Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Choi Method

Style - "A particular procedure by which something is done; a manner or way."

Method - "A particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one."
  - Oxford Dictionary

What is the Choi Method you've heard me mention the past year? It is Master Wai-lun Choi's way of learning, practicing, and achieving results with Chinese Internal Martial Arts.  I actually coined the phrase "Choi Method." And after discussing the meanings of style and method with Master Choi, he agreed to use it.

Learning Internal Martial Arts, such as Tai-Chi or Liu Ho Pa Fa, or the practices of Qi-gong and meditation, can be confusing and complicated. If I don't understand something, it can become a “secret.” If I can't do something, it can become “magic.” The Choi Method uses the laws of nature, science, physics, physiology, and common sense, and the training methods of the past masters to make these arts clear for learning, practice, and understanding. 

Master Choi broke down the various training sequences into four practices. As he recently taught at a seminar, "Humans can't do two things at once and expect them to be perfect. You need to train one aspect at a time and they will automatically coordinate and blend." Master Choi teaches any internal art in the same way. 

His four-part training sequence is:
1. Relaxation
2. Harmony
3. Sensitivity
4. Strategy 

It doesn't matter what style or art you practice, the Choi Method will help you to progress and understand the many questions and mysteries in Internal Martial Arts. Here is a brief explanation.

As Master Choi teaches, all benefits come from relaxation. Blood circulates better when you are relaxed. Your body is able to respond better when it's relaxed, connected, and on standby.  And you can relieve pressure and worry when your brain is relaxed. The training at this level focuses on alignment, relaxation, breathing, and looking inward. Standing meditation is the main practice.

Harmony centers on whole body structure. Alignment is your relationship to gravity. Structure is your relationship to your opponent, inanimate objects, and the world. Harmony attempts to move three parts of the body - torso, arms, legs - at the same time, in the same direction. This provides instant support. We can't brace the arms or torso without the legs or the structure will collapse. 

9 Joint Harmony is the ability to move your structure in place at the same time - you “start together, stop together.” Master Choi teaches that structure is where the internal arts get their power and that structure conforms to the laws of physics. “Any contact needs physics,” he says. Contact can be a punch, or a push, or where you need support. Physics is the structure, the laws of gravity applied. Single movements, shorts sets, and forms training fall into this category.

After a long time of separately practicing relaxation and harmony, your body will be united and on standby, and able to make structure instantly. This is what Master Choi calls the  "inside and outside coordinated." Your mind and body work together, and the body can obey the commands of your mind. Sensitivity is partner training, where you test yourself to see if your response and structure are correct. 

Sensitivity is also close-distance fighting, known as Sticky-Hands, or sensing training, like Tai-Chi Pushing-Hands. To Master Choi, this is "Chase-Hands." Usually close-distance training is taught last because it is the most advanced and difficult to learn and master. But Master Choi teaches it first for two reasons. The first is that, because it takes such a long time to learn, he wants his students to get into it as soon as possible and give it the most time. The second is that the previous two skills of Relaxation, or standby, and 9 Joint Harmony, or structure, are tested and refined. According to Master Choi, “You can't issue energy and adjust your body at the same time.”

Strategy is long-distance fighting or sparring. Most martial arts train at this distance. The strategy is how to get close to the opponent and control them so they can't throw their physical weight and make weight x speed = power. The strategy also becomes how to join and make contact while protecting yourself. Punch techniques and "broke apart " techniques are the main training here, as well as sparring. 

The hallmarks of the Choi Method are:
- What you practice has to make sense.
- Science, nature, and principles are your teachers.
- Always ask yourself "Why?”
- Practice must feel good. 
- Do your own research. 
- Don't copy.
- Prove to yourself.

This is just a basic outline of the Choi Method. A complete explanation, with detailed practices and instruction, will be in the second edition my book, "Real Gold Does Not Fear the Fire." 

“My job is to teach the method. Your job is to learn and practice. No guarantees!” 
   Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi

Carleton Rec Center Tai-chi Class, December 2017

Thank you Renee, Mikki, Wanda, JT, and the whole gang!

Friday, December 1, 2017

MMTCA Newsletter December 2017

"How we spend our days is, of course,  how we spend our lives."
-Annie Dillard

The longest nights and shortest days are upon us, a great opportunity for reflection and inward journeying. So, more books, candles, meditation, and Tai-Chi!

