Monday, June 29, 2009

Slide Away Like a Snake

There are two ponds on my property. Quite often I will come upon a snake enjoying a rest in the shade at the edge of the pond. The snakes seldom move far from the edge of the pond for fear of the 20 or so guinea hens that patrol the fields and our dog. As soon as the garter snake becomes aware of my presence it quickly slithers and slides back into the pond. Retreat is the first defense.

The folklore of Taijiquan includes a story about Taoist Master Chang San-feng dreaming about a fight between a snake and a crane. What do you do when you can't retreat?

"Snake is one of the archetypal Five Animals of Chinese martial arts; the other four being Crane, Tiger, Leopard, and Dragon. These five animals originally represented the five classical Chinese elements before developing into their own styles. Snake is usually Earth, Tiger is Fire, Crane is Metal, Dragon is Water, and Leopard is Wood. Since they were derived from the Five Elements, they are kept in this pattern. At this point many styles delve into more advanced animal training or actual element training. The Taoist temples of the Wudang Mountains were known to have produced many snake stylists.

Snake style is based on whipping power which travels up the spine to the fingers. The ability to sinuously move, essentially by compressing one's stomach/abdominal muscles, is very important. Footing is quite grounded. The stance work is fluid in order to maximize the whipping potential of any movement. This necessitates building a strong spine to contain the power and strong fingers to convey the strike. Since breath is important to any movement of the spine and ribs, snake style is considered one of the main styles which eventually led to internal training. Snake style is also known as an approach to weapons training, the Chinese straight sword and spear in particular. There are even specialty varieties of sword blades and spear points that curve back and forth down the length of the blade in imitation of the snake's body known as snake sword and snake spear."

Snake Style Kung Fu
History of the Martial Arts Blog

Five Animal Frolics

Friday, June 26, 2009

Heads Up

Two Thoughts, Reminders, and Ques for My Qigong Practice Today:

Heads Up and Seeing the Meaning

1. Keep your head up. Your head in line with your spine. Enjoy having a lifted and relaxed head. Find exercises to help you make your head, neck, and upper back muscles stronger, coordinated and flexible. Listen up, and perk up the head and ears. Lift the top of the head to the heavens, square the head over the neck and back, allow the shoulders to relax and fall, allow the chin to gently tuck, look forward, try to stay fully present here and now, be alert, show a soft smile, keep your head up, stay focused, concentrate as needed, hold the asana of The Dignified Head of the Buddha, and do your Qigong practices.

2. Keep your eyes active and integrated in your work, games, and Qigong practices.

At times, your eyes will require careful supervision and specific exercises. Your eyes will lead your thoughts, your thoughts will build your mind. The eyes can lead the mind, and the mind can lead the eyes, and the Watcher watches. Cultivate the Third Eye, and cultivate your two eyes. Discover the 1001 Eyes of All the Sensory Gates of your own body, spoken mind, senses, experiences, and the Tao. See into your true selves, the Light and darkness. See into your reasons for doing Qigong practices. Close your eyes sometimes while doing your Qigong practices.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Five Animal Frolics Qigong (Wu Qin Xi)

Lately, I been working outdoors on gardening and home improvement projects in the cooler early morning; as well as practicing Taijiquan, Daoyin, the Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, and cane forms. In the hot afternoon, I retreat indoors and read, write, and work on webpage development.

I have been steadily working on reorganizing, updating, and expanding my webpages on the Five Animal Frolics Qigong (Wu Qin Xi). I moved all the Wu Qin Xi webpages from the Cloud Hands website over to the Valley Spirit Qigong website.

The exercise set is considered to be Daoyin, or what is now called Qigong (Chi Kung). In this context, the word "Dao" means to guide, lead, show the way, slowly, inch by inch. The word "Yin" means to pull out, draw out, or stretch. So Daoyin are mind-body exercises that show us how to draw out the potential for diseases and restore an integrated or balanced state of well-being in body and mind.

Many people credit the famous Chinese physician, Hua Tuo (110-207 CE), with developing a popular Daoyin animal frolics set which consists of exercises based on the deer, crane, monkey, tiger, and bear. Hua Tuo's best student, Wu Pu, lived to be over 100, and wrote that Hua Tuo told him:

"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."

The Animal Frolics Qigong (Daoyin, Chi Kung, Yangsheng) webpage development plan in 2009-2010 at the Cloud Hands website is: I intend to develop the webpages on the Animal Frolics Qigong in 2009-2010 in the following order: 1) June - August 2009: Animal Frolics Qigong and the Crane Frolic; 2) September - October: the Monkey Frolic; 3) November - December: the Tiger Frolic; 4) January - February 2010: the Bear Frolic; 5) March - April: the Deer Frolic; and 6) May - June: Dragon Qigong.

