Monday, March 31, 2014

Taiji Cane

Taiji cane forms are typically performed slowly and deliberately.  Hard and powerful strikes are seldom used in T'ai Chi Ch'uan walking stick forms.  The pace of the Taijiquan cane forms are seldom fast and vigorous.  There are few if any vigorous leaps and jumps.  Taiji forms seldom use very low stances.  Taiji cane forms are particularly suitable for fit persons over 50 years of age.  Good examples of a Taiji Cane Form are: the Standard Beijing 24 Form with Cane created by Master Wen-Ching Wu; the Eight Immortals Cane Form, Part I, created by Master Jesse Tsao;  the Plum Blossom Taiji Cane Form; the Tai Chi Stick 18 Form;  the Bodhi Dharma Walking Stick Form; Master Michael Gilman's Three Powers Cane Form; the Wu Tang Cane Form of Master T.T. Liang; the Standard 32 Sword Form; etc.  

There are also many examples of more vigorous "Taiji" cane forms, with hard strikes, leaps, fast moves, spins, and low moves.  Taijiquan saber or broadsword forms are readily adapted for use with a cane, and some are fast and vigorous.  Normally, Taijiquan sword forms are not very well adapted as cane forms, but I practice the Standard 32 Sword Form with my cane as do many others.  Karate, kung fu, Shaolin, Bagua and HsingI cane or stick forms are often fast, vigorous, powerful, twisting, agile, and with some very low stances.  Of course, when first learning any new cane form, begin with a slower, more deliberate, less vigorous practice to help the body adapt to the moves of the new form.  Thus, even a fast and vigorous cane form from any style can be done more in the "Taiji" fashion outlined and shown above.  

Many Qigong (Chi Kung) forms can also we done while holding a cane.  Adaptations are quite easily arranged.  Most often, however, Qigong forms are adapted or created for use with a short 6"-12" wooden stick called a Tai Chi Ruler or Bang.  

I consider a cane or walking stick to be, normally, a straight strong wooden stick with a curved (hook) handle that is from 30" (76 cm) to 42" (107 cm) long.  The cane will typically extend from the floor to the height of your hip socket and maybe up to your belly button.  The cane might also be made out of plastic, aluminum, steel, or rattan.  The cane might have a straight rather than curved or hooked end with a round ball shaped (pommel) end or some sort of straight or carved handle at the end.  The cane might be very simple, natural and plain; or be carved, painted or decorated.  

Each day I use an Instructor's Walking Cane, 40" (103 cm) long and 1" (2.54 cm) in diameter, purchased from Cane Masters.  This cane weights 1lb, 2 oz (510 gm).  This beautiful martial arts combat cane is made of pure hickory heartwood, has multiple notches at three key gripping points, has a ample rounded hooked horn, and has a rubber covered tip inserted over the tip end.  I also own the same Instructor's Walking Cane made of oak - a gift from my children.  I am 6'6" (198 cm) tall, and a 40" cane (103 cm) is perfect for using on my long walks and for my Taiji cane practices.  The only weapon I practice with on a daily basis is a wooden cane; and the only weapon I teach now in my Taijiquan classes is the cane.  Also, whenever I take a walk, anywhere, I bring my cane along for support, exercising the arms, and for self-defense.     

Taijiquan Cane Weapon Research, Bibliography, and Practices

Way of the Short Staff

Long Staff Weapons Practices 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Music for a New Age

I enjoy listening to New Age Music when I walk, read, and garden.  A good list of choices for New Age music is the Grammy Award for the Best New Age Music Albums.  

I use the MP3 format on my Sony Walkman MP3 players.  I can take my favorite music anywhere. 

I have written before about how I enjoy the music of Robert Mirabal, aka Johnny Whitehorse, e.g., 'Totemic Flute Chants.'  I also enjoy Steven Halpern, Kitaro, and cello music. 

Lately, I have been listening to the music by the Paul Winter Consort, specifically Crestone and Miho: Journey to the Mountain. Both ablums won a Grammy Award.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Winds Whisper to Us Walkers

"Discipline is the impossible conquered by the obstinate repetition of the possible."
 -  Frederic Gros

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

"The art of walking is at once suggestive of the dignity of man.  Progressive motion alone implies power, but in almost every other instance it seems a power gained at the expense of self-possession."
-   Henry Theodore Tuckerman

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."
-   Edgar Abbey
The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World.  By Good Buffalo Eagle.  Anazi Foundation Book.  Berrett-Koehler Pubs., BK Life, 2013.  120 pages.  ISBN: 978-1609949198.  Light, Wind, Water, Stone, Plant, Animals, We.  

