2020: Enter the Rat! The First of the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs
January 20, 2020
The Chinese year 4718 begins on January 25, 2020. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Rat (鼠年 - “rat year”; pinyin: shǔnián). The Chinese calendar is lunisolar (not purely lunar). Months begin with the new moon (when it is darkest). New Year's Day usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The year 1 on the Chinese calendar corresponds to the first reign year of the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝; pinyin: Huángdì), who is said to have invented the calendar during the 61st year of his reign.
Judo - Skill Is the Practical Application of Technique
January 13, 2020
The words technique and skill are often used to mean the same thing, yet they are separate and interdependent. This article is devoted to exploring what skill and technique are, and why it's important to understand how they work.
Why Tai Chi and Qigong Assists in the Healing of Depression
January 6, 2020
I was surprised to see so many people suffering from depression during my time of taking care of patients from 1997 to 2013. Many of their problems were not genetic, which can often be the underlying cause of depression.
The Core Concepts of Throwing Techniques
December 30, 2019
The purpose of a successful throwing technique in sambo is to get an opponent to the mat or ground as effectively as possible with control. A sambo grappler can win a match outright by a total victory by throwing his opponent to the mat with control (largely on the back or backside, or if the opponent lands in a bridge) with the thrower remaining standing at the conclusion of the throw.
Limiting the Use of War—Ways of Treating People, Translated and Interpreted
December 23, 2019
As a leader, your mind must be confident and firm and your spirit must be strong. However, you must also be humble enough to take counsel from others before your final decision. Advisors around a leader are crucially important. Often a wise leader is successful due to his humility and willingness to listen. A stubborn leader will usually fail.
Maximizing Metarobic Effects - December 16, 2019
Those forms of exercise that focus on relaxation, efficient movement, and slow, deep breathing yield consistently higher blood oxygen saturation levels, as well as feelings of enhanced oxygen diffusion. This includes relaxation- and breath-focused forms of qigong and yoga. Since one of the drawbacks of traditional formats of tai chi is the long learning curve, I developed an easy-to-follow format. This format consisted of shifting the feet back and forth in place through the range of movements found in tai chi, focusing on movements that maximize Metarobic effects.
Eastern Treatment Approach to Insomnia - December 9, 2019
Having a good night sleep is so important. Most healing processes happen at night when the body/mind is completely at ease and relaxed.
The Way of Wushudo - December 2, 2019
The highest level of martial arts training is to be able to perform beyond all boundaries, systems, styles, and techniques with total freedom of self-expression. You can achieve this only after you have developed a strong foundation in a particular style or system.
Sambo-Not for the Faint of Heart - November 25, 2019
The young newspaper reporter was looking for an angle on his story about the national sambo tournament I was hosting sometime back around 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. I had given him the necessary background information on the sport; the rules, history, who was competing that day and the other bits of information that would give the reporter more than enough information to provide an interesting story to his readers.
How Can Qigong Cure Back Pain? - November 18, 2019
In Chinese medicine, the concept of qi is used both in diagnosis and treatment. A basic principle of Chinese medicine is that you have to rebalance the qi before you can cure the root of a disease. Only then can you also repair the physical damage and rebuild your physical strength and health.
Steps to Winning - November 11, 2019
Many people study martial arts because they want to develop their fighting skills, then have a chance to go one-on-one with other martial artists. It seems more refined and socially acceptable to them than going outside and picking a fight with someone on the street. Of course you don't get the same possible dire consequences, because there is always a measure of controlled fighting in the ring.
Representations of the Mystery-Following the Laws, Translated and Interpreted - November 4, 2019
The Great Nature has countless cyclic patterns. Some of the patterns are near us and we can see or even experience them; for example, yearly, monthly, and daily cyclic changes due to the positions of the sun, earth, and the moon. All these changes are near us and immediately influence our body’s energy and activities. All these are considered as the De, the manifestation of the Dao. Then, what is the Dao? Is the Dao the spirit or God of nature? Since we don’t know too much about the Dao, it is still a huge mystery for us.
