snake rises, and
The subtle winds of understanding blow down the centuries.
When still, soar like the Blue Dragon; 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, enter 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,
Xuan Wu’s sword flashed in the sun,
Master Chang disappeared in the trees.”
- By Michael P. Garofalo, Poetic Reflections on Chang San-Feng.


Mike Garofalo and 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, Union of the Three Realms, 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.

Xuan Wu Dadi, Dark Lord of the North

Standing Meditation: Trinity Stance

Cloud Hands Blog

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tai Chi Chuan Practice Schedule

Current Taijiquan Class and Practice Schedule

Outdoors, Monday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Mondays, 5:30 - 6:30 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Outdoors, Friday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Saturday, 9:30 - 11 am, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Sunday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

We practice the Yang Style of Taijiquan (24 Form and 108 Form), 32 Sword Form and Eight Immortals 36 Cane Form in the Yang Style of Taijiquan.

Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.

Green Way Blog

Cloud Hands Blog

Cloud Hands Website

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Curriculum, Instructors, Class Schedule

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Short Staff and Cane

Way of the Short Staff. By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California. A detailed and annotated guide, bibliographies, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons. A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons. Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, exercise, walking and hiking. Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff. Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way." Updated on a regular basis since October 2008. File size: 265Kb. Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Martial Arts Techniques for the Cane and Short Staff. By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S., Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California. January 2009. 100Kb. Includes Strikes - Two Hands, Strikes - One Hand, Blocks - Two Hands, Blocks - One Hand, Sweeps, Pull Downs, Chops, Jabs, Pokes, Punches. The document provides a bibliography, links, and resources. The document includes brief descriptions for each short staff and/or cane technique.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tehama County Resources for Seniors

The Tehama County Elder Services Coordinating Council has developed a Resource Guide for services to seniors. This is a comprehensive 92 page resource guide.

The Tehama County Commission on Aging is now distributing the Resource Guide on the Internet.
Mike Garofalo is Chairperson of the Tehama County Commission on Aging.

Well Pump Installed

On Sunday, Karen and I worked together and finished the installation
of the new low yield Shurflo pump in the new well. 
We set up a work table near the pump for installation work. 
The well casing is behind me to the right.

We lowered the pump down to about 80 feet below ground level. 
The static water level of this well is 46 feet below ground level.
The well is 126 feet deep. 
Final result: 1.4285 gallons per minute outflow.  This steady flow of water will add about 2,057 gallons of water each full 24 hour day into our small ponds.  When the two ponds are full, we pump water out of them to irrigate our many trees and shrubs.   
The pump is now temporarily running off a converter lowering voltage to 24 volts DC at 2.5 amps.  Next weekend, I will assemble and connect the solar panels that will run the well pump.  The solar panels will provide power to pump 800-1400 gallons per day depending upon the season.   

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Improve American Governement

Two Gentlemen with Better Ideas For A Better America

I've listened to the debates and read the platforms. I've seen the downhill and divisive results of the previous Republican leadership in the Executive Office. As an independent, my vote goes to these two gentlemen who can listen, show respect to others, and explore alternatives for a better America.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Personal Transformation Principles

We sometimes feel the need for dramatic changes in our lifestyle for a a variety of good reasons including a dissatisfaction with the results of previous actions and habits. We want to change our character, behaviors, habits, thinking, or values so as to effect a "Transformation."

I recently reread a book by Baron Baptiste, a influential and popular yoga master, titled "40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul' (Fireside, Simon and Schuster, 2004). Yogi Baptiste gives an explanation of a plan for personal transformation, and includes his views on the guiding principles (Laws) for such significant changes:

"The Twelve Laws of Transformation

1. Seek the Truth
2. Be Willing to Come Apart
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
4. Commit to Growth
5. Shift Your Vision
6. Drop What You Know
7. Relax with What Is
8. Remove the Rocks
9. Don't Rush the Process
10. Be True to Yourself
11. Be Still and Know
12. Understand that the Whole is the Goal"
- Baron Baptist, 40 Days to Personal Revolution, 2004, pp. 5-45.

Over the years, I have also collected many quotations regarding the power of the will in human action. Willpower is a key component of successful personal transformation. The will is very much like a muscle: with exercise it gets stronger, it needs time for rest and recuperation, it needs to be feed properly with behavioral and mental nutrients, it needs some stretching and flexibility work, and needs to be cross-trained to develop full and responsive power.

I think some of the guiding techniques for personal change include:

1. A realistic and truthful assessment of our physical, mental, emotional, and social
self-potential and possibilities.
(Baptiste: 11, 10, 1, 5)

2. A clearly articulated vision and goals for the future.
(Baptiste: 12,5)

3. A detailed action plan, objectives and timetable needed to accomplish the goals.
(Baptiste: 12, 5, 1)

4. A wholehearted commitment to and belief in the action plan.
(Baptitste: 4, 2)

5. Direct efforts on a daily basis to fulfill the action plan.
(Baptiste: 4, 11, 10)

6. Having patience, steadfastness, determination, courage, and flexibility.
(Baptiste: 7, 9)

7. Acknowledging and breaking through one's inner resistance to change, abandoning
or tearing away from one's past actions.
(Baptiste: 2, 3, 6, 8)

8. The regular review, evaluation, and realistic assessment of progress on a weekly
and monthly basis.
(Baptiste: 1, 3, 8)

We also need to take advantage of techniques to manage the unconscious and well as conscious forces that comprise our inner life. Try exploring techniques such as visualization, repeated affirmations, guided meditations, rituals, art, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, music, etc.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taijiquan Practice Warmups

Dear Mike,

First off, thank you for your wonderful site and blog! It provides wonderful information and helped and inspired me more than once.

