Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Muscle and Tendon Transforming Exercise Routines

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 (Eighteen Buddha Hands Qigong) 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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Men of the Earth

“We men of Earth have here the stuff
Of Paradise - we have enough!
We need no other stones to build
The Temple of the Unfulfilled -
No other ivory for the doors -
No other marble for the floors -
No other cedar for the beam
And dome of man’s immortal dream.

Here on the paths of every-day -
Here on the common human way
Is all the stuff the gods would take
To build a Heaven, to mold and make
New Edens. Ours is the stuff sublime
To build Eternity in time!”
- Edwin Markham, Earth is Enough

Green Way Wisdom - Religion

Walking, dancing, taijiquan, qigong, gardening or yoga
at daybreak are all a taste of paradise for me.
"We men of Earth have here the stuff of paradise..."
Peace to everyone.
Blessed Be!

One Old Druid's Final Journey

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walking Again

My foot surgeon told me last Thursday that I could resume my walking exercise program.  I have also been wearing regular shoes for two weeks instead of the special orthopedic boot to offload pressure on my right foot.  

I have not been able to much aerobic exercise for six months because of the thigh wound problems resulting from three surgeries on a large tumor in my thigh, and from a diabetic ulcer in my right middle toe.   

I will start with 2 laps (1.2 miles) on the cul de sac in front of my home and gradually work my way up to 6 laps (3.6 miles) during the next few weeks.  I will try my best to walk once or twice a day.  I normally walk 3.5 miles four or five days every week.  

I enjoy a very safe and lovely walking path on a country lane.  Pictured below is me walking laps on a cool and foggy morning.   

Walking regularly is one of my great pleasures in life. 

"If you want to know if your brain is flabby, feel your legs."
-   Bruce Barton  

"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk."
-   Raymond Inmon

"As I went walking
That ribbon of highway
I saw above me
The endless skyway
I saw below me
The lonesome valley
This land was made for you and me."
-   Woody Guthrie, This Land is Your Land

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

"Happy is the man who has acquired the love of walking for its own sake!"
-   W.J. Holland

"Solvitur ambulando," St. Jerome was fond of saying.  To solve a problem, walk around."
-   Gregory McNamee  


Saturday, January 28, 2012

No More Trouble

War - No More Trouble
Music and lyrics by Bob Marley, 1976

"Until the philosophy which holds one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war

That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war

That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be persued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique,
South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war, me say war

War in the east, war in the west
War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war

And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory

Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil."

Iraq: The End of a Mistake  

Friday, January 27, 2012


"The happiest moments my heart knows are those in which it is pouring forth its affections to a few esteemed characters."
-  Thomas Jefferson

"The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.  I have no wealth to bestow on him.  If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward.  Is not friendship divine in this?"
-  Henry David Thoreau 

"A man should choose a friend who is better than himself.  There are plenty of acquaintances in the world; but very few real friends."
-  Chinese Proverb
"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose."
-  Tehyi Hsieh 

"A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably."
-  William Penn  

"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection."
-  The 14th Dali Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"
-  George Eliot

Friendship: Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Songs

"There are different levels of friendships, some are half-empty and others are rising and over half-full.
Some information about yourself is best never shared, not even with friends. 
A few friends are just a pain the ass, and not friends for long.
Graveyards and landscape gardens, coffins and flowers - fitting friends.
Many friendships are sustained by a mutual hatred of another person or group.
A good friendship is like a two way paved street, a bad friendship like a one way dirt road coming to a dead end."  
-  By Mike Garofalo, Pulling Onions 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan - Old Frame First Form

Chen Style Taijiquan, Old Frame First Form, Lao Jia Yi Lu.  

A webpage by Michael P. Garofalo.  145 Kb.  2007-2012. 

