I was in a class yesterday when another student asked the teacher a question about how often you should meditate.
It was an interesting question but my answer might be different than some.
One of the martial arts books that I bought back in the 1970s was "Man of Contrasts," by Hee Il Cho. It was a book about Taekwondo, but at the beginning of the book was a remarkable poem that has stayed with me ever since. Here is the poem:
I can find peace
amidst the cities roar
before the dry, frayed face of confusion,
the exhausted hour.
My peace is cradled within.
This poem came back to me around 1999 when I found myself walking through the crowded sidewalks of Times Square in New York City. People were almost shoulder-to-shoulder, walking in all directions, and instead of being stressed, I found that I was calm, centered, with a feeling of being connected to each person who rushed by -- peace amidst the city's roar.
I began doing qigong in 1987. My goal was to recreate the feeling of inner...
Nabil Ranne is a disciple of the great Taijiquan master Chen Yu of Beijing. Nabil teaches from his home base in Berlin. He is the co-founder of the Chen Style Taijiquan Network Germany (Chen Style Taijiquan Network Deutschland). His website is www.ctnd.de.
In this edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast, Nabil talks about how he began studying Taiji, what it was like to study with Chen Yu, and we talk about the differences between Chen Yu's version of Chen style, which Nabil studies and teaches, and the style taught by the Chen family in the Chen Village, which I study and teach.
Nabil is a good man and he has some great insights into the art. You can listen online or download the file to listen anytime. Also, on the buttons below you can subscribe to the podcast feed, embed the podcast into a website or share with your friends (and I hope you will).
When I was around 14 years old, in 1967, the PE coach at our school set up a high jump in the gymnasium one day during Physical Education class.
Most of us had never seen a high jump before. You run up to a horizontal bar and jump over it, if you can, landing on foam padding on the other side.
He showed us how to jump over the bar using the "Western Roll" technique. You run up to the bar, jump off your left leg, put your right leg over the bar and then kick your left leg -- while you are in the air -- for added momentum.
It did not look easy.
One by one, the coach had us boys stand back 20 feet or so, take a running start, and see if we could clear the bar that was set at 4-feet 6-inches high.
One by one, each boy knocked the aluminum bar off the holders. It clattered to the gymnasium floor each time.
Then it was my turn. At 14, I was geeky and slender. I would rather read the Avengers comic books or James Bond books, or write my next little home movie, than do the high jump,...
You have heard people say that being "double-weighted" is bad in Taijiquan.
But if you ask 10 different Taiji folks what that means, you will get 10 different answers.
Some say it is when your weight is distributed 50-50 between the legs.
Some say it's a mental thing. Others say something completely different.
This video shows what I learned about double-weighting from training with Chen Xiaowang, Chen Xiaoxing and their students and disciples.
We worked on tea-serving exercises at practice last night and how the spiraling and the movement translates into fighting applications. The tea-serving exercises show up in the forms and in self-defense.
The ultimate goal is to develop the ability to use the spiraling concept and movement to flow with an opponent depending on what he does.
A lot of people misunderstand push hands and other practice drills like this. You put something up and they dismiss it as "won't work in a fight." Usually, they have no experience in the art, but they also can't see far enough down the road to understand that a training tool in the internal arts has one goal -- to evolve into a creative ability to flow with your opponent and not be trapped into the mindset of "I will do this technique" or "if he does this I will do that."
When you do push hands, or tea-serving, or silk-reeling exercises, you need a road map that shows you where you eventually want to be. The drill is not the thing.
Push hands, for...
When I first began competing in tournament sparring, I was emotionally involved in every point. I would get upset if a judge missed a call. Not outwardly upset, other than a cocking of my head as if asking, "What?"
Mainly, I was inwardly upset. I wanted to win.
My opponents were often emotionally involved, too. Sometimes, I would stand across from a guy who was angry. And if I scored a point, he was angrier.
I kept careful track of the score. Am I winning? By how much? If I'm behind, how many points do I need?
And then one day, sometime in my forties, I got my ego and emotion out of the game. And I started winning more.
When I faced off against another black belt, I relaxed. When a point was scored, I didn't keep track. I stopped, let the judges call it, and then got back to the contest.
I stopped keeping track of who was winning.
If my opponent scored a point on me, I would congratulate him. "Good shot," I would say. Sometimes, I joked around, wobbling a bit on my rubbery...
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