Connecting is a Skill and Philosophy from Martial Arts You Can Use in Daily Life

awareness philosophy Sep 08, 2021
When you actively put philosophy to work in your martial arts, I believe they improve. The concept of "connecting" with your partner or opponent is one of the most important. You should see no difference between yourself and your opponent. When he moves, you should already be moving and melding with his center. There is no anger, no competition, just connection.
 
In my daily life, I try to put this connection concept into practice with every person I meet. I'm not better, I'm not really different, and when I connect, I can truly treat complete strangers the way I want to be treated. I watch out for them. I am there to help.
 
A few years ago, I ran across the "Do Good. Be Kind." people. They spread that mantra, and it resonated with me because of the philosophy I have tried to infuse into my martial arts. It requires empathy and connection to be kind to people. I often wake up in the morning thinking of keeping my eyes open throughout the day for opportunities to...
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How Often Do You Meditate?

chi kung meditation qigong Jul 07, 2021

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...

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Talking Chen Style Taijiquan with Berlin Instructor Nabil Ranne

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).

 

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Which Style of Tai Chi is Better? Maybe the One that Gets You Over the Bar

Uncategorized Aug 04, 2020

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,...

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Martial Arts Success is Laid Out For You Step by Step: Do or Do Not, the Choice is Yours

Look! Up ahead! What's that in the road?
 
The highway is littered with wannabe martial arts students who think talking about it can magically make you a skilled martial artist.
 
I have been teaching now for almost 23 years, and I can't even count the number of people, mostly guys, who have told me, "I am going to be your BEST student."
 
They usually last two weeks.
 
Then there are the guys who contact me, telling me the list of martial arts they have studied, and as soon as they name more than one, I know they have no skill in anything.
 
And then there are guys who join my website, enjoy the two-week free trial, then cancel their membership after telling me how much they want to learn. A few months later, they rejoin, and cancel again at the end of the two-week trial.
 
At that point I make it clear: You can enjoy a two-week free trial once, but the second time, you can pay upfront.
 
I was exchanging messages yesterday with someone who has...
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How to Maintain Your Balance in the Fearful Time of Covid-19

Uncategorized Mar 25, 2020
My wife Nancy is very worried about Covid-19. She thinks I am going to get it and die a horrible death on a ventilator in a hospital where she would not be allowed to be with me.
 
I was on a ventilator at Cleveland Clinic when they almost killed me in 2009. They were trying to stent a pulmonary vein that closed after an a-fib procedure that went bad. In attempting the stent, doctors tore the pulmonary vein and pierced my heart with the wire. I went to ICU, on a ventilator, and was drowning in my own blood for a few days.

I lost the function of my left lung. The photo on this post shows me at Cleveland Clinic. Since then, asthma developed and during the past 11 years it has became pretty serious. I am still able to do my martial arts, but on a limited basis and I often pay a steep price.
 
So Covid-19 would probably take me out.
 
Nancy has been in tears several times during the past week, afraid she is going to bring the virus home from work. I am trying to...
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What Does "Double-Weighted" Mean in Tai Chi?

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. 

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Patterns and Drills Evolve into Freedom in Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2020

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...

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Don't Rise to the Occasion -- Sink to the Occasion

I have been thinking about something all wrong.
 
When I prepare for something special, like a demonstration or especially a workshop like I attended a few weeks ago with Chen Huixian, I have approached it with the wrong mental attitude.
 
I often think that I need to prepare myself, get my body stronger and be able to "rise to the occasion."
 
But what I need to do is "sink to the occasion."
 
Let me explain.
 
I practiced Laojia Yilu two nights ago. Actually, I practiced three movements from Laojia Yilu. And then I isolated my practice to just one move.
 
I spent a lot of time on Hidden Hand Punch, and the sinking and spiraling -- not in the punch itself, but in the movements leading up to the punch, when your hands sweep low and outward, then spiral inwards as you close into the right kua, one hand flat and one in a fist.
 
Practicing the internal arts is like practicing the piano, or any musical instrument. My body is my instrument, and...
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Watch the Show in Front of You -- A Martial Arts Lesson from a Sports Psychologist

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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