A Philosophy of Walking  By Frederic Gros.  Translated from the French by John Howe.  Verso, 2014.  288 pages.  ISBN: 978-1781682708.   

The Ways of Walking  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.  Quotes, Sayings, Information, Bibliography, Links, Notes, Observations.  

Yesterday, during my morning walk, the winds were blowing from the southeast at a speed of 15 t0 25 miles per hours.  The sky was filled with large dark rain filled clouds.  It gently rained occasionally.  I was immersed in Seven Realms: Light, Wind, Water, Stone, Plant, Animals, and We. Another "peak experience" based on 'Being-Values' ... as per Abraham Maslow's analysis. 

Shown below, in a photograph from July, is my daily walking path. It is a .35 mile, asphalt paved, cul-de-sac, Kilkenny Lane, in Red Bluff, California.  Kilkenny Lane moves in an east-west direction from the front of my home to Highway 99 West.  I practice Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung in the paved circular area in front of my house shown the shadowed foreground of this picture.  I rarely encounter a car on Kilkenny Lane.   

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 68

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 68

"He who excels as a warrior is not warlike.
He who excels as a fighter is not wrathful.
He who excels in conquering the enemy does not strive.
He who excels in employing men is lowly.
This is called the virtue of not-striving.
This is called utilizing men's ability.
This is called complying with heaven-since olden times the highest." 
-  Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 68   

"He who in Tao's wars has skill
Assumes no martial port;
He who fights with most good will
To rage makes no resort.
He who vanquishes yet still
Keeps from his foes apart;
He whose hests men most fulfill
Yet humbly plies his art.
Thus we say, 'He ne'er contends,
And therein is his might.'
Thus we say, 'Men's wills he bends,
That they with him unite.'
Thus we say, 'Like Heaven's his ends,
No sage of old more bright.' "
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 68  

"An effective warrior acts
not from nihilistic anger,
nor from desire to kill.
He who wins should not be vengeful.
An employer should have humility.
If we wish for peace and unity,
our dealings with our fellow man
must be without desire for self-advantage,
and carried out without contention."
-  Translated by Stan Rosenthal, 1984, Chapter 68  

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 68 

shan wei shih chê pu wu.
shan chan chê pu nu.
shan shêng ti chê pu yü.
shan yung jên chê wei chih hsia.
shih wei pu chêng chih tê. 
shih wei yung jên chih li.
shih wei p'ei t'ien ku chih chi.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 68  

"The great commander is not a warlike man,
The hardest fighter is not a man of wrath,
The greatest conqueror shares not in the strife,
The great employer treads the workmen's path.
This is the virtue known as "striving not,"
The wondrous power of utilizing men,
And this is called the fellowship with Heaven,
The fellowship the ancients followed then."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 68  

"A good captain is not impetuous.
A good fighter is not angry.
A good conqueror does not engage his adversaries.
A good user of men makes himself inferior to them.
This may be called the Virtue of not striving.
This may be called the strength to use men.
This may be called the acme of conformity to heaven."
-  Translated by Jan J. L. Duyvendak, 1954, Chapter 68   

"Un buen soldado nunca es agresivo; un buen guerrero nunca es irascible.
La mejor manera de conquistar a un enemigo es ganarle sin enfrentarse a él.
La mejor manera de emplear a alguien es servir bajo sus órdenes.
A esto se llama la virtud de la no-lucha!
A esto se llama emplear las capacidades de los hombres!
A esto se llama estar casado con el cielo desde siempre!"
-  Translated into English by John C. H. Wu, Spanish version by Alfonso Colodrón, 2007, Capitulo 68  

"The best soldier is not soldierly;
The best fighter is not ferocious;
The best conqueror does not take part in war;
The best employer of men keeps himself below them.
This is called the virtue of not contending;
This is the ability of using men;
This is called the supremacy of consorting with heaven."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 68  

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weightlifting for Seniors

I am very active with strength training at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff.  My current weightlifting training partner is Roger Andreson.  I am 68 years of age and Roger is 64.  

We lift weights for 45 to 60 minutes 5 days each week.  My current weightlifting goals, objectices and programs are detailed on my strength training webpage.  

Strength Training for Persons Over 55 Years of Age 

Building Muscle Beyond 50 Blog

Senior Health and Fitness Blog

I find all kinds of interesting information, useful tips, and good ideas at the Building Muscle Beyond 50 Blog.