How the Five Animals are assigned to the Five Elements varies according to the "authority" consulted. I have used the following table of correspondences:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Focus on Change

"Any significant long-term change requires long-term practice, whether that change has to do with playing the violin or learning to be a more open, loving person. We all know people who say that they have been permanently changed by experiences of a moment or a day or a weekend. But when you check it out you'll generally discover that those who ended up permanently changed had spent considerable time preparing for their life-changing experience or had continued diligently practicing the new behavior afterward."
- Michael Murphy and George Leonard

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."
- Benjamin Franklin

"The cyclone derives its powers from a calm center. So does a person."
- Norman Vincent Peale

"I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand."
- Confucius

"A will finds a way."
- Orison Swett Marden

"If you focus on results, you will never change.
If you focus on change, you will get results."
- Jack Dixon

"Gongfu is an ancient Chinese term describing work/devotion/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 over rendered Kung Fu), it is equally applicable to alligraphy, painting, music, or other areas of endeavor."
- Andy James

"An element of abstention, of restraint, must enter into all finer joys."
- Vida D. Scudder

Will Power: Quotes, Sayings, Aphorisms

"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb.
Wishes are like seeds - few ever develop into something.
Willpower is the art of replacing one habit for another."
- Michael Garofalo, Pulling Onions

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sun Tai Chi Chuan Characteristics

"The Four Characteristics of Sun Shi Tai Ji:

1. The natural position of the body. The position of the body is more natural than in other forms of Tai Ji. The basic position - San Ti Shi - comes from Xing Yi. It differs from the traditional basic position - Hun Yuan Zhuang. The position of the body is higher (angle with the knees of 135°), the axis head - centre of gravity falls on only one foot and not with equal distance of the two feet, the feet are positioned one compared to the other according to an angle of 45° and not in parallel or are aligned like usually used in other schools of Tai Ji. All these characteristics respect the natural positioning of the body with two consequences. Initially a practice more favorable to health, without excessive wear (of the knees in particular). Then, a good balance between stability and flexibility.

2. Flexible and fast movement. The movement of the feet is flexible and fast: as soon as a leg advances or moves back, the other leg follows immediately. One does not find in Sun Shi Tai a horse riding stance with feet equal distance apart or the bow and arrow posture of traditional Tai Ji. In Sun Shi, one uses the free steps coming from Xing Yi and of Bagua. The centre of gravity always falls on one leg; a foot supports all the weight of the body, the other follows, free. The steps forwards are the steps of Beng Quan, and backwards the steps of Pi Quan. The steps of rotation correspond to the steps of Ba Gua. Sun Shi is light, fluid and fast. It is compared with the water which runs and with the clouds which slip into a windy sky.

3. The specific figure of Kai He. Sun Shi Tai Ji has a very specific figure; Kai He (to open - to close) which is found neither in other forms of Tai Ji, nor in Ba Gua or Xing Yi. This Kai He appears with each connection and transition. It makes it possible to control and adjust breathing and to accumulate the Shi (energy potential) in order to prepare for the next change.

4. It is an art which aims at effectiveness in combat. Sun Shi Tai Ji is truly an art of combat. The amplitude of the gestures is limited, the course of the hands are direct, natural and aims to be effective. . It is not the force of the arms which strike, but the sum total of the elastic force of each movement carried out on a correct and uniform axis of gravity."
- Master Bob Melia, Sun Shi Tai Chi

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

Research by Mike Garofalo

Sun Taijiquan Website Index Page

Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933) Biographical Information

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

Sun Taijiquan Blog

Sun Taijiquan Dictionary

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

Sun Lu Tang's Baguazhang (BaQua Quan)

Sun Taijiquan is reputed to help with osteoarthritis.  I have problems with arthritis in my feet, shoulder, tailbone, and hands.  Nothing actute at the present time, but annoying.  Sometimes, I have to adjust my workouts in the gym, in yoga, or in my taijiquan practice to manage the discomfort from increasing osteoarthritis.

Help with Arthritis: Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Yoga, Walking, and Diet   Bibliography, links, resources, recommended books, information, quotations, tips, and research.  By Michael P. Garofalo.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Crane Frolic Daoyin

This past week, I updated the webpage on the Five Animal Frolics Qigong (Chi Kung, Daoyin).

The animals in the Five Animal Frolics exercise system are the Crane, Bear, Tiger, Monkey, and Deer.

Playing and practicing the Crane Frolic is recommend for the summer months. It is supposed to calm you down, help you realize serenity, and protect the Heart. The Five Animal Frolics, widely thought to have been created by Dr. Hua Tuo, circa 200 CE, in China, is a Daoyin (Guide and Stretch) practice that are Life Nourishing Ways (Yangsheng Zhi Dao).

