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.
Discover the Tai Chi 24 Form - October 19, 2015
The Simplified Tai Chi 24 form is the most popular tai chi form in the world. With only 24 movements, it is the perfect way to experience the amazing health benefits of a shortened tai chi form, no matter your current fitness level. The ancient art of tai chi is often described as "moving meditation" because it stimulates your mind, body, and spirit.
Tai Chi Ball – A Lost Art - October 5, 2015
Practice with a wood or stone ball was traditionally part of the curriculum when studying many Chinese martial art styles, until about a hundred years ago. Because of repeated cultural upheaval, some of the deeper aspects of tai chi (known formally as taijiquan, "grand ultimate fist") were lost over time. But now, the taiji qiu or tai chi ball is making a comeback.
Tai Chi Sword for Beginners - September 14, 2015
Tai Chi Chuan is a kind of moving meditation with ancient roots in Chinese martial arts. Beyond the bare hand Tai Chi form awaits the elegant and highly effective Tai Chi Sword, which has long been considered the highest achievement in Tai Chi training. The beautiful and flowing Tai Chi Sword form will strengthen your body, sharpen your mind, and raise your spirit.
Qi and Taijiquan - August 24, 2015
There are several questions taiji practitioners frequently ask. How do I experience qi in taijiquan? How do I generate qi? How can taijiquan benefit the body and bring me health? How is qi circulated in taijiquan? How do I use my qi in the martial applications of taijiquan? What is the relationship of qi to jing? All these questions are very important for the practitioner who wishes to approach the higher levels of taijiquan.<br>
Some Movements for Tai Chi Ball Practice - August 17, 2015
The following are some movements that you may find helpful while practicing tai chi ball. It is best to do each exercise for 12 repetitions. 1. Stationary (Ding Bu. To begin this exercise, stand in ma bu and start the stationary horizontal circling pattern using a yang pattern. Once you have increased the size of the circle to your maximum range of motion, repeat the pattern for a few repetitions.
Safety In Practicing Taijiquan - August 10, 2015
Is there a safety issue for practicing taijiquan? Yes. I occasionally listen to a program on learning taijiquan while in my car. A host once asked his guest (a famous master of taijiquan), "What physical conditions are required for learning taijiquan?" The guest answered: "You can learn taijiquan as long as your knees are fine."
Saga of the Chinese Sword - July 13, 2015
The ancient Chinese regarded the sword as a very important weapon, as evidenced by the relatively large number of documents about it and the frequency with which swords turn up in archeological digs. It is the only weapon that has been used and admired continuously from the beginning of Chinese history to the present day.
On Practicing Taijiquan—The Five Mindsets - June 29, 2015
Many people are aware that taijiquan is beneficial, but to obtain those benefits one needs "samutpada" (arousal of earnest intention) and one has to pay the price. Everyone can afford it, but most people are reluctant to pay. Whenever I run into taijiquan enthusiasts who want to practice taijiquan with me, what I first say is, "If you want to learn taijiquan you need to pay the price.
Mind Approach in Practicing Taijiquan - June 22, 2015
The Mind Approach in Practicing Taijiquan. The mind approach is a way of practicing with one's heart (mind and intent) as the guidance. It used to have no fixed patterns or rules; however, the mind approach I present has its principle based on the following six points.
What's It All About? Tai Chi - May 25, 2015
Each day, millions of men and women worldwide practice the Chinese martial art Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan), which has been known for centuries to promote deep relaxation, excellent health, and to prevent injuries and illness. This gentle moving meditation teaches you to find balance between strength and flexibility, increases bone density, while involving all of the various soft tissues in your body: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fasciae, and skin.
One World, One Breath: An Interview with Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi Day & Qigong Day—Part 2 - April 20, 2015
I recently spoke to Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, about his experience with this amazing global event. Here is Part 2 of the interview. See April 13, 2015 for Part 1.
One World, One Breath: An Interview with Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi Day & Qigong Day—Part 1 - April 13, 2015
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQD) will be celebrated on April 25, 2015 at 10 a.m. in every time zone around the world. You can participate in this global day of peace by yourself or with your local tai chi group by simply practicing at 10 a.m. As the day passes, a wave of energy will encircle the globe through the hearts and minds of practitioners on every continent.
Power Training for Tai Chi Sword - April 6, 2015
According to Chinese martial Qigong, the power is ﬁrst generated from the mind. From the mind, the Qi is led to the physical body to manifest it as power. Therefore, we can see that the Qi is the energy, while the physical body is like the machine. A detailed explanation of Qigong can be found in the YMAA book The Essence of Shaolin White Crane.
About Pushing Hands—Part 2 - March 30, 2015
An (Press or Push Down) means to settle the wrist. It is executed by using the base of the palm, either one palm or both palms can press and push. An can be divided into offensive An and defensive An. In offensive An, the base of the palm is used to push upward to the chin to destroy the opponent's central equilibrium; to the throat to seal the opponent's breath; to push forward to Xinkan (Jiuwei) (i.e., solar plexus area) to seal the breath as well as destroy the opponent's central equilibrium or shock his heart; to push downward to the abdominal area to destroy the stability of the lower part of his body or to seal his breath.