A question: I am learning the Beijing form myself at the moment from the wonderful Liang Shou-Yu book and DVD. My question which I have not found being answered in the book is how much of a training session (say 30 min and 60 min) should warm-up be, how often the form should be repeated and how long should the ending (collect and harmonize energy) take.

Is there an article on your page (or elsewhere on the web) discussing this issue?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and with every good wish!

Andreas D. from Germany


Any sensible fitness workout includes a progressive warmup to satisfy individual conditioning levels, the core practices, and a cool down (stretching, calming) period. The warm up should focus on the muscle groups that will be used in the core practices, as well as the gradual elevation of heartbeat.

Quite a number of Taijiquan teachers include extensive practices and routines of Qigong prior to practicing and teaching Taijiquan. These Qigong practices vary greatly in style and movement sequences between these many teachers, and due to the esoteric nature of Qi theory, there are many varied and contradictory interpretations as to the value and purposes of these movements. Some Qigong sets are short and useful for warm ups (e.g., Eight Section Brocade). These teachers believe that Qigong and standing meditation are essential "inner work" for a taijiquan practitioner. I have attended "Taijiquan classes" where 40% of the time is spent on Qigong, 15% on Zhang Zhuang, and 45% on Taijiquan.

The Standard 24 Taijiquan Form is an easy, non-vigorous, gentle physical activity for persons in good physical condition. Therefore, the warm up and cool down demands are minimal. If you were doing a Chen Taijiquan Cannon Fist Routine or a Wudang or Shaolin Short Staff form, then you would need a very thorough warm up routine.

The time needed for warm up will vary with the conditioning levels of the player. An out of shape person in their 30's will need more warm up time than a highly conditioned (i.e., aerobic, strength, and flexibility) person in their 50's. An elderly person with joint problems will need more warm up time. However, in my opinion, any well conditioned person can easily use a slow and high standing performance of the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form as a warmup routine, and dispense with any other warm ups or qigong sets.

If your purpose is to learn the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form the main focus should be on slow deliberate repetitions of sections of and the entire form. We learn Taijiquan by practicing Taijiquan.

I think a 5 minute warm up and 3 minute cool down are quite adequate for a moderately conditioned person learning this Taijiquan form. Warm ups should include movements that focus on the legs and waist. Do the form very slowly for the first 10 minutes after the warmup. Daily 40 minute practice sessions are quite sufficient. In 30 minutes, you can do the entire form 4 times when you know the movements.

In my practice, I walk .6 mile to warm up (at various speeds) while I exercise with my cane as I walk, then I do a few leg stretching exercises before I begin my practice of numerous martial arts and taijiquan forms, some of them quite vigorous.

I separate the learning and practice of qigong sets and meditation, from the practice of taijiquan. People need to make up their own minds as to the value of either qigong or taijiquan for themselves. If you want to learn taijiquan then practice taijiquan 90 to 100% of the time you have available. You may improve your health in mind and body by doing qigong and standing meditation and taijiquan; but, again, considering the time constraints of most persons, focus on taijiquan if that is what you have decided to learn.

Best wishes,

Mike Garofalo

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home and Healing

I had the misfortune of experiencing an attack of colitis this week. It was so intense that I was admitted to St. Elizabeth's Community Hospital in Red Bluff on Tuesday and released on Friday.

The doctors, nurses, and supporting staff at the St. E's Hospital were very kind and helpful. The treatments have been successful thus far; and will be continued for 10 to 14 days.

Suddenly finding yourself, when otherwise hale and hardy, sick and in a hospital causes you to think more about care givers, medical science, life-death issues, and values. Seeing and hearing really sick people in a hospital make you aware and thoughtful in many new ways.

Being a teacher of tai chi chuan, qigong, yoga, and other fitness classes brings me into contact with many relatively healthy people trying to keep fit. I feel that I am helping others and myself to achieve good health and a positive attitude on life. Others had to help me during a health problem this week; and too all of them, and you in the health care field, "Thank you very much!"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Daoist Circle Walking

"Tung Hai-Chuan (1813-18820 became a member of the Chuan Chen (Complete Truth) sect of Taoism. This sect was part of the Lung Men (Dragon Gate) school of Taoism which was originated by Chou Chang-Ch'uan. Interestingly enough, Chou also invented a method of meditation whereby the practitioner would walk in a circle and, wouldn't you know, this method was practiced by the Chuan Chen sect. Delving further into this Taoist connection, K'ang was able to find a section in the Taoist Canon which reads:

'A person's heart and mind are in chaos.
Concentration on one thing makes the mind pure.
If one aspires to reach the Tao, one should practice walking in a circle.'

