Thursday, March 31, 2016

Back Home Again in Red Bluff

This past week, from 3/25 - 3/30, I was in Portland, Oregon.  I enjoyed visiting with my two children and their families.   We celebrated Easter in style!  

My son, Michael Delmer, is steadily recovering from his recent kidney surgery. He received a kidney transplant on 3/15 by a surgical team at the Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland.  He had been on dialysis for four years.  

Karen has been helping to care for Mick in Portland since 3/20.  

Karen and I and drove from Vancouver to Longview, and then by Route 4 to Long Beach, Washington, and down to Cape Disappointment State Park.  

Back to four days of my home routines, unpacking, reading, walking, taijiquan practice, webpage creation, gardening, home improvement projects, chores, etc.  I go back to my job on Monday morning.  Looking forward to some dry weather for outdoor projects.  

Travel Guides to Washington and Oregon  

Nehalem Bay State Park Sunset 3

Chen Taijiquan Broadsword Routine

Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan Saber (Dao, Broadsword) Form.  23 Movement Form.

This 23 Movement Single Broadsword (Dao) Form was Created by Chen Zhaopei (1893-1972), 18th Generation Chen Style Taijiquan Grandmaster, in the 1930's. 

Chen Style Taijiquan Broadsword Form, List of 23 Movements (PDF)

Chen Style Taijiquan

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form

Chen Tai Chi Broadsword Form.  Instructional DVD by Sifu Ken Gullette.  "Sifu Gullette takes you into the Chen Tai Chi Broadsword Form in a way that no other DVD or VCD does. Ken's experience with the broadsword, both as a tournament champion and teacher, adds a new level of information that martial artists around the world have come to expect from him.  For centuries, this form had only 13 movements. In the 1930's Chen Zhaopei added 9 more to create the form that's practiced today by the Chen family. This is the form that Sifu Gullette learned from Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang's students, Master Ren Guangyi and disciples Jim and Angela Criscimagna.  In this DVD, you'll see the complete form with front and rear views. You'll get individual instruction on each movement in the form--step by step--with an emphasis on the internal body mechanics. You'll also learn the fighting applications for each movement. In a special section, you'll also learn basic broadsword techniques that can be used in any style of martial arts -- blocks, deflections, cutting techniques, stances, plus you'll learn how to use a scabbard in combat."


   "The Chen-style Single Broadsword Routine is a kind of the Chen-style Taiji short weapons.  There are thirteen movement in the routine, so it is called the 'thirteen broadswords.'  From 1930 to 1938, the famous Taijiquan master, the Chen-Family descendent of the eighteenth generation, Chen Zhaopei had added nine movements at the basic of original routine during teaching Taijiquan in Nanjing city.  So it became the popular Taiji Single Broadsword routine in Chenjiagou village.
    The Chen-style Taiji Single Broadsword routine is short and refined, the usages of the forms are clear.  There are thirteen kinds of rolling, closing, pricking, blocking, cutting, hacking, scooping, cross-cutting, twisting, shaking, supporting, slicing and tilting.  They really reflect the characteristics of the Chen-style Taiji Single Broadsword, combining hardness and softness in harmony, equaling stress the quickness and slowness, dodging and transfers, relaxing and nimble, springing and shaking, sticking to each other without being separated, twine to neutralize the force.  It remains the momentum of liking a fierce tiger and cutting forcefully to the Hua Mountain.  It's short weapon, but it can be used as a long weapon."
-   Chen Zenglei, Chen Style Taijiquan, Sword and Broadsword, 2003, p. 322  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jumpin Jack Flash

When I start feeling a bit down, I play the song "Jumpin Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones created in 1968.

We all have past and present difficulties, problems, negative experiences, frustrations, friends and family that get sick and die, we get old, people fail us and we fail others, disappointments mount, sadness pervades...  

BUT don't WHINE.  Jump Up, Jump Up.  Let go of the past.  Be like Jumpin Jack Flash.  Resurrect Yourself!  Count your Blessings, today!  Onward!

Life is, for me, generally, a GAS!   It's a gas, gas, gas!

"I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right. Im Jumpin Jack Flash,
Its a gas! gas! gas!

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, Im Jumpin Jack flash,
Its a gas! gas! gas!

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead.
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled.
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I was crowned with a spike right thru my head.
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, Im Jumpin Jack flash,
It's a gas! gas! gas!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Verses of Memory

"However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses."
Richard McKay Rorty, 1931-2007  American Philosopher
   The Fire of Life, 2007

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: Thirtieth-Anniversary Edition

"We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea."
-  A. C. Swinburne, "Garden of Proserpine"

Last year, Karen and I watched a fascinating and touching documentary about the efforts of Dan Cohen to bring music to persons in nursing homes.   "Alive Inside: Music and Memory", 1 hour and 20 minutes.  A worthy cause!!  A fascinating discussion about how music effects our minds from infancy to old age.  How is it that you can remember the verses to songs you learned when you were three years old?

