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.
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.
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 Value of Differentiated Movement
November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Discovering Ancient Secrets for Modern Life
August 13, 2018
During college my greatest teachers were not professors, and the greatest lessons were not revealed in the classroom. The University of California at Berkeley, which I attended, was home to more than 20 Nobel Prize winning teachers, had an unprecedented research reputation, and was the number one public university in the country. Still, the wisdom I discovered came from teachers without doctorates who taught in a small building across town that I would never have known existed if I had not been lead there.
Tai Chi and Economics - July 2, 2018
Ordinarily the word "economics" conjures up thoughts of money, governments, budgets and expenditures – pretty boring stuff if you're not an economist. However, the word "economy" simply refers to the effects, as measured by the relative advantages or disadvantages, of any causal behavior within any system. The most important and immediate economy in your life has to do not with what's in your wallet, but in how you choose to organize and live in your own body.
Perspectives on Tai Chi, Somatics, & Life - April 16, 2018
Live In the Moment, Not For the Moment. One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, and especially internal arts such as tai chi, is the underlying theme of being present to oneself –of being in the moment.
A Melding of Philosophies—One for One, & One for All - January 3, 2018
This article will share thoughts on both spectrums – approaches for personalized individual direction, and for social strategies, i.e. codes of conduct if you will. Hopefully, you may find something here worthy of your review and consideration.
Introduction to Qi Gong Part 2 - August 21, 2017
I was ten years old, lying in my bed. My dad was standing in the door way speaking in a low deep voice, "10 feel your body relaxing, 9, going deeper now, 8 very relaxed, 7, your body is so relaxed that it feels like your floating on a cloud…" He was guiding me through a visualization. Every night before bed, either my mom or dad would guide us kids through a deep relaxation technique.
Introduction to Qi Gong Part 1 - August 14, 2017
Qi means life force energy. The ancient pictogram of Qi represented mist coming off water or steam coming off rice. The mist and steam signified that Qi was invisible. The rice meant that Qi nourished the body.
Introducing new YMAA Author! Lee Holden, Part 2, In His Own Words - August 7, 2017
For the next month, I would go to Master Chia's house and work out every day. We would train for about an hour and a half, practicing tai chi, qi gong, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. What I kept realizing again and again was that this practice was not new age fluff, but a body-mind-spirit science. Master Chia was showing me formulas that had been tested for the last 4,000 years. He explained that these exercise and meditation routines were like a well-trodden path to the top of the inner mountain. If you practice them, you will reach the peak and enjoy the expanding vista of a clear mind and radiant health.
Introducing new YMAA Author! Lee Holden, In His Own Words - July 31, 2017
I was ten years old, lying in my bed. My dad was standing in the doorway speaking in a low deep voice, "10, feel your body relaxing, 9, going deeper now, 8, very relaxed, 7, your body is so relaxed that it feels like your floating on a cloud…" He was guiding me through a visualization. Every night before bed, either my mom or dad would guide us kids through a deep relaxation technique. By the time I was 15, I was proficient in self-relaxation and visualization techniques. I would use the technique to help with school, sports and martial arts classes (Karate, Kung Fu, and even Capoeira).
Fun with Words, Tai Chi Style—"TRUST" - July 3, 2017
"Trust" is a fascinating concept. Its presence, its absence, or its antithesis have shaped human history on its grandest scales as well as at every increment of human interaction.
Balance and Tai Chi - May 1, 2017
Balance, by which I mean physical balance when upright, is a concern often expressed by potential students prior to taking up their studies at Tai Chi. They want to know: can Tai Chi help them improve their balance? While I'm generally hopeful and upbeat about how Tai Chi can serve students in this regard, there are multiple factors and considerations that come into play where balance is concerned. I feel it is prudent to have a basic understanding of these different factors in order to fashion a reasonable and realistic approach to helping students improve their balance through Tai Chi.
Conflict-An Antithesis to Tai Chi - October 17, 2011
If someone were to engage me in one of those word association games-“Say the first thing that comes to your mind when I say...Tai Chi”
Form as a Vessel for Tai Chi Principle—Part 2 - August 9, 2010
Once enrolled in my class, she was all over the place swinging her arms as if dancing to imaginary music (fine at home, perhaps, but not in Tai Chi class). This woman completely lacked structure, but more significantly, she lacked any desire for structure or willingness to consider its merits.
Form as a Vessel for Tai Chi Principle—Part 1 - August 2, 2010
When the average person thinks of Tai Chi, the image that I expect most often comes to mind is one of some person or persons practicing a slow motion Tai Chi form sequence. This is quite reasonable given Tai Chi’s usual portrayal in the various media.