This bit of evidence inspired Professor K'ang Kuo of Beijing Wu to try and find out more about the circle walk meditation method practiced by the Chuan Chen Taoists. What he discovered was that this practice, which the Taoists called Chuan T'ien Tsun (Rotating in Worship of Heaven) is very similar in principle to the circle walk practice of Pa Kua Chang. Researching Wang Chun-Pao's book, 'Taoist Method of Walking the Circle,' K'ang found that while walking, the Taoists repeated one of two mantras. The first of these mantras was used in the morning practice and translates to mean 'When Rotating in Worship of Heaven, the sound of thunder is everywhere and transforms everything.' The second mantra was used in the evening practice and translates to mean 'When Rotating in Worship of Heaven, the great void saves us from the hardship of existence.' It was said that the practitioner should repeat the mantra with each movement in the circle walk practice so that 'one replaces one's myriad thoughts with a single thought in order to calm and ease one's mind.' The Taoists said that in walking the circle the body's movements should be unified and the practitioner strives for stillness in motion. This practice was described as a method of training the body while harnessing the spirit."
- Jiang Hao-Quan Chinese Martial Arts Institute

Ways of Walking

Walking Meditation

Bagua Zhang

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Eight Section Brocade Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong
Research by Michael P. Garofalo.
This webpage 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 qigong 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 wepage document is about 110 pages, 26,000 words, and with a filesize of 340Kb. It was last updated and reformatted on April 15, 2008. Web File Location:

I get a number of comments and questions sent to me by email each month about my Eight Section Brocade webpage. Here is a recent exchange with Barbara K from the Dutch Country in Pennsylvania:

Dear Michael,

If you don't have a DVD of your version of this, is there one that you recommend? I liked what you said about the way you do this form and, yes, there are SO many different ways of doing the "8 sections." I am trying to teach myself as there doesn't seem to be much in the way of Qigong instruction where I live.


I have not purchased any DVDs on the subject.

The Taijiquan and Kung Fu books and DVDs by Master Yang Jwing Ming that I have purchased have always been very authoritative. He offers a book and video on the Eight Section Brocade.

This qigong form is very simple so you should be able to practice it on your own in a short period of time.


Thank you for the prompt response. I have been so overwhelmed with what I found on u-tube as far as demos of the 8 pieces. They are so varied. After reading parts of your very complete treatise on this form, I realized that this was the norm. I just want to find one that I "can agree with" and learn it with a video. I will try the one you suggest. Seems like CA is the place for Tai Chi-Qigung, and not PA Dutch country. That's another reason I want to learn it.


So, you will bring Taijiquan and Qigong to PA Dutch Country. Good health practices are universally needed and valued.

Yes, there are many versions of the Eight Section Brocade and Five Animal Frolics - the two most popular Qigong forms. Likewise, there are many styles of Yoga, and over 500 postures (asanas). Find what works for you: Barbara K’s Qigong. Just remember: full and calm breathing, relax, upright posture, still mind, slow and focused movements, and blend with the cosmos.

Have a great autumn,


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bagua Zhang, Circle Walking Boxing

I did a major update this past weekend to my webpage on this subject. Take a look.

Bagua Zhang: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons

I really enjoyed attending a bagua and taijiquan class led by Master Kent Howard at the Chico Kodenkan.

Consider Wang Shujin's advice that, "The [Bagua] definitions above are just rough explanations of a much larger picture. As for the details, it depends upon the learner himself to study, question, consider, analyze, and practice in order to find deeper meaning. The eight forms should also be examined and practiced individually. In conclusion, the more diligently you study the greater your return. Bagua Zhang forms imitate the nature of heaven and earth. Follow the principles of yin-yang and harmonize with the seasons, and you will benefit humanity by developing a more universal view of life. Embracing the yin-yang fish and treading the ba gua diagram you will walk the circle as though striding through the cosmos."
- Wang Shujin, Bagua Linked Palms, Translated by Kent Howard, 2009

"An Explanation of Bagua Zhang and the Eight Trigrams of the I Ching." From Wang Shujin's, Bagua Zhang Connected Palms, translated by Kent Howard, 2009. Bagua Linked Palms. By Wang Shujin (1904-1981). Translated by Kent Howard and Hsiao-Yen Chen. Blue Snake Books, 2009. 250 pages. ISBN: 1583942645.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Play and/or Work

"The supreme accomplishment is to
blur the line between work and play."
- Arnold Toynbee

"In Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as the Vishnu Lila,the play of Vishnu. Lila means dance or play. Also in Hindu philosophy,they call the world illusion; and in Latin the root of the word illusion is ludere, to play."
- Alan Watts, Work as Play

"We may play with and pass on a garden, possessing one is an illusion.
Gardeners must dance with feedback, play with results, turn as they learn.
Some gardeners don't grow old and stop playing; they stop playing and grow old.
Nature's playfulness is a gardener's delight.
A garden is a sporting field, an area for play."

- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions: The Maxims of Gardening

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bagua Zhang: Liu Bin's Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang

Liu Bin's Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang: Foundation Practices, Volume One. South District Beijing's Strongly Rooted Style. By Zhang, Jie. Contributions by Richard Shapiro. Blue Snake Books, 2008. Glossary, xxix, 232 pages. ISBN: 1583942181.

Professor Zhang, is very knowledgeable about the philosophy, history, and art of Bagua Zhang, and has a deep appreciation for many aspects of traditional Chinese culture. This book provides a very good introduction to this style of Bagua in the line of Cheng Ting Hua, Liu Bin, and Liu Xing Han. After providing an informative introduction to the history and philosophy (I Ching, Yin/Yang, Morality, etc.) of Bagua, Dr, Zhang gives clear instructions on circle walking, single palm changes, and twenty four movements of the eight animals. Emphasis is placed on a slow, rooted, and deliberate pace with enhanced awareness. The instructions are very clear and detailed, and keyed to accompanying black and white photographs.

A unique part of this book are the sixteen Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation) exercises, and the considerable emphasis and explanations on inner work, chi gong, and mind training. Most of the emphasis in this book is on providing clear instructions on how to practice essential Bagua so as to stay fit, improve the mind, harmonize with nature, build strength and balance, and enhance one's understanding of Chinese philosophy.

Dr. Zhang lived and worked his whole life in China, and published many books in Chinese. He currently teaches Chinese culture, calligraphy, chi gong, martial arts, and Tui Na massage in Seattle, Washington.

