Monday, July 27, 2020

How do I know if my Tai-Ch Solo Form is correct?

With all the free time, and worry and stress, of the CoViD lockdown, many people have had more time and impetus to practice Taiji. Much more than when they were busy with their old lives. I have been getting asked a lot, "How do I know if I'm doing it right? Without coming to class to get corrections and lessons, am I  moving away from the correct path?"

The first few years of my study, I was very concerned with knowing if I was doing it right, "getting it", and asked my teacher, Master T.T. Liang about this many times.Unlike weight-lifting or running, I had no increase on the barbell, or better time for running a mile, or a black belt to measure my progress. Here is what Master Liang told me, with some additional ideas from Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi.

Right from the beginning, Master Liang always used the Taiji Classics, writings from ancient masters, to be a rule and guide for how to learn, practice, and master Taiji. He told us that his teacher, Prof. Cheng Man-ch'ing always taught that if your Taiji followed the classsics it was correct. If it didn't, you would stray from the path and gradually lose all the benefits. So, one way to see if you are doing it correctly is to see if you are doing Taiji as the Classics instruct. Here is one example:

"Take steps like a cat walking"

Check your steps and landings while doing the solo form. Are they soft, silent, and in balance? Do you have control over when and where you place your foot? Do your steps keep your breathing calm and smooth, originating in your lower abdomen? If you answer yes to these questions, you are following that classic.

If your steps are hard, loud, uncontrolled, and cause your breath to rise up into your chest and speed up, you are not following that classic. There are many classics to help you get the principles and theories which you can put directly into your practice.

Another time Master Liang said, "When you finish your solo form, you should feel more comfortable than when you started." After one round your circulation should be free flowing, your breath deep and smooth, and you mind just a little bit more clearer and calm. I paraphrased it to, when you finish, you should be more comfortable owning a body, or having a body.

One time Master Liang told us about a most profound example of if "it's correct." His 150 Posture Solo Form takes between 17 and 20  minutes to perform. During this time you can experience various depths of meditation and focus. This form begins with the heels together and the toes to the corners, a Natural stance. It ends with the feet shoulder-width and feet parallel, a Wuji stance.

Master Liang told us that one time he did the form, he didn't know if he did it or not. He couldn't remember if he was starting or finishing. He had no recollection of any postures. He looked down and saw his feet were parallel! He was at the ending position! He told us this was " complete emptiness of mind and body for 20 minutes." Like being on automatic pilot, with no distraction from outside, or inside. He ended by saying, "Can you do like that?"

You can check your own level of meditation by seeing if you are swallowing or blinking. See if your are using your rational mind to keep the sequence, or your intuitive mind, your spirit.The Classics say, "All the movements are to be directed by the consciousness within, rather than by the appearance without."

Of course, one way to see if you are progressing is to go to class, either group or private, and get corrections.  When I would get a correction and thank him, Liang would say, "No one can see the dirt on their own back!" CoViD will end, or become less dangerous, sooner or later. When it does, go to your teacher and have them take a look at your form. It doesn't need to be the whole form, they can help you after seeing only a few postures.

Gradually with enough corrections and practice, you will be able to "self correct." An old practice method was to do the solo form three times in a row. The first time just do it for fun and joy. The second time look for mistakes and postures that need correction. The third time, correct and fine-tune those movements.I also heard to do the investigating first, corrections second, then enjoy the third.

With all the technology available, you can film yourself and correct your postures from the outside. Imagine that is a stranger you are watching, and write down what you see that needs refining, tuning, or correcting. Maybe your teacher can Zoom, Skype, or remotely give a lesson or corrections.

My teacher, Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi taught that we have a gauge, an internal thermometer, or indicator, that shows us whats going on in our posture. It's our breath. His main teaching is summed up in his oft repeated axiom, "Don't bother the breathing." When your breath is deep, meaning low in your body, and smooth, meaning relaxed, that shows you your movements are correct.

If you align your bones with gravity, your muscles will relax. When your muscles relax, your oxygen need is reduced and your breath will become deep and smooth. When your breath is deep and smooth, your mind will calm down and you will get all the benefits for your body, mind, and spirit.