My website on qigong, daoyin, yangsheng zhi dao, or chi kung is called Valley Spirit Qigong.

I also completed some preliminary research on the Yi Jin Jing Qigong (Muscle and Tendon Changing Exercises).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Champions Again!!

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team are now the NBA Champions for 2009. They defeated the Orlando Magic in a convincing manner last night in Florida.

I purchased NBA League Pass and watched many Laker games on DISH Network TV this basketball season. I watched each of the Laker games in the playoffs. I read the Laker's Blog every day.

I've been a fan of the Lakers since the 1970's. Following the most successful team in the NBA, with 30 trips to the NBA Finals, has been a great experience.

The Lakers have millions and millions of fans all around the world. We are all feeling GOOD today.


My own atheletic endeavors are now in non-competitive exercises: yoga, taijiquan, qigong, walking, gardening. I stopped playing competitive basketball games 23 years ago. However, I still enjoy watching this very demanding sport, and I'm a serious Lakers fan.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rhythm of Walking

"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

Way of the Short Staff

Mike Garofalo hiking in Death Valley, California.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taijiquan Standard 24 Form Names in French

I want to thank Stephane Gervais, a 24 Taijiquan Form player in France, for sending me the improved translations into French of the names of each movement in this popular form.

1. Ouverture.
2. Séparer la crinière du cheval. 3 fois.
3. La grue blanche étend ses ailes.
4. Avancer et brosser le genou. 3 fois.
5. Jouer de la guitare (ou du luth).
6. Reculer et repousser le singe. 4 fois.
7. Saisir la queue de l'oiseau à gauche.
8. Saisir la queue de l'oiseau à droite.
9. Simple fouet.
10. Agiter les mains comme des nuages. 3 fois.
11. Simple fouet.
12. Caresser la crinière du cheval (ou Flatter l'encolure du cheval)
13. Donner un coup de talon droit.
14. Frapper les oreilles du tigre (ou frapper aux 2 oreilles).
15. Tourner vers la gauche et donner un coup de talon gauche
16. Le serpent qui rampe à gauche. Coq d'or sur une patte.
17. Le serpent qui rampe à droite. Coq d'or sur une patte.
18. La fille de jade lance la navette à droite et à gauche (ou Lancer la navette à droite et à gauche).
19. Chercher l'aiguille au fond de la mer.
20. Dos en éventail.
21. Tourner, absorber, parer et frapper du poing en avançant.
22. Ramener à soi et repousser.
23. Croiser les bras et reprendre la force.
24. Fermeture.

Standard Simplified Taijiquan 24 Form. Research by Michael P. Garofalo. Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan, 24 movements. This webpage includes a detailed bibliography of books, media, links, online videos, articles, and resources. It provides a list of the 24 movement names in English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, with citations for sources of the movement names. It provides detailed descriptions of each movement with black and white line illustrations and photographs. It includes relevant quotations, notes, performance times, section breakdowns, basic Tai Chi principles, and strategies for learning the form. The Peking (Bejing) Chinese National orthodox standard simplified 24 movement Tai Chi form, created in 1956, is the most popular form practiced all around the world. This is a 450 Kb HTML file, updated in June, 2009. Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California: Webpage URL:

Cloud Hands: Taijiquan, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Weapons

Cloud Hands: Qigong, Chi Kung

Monday, June 08, 2009

Yi Jin Jing

The Yi Jin Jing Qigong is a popular qigong exercise set from China. "Yi Jin Jing Qigong" means "Muscle and Tendon Transforming Exercises."

In most cases, this qigong regimen consists of 12 movement sequences. There are some versions of the Yi Jin Jing with many more movements (22, 49, 108, 216). Some of the longer versions of the Yi Jin Jing include movements from the Eight Section Brocade Routine, the Animal Frolics Routines, the Louhan Routine, or the Bone Marrow and Brain Washing Routine.

Most people practice a 12 movement version of the Yi Jin Jing that was described in a book published by Pan Weiru in 1858 called "Essential Techniques for Guarding Life." Also, Wang Zuyuan published a book in the 1880's titled "Illustrated Exposition of Internal Techniques" that described the same qigong routine as did Pan Weiru.

Names of the Yi Jin Jing Qigong Movements

Opening Form

1. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 1

2. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2

3. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3

4. Plucking Stars on Each Side

5. Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails

6. Showing Talons and Spreading Wings

7. Nine Ghosts Drawing Sabers

8. Sinking the Three Bodily Zones
Three Plates Falling on the Floor

9. Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws

10. Tiger Springing On Its Prey

11. Bowing Down in Salutation

12. Swinging the Tail

Closing Form

Some claim that the Yi Jin Jing was created by the famous Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (Da Mo) around 520 CE, and refined over centuries by Shaolin monks, while others argue for an even more ancient Daoist lineage.