This is a good book for older persons seeking a sound introduction to Bagua Zhang practice and theory.

Bagua Zhang: Bibliography, Links, Media, Resources, Lessons

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Yes, ... And, ..." Technique for Learning.

"The technique I have developed to work directly with my Grinch (inner critic) is first to acknowledge its reaction and then ask a question. For example, if my Grinch says, "That was lousy." I reply, "Yes, that's true, it was lousy. And, if there were more smoothness in my body, what would it feel like?" This is what I call the "Yes, ... And, ..." technique." By acknowledging the negative voice, we blend with it. We soften the negative blow by going with it and not resisting. Then we shift our attention by using the conjunction "and." Using "and" affirms that we can simultaneously hold our vision of how we want to perform without excluding our negative assessment. Asking the question leads our attention toward exploring the sensation of what we want to develop instead of fighting against our Grinch. ...

I do not delve into the content of what the Grinch has to say, but instead I choose to put my attention on the rush of energy in my body. From using the basic practice techniques, we know something about working with energy. When we feel the rush of energy or notice that we are tensing or speeding up, we can stop, focus on our breath, balance our energy field, feel gravity, and evoke our quality. When we stabilize and soften in this way, the energy can begin to self-organize in a way that allows us to deal with the situation more skillfully. ... Pause and feel any sensations that arise. A new perspective on the situation may come with the sensations."

- Wendy Palmer, The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice, 1994, p. 48

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Practice Schedule

Current Taijiquan Class and Practice Schedule

Outdoors, Monday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Wednesday, 6:30 - 7:30 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Outdoors, Friday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

Indoors, Saturday, 9:30 - 11 am, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Sunday, 7:00 - 8:30 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center

We practice the Yang Style of Taijiquan, 32 Sword Form and Eight Immortals Cane in the Yang Style.

Blog Posting Schedule:

Green Way Blog: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday

Cloud Hands Blog: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Plans for Action

"Kata is central to good Karate training. Karate kata have existed for hundreds of years and have their origins within the Chinese fighting systems.

There is no direct translation of the term Kata into English. The best we can come up with is form or pattern. Kata is a predefined sequence of movements performed in a special order to maximize your practice time.

Kata teach you about body movement, weight distribution, angles, turning, awareness and how to deal with a variety of situations. Kata are composed of martial-type movements that help you learn certain skills.

Karate kata comes from a time where few people knew how to read or write. Information was passed down from the previous generation in the form of song, dance, ritual, poetry and stories. The human mind works with imagery and feeling, not lists of facts and figures. Using enjoyable playful learning tools like these are the most natural and efficient way to learn and remember things."
- Stephen Irwin, What is the Purpose of Kata Training

All of the mind-body arts use a "predefined sequence of movements performed in a special order." Yoga uses carefully defined postures (Aanas) and sequences of postures (e.g., Sun Salutations). Each style of Tai Chi Chuan has a specific sequence of postures and movements (Forms), unique to its style, that can sometimes take up to 25 minutes to perform.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kokoro: Heart, Mind, Spirit

Tonight, in our yoga class, I spoke about the integration or union (Yoga) of mind, body and emotions. We took a little time to reflect on the Heart Chakra (Anhata) and the idea of an emotional seat in the heart area. In yoga practice, we often try to cultivate the emotions of peacefulness (shanti) and joyfulness (anata). In life we should cultivate the full range of emotions, understand their sources and objects, understand how they motivate us into acting, remainding mindful of our emotional life. We don't want to become heartless or hard hearted - out of touch with our feelings and emotions, or a mechanical being without feelings.

In Japanese the word for heart/mind/emotion is Kokoro, and in Chinese the word is Hsin (Xin).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Five Animal Frolics Qigong Workshop

I traveled to Sacramento this past weekend and attended the two day workshop led by Ken Cohen, Qigong Master, from Boulder, Colorado. About 20 students learned part of the Five Animal Frolics Qigong Form. We learned and practiced the Crane and Bear sets of exercises, and one exercise each from the Monkey, Deer, and Tiger Frolics. We also learned a number of valuable meditation techniques.

Mr. Cohen has published numerous articles, books, audio CDs, and DVDs on Qigong and Native American spirituality. He is fluent in English and Chinese. His knowledge and skills in the internal martial arts is quite impressive. I found Ken to be articulate, very knowledgeable, energetic, a very good teacher, quite approachable and sociable, a wise person, and a kind and generous man who loves to share knowledge and mind-body improvement information.

I would recommend that all qigong and taijiquan enthusiasts and seekers take Kenneth Cohen's workshops. Were distance and financial constraints not an issue for me, I know I would enroll in his qigong instructor training program next week.

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing. By Kenneth S. Cohen. Foreword by Larry Dossey. New York Ballantine Books, 1997. Index, notes, appendices, 427 pages. ISBN: 345421094. MGC. One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Cane (Zhang) Taijiquan Practices

I have developed a new webpage on the Way of the Short Staff. It includes a fairly detailed section on the Tai Chi cane (Zhang) or walking staff which includes a blibliography, links, and resources. It will soon include a more detailed description of the movements of the "Traditional Eight Immortals Tai Chi Cane Form," Routine One, based on the Yang Style of Taijiquan, as demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.

The webpage also includes sections on the Aikido Jo, Jo Do, the Karate short staff, and exercising with a short staff. By "short staff" I mean a solid wood staff or cane with a length of 35" to 50".

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Busy as Bees

I've been quite busy lately. I returned to working three days each week for the Corning Union Elementary School District. I returned to teaching yoga and taijiquan four days a week at the Tehama Family Fitness Center. I've been working on putting in the pipelines and electrical for the new well. Karen has returned to work for the Tehama County Department of Education. It has been very hot (110F yesterday) in Red Bluff, so we must spend more time watering our garden. Little time seems to remain for blogging.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Five Animal Frolics: Bear

“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.

Five Animal Frolics Qigong
This document includes a bibliography, links, resources, and quotations about the Five Animal Frolics. Some descriptions of various movements of the Bear are provided.

“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.

Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong
This large document includes a detailed description of each movement of the Eight Section Brocades, benefits of the movements, and alternatives and options for each movement. It also includes the largest bibliography, link list, and resources list for this popular Chinese exercise set. A historical introduction to the form is provided. A few of the movement descriptions include animated graphics. One of the movements is called “The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side.”

Turn from side to side like a big bear looking for autumn berries.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Walking with the Druids

"Many of the Anglican meditation manuals used by Druids in the early years of the Revival gave special instructions for meditating while walking in a garden or some other quiet area. To meditate while walking, choose a route over level ground where you won't have to bend, climb stairs, duck around trees, or do anything else that will interrupt your thoughts. A paved or gravel path in a garden is ideal. It should lead in a circle, so that you can keep walking as long as necessary. Walk slowly and smoothly, taking relatively small steps at a steady rhythm. As with the seated posture, you spine should be straight without being stiff, the crown of your head level, and your eyes lowered. Let your arms move easily and naturally at your sides."

- John Michael Greer. "The Gruidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth."

The Ways of Walking: Quotes, Poems

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sword Taijiquuan, 32 Standard, 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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tai Chi Chuan 24 Standard Simplified Form

Taijiquan Standard Simplified 24 Movement Form in the Yang Style

Research by Michael P. Garofalo

- Bibliography, Links, Online Videos, Resources

- List of 24 Movement Names in English, Chinese characters, Chinese Pinyin, French, German and Spanish. Source references for movement names.

- Descriptions of each of the 24 movements with B&W line illustrations.

- Performance times, sections, quotations, notes on learning.

- Standard, simplified, Chinese National, Orthodox, 24 Movement Form in the Yang Style of Taijiquan.

- List of Movements

Updated in March 2008

300Kb, HTML

This webpage was served to over 48,000 persons in 2007. It is one of the more popular webpages on the Cloud Hands Website

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Positive Mindset

"What are the qualities that make one's mindset positive?
They include being able to:

Think in a calm, pacified, and reflective manner instead of being disturbed, agitated, and impulsive in one's reactions.

Put ideas together rationally and arrive at the right judgment even in the absence of obvious evidence or proof.

Decide, plan, and execute a course of action in a patient, persistent, and disciplined manner.

Recognize the changes and be flexible in adapting to them.

Observe and perceive things with a sense of humor instead of outrage, indignation, and anger.

Let go of useless and counterproductive thoughts, desires, and ambitions instead of being preoccupied with them.

Relax and meditate or rest.

Resist temptation and coercion."

- Michael Fekete, Strength Training for Seniors, Hunter House, 2006, p. 36

Livestyle Advice for Wise Persons

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Share K. Lew Workshop

"Sifu Lew Cloud Hands Qi Gong Workshop taught by Master Share K. Lew
Sunday, August 24, 2008 in Redding, CA

The exercises that Master Lew teaches are part of the "internal system" of the martial arts, known as Nui Kung or energy cultivation. These exercises strengthen the circulation of the Chi (vital energy), which increases vitality, health, and sensory perception. All of these exercises have traditionally been kept secret. Daily practice of the exercises will give the student a tangible experience of Chi energy.
The Cloud Hands set is the beginning set of Nui Kung (internal energy cultivation) which builds a foundation for both better health and further Nui Kung. The Cloud Hands consist of five relatively non-strenuous movements along with quiet seated meditation. These Taoist exercises help the body maintain good health and increase vitality. The time required for practice will fit into anyone’s schedule.

The Instructor
Share K. Lew, now in his nineties, is a Taoist priest with over 70 years experience in the traditional Taoist arts. Master Lew received part of his education at Wong Lung Kwan, a Taoist monastery on the Luo Fo mountains near Canton, China.
Master Lew studied at Wong Lung Kwan monastery for 13 years. During that time he trained in the full range of Taoist healing and martial arts. At the core of his training was the secret system of cultivation known as Qigong (Chi kung). Master Lew was the first person to openly teach authentic Taoist Qigong to non-Chinese, beginning in Los Angeles in 1970. Master Lew’s monastery style, the Tao Ahn Pai (Taoist Elixir Style), dates back over 1300 years to Lu Dung Bin, who was born during the Tang Dynasty, and became one of the Eight Immortals of Taoism.
For information and reservations call (530) 223-4849 or email:
Date: Sunday, August 24, 2008
Time: 10:00 to 4:00 pm, with lunch break from 12-2:00 pm
Location: Redding Ju Jitsu Academy
3092 Bechelli Lane
Redding 96002 (behind Village Cycle)
Fee: $100

Reservations: Pre-registration is recommended. A deposit of $100 will reserve your space. Class size is limited.
• Bring a small pillow to sit on
• Make checks payable to Share K. Lew.
• You can sign up in advance at:
East Earth Trade Winds
144 Hartnell Avenue, Redding (in the Raley’s shopping center)"

From the Riverlands Blog

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New Yoga and Tai Chi Chuan Teaching Schedule

Starting on August 9, 2008, I will begin the following new teaching schedule at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff, California:

Yoga (Hatha, Vinyasa, Qigong), Tuesdays, 5:30 to 6:45 pm

Tai Chi Chuan (Yang Style - 24, 108, sword), Wednesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 pm.