Emotional Health Care - October 28, 2019
Homeostasis is the balance or equilibrium of having enough sleep, nutritious food and a safe and supportive living environment. Homeostasis or balance set points change over time and circumstances. Everyone has been through periods when life seems off kilter. Maybe you had to sleep less or work harder to accomplish a goal. Perhaps you lost your job or got a promotion. You may have married, divorced, or lost a loved one.
Not All Krav Maga is the Same - October 21, 2019
I am concerned for the future of krav maga. Imi Lichtenfeld created too formidable a fighting method for it to be relegated to the pile of self-defense and exercise fads. Grandmaster Haim Gidon has spent fifty years enhancing Imi’s teachings and producing several generations of instructors who have both become and helped train some of Israel’s most capable and finest warriors.
Structured Training in the Martial Arts - October 14, 2019
Structured training is not only necessary, it is essential and central to success in any field of endeavor, and especially so in the fighting sports that comprise the martial arts. A person has to train hard, but just as important, that martial arts athlete has to train smart. In most martial arts, there is a rational approach to skill development.
How to be a Complete Martial Artist and Discover the Champion Within - October 7, 2019
It took a 6-foot-wide and 8-foot-high jail cell for me to realize that I had the qualities of a complete martial artist. I struggled with the thought of the inside being like a tunnel and losing my breath from being claustrophobic.
Teaching, Learning and Training for Juji Gatame - September 30, 2019
Juji gatame is a core skill for all combat sports. The study of this armlock teaches fundamental skills that go beyond simply stretching an opponent’s arm. It is a useful, reliable tool with a high rate of success used in all combat sports and can be used by both male and female athletes in all weight classes.
Encountering a Bully - September 23, 2019
When you come across a bully, it is important to understand that there are several defensive tools you can use to escape a fight. To avoid these situations altogether, it helps to know what types of bullies there are and what weapons they will use to try to put you down.
Krav Maga: Developing Power and Balance for Maximum Effect - September 16, 2019
The following emphasizes the how of effective krav maga, in terms of how you use your body for the best outcomes. Israeli krav maga is designed to work for anyone regardless of athleticism, skill, size or gender. There are a few elementary techniques that you can perform instinctively and apply to a wide variety of situations. Importantly, you need not master more than a few combatives to become a kravist or competent krav maga fighter capable of defeating any type of unarmed or armed attack or threat.
Moderating Desire—Self-Satisfaction Translated and Interpreted - September 9, 2019
When the world is ruled according to the Dao, then there is peace, calmness, and harmony. Then even the best horses are useless for battle and instead are used for carrying the dirt and manure on the farms. However, if the ruling of the world does not follow the Dao, even pregnant horses have to give birth on the battlefield.
Western Health-Care Providers and Eastern Medicine - September 2, 2019
Conventionally trained physicians all over the world are seeking ways to help their patients move toward optimal health. There is a strong sense among Western health-care providers that pharmaceutical and surgical interventions may not be enough to correct the course of modern diseases, the majority of which are caused by poor lifestyle choices.
Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji and Liuhebafa - August 26, 2019
The approach to teaching and studying martial arts in China was based upon a monastic tradition that is characterized as door, hall, and chamber teaching. In times past the monastery, both Daoist and Buddhist, served as schools for medicine, the classics, and martial arts.
Qigong for Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia - August 19, 2019
The term qigong is composed of two words. The first, “qi” has been translated as the “life energy” or “vital force” within the body. “Gong” has been translated as “work” or “mastery.” Together, the word qigong can be interpreted as “energy work” or the act of mastering one’s vital force.
The Pursuit of Do - August 12, 2019
There is a formula in Western civilization that many people follow, hoping for inner peace and happiness—a good education, plus a good job, plus lots of money and material possessions, plus family and friends equal inner peace and happiness.
