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.

https://online-course-empire.simplecast.com/episodes/ken-gullette-taking-martial-arts-online-HfjnsZYd

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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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Traditional Xingyiquan - the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Jon Nicklin

Jon Nicklin is a disciple of Dai Xueqi, the leading teacher of Song style Xingyiquan in Shanghai, China. Jon found him after moving to Shanghai from London for work.

Jon is the latest guest on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast. He talks about the culture shock of moving to Shanghai, even though he is part Chinese, and he talks about the commercial schools and traditional teachers in China.

I love talking with and learning from dedicated martial artists, people who go to great lengths to study these arts. Jon Nicklin is one of those people.

You can find edition #44 of the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audello and other podcast services. Here is a link to the podcast on Stitcher. You can listen online or download the file. Please share this with anyone you think might be interested.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/internal-fighting-arts/e/63283949?autoplay=false

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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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Finding Your Root is Important but Can You Carry It With You?

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2019
When you train with an "old school" traditional teacher, you learn to "eat bitter."
 
In China, stories are told about teachers who had prospective students spend a year sweeping and cleaning before learning any of his art.
 
Xingyi masters were said to have new students stand in San Ti for the first year or more of practices.
 
Even today, when you train with a member of the Chen family, it is common to collapse from leg fatigue more than once, even during a 12-hour weekend workshop. You will hold stances until your legs burn and shake like you're twerking. And trust me, you don't want to see a 66-year old man twerking.
 
Good teachers spend a lot of time correcting basics - structure and body mechanics.
 
Working on the basics of body mechanics and structure give you a solid "root."
 
Much of your "root" depends on the ground path and peng jin. You must sink your energy and apply the correct mechanics.
 
Where Good Structure Fails
 
...
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Translations of Ancient Tai Chi Classics Can Point You the Wrong Way

body mechanics tai chi May 15, 2019
I was reading a book by well-known martial artist and teacher, and he wrote something that could send people down the wrong path.

I like Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. He has done some good things for the arts. He has tried to save some of the older texts and Chinese "songs" and "poems" related to martial arts.
 
He is a dedicated martial artist and scholar, and apparently a very nice guy. This is not about his skill.
 
But in his book, "Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan," he should have gone one step further when he translated and interpreted some old Tai Chi classics.

The first of the classics he presents in the book is supposed to be by Chang San Feng (also spelled Zhang San Feng), but we all know that there is absolutely no evidence that Chang San Feng was a real person. He is a "legend," which means he probably didn't exist. A lot of people who refuse to say the Chen family created the art insist that Chang created it centuries earlier.

Dr. Yang should have mentioned this in the...
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Why You Need to Study Self-Defense Aspects of Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua Even if You Do The Arts for Health

Uncategorized May 08, 2019

I asked a question of my website members two nights ago on our private discussion page for members only. There was a great response.

I asked if they joined to learn the arts (and Qigong) for health, fitness and meditation, or did they join for the self-defense instruction?

The answers were a mixture. Some do it primarily for health and fitness, especially if they are older.

Some people say they do not have training partners, so they are hampered in learning self-defense.

But some members are already studying in other schools with other teachers and are looking for more authentic internal principles, or their instructors do not teach self-defense at all.

I believe if you are studying with a teacher who does not teach fighting applications of every movement, you should run away and look for a new teacher.  But if you are in that situation, you can learn the information you need on my site and you will probably then be able to teach your instructor. He or she should be paying YOU....

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6 Internal Strength Skills You Need To Learn FIRST in Tai Chi, Xingyiquan or Baguazhang

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2019

Do you know all six of the key skills you need to know for quality internal martial arts?

These skills are taught in the Internal Strength section on my website, and I always urge new members to begin in that section.

Beginning your own study can be overwhelming. Where do you begin?

This post is an attempt to answer that question.

Step One -- The Ground Path

You will read this quote from many masters: "All strength begins with the ground." The ground path gives your movements a foundation of strength. 

To use the ground, you need to set up your body structure so there is a "path" from the ground to the part of the body that is most active in attack or defense at that moment.

Step Two -- Peng Jin

The ground path and peng jin work together. Good internal movement requires both.

Peng jin can be described as an expansive force or feeling through your movement, like a beach ball filled with air. You can press on a beach ball and it will give a bit, but not much, and the...

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