Incorrect alignment, tense muscles, disjointed movement or independent actions will show up in your breath.If you find your breathing is high in your chest, mouth open, shoulders up, panting, short breaths, or you are running out of energy, Master Choi would say you are bothering your breathing.

Another way to know if your practice is correct is if your are getting the full, or many of, the benefits. Master Choi would ask us, "Do you want to work for eight hours and get paid for four?" He would say that if you practice correctly you will get all the benefits. So what are some of the benefits?

-Good health
-Clear mind
-Deep, smooth, slow breath
-Loud ( if you want it ) voice
-Shiny, bright eyes
-Soft, sure, firm, steps
-Healthy appetites for food, sex, learning, sleep, life

If you are experiencing many of these your practice is correct. If you are practicing for self-defense and martial arts, can you defend softly, control inexplicably, and attack suddenly? Then your practice is correct.

For weapons, if your shoulder, elbow, wrist or all three get tired and sore, you are not using your whole body and your practice is incorrect.  Using your whole body to wield your sword, saber, or spear, is the correct method from the classics. If you can  move your weapons easily, without strain or bothering your breathing, your weapons forms and practices are correct.

I hope this helps you, clarifies your practice, puts your mind at rest, and inspires you to continue. I leave you with a lesson I received over 30 years ago, in Boston, at the feet of the Master.

"Don't be concerned with being as good as Yang Lu-Ch'an. Don't try to reach his level. Just practice."
-Master T.T. Liang

Thursday, July 23, 2020

MMTCA Newsletter August 2020

"Dreams shed light on the dim places where reason itself has yet to voyage."
-Jordan Peterson

I hope this newsletter finds you all healthy and safe. All in my circle are fine and I'm grateful for that. If you haven't heard, the Ivy Building, where our Academy resides, will be closed for the rest of the year, possibly longer. The repairs to the roof and structure are extensive. I will not be renewing my lease. I have a few leads for a space for the Fall, but the virus will determine my next steps for a school. For now, practicing in the park feels safe so we will be outside. I will add Friday night to the practices starting August 7th.

9-10 = Tai-Chi
10-11 = Weapons
11-12 = 5 Elements, 8 Palms, Pa-Kua Sword, 12 Animals Linking Form

6-730 = Tai-Chi, Karambit, Man Chiang Hung Sword, Hsing-Yi Spear

Book Suggestion- The Study Havamal by Carrie Overton

Where to find videos of forms and practices:

- MMTCA website
-MMTCA Facebook Page
- MMTCA youtube page
- your e-mail, let me know if you are not receiving videos in your e-mail.

I did receive my Kult Of Athena Tai-Chi sword. My quick review is that the blade is excellent! However, the handle is too small, short, and light to accurately balance the wonderful blade. My friend is going to construct a new handle. Would I buy it again? No. Here is a reliable, affordable Tai- Chi sword:

I have ordered another wooden practice sword from Little Raven and will give you a review when it arrives.

And as far as reviews go, I just got a fantastic knife from Ragweed Forge! It is a Sami inspired belt knife. For $49.00 plus shipping, the craftsmanship and detail are amazing! Tell Redbeard I sent you! Here it is:

This is the ax I recommend, the Viking Belt Axe. Great for throwing, and camping, and Orcs...

I will be launching both my Patreon and youtube pages on September 9th. I'll give you a reminder closer to the date. With all the support, and time due to CoViD and the RIOTS and FIRE, I have been at work making Tai-Chi more accessible through videos and books, as well as my blog. I hope to share this art with people outside of the upper mid-West. More later, but for now, thank you for all your support, encouragement, knowledge, inspiration, and appreciation. I am truly blessed and will continue my teaching in many more forms and mediums besides classes and seminars.

Thank you so much for your tuition, support, gifts,and especially your letters. To hear how Tai-Chi is helping you through this difficult and uncertain time makes me feel good, knowing you are practicing, and getting centered. Not to mention, stress relief. I keep all your notes and letters and read them when I need a boost, so thank you!