We will be closed December 25th and January 1st. There will be open practices between Christmas and New Year. They are:

Tuesday Dec.26=6:30-8:00
Wednesday Dec. 27=12:30-2:00 and 6:00-7:30
Thursday Dec. 28 =6:00-7:30
Saturday Dec.30 = 10:00-12:00

Book Suggestion: The Way of the Templar by Timothy W. Hogan

The updates to our new 72 movement Tai-Chi Form are coming along nicely. We even have few who are about to graduate!! I will be instituting the Choi Method changes beginning in January. My next two blogs will cover some of that material.

As the year ends, I like to reflect on the life and energy of our academy. I am excited to see you all progressing in your relaxation, calm, and self-awareness. It is fun to see all the great balance, smiles, and hard work going on in class. To be able to share multiple arts and styles is a really fun aspect of my job!Seeing 8-10 people wielding Double Sabers is quite thrilling, and scary! Having Master Choi come out of retirement and teach us is also a great opportunity for us all. He wants me to update and republish my book, Real Gold. An opportunity to get even deeper into the art and science of Master Choi's teachings. Thank you all for your enthusiasm, support, and dedication. Keep calm, relax on, and Tai-Gong!!!

Happiest of Holidays!


 "We need to make our classes, workshops, and seminars, islands of decency."
-Martha Eddy

My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency. Caroline Kennedy
Read more at:

Friday, November 10, 2017

MMTCA November Newsletter 2017

“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

November is upon us! Sorry this is late, there were a few things going on at the end of October, like a Master Choi seminar!

Thank you to all who helped make Master Choi's visit so successful. He really felt your appreciation and seriousness, as well as your openness and kindness. I will see him at Christmas and will solidify his Spring visit.

We will be closed Wednesday night, November 22nd and Thursday November 23rd For Thanksgiving. All other classes are open as usual.

Book Suggestion: Taking Up The Runes by Diana L. Paxson

I will be taking a few days off to travel to Colorado to see friends and take some classes. Except for Thanksgiving Eve and Thanks giving Day, all classes will meet. I will have a few of my classes taught by my excellent crew of substitute teachers.

Have a great holiday season,


“Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. Don’t be frightened of feeling afraid. Don’t be angry about getting angry. There is no need to give up when we are feeling depressed. Nor should we be dismayed at the grief which often accompanies the outgrowing of anything which needs outgrowing.”
-Donna Goddard

My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MMTCA October Newsletter 2017

"There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live."
Dalai Lama

We've had such a great Fall already and Tai-Chi out in the cool, crisp air, with leaves gently crunching under foot, is downright heavenly! Enjoy!

Our new schedule continues with the exception that classes will be suspended the weekend of Oct 28th and 29th for Master Choi's seminar.

Check out our website for updates and upcoming video downloads and study sheets. A HUGE thank you to the website team: Volkan, Julie, Keith, Spencer, Margo, and Matt. I can't do it without you and all your work and output is greatly appreciated, Namaste!

Master Choi Returns! We are fortunate that Master Choi has come out of retirement to work with our Academy.
Saturday Oct 28th
9:00-11:00 AM Standing Meditation
2:00-4:00 PM Liu Ho Pa Fa Main Form
7:00 PM Banquet with Master Choi

Sunday October 29th
9:00-11:00 Am The Dragon of Liu Ho Pa Fa
2:00-4:00 PM The Dragon for Application and Martial-Arts

Seminar rates;

$40.00 a Session
$135.00 for the complete Seminar
- I have 2 private sessions with Master Choi available

Tai-Chi Sword Graduates;

Spencer Chandler
Christopher Simer

Book Suggestion;  Soul Food by Jack Kornfeld and Christina Feldman

It is my pleasure to share Tai-Chi and related arts and sciences for nourishing your lives. Breathe, relax, and please join me to welcome Master Choi back to our Academy this month.


“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
- Marilyn Monroe

My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

Monday, October 2, 2017

Master Choi Returns!

Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi Fall Seminar October 28th and 29th

Master Choi returns to work with the students at Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy. Master Choi is offering four sessions with the goal of laying the foundation of the Choi Method for internal martial arts. All members are invited to attend any and all sessions, as well as the banquet. There will be a sign up at the Academy for classes and a banquet Saturday night.

Saturday Oct 28th
9:00-11:00 AM Standing Meditation

In this session, Master Choi will teach and explain the importance of standing meditation training. He will cover alignment, relaxation, breath, mind, and how to unite the body.

2:00-4:00 PM Liu Ho Pa Fa Main Form

Master Choi will review and continue the sequence we began last Spring. Even if you missed the last seminar, we are early enough in the sequence that you can catch up!

