Thursday, January 31, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter February 2019

"Psychic energy must be incarnated in movement so that it can unify the personality of the agent."
-Maria Montessori

Happy Chinese New Year on February 5th! It's the Year of the Boar, generally good for all. I wish you the best! Happy Ground Hog Day, Valentine's Day, Imbolc, and a whole host of things to celebrate!

Thank you for the lovely and generous birthday wishes and presents. I'm a year older, and with each passing year, so grateful for Tai-Chi and you in my life.

We will hold our annual Chinese New Year Celebration, Demo, and Banquet on February 16th. We will have the Demo and Altar Ceremony at the Academy from 1:30-3:30. I have a reservation for us at U Garden for 4:00-6:00. Please sign up at the academy so I can give them a head count. There is plenty of room and a variety of dietary options.

If we get anymore brutally cold weather, or a possible blizzard, we will notify you by e-mail, and on the FB page, if classes are canceled. Always be safe, stay warm, and know that classes will be there after the weather passes.

Master Choi turns 80 in March! I will make announcements about birthday plans at our Chinese New Year Celebration.

Book Suggestion: The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Keep warm, breathe deeply, and relax on!!


"A positive mind tunes in on other positive minds."
-Napoleon Hill

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

End of an Era, Master Gin Foon Mark R.I.P.

On December 19th, my teacher, Master Gin Foon Mark passed to the Bamboo Temple above. I was introduced to master Mark in 1984 by my classmate, Orley Pettiford. Orley took me to a Chinese New Year celebration and demo at the Mark's school on 3rd in  Minneapolis. I saw him many other times, at his restaurant where we ate with my Tai-Chi teacher, Master T.T. Liang during a seminar, at my Masonic Lodge, Master Mark was also a Freemason. But the most important was at my school around 2010


Master Mark came to visit me at my school and watched class. After class was over, he stayed, did a little demo, and then asked me to help him write a book about Southern Praying Mantis! I said I would help him, but I only know a little about his style. My classmate, Orley Pettiford, was one of Master Mark's first disciples and also taught me some of the basics of that style in exchange for private pushing-hands lessons. Master Mark said no worries, he would work with me privately so I could better understand his style and it's applications. I also got a lot of the history as well.

For over two years I studied privately with Master Mark. I also learned calligraphy and sin-gung. I would also take Master Mark out on a weekly basis to go for rides in the country, eat at restaurants like Keefer Court, Ho Ho, Hong Kong Noodle,   and House of Wu. We even took a paddleboat down the Mississippi River. All the time I got stories, techniques, and hands-on instruction. The result is my book, Kwong Sai Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis Kung-Fu.

During this time I got to see and read many of Master Mark's manuscripts, notes, and his teacher Lam Sang's drawings and notes on the style. One time, at Subway, Master Mark pulled out of his wallet, a handwritten paper, by his teacher, Lam Wing-fay. It showed the 36 points of Dim-Mak, their locations, timing, and results. I asked if I could copy it and he handed it to me! I scanned it and gave it back to him the next day. He took the original back and said to keep the copy for myself.

There is so much to write about this pioneer of Chinese Martial Arts in America. Not only was he a deadly fighter, but he was an artist, educator, and loving family man. And that family extended to all his students and fellow practioners. Rest in Peace Master Gin Foon Mark!

Monday, January 14, 2019

5 Secrets of the Sword and 10 Attributes of the Helping Hand.

 “I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

When I was learning from Master T.T. Liang, he would mention secrets. Always with a twinkle in his eye, probably because he saw the obsession in mine! One thing he would do is to talk about this secret or that, then say, "If I did not tell you, in one thousand lifetimes you could not discover the truth for yourself!"

Of course he was right, but then he would go on to tell all! I learned many secrets from him. Most were what I call "time-savers," jewels that he gleaned from so many decades of study, learning from masters, and his own personal practice. As I went on to study with many teachers myself, I found many of the secrets were common knowledge. Some, however, were not. Master Liang was most generous with me and taught me openly and freely.

Here are his 5 Secrets of the Sword:

1. 3 Finger Grip.
2. Eye on the Tip.
3. Waist for Cutting and Slicing.
4.Legs for Stabbing
5. Fight Sword to Opponent, not Sword to Sword.

3 Finger Grip was to have a live grip, able to change and adapt. All fingers were on the handle, but you used three main ones at any given time. The main grip was with the thumb, middle, and ring fingers, the strongest. Sometimes you use more of the last three fingers for stabbing and making the angle longer, like holding an ice cream cone. Other times you use the first three fingers, for pulling and making the angle smaller, like talking through a megaphone.

Eye on the Tip was for when you practiced the Tai-Chi Sword Form. You watched the tip to unify your sword and body. Just like writing with a pen, you look at the tip of the pen, not your hand. Watching the tip trained your eyes, keeps the movements the right size, and extends your energy and feeling throughout the weapon to the point. When you are fencing, Master Liang always taught to look at the opponent.

Waist for Cuts was to use the powerful muscles in your waist, abdomen, and hips to perform slicing and cutting. He always told us not to use "hand business," by which he meant just using the hands for power. When you practice with a heavy, steel blade, either solo or in cutting practice, using the waist becomes apparent in generating whole body power into each cut or slice.

Legs for Stabbing was to use the shifting, stepping, and pushing of the legs and lower spine to make the point go forward. The arms are for aim, bracing, and defense, but the power for the stabs comes from the lower body up the spine, through the arms and grip,into the sword. Again, not just using the arm to make the sword stab out.

Fight Sword to Opponent means to use your sword to attack the opponents body, not hit their sword. Using dodging, footwork, parrying, and sticking for our soft defense, we save the sword's edge for what it is meant for, the opponent's flesh. Movies show lots of banging of swords against swords and shields, but that would only prolong a fight while dulling your weapon.

When teaching the sword, Master Liang was also particular in the function of the non-sword hand, sometimes called the "Sword Fingers." He called the other hand and arm, and its action, the "Helping Hand." He would ask "What is the opposite of helping?" After many wrong answers he would say "hindering." Master Liang taught that if the empty hand was not correct, it would not only not help you, but get in the way, it would hinder you.

Here are the 10 Attributes of the Left Hand .

1. Safety. You want to place the other hand so you don't hurt it yourself, or make it easy for your opponent to attack your free hand.

2. Expand/Contract. The free arm moves in the opposite direction of the sword to lend expansive power, which comes from the back to increase power. The other arm moves towards the sword to use contracting power, coming from the chest and shoulders, to increase power.

3.Open/Close. The arms open and close like a bellows to help with breathing and Qi-Gong.

4. Block. The free hand can bat away or parry attacks.

5.Aim. The free hand is placed to help steady the sword and aim at a small or exact target, like the eye.

6. Strike. The fingers can strike vital points when in close distance.(The foot can also kick, it's not church!)

7. Balance. The arm is held in the opposite direction of a step or balancing posture.

8. Grab. The free hand grabs the opponents wrist.

9. Coordination. The free arm and hand coordinate with the rest of the posture to to make a balanced, whole-body movement.

10. Push/Pull. The actions of the free hand can help to either push or pull the sword to the target.

I hope these secrets are now common knowledge and ability! The 5 Secrets and 10 Attributes can be applied to many other weapons as well, including Tai-Chi Sabre, Tai-Chi Cane, and Tai-Chi Fan, to name a few.The most important secret is that there are no secrets, just discoveries that haven't been revealed or made yet. Practice on!

 Thank you Sir!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

MMTCA January Newsletter 2019

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
-Margaret Mead

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 is a great year for you, full of health, light, and hope. Chinese New Year is February 5th, and I'm looking at celebrating on February 16th.

On December19th 2018, my Southern Praying Mantis teacher, Grandmaster Gin Foon Mark passed away peacefully. I learned kung-fu with lots of hands-on feeling and timing, calligraphy, and sin-gung or spirit work, privately with Master Mark for close to three years. I was also asked by Master Mark to write a book about his style, which I did. I have a few copies available and will re publish it later in the year.

Our new schedule begins January 15th. Most of the classes are the same, and the Solo Form class on Saturday is expanded to an hour and a half. I am still fine tuning the schedule and welcome any suggestions for more classes and/or times.

Book suggestion-Thinkers of the East By Idries Shah

Speaking of books, I am having a limited run printed of my book, Southern Jook Lum Praying Mantis Kung-fu, which I wrote for Master Gin Foon Mark. If you want a copy let me know.

January 25th is the birthday of the Bard, Robert Burns. Here's one from his pen:

“Hope Springs Exulting on Triumphant Wing.”
- Robert Burns

Thank you all for the holiday gifts and remembrances. Your kindness and thoughtfulness are humbling and much appreciated.

Peace and calm,


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