"In a UCLA study, researchers determined the more muscle mass you have the better your chances to live longer.
“In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, an associate professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School and the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”
This is the first study I’ve read that appears to offer more hope than a few years of extra life for people who work out. This fits in with the question I’ve always had about studies that found working out and/or exercising provided minimal increases in your lifespan (1-4 years). My question, related to many other studies, was if working out can give you a large measure of protection against fatal health conditions why wouldn’t it expand your years as you sidestepped these killer maladies?
Surely if building and/or maintaining muscle mass protects you from an earlier death, you would get many more years of living simply by working out. Of course, there are never any guarantees in these matters, but the results of this research look promising.
University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences. (2014, March 14). Older adults: Build muscle and you’ll live longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 16, 2014.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shaolin Bodhidharma's Cane Form

The Shaolin Temple uses a cane form with 32 movements. The Shaoln "cane" has a cross handle at the end, and kind of looks like a pick axe. It is called the Shaolin Bodhidharma Cane (Damo Guai Zhang). 

Here is a longer instructional DVD by a Shaolin teacher, Shi Deyang.  It is 44:27 minutes long on UTube.  I purchased this DVD a few years back.   This instructional video features the form done in a brisk, quick and powerful manner.

Taijiquan Cane Weapon Research, Bibliography, and Practices

Way of the Short Staff

Long Staff Weapons Practices 

The next UTube features a woman doing the Shaolin Bodhidharma's Cane Form in a slower and gentler manner with a walking stick. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fluttering and Dancing in the Breeze

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
-  William Wordsworth, Daffodils

"Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell,
       and the splendor of winter had passed out of sight,
The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger
       than dreams that fulfill us in sleep with delight;
The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops
       and branches that glittered and swayed
Such wonders and glories of blossom like snow
       or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade
That the sea was not lovelier than here was the land,
       nor the night than the day, nor the day than the night,
Nor the winter sublimer with storm than the spring:
       such mirth had the madness and might in thee made,
March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms
        that enkindle the season they smite."
-  Algernon C. Swinburne, March: An Ode

March: Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Lore

The Spirit of Gardening

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eight Immortals Tai Chi Cane Form

Here is a T'ai Chi Ch'uan Cane form that I enjoy practicing and have taught to many of my students: 

The Eight Immortals Cane Form.  Created by Master Jesse Tsao from San Diego, California.  Part I of this cane form is based on the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  This form has 36 movements.

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine One.  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 64 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine One is based on the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support. 

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine Two (Cannon Cane).  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 65 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine Two, Cannon Cane, is based on the Chen Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support.  

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, bibliography, 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.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Toju Zenchu brandished his staff before Daoist Shifu Miao Zhang and challenged him "Miao Zhang, speak and you get whacked with Nanten's staff.  Do not speak and you still get whacked with Nanten's staff."
Shifu Zhang stood up quickly, lifted his cane strongly in defense, and quietly said, "Yunmen's shit stick stinks and Nanten's staff is cracked!  I am leaving now to take my evening walk. Goodbye." 

Taijiquan Cane Weapon Research, Bibliography, and Practices

Way of the Short Staff

Long Staff Weapons Practices 

Dr. Andy Fitz-Gibbon teaches Taijiquan and maintains a blog for the Way of Peace Taijiquan Association.  He is also the Abbot for the Lindisfarne Community in Ithaca, New York.  He is shown performing the Eight Immortals Cane form in the UTube video below. 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Taiji Cane Form, Standard Beijing 24 Style

Here is a very graceful, fluid, and powerful T'ai Chi Ch'uan cane weapon routine.  The movements are based on the Standard Taijiquan 24 Movements Beijing Form in the Yang Style. A common wood cane is used.  

This form is performed by Master Wen-Ching Wu, and probably created by him, and is produced for UTube by Way Dragon Wushu in 2011.  
Taijiquan Cane Weapon Research, Bibliography, and Practices

Way of the Short Staff

Long Staff Weapons Practices  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Helping the Frail and Elderly Walk Again

9 Practical Walking Principles
By Arieh Lev Breslow
"Tai Chi Falls Prevention Manual"

"1. Wear shoes that fit comfortably and promote balance. Look for shoes that are stable from side to side and are well-cushioned. They should enable you to walk smoothly and comfortably and provide you enough room to wiggle your toes while being snug in the heels. 

2. When you step forward, always step with the heel first. Then roll your weight onto the bottom of your foot. This is the natural way to walk. If you can’t do this, then you need to ask for a diagnosis from your physician or physical therapist. If you are stepping with the flat part of the foot or the ball of the foot first, you will be unbalanced with each step. 

