Friday, March 29, 2013

The Eight Postures or Energies of T'ai-Chi Ch'uan

Tai-Chi is composed of eight hand techniques corresponding to the Eight Trigrams and five foot techniques corresponding to the Five Elements. Together these are known as the 13 Postures, and all of Tai-Chi is created and composed from them. They are Ward-Off, Roll-Back, Press, Push, Pull, Split, Elbow, and Shoulder. When I was learning from Master T.T. Liang he called them postures but it was easy to be confused. Was Ward-Off only done the way it appeared in the solo form? What about other styles of T'ai-Chi's Ward-Off? Was that shape or structure the only way to use it? Could I really defend myself using these archaic expressions of what I now know to be vital, versatile, and dynamic energies? Master Liang taught and showed the underlying theory or principle behind each of these postures. For example, how the structure principle of  Ward-Off  showed up in different places such as the brushing arm of the posture "Brush Left Knee and Twist Step" being Ward-Off energy. For my own learning, practicing, and now teaching, I call these the Eight Energies. Really these could be called the eight sensitivities, or the eight expressions. Prof.Cheng taught that the "arms embrace the Eight Trigrams." Each of the eight energies in T'ai-Chi not only corresponds to a trigram, but a direction on the compass. That is why the pushing-hands method using the first four energies is called "four directions." These applications of energy go far beyond the simple expressions in the Solo-Form, Pushing-Hands,Ta-Lu, and San-Shou.

I have been teaching an ongoing class where I instruct and demonstrate the energy, theory, and concept behind each of the Eight Energies/Postures and then show how to apply them in three methods: Single-Hand Horizontal, Four-Directions, and Flower-Picking or freestyle. In April I'll be traveling to the Ming Tao Tai Chi Studio in Delaware to conduct some seminars and workshops, one being how to apply the Eight Energies in three methods. Whether you are a beginner or an old-time player, I know you will get some fresh insights and confirmations on your eight energies in these workshops.

Contact Diane Cannon at;

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Poem

In Joe's Garden

I'll just keep doing what I'm doing,
In spite of the rain.
The doing is my life,
And the downpour,
My pain.
Real pleasure exists
In the small, constant things.
My contentment and joy
Are where truth loudly rings.
Leaving clouds,
Like my sorrows,
And the coming sun,
Is my now, love-warmed heart.

July 2011 Penicuik Scotland

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thoughts on Stress

Stress is the foundation, environment, or beginning of a vast number of deadly diseases. We know about it, yet when we let stress be present for extended periods of time, stress and tension become natural, learned behavior, while it’s opposite, relaxation, becomes un-natural and unlearned. Part of the human condition is that we can adapt to situations, bear great burdens for long periods of time, and function in spite of factors telling us not to proceed. This is where stress gets in. We think we can handle it. We’ll just relax when the work or burden is finished. But burdens and work never finish. So we soldier on and just keep going. I mean, we are able to do everything aren’t we? Nothing is stopping us? I must be over-thinking this. But when the stress reaches levels and depths of your being, the damage is going to be done. PTSD, exhaustion, nervous breakdowns, disease, panic attacks, and sickness only name a few.

How do recognize stress? How do we deal with it? What can be done? I hope to share with you my over thirty five years of teaching people to relax, center, calm, and empower themselves through many practices and methods most notably the art of Tai-Chi Chuan and meditation.

If a tiger were to suddenly appear in the room you are in now, I would expect you to experience some stress! This stress is good. High blood pressure, tense muscles, quick chest breathing, and a strong desire to act, not think, just what you need to get away from a tiger. Our problem in the modern world is that we spend time thinking about the tiger that MIGHT come into the room. The trouble is, the mind, energy, and body-connection do not take time to decide if you are imagining the tiger or really seeing it. Have you ever thought of a lover who was not present and yet experienced arousal and feelings of love? Have you ever woken up from a night mare soaked in sweat, chest heaving, looking to act? Our thoughts have a huge effect on our bodies. When we worry and do not solve our problems, the body reacts and gets ready for action, but the action never comes. The preparation and alchemical change is there, but the energy and power do not get used. That energy, which would make you do amazing things, is stuck. And it starts to damage your body instead.

Panic attacks are when the energy makes the body ready for action, and the body makes the energy ready for action. The nervous system directed by the mind makes the kidneys excrete adrenaline, which in turn stimulates the nervous system. Chest breathing turns on the adrenaline and adrenaline makes you breathe with your chest. It is a cycle that feeds itself. There are methods and techniques for stopping this process, but they have to be trained. There is an old Sufi saying that if you don’t call on God during the good times, He won’t answer you during the bad times. For stress-relief this means that if you don’t practice calming yourself and relieving stress when you are calm, you will have a difficult time calming down during stressful times

We have all heard of the “fight or flight syndrome,” the urge to fight what is causing you stress, or to run away as fast as you can. There is tremendous energy available for you to either strike out or to beat a fast retreat. Actually there is a third part to that, freeze. Freeze is when that energy is stuck. The energy is there, but you can neither fight nor run, you are stuck. That energy will also hurt your body. Depression is highly stressful and takes a heavy toll on the body, as well as the mind and energy. The Tao Te Ching, the first book of Taoism, says “movement overcomes cold, stillness overcomes heat.” Cold can be a metaphor for depression, and heat for anger. Movement breaks the pattern of the cold stillness in depression and stillness breaks the pattern in the fiery movement of anger.

In the right situation or thought, these three, fight-flight-freeze, are valid responses, but in the wrong place or wrong time, or for over extended periods of time, that energy can injure and eventually kill you. The good news is that there are effective methods, practices, and training to relieve stress.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Welcome to my New Blog

Welcome to my New Blog

The title of my blog is The Inspired Teacher. An interesting connection is that inspiration and respiration are related, the Muse and my breathing are somehow linked. I have spent the last 30 years teaching T'ai-Chi, martial arts, meditation, and assorted spiritual and esoteric arts. When I learned T'ai-Chi Ch'uan from my teacher, Master T.T. Liang, not only did he teach me T'ai-Chi, he taught me how to learn, and how to teach. I have been fascinated with this process and continue to hone both my teaching skills and learning craft. I am truly inspired with teaching and learn when I teach and teach when I learn. I read where a yoga teacher said that her practice was for her students and her teaching was for herself. I have found this to be true for myself.

I am also an avid writer, having been published in various periodicals and written a few books myself. I write poetry and a monthly e-newsletter for my studio and I'm currently working on my first work of fiction, a sword and fantasy trilogy. Did I mention the upcoming book on T'ai-Chi Sword which I'm being hired to write? I'll let you know how the negotiations are going but right now that book looks like it's about to get done. Yay!

I want to use my blog as a platform to share my thoughts and ideas, to inform on my events and doings, and to learn more about myself, my pursuits, and my world, through you, the gentle reader. I will cover such subjects as T'ai-Chi and martial arts, Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, meditation and spirituality, especially nature-based spirituality and my practices with the Druidy I learned in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. My love of history, ancestry, Rosslyn Chapel, and all things Scottish will get a healthy platform here as well. I will also share my thoughts on teaching and learning, and a topic that many of you don't know my connection with, the Tao of Love. And just about anything else that comes to my mind!