Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Esteemed Guest Blogger

My guest this month is many things to many people.

To me: my brother, classmate, guide, mentor, friend, consultant, master-mind, trickster, best bud

To the world: a teacher ,guide, writer, friend, father, translator, son, editor,  brother, inspiration, example

Enjoy Master Paul Gallagher's article on Wu Wei (used with permission)!

The Tai Chi Art of "Effortless Action"

by Paul Gallagher

One of the more mysterious aspects of Taoism, and Tai Chi for that matter, is the idea of Wu Wei, usually translated as “Non-Action.” The Taoist is said to be someone who practices, “Non Action.” That conjures up the image of someone who lives a pretty uneventful, boring life—maybe meditating all day long, or simply sitting on a rock contemplating existence.

But the Taoists were in reality extremely dynamic people. They were tireless experimenters, observers of Nature, and in a sense the “scientists” of their time. They developed herbology, alchemy, martial arts, Qigong techniques, and meditation methods. The Taoists were anything but passive!

Above all, they were great observers, carefully studying the innate tendencies of things and the natural flow of energy. Wu Wei, far from implying passivity, actually means “not forcing,” or “not acting contrary to the natural tendencies of things, people, or events.” By acting WITH the flow rather than against it, the Taoists could produce big effects with little energy input.

There is a great illustration of this in Chapter Three of Lao Tse’s Tao Te Ching. The common translation in English usually runs something like this:

The Sage rules
By emptying their minds
Filling their bellies.
Weakening their wills,
And strengthening their bones.

So in the typical translation we get the image of a “ruler” who seems to make the people as doltish as possible, empty-headed and weak-willed. Of course in Taoist literature there are not the hard definitions of English, so the passage could also mean that this is the way a Taoist (Sage) rules him or herself. The translation above would correspond to the common way in which Wu Wei is interpreted as “non-action.”

But wait a minute…bearing in mind that 99% of translators of the Taoist writings into English were scholars who never had any actual Taoist TRAINING, let’s take a look at how a trained Taoist might have read those same four lines.

In Chinese, “mind” really means “heart-mind,” and the location of the “heart-mind” is in the solar plexus/heart area. So emptying the mind is really emptying energy from the solar plexus/heart area.

Did you ever feel stressed and “uptight?” Almost invariably, the tightness you felt would have been centered in your solar plexus area. A proliferation of chaotic thoughts will essentially BLOCK and congest energy in your heart/solar plexus area. So the Taoist, empties this area by releasing extraneous, stressful thoughts, usually through meditation.

The energy, however, is not just dissipated. Once the heart-mind is cleared, the energy and intention is directed toward the tan tian, or area just below the navel. The Taoist (or Tai Chi Player) releases excessive thought energy and instead gathers energy in their lower abdomen, the reservoir of QI, or bio-electrical vital energy.

So now, by applying just the first two lines of the poem above, the Taoist Tai Chi Player has succeeded in quieting stressful thoughts, releasing energy from a tense heart-solar plexus area, and gathering energy into its natural reservoir for abundant vitality and longer life.

Then the Taoist “weakens the will.” In Chinese medicine the Kidneys, or what we would call Adrenals provide energy for the “will.” So always trying to impose your will on events to make sure they turn out your way will deplete your Adrenals, and later your immune system. The Taoist Tai Chi Player “weakens the will” by practicing Wu Wei . S/he always works WITH the natural tendencies of people and events. So life seems to flow effortlessly, but everything gets handled with the greatest possible ease and effectiveness.

Finally, the Taoist Tai Chi Player “strengthens the bones.” In Chinese medicine, an accumulation of Kidney energy is said to enter the bones and make them resilient, but indestructible. The Tai Chi Chuan Classic says, “Let the Qi sink deeply and permeate the bones...” When the Qi has sunk to the bones, it is a sign that the entire body energy has been concentrated to its core for personal power and long life.

A quick recap for Taoist Tai Chi Players:

Release stressful, chaotic thoughts from your heart area;
Concentrate your intention on your lower abdomen to accumulate QI;
Lessen your “willfulness” in trying to control events
(Follow Wu Wei instead)
Relax all that formerly pent up energy deeply into your bones.