3. Allow your weight to sink into your ankles and knees as if they were springs. This will impart a sense of buoyancy to your body as you walk. If your knee and ankle joints are held in a rigid or locked position, your gait will lose its fluidity and thus increase the probability of falling. 

4. As you walk, be aware of the shifting of weight - Tai Chi Walking 

5. Walk from your belly button. The Chinese call this area, Tan-Tien (pronounced “Dahn T-yen"). It is approximately the center of the body and the storage place of Chi energy. Imagine that you have a belt around your body with a piece of it extended out from your belly button. When you walk, allow yourself to be gently led as if someone was pulling the extended piece of belt. Remember that this is only an image. You should not walk with your belly sticking out. No one from the outside should know that you are using this image. 

6. Walk with an Upright Body. The idea of your headtop being lifted toward heaven by a string is an important image in Tai Chi Walking. It works against the tendency to lean. When you lean, you are likely to fall in that direction. 

7. Before you change direction, first turn your head and look in the direction you want to go. Then turn your body in that direction. Many falls occur when turning too fast. 

8. The arms should swing naturally at the sides of the body. This is important because the arms provide balance and momentum. If they are held in the pockets, they cannot be used to prevent or to cushion a fall. 

9. Breathe deeply in a natural way to relax the body. A stiff body is like a pole ready to topple over. Breathing deeply will also mitigate the mental fear factor." 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 69

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 69

"A master of the art of war has said, 'I do not dare to be the host to commence the war;
I prefer to be the guest to act on the defensive.
I do not dare to advance an inch;
I prefer to retire a foot.'
This is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks;
Baring the arms to fight where there are no arms to bare;
Grasping the weapon where there is no weapon to grasp;
Advancing against the enemy where there is no enemy.
There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war.
To do that is near losing the gentleness which is so precious.
Thus it is that when opposing weapons are actually crossed, he who deplores the situation conquers."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 69    

"In conflict just be cautious
And always on your guard
Rather than advance an inch
Instead retreat a yard
In this way you go along
And make your gain without advancing
You deal with the rival
As your position is enhancing
Remember that it's possible
Your rival just may yield
So don't advance on such a foe
Let differences be healed."
-  Translated by Jim Caltfelter, 2000, Chapter 69  

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 69

yong bing you yan.
wu bu gan wei zhu er wei ke.   
bu gan jin cun er tui chi. 
shi wei hang wu hang.  
rang wu bi reng wu di.
zhi wu bing. 
huo mo da yu qing di.   
qing di ji sang wu bao. 
gu kang bing xiang jia. 
ai zhe sheng yi. 
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 69  

"A great soldier used to say:
"I plan not to be a Lord, but to be a follower; I plan not to advance an inch, but to recede a foot.
This is called:
Advancing with the advantage of Inner Life, baring the arm with the energy of Inner Life, grasping a weapon with the force of Inner Life, meeting the foe as a soldier of Inner Life.
There is no calamity greater than lightly to engage in war.
To engage lightly in war is to lose our treasure of gentleness.
Therefore, when soldiers meet who are equally strong,
He who is compassionate shall conquer."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 69 

"An ancient tactician has said:
'I dare not act as a host, but would rather act as a guest;
I dare not advance an inch, but would rather retreat a foot.'
This implies that he does not marshal the ranks as if there were no ranks;
He does not roll up his sleeves as if he had no arms;
He does not seize as if he had no weapons;
He does not fight as if there were no enemies.
No calamity is greater than under-estimating the enemy.
To under-estimate the enemy is to be on the point of losing our treasure.
Therefore, when opposing armies meet in the field the ruthful will win."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 69  

"Hay un dicho sobre el uso de las armas:
No te apresures a ser anfítrión;
Ejerce, más bien, de huésped.
No te apresures a avanzar una pulgada;
Retrocede, máa bien, un pie. 
Se dice que esto es avanzar sin avancar,
Golpear y retroceder sin extender el codo.
Apoderarte de tu adversario sin arma
Y conquistar sin tener adversario alguno.
No hay mayor desastre que despreciar a tud adversario;
Despreciar a tu adversario te conduce casi siempre
     a perder tus tsoros
     con la facilidad con que caen las hojas de los árboles.
Así cuando se enfrentan do rivales alzando las armas,
Vencerá el que lamenta luchar."
-  Translated from Chinese to English by William Scott Wilson, Spanish version by Alejandro Pareja, 2012, Capitulo 69