About Pushing Hands—Part 1 - March 23, 2015
Practicing Methods of the Four Directions and Four Corners (Eight Doors, Eight Trigrams). What are the four directions and four corners? They are the eight doors. It is also the theory of Eight Trigrams in Taijiquan. What are the four directions?
Basic Taiji Theory - March 16, 2015
If we desire to understand taiji theory, then we must first trace back to its origins and roots. Only then will we know how and where it came from. Although a great proportion of Chinese martial arts history is vague, we can still trace it with some accuracy and in some detail.
Four Applications of Taiji Ball Qigong (太極球氣功之應用) - December 15, 2014
At this stage, you should be able to practice the circling, rotation, and wrap-coiling patterns smoothly. You should also be able to perform each of these patterns comfortably while stationary, rocking, stepping, and bagua stepping.
What is Qin Na? - November 17, 2014
Taijiquan (太極拳) was originally developed for combat in ancient times. Its fighting theory is to use the soft against the hard, and to use the round to neutralize the straight or square. In order to achieve this goal, the body must be soft and the movements must be smooth and natural. Taijiquan also emphasizes the cultivation of qi (氣), or internal energy.
The Sword Way - October 20, 2014
In ancient China, the way of the sword was widely respected. This was so not just because sword techniques and skills were difficult to learn. The main reason was that moral and spiritual qualities were required in order to attain the highest levels of its art.
Improving Quality of Qi's Manifestation - July 21, 2014
Here we will discuss how the quality of qi's circulation or manifestation can be improved. First, we should recognize that from Chinese martial art history, it was not until the fifth century that Chinese internal styles were developed, recognized, and practiced.
Guidelines for Taijiquan Practice - May 12, 2014
To successfully learn taijiquan (tai chi chuan), you will need to understand some of the principles and guidelines that have accumulated over the centuries by masters of this ancient art. These principles and guidelines are the foundation of taijiquan.
Historical Survey of Chinese Martial Arts - Part 2 - May 7, 2014
During the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1278) the monks of the Shaolin Temple continued to gather more martial skills from outside sources. They blended these arts into the Shaolin training. During this period, one of the most famous Shaolin martial monks, Jueyuan, traveled around the country in order to learn and absorb high levels of martial skill into Shaolin training.
Historical Survey of Chinese Martial Arts - Part 1 - April 30, 2014
Chinese martial arts probably started long before history was recorded. Martial techniques were discovered or created during the long epoch of continuous conflict between humans and animals or between different tribes of humans themselves. From these battles, experiences were accumulated and techniques discovered that were passed down from generation to generation.
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day April 26, 2014 - April 23, 2014
Celebrate World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTC&Q Day) on Saturday, April 26 at 10 a.m. all over the world. Beginning in New Zealand, this event will spread time zone by time zone across the globe, and will include hundreds of cities spanning 80 countries. Massive tai chi and qigong exhibitions will be held in public places such as parks, community centers, and tai chi schools across six continents. It's a time for people to come together, to breathe together, providing a healing vision for our world.
Traditional Yang Style Taijiquan - April 7, 2014
How Many Techniques in Taijiquan? In the traditional bare hand sequence, the apparent number of techniques vary between 81 and 150, depending on the method used to count and group the forms. Some instructors and writers, for example, will not count repeated forms. But basically, you may judge whether a taijiquan sequence is complete by comparing the arrangement of the names given to the techniques.
Empty and Full Moon Breathing Exercise for Abdominal Muscles - March 17, 2014
For this exercise, we will focus on the physical muscles surrounding the lower energy center area. This skill, coordinating the movement of the abdominal and back muscles with the movement of the lungs and diaphragm, should be practiced and emphasized on its own. This exercise is one of those pillar principles that should eventually be incorporated into every mind/body prescription throughout the Sunset Tai Chi program. It is ultimately used with every breath you take.
Fundamental Eight Stances (Ji Ben Ba Shi) - February 24, 2014
Before you practice traditional Yang Style Taijiquan, you should first learn some important fundamental practices. These practices will help you understand the essence and the root of taijiquan practice.
Taiji Sword and Its Applications - August 26, 2013
Since Taijiquan has developed for more than a thousand years, various styles have been created. There are many Taiji sword sequences in existence. All of these sequences have grown out of the same Taiji theoretical roots.
Tai Chi Wall and Tree Push-Ups - July 1, 2013
Face a wall or a tree, with your feet together and your toes about two to four feet away from the wall or tree, depending on your height and how much resistance you are looking for. The farther away from the support you are, the more resistance you will add to the muscles.
What is Taijiquan? - May 20, 2013
Let us see what is Taijiquan, as it was written down in the past. First, we must define what we mean by “taiji.” It is stated in Wang, Zong-yue’s (王宗岳) Taijiquan Classic “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<br>reunites.”
YMAA Celebrates World Tai Chi & Qigong Day on April 27 - April 22, 2013
Celebrate World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTC&Q Day)on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. all over the world. Beginning in New Zealand, this event will spread time zone by time zone across the globe, and will include 70 countries.