7:00 PM Banquet with Master Choi

Location and details to follow

Sunday October 29th
9:00-11:00 Am The Dragon of Liu Ho Pa Fa

This class will cover the second level of the Choi Method, Harmony. Master Choi will use the Dragon to teach 9 Joint Harmony, Inner and Outer Coordination, 6 Directions of Movement, the “Box” of Measurement, and Start Together-Stop Together.

2:00-4:00 PM The Dragon for Application and Martial-Arts

In this session Master Choi will teach the applications and uses of the Dragon for self-defense. This class will be all partner work and you will need to have taken the Dragon class at 11:00. This session will cover the Sensitivity and Strategy aspects of the Choi Method.

Seminar rates;

$40.00 a Session
$135.00 for the complete Seminar
- I have 2 private sessions with Master Choi available

Any questions please feel free to ask. See you then!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Summer School with Master Choi

"We don't hit empty, we hit full.  It's safer that way.  You know what I'm talking about?  Here, throw a punch, you feel it, you'll understand."

This is how summer class began when I visited Master Choi at his house in August.  As soon as I sat on the couch, I was punching at him and he was defending himself, explaining to me all the time.  It was proof through contact, and it was quite convincing.

Master Choi had a thick book on his coffee table, with markers and labels.  It was a compilation of over 500 styles of Qi-Gong published by the Chinese government.  He showed me this book many years ago but what was amazing is that he was still researching and analyzing it.

He was saying that the older we get, the more prone to illness we become.  He was researching Qi-Gong and he said, "Qi-Gong is not to heal, it is to prevent illness.:  He also stressed the fact that anytime you're moving your body, even when doing Qi-Gong, this external training.  Master Choi believes that only Yi-Quan Standing Meditation is the true working of just that ch'i and not the body.

Master Choi then reviewed the standards of " inside united and outside harmony."  After lunch at the Ginza Buffet, we returned to Master Choi's house where he signed my teaching certificate.  He also told me that the Chicago Aikido Club asked permission to use his speech from the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame for their club blog.

Before leaving we discuss details of Master Choi's upcoming seminar at the Academy.  He asked me what the students want to learn. I said what ever you want to teach.  He said, "Good, I want to lay the foundation, and work on their inner and outer harmony."

Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi will be coming to Minnesota October 28th and 29th.  Seminars will include Standing Meditation, the Dragon for Nine-Joint-Harmony, the Dragon for Self-Defense and Martial Arts Application, continuing the Luk Hop Bat Fat Main Form.  More information and a sign-up will be available at the studio. This is a private seminar open only to Academy members.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tai-Chi Accessability or...

The Why, What, and How of my updates to the Tai-Chi System taught at Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy.

"Tai-Chi is the whole world's exercise."
-Master T.T. Liang

As my 40th anniversary was approaching, I took a long, hard look at what I can do to make Tai-Chi more accessible and convenient to my students. With over 35 years as a full time instructor, I have a lot of experience teaching many kinds of students, from martial artists to health enthusiasts to people looking for stress relief. With all the demands made upon us everyday, not only in time and energy, but in focus, care, and emotional investment, I feel the need to not add to all that stress. I am looking at making the whole system, not just the solo form, more easily learned, practiced, understood, and enjoyed. That is why I'm reworking the sequence of not only the solo form, but of the entire learning curriculum itself.

“I decided to eliminate the repetitions and drastically reduce he number of movements...”
- Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing

 I found that a lot of people have trouble learning the 150 Movement Long Form. And after learning that, they have trouble working a 30-40 minute round into their daily practice.Plus so many have started, but relatively few have finished, or gone on to enjoy the other aspects of the system like the weapons or partner work. Not to mention all the fun in the other styles we teach! I also catalogued what parts of the system were the most difficult to learn and if we need them or not. I've already taken out the Ta-Lu sections from the San-Shou to make it three sections instead of six. Ta-Lu can be practiced in Pushing-Hands classes.

“Gradually you must develop your own solo form according to your intent and personality. After you learn something, you must gradually change it to your own way. Blind followers are dead: they do not do their own style. Rebels can get something.”
-Master T.T. Liang

After much research and experiment, I have worked the 150 Posture sequence down to 72 movements to what I call the "Medium Form." This form has 46 of the 50 individual postures of the 150 posture long form. I've researched and updated about how long it takes for the endorphins to kick in. I had always heard it took 30 minutes of sustained movement and deep breathing to activate the pain-relieving, "runner's high" endorphins. Scientific research now suggests that if you exercise regularly, or have a routine you have been doing for an extended period, the body releases endorphins in as  little as ten minutes. Master Choi echoed this, and so did my personal practice. If you have a regular practice, the body is more easily able to release the endorphins with so much less time and work. The Medium Form takes about ten minutes to do, give or take, depending on your pace.