Who knows, you might even become a long-lived “Tai Chi Immortal!”

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My top 5 books on Druids and Druidry

I get asked a lot about Druidry. I have an elevator speech about being in harmony with nature and loving trees. Pretty simple for a quick, very quick, chat  .For more in depth conversation, we need to pause the elevator, or you could read my top five picks for Druid books. Here they are;

Of the many great books dealing with the history of the Druids, I love this one as my #5

For info on many spiritual aspects of Druids, I love this one for my #4;

For an excellent comparison and contrast between modern Druidry and Wicca, and their likeness' and differences (and one of the clearest explanations of magic), I suggest this for #3;

The next book is pure magic for me. Sometimes I just pick it up and read wherever I open it. This book gives me the feeling of doing the course-work in OBOD. My pick for #2 is;

 And for my first choice. This book gives me chills when I read it. I get the feeling of being an ancient and modern Druid, in tune with my environment now , then, and forever. The story, with its insights, experiences, and teachings go far beyond the pages. It's one of those spiritual quest/journey books, but without a heavy agenda or dogma. Every time I read it, I get new messages and ideas, and the inspiration to walk out in nature!

Here is my #1, and if you just want one book on Druidry, this very well could be it.

Merry Christmas, or as it was known for eons, Blessed YULE!!!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

T'ai-Chi San-Shou

Yang Style Tai-Chi's two person form is called San-Shou. San means free and shou means hand. Sometimes called Miscellaneous Combat, Master  T.T.Liang called it the "Two-Person Dance." or just the "dance." Created by Yang Chien-hou, only those in his lineage taught or knew this form.

San-Shou teaches the applications for the Solo Form postures, the Five Elements of Sticking Energy, the Yang's 18 lines for attack, as well as territory and distance.  San-Shou also teaches the three parts of a technique: Hua-Neutralize ,Na-Hold,Da-strike.

Master Liang taught that when the three parts are done separaely you are dancing with your partner, taking turns and not stepping on their feet. When they are combined into one movement, they become a knockout or knockdown. In my classes, we would take one technique and practice it with three separate parts. Then we would combine the defense and control. Finally we would make it all one movement by adding the attack. Liang called this one-step sparring. Making your movement one-step with three parts put together.

Master Liang learned his San-Shou from Masters Hsiung Yan-hou and Shi Diao-mei.  When learning from Mr. Hsiung, Liang had to live in Hsiung's house, meditate daily,sleep on the floor, and eat vegetarian meals because Hsiung was a devout Buddhist.

I will post a version of myself performing the complete version with Master Liang in an upcoming blog. But for now, here are a few examples and versions. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Samhuinn 2015

Amazing ritual at the stone circle in the Cowling Arb at Carleton College. North read this poem-

I am not I.
                   I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die."
by Juan Ramon Jimenez
trans by Robert Bly 

The weather and rite were amazing and the cold winds blew when the ancestors were near!

The Cailleach!!!!!

 I am filled with love for my ancestors and my grove-lings!!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A fitting guest blogger for today!

                                                  "Uncle" Archie Hayward 1885-1984

Here is an excerpt from a contribution to an article about the 200th anniversary of Lynnfield, where I grew up and where my line of Hayward's lived for decades. Here is Archie talking about how my Great Grandfather, Alfred, started the family tonic business, that's soda pop for non-New Englanders!

My grandfather,Alfred Hayward founded Hayward's Beverages after aquiring formulas from Westford, MA. My father, Lilley B. Hayward, helped solicit buisness for him, and the operation grew to be a very well known business in this area.

My father was a milk dealer and bought his milk in Lynnfield and many surrounding towns. My father's standards of quality and cleanliness, which annoyed some, earned him his successful business. One time a group of Lynnfield farmers were brought to court for a complaint that that area watered down the milk. The case was dismissed when my father Lilley stood up and stated that he had two brooks running through his property and he had no control over how much his cattle drank!!

(Thanks Patty and John!)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Druid Retreat in East Aurora

“You are a Druid if you love trees.”
-Philip Carr-Gomm

Martyn Smalltree and I drove to upstate N.Y. in October to participate in a two day retreat on "Druids: Magic and Healing." A workshop designed to explore the way the old stories, and the sacred animals and plants used in Druidry, became so much more for the intimate group of seekers.Lead by Philip Carr-Gomm, chosen chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, the gathering was held at Healing Waters, a yoga center nestled in the loving embrace of a wooded river bend and rock face. The ten acre grounds were used, as well as the ashram, for our weekend.

The workshop began with us standing in a circle and holding hands. This simple gesture soon became a powerful experience and seemed to gel the group on a deep level. Philip then read a poem by Mary Oliver,”Wild Geese,” which he said “gives the feel of Druidry,” And then, the outside world disappeared...

For me, it was like stepping into the Bardic Grade of the OBOD course work. Let me say that Philip is a true bard and a master story teller. Even though I had read, re-read, and heard many of the stories before, in that setting, with live-time pauses and spaces for back stories, explanations, and historical context, the tales and lore came alive with greater affect to my mind, heart, and spirit.

Music was played before, during, and after most of the sessions. Philip explained the different ideas the composers used to create the inspiring music. The effect was wonderful! So many tools set the mood for inner journeying.

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."

-Mary Oliver

Our group was divided into about one third who had done or were doing the OBOD course, another third who knew something of Druidry, and the last third being composed of the curious and the seeking. Philip's teachings appealed to all and the feed back I heard during the weekend was that everyone was getting exactly what they were looking for.

Beginning with a basic overview of the history of Druidry, the talk really was about the dawn of time and the beginnings of spirituality, ritual, and art. Fitting subjects for a Bard. About 3,000 years of history were covered in about an hour, yet I felt I learned more in that introduction than what I had reading so many books chronicling the history of humankind! Philip offered that religion sprung from the primal experience of darkness and light. 

Caves were considered not only as shelter but as temples and places of spiritual transformation . The practices of being taken into darkness,being  brought to the edge of life and death, then to be reborn into the light formed the basis of early rituals and ceremonies.A guided meditation drove home the concept that ancient people used caves, light and dark, death and rebirth, for spiritual growth. And we got to experience it!

To begin the study of plants, Philip told the tale of Airmid's Cloak, an ancient story about the great healers of old. Using timing, gesture, and insight, Philip brought the tale to life and gave us so many viewpoints and lessons from that story. Instead of being a story about how all the old knowledge of healing is lost to us, scattered to the four winds, we were encouraged to see it as a tale of hope. Now is the time that the old knowledge is being gathered and shared for everyone! "There is still work to do."


We then learned about the plants used by Druids and the process Philip and Stephanie went through to choose those for the Druid Plant Oracle. These cards were placed in a circle and we each got up and chose a card. I learned so many different ways to read, work with, and look at the cards. 13 different ways Druids worked with plants sparked many interesting questions and discoveries.

One thing about the cards: we were told that instead of trying to see the future, that the cards and the messages help us see now, the present. How to live more fully in the present. To get a small insight instead of a prediction. Indeed, we were reminded that “it's in the tiny things that our lives can be changed.”


Guided meditations with plants, and some Druid breath work and movement outside, were awesome parts of the day. An informal banquet that night at the Roycroft Inn, where we met Stephanie, who was experiencing the magic of arts and crafts at Roycroft Campus, rounded out a perfect first day. Martyn and I crashed at our Air B and B, feeling the effects of our two day drive from Minnesota.

The next day we were treated to the story of Ceridwen and Taliesen. Again, not only how it was told, but the added insights and suggested meanings showed this story full of alchemy, animal lore, elemental work, as well as the rich traditions and history of Wales. Nwyfre, Awen, and the Fferyllt, the Druids alchemists, were discussed and explained. More guided meditations, another outside practice in the chill Fall woods, and then it was on to work with the Druid Animal Oracle.

Again, not only did we do personal work with the animals inspired by our card choice, but Philip gave some partner work that was new to me and to many others. Without divulging his teaching techniques, let me say that the cards and their guidance and messages were worked in subtle and obvious ways to promote multi-viewed insights and experiences.