A detailed bibliography of books, media, and articles.  Extensive selection of Internet links.  List of movement names in English, Chinese characters, Chinese Pinyin, French, German, and Spanish; and citations for sources of the movement names.  Detailed list of DVDs and videos available online.  Extensive notes on the author's learning the Old Frame, First Routine, Lao Jia Yi Lu; and on learning Chen Style Taijiquan.  Record of performance time of this form by many masters.  Breakdown by sections of the form, with separate lists for each section.  General information, history, facts, information, pointers, and quotations.  

Section I, Movements 1-6, Chen Taijiquan, Old Frame, First Form 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow on the Yolla Bolly Mountains

A cold weather storm came in from the northwest last week.  That storm dropped 5 inches of rain on Red Bluff.  Snow levels dropped to 2,500 feet.  We had no snow in the valley, but below freezing temperatures in the valley injured a few of our more sensitive plants. 

This is the view from our back yard, looking towards the Yolla Bolly mountain range to the west. 

On the west side of the North Sacramento Valley, about 40 miles west of our home, is the coastal mountain range called the Yolla Bolly Mountains.  These mountains are mostly from 6,000 to 8,000 feet in our area. Mt. Linn, South Yolla Bolly Mountain, is 8,094 feet.  For more information: Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness

"From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.
No lady alive can show such a skin.
I'm bright as an angel, and light as a feather,
But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together.
Though candor and truth in my aspect I bear,
Yet many poor creatures I help to insnare.
Though so much of Heaven appears in my make,
The foulest impressions I easily take.
My parent and I produce one another,
The mother the daughter, the daughter the mother."
-  James Parton, A Riddle - On Snow 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaping Through the Dragon's Gate

The start of the Chinese New Year in 2012 is on January 23, 2012, today.  This date begins 15 days of celebration in China.  This is the Year of the Dragon, the Water Dragon, 2012.  Gong xi fa cai!

Here are some of my webpages on the themes, myths and lore regarding Eastern Dragons; and some physical culture activities (Qigong, Chi Kung) based on Dragon themes.  

On a Personal Note:

My 66th birthday is in January.  My personal objectives and resolutions for the Year of the Dragon 2012 are as follows:

1)   Loose 3 pounds of body weight each month in 2012.
Continue to work part-time for two outside employers and for our home business.   
3)   Complete the creation of the Magic Pearl Qigong
4)   Post each day to the Cloud Hands Blog.
5)   Resume teaching Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga at the Tehama Family Fitness Center on March 1, 2012.   
6)   Finish the second draft of my website on the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 
7)   Complete the creative and documentation work on the Dragon Qigong.   
8)   Finish learning to perform the Chen Taijiquan Broadsword Form
9)   As soon as my foot surgeon releases me, then I will participate in the spin cycling class and lift weights every Monday and Friday morning. 
10)  Learn to perform the Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine Two (Cannon Cane) created by Master Jesse Tsao. 
11)  Complete repair the patio roof, remove all dead trees, and finish the indoor painting projects. 
After paying into the United States Social Security Fund for 50 years, I am now eligible to begin receiving monthly benefits. 
13)  Travel to Indiana, Southern California, Oregon coast, and the Olympia National Forest. 
14)  Try my best to follow the Lifestyle Advice of Wise Persons.  

15)  Seek appropriate medical services for my health problems.  
16)  Finish learning the final movements of the Sun Taijiquan 73 Competition Form 
17)  Reformat, revise, and update the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung webpage.

18)  Continue to practice martial arts drills with my cane.  
19)  Continue to maintain and improve our home gardens and orchard. 
20)  This is my time to try to "Leap Through the Dragon's Gate."  It probably is my last time to live in a Year of the Dragon. 

Web Publishing Notes for 2012:

I no longer maintain any other blogs besides the Cloud Hands Blog.  I will post to this every day in 2012. 
Karen and I stopped maintaining Our Paths in the Valley Blog on August 23, 2011.

I stopped maintaining the Green Way Blog in 2010.  I stopped maintaining the Valley Spirit Blog in 2008. 