“In later years Yang Shao-hou began to change his form; a high frame with lively steps...”
-from Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan

 I also followed the Taoist Alchemical formula to arrange the movements. The 72 Movement Medium Form has 46 of the original 50 individual postures of the 150 posture long form and closely follows the original composition and sequence. I just took out many repetitions and deleted a few movements that are not needed. This will make the time for learning, and practice, much more accessible to the busy schedule of most of us.

“The oldest form taught in the Beijing class was the 73-posture form that, according to Xu (Yu-Sheng), Yang Chien-hou had been teaching.”
-Bradford Tyrey

Learning Master Wai-lun Choi's Tai-Chi Form, which he shortened and condensed, helped me a lot. Choi's form has three "Cloud Hands." When I told him my long form has fifteen, Choi said, "Why stop at fifteen, do fifty!" Master Choi explained that if you want more repetition, you can do that in single movement training. Master Paul Gallagher and I also had many conversations about how and why he made the Wu-Ming Short Form to help with shortening the time it took to learn Tai-Chi and get the benefits.

“ Chang ( Ch'ing-ling ) stayed with this man a while and derived a new method of doing the postures.”
- from Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods

I have also been learning and applying the Choi Method of Internal Martial Arts training for over 23 years. I have completely switched my Hsing-Yi and Pa-Kua to the Choi Method. I've had great results not only for myself, but for my teaching and and for my students. I am confident to embrace Master Choi's method and use it to update my Tai-Chi system. Master Choi's system is not only completely compatible with what I learned from Master T.T. Liang, it also conforms with the Tai-Chi Classics and makes them even more understandable and applicable. And accessible!

“I learned from 15 teachers.the best of them all, in my opinion, was Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing. I have, to the most extent, adopted his method of performing the Tai-Chi Chuan exercise.”
-Master T.T. Liang

 Step one is to change what we do, as a solo form, and as a complete system. Step two will be to change how we do. Namely, applying the Choi Method. If you have been coming to class, you have already been exposed to the new 1st Section sequence. Many have been through the 2nd section changes as well. I have few private students who have been my "guinea pigs" with the whole form for months! Here is the new sequence for Section #1;

1st Section;

1. Beginning
2. Ward-Off, Left
3. Ward-Off, Right
4. Roll-Away
5. Press
6. Push
7. Single Whip
8. Lift Hands
9. Shoulder
10. White Crane
11. Brush Left Knee
12. Play Guitar
13. Brush Left Knee
14. Chop With Fist
15. Parry and Punch
16. Withdraw and Push
17. Cross Hands

In another blog I will explain the "How" of the changes and what actually constitutes the Choi Method. Some changes in names and other aspects will be also explained. I will flesh out the improvements and give an outline of the Tai-Chi system. I will also offer up a few practice routines with various time limits and ideas. Stayed tuned!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

MMTCA Newsletter September 2017

“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
-Hans Selye

Sept 15th begins our Fall schedule. New classes and an additional night of classes await you! See the schedule at the end of this newsletter, and I'll be sending one to your e-mail as well.

Thank you to Fred, Julie, Margo, Kurt, my substitute teachers! I had a great vacation, including a visit with Master Choi in Chicago, a lot of fun workouts, sailing, and nature walks. Heaven!

Master Choi returns! I have the weekend of October 28th and 29th for more seminars including Standing Meditation, Qi-Gong, 12 Animals, and continuing the Main Form. More details and a sign-up will be posted.

I am also planning another one day in-house retreat for November. More details to follow.

Book Suggestions:

Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing by William Bengston

Tai-Chi Power Enhancement & Postures trans by Bradford Tyrey

It was a nice retreat and celebration of my 40th Tai-Chi anniversary, and Jenny's birthday, up north. Great workouts at scenic locations, hikes, and meals together made it most memorable. I am planning a full retreat next summer with Master Choi as our guest. Stay tuned!

Our 1 Year Anniversary of Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy is September 1st. I have a blog in the works, and one on the updates to the system.

Thank you all!

“If you like to worry about things, you are living in a good time.”
-Bill Nye “the Science Guy”

My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy