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,