As for Tai Chi Chuan and music ... I recall only T. T. Liang recommending you play music while practicing Taijiquan and timing your moves to the music as if dancing.  Maybe Sophia Delza also advocated doing Taijiquan to music since she was an expert on Asian dancing.  Now, in 2015, you can use an IPod or Sony Walkman or other devices to play digital music and listen on ear phones or ear plugs while practicing Taijiquan or Qigong.  I have also purchased and listened to prerecorded music especially designed for specific Taijiquan forms or Qigong which are timed to match a proper performance of the form.  I know that the Tai Chi Kung Fu fan form is specifically timed for performance to a specific piece of music.  I am not particularly fond of the tuning and twanginess and lively pace used in traditional Chinese music, but anyone can find music they favor to suit the ambience desired for Taijiquan or Qigong practice.  I like a lot of New Age music or Japanese Zen flutes. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Look Hard at What Pleases You

"I live so much in my habitual thoughts that I forget there is any outside to the globe, and am surprised when I behold it as now--yonder hills and river in the moonlight, the monsters. Yet it is salutary to deal with the surface of things. What are these rivers and hills, these hieroglyphics which my eyes behold? There is something invigorating in this air, which I am peculiarly sensible is a real wind, blowing from over the surface of a planet. I look out at my eyes. I come to my window, and I feel and breathe the fresh air. It is a fact equally glorious with the most inward experience. Why have we ever slandered the outward?"
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Journal Vol. 4, 1852

"Look hard at what pleases you and harder at what doesn't."-  Colette 


"It is easy to suppose that few people realize on that occasion, which comes to all of us, when we look at the blue sky for the first time, that is to say: not merely see it, but look at it and experience it and for the first time have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetry, a geography that would be intolerable except for the non-geography that exists there - few people realize that they are looking at the world of their own thoughts and the world of their own feelings."  -   Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel 

Spirituality and Nature

A scene along the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, California.  The Sacramento River is less than three miles due east of my home.  The smaller volcanic cones in the background are about 10 miles northeast of Red Bluff.  The area north of Red Bluff is forested with deciduous "blue" oaks (Quercus douglassii).  Our area is considered to be the beginning of the volcanic Cascade Mountain range, starting with Mt. Lassen.  Mt. Shasta is 100 miles north of Red Bluff.  Volcanic mountains and cones are essential to the "hieroglyphics" of our place on this earth. 

Seeing - Quotes and Poems


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rising Up with Oestre

Who can resist the rising energy of Springtime?  Plants resurrecting themselves from the barren, seemingly dead, chilly winter silence.  Amazing!  Profound! Thankfully, Endless!  

Spring Quotations

March Quotations

Spring Equinox Celebrations

We enjoy a secular and pagan version of the Easter holiday: colored eggs, bunnies, chocolate, sumptuous meals, family and friends gathering, games, Springtime themes, fun.  

Since I am not a Christian, Judeo-Christian mythology holds little interest for me; I favor Greek, NeoPagan, and Chinese mythologies.  All have tales of creatures and beings rising from the dead, defeating death, resurrecting, fertilizing, born and reborn, Emergent, living on, Transmigration, in the springtime of your life, Springtime in California.  

"Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the "female hormone" estrogen derives from her name. Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal. Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara's gift of abundance."
- Easter History  

"Fertility rights are ceremonies of a magic-religious nature performed to ensure the perpetuation of mankind and to control the environment. Expressed as invocations, incantations, prayers, hymns, processions, dances, and sacred dramas, these liturgical endeavors were, and still are, believed to be closely connected with the mechanisms of nature. The basis for such rites is usually a belief in sympathetic magic - that is magic worked on one level to have an effect on a different level, and based on the assumption that life and fertility, whether animal or vegetable, are one and indivisible. If such fertility rites could induce fertility in the animal and human worlds, then the vegetable world would also be stimulated to reproduction, resulting in an abundant harvest."
-  Robert Ellison, The Solitary Druid, p. 130

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Taijiquan Yang Style Long 108 Form

Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan Traditional Long Form
By Michael P. Garofalo.

This webpage provides a list and brief description of the 108 movements of the Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form divided into five sections for teaching (.html and .pdf versions available). The webpage includes an extensive bibliography on the subject, scores of Internet links, historical notes, and quotations. 120Kb.

The Yang Long Form discussed on this webpage conforms to the form developed by Yang Cheng-Fu (1883-1936) and documented in books by Bu Fu Zongwen (1903-1994) and Yang Zhenduo. The numbering of the movements varies from author to author, but the essential sequence and moves remains the same.

Doing some research on the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan (85 and 24). Two books have caught me eye:

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan.  Bu Fu Zongwen (1903-1994).  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1999.  Glossary, bibliography, 226 pages.  Translations of many Tai Chi classics are included.  A list of the 85 movement long form and detailed notes and descriptions of each movement are provided.  251 movement analysis illustrations.  Over 76 of the illustrations are traced and drawn from photographs of Yang Cheng-Fu.  Detailed descriptions of the long form, pp. 26-162.  Push hands information.  Yang Tai Chi essentials.  ISBN: 1556433182.  I have found this to be an excellent book!  This book was first published in 1963 in China as "Yang Shi Taijiquan".  An informative introduction and good translation by Louis Swaim.  VSCL.    

Taijiquan.  By Li Deyin.  London, Singing Dragon, 2004, 2008.  In English.  402 pages.  ISBN: 9781848190047, 1848190042.  Includes a complimentary DVD.  Includes descriptions, with photographs, of the 81 Yang Taijiquan form, Simplified 24 Taijiquan, Competition 42 Taijiquan, Competition 42 Taiji Sword, and the 32 Taiji Sword.  The Yang long form (81 Steps) includes photographs of Li Yulin performing the Yang long form in 1931.  Li Yulin and Li Jinglin, under the supervision of Yang Chengfu, were preparing a book on the subject later published under the title "Textbook of Taijiquan."  The 81 form is described in detail in this new book by Li Deyin.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 35

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 35   

"One who holds fast to the Great Symbol
Gains the whole world
Bestows purest peace
Serenity and bliss.
Yet the hasty wayfarer
Attracted only by outer chars
Tastes Tao and is not aware of it
Sees Tao and does not perceive it
Listens to Tao and does not hear it.
But whoever
Grasps and holds it
Amid impermanence
Is grasped by the permanent
And attains duration."
-  Translated by K. O. Schmidt, 1975, Chapter 35

"Reside in the center
where understanding does not require words or images,
and folk will come to you to be taught
how to be serene.
Where there is good music and food
people stop to rest and regain their energy.
But though the Tao seems unmelodious or even bland
it is an inexhaustible source of refreshment."
-  Translated by Crispin Starwell, Chapter 35

"To him who holds to the Great Form all the world go.
It will go and see no danger, but tranquility, equality and community.
Music and dainties will make the passing stranger stop.
But Tao when uttered in words is so pure and void of flavor
When one looks at it, one cannot see it;
When one listens to it, one cannot hear it.
However, when one uses it, it is inexhaustible."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 35 

"The owner of the biggest image attracts the whole world.
When all who come have been safely settled,
The world will then be peaceful.
Melodious music and delicious food
Can only attract passers-by.
But the Way is, when put into one's mouth, tasteless,
When looked at, colorless,
When listened to, uninteresting,
And, when used, limitlessly bountiful."

-  Translated by Liu Qixuan, Chapter 35 

執大象, 天下往. 
往而不害, 安平大. 
樂與餌, 過客止. 
道之出口, 淡乎其無味.

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 35

zhi da xiang, tian xia wang.
wang er bu hai, an ping tai.
le yu er, guo ke zhi.
dao zhi chu kou, dan hu qi wu wei.
shi zhi bu zu jian.
ting zhi bu zu wen.
yong zhi bu zu ji.

-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 35 

"Hold the Great Symbol
and all the world follows,
Follows without meeting harm,
And lives in health, peace, commonwealth.
Offer good things to eat
And the wayfarer stays.
But Tao is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it cannot be seen;
Listened to, it cannot be heard;
Applied, its supply never fails."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 35 

"Apprehend the inimitable conception, you attract the world;
coming it receives no harm, but it tranquil, peaceful, satisfied.
Like transient guests, music and dainties pass away.
The Tao entering the mouth is insipid and without flavour;
when looked at it evades sight;
when listened for it escapes the ear.
Yet, its operations are interminable."
-  Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 35 

"The owner of the biggest image attracts the whole world.
When all who come have been safely settled,
The world will then be peaceful.
Melodious music and delicious food
Can only attract passers-by.
But the Way is, when put into one's mouth, tasteless,
When looked at, colorless,
When listened to, uninteresting,
And, when used, limitlessly bountiful."

-  Translated by Liu Qixuan, Chapter 35 

"El Tao carece de forma y aroma;
No puede ser visto ni oido,
Y su aplicación no puede ser agotada.
Si ofreces música y comida
Los extraños se detienen a tu lado;
Pero si estás de acuerdo con el Tao
La gente del Mundo te mantendrá
En seguridad, salud, compañía y paz."
-  Translated by Antonio Rivas Gonzálvez, 1998, Capítulo 35 

"If you offer music and food
Strangers may stop with you;
But if you accord with the Way
All the people of the world will keep you
In safety, health, community and peace.
The Way lacks art and flavor;
It can neither be seen or heard,
But its benefits cannot be exhausted."

-  Translated by Peter Merel, 1992, Chapter 35

"Hold fast the idea of "The Great,"
Then all men will be drawn to you.  
They will come to you and receive no hurt,
But rest, peace and great calm.
When you provide music and exquisite food
The traveller will stay with you gladly.
When the Tao flows out from you to him
By his palate he does not detect its savour,
By his eye he cannot perceive it,
By his ears he cannot hear it,
But in using it he finds it to be inexhaustible." 
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 35 

Chapter 35Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
A Philosopher's Notebooks 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March - The Master of Winds

"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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chen Taijiquan Laojia Yilu

Chen Style Taijiquan
Old Frame (Lao Jia), First Form (Yi Lu), Laojia Yilu   陈氏 太极拳 老架

Chen Taijiquan Laojia Yilu 74 Movement Hand Form Webpage

Bibliography, Links, Resources, List, Lessons, Guides
The most comprehensive guide to resources (books, DVDs, articles, and webpages) about the Chen Taijiquan LaoJia Yilu Routine.
A hypertext notebook by Mike Garofalo, 2016.

