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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Theory of Taiji Ball Qigong (太極球氣功之理論) - November 12, 2018
The theoretical foundation of taiji ball qigong is based on the theory and philosophy of taiji (太極). From this theory, practices were developed. In order to understand the root of taiji ball qigong training, you must first understand the meaning of taiji in taiji ball qigong.
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.
Essential Elements of Metarobics and Tai Chi for Therapy - September 17, 2018
Tai chi is fast becoming a popular exercise, resulting in a wide range of teaching methods. Some changes are beneficial, but others may reduce or even eliminate the unique benefits of tai chi. This chapter provides a brief overview of the development of tai chi for health and discusses what to look for when choosing a class to maximize the benefits of tai chi from a Metarobic and structural perspective.
Metarobics and Tai Chi: How a Student with Cancer Changed My Understanding of Exercise - August 20, 2018
My awareness of how the body responds to certain kinds of movement occurred over a period of several years, and quite by accident. It was a gradual process. It began with the first student who came to me convinced that tai chi had cured her cancer. Over time, I came to realize that a large variety of chronic diseases shared a common element—an element directly affected by tai chi and similar exercises, which have unique and measurable effects on blood oxygen saturation and diffusion.
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.
Learn Chen-Style Tai Chi - June 11, 2018
Tai chi has become more and more popular as a mainstream exercise, usually practiced in slow motion to improve health. Research has shown that tai chi practice can improve our body coordination, improve balance, and reduce risks for falls, especially for seniors. Tai chi practice can also help to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.
Tai Chi, Metarobics and World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - April 23, 2018
Every year thousands around the globe celebrate and promote tai chi on World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQGD). This event was founded almost 20 years ago by Bill Douglas, as a way to promote interest in these exercises. And it worked. Every year many schools who participate in this event bring in new students. And I am excited to announce that this may get even better – new research and the release of my book Mindful Exercise: Metarobics, Healing, and the Power of Tai Chi, byYMAA, August 2018, holds promise for attracting even more to these health and life giving arts.
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.
What Does Taiji Training Include? - February 19, 2018
Taiji has been evolving for more than seven hundred years, and it is very difficult to state just exactly what makes up the art. The content of the art has varied from one generation to the next. For example, one generation might specialize in the taiji spear, and gradually come to ignore other aspects of the art, such as the sword or saber. The contents of the system can also vary from one teacher to another. One might have learned only the sword from his master, and so naturally the sword would be the only weapon he could teach. Some masters will emphasize a particular principle or training method because of their experience, temperament, or research, or perhaps create a new training style for a new weapon.
Combining Qigong, Yoga and Acupressure Using Meridian Qigong Exercises - February 7, 2018
Over the last fifty years, I have been searching for and compiling information on the qigong and yoga (which is essentially Indian qigong) that can be effectively used to benefit today's society. Our lifestyle today is very different from that of a hundred years ago.
How Do You Learn Taijiquan? - January 21, 2018
Whether or not a person learns something depends upon his attitude and seriousness. First he must make a firm decision to learn it, and then he must have a strong will to fulfill his intention. He needs perseverance and patience to last to the end. Even if a person has all these virtues, his achievement might still be different from that of another person’s who has the same qualities and personality.
Introduction and Short History of Tai Chi Ball Qigong - January 9, 2018
Though the existence of taiji ball qigong has been common knowledge in both Chinese martial arts and laymen societies, its popularity has been limited due to the secrecy of the training techniques. Taiji ball qigong training, in each style, was kept secret and passed down only to trusted students.
Introducing New YMAA Author! Daisy Lee - January 3, 2018
This article is being reposted to reintroduce Daisy Lee, one of YMAA's newest authors. Daisy Lee is the disciple of the 58th generation lineage holder, Master Wang San Hua, descendent of Hua Tuo, originator of the root form of medical qigong, Five Animal Qigong (五禽戲) from Bo Zhou, China.
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.
Helen Liang's Triumph Over Tragedy: Healing Cancer with Tai Chi, Qigong, and Chinese Medicine Part 2 - June 20, 2017
After a profound year of meditation, qigong, and internal martial arts, Helen's hair had grown back. Still frail, the experience only seemed to make her beauty all the more ethereal. It was then 1997, and promoter Jeff Bolt was having a groundbreaking event in Orlando, a pay-per-view sanshou fight coupled with a live demonstration performance featuring the top martial arts talent of North America.
Helen Liang's Triumph Over Tragedy: Healing Cancer with Tai Chi, Qigong, and Chinese Medicine Part 1 - June 12, 2017
Miracles are in short supply these days, though we seek them daily. Sometimes we find them, or possibly they find us. Helen Liang, a beautiful young girl, lay dying in a Vancouver, Canada hospital bed, the victim of a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma (cancer). After a devastating course of chemotherapy failed to eradicate the disease, doctors told her that she had only two weeks to live.
Taiji Practice Requirements - May 31, 2017
Although you can practice any way you want, the best way to practice taiji or qigong is in a group. It does not matter how big the group is; what does matter is if the group energy is together or in sync when everyone goes the same speed and same direction. In old Chinese tradition, the group energy is very often emphasized.
Introducing YMAA Author: Helen Liang's Early Training Years - May 7, 2017
Bestselling YMAA author Helen Liang was born in a very remote village in China's Sichuan province during the Cultural Revolution, where her father had been forced to relocate after graduating from University for "re-education." Her father, the legendary martial artist Liang Shou-Yu was already a famous kung fu teacher, highly educated, and one of China's top coaches. Grandmaster Liang was raised on Emei mountain, where he started training at the age of six with his renowned grandfather, Liang, Zhi-Xiang.
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.