I provide an alphabetical subject index to most of my online publishing about Taijiquan and Qigong.  

All publications of mine are part of Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California.  Green Way Research is the home business of Mike and Karen Garofalo. 

My Taijiquan webpages are found at the Cloud Hands Website.  

My Qigong webpages are found at the Valley Spirit Qigong Website.

My gardening webpages are found at the Spirit of Gardening Website.  

The Cloud Hands Blog is a hodgepodge of posts on the numerous themes cited in the subtitle of the blog:  Gardening, Taijiquan, Mysticism, Walking, Qigong and the Eight Ways.  The "Eight Ways" is vague enough to cover all my other regular and temporary interests.  Most of what I post to the Cloud Hands Blog reflects what I am creating and refining and publishing in static webpages.   Therefore, the Cloud Hands Blog is an ongoing index to my overall web publishing projects.  

My Brief Biography is available online.  

Our two websites: Garden Digest and Green Way Research are still popular.  Garden Digest serves up an average of 2.2 million webpages per year.  Green Way Research serves up an average of 1.4 million webpages per year.  We, of course, provide advertising options to business customers. 

May we all enjoy a prosperous, productive, and pleasing Year of the Water Dragon in 2012.  May we protect and preserve the Pearl.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Taoism and Circle Walking

"Tung Hai-Chuan (1813-1882) 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, Professor K'ang Kuo Wu 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 Wu of Beijing 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,' Professor 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

"The solo aspect of its circular solo practice is beautiful, yet exotic, full of graceful twisting movement, sudden stops and changes of direction, swooping and lifting actions as well as explosive hand movements. The functional aspect is harshly effective, without sporting elements as its martial effectiveness was refined by the many practitioners at the turn of the century who earned their living as personal bodyguards and merchant convoy escorts.  Like the other internal arts, pa-kua emphasizes balance, natural breathing and relaxation, stability of stance, the development of twisting strength and internal power both for healing and martial purposes as well as the use of the mind to create intent and lead chi flow.  Most defensive and offensive movements are done with the open hand; the horizontal energy of the twisting torso is emphasized; the weight of the body stays on the back foot when walking in a circle (though not necessarily when doing postures within each "change"; the steps are rather tight, the knees staying in close proximity one-to-the-other; and, kicks are normally aimed low, to the ankles, shins and knees.  The essence of the art is learning to be upright, stable and comfortable in your posture and body mechanics while cultivating the ability to change quickly to deal with the tactics of an opponent. The smaller student learns to evade strikes while counter-attacking and the larger learns to batter his/her way through the attacker's arms as a prelude to counter-attacking."
-  Michael Babin, Studying Pa Kua Chang 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Principles of Taoist Neigong

"The Taoists call the science of how you develop strong energy flow or internal power neigong.  Neigong has sixteen components:

1.  Breathing methods, from the simple to the more complex.
2.  Feeling, moving, transforming, transmuting and connecting energy channels of the body. 
3.  Precise body alignments to prevent the flow of chi from being blocked or dissipated. 
4.  Dissolving physical, emotional and spiritual blockages. 
5.  Moving energy through the acupuncture meridians and other secondary channels of the body, including the energy gates.
6.  Bending and stretching the body, both from the inside and from the outside in.
7.  Opening and closing (pulsing) all parts of the body's anatomy including the joints, soft tissues, fluids, internal organs,
spine and brain as well as all the body's subtle energy channels. 
8.  Manipulating the energy of the external aura outside the body.
9.  Making circles and spirals of energy inside the body, controlling the spiraling energy currents of the body and moving chi in the body at will. 
10.  Absorbing energy into and projecting energy away from any part of the body. 
11.  Controlling all the energies of the spine. 
12.  Controlling the left and right energy channels of the body. 
13.  Controlling the central energy channel of the body.
14.  Learning to develop the capabilities and all use of the body's lower tantien.  
14.  Learning to develop the capabilities and uses of the body's upper and middle tantiens. 
15.  Connecting every part of the physical and other energetic bodies into one, unified energy."
-  Bruce Kumar Frantzis, Dragon and Tiger Qigong, 2010, xxviii   