Work, Love, and Acupuncture - August 5, 2019
A wise man once told me, “Do something you love for a living and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have certainly loved my career in medicine and, though some days have been more physically demanding than others, I do not think of my livelihood as “work”; it seems more like my “life’s work”. These days, that sentiment is truer than ever.
Before Practicing Meridian Qigong Exercises - July 29, 2019
Before you begin practicing, there are a few points you should understand. These exercises are designed to be done in bed, and ideally, you’ll be able to memorize them so you can practice without the book or DVD. But at first, you’ll need the book or the video by your side. Before we start exercising, let me explain the benefits and the best time to practice.
Emotional Health, Sleep, and Disease - July 22, 2019
For many centuries, humans have appreciated the connection between our emotional and physical health. Sleep lies at the interface between these realms, influencing and being influenced by our minds and bodies. When we find our mind troubled, our sleep disrupted, and our body out of balance, it is sometimes difficult to determine the initial cause.
Brief History of Liuhebafa: Water Boxing - July 15, 2019
The origins of Liuhebafa, also called Water Boxing, can be traced to the Daoist sage Chen Tuan (A.D. c.871-989) also called Tunan and Fuyaozi. Chen is a mystical figure whose advice and perspective was sought by Chinese emperors during the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (A.D. 907-960) and at the beginning of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).
Krav Maga Control and Disengagement Strategies for Social Violence - July 8, 2019
A moment of anger leading to violence can cost you everything, literally. When facing the specter of social violence – a confrontation you can avoid and escape – how do you best opt-out? How do you walk away without feeling emasculated or that you blinked first? Ultimately, how do you disengage convinced that it was his lucky day?
Water Style for Beginners (Liu He Ba Fa) Part 2 - July 1, 2019
Water style incorporates the qualities and strengths of the three internal styles of Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua, yet it is in a class by itself, a unique form of internal martial arts. Its movements are sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes fast, and sometimes slow. These movements resemble floating clouds and flowing water that is sometimes calm, sometimes surging.
Water Style for Beginners (Liu He Ba Fa) Part 1 - June 24, 2019
Chinese martial arts are the essence of Chinese civilization. Several thousands of years in the making, it has developed into two major styles-namely internal and external. Both styles are again divided to include countless different styles. Among the internal styles, the best known and most popular are Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua.
Bagua for Beginners - June 17, 2019
Bagua Zhang, Taiji Quan, and Xingyi Quan are known as three major internal martial arts styles in China. Bagua literally means "Eight Trigram" and Zhang means "Palm." The original name of Baguazhang was Zhuan Zhang, which means “Turning Palms.” This refers to the way the art is practiced—moving around a circle, turning the palms in various ways.
Metarobics, Tai Chi and Alzheimer’s - June 10, 2019
Alzheimer’s is a scary disease. To go from having memories and full mental functioning to not knowing who you are, a decline in mental and physical functioning, and eventual death—what can be scarier than that? And as a disease, Alzheimer’s is becoming increasingly prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increased 55 percent between 1999 and 2014. Approximately one-third of all people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer's disease. Although genes and environment can play a factor, much of the growth of Alzheimer’s may be linked to a more sedentary lifestyle.
The Legality of Protecting Yourself with a Martial Art - June 1, 2019
If avoidance, de-escalation and escape fail, the goal is never to waver about resorting to counterviolence in the face of violence. True self-defense focuses not simply on survival, but rather on how to neutralize the aggressor. There is no pity or humanity in a, perhaps, desperate visceral self-defense situation provided the counterforce is legally justifiable. Legally, you must be able to articulate what you did and why you did it. Your actions must be objectively reasonable to allow for an affirmative defense, should you face legal inquiry.