List of Movements in Laojia Yilu 74 Chen Taijiquan

Chen Style Taijiquan System

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Index

Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength  By C. P. Ong.  Bagua Press, 2013.  366 pages.  ISBN: 978-0615874074.  VSCL.  "This book diverges from traditional exposition on Taijiquan as it engages rather than shuns the role of muscles in elucidating the cryptic practice dictum of “using yi (mind) and not li (muscle force).” It centers on the core principle of Taiji balance—the balance of yin and yang, but presents the metaphysics of balance the way the body comprehends it, developmentally, through practice in the musculo-skeletal framework. In the process, the fog of mystique lifts, and the many abstruse concepts of Taijiquan become clear. Taijiquan training is physical at the initial phase, but the slow-motion exercise nurtures a meditative discipline of the mind. As it progresses, the soft methodology grows into one of building qi-energy, and then the practice becomes more internalized. The process fortifies the body with qi and cultivates a holistic balance of the organ systems. The book explains how the training methodology, in pursuing Taiji balance, leads to the development of a highly refined strength called neijin (inner strength). By incorporating the training of “silk-reeling energy” in Taiji balance, the practitioner develops the coiling power (chanrao jin) that underlies the magic of Taijiquan kungfu."  Dr. Ong has a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley.  C.P. Ong is a 20th generation Chen Family Taijiquan disciple of both Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei.  He has traveled with them, as well as with Zhu Tiancai, for a few years in their U.S. workshop tours.  This book has many photographs of his adventures and travels with Chen teachers.  

Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu.  By Sifu Ken Gullette.  Instructional DVD, 2 Disc Set, 5 hours and 3 minutes of Instruction, NTSC format.  Moline, Illinois, Internal Fighting Arts, 2015.  In-depth coaching on internal body dynamics.  Internal Fighting Arts of Ken Gullette, copyright 2015. .  Sifu Ken Gullette was certified in 2005 as an instructor through Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing's school in the Chen Villiage, China.  Sifu Gullette demonstrates the complete form from both a front and back view.  Detailed and informative verbal instructions and precise physical demonstrations are provided by Sifu Gullette for each of the 75 movements in this traditional form.  A strong emphasis on internal body mechanics.  Spiraling methods are given for the arms and hands.  Martial applications are shown.  Excellent coaching by Sifu Gullette for beginners learning this form.  Instruction is done with front, side, and rear views to facilitate visual learning.  Good English language is used: direct, explicit, clear, detailed, informative, with a calm and pleasant voice in a typical practical American style.  Very good attention to the legs: postures, movements, weighting, shifting, stepping angles, and principles.  His explanations, in general, are outstanding.  Five hours of superior instruction for an very affordable DVD at $29.95 in 2016.  This DVD lacks a good menu system - its only drawback.  You have to jump forward section by section to get to where you want to go.  VSCL.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Body Moving, Mind Moving

"We human beings have bodies.  We are "rational animals," but we are also "rational animals," which means that our rationality is embodied.  The centrality of human embodiment directly influences what and how things can be meaningful to us, the ways in which these meanings can be developed and articulated, the ways we are able to comprehend and reason about our experience, and the actions we take.  Our reality is shaped by the patterns of our bodily movement, the contours of our spatial and temporal orientation, and the forms of our interaction with objects."
-  Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind, 1987, xix

“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.”
-  Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

"It was a great thing to be a human being. It was something tremendous. Suddenly I'm conscious of a million sensations buzzing in me like bees in a hive. Gentlemen, it was a great thing."
-  Karel Capek  

“Somaesthetics can be defined as the critical study of the experience and use of one’s body as a locus of sensory-aesthetic appreciation (aesthesis) and creative self-fashioning.”
-  Richard Shusterman

Somaesthetic Practices for Health, Well-Being and Mindfulness

A Good Life

The Five Senses

The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason  By Mark Johnson.  University of Chicago Press, 1987, 1992.  Index, notes, 272 pages.  ISBN: 978-0226403182.  VSCL.

Thinking through the Body: Essays in Somaesthetics.  By Richard Schusterman.  New York, Cambridge University Press, 2012.  380 pages.  ISBN: 9781107698505.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Silk Reeling Exercises

Silk Reeling Exercises.  Research by Mike Garofalo.  The most comprehensive guide to resources (books, DVDs, articles, webpages) about Silk Reeling Exercises (Chan Ssu Gong).  Silk reeling exercises are used frequently by Chen Taijiquan practitioners.  Silk reeling helps a person develop skills for the expression of connected power, coordinated energy, connected strength, Jin

"In order to understand a move you must practice it 10,000 times.   This is called The School of Ten Thousand Repetitions.   ....  The Way is in training."
-   Miyamoto Mushashi 

Chen Taijiquan

     "Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang (1928- ), founder of the Hun Yuan Tai Chi system, states that Tai Chi is Chan Si (silk reeling).  This statement highlights the importance of this aspect of the training.  The Tai Chi classics speak of performing Tai Chi movements like reeling silk from a cocoon.  The analogy warns us that if the silk is reeled too fast, the thread will break.  If it is reeled too slowly, the thread will tangle.  The silk reeling exercises teach you to use an adequate amount of force to generate movements efficiently.  If you are too forceful, you will lock your joints and will fail to achieve freedom of movement.  If you are too limp or empty in Tai Chi terms, you will also fail to circle the joints completely, thus losing the full range of movement.