As I've seen on other occasions, Philip was able to connect and work with everyone at the retreat. We all had access to him, and each of us had a personal, as well as group, experience with him and his teachings.

There were so many other things we covered in only two days, but the pace seemed slow and relaxed, making the information digestible. We finished with a question and answer session. One question was, “What did Philip see for the future of Druidry?”

He answered by saying with the big shift to many people being S.B.N.R. or, spiritual but not religious, we are in need of celebrants to fill in the gap for rites of passages and rituals. With people taking charge of their own wedding vows, baby namings, funerals, and other rites of passage, Druids are well placed to act as celebrants to help devise rites and rituals,as well as officiate to the degree wanted or needed.

Philip ended by stating that the two goals of a spiritual way,like Druidry, are to "sort yourself out and be of some use." “Druidry can help you sort yourself out with a view to finding wisdom. Discovering our innate nature of the creative self. And urging us to help the world.”

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Absence

If you follow my blog, you noticed a long "dry period." I have been going through many life changes, and enjoying one of the best Summers in the 31 years I have lived in Minnesota. Travels to Colorado, North Carolina, Upstate New York, and around the land of 10,000 lakes have kept me from writing.

I am ready to return to my love of the written word! My next blog will be about the amazing retreat I attended in East Aurora, NY. So, gentle reader, I leave you with a photo from Kansas, and a song...


Monday, August 10, 2015

At the Abode of the Monkey King

 "People have trouble claiming their abundance."
-Randy Gage

I have been blessed to reconnect with my friend, brother, classmate, teacher, and mentor, Master Paul Gallagher. We never lost touch in our respective moves, but we had not seen each other face to face in years.

Something amazing has been happening alchemically over the last two years visiting Paul in Asheville. I have prospered.

Let me back up a bit.

I have learned various arts and sciences from Master Paul, including Tai-Chi, Pa-Kua, Qi-Gong, meditation, Taoism, Chinese Medicine, as well as classical music, dietetics, and a whole host of life skills.

We have discussed our mutual teacher, Master T.T. Liang, at great length and depth, and compared his teachings from two perspectives and eras. We also shared our other teachers. Paul told me about studying Zen with Philip Kapleau, Tai-Chi with Sophia Delza, Pa-Kua with B.P. Chan, and Qi-Gong with Kwan Sai-hung, all accomplished masters and teachers.

So I am quite comfortable to discuss and learn just about anything the Monkey King is willing to share with me, like prosperity.

Here is one of Paul's definitions of  prosperity;

"One facet of prosperity is not being worried about money."

I have been worried about money, living from paycheck to paycheck, and having terrible financial habits, for my whole life. Master Paul talked to me frankly and got across the idea that money is "a divine energy to be celebrated and circulated." I never received financial education in school or at home. All this was new to me.

I was introduced to the teachings of Jay Abraham, Jim Rohn, Randy Gage, and Robert Kiyosaki. My cup runneth over!

But beyond money, Paul showed me that I am, and have been, extremely prosperous in my martial arts, spiritual seeking, and many other aspects of life. He showed how being spiritually connected, healthy, having a passionate pursuit, a loving relationship, a way to "give back," and a purpose to your life are all aspects of prosperity, of prospering in your life.

In one year my life changed and the financial, professional, and artistic parts of my life came together in harmony.

Of course, my lessons went beyond discussion and stories. I received three books from Master Paul, two by mail, and one from his hand. It was like every other esoteric adventure I've been on. Out of nowhere, the master, subject, and study materials appear front and center. Here are the three books in the order I was given them to read:

1 The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie As Told to Napoleon Hill

2 The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles

3 Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

I can say these books, with insights and clarity from Paul, changed my life. Or should I say fulfilled my life. I was doing pretty good, except for the money thing!

I continue to consult with Master Gao and get his ideas and insights on all aspects of prosperity and life. And I'm not alone. I am encouraging him to share his teachings in a study or home course that many people can benefit from, not just me. What do you think?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Question of Succession

"Do we have a weakness? Do we have a challenge for the future? Will there be a problem? The answer is yes, but not for a long time. Something that is the devil or the hounds of Annwn for any druid order is succession.We have had four magnificent, charismatic chosen chiefs through the line of succession from the Edwardian period, in the order that gave birth to OBOD, and not once, in that time, has it been possible to pass on the succession from one chief to the other smoothly and directly. Every time, there has been a civil war or a temporary collapse of the order. I don't think it will in the future, not least because, looking at Philip, I assume you have plenty of time on your hands!."
-Ronald Hutton, OBOD 50th Anniversary

 I went to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids last year in Glastonbury. The celebration marked so many highlights, successes, and accomplishments. In OBOD's spirit of truthfulness, one subject came up that resonated with me. I don 't know how many really heard it among the cheers and applause, but it struck a chord in me and, after seeing the video of the 50th, I'm ready to address it.

The ugly problem of succession.

Whether it is a family, a spiritual group, or a martial arts lineage, the history is not favorable to a smooth, agreed upon, transition. The battles today between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims are from a dispute over succession 1500 years ago! Having seen first-hand three separate, what I would call, divisive and un-successful, transferals of authority, I would like to weigh in on the subject.

In martial arts, the title "grandmaster" is used so frequently that its original meaning seems lost. Being the grandmaster had nothing to do with how many years you have practiced or how many schools you own. There was only one grandmaster and they were the head of that style's lineage. The grandmaster set the standard for the style's curriculum and training. They were the final authority for changes and innovations.

A grandmaster was chosen for their knowledge, ability, and leadership. Not all grandmasters were champions and not all champions were grandmasters.Chinese martial arts always looks at the sum total of a style's history and lineage, and does not judge by one practitioner or master, but by generations of practitioners.

One of my teachers, who IS a world champion fighter, was chosen by his master to lead their style. My teacher has a calligraphy giving him leadership and an official photo to document the transition. As soon as the teacher died, killed tragically in a motorcycle accident in Hong Kong, the other students of the style said the succession is a fake and that they have similar calligraphies. My teacher said two things: produce your calligraphy, and call me a fake to my face.

As I always say, the pen is mightier than the sword, unless writer and fencer are standing face to face!

 Another example is the succession of my Sufi Order. While alive, the grandshaykh, who had a clear succession himself, taught and traveled, and waited to designate the next grandshaykh. At the end of his life he choose his son, and it was filmed and distributed on you tube. Still, after he died, there was much dissent and people saying the grandshaykh had made a mistake, or that they were chosen, or that the previous grandshaykh made a mistake! The dispute is raging and the whole Sufi Order suffers.Ego raises its ugly head. It is really sad to me.

My own story, though not as grand, is filled with people claiming I never passed a formal ceremony with my teacher, or that my  calligraphy is fake. One of my classmates told the story that I forced my teacher to write my disciple-ship calligraphy in the airport! Have you ever tried to do calligraphy? It's messy! Plus, how can I force my teacher, or anybody, to do anything. Not to mention his son witnessed the writing of my disciple calligraphy in Tampa FLA. When the time comes for me to retire, I will make sure that IF I have a successor at the Studio, all will know. And if I don't designate a successor, all will know that as well.

So now I come to OBOD. Let me say that the question of succession is clear when there is no power, glory, or prestige. When Philip Carr-Gomm was asked to lead the Order, what was going on then? Very, very little compared to today. Lots of work, organization, and the momentous task of creating the home study course that has changed thousands of lives, mine as well. No glamor being "Chosen Chief" back then. Who wants to lead when the leadership role is filled with work, worry, and stress? So many years of planting before the crop started to look good!

It's different today. The Order is up, running, and has amazing momentum. Philip, Stephanie, and Dave, may they have long life and good health, look good for decades to come. But, there is still the question of who leads after. How does the Order choose? What if there is dissension? Rivals for the leadership role? Challenges to choices? Can our Order survive?

Enough of that!

First let me say, I have full confidence in OBOD. The Order is so much bigger and magically empowered than humanly possible. When the time comes, I believe the Order will have a succession that works for all of us, just like the Order works for us, just like the gwersu works for all of us, and the Office works for all of us. and the website works for all of us, and the...

Also, I would point to the leadership we now have, and say that we have been fairly "spiritually drama-less" for 50 years! We have the kind of leadership that brought us here. One that let's us be our own guide and conscience. One that encourages and teaches with a keen eye to our own wisdom and experience. A standard has been set.

“Leadership works when we get out of the way. I see my role as supporting the Order in where it wants to go, rather than telling it where to go. In other words, I see myself as ‘beneath’ the membership acting in this supporting role, rather than ‘above’ it in some way.”
-Philip Carr-Gomm, OBOD East Coast Gathering  2012

 If I were to suggest a way to make a smooth transition, I would say that the next chosen chief needs to be decided somehow, maybe by election, before the current chosen chief retires or moves on. Then the current chief could work with the transition so there is no doubt that the next chief has the blessings and confidence of the present chief. And of course, with all the great  "Rites of Passage, Initiations, and Celebrations of Cycles, Renewal, and Change,"  I'm sure the Order will come up with a meaningful and powerful ritual of succession for a Chosen Chief!

 So where to begin?

I asked Philip and he wrote: "The suggestion you make in your last paragraph is exactly the solution we’ve come up with (with me choosing the person unless unable to do so, in which case an election process has been developed) and when the time is right we will announce the successor and I will work with them over an extended period to ensure a stable transition." (7/28/2015 e-mail)

Can you hear my big sigh of relief??

"Ronald Hutton, in his Golden Anniversary talk (see Touchstone’s September Issue 212) pointed to the trajectory that previous Druid groups seem to have taken, from the radical to the staid. He then went on to say that he saw no danger of this occurring in OBOD."
- Philip Carr-Gomm  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Some Reminiscences from over 20 Years of Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Studio

Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Studio has been a full-time, not for profit, T'ai-Chi school for over 20 years. As a Studio, we have existed for over 30 years, that's some longevity! Ushered in from a for profit to a not for profit Studio by the generosity of Phil and Joanne Von Blon, two long time practitioners, they also donated our amazing floor!

I have seen many lives enriched, impacted, healed, improved, deepened, empowered, awakened, validated, informed, refined, educated, nourished, inspired, challenged, rewarded, touched, affected,and changed forever,

starting with mine...

The Studio has offered classes in the complete system of Yang Style T'ai-Chi Ch'uan and has taught many levels and aspects of that style to the public for decades. Both inside and outside the Studio, we have taught T'ai-Chi to thousands of students. We have also offered these other styles and practices:

Hsing-Yi Chuan
Pa-Kua Chang
Northern and Southenr Praying Mantis
Northern Shao-Lin
Eagle Claw
Liu Ho Pa Fa
Wu Dang Sword Fencing
Taoist Meditation
8 Brocades
Micro-Cosmic Orbit

We have hosted many Masters, Teachers, and even a few Grandmasters for workshops, seminars and on-going classes:

Master T.T. Liang
Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi
Grandmaster Gin Foon Mark
Master William Chen
Master Paul Gallagher
Terry Dunn
Heintz Rottmann
Li Wang
Bob Modaff
Beth Peterson
Craig Johnson
Michael Pilla
Nancy Giguere
Mary Wynne
Bob Smith
Mike Cain
Anita Ryan
Dr. Wen Zee
Lorretta Robb
Ying Liang

We have hosted over 20 Chinese New Year Celebrations and Demonstrations and over 13 Annual Retreats.

We had our T'ai-Chi Altar opened by Master T.T. Liang and our Southern Praying Mantis Altar opened by Grandmaster Gin Foon Mark.

We held 6 years of Kid's Kung-Fu Classes for the metro Homeschoolers.

We've had a few local celebrity students:

Sage Cowles
Morgan Grayce Willow
Jim Cunningham
Lynne Warfel
Jane Shockley
Dean McGraw

For our 10th Anniversary as a non-profit we produced a book, String of Pearls, and held a huge demo and banquet on the St Paul campus of the U. of M. Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi attended and performed two demonstrations and presented the Studio with a hand written calligraphy of congratulations and inspiration from his own hand.

We produced over 10 years of our studio newsletter, "Wu Dang,"  in paper format. Published monthly at first, then quarterly, and now in an on-line format.

In the early 90's, Master Liang came to the Monday night classes and gave corrections, told stories, and added to the experience of those classes.  I cannot remember a time that Master Liang entered our Studio without remarking on many of its aspects.He truly loved it. Grandmaster Choi always remarked on the size and space of the Studio. He loved it as well.

Numerous demonstrations outside the studio as well, to spread the Tai-Chi gospel.

We helped train two tournament champions, Mike Sauter who won in forms, fighting and weapons, and Dominic Veldman in forms, weapons, and pushing-hands.

We held two Art Galleries, one for Master Gin Foon Mark and the other for my son, Yaseen.

Two of Master Liang's children, Joseph and An-Le visited. An-Li came for vacations as well as for New Years demos, and for her father's memorial service.

We held two CD releases and concerts, one for local Lute player Rick Griffith and the other for The Idisi. The Idisi recorded a CD at the Studio as well. Morris Dancers have flash-mobbed our Studio and delighted us with song and dance.

Two groups made field trips to N.J. for two different celebration of Master T.T. Liang's 100th birthday.

We've had one wedding proposal, during a Chinese New Year Demo, and two weddings using the Studio.

There have been many babies who were being nourished in the womb during classes, and many have returned to visit after they were born.


After Master T. T. Liang's death at age 102, we hosted a complete Buddhist funeral service, setting up a full altar with monks and nuns chanting sutras, led by Thic Hanh Duc, the roommate of Thic Nhat Hanh, who said it was the most peaceful funeral he ever presided over.  An-Le Liang flew back from a vacation in Taiwan to attend the service. At the end, 65 people did one round of the form to the music.

Too many seminars, workshops, and presentations to mention, all to help beat the Winter Blues.

11 years of seminars with Grandmaster Choi, as many as three a year for while!

Group and single Disciple Ceremonies and initiations have been conducted.

Visits from Diane Cannon and her students from Ming Tao Tai-Chi, Richard Roy from J R  Roy's Martial Arts Academy, Bryan Davis from Twin Willows Tai-Chi Chuan, Mike and Kim Cain from Med City Tai-Chi,and Alan Tillotson from Chrysalis Natural Healing Center, to name some who have come to visit and participate in Studio life and enriched our experience.

Visiting masters and teachers include Ken Cohen and Chuc Chin.

Field trips to Arms and Armor, and the Minneapolis Art Institute, deepened our knowledge of swords and Chinese Culture.

Fundraisers of many styles and kinds have been tried, some fun and successful, others fun...

Wow! Amazing! Now that I sat down, took a breath, a tan-t'ien breath, and started to think about what has transpired in our humble space, it's pretty incredible if I do say so myself. I know I've missed many events and people, but for now, let this serve as just my first reminiscence of the Studio.

I am planning for a 25th Anniversary demo, maybe even make another book, who knows? More has happened at the Studio than I ever planned!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pa-Kua and Modern Dance....

Many connections, similarities, and feelings about the amazing moving arts of Pa-Kua Chang (BaGua Zhang) and Modern Dance...

My great grandmaster Jiang Rung-chiao

Isadora Duncan

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Secret Qi-Gong Teacher

Everything I need to know about relaxing my face and upper body, and the secret of the "smile," I learned from my secret teacher. The unknown Qi-Gong Master. The enlightened being who guides and teaches by example.Who am I talking about? The Mona Lisa of course!

Head= suspended from above by an invisible thread
Forehead=wide and smooth
Eyebrows=lowered and separate
Eyelids=lowered slightly
Eyes=looking inward and outward
Mouth=closed, with a small smile in the corners
Neck=-straight and relaxed
Chest=relaxed and hollow
Spine=straight not stiff
Hands=beautiful" lady's hands" of Prof Cheng

The secret of the smile? As Master Choi teaches, if you put a small smile in the corners of your mouth, that will relax your nostrils and let you get more breath in your nose.

Of course my personal Mona Lisa was Master T.T. Liang!