"An experienced soldier said, 'I dare not be
The host in war, I' d rather be the guest;
I dare not, at the first, advance an inch,
But rather would retire a foot if pressed.'
It is to march when there' s nowhere to march,
To threat with arms when there are arms nowhere,
To charge without an enemy in sight,
To take by sword and spear when none are there.
Misfortune never greater can there be
Than to make light of enemies in war,
Thereby we lose our all, for then when meet
Embattled hosts, the weak is conqueror."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 69

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Manifesto for Humanists

Humanist Manifesto 2000

I. Preamble.  Humanism is an ethical, scientific, and philosophical outlook that has changed the world. Its heritage traces back to the philosophers and poets of ancient Greece and Rome, Confucian China, and the Charvaka movement in classical India. Humanist artists, writers, scientists, and thinkers have been shaping the modern era for over half a millennium. Indeed, humanism and modernism have often seemed synonymous for humanist ideas and values express a renewed confidence in the power of human beings to solve their own problems and conquer uncharted frontiers.

II. Prospects for a Better Future. 
For the first time in human history we possess the means provided by science and technology to ameliorate the human condition, advance happiness and freedom, and enhance human life for all people on this planet.

III. Scientific Naturalism.  The unique message of humanism on the current world scene is its commitment to scientific naturalism. Most world views accepted today are spiritual, mystical, or theological in character. They have their origins in ancient pre-urban, nomadic, and agricultural societies of the past, not in the modern industrial or postindustrial global information culture that is emerging. Scientific naturalism enables human beings to construct a coherent world view disentangled from metaphysics or theology and based on the sciences.

IV. The Benefits of Technology. 
Humanists have consistently defended the beneficent values of scientific technology for human welfare. Philosophers from Francis Bacon to John Dewey have emphasized the increased power over nature that scientific knowledge affords and how it can contribute immeasurably to human advancement and happiness.

V. Ethics and Reason.  The realization of the highest ethical values is essential to the humanist outlook. We believe that growth of scientific knowledge will enable humans to make wiser choices. In this way there is no impenetrable wall between fact and value, is and ought. Using reason and cognition will better enable us to appraise our values in the light of evidence and by their consequences.

VI. A Universal Commitment to Humanity as a Whole.  The overriding need of the world community today is to develop a new Planetary Humanism—one that seeks to preserve human rights and enhance human freedom and dignity, but also emphasizes our commitment to humanity as a whole. The underlying ethical principle of Planetary Humanism is the need to respect the dignity and worth of all persons in the world community.

VII. A Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.  To fulfill our commitment to Planetary Humanism, we offer a Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which embodies our planetary commitment to the well-being of humanity as a whole. It incorporates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but goes beyond it by offering some new provisions. Many independent countries have sought to implement these provisions within their own national borders. But there is a growing need for an explicit Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that applies to all members of the human species.

VIII. A New Global Agenda.  Many of the high ideals that emerged following the Second World War, and that found expression in such instruments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have waned through the world. If we are to influence the future of humankind, we will need to work increasingly with and through the new centers of power and influence to improve equity and stability, alleviate poverty, reduce conflict, and safeguard the environment.

IX. The Need for New Planetary Institutions.  The urgent question in the twenty-first century is whether humankind can develop global institutions to address these problems. Many of the best remedies are those adopted on the local, national, and regional level by voluntary, private, and public efforts. One strategy is to seek solutions through free-market initiatives; another is to use international voluntary foundations and organizations for educational and social development. We believe, however, that there remains a need to develop new global institutions that will deal with the problems directly and will focus on the needs of humanity as a whole. These include the call for a bicameral legislature in the United Nations, with a World Parliament elected by the people, an income tax to help the underdeveloped countries, the end of the veto in the Security Council, an environmental agency, and a world court with powers of enforcement.

X. Optimism about the Human Prospect.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as members of the human community on this planet we need to nurture a sense of optimism about the human prospect. Although many problems may seem intractable, we have good reasons to believe that we can marshal our talent to solve them, and that by goodwill and dedication a better life will be attainable by more and more members of the human community. Planetary humanism holds forth great promises for humankind. We wish to cultivate a sense of wonder and excitement about the potential opportunities for realizing enriched lives for ourselves and for generations yet to be born.

Humanist Manifesto 2000, A Call for a New Planetary Humanism

   Drafted by Professor Paul Kurtz, International Academy of Humanism, USA

The Good Life

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Taiji Stick Qigong

Taiji Yangsheng Zhang: Taiji Stick Qigong (Chinese Health Qigong)  By the Chinese Health Qigong Association.  Singing Dragon, 2014.  96 pages.  2 instructional DVDs.  ISBN: 978-1848191945.  VSCL.  