    The Chan Si Gong is an important training method for developing body awareness and coordination.  It is a link between building and expressing qi and jin (force)  These silk reeling movements work on different joints of the body: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, abdomen, waist, hips, kuas (inguinal crease), knees and ankles.  Grandmaster Feng describes the Chan Si Gong as training the body’s 18 balls.  If it is practiced well, the body moves like a well oiled machine, each part moving on a series of ball bearings.  The Chan Si Gong gradually builds up power through coordination, linking all the body’s joints like a string of pearls.  It teaches you the Tai Chi principle of moving the body as one unit.  The Tai Chi classics state that jin starts in the feet and is controlled by the waist and expressed by the hands.  This explains the way that Tai Chi generates and releases power.  It sounds simple.  However, in order to achieve this, each joint has to be strong yet flexible, and be able to listen and work with all other parts of the body.  If one joint is weak or tense, the force will be neutralised and the ground force will not be released.  What is released will only be a fraction of that potential power."
Silk Reeling Gong: The Key to Improving Your Tai Chi Form.   By Brett Wagland. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Springtime Celebration

Spring Equinox Celebration, March 20, 2016

"Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the sun and the earth.  Oh, what a catastrophic ...  This is what is the matter with us.  We are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and starts ...  We plucked it from its stem on the Tree of Life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table."
-  D. H. Lawrence 

March: Poetry, Quotes, Sayings

The Green Man: Myths, Legends, Lore

Seasons and Months

One Old Druid's Final Journey


Quinquatria, Roman Festival in honor of Minerva, March 19 - March 23.  Minerva is the Roman Goddess, and the Greek Goddess with similar attributes is Athena, Patron of Athens.  This ancient Goddess is associated with civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, poetry, weaving, magic, music, crafts, justice, and skills.  Her  totem is the owl.  She is a virgin goddess, Pallas Athena, where she is one of three virgin goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia, known by the Romans as Diana and Vesta.  Minerva/Athna is featured on the great seal of the State of California.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chen Style Taijiquan Short Form

I have enjoyed practicing this short Chen Taijiquan form for the past seven years.  It was developed by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei.

Chen Taijiquan Short 18 Movement Form Webpage

List of Movements of the Chen Taijiquan 18 Movement Short Form

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form Laojia Yilu Webpage

Chen Style Tai Chi Essential 18 Postures with Patrick Martin.  Instructional DVD, 2 DVDs, 238 minutes.  Disk 1, 130 Minutes.  Jade Dragon Tai Chi International, Empty Circle Productions, 2008.  VSCL.  Patrick Martin is a student of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, and has been practicing and teaching Chen style Tai Chi for the last 20 years.  Detailed instructions for each movement sequence.  This DVD would be my first choice for an excellent instructional DVD on the Chen 18 Form.  However, this excellent DVD may be difficult to obtain.  

I favor instructional DVDs where: 1) there is a menu to sections of instruction, 2) there are detailed and complete verbal and physical instructions on how to do each section of the form, 3) all instructions are in English only, 3) there is a recap of each section with both side and back views of a performance of the part of the form explained in that section, 4) there is a summary complete performance of the form taught from multiple views.  A good instructor helps you learn the form, and they may not be a "Master" or "Grand Master."  A demonstration of the form, as you might find on UTube, is useful after you have learned to perform the Taijiquan or Qigong form on your own.  Learning from DVD with a Chinese speaker, with English subtitles, is difficult for me to follow; and, voice-over translation can get confusing.  I favor instructional DVDs from Ken Jullette, Jesse Tsao, Yang Jwing-Ming, Paul Lam, and Jiang Jian-ye ... among others.  

Here is a beautifully performed version of the Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Form by Sifu Mark Ditcher from Poole, England.  Fantastic!!   I take this interpretation of the Chen Taijiquan 18 Form as my standard.  I look at this video quite often to refresh my memory and help me improve.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Daodejing, Chapter 36

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 36

"Shrink to extend
exercise in order to weaken
stabilize for revolt
give in order to receive
die to live.
This is the balance of nature

soft overcomes hard,
weak overcomes strong.

Like a fish below the surface,
power should remain hidden."
-  Translated by Tom Kunesh, Chapter 36  

"That which is about to contract has surely been expanded. 
That which is about to weaken has surely been strengthened.
That which is about to fall has surely been raised.
That which is about to be despoiled has surely been endowed.  
This is an explanation of the secret that the tender and the weak conquer the hard and the strong.  
As the fish should not escape from the deep, so with the country's sharp tools the people should not become acquainted."

-  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 36    

"In order to contract a thing, one should surely expand it first.
In order to weaken, one will surely strengthen first.
In order to overthrow, one will surely exalt first.
'In order to take, one will surely give first.'
This is called subtle wisdom.
The soft and the weak can overcome the hard and the strong.
As the fish should not leave the deep
So should the sharp implements of a nation not be shown to anyone."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 36 

   將欲歙之, 必固張之.
將欲弱之, 必固強之.
將欲廢之, 必固興之.
將欲奪之, 必固與之. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36

chiang yü hsi chih, pi ku chang chih.
chiang yü jo chih, pi ku ch'iang chih.
chiang yü fei chih, pi ku hsing chih.
chiang yü to chih, pi ku yü chih.
shih wei wei ming.
jou jo shêng kang ch'iang.
yü pu k'o t'o yü yüan.
kuo chih li ch'i, pu k'o yi shih jên.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36 

"What is in the end to be shrunken,
Begins by being first stretched out.
What is in the end to be weakened,
Begins by being first made strong.
What is in the end to be thrown down,
Begins by being first set on high.
What is in the end to be despoiled,
Begins by being first richly endowed.
Herein is the subtle wisdom of life:
The soft and weak overcomes the hard and strong.
Just as the fish must not leave the deeps,
So the ruler must not display his weapons."
-  Translated by John C. H. Wu, 1961, Chapter 36  

"In order to draw breath, first empty the lungs.
To weaken another, first strengthen him.
To overthrow another, first exalt him.
To despoil another, first load him with gifts; this is called the Occult Regimen.
The soft conquereth the hard; the weak pulleth down the strong.
The fish that leaveth ocean is lost; the method of government must be
concealed from the people."
-  Translated by Aleister Crowley, 1918, Chapter 36 

"Whatever shrinks
Must first have expanded.
Whatever becomes weak
Must first have been strong.
That which is to be destroyed
Must first have flourished.
In order to receive,
One must first give.

This is called seeing the nature of things.
The soft overcomes the hard, and the weak overcomes the strong.

As fish cannot be taken from the water,
So a ruler should not reveal to the people his means of government."
-  Translated by Keith H. Seddon, Chapter 36 

"Para que algo sea contraído,
antes debe ser expandido.
Para que algo sea debilitado,
antes debe ser fortalecido.
Para que algo sea destruido,
antes debe ser levantado.
Para que alguien obtenga algo,
antes alguien debe haberlo dado.
Este es el Misterio Oculto.
Lo tierno y lo débil
vencen lo duro y fuerte.
Los peces no deben salir de las profundidades de las aguas,
al igual que el reino no debe exhibir sus armas."

-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capítulo 36 

"When about to inhale it is certainly necessary to open the mouth;
when about to weaken it is certainly necessary to strengthen;
when about to discard it is certainly necessary to promote;
when about to take away it is certainly necessary to impart – this is atomic perception.
The weak overcome the strong.
Fish cannot leave the deeps.
The innerness of the government cannot be shown to the people."
-  Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 36

"What is to be reduced,
Must first be expanded.
What is to be weakened,
Must first be made strong (ch'iang).
What is to be abolished,
Must first be established.
What is to be taken away,
Must first be given.
This is called the subtle illumination (wei ming).
The soft and weak overcome the hard and strong.
Fish must not leave the stream.
Sharp weapons (ch'i) of a state,
Must not be displayed."

-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 36 

Chapter 36, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
A Philosopher's Notebooks 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Virtues of Taijiquan

The Five Virtues of Tai Chi

"1.  Your study should be broad and diversified.  Do not limit yourself.  This principle (virtue) can be compared to your stance, which moves easily in many different directions.

2.  Examine and question.  Ask yourself how and why Tai Chi works.  This principle can be compared to your sensitivity, which is receptive to that which others ignore.

3.  Be deliberate and careful in your thinking.  Use your mind to discover proper understanding.  This principle can be compared to your understanding power.

4.  Clearly examine.  Separate concepts distinctly, then decide upon the proper course.  This principle can be compared to the continuous motion of Tai Chi.

5.  Practice sincerely.  This principle can be compared to heaven and earth, the eternal."
-  T'ai Chi Classics, translations and commentary by Waysun Liao, p. 125 

Tai Chi Classics.  By Waysun Liao.  New translations of three essential texts of T'ai Chi Ch'uan with commentary and practical instruction by Waysun Liao.  Illustrated by the author.  Boston, Shambhala, 1990.  210 pages.  ISBN: 087773531X.  VSCL. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What is Good Mental Health?

Traits and Behaviors of Mental Heath

"Although no group of authorities fully agree on a definition of the term mental health, it seems seems to include several traits and behaviors that are frequently endorsed by leading theorists and therapists (e.g., Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Rudolf Dreikurs, Fritz Perls, Abraham Maslow, Marie Jahoda, Carol Rodgers, Rollo May, Albert Ellis, etc.).  These include such traits as self-interest, self-direction, social interest, tolerance, acceptance of ambiguity and uncertainty, flexibility, acceptance of social reality, commitment, risk taking, self-acceptance, rationality and scientific thinking.  Not all mentally healthy individuals possess the highest degree of these traits at all times, but when people seriously lack them or when they have extreme opposing behaviors, we often consider them to be at least somewhat emotionally disturbed.  

Self Interest:  Emotionally healthy people are primarily true to themselves and do not subjugate themselves or unduly sacrifice themselves for others.  Realizing that if they do not primarily take care of themselves no one else will, they tend to put themselves first, a few selected others a close second, and the rest of the world not too far behind.

Self-Direction:  Mentally healthy people largely assume responsibility for their own lives, enjoy the independence of mainly working out their own problems, and, while at times wanting or preferring the help of others, do not think that they absolutely must have such support for their effectiveness and well-being.  

Social Interest:  Emotionally and mentally healthy people are normally gregarious and decide to try to live happily in a social group.  Because they want to live successfully with others, and usually to relate intimately to a few of these selected others, they work at feeling and displaying a considerable degree of social interest and interpersonal competence.  

Tolerance:  Emotionally healthy people tend to give other humans the right to be wrong.  While disliking or abhorring other's behavior, they refuse to condemn them as total persons for performing poor behavior.  They fully accept the fact that all humans seem to be remarkably fallible; they refrain from unrealistically demanding and commanding that any of them be perfect; and they desist from damning people in toto when they err.  

Acceptance of Ambiguity and Uncertainty:  Emotionally mature individuals accept the fact that, as far as has yet been discovered, we live in a world of probability and chance, where there are not, and probably ever will be, absolute necessities or complete certainties.  Living in such a world is not only tolerable but, in terms of adventure, learning and striving, can even be very exciting and pleasurable.  

Flexibility:  Emotionally sound people are intellectually flexible, tend to be open to change at all times, and are prone to take an unbigoted (or at least less bigoted) view of the infinitely varied people, ideas, and things in the world around them.  They can be firm and passionate in their thoughts and feelings, and they comfortably look at new evidence and often revise their notions of "reality" to conform with this evidence. 

Acceptance of Social Reality:  Emotionally healthy people, it almost goes without saying, accept was is going on in the world.  This means several important things: (1) they have a reasonably good perception of social reality and do not see things that do not exist and do not refuse to see things that do; (2) they find various aspects of life, in accordance with their own goals and inclination, "good" and certain aspects "bad" ─ but they accept both these aspects, without exaggerating the "good" ones and without denying or whining about the "bad" ones; (3) they do their best to work at changing those aspects of life they view as "bad," to accept those they cannot change, and to acknowledge the difference between the two. 

Commitment:  Emotionally healthy and happy people are usually absorbed in something outside of themselves, whether this be people, things, or ideas.  They seem to live better lives when they have at least one major creative interest, as well as some outstanding human involvement, which they make very important to themselves and around which the structure a good part of their lives.

Risk Taking:  Emotionally sound people are able to take risks.  They ask themselves what they would really like to do in life, and then try to do it, even though they have to risk defeat or failure.  They are reasonably adventurous (though not foolhardy); are will to try almost anything once, if only to see how they like it; and look forward to different or unusual breaks in their usual routines.  

Self-Acceptance:  People who are emotionally healthy are usually glad to be alive and to accept themselves as "deserving" of continued life and happiness just because they exist and because they have some present or future potential to enjoy themselves.  They fully or unconditionally accept themselves.  They try to perform competently in their affairs and win the approval and love of others; but they do so for enjoyment and not for ego gratification or self-deification.  

Rationality and Scientific Thinking:  Emotionally stable people are reasonably objective, rational, and scientific.  They not only construct reasonable and empirically substantiated theories relating to what goes on in the surrounding world (and with their fellow creatures who inhabit this world), but they are also able to supply the rules of logic and of the scientific method to their own lives and their interpersonal relationships. "

-  Albert Ellis, Ph.D.  The Albert Ellis Reader: A Guide to Well-Being Using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, 1998, pp. 235-252.  Based on the 1962 essay titled "The Case Against Religion: A Psychotherapist's View."  

How to Live the Good Life: Advice from Wise Persons


An Old Philosopher's Notebooks

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Speaking of New Age Tai Chi

"When a modern day "New Age" practitioner of tai chi speaks of the art as being  "good for his health and a way to align his energy with the energy of the Tao," that viewpoint came largely from Sun Lu Tang. Or when pa kua practitioners walk the pa kua circle on a California beach and talk of how "pa kua forms are physical embodiments of the I-Ching," their ideas derive largely from Sun Lu Tang. Or when modern day practitioners of xing yi opine that "the five forms of xing yi interact like the five basic elements in Taoist cosmology," they to owe their thinking largely to Sun Lu Tang."
- Elisabeth Guo and Brian L. Kennedy, Sun Lu Tang: Fighter, Scholar and Image Maker.

Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933) Biography

Sun Style Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes
By Michael P. Garofalo

Waving Hands Like Clouds T'ai Chi Ch'uan

Taijiquan Classics

Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bear Frolic Chi Kung Exercise #1

1.  The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side

Movement Description of Big Bear Turns from Side to Side 
Chi Kung (Qigong) Exercises

Bear Frolic Exercise #1: The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side
This webpage provides a detailed description, including photographs, of this movement.

Step out into a Horse Stance.  Face towards N12.  The Horse Stance should feel be rooted, centered, balanced, and stable. 
Place your hands on your hips. 
Bend the upper torso down, flexing forward, keep the back straight and head up. 
Move the upper torso slowly towards the right side to E3.  Try to remain bent forward until you reach E3.  Inhale. 
Keep your hands on your hips throughout this exercise.
Gradually lift the head and torso until you are upright and the face and chest are facing towards E3. 
Your right elbow should be pointing towards S6 and your left elbow pointing towards N12. 
Gently turn the head only to the left and look towards N12.  Intently gaze towards N12.  Enjoy the stretch.  Exhale. 
Gently bring the head back to face towards E3, the whole body is in an upright posture. 
Bend forward at the waist and draw the head and torso downward towards E3.

Move the upper body, flexed forward, from right side to the left side for 180 degrees, moving from E3 to W9.  Inhale. 
Gradually lift the head and torso until you are upright, and the face and chest are facing towards W9. 
Your right elbow should be pointing towards N12 and your left elbow pointing towards S6. 
Gently turn the head only to the right and look towards N12.  Intently gaze towards N12.  Enjoy the stretch.  Exhale. 
Gently turn the head only back to the left, and face W9.
Bend forward at the waist and draw the head and torso downward towards W9.
Move the upper body, flexed forward, from the left side to the right side for 180 degrees, moving from W9 to E3.  Inhale. 

Repeat the movement sequence from side to side, 3 to 8 eight repetitions. 
Breathe freely, comfortably, and deeply during this exercise.  Inhale-Exhale listed are suggestions. 
Try to avoid too much muscular tension as you move from side to side and up and down.  Extend rather than tense muscles. 
Move slowly and comfortably. 
Try to stay relaxed (Sung), alert, calm, and peaceful. 
Visualize, if you like, a mother bear coming out of a cave and powerfully turning from side to side to survey the outside world. 

Return to Bear Spirit Posture or Wu Ji Stance

This version of "Big Bear Turns from Side to Side" is the same as exercise in the Eight Section Brocade Qigong.

Bear Frolics Chi Kung Exercises

Bear Frolic Exercise #1: The Big Bear Turns from Side to Side
This webpage provides a detailed description, including photographs, of this movement.

Five Animal Frolics Chi Kung (Qigong, Nourshing Life) Exercises

Dragon Chi Kung Exercises

Valley Spirit Chi Kung

Each Monday, for the next year, I will be posting on this blog short descriptions of exercises from the Five Animal Frolics Chi Kung Practices. I began this project on 3/7/2016.  By the end of this project, you will have 52 Animal Frolics Qigong exercises.  Each webpage for the specific Animal Frolic Chi Kung exercise will also have photographs of me doing the exercise described each week.

Nourishing Life practices and exercises to improve fitness, maintain good health, increase energy, calm the mind, and improve the chances for longevity have a very long documented history in China.  A healthy and long life are goals of Taoist theory and practices.  Animal Frolics Chi Kung exercises date back to Dr. Hua Tuo (207 CE).  

"Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Frolics): Chinese Health Qigong. Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Beijing, Chine, Foreign Languages Press, 2007. 102 pages, includes an instructional DVD. ISBN: 9787119047799. VSCL. "In 2001 the Chinese government showed great interest in regulating the Qigong movement. The State Sport General Administration of China founded the Chinese Health Qigong Association, as a mass-organization to popularize, spread and research Health Qigong in cooperation with the Peking Sport University. 

In 2003 the organization presented the newly developed four Health Qigong Exercises on the base of excellent traditional Qigong, including: Yì Jīn Jīng (tendon-changing classic), Wu Qin Xi (frolics of five animals 五禽戲), Liu Zi Jue (the art of expiration in producing six different sounds), Ba Duan Jin (eight excellent movements), to fit the people's needs of promoting their health and body, and to develop traditional Chinese national culture further. 
The Chinese Health Qigong Association is a member of the All-China Sports Federation. During the process of developing the exercises, strictly scientific research methods have been followed. Primary experiments took place under supervision of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Modern Medicine, Psychology, Athletic Science and other related subjects. 
The Four Health Qigong Exercises can be seen as the essences from the related Qigong in various schools, inherited and developed traditional Chinese national culture. The new Health Qigong represented by the Chinese Health QiGong Association is breaking with the old tradition of family-styles and close teacher-student relation. 

It is hoped that the new standardisation is supporting the international spread of Qigong in the western hemisphere. Starting in September 2004 the "Health Qigong Magazine" became the association magazine of the CHQA. It is the only national health qigong publication in China; edtited through China Sports Press. After the successful 1st International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in 2005 the CHQA organized in August 2007 the 2nd International Health Qigong Demonstration and Exchange in Peking including an international competition and the first Duan examination on Health Qigong. At the same time, the 2007 International Symposium on Health Qigong Science was organized where important scientific studies were made public."
- Wikipedia