A bow from the waist to you and yours,
-Sifu Ray

"We have different voices, different perspectives, different worldviews, and we are all united through a love of nature ."
-Eimer Burke, Chosen Chief of OBOD

New Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids

On Saturday, June 6th, the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, OBOD for short, initiated a new Chosen Chief, Eimer Burke, to lead the Order. In the presence of the then current chief, Philip Carr-Gomm, the scribe Stephanie Carr-Gomm and the pendragon Damh the Bard, Eimer traveled from west to east, stood under the sign of the awen, and took an oath to assume the leadership of the Order, swearing upon the sword of truth.

Sitting on the couch, with a few Druids in Colorado, we all entered into the ceremony in meditation. As soon as the first opening words were spoken, I slipped into another world.

After an opening rite, and before the handover part of the ceremony began, Philip read his last address as Chosen Chief. One part that stood out to me was:

" So it never occurred to me that I would be giving this farewell message over the internet. But on reflection there are advantages to doing it this way: far more of us now have the opportunity to be together in this moment, since distance is no object to everyone's participation in the event."

'After Eimer Burke was initiated as the new Chosen Chief, she gave an opening address. One part in her speech stuck out as well:

"One of the gifts and strengths of the Order which stands out for me is its diversity. The Order allows each one of us to hold our own perspectives and to travel our own paths as we see fit. We are guided without any dogma or fundamentalist notion of what it means to be a Druid. There is an expression in Irish-  aontacht in iliocht- which means "Unity in Diversity."

As I sat listening to the ritual, I felt as if I was right there. I felt the weight of the moment and the history as it was happening. As a Druid in the Order, I sent a silent prayer of support, a pledge of allegiance, and a few awens of gratitude.

When the ritual came to a close, I returned to my body. I felt so awake and energized! A passage about the Goddess popped out of my memory and held me for a while:

"You have looked for me so long I was frightened you would destroy me in your searching. You sent rockets to the stars and built huge buildings just for me. But we never met. I was told to hide. I have been told to hide no longer, or you will destroy this world in your search. I stand here waiting for you to approach."
- The Druid Way by Philip Carr-Gomm page 78

Congratulations Eimer, Philip, and the Order. Well done! A class act all around! Of course, what did I expect from this most amazing Druid Order!!

Past Chosen Chiefs

John Toland 1717-1722

William Stukeley 1722-1765

Edward Finch Hatton 1765-1771

David Samwell 1771-1799

William Blake 1799-1827

Godfrey Higgins 1827-1833

William Carpenter 1833-1874

Edward Vaughn Keneally 1874-1880

Gerald Massey 1880-1906

John Barry O'Callaghan 1906-1909

George Watson MacGregor-Reid 1909-1946

Robert A.F. MacGregor-Reid 1946-1964

Philip Peter Ross Nichols 1964-1975

John Brant ( in custodial capacity) 1975-1988

Philip Carr-Gomm  1988-2020

Eimer Burke  2020-

Sunday, July 12, 2020

TaiJi Posture Names and Their Meanings

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

When I began learning Tai-Chi from Master T.T. Liang, he mentioned his 5 Keys to Mastering Tai-Chi. The 5 keys are:

1. The Posture/Movement
2. Name
3. Breath
5. Left/Other Side

After 36 years of learning, practicing, and teaching, I was able to expand that list from covering a single movement or posture. Gradually I was able to apply the 5 Keys to help me refine a whole form, and finally, to complete systems or styles.

I'd like to share with you the various ideas behind the names and how they can help you on your journey to mastery. The following are some categories that names can fall into.

1. External Movement. These names a clear cut and describe either an offensive or defensive martial art movement. Parry and Punch, Kick Upward, and Chop With Fist. etc. simply say what the technique is that you are doing.

2. Internal Feeling. These name describe inner feelings, either in mind, body, or spirit. Retreat to Ride the Tiger gives the idea of the stability of your stance, you feel balanced enough to ride a tiger. Of course, if you were to ride a tiger in real life in your "cat stance" it would be a short ride to dinner!

3.Partial Phrase. Just as in English, if we say a partial phrase, most of us can finish it. For instance, I say "a penny saved," you'd say "is a penny earned." Embrace the Moon is finished with "to Your Heart." "Swallow Holds Mud," continues with "in it's Mouth" and ends with "To Build it's House."