"A set of exciting and unusual Taiji Stick qigong exercises is presented in this accessible introduction. Embodying the concepts of taiji, the movements emphasize the harmony of yin and yang, man and nature. Appropriate for all levels of experience and for all age groups, this new set of easy-to-learn exercises distils the essence of traditional stick practice, guides body movements and the movement of the stick, and coordinates directed breathing and imagination. The book provides step-by-step, fully-illustrated instruction, and includes an account of the origins of the movements and guidance for practice. An accompanying DVD features a video demonstrating the form and additional information on its history and origins, and a CD provides options for verbal instructions to lead the practitioner through the exercises, or music to accompany them. The book is an authoritative resource that will help students and practitioners of taiji, qigong, martial arts and Chinese medicine perfect and deepen their practice. It is also an excellent practical introduction for anyone with an interest in the ancient health and martial practices of China.  The Chinese Health Qigong Association is dedicated to the popularization of and research into Health Qigong, and is a group member of the All-China Sports Federation. Its aim is to promote and carry forward the Chinese traditional culture of health promotion and facilitate the communication between Western and Eastern Cultures."

Frankly, there is nothing unusual or special about this Taiji Yangsheng Zhang exercise regimen.  The form is uncomplicated and very simple.  Anyone with rudimentary experience with yoga or qigong could easily take a stick in their hands and practice similar movements.  Fit individuals will find it far to easy to be of interest to them; and, should seek more challenging Taiji Cane forms.  

Taijiquan Cane Practices

Way of the Short Staff

Long Staff Weapons Practices  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spirit is Not Separate from the Body

"Before beginning this journey inward, we must clarify its nature.  There is a frequent misunderstanding of the journey inward or the spiritual path, which suggests to most people a rejection of the natural world, the mundane, the practical, the pleasurable.  On the contrary, to a yogi (or indeed a Taoist master or Zen monk) the path toward spirit lies entirely in the domain of nature.  It is the exploration of nature from the world of appearances, or surface, into the subtlest heart of living matter.  Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek be a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.  For the yogi, spirit is not separate from the body.  Spirituality, as I have tried to make clear, is not ethereal and outside nature but accessible and palpable in our very own bodies."
-  B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, 2005, p. 18

Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom  By B.K.S. Iyengar.  With John J. Evans and Douglas Abrams.  Rodale Books, 2005.  Index, 282 pages.  ISBN: 1594862486.  VSCL. 

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health  By B.K.S. Iyengar.  London, Dorling Kindersley, 2001.  Index, glossary, appendices, 415 pages.  ISBN: 0789471655. 
Lavishly illustrated compendium of essential poses, routines, prop use, and yoga routines to help specific health problems.  VSCL.    

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vitality and Attention

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."
-  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.”
-  Edith Södergran  
“Do stuff.  Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.  Pay attention.  It's all about paying attention.  Attention is vitality.  It connects you with others.  It makes you eager.  Stay eager.”
-  Susan Sontag

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The "Cosmos" Televison Series Returns

The National Geographic Television Channel (FOX) is now presenting a new 2014 version of the famous "Cosmos" series each Sunday.  It is now narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

Last Sunday, the NGTC (FOX) ran all the old "Cosmos" 1980 series episodes, narrated by Carl Sagan.  I recorded each episode and rewatched the original series. 

Cosmos  By Carl Sagan (1934-1996).  Introduction by Ann Druyan, and Foreword by Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Reprinted by Ballantine Books in 2013.  Originally published by Random House in 1980.  Index, recommended reading, notes, 432 pages. ISBN: 9780345539435.  VSCL.  The most popular science book of the last 50 years.  The TV series, Cosmos (1980), has been viewed by over 500 million people. 

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark  By Carl Sagan.  New York, Ballantine Books, 1996.  Index, references, 457 pages.  ISBN: 9780345409461.  VSCL.  A thorough investigation of pseudo-science in contemporary life.  

I am rereading both Cosmos and The Demon Haunted World.  

Instead of Cosmos a person could watch, instead, one or more of the many current television "programs" featuring zombies, bigfoot, mediums, vampires, super-heroes with magical powers, ghost hunting, demons, psychics, preachers of the supernatural, UFO hunters, magicians, fabricated crime dramas, wizards, Bible myths, aliens, witches, angels, paranormal phenomena, prophets, religious relics, cults and many other topics of questionable value to the scientifically and practically minded.  How have these topics contributed one iota to our progress in medicine, agriculture, technology, tools, homemaking, better communities, or practical living?  Unquestionably, to my mind, in America, our tolerance for bunk, stupidity, spooky fictions, fringe rarities, bogus ideas, trivia and nonsense knows no limit on television.  Television is now worse that in 1990 when Professor Sagan tried to enlighten us about the dangers of pseudo-science. 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Savoring Beauty Daily

A friend of mine who lives in a nearby town, Evi Shumacher, is doing creative work with her photographs and short poems on her new blog:  Savoring Beauty Daily.  

Evi is also a very active and creative member of Facebook at her Evi Schumacher homepage.  

Evi and her husband, Richard, have practiced Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong with me for a few years.  

March 13th, 2014
"On a clear day you really can see forever~or so it seems
even things far away suddenly seem near enough to touch
homeward bound~Mt Shasta beckons~dominating our view
nearly three hours north~snowy flanks illuminated by the sun
how enticing and magical the view~hovering above the orchards
a mirage~rising from the valley floor~seen by travelers for miles
speeding up the freeway headed north~closer to it's white splendor
our thoughts drift to the early pioneers who would see it for weeks
 arduous journey north never ending it seemed~near and yet so far
driving their oxen~mile after tiring mile~ maybe fifteen a day 
 tremendous courage and strength~trying to find their way home."
-  Evi Schumacher, Savoring Beauty Daily

Walking - A Small Rebirth of Well-Being

"When my neighbor walks the dogs, he performs a ritual act of sacer simplicitas, to use the church Latin: "sacred simplicity."  Walking the dog is in truth a ritual of renewal and revival on an intimate scale - a small rebirth of well-being on a daily basis."
-   Robert Fulghum, From Beginning to End

"For someone who walks regularly, their body is better able to deliver oxygen to all systems, including the brain, because they’ve improved their cardiovascular function. Not surprisingly, regular walkers report better mental clarity and ability to focus. Creativity is enhanced because walkers have the ability to relax their mind and let it wander around while they’re walking. Outdoor strollers can have the benefit of beautiful scenery as well as just seeing things from a different perspective, which stimulates creative thought and the imagination.  Whether you want to improve your body, your mind or both, the benefits of walking should encourage you to make the time to do it."
Mental Benefits of Walking, Creating a Good Life

"Although the vast majority of walkers never even think of using a walking staff, I unhesitatingly include it among the foundations of the house that travels on my back."
-   Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III

"Today I know there is nothing beyond the farthest of far ridges except a sign-post to unknown places.  The end is in the means - in the sight of that beautiful long straight line of the Downs in which a curve is latent - in the houses we shall never enter, with their dark secret windows and quiet hearth smoke, or their ruins friendly only to elders and nettles - in the people passing whom we shall never know thought we may love them.  Today I know that I walk because it is necessary to do so in order to both live and to make a living."
-  Edward Thomas,  A Fellow Walker  

Ways of Walking:  Quotations, Sayings, Poems, Lore  

The Good Life

Mike Garofalo in 1984
Rock Creek Basin, Mt. Starr (12,870')

Sierra Nevada, CA 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 70

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 70

"My words are very easy to understand and very easy to practice:
but in the world no one can understand, no one can practice them.
Words have an ancestor; Deeds have a master - Reason. 
Since he is not understood, therefore I am not understood.
Those who understand me are few, and thus I am distinguished.
Therefore the holy man wears wool, and hides in his bosom his jewels."
-  Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 70   

"My words are very easy to understand
And very easy to put into practice.
Yet no one under heaven understands them;
No one puts them into practice.
But my words have an ancestry, my deeds have a lord;
And it is precisely because men do not understand this
That they are unable to understand me.
Few then understand me, but it is upon this very fact my value depends.
It is indeed in this sense that “the Sage wears hair-cloth on top,
But carries jade under neath his dress.”"
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 70  

"My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice;
but in all the world there is no one who can understand them and can put them into practice.
My words have a system, my actions have a governor.
Indeed, it is just because they are not understood, that men do not understand me.
Those who understand me are rare, those who pattern themselves after me are highly prized.
Thus the Saint wears hair-cloth, but carries jade in his breast."
-  Translated by Jan Julius Duyvendak, Chapter 70   

吾言甚易知, 甚易行.
天下莫能知, 莫能行.
夫唯無知, 是以不我知.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 70

wu yan shen yi zhi, shen yi xing.
tian xia mo neng zhi, mo neng xing.
yan you zong. 
shi you jun.
fu wei wu zhi, shi yi bu wo zhi.
zhi wo zhe xi. 
ze wo zhe gui.
shi yi sheng ren pi he er huai yu.
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 70