The Chi Revolution: Harnessing the Healing Power of Your Life Force.  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2008.  248 pages.  ISBN: 978-1583941935.  VSCL.  
Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Chi Gung for Lifelong Health (Tao of Energy Enhancement).  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Illustrated by Husky Grafx.  North Atlantic Books, 1993.  Second Edition.  174 pages.  ISBN: 1556431643.  VSCL.     

Relaxing into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 1  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Fairfax, California, Clarify Press, 1998.  Reader's Edition.  208 pages.  Republished by: North Atlantic Books, 2001, ISBN: 1556434073.  VSCL. 

The Great Stillness: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 2  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 2001.  272 pages.  ISBN: 978-1556434082.  

Dragon Qigong

Valley Spirit Qigong 

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices  

Friday, January 20, 2012

You've Got a Friend

Words and music by Carole King
From Tapestry album of 1971
You've Got a Friend

"When you're down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon you'll hear me knocking at your door

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there

Ain't it good to know that you've got a friend
When people can be so cold
They'll hurt you, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them
Oh, but don't you let them

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 77

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 77

"The way of heaven,
Is it not like stretching a bow?
What is high up is pressed down,
What is low down is lifted up;
What has surplus (yu yü) is reduced,
What is deficient (pu tsu) is supplemented.
The way of heaven,
It reduces those who have surpluses,
To supplement those who are deficient.
The human way is just not so.
It reduces those who are deficient,
To offer those who have surpluses.
Who can offer his surpluses to the world?
Only a person of Tao.
Therefore the sage works (wei) without holding on to,
Accomplishes without claiming credit.
Is it not because he does not want to show off his merits?"
-   Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 77  

"The Tao of Heaven resembles a drawn bow.
It brings down the high and exalts the lowly; it takes from those who have superfluity, and gives to those who have not enough. The Tao of Heaven abstracts where there is too much, and supplements where there is deficiency.
The Tao of men does not so.
It takes away from what is already deficient in order to bestow on those who have a superfluity.
Who is able to devote his surplus to the needs of others?
Only he who is possessed of Tao. 
Thus it is that the Sage acts, yet does not plume himself; achieves works of merit, yet does not hold to them.
He has no wish to make a display of his worthiness."
-   Translated by Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 77 

"Heaven's Way is like the stringing of a bow: It pulls down what is high it lifts up what is low it takes away from what has an abundance to give to what has not enough.
Heaven's Way: Take away from what has an abundance help along what has not enough.
People's way is not like this: Take away from what has not enough to offer it to what has an abundance.
Who can have an abundance to offer the world?
Only the one who has Tao.
And so the Wise Person: Works but does not rely on this achieves successes but does not dwell in them has no desire to show off his worth."
-   Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 77  

"Is not God's Way much like a bow well bent?
The upper part has been disturbed, pressed down;
The lower part is raised up from its place;
The slack is taken up; the slender width
Is broader drawn; for thus the Way of God
Cuts people down when they have had too much,
And fills the bowls of those who are in want.
But not the way of man will work like this:
The people who have not enough are spoiled
For tribute to the rich and surfeited.