There are numerous instructional DVDs available now for the 12 movement verion of the Yi Jin Jing. I like the instructional book and DVD by the Chinese Health Qigong Association:

Yi Jin Jing: Chinese Health Qigong. Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Beijing, China, Foreign Languages Press, 2007. 95 pages, charts, includes an instructional DVD. ISBN: 9787119047782. VSCL. "Qigong is an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine that involves coordinating breathing patterns with physical postures to maintain health and well-being. Yi Jin Jing/ Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises is an accessible, fully-illustrated guide to a particular qigong exercise that focuses on turning and flexing the spine. Based on the twelve traditional routines of Yi Jin Jing, the exercises covered in the book feature soft, extended, even movements that invigorate the limbs and internal organs. In particular, practice of the Yi Jin Jing exercises improves flexibility, balance and muscular strength, and has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. Each routine is described step-by-step and is illustrated with photographs and key points. The authors also point out common mistakes and offer advice on how to correct these. Complemented by an appendix of acupuncture points and accompanied by a DVD, this book will be of interest to Qigong and Tai Chi practitioners at all levels, students of martial arts and anyone interested in Chinese culture." - Singing Dragon.

For a good book on the theory of the Yi Jin Jing, read Qigong: The Secret of Youth: Da Mo's Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow Brain Washing Classics. By Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D., 1946-. An Advanced Qigong Regimen for the Serious Practitioner. Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publication Center, 2000. Second Edition 2000, First Edition 1989. Index, appendices, charts, 312 pages. ISBN: 1886969841. VSCL.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Eight Section Brocade Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong 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, 26,000 words, and with a filesize of 358Kb. Last updated on June 6, 2009. Web File Location:

Eight Section Brocade Qigong Cane. How to practice this form using a wooden cane. Notes by Toma. Based, I think, on the "Northern Energy Taiji Cane" by James Bouchard.

Ba Duan Jin: Chinese Health Qigong. Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Beijing, China, Foreign Languages Press, 2007. I58 pages, charts, and instructional DVD included. ISBN: 9787119047812. VSCL.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Notes and Stuff

I've had some problems with my popular Spirit of Gardening website. It was hacked a couple of times and my "Green Way" Word Press blog attacked and disabled. I moved the blog to Typepad and renamed it "green paths in the valley." I could not use my email or FTP for awhile. After three calls to my web host, I think I am now back online. People can now email me again.

Got some nice information from Master Thomas (Toma) Rosenzweig, Toma Modern Arnis. Home of Modern Arnis in Los Angeles. Phone: 1-818-339-4051. I added the information to my Way of the Short Staff webpage.

Shalie Kibler from The Ninjai Gang wrote to tell me about “Karma Kula – Mystic Warrior.” For press release information go to

Karen and I hosted the "Blaize Family Reunion" recently at our home in Red Bluff. I've also been extra busy at work writing grants and managing downsizing. Consequently .... little time for reflection on the themes of this blog and for creative web publishing.

I've had some serious back spasms lately. My upper left side, in my lat, cramps up at odd moments during the day. Hmmmm! What the F!

I've been following the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team all season. I've been a Laker's fan since the 1960's. I purchased the NBA League Pass for half a season on DISH TV - an excellent bargain. Now, for the second year in a row, the Lakers are in the NBA finals. Last year the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the Finals, and this year the worthy opponent is the Orlando Magic. I'm HYPED about the first Finals game tomorrow night. GO LAKERS!!

"And since all this loveliness can not be Heaven,
I know in my heart it is June."
– Abba Goold Woolson (1838–1921)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Eight Elements West

The Eight Elements West

1. Consistent Exercise
Energize through safe, results-oriented exercise.

2. Body Alignment
Promote proper posture, spinal strength with flexibility, and body awareness.

3. Natural Nutrition
Implement sound eating practices for life.

4. Sound Mind
Embrace life obstacles with self-awareness, reflection, imagination and creativity.

5. Relaxation and Centering
Cultivate and calm the bodymind connection everyday.

6. Community and Environment
Surround yourself with trusted friends and family. Be kind to the Earth.

7. Individual Action
Time is precious. Let change begin now, with you.

8. Heart of the Human Spirit
Transform life through your heart, where true strength resides.

I'm always looking for ideas and information about models that use
eight components. Take a look at my collection of information about
the Chinese Trigrams model.

Eight Elements West

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons