How to Develop the Mindset of a Successful Martial Artist

If you are a martial artist, you are an athlete. You might be going for a yellow belt or trying to learn the next form. You might be preparing to compete in a tournament. It's always nerve-wracking to put yourself on the line and perform in front of other people. When you do any of these things, you are an athlete and your success will be more certain if you develop the mindset of a top athlete.

Top athletes use various mental preparation techniques to optimize their performance during competitions. Here are some common strategies they employ:

  1. Goal setting: Athletes set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals to help them stay focused and motivated. Don't set unrealistic goals. Your next goal might be to learn the first five movements of a form. Learn them, practice them until you can do them well, and then set your next goal. Perhaps your goal is bigger, such as going for a black belt or black sash. You can achieve it.

  2. Visualization: Also known as...

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How to Develop a Body Method in Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua

In martial arts, a body method (also known as "body mechanics" or "body structure") refers to the way a practitioner uses their body efficiently and effectively to generate power, maintain balance, and execute techniques. It is a fundamental aspect of martial arts training and involves understanding how different parts of the body work together to produce force, maintain stability, and move fluidly.

Body methods can vary significantly between different martial arts styles and systems. You can even go to different teachers in Taiji and some will have a strong body method and others won't even mention it. The ones who don't mention it usually have weak gongfu. The more a teacher promotes health and "moving" meditation, the lower the quality of their body method, in my humble opinion.

In all sports that require your body to produce force and power, there are specific ways of moving the body most efficiently, although there are a lot of different personal styles of doing that. Look at...

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Watch a Silk-Reeling Class for Beginners Recorded Live with Ken Gullette

This class was recorded on Saturday, October 15, 2022. I invited the members of this website plus people who are on my email list who receive my Internal Tip-of-the-Week emails.

In this video, I go over the first silk-reeling exercise that I teach students. I learned this exercise from Chen Xiaowang and my first Chen taiji teacher, Jim Criscimagna. The instruction also reflects insights I've picked up from others along the way, including Chen Xiaoxing, Mark Wasson, Chen Huixian and Nabil Ranne.

This is a good example of my live Zoom classes, which I hold for members of this website. I do two live Taiji classes on Wednesdays, and I do live Zoom classes on Xingyi and Bagua at varying times. Members of the website get all the content on the site (close to 1,000 videos and pdf downloads) plus live classes and live one-on-one sessions, at no extra cost.

This video runs 32 minutes but it contains information you won't find on most silk-reeling videos. 


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One Tai Chi Movement and 25 Self-Defense Applications

Uncategorized Jul 18, 2022

One of my favorite things about Tai Chi (Taiji) is the way each of the relaxed movements are powerful fighting applications when you apply the body mechanics and speed it up to fit the situation.

Here is a video we shot yesterday showing 25 fighting applications in one movement - "Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar."  


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I am a Guest on the Talking Fists Podcast - Talking Chen Taijiquan

I was asked by Ryan Patrick St. George to appear on his "Talking Fists" podcast. I said, "Sure. When?" And he replied, "How about now?" 

So we got on Zoom and talked for a while about training in two different "branches" of Chen style Taijiquan -- the Chen Village branch and the Chen Yu branch under Nabil Ranne. 

Listen to the Talking Fists podcast episode via this link. It's also available through your favorite podcast distributor.

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Interactive Video - You Choose the Tai Chi Fighting Application

chen tai chi chen taiji Nov 17, 2021

I am experimenting with interactive videos. Here is my first one. Please watch it and let me know what you think. It allows you to choose which application you will see for the opening movement in a Taiji form.


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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

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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