"My words are very easily known.
They are very easily practiced.
No one in the world can fully know them,
No one in the world can fully practice them.
My words come from one Source,
My service is to one Ruler.
The Master indeed knows the Inner Kingdom,
That is why he knows the negation of self.
Few there are who know the self.
Because they know it not, they prize the self.
That is why the self-controlled man wears wool.
But in his bosom are jewels."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 70  

"La palabras tienen un origen; los hechos, una ley.
Mis palabras son fáciles de comprender y fáciles de seguir,
Y, sin embargo, nadie las comprende y nadie las practica.
Es la sabiduría la que impide al hombre acercarse a mi.
Son pocos los que me siguen, porque estoy más allá de toda alabanza.
Por ello el Sabio se cubre con una tela tosca, pero guarda joyas en su seno.
Conoce su valor, pero no lo ostenta. 
Se ama a sí mismo, pero no se tiene en alta estima.
Rechaza lo último y se ciñe a lo primero."
-  Translated from Chinese into English by Ch'u Ta-Kao, Translated from English into Spanish by Caridad Diaz Faes, Capitulo 70

"Words have an ancestor; deeds have a governor.
My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise,
Yet all men in the world do not know them nor practise them.
It is because they have knowledge that they do not know me.
When those who know me are few, eventually I am beyond all praise.
Therefore the Sage wears clothes of coarse cloth but carries jewels in his bosom;
He knows himself but does not display himself;
He loves himself but does not hold himself in high esteem.
Thus he rejects the latter and takes the former.
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 70 

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Practicing and Learning Tai Chi Chuan

We don’t "really learn” Tai Chi by listening to, imitating, and following a live Tai chi instructor, or reading Tai Chi books, or watching Tai Chi instructional DVDs.  The “learning” comes from practicing Tai Chi, playing Tai Chi, moving by Tai chi, and feeling Tai Chi.  We move from being awkward and uncomfortable to moving gracefully, fluidly, easily, confidently, and beautifully.  Live and virtual Tai Chi instructors provide us with information and ideas about what Tai Chi has been for others and could be for us, its rich history, and provide us with a model of how a "form" might look and be realized as expressed by their body-mind.  Our instructor's "mind" set or intention is important - depending, for example, on whether they emphasize martial applications or they are a New Age energy arts dancer.  Likewise, our own progress in "learning" will depend upon our own "mind set" of intentions, dedication, toughness, the courage to go beyond our limitations and failures, and our willpower.  Learning Tai Chi is always a complex matrix of interactions, lived experiences, daily training, and accumulated muscle memories.  Less thinking and more practice, training, and doing will result in the greatest learning.  Repeated movements are the foundation for Tai Chi learning.  

"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states."
-  Carol Welch 

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do." 
-  Bruce Lee  

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."
-  Alan Cohen

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Standard Beijing 24 Taijiquan Form

The first Taijiquan form I learned in 1986 was the Standard 24 Movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  At that time there were no books or instructional videotapes on this popular form.  Since that time, nearly 25 years have passed.  Now there are dozens of books and instructional DVDs and webpages on the subject of the 24 Form. 

Mike Garofalo 'Playing the Pipa'

My webpage on the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form has been the most popular webpage on the Cloud Hands Website for many years. In the sidebar of this blog, you will find a quick index to this webpage.

Standard Simplified Taijiquan 24 Form.  Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. 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 T'ai Chi Ch'uan form, created in 1956, is the most popular form practiced all around the world.  This form uses the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California:  Webpage URL:  File size: 269 Kb. 

This webpage provides many good suggestions for a person learning this form on their own if there is no Tai Chi class in their area. 

The best book that I have seen on the subject is:

The Yang Taiji 24 Step Short Form: A Step by Step Guide for All Levels
By James Drewe  London, Singing Dragon Press, 2011.  382 pages, black and white photographs, charts, detailed descriptions, training tips.
I give information on many other fine books by other good authors on the 24 Form in my webpage: Cheng Zhao, Foen Tjoeng Lie, Eric Chaline, Le Deyin, etc.. 

My students tell me that their favorite instructional DVD on the 24 Form is:

Tai Chi - The 24 Forms
By Dr. Paul Lam

I have taught this lovely Tai Chi form to hundreds of people since 2000.  Everyone tells me how much they enjoy learning and practicing this gentle form.

I also teach and enjoy playing the Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Movement Form created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Actually, in the last year, I prefer practicing the Chen 18 Form more.