Who can benefit the world
From stored abundance of his own?
He alone who has the Way,
The Wise Man who can act apart
And not depend on others' whims;
But not because of his high rank
Will he succeed; he does not wish
To flaunt superiority."
-   Translated by Raymond B. Blakney, 1955, Chapter 77 

"Bend the bow and embrace the tiger
to emulate the way of heave

drawn with resoluteness
the bow changes length and width
turning in on itself

released with resoluteness
the bow projects its arrow fixedly to a target
by equalizing itself

the bow can shoot up or down as needed
always seeking to balance out
flexibility and cohesion
always seeking to resolve
excesses of energy and deficiencies of energy

equalizing and balancing out and resolving
are the ways of heaven

but the ways of man
make things unequal
imbalanced and unresolved
cutting man off from heaven and earth

only a sage wise man humbly cultivating the tao
     way of life
can entreat heaven on man's behalf
asking heaven
to reestablish the natural order
by not asking heaven

when he is successful
he does not dwell on it
displaying his skill at emulating the way of heaven

he simply smiles
and moves on to the next task."
-   Translated by John Bright-Fey, Chapter 77

"Nature's way is like bending a great bow:
The top comes down, and the bottom comes up.
Length is shortened, and width is expanded.
Nature's way is to take from the too-much, and give to the not-enough.
Man's way is usually the opposite.
Who has enough to offer the world?"
-   Translated by Ned Lund, Chapter 77  

"The Way of Heaven is like the drawing of a bow.
What is high is brought lower, and what is low is brought higher.
What is too long is shortened;
What is too short is lengthened.

The Way of Heaven is to take away from what is excessive
And to replenish what is deficient.
But the Way of Man is different:
It takes away from those who have little,
And gives to those who already have plenty.
Who is able to offer the world whatever he has in excess?
Only the man of Tao.

Therefore the Sage works without claiming reward,
Accomplishes without taking credit.
He has no desire to display his excellence."
-   Translated by Keith H. Seddon, Chapter 77  

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dragon Qigong

Exercises that involve twisting, turning, spiraling, screwing, sliding, swinging, swimming, sinking down and rising up, wiggling, undulating, circling, or twining are often associated with snakes and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements given a name that includes a 'Dragon.'  Baguazhang and Shaolin Kung Fu also include many "Dragon" forms, sets and movements.  Silk Reeling Qigong is also related to Dragon like movements. 

Dragon Qigong is often associated with Wudang Taoist mind/body arts.  Maybe the cliffs and valleys of the Wudang Mountain area are home to many dragons? Dragons have a well established place in Taoist symbolism and lore, as well as in Chinese culture in general.    

My updated webpage on Dragon Qigong includes an extensive bibliography, links, resources, an introduction, quotations, and a detailed description of my own Dragon Qigong set.  

I welcome suggestions for additions and changes to the Dragon Qigong webpage. I have also successfully used these Dragon Qigong movements in my Hatha Yoga classes, and call them "Chinese Yoga."

Are you preparing for the upcoming start of the Year of the Water Dragon in 2012 starting on January 23rd?  Check out the sidebar on this blog for links to resources on Dragons. 

The East Asian Dragons are often associated with water, rain, vapors, fog, springs, streams, waterfalls, rivers, swamps, lakes, and the ocean.  Water can take many shapes and states, and Dragons are shape shifters and linked with transformation, appearing and disappearing, changing into something new.  Water is found in three states, depending upon the surrounding temperature: a solid (ice, snow), a fluid (flowing liquid), and a gas (fog, vapor, steam).  Since rainfall is often accompanied by thunder and lightening (thunderstorms and typhoons), the Dragon is sometimes associated with fire; and, since hot water and steam are major sources of energy in human culture, this further links the Dragon with the essential energy of Fire.  The Dragon is thus linked with the chemical and alchemical transformative properties of two of the essential Elements, both Water and Fire.  Dragons are generally benign or helpful to humans in East Asia, but their powers can also be destructive (e.g., flooding, tsunami, typhoon, lightening, steam, drowning, etc.).  There are both male and female Dragons, kinds or species of Dragons, Dragons of different colors and sizes, and mostly good but some evil Dragons.  Some Dragons can fly, some cannot fly; most live in or near water, a few on land.  The body of a Dragon combines features from many animals, representing the many possibilities for existential presence.  The Dragon in the East has serpentine, snake, or eel like movement qualities: twisting, spiraling, sliding, circling, swimming, undulating, flowing freely like water.  [See: The Dragon in China and Japan by Marinus De Visser, 1913]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Poor Choice in Plants

Ten years ago I planted many Leland Cypress trees in my yard.  They grew quickly.  They stayed bright green in the summer and winter.  They seemed to like the hot summers and cool and wet winters.  Their dense nature provided an excellent back ground screen and wind barrier. These trees, however, are prone to spider mites and cypress cancer fungal disease.  Right now I have six large Leland Cypress trees that are dead or dying of the cancer fungus.  All six trees will be removed this winter and will involve much physical effort.  