Yoga (Hatha, Vinyasa, Qigong), Thursdays, 5:30 to 6:45 pm

Tai Chi Chuan (Yang Style - 24, 108, sword), Saturdays, 9:30 - 11 am

Yoga (Hatha, Vinyasa, Qigong), Saturdays, 11 - 12:15 am

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Human Body and the Chinese Mind

I will be given three lectures at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum in Redding, California. This is coordinated with The Bodies Revealed Exhibit at Turtle Bay.

Tai Chi
Sundays, August 3, 10 & 17, 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Michael Garofalo, M.S., Taijquan, Qigong and Yoga teacher, will lead three Tai Chi sessions. Sessions cover The Human Body and the Chinese Mind, Fitness Concepts in the Chinese Mind, and The Body and Mind Connection in the Chinese Mind. Includes take-home information.
Cost per session: members $10, nonmembers $15. Children are half price. Guarantee your place by prepaying for all three. To register, call 242-3108.
Turtle Bay Museum Classroom

Here is an outline of my first talk:

The Human Body and Chinese Mind

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Health Practices

Presented by Michael Garofalo, M.S.
Cloud Hands Website:

August 3rd (Body), 10th (Mind) and 17th (Spirit), 2008, 10 – 11:30 am
Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum, Redding, California
Coordinated with the Bodies Revealed Exhibit

Qi or Chi, pronounced “Chee,” is a general term in Chinese referring to “energy,” and, more specifically, the energy that sustains life, keeps us alive, and provides us with strength and vitality. The Qi in our bodies moves or flows along meridians or channels inside of the body. Qi can be discovered, gathered, circulated, purified, directed, conserved, stored, transformed, dissolved, and transmitted. The Qi energy system is comparable to our vascular system moving blood (which carries glucose and oxygenated red blood cells) through arteries and veins; and, the bio-electrical impulses of our central nervous system which move in nerve fiber pathways to all parts of our bodies.

Traditional Chinese medicine used medical Qi theory, herbal and other natural medicines, massage, therapeutic exercise, rest, acupuncture, diet, Five Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Metal) theory and Yin/Yang theory, and mental/social health practices to help people stay healthy and recover from illness and disease.

In addition to the internal organs of the body such as heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, stomach, etc., the traditional Chinese view included Qi storage areas (lower, middle and upper Dan Tien - Field of Elixir), Qi channels, and energy gates or Qi focal points (e.g, Bubbling Well on bottom of foot).

Qi Gong or Chi Kung is a method for training the body to improve and increase our Qi, which results in good health, well being, vitality, and long life. Gong means work, practice, routine, mastery, and skills. There are many styles of Qi Gong, and there is considerable writing and clear archeological evidence of Qi Gong practices in China before 250 BCE. Qi Gong has much in common with mind-body arts like yoga and tai chi chuan.

The Eight Section Brocade, Ba Duan Gin
Qi Gong
Exercise Set

1. Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands
Many Chinese healers believe that this exercise helps regulate and improve the heart, lungs, stomach, and spleen. It stimulates the internal organs in the upper trunk area. The Triple Warmer or Triple Burner (Sanjiao) refers to the heart, lungs, and stomach.

2. Wise Owl Gazes Backward
This exercise benefits the Qi in the lungs, large intestine, eyes and neck; as well as being a tonic for the entire immune system. It exercises the neck and eyes.

3. Draw the Bow and Let the Arrow Fly.
This exercise benefits the Qi in the kidneys and spleen. It exercises the arms, shoulders, waist, eyes, and legs.

4. Separating Heaven and Earth

This exercise benefits the Qi in the spleen and stomach. It exercises the shoulders and upper back.

5. Big Bear Turns from Side to Side

Most of the qigong and traditional Chinese medical literature says that this exercise benefits the heart, and gets rid of "heart fire." Exercising the lungs (metal) helps absorb the heat and control the fire, the heart fire - heartburn (Hsin For - heart fire). It exercises the waist, back, and legs.

6. Expel the Stale Chi, Punching with Angry Eyes

This exercise benefits the Qi in the liver and gallbladder. It exercises the legs, back, shoulders and arms.

7. Bouncing and Shaking the Body; Cure the 100 Ailments.
This exercise benefits the Qi in the entire body and is a tonic for the entire immune system. It exercises the legs and calves.

8. Bowing to Our Honorable Ancestors; Touching Toes and Bending Backwards.

This exercise benefits the Qi in the kidneys. It exercises the lower back, hips and legs.

Recommended Reading:

Kenneth S. Cohen, The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
Yang Jwing Ming, The Root of Chinese Chi Kung
Mike Garofalo, Eight Section Brocade,
Books by Daniel Reid, Roger Jahnke, Bruce Kumar Frantzis, and Jerry Alan Johnson.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Wizard Returns

Michael P. Garofalo AKA The Green Wizard or Gushen Moon

"I first met Chang San-Feng above the forest,
near the clear spring,
when gathering clouds darkened the day,
and Mt. Shasta was silent.

His long beard was black as emptiness,
ear lobes to his shoulders,
holding obsidian in his hand,
pointing to the sun,
eyes staring into infinity,
his long body clothed in silence.

We exchanged "hellos"
smiled and bowed,
a barbarian and an Immortal,
both panting from the climb,
ten-thousand echoes
between our rocky minds.

After billions upon billions of heartbeats past
(for he must have been 888 years old),
I was so bold
as to ask the ancient one
for the sacred mantra of yore.
He lifted his whisk,
and brushed my face,
I could not speak,
my lips were stone,
ideas stopped -
I was alone."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with Master Chang San-Feng

Mike Garofalo sometimes writes under the pen names of "The Green Wizard" or "Gushen Moon"

Is Mike really a wizard? Hah! Come, come, my dear friends. He, like like his lanky and legendary mentor, Grand Master Chang San Feng, just likes to keep on walking, gardening, dancing at dawn, playing taijiquan, creating, enjoying scholarly pursuits, Internetting, encouraging peaceful productivity, standing under the Gushen Moon, and letting others bang his brass wizard's hat.

"Standing at the Mysterious Pass
Centered in the Eternal Now,
Balanced in Body and Open in Mind,
Rooted into the Sacred Space,
Motionless as the Golden Mountain,
Fingers around the Primeval Sphere.
Dragons and Tigers are still dreaming -
Ready for Rebirth.

I breathe in, the World Breathes Out.
The Gate of Space opens;
Heaven moves and Yang is born.
The hands move out, embracing the One.
The mind settles and is clear.
The Dragon Howls,
Ravens fill the Vast Cauldron,
Mind forms melt like mercury,
Spirit rises in the Clouds of Eternity.
Yin appears like the moon at dusk.

I breathe out, the World Breathes In.
The Doors of Emptiness close;
Earth quiets and Yin is born.
The hands move in, entering the One.
The body settles and becomes whole.
The Tiger Roars,
The Great Ox is nourished by the Valley Spirit,
Substances spark from flaming furnaces,
Essence roots in the Watery Flesh.
Yang appears like the sun at dawn.

Dragons and Tigers
Transformed within the Mysterious Pass -
Chanting and Purring.

- Michael P. Garofalo, Opening at the Mysterious Pass

Dearly respect the lifestyle of ladybugs.

Blog Search Terms: , , , , .

The Spirit of Gardening

Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong

The Green Wizard Opens the Door

One Taoist Druid's Journey - The Green Wizard's Notebooks

Friday, July 04, 2008

Laying Down PVC Pipelines

Busy with laying down PVC pipe in the trenches I dug on Wednesday.  I'm using 3/4" PVC pipe. 
The solar pump I will be using in the new well delivers only a 1.5 gallon to 2 gallon flow per minute, so I don't need a 1" pipe from the well to the two ponds.
It was cool and breezy this morning.  The smoke from the fires has diminished the past two days as the fires are brought under control by firefighters.  We have seen fire trucks and firefighters from cities and counties all over the state in Red Bluff lately.  We could actually seen the souther Cascade mountains this morning for the first time in weeks.

Being a native born Californian, a United States citizen, a veteran of the United States Air Force, and a retired employee of Los Angeles County ... I'm proud of being an American.  I believe we have worked hard to create a productive, peaceful, free, and just society in California.  Happy Fourth of July to everyone. 


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Water Well Casing Head

I spent a couple of hours leveling the ground around the new well, and filling up the deep holes and deep tire tracks.  It was still a muddy mess in the area. 
The static water level of this well is 46 feet below the surface of the earth. 


Friday, June 27, 2008

Drilling a Well

Three men and three large and specialized trucks from Grade Drilling in Cottonwood worked today at our home.  They dug a 126' water well.  They arrived at 6 am and left at 2 pm.  I watched the entire process.  Fascinating!! 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Emotions of Power

The Ten Emotions of Power

1. Love and Warmth
2. Appreciation and Gratitude
3. Curiosity
4. Excitement and Passion
5. Determination
6. Flexibility
7. Confidence
8. Cheerfulness
9. Vitality
10. Contribution

- Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within, 1991, p. 264

Livestyle Advice for Wise Person

"There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotions."
- Carl Jung

Friday, May 16, 2008

Springtime Quotations, Poems and Sayings

Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Lore,
Myths, Holidays, Celebrations,
Links, Celebrations, Facts,
Resources, Gardening Chores
Winter Spring Summer Autumn
January April July October
February May August November
March June September December

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time for Resting

After months of discomfort and tenderness in my abdomen, I decided to have surgery to repair the problem. On May 8th, Dr. Robert Taylor repaired my umbilical hernia at St. Elizabeth's Out-Patient Surgery Center in Red Bluff.

So, for the next few weeks, I'm on the mend ... lots of reading, writing, resting, listening to music, and gentle indoor activities. No lifting. No teaching yoga. No serious gardening. No vigorous martial arts. No CUESD work.

Hopefully, by this Thursday, I will be watering the garden, walking, and doing easy Taijiquan.

I've been working lately on The Ways of Walking website, the Sun Tajiquan 73 Competition Form, and the webpages on May and June.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Practice of Walking

"Gongfu is an ancient Chinese term describing work, devotion, and effort that has been successfully applied over a substantial period of time, resulting in a degree of mastery in a specific field. Although the term is synonymous in the West with martial arts (though it is most often rendered as Kung Fu), it is equally applicable to calligraphy, painting, music, or other areas of endeavor."
- Andy James

There is a difference between "a practice" and "to practice." Those of us who played competitive sports sometimes were not enthused about a going "to a practice." Practice meant repeating fitness and skills drills, listening to yelling coaches, pushing ourselves to new physical limits, competing with others, doing extra pushups for inattention, etc. Having a practice, a long-term fitness avocation, a mind-body engagement, a spiritual gong-fu, a ritual for well-being, an engaging and enriching pastime, a self-determined commitment to good healthy activites, a non-competitive and non-judgmental path to inner and outward growth ... now this kind of practice enriches both body, mind and spirit for a lifetime.

"Allow walking to occupy a place of stature equal with all the other important activities in your life. As difficult as that might seem, here's how to do it. Make it a practice. That's right. Turn your walking into a vehicle for personal growth as well as for fitness. This will add a higher level of integrity and intention to your approach because you will find that it is a way to deepen and upgrade your relationship to your body. Instead of merely giving your legs a good workout, you'll be practicing to relax more, to breathe better, to expand your vision, to open up your range of motion, to increase your energy, to feel and sense your body. The list is exciting - and endless. With all of this to look forward to, your walking program will take its place alongside everything in your life you value most, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to schedule time for something you really love to do."
- Katherine Dreyer, Chi Walking, p. 56

Chi Walking: The Find Mindful Steps for Lifelong Health and Energy. By Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer. New York, Simon and Shuster, Fireside Books, 2006. Index, 258 pages. ISBN: 0743267206.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sun Style Taijiquan Traditional Sword Form

Sun Lu Tang's Internal Martial Arts: Xingyiquan, Baguaquan, and Taijiquan.

Here are two works in progress:

Sun Style Taijiquan Sword Form. Being developmed now. It will include an introduction, information on the history of the traditional Sun Taijiquan Sword form, a detailed bibliography, extensive links, references to video resources, a large collection of quotations about Sun Taijiquan, recommendations on the best media resources on the topic, and suggestions for learning the Sun Taijiquan Sword Form. A detailed list of the names of each of the movements will be provided, with source references, and the movement names will be given in English, Chinese, Chinese characters, French, German, and Spanish. This webpage will include detailed descriptions for each of the movements with black and white photographs illustrating each movement sequence along with commentary and comparisons. Many additional nomenclature lists and section study charts in the PDF format, photographs and graphics will be provided. This webpage will be the most detailed and complete document on the subject of the traditional Sun Taijiquan Sword Form available on the WWW. Expected completion date: September 20, 2008.

Sun Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Standard Competition 73 Movements Form. Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.. Webpage: 450Kb, July 2008. This webpage includes an introduction, information on the history of the Sun Taijiquan forms, a detailed bibliography, extensive links, references to video resources, a large collection of quotations about Sun Taijiquan, recommendations on the best media resources on the topic, and suggestions for learning the 73 competition Sun Taijiquan form. A detailed comparative list of the names of each of the 73 movements is provided, with source references, and the movement names are given in English, Chinese, Chinese characters, French, German, and Spanish. This webpage includes detailed descriptions of each of the 73 movements with black and white illustrations for each movement sequence along with commentary and comparisons. Many additional nomenclature lists and section study charts in the PDF format, photographs and graphics are also provided - over 1 MB of information. This webpage is the most detailed and complete document on the subject of the Sun Taijiquan Competition 73 Form available on the Internet. This document was published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California, 2008. URL:

Rhythm of Thinking

"The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. The creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making."
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

"Thoughts come clearly while one walks."
- Thomas Mann

Ways of Walking

Walking Quotations

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Memory Improvement Techniques

Tamin Ansary gives us 12 Memory Tricks:

1. Pay Attention

2. Understand

3. Repeat and Apply

4. Group Items Together

5. Create Meaningfulness

6. Look for Patterns

7. Visualize

8. Connect with Humor

9. Connect it with Song, Melody, Rhymes

10. Associate with Something You Know Well

11. Link Learning to Environment

12. Relax

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Five Animal Frolics

"The Bear is a great winter exercise. Slow, ponderous, but very strong, it warms the body, strengthens the spleen, and builds vitality. The Bear's twisting waist movements massage and invigorate the kidneys. The Bear is an excellent preventive against osteoporosis, as it is known to fortify the bones."
- John Du Cane, Power Qigong

The Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Lessons. By Mike Garofalo. This is a very old Chinese exercise system for fitness, good health, and longevity supposedly developed by the Chinese physician Hua Tuo (110-207 CE). In the Wu Qin Xi, the Five Animal Frolics, the five animals are the bear, tiger, monkey, deer, and crane.

Making beneficial exercises interesting and enjoyable has always been a challenge to creative people. Hua Tuois one of the famous physicians of the Han Dynasty. In The History of the Later Han, Hua Tuo wrote:

"Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion. By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented. It is like a used doorstep which never rots. As far as Tao Yin (bending and stretching exercises) is concerned, we have the bear's neck, the crane's twist, and swaying the waist and moving the joints to promote long life. Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane. It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin. If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics. A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat."
- From: Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, p. 6.

I have registered to attend a Five Animal Frolics weekend workshop by Kenneth Cohen on September 13 and 14, 2008, in Sacramento, California. I got an email from karonga which said,

"You will learn China's oldest healing exercise (qigong) system: The Five Animal Frolics, based on the movements of the Crane, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Tiger. The Five Animal Frolics are a gentle and highly enjoyable way to improve energy and well-being. With regular practice, you develop a deep sense of harmony with nature.
In this intensive seminar, you will learn the Crane and Bear Frolics, approximately 20 postures and movement patterns. The Crane develops balance, relaxation, and inner stillness; complemented by the bear for strength, rootedness, and healing presence. You will also learn the basic movements of the monkey, for agility; Deer, for beauty & grace; and the Tiger, for strength.
Cost: $275 per person, to be paid by June 30, 2008. Make check payable to Fair Oaks Personal Power Center. Send payment to, Fair Oaks Personal Power center, P.O BOX 669, Fair Oaks, California 95628. We will mail you the detail information of location after June 30, 2008."