Celebrate World Tai Chi & Qigong Day with Tai Chi—The Art of Fitness - April 24, 2017
The World Tai Chi & Qigong Day will be held on April 29, 2017. The whole world celebrates this day by participating in tai chi and qigong practice in a natural setting at 10 a.m. in all different cities, from time zone to time zone. I will be <a href="http://www.taichihealing.org/">celebrating</a> at Bay Front Park, Sarasota, Florida (near Marina Jack.) This is a free event that I highly recommend to people of all ages and all different physical abilities. Come to try and to experience the World Qi Wave; to feel it, embrace it, and to use it to benefit our body, mind, and our spirit.
What is Taiji? - April 3, 2017
Taiji is an ancient Chinese exercise for health improvement, spiritual growth, disease prevention, healing assistance, and self-defense. It involves slow, circular movements; mental concentration; breath control; relaxation; and meditation.
Learning Training Sequences of Taijiquan - March 16, 2017
Every taiji master has his own sequence of training, emphasizing his methods and content. The following is a list of general training procedures according to my experience with three taiji masters and his teaching experience of more than thirty years.
About a Real Fight - February 20, 2017
Before you get into a fight, you must first ask yourself a few things: Is this fight necessary? What is my motivation in this fight? What are my chances of winning? What will the consequences be?
Footwork and Figure Eights with a Staff - January 18, 2017
Footwork is essential to hitting your opponent without getting hit yourself, which is really the whole point of staff fighting. The general rule on footwork is to keep your body weight balanced over a stable, but fluidly mobile base, staying light on the balls of your feet at all times.
Preparation for Beginning a Tai Chi Sequence - January 5, 2017
Before you begin the sequence it is good to stand in wuji for a moment to focus your intent and your qi.
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.
Tai Chi for Women - November 18, 2016
Tai chi originated in China as a martial art, and has been known for centuries as a mind-body practice that brings practitioners fitness, health, and wellness.
Experience Tai Chi Fitness - October 10, 2016
Tai Chi Fit is a unique workout that I have developed after decades of traditional tai chi (taijiquan) practice. It is an effort to make tai chi more fun and accessible, while making your fitness more graceful and holistic. It’s a ride along the wave of your inner power, like surfing on your own life energy (Qi).
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.
Introduction of Yang Style Lao Liu Lu Taijiquan - August 8, 2016
In the time of Qing Dynasty, taijiquan was quite popular in the royal palace due to Prince Pu Lun Bei Zi, a man of great power and wealth, who appreciated the fighting technique of Yang-style taijiquan. He recognized the martial applications disguised in the slow, graceful movements, as if there were needles hidden, wrapped in cotton.
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.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility. The three dharma seals are the general principles of truth, which guide the enlightened to "wisdom" and human beings to understand the "world" with its extensive and profound theories.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility.
The Hidden Shaolin Taizu Chang Quan Roots of Chen Taijiquan - May 23, 2016
Shaolin Lohan (Luohan) Quan, Tai Tzu Chang Quan, and Taiji Quan (originating from Chen village), all represent a very ancient history of Chinese martial arts that are associated with health and mental well being besides physical fitness and self-defense. By the time the grand Emperor Chao Kuang-Yin had visited Shaolin temple during the early Sung Dynasty and gifted them with a series of books that contained his own Chang Quan and Hong Quan forms and other martial art ideas, Shaolin already had hundreds of years of chi gung and martial arts development under its belt via its creation of the Lohan style.
24 Hours of World Peace—Celebrate World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - April 20, 2016
David-Dorian Ross, an acclaimed international tai chi teacher, has worked for decades to bring tai chi to the mainstream. Ross is also a recipient of eight US Gold Medals, a World Silver medal and two World Bronze medals in tai chi. Now he is taking instruction to the next level by offering to the tai chi community the first interactive online streaming video.
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.)
Tai Chi 48-Form Movements - February 29, 2016
The Tai Chi 48-form is traditionally taught divided into six sections, so you may focus on adding a small number of movements to your overall form gradually. The first section stresses basic hand and foot movements and the essential Peng, Lu, Ji, An (Ward Off, Rollback, Press, and Push).
Tai Chi 24-Form Movements - February 19, 2016
These are the movements of the official Tai Chi 24-form, which is often referred to as the "Simplified" form. This list and the video included show this traditional form as it was originally intended to be performed correctly.
Discover the Tai Chi 48 Form - February 1, 2016
The Tai Chi 48-movement form is ideal for those interested experiencing in the true essence of tai chi chuan, because it combines powerful techniques from all styles into a sequence embodying the spirit of relaxation and softness with circular, continuous movements. There are over 250 million people worldwide that practice tai chi daily for health benefits.
Additional Exercises With a Partner for Tai Chi Ball - November 30, 2015
It is advisable to have one partner at a time lead the exchanges in the beginning. Follow this with the freestyle method of exchanging where either person may choose to change the direction of the pattern between yin and yang. The following exercises will be the vertical yin-yang circling patterns using both sets of hands on the ball, followed by each person using a single hand attached to the ball. When practicing the exercises using both sets of hands, the ball will be turned slightly along its horizontal axis allowing a crisscross pattern.
Train with a Partner using a Tai Chi Ball - November 23, 2015
Practice with a partner. This will allow you to focus on your sense of distancing as well as enhancing your connecting, adhering, and sticking jin skills. Whether you are practicing pushing hands or engaged with your enemy, these skills are necessary for positioning an opponent into a disadvantage and defeating them. In the following exercises, when it is recommended that one person at a time initiate a movement, the training for the passive partner is to stick to the ball and yield to the direction of the initiating partner. This is also an important element in training.