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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Training the Chen Taiji Straight Sword Form with Master Chen Huixian

I spent the weekend studying with Master Chen Huixian in Madison, Wisconsin. We worked through the entire Chen Straight Sword form in six hours of training on Saturday and six hours on Sunday. The workshop was sponsored by her student, Patrick Rogne, the owner and instructor at Ancient Root Taijiquan in Madison.

I have been practicing this form for 13 years, and I originally learned a different version, but except for a couple of major differences in the opening movements, most of the movements follow the same order. There are different angles and different flourishes and transitions, but essentially it is the same form.

Chen Huixian's form is similar to the form of her uncle and primary teacher, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. She is an "in-chamber" disciple.

Over two days, she demonstrated each movement a few times, then led the students through the movement, carefully explaining which leg is solid, where the weight is shifting, when you should sink, how to hold the sword,...

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If You Want to Make Progress in Martial Arts You Must Set Goals

Uncategorized Oct 31, 2019

I'm training this weekend with Chen Huixian in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm looking forward to seeing how she teaches and performs the Chen straight sword form. That is the primary focus of the workshop, especially on Saturday and then Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon she will review and make corrections on Laojia Erlu, which she taught a year ago at her Madison workshop. 

Preparing for workshops like this has reminded me how important it is to set goals. I have pushed myself a little harder as the workshop has drawn closer. These workshops are NOT easy. They are physically demanding, and at age 66, trying to cope with one lung and a heart issue, actually going through a 15-hour workshop in a weekend pushes me to the very limit of my capacity.

I usually come home and have to take a couple of days to recover.

Because I don't want to look weak in front of a workshop group, I push myself in the weeks leading up to the workshop to do a little more and try to strengthen my body a bit more....

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Join Me in Madison This Weekend to Study Taijiquan with Chen Huixian Nov 1-3


I will be in Madison, Wisconsin starting this Friday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 3 to study with Chen Huixian. If you live within driving distance, I hope you'll join me and train with one of the best.

Chen Huixian is an in-door disciple of her uncle, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Other uncles include Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing.

She grew up in the Chen Village and is highly skilled. Each time I train with her, I come away with deeper insights because of the personal corrections and coaching that she gives me.

She is teaching a workshop that will include the following:

Friday Night 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

** Zhan Zhuang (Standing Stake)

** Silk-Reeling

Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (with a 2-hour lunch break)

** Chen Straight Sword Form (1st half)

Sunday 9:00 a.m. to Noon

** Chen Straight Sword Form (1st half)

Sunday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Laojia Erlu ("Cannon Fist") Review and Corrections

Chen Huixian's workshops are punctuated with laughter. It is very refreshing to have an...

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If You Want To Learn the Internal Martial Arts Here it Is Come and Get It

Uncategorized Oct 03, 2019
Do you remember the old song by Badfinger called "Come and Get It?" The lyrics went: "If you want it, here it is, come and get it. But you better hurry, cause it's going fast."
The body mechanics and principles that I teach through my membership website and my instructional DVDs will serve you well regardless of your style of Xingyi, Taiji or Bagua.
There are stylistic differences from teacher to teacher, from art to art and from style to style within an art. But if you have the right body mechanics, any differences in style are just a matter of adjusting to a teacher's particular way.
In a recent podcast interview that I did with Jon Nicklin, he describes how a lot of "traditional" teachers in China work.
His teacher, Dai Xueqi is a business owner, so on Saturday and Sunday mornings, those who want to learn show up at Dai's home arrive and begin practicing.
At a practice, the students might stand in San Ti, then practice Pi Chuan or another fist...
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The Tai Chi Skill of "Dang" -- a Rounded Crotch

There are a lot of things to think about when you do internal movement.
One of my teachers said that when you are first learning, you can be paralyzed by well over a dozen principles of structure and movement that you are trying to achieve in each movement.
Chen Xiaowang says, "If Taiji were easy, everyone be master."
It is NOT easy, which is why, after a lot of hard work, it is satisfying when you enter a room full of Taiji people and you realize that you understand internal movement at a different level.
The other night, a student looked at me funny when I said, "I want to talk about your Dang."
It's pronounced "Dahng."
Yes, we both laughed.
So I clarified.
"I want to talk about your groin."
That did not help the situation, but you probably know by now that laughter is an important part of my practices.
So I explained.
The term "Dang" is the shape of the legs when you are in a stance. When you look at the...
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Learn the Chen Taiji Straight Sword with Chen Huixian in Madison Nov 1-3

Chen Huixian will teach the Chen Taiji Straight Sword form at a workshop in Madison, Wisconsin on November 1-3, 2019. She will also review and do corrections for Zhan Zhuang, Silk-Reeling, and Laojia Erlu (Cannon Fist).

I will be there and I hope you'll join me to learn from a highly-skilled member of the Chen family.

Chen Huixian is a great teacher, an "in chamber" disciple of her uncle, Chen Zhenglei. Her other uncles include Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing.

Her workshops are an outstanding experience. She gives a lot of personal attention to students, is actually interested in the people who attend, she answers questions, and she offers corrections and coaching that will move your skills forward. She speaks English, which means there is no need for an interpreter between what she says and what you hear. 

Her workshops are traditional and serious. You will eat bitter. But she has a sense of humor that adds an element of fun that is lacking in some workshops. Laughter is not...

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Brian Li Interviews Ken Gullette About the Internal Fighting Arts Online Course

Do you want to know more background on this website? Listen as Ken talks with Brian Li, creator of the "Online Course Legacy" podcast.

Brian's podcast is aimed at people who are running or launching their own online courses (on any subject) but if you want more information on when, why, and how Ken started this online course, you might want to give the interview a listen.

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Song in Taijiquan - A Relaxed State of Readiness

body mechanics taiji Aug 26, 2019
The picture here shows me and Colin starting the movement "Six Sealings and Four Closings" from the Laojia Yilu form.
One of the problems I see in a lot of beginners, and even people who have been in the arts for a while, is a lack of peng throughout the body during movements or postures.
It is not just a problem in Taiji, but I also see it in students doing Xingyi and Bagua.
It is common to see someone in a yang movement with the "attacking" hand, and the rear hand has lost its peng. It is limp. There is no "song."
The word "song" to me means "a relaxed state of readiness."
I recently saw a Yang-style practitioner doing the Yang 24 form. He did "Brush Knee Twist Step" and his lower hand was held with fingers pointing downward. There was no peng in his hand and it was hanging limply with the fingers hanging toward the ground.
I pointed out that if his hand was this way when someone kicked him, he would have some broken fingers.
He had...
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No Partner? No Problem! The Benefits of Mental Martial Arts Practice

Uncategorized Jul 29, 2019
In the summer of 1997, I found myself suddenly unemployed. I had some time on my hands as I sent out resumes and waited for interviews.
I was one test away from earning my black sash in Yi Li Chuan kung-fu. Since reaching that point, I had moved and my teacher, Phillip Starr, had sold his school to a student and went into seclusion.
I called the student who was now teaching at the school and asked if he would test me for black sash. He agreed.
So I had about a month to brush off all the material up to black sash. But there was one big problem. 
I didn't have a training partner for the one-steps, the joint locks, the countless self-defense techniques that I needed to demonstrate. 
Sure, I had practiced them hundreds of times before with fellow students, but this was for black sash!
To prepare for the test, I trained for a month in my condo with an "imaginary partner."
I did not need an imaginary partner to work on forms,...
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