Juji Gatame: The World’s Most Popular Armlock - April 29, 2019
There are, fundamentally, two core ways of “locking” an arm. You either bend it over a fulcrum to cause pain or you straighten and stretch it over a fulcrum to cause pain. Juji Gatame is one of four primary armlocks that attack the elbow joint (as well as shoulder joint).
YMAA Tai Chi and Internal Arts Curriculum - April 22, 2019
At YMAA, students learn qigong (energy cultivation) as part of their taiji or kung fu classes. In ancient times, Shaolin monks trained the cultivation of qi (energy), and realized muscular power could be enhanced to a tremendous level, making martial techniques more powerful and effective. This was the beginning of internal cultivation in Chinese martial arts, starting around 550 AD /CE. In internal styles, YMAA focuses mainly on traditional Yang-style taijiquan which originated from Yang, Ban-Hou (楊班候).
A Fight of No Fight (無爭之爭) as told by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming - April 15, 2019
The best way to win a fight is without fighting. Often you can win a fight with wisdom, and this is better than physically beating someone up. Instead of aggression, use patience and endurance to succeed. Big successes always come from many little efforts.
The First Rule of Self-Defense - April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
The Three Building Blocks Of Learning And Training In Judo - April 1, 2019
In any field of study, there has to be some kind of structure so that the contents of that particular area of study can be logically understood, taught and learned, and ultimately passed on to others. This structure or framework must have a firm theoretical and philosophical foundation based on practical application and, just an important, allow for innovation to take place. It must be fixed, yet flexible so that the activity (in this case judo) has room to grow.
Fables from the Dao in Action - March 25, 2019
There were two young friends who decided to leave their village and go to the city to make their fortune. They worked hard for thirty years and each friend successfully earned a good amount of money. They decided to return to their village to enjoy their earnings and the rest of their lives.
Yang Taijiquan at Medium Speed – A Bridge to Understanding Jing Training - March 18, 2019
Contrary to what is commonly seen in parks or in pharmaceutical commercials, Taijiquan movements can be quick and used for combat. For martial proficiency, the natural progression is slow, medium, then fast. Medium speed is the bridge to understanding different types of "jing" (martial power 勁) and applying "fa jing" (manifesting explosive martial power 發勁) in future practice.
How Biomechanical Principles Apply to Judo - March 11, 2019
Judo is based on sound biomechanical principles. The more efficiently a person applies these principles, the more effectively that person will do judo. To do judo well, a person must know not only how to control his own body but also his opponent's. The Japanese phrases, terms, and names—in use since judo's inception and familiar to all judo practitioners—explain much of what judo is and does.
Theories of Yin-Yang and Kan-Li 陰陽、坎離之理論 - March 4, 2019
To practice qigong accurately, you must not only understand the theory but also the correct methods of practice. Knowing the theory correctly places a clear and accurate map in your hands leading you to your goal in the shortest time. Without this map, you may take many years to find the correct path.
Subtle Clarity—Yin and Yang Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary - February 25, 2019
It is clear that in order to expand something, it must first shrink. It is the same when you want to weaken it: first you should strengthen it. In order to reduce it, you must first build it up. Also, in order to take it, first you must give. This is the theory of yin and yang, which always balance each other.
Judo Isn't Gentle - February 18, 2019
Is judo really the "gentle way?" In the popular meaning of the word, judo certainly isn't anything close to being gentle. To paraphrase the great martial arts writer Donn Draeger; "Judo isn't gentle." And while judo isn't gentle in the more common use of the word, it's certainly efficient; and because it's efficient, it's effective
Your Tai Chi Pelvis - February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
2019: Year of the Pig! - February 4, 2019
The Chinese year 4717 begins on February 5, 2019. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Pig (豬年 - "pig year"; pinyin: zhūnián). The Chinese calendar is lunisolar (not purely lunar). Months begin with the new moon (when it is darkest). New Year's Day usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The Year 1 on the Chinese calendar corresponds to the first reign year of the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝; pinyin: Huángdì), who is said to have invented the calendar during the 61st year of his reign.
Fighting with Weapons - January 28, 2019
Weapons are simply an extension of the fighter. The Samurai even considered the sword to be an extension of their soul. The weapon assumes the character of whoever wields the weapon, as the weapon is simply a tool that extends the will of the fighter. The principles of fighting with empty hands apply to fighting with weapons. A fight is a fight. But there are some thoughts about these principles that should be noted.
Increasing Reliance on Expensive Technologies and Medications - January 21, 2019
The commercialization of the practice of medicine is driving up the cost of health care in America. While many drugs, devices, and procedures available are truly miraculous, study after study has shown that commonsense approaches increase quality and length of life to a greater degree than do expensive technologies. These commonsense approaches are not new: regular exercise, not smoking, getting enough sleep, stress management, and an unprocessed diet that is rich in beneficial fats. These modifications increase healthy life expectancy by many, many years by preventing the onset of chronic illnesses. The Chinese have advocated similar strategies for thousands of years: inexpensive lifestyle changes are the cornerstone of Eastern medicine.
Tips for Selecting a Tai Chi Class - January 14, 2019
To learn or practice tai chi for health, teaching ability can make more difference than the years of experience a teacher has in tai chi. This was also something hard for me to admit as a longtime practitioner. There are many traditionalists with a more martial orientation who may have incredible skill in tai chi but little patience as teachers. One of the largest barriers to learning tai chi identified in a survey of major programs in the United States was lack of patience on the part of the instructor.
Think of Beginning—Advance Gradually Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary - January 6, 2019
The Nature has always developed gradually. For those who are cultivating the Dao, the final goal is "doing without doing" (wuwei, 無為). However, to reach this level, you must begin with the easy and small. Only after you are able to take care of easy and small matters should you then gradually advance into more difficult and bigger matters.
The Hero and the Warrior - December 31, 2018
My favorite quote from the movie Skyfall occurs when secret agent James Bond meets his new quartermaster, Q, the designer of his spy tech and furrowed brow to many of his boyish antics: "I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field," quips Q. "Oh, so why do you need me?" Bond replies. "Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled," Q states. Bond smiles. "Or not pulled. It's hard to know which in your pajamas."
Anatomy of a Warrior Spirit - December 23, 2018
Martial artists are, by definition, warriors. True warriors have warrior spirit. In martial arts, as in life, there are some people who are successful, and some people who are not. The most successful people are imbued with a warrior spirit, known in the Chinese tradition as Yi. Warrior spirit has nothing to do with fighting or aggression, even though skilled fighters often have a well-developed warrior spirit. On the contrary, warrior spirit is about having the wherewithal to resolve conflict or avoid it altogether, and most of all to muster the internal fortitude requisite to the process of mastering yourself.
The Meaning of Taiji in Taiji Ball Qigong (太極在太極球氣功中之義) - December 17, 2018
What is taiji? It is generated from wuji, and is a pivotal function of movement and stillness. It is the mother of yin and yang. When it moves it divides. At rest it reunites." From this, it is known that taiji is not wuji, and is also not yin and yang. Instead an inclination of the natural pivotal function which makes the wuji derive into yin and yang also makes the yin and yang reunite into the state of wuji. This natural pivotal function of movement and stillness is called the 'Dao' or the 'rule' of great nature.
Guiding and Leading (Humility)-Putting Oneself Behind - December 10, 2018
As a leader, humility is the most important prerequisite to lead the people. The book Shu (《書‧大禹謨》) said: “(Those) satisfied will cause damage and (those) humble will acquire benefits.” This is because those who are humble can take a low position, be open-minded, and be willing to learn; thus they gain. Those who are satisfied and proud of themselves will not listen and learn from others; thus they lose. The Book of Changes (《易‧謙》) said: “Those who are humble and again humble always use their modest personality to restrain themselves.”