4. Humor, Puns Etc. Some of the names or humorous, Like Diagonal Flying, also called Slant Flying. You are not flying at an angle, the opponent goes flying off to the corner when you step behind their leg and turn your waist to push them with your forearm!

“Names and attributes must be accommodated to the essence of things, and not the essence to the names, since things come first and names afterwards.”         
-Galileo Galilei

5. Colors. Color can correspond to direction, or the emotion/ spirit, behind a particular organ.
For instance blue can mean East, white is West, red is South, black is North, and yellow is Center. White corresponds to the Lung and can mean you are feeling brave. White Snake Spits Out It's Tongue is a technique where you strike with your elbow, chopping fist, then fingers of the same arm. You follow up with a palm with the other hand. With four weapons at your disposal, you can feel brave using this technique.

6. Animals. Animals can either be real or mythical. You can either copy the external appearance or movement of an animal, or try to capture its inner feeling. Animals also correspond to direction, Dragon is East, Tiger is West, Tortoise is North, Phoenix is South and the Unicorn is Center. Animals also refer to parts of the body such as tiger is blood, Dragon is Ch'i, Crane is Breath, etc.

7. History. Some names come from Chinese history, either events or from characters and their deeds and techniques. Strike Tiger is short for "Wu Song Strikes the Tiger." The complete story of how and why Wu Song struck a tiger is in the novel Outlaws of the Marsh. You will find many names of techniques from a variety of styles in this challenging read.

"If you do not know the names of things the knowledge of them is lost, too."
-Carl Linnaeus

8. Hidden Coaching. Some names were from styles that kept the names secret so the teachers could call out techniques during competitions.

9. Taoist Meditation and Chinese Medicine. Some of the name reflect the meditative or healing qualities that were added to Tai-Chi when it was purely a martial art. Needle at Sea Bottom and Fan Through the Back are two movements that encourage circulation of energy in the "Small Heavenly Circle." Sea Bottom is another name for tan-t'ien, the major energy center just below the navel in the front of your body. The word for Fan and Lightening sounds the same, Shan. Fan could be Lightning through your back. These two postures, practiced together can send ch'i down to your "sea bottom," then send it up your "back like lightening," completing your inner circuits.

10. Martial Arts Slang. Some words are slang that only martial artists use. Or a particular style may have coined a word or phrase. Lu, translated as Roll-Back, is used in Tai-Chi to describe a particular defensive technique.s a name.

11. Helpful Hints. Some names give a hint or idea to help make a technique work. Needle at Sea Bottom tells you where to direct your wrist lock, down towards the opponent's navel or sea bottom. This take the slack out of their wrist and applies pressure to the nerve between the hand and forearm, causing great pain.

12. Religion. Some names borrow from Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucism, to give an idea of inner feeling. Raise the Curtain can mean getting a glimpse of reality, from the teachings of both Lao-Tse and Buddha.

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.” 

 There are other ideas and meaning behind the names. Check the names of the postures in your form and see if you can put them into any of the categories I listed. Some may fit in multiple categories, and some may not fit anywhere. Here are some book suggestions to help you in your research;

How To Grasp The Sparrow's Tail ,If You Don't Know How To Speak Chinese by Jane Schorre

On Tai Chi Chuan by T. Y. Pang

Fundamentals of Tai-Chi Chuan by Wen-shan Huang

"Names have power. This is the fundamental principle of magic everywhere. Call out the name of a supernatural being, and you will have its instant and undivided attention in the same way that your lost toddler will have yours the second it calls out your name."
-Eden Robinson

Let me end with one of my FAVORITE name studies....

Saturday, May 30, 2020

MMTCA June Newsletter 2020

"The sensation of overcoming the worrisome mind and controlling it is unmistakable. To be able to feel united in body and mind, and not alienated from nature is a powerful thing."
-Wim Hof

The old saying, "It can't get any worse" is so untrue, just multiply your problems by two! Pandemic, police brutality, recession/depression, riots, looting, etc and it seems no break in sight. So what do we do? There is lots to think about, lots to talk about, lots to emote about, but what to do? And before I go further, I have no answers to the big questions, my concerns are about you.

For your health, take some time to be quiet, away from news and such, and do some breath work, solo form, or any other practice. It may feel all