Thoughts On Tai Chi Form And Drills - April 15, 2013
During my twenty plus years of training full-time with world-renowned Chinese masters and leading Yoga teachers has rewarded me with gold medals in the solo Tai Chi form and Tai Chi sword, as well as in fighting competitions in North America, and Europe, in China, as well.
Tai Chi "Fire Set" Exercises for Leg Strength - March 11, 2013
The following three exercises make up what I call the “Fire Set,” which are “Walk and Kick Back,” “Walk Like a Warrior,” and “Up Like Smoke, Down Like a Feather.”<br>I designed this exercise after many years of experience working with martial artists as well as elders, and stumbling into many issues of leg strength, as well as osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
Taiji Ball Qigong - Theory of Physical Conditioning (強身之原理) - March 4, 2013
Taiji ball qigong is able to condition the physical body and change its structure from weak to strong. In addition, it can also increase the quality of endurance of the body. Due to these reasons, taiji ball qigong can be used to enhance fighting capability, and to increase the chance of survival in ancient fighting situations.
Taiji Ball Qigong Training (太極球氣功之練習) - December 3, 2012
Taiji ball qigong is a mixture of internal gong (nei gong, 內功) and external gong (wai gong, 外功). The internal gong includes the development of the feeling between the physical body and qi and also learning how to use the mind to lead the qi efficiently.
Traditional Tai Chi Ball Training - September 11, 2012
The tai chi ball is a traditional training tool used to strengthen the muscles, joints, and bones. It is also a method used to open and strengthen the circulation in the belt vessel. You may use any kind or size ball or any object that will fit between your hands for this exercise.
Hamstring Stretches - July 30, 2012
Because the hamstrings are the most stubborn muscles in our body, we need to constantly stretch them. If you think about it, the hamstrings are one of the muscles that do not have any strengthening exercises.
Learning Tai Chi - the 24 and 48 Forms - July 16, 2012
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art that combines martial arts movements with Qi energy circulation, breathing, and stretching techniques. It utilizes the ancient philosophy of Yin / Yang and the Five Element theories for its foundation and to establish its training principles.
Advanced Taiji Ball Training (高級太極球之練習) - June 25, 2012
The following exercises are a sample of how you may take your tai chi training even further. As you will see, there is no limit as to how much you can train. It is up to you to challenge yourself to reach deeper levels of understanding and excel at taiji ball training.
Celebrate World Tai Chi and Qigong Day-April 28, 2012 - April 23, 2012
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame."-Thomas Alva Edison
Yang Tai Chi Family Secrets - Part 2 - April 9, 2012
This is a translation of a Yang family poem titled, "The Secrets of Total Applications" by Yang, Yu (Ban-Hou). Each section is followed by commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.
Yang Tai Chi Family Secrets - Part 1 - April 2, 2012
Taijiquan was first introduced to the West by Master Cheng, Man-Ching during the 1960's. The original focus of his effort was to teach a method of health and relaxation. It was only after several years that the art's effectiveness in reducing stress and maintaining health became widely known.
Tai Chi Ball Basic Warm-up and Stretching Exercises - February 20, 2012
The following are basic warm-up and stretching exercises are highly recommended for any and all external exercises. They are designed to prepare the body for more strenuous activity.
Yang Tai Chi for Beginners - January 29, 2012
Yang-style Tai Chi is the most popular form in the world, with millions of practitioners. Since the Yang family popularized Tai Chi during the 1800s, the form has been passed down from teacher to student in an oral tradition, resulting in a wide variety in the way the form is practiced.
Training Exercises for Tai Chi Ball - October 31, 2011
The first pattern in external training exercises is known as circling. There are four different methods to complete the circle. Two are related to a vertical plane and two are related to a horizontal plane.
Breathing Exercises for Tai Chi - October 24, 2011
The following will highlight some fundamental techniques required for nei gong. Nei gong is also known as internal gongfu. Internal gong focuses on regulating the body, breathing, mind, qi, and spirit.
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”
The Setting Sun and Tai Chi Drills - August 16, 2011
If you have an opportunity, perform tai chi drills as well as the tai chi form in the setting sun. Relax, but do not collapse your entire body and surrender physically and mentally to the gentle warmth and to the powerful drawing and cleansing energy of the setting sun. Of course, second best would be indoors while the sun is setting.
How to Practice a Taijiquan Sequence - July 26, 2011
Normally, it takes at least three years to learn the taijiquan sequence and to circulate qi smoothly in coordination with the breathing and postures. You should then learn to transport qi and develop qi balance. Even after you have accomplished this, there is still more to learn before you can be considered a proficient taijiquan martial artist.
Regulating the Breath - June 13, 2011
Regulating the breath means to regulate your breathing until it is calm, smooth, and peaceful. Only when you have reached this point will you be able to make the breathing deep, slender, long, and soft, which is required for successful qigong practice. Breathing is affected by your emotions. For example, when you are angry or excited you exhale more strongly than you inhale. When you are sad, you inhale more strongly than you exhale.