I don't recommend Leland Cypress for planting in the North Sacramento Valley.  I have found that the Arizona Cypress tree does quite well up here and shows no signs of being attacked by spider mites or the cancer fungus disease.  The Arizona Cypress does not grow as tall as the Leland Cypress, is evergreen, dense, and light grey-green in color. 

Likewise, when we choose our own hobbies and activities, for the log run, we must be careful to choose those that fit our nature, skills, age, habits, and outlook.  I love listening to music and carry around a Sony Walkman MP3 player quite often, I know that I am unsuited for learning to play a music instrument (I tried before).  At age 66, with my build and health, it would be unwise for me to take up Karate, marathon running, or mountain climbing. We need to plant the "right seeds" to cultivate in our bodies and minds.  There are always excellent alternatives and options to choose between.  
Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

"Leyland Cypress is light-demanding but is tolerant of high levels of pollution and salt spray. A hardy, fast-growing natural hybrid, it thrives on a variety of soils and sites are commonly planted in gardens to provide a quick boundary or shelter hedge, because of their rapid growth. Although widely used for screening, it has not been planted much for forestry purposes. In both forms of the hybrid, Leyland Cypress combines the hardiness of the Nootka or Alaska Cypress with the fast growth of the Monterey Cypress.

The tallest Leyland Cypress presently documented is about 130 ft tall and still growing. However, because their roots are relatively shallow, large leylandii tend to topple over. The shallow root structure also means that it is poorly adapted to areas with hot summers, such as the southern half of the U.S.A.. In these areas it is prone to develop cypress canker disease, which is caused by the fungus Seiridium cardinale. Canker causes extensive dieback and ultimately kills the tree. In California's Central Valley, they rarely live more than ten years before succumbing, and not much longer in southern states like Alabama. In these areas, the canker-resistant Arizona Cypress is much more successful. In Northern areas where heavy snows occur, this plant is also susceptible to broken branches and uprooting in wet, heavy snow."
Leland Cypress - Wikipedia

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lean on Me

Music and lyrics by Bill Withers
"Lean on Me"
Sung by the Dublin Gospel Choir in 2010  

"Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road I'll share your load
If you just call me
So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Lean on me..."

Friendship: Quotes, Sayings, Proverbs, Poems

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Walking in the Landscape of the Mind

Because of my recent medical problems, I have not been actively walking since July of 2011.  I used to walk a minimum of 4 miles in the morning four days each week, and take longer hikes during the year.  I greatly miss this wonderful bodymind activity.  Walking and hiking have been an important part of my long life of 66 years.  I am hoping my podiatrist gives me the green light to resume walking outdoors and spin cycling indoors starting on February 1, 2012.  

Hiking involves such aspects of consciousness as determination, willpower, planning, strength, focus, endurance, adventure, and danger.   Just taking a long walk can also be an adventure for the mind, as well as an exercise of willpower. 

"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

"Walking inspires and promotes conversation that is grounded in the body, and so it gives the soul a place where it can thrive.  I think I could write an interesting memoir of significant walks I have taken with others, in which intimacy was not only experienced but set fondly into the landscape of memory.  When I was a child, I used to walk with my Uncle Tom on his farm, across fields and up and down hills.  We talked of many thing, some informative and some completely outrageous, and quite a few very tall stories emerged on those bucolic walks.  Whatever the content of the talking, those conversations remain important memories for me of my attachment to my family, to a remarkable personality, and to nature."
-   Thomas Moore, Soul Mates

In the above photograph, I am standing on top of North Dome in Yosemite National Park.  Behind me is Half Dome.  My brother Philip and I hiked 12 miles round trip to get to the top of North Dome just four years ago in August.  A very memorable hike for us.  I am now planning a 2012 summer trip to the Olympic National Park in Washington, and making campground, lodge and motel reservations.  


