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The Importance of Posture in Taijiquan
November 29, 2016
Since taijiquan is an internal qigong martial style, correct posture is essential. Incorrect postures can cause many problems: a tight posture can stagnate the internal qi circulation, wrong postures may expose your vital points to attack, and floating shoulders and elbows will break the jing and reduce jing storage.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2
October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1
October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
DRILL: The One-Step
September 26, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite.
Not Parlor Tricks
September 12, 2016
The following aren't actually tricks. They are exercises that you demonstrate once to show a deeper truth. Most will not work on people a second time. Some will learn to game it.
DRILL: The One-Step - August 29, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite. I thought, "That's brilliant—unscripted but safe, just looking at this whole thing as a meat geometry problem…"
Analysis of Taijiquan Techniques - August 22, 2016
It is important to understand how martial sequences are created and what purposes they serve. Sometimes people who lack this understanding tend to view the taijiquan sequence as a dance or abstract movement. A proper understanding of the root of the art will help you practice in the most effective way.
Training for Sudden Violence - August 15, 2016
I teach about violence. As I left “the life” I discovered that my niche wasn’t so much teaching cops as I had expected, or even teaching civilian self-defense. The material seemed to resonate most with experienced martial artists who were coming to discover how little they really knew about violence.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does)—Part 2 - July 1, 2016
With an estimated 50 million karateka in the world there are no figures that I am aware of to demonstrate what percentage have been training for more than a few years. Certainly, given the direction of karate's growth over the past fifty-years, it wouldn't be too outrageous to suggest that a greater value has been placed on quantity over quality. So what happened?
Self-Defense: A Unique Teaching Challenge - June 27, 2016
There are six very important distinctions that make self-defense different from almost every other subject we teach. Rarity. Emergencies are extremely rare, complex, and varied. Rarity means there is very limited experience available on how to deal with such an event.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does) - June 15, 2016
Getting hit doesn't hurt...that's not only the name of this article: it's a fact! It was also a discovery I made many years ago when, as a young man caught in a downward spiral of violent behaviour, my life was heading to the bottom faster than a rock in water. Unable to take control of the rage that burst to the surface with increased regularity, my teenage years bore witness to a boy broken by his inability to alter course. Appreciating that it was my fear of being hit, and not the actual pain I might feel when a blow landed, was a massive turning point in my sprint to the bottom. It was a fear that lay at the heart of my hesitation to start a fight; but once that fear was removed, my downward trajectory grew quickly steeper.
Reflections on Taijiquan—A Complex Art - June 6, 2016
One of the best decisions I ever made in my life is to learn Taijiquan. It is one thing that has always brought me great happiness. I cannot deny how much health I have gained, how balanced my mind has become, and how deeply I have pondered life since I began training it at 16 years old. Taijiquan enabled me to not only live a healthy life, but also a calm and peaceful one.
Redemption: A Street Fighter's Path to Peace - May 16, 2016
Being born the fifth child into a working-class family of six children guaranteed I had a fight on my hands from the very beginning. That my siblings and I grew to be productive members of society suggests that my childhood, although often chaotic, served me well. Dublin, Ireland, was not the attractive city in 1955 that it is today, so my birth on the fourteenth of May that year, in the upstairs front bedroom at 88 Kylemore Drive, rekindled thoughts in my father's head of returning to England. And in 1958, when I was three years old, the family moved to Manchester in the heart of England's industrial northwest.
Some Remarks About Sparring - April 18, 2016
Taijiquan is an internal style of Chinese martial arts. All Chinese martial styles, after a thousand years of practice and experience, understand that in order to have an effective way of fighting, they must acquire the four skills of kicking, striking, wrestling, and Qin Na.
Tai Chi Sword Techniques - April 4, 2016
Generally speaking, due to geographical differences, northern Chinese martial artists have developed techniques, which emphasize long and middle range fighting, while southern martial artists focus on firm root, and specialize in short and middle range fighting. Sword techniques, which emerged, therefore differed according to this developmental influence.
Key Points in Taiji Pushing Hands - March 21, 2016
Almost every Chinese martial style, both external and internal, has its own hand-matching training similar to Taiji's pushing hands. In southern external styles it is commonly called Qiao Shou (Bridge Hands) or Pan Shou (Coiling Hands), while in northern external styles it is called Da Shou (Folding Hands) or Dui Shou (Opposite Hands.)
What is Qi and What is Qigong? - March 14, 2016
To understand taiji ball qigong, first you must know what qi and qigong are.  Only then will you be able to comprehend how and why qigong is able to bring you health, longevity, and even spiritual enlightenment.
The Donkey - March 7, 2016
I am not, nor have I ever been, the most physically competent martial artist. It takes me inordinately more classes to attain technical proficiency in many areas than it does others. I am tall and fairly agile, but I do not have much muscle mass. And then, over the past few years, two significant medical challenges have crossed my desk. Couple all this with the fact that I am now in my 60s, and a potentially bleak image begins to materialize.
Hooks in Violent and Non Violent Encounters - January 12, 2016
Dealing with people who routinely used violence to get what they want, they often sought a "hook." A hook is an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their actions later.