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stand by a Friend

From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently.  Featured is the Ben E. King classic, "Stand by Me," performed by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe.

"Oh Yeah, Oh my Darlin', Stand by Me
No matter who you are
No matter where you go in life
You goin' to need somebody to stand by you
No matter how much money you got
Or the friends you got
You goin' to need somebody to stand by you
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And that moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I shed one tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me
When the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Please stand by me, stand by me, stand by me
Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me."

For those, like myself, who enjoy songs by Bob Marley, Playing for Change offers two outstanding renditions of the Marley classics:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tai Chi Fan Forms

Tai Chi Fan Webpage: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Notes, Lore, Quotations. 65Kb+. Research by Mike Garofalo. I welcome any comments, suggestions, additions, or ideas regarding this webpage.

Does anyone know more about this popular Taijiquan fan form? When was it created? Are there other resources available for studying this fan form?

Tai Chi Kung Fun Fan Form created by Professor Li Deyin (1938-)

52 Movements Fan Dance Form

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Dance, Form I

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan. Routine 1, created by Grandmaster Li Deyin (1938-). Instructional DVD, 65 minutes, by Master Jesse Tsao. Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, California. "The most popular Tai Chi Fan form ever practiced in China. The routine was created by Grandmaster Li Deyin, Jesse Tsao's teacher since 1978. There are 52 movements in the whole routine based on the characteristic Tai Chi posture with the fan's artistic and martial functions. Master Tsao presents demonstrations at the beginning and end. He teaches step-by-step in slow motion, in English. There are plenty of repetitions of movements in both front and back view. It is a good reference for home study, or a resource for instructor's teaching preparation." Cost: 35.00 US. Demonstration.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Instructional DVD by Professor Li Deyin. Narration in English. "
A fan routine, created by Professor Li, which combines the gracefulness, centrality and continuity of Taiji with the power, speed and fierceness of Wushu. It is designed as an addition to the exercises for health, and has received massive interest and support throughout the world. In this DVD, Professor Li provides in-depth teaching with Mrs. Fang Mishou performing detail demonstration." Vendor 1. Cost: $35.00 US.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. List of 52 movement names, directions, instructions, and notes by Mike Garofalo.

Tai Chi Kung Fun Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 4:02 min. Lady in white on a stage in Japan. My favorite! "First Form of the Xiyangmei Taiji Kungfu Shan (Taiji Shan). Recorded in Tokyo, Japan when the group headed by Li Deyin went to give an exhibition in 2006."

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:59 min. Three performers in white outfits.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:59 min. Demonstrated by Patty Lee. Lady in a yellow outfit in a field with a backdrop of mountains.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 4:02 min. Lady in black practicing in a dance studio. What is the song used in many of these videos (by Jackie Chan)??

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:42. A group of Master Fay Li Yip's students performing outdoors.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:53 min. A group in black outfits performs outdoors in Madrid, Spain. Some members need more group practice.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 5:57 min. Two ladies in red outfits perform outdoors in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. 中國太極功夫扇

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video Subject Search.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 78

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 78

"Nothing in the world is weaker than water
but against the hard and the strong nothing excels it
for nothing can change it
the soft overcomes the hard
the weak overcomes the strong
this is something everyone knows but no one is able to practice
thus the sage declares who accepts a country's disgrace we call the lord of soil and grain
who accepts a country's misfortune we call king of all under Heaven
upright words sound upside down"
-   Translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), 1996, Chapter 78 

"Heaven below (the sacred body) is not as soft and yielding as water, yet can take on the rigid and violent.
Without its (the sacred body's) ability to overcome the rigid and the violent, it is nothing.
It replaces violence with gentleness.
It overcomes violence.
Tenderly it overcomes the unyielding.
Without knowing this, no one in Heaven below can progress.
The sages speak of guarding the community:
Dishonor comes from making sacrifices to the gods.
Preserve the community, not its omens.
It is correct to speak of Heaven below as what connects Heaven,
Humanity and Earth.
The words of the person who sacrifices backfire."
-   Translated by Barbara Tovey and Alan Sheets, 2002, Chapter 78   

"In the world nothing is more fragile than water, and yet of all the agencies that attack hard substances nothing can surpass it.
Of all things there is nothing that can take the place of Tao.
By it the weak are conquerors of the strong, the pliable are conquerors of the rigid.
In the world every one knows this, but none practice it.
Therefore the wise man declares: he who is guilty of the country's sin may be the priest at the altar.
He who is to blame for the country's misfortunes, is often the Empire's Sovereign.
True words are often paradoxical."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 78

"In the world nothing is supple and weak in relation to water
Yet of those things which attack the firm and unyielding
Nothing is able to do better
In what is absent, this easily happens.
Being supple conquers the unyielding
Being weak conquers the firm
In the world
No one is without knowing it
No one is able to practice it.
Appropriately it happens that sages say
He who accepts the disgrace of a nation
Is appropriately called lord of the grain shrine
He who accepts the misfortune of a nation
Is appropriately acting as the king of the world.
Correct words look like they turn back."
-   Translated by David Lindauer, Chapter 78 

to be at your best
pattern yourself after water
nothing in all the world is softer or more powerful
nothing in all the world can substitute for it
nothing in all the world can stop it

in their hearts
everyone easily knows that
the soft and the weak
will always overcome the hard and strong
but they find it difficult to live this way

the secret is to
move the bodymind like water."
-   Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006, Chapter 78 

"Nothing in the world is Softer or Weaker than water.
But when it attacks what is hard and strong none of them can win out, because they have no way of affecting it.
Softness overcomes what is hard Weakness overcomes what is unyielding.
Everyone in the world understands it no one can practice it.
And so the Wise Person says: Taking on a state's dirt makes one lord of its earth altars taking on a state's misfortunes makes one King of the world.
Right words seem the opposite."
-   Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 78

"Water is soft and yielding, but
nothing can more effectively dissolve the hard and inflexible.
Weak defeats strong.
Soft defeats hard.
This is well–known, but not easy to put into practice.
Therefore, the Tao–Master says:
He who takes upon himself the dirt of the nation
becomes the master of its sacred soil;
he who takes upon himself the evils of the land
becomes a true king under Heaven.
Straight words seem crooked."
-   Translated by George Cronk, 1999, Chapter 78 

"Nothing is softer, more flexible, or more giving than
nothing can resist it
nothing can take it away
nothing can endure it
there is no way to hurt it.
The flexible overcomes what resists it,
the giving overcomes what takes it,
the soft overcomes the hard,
but who uses this knowledge?
Only the person who knows the earth
as intimately as the trees and grasses
can rule the earth,
only the person who accepts
the guilt and evil of humanity
can rule the universe.
Straight tongues seem forked.
Straight talk seems crooked."
-   Translated by Tom Kunesh, Chapter 78  

"There is nothing in the world
as soft and weak as water.
But to erode the hard and strong,
nothing can surpass it;
nothing can be a substitute.
The weak can overcome the strong;
the soft can overcome the hard.
There is no-one in the world who does not know this,
but there is no-one who can put it into practice.
Those who are enlightened say:
those who bear a nation's disgrace
will become lords of its shrines to earth and grain; *
those who bear a nation's misfortune
will become kings under heaven.
True words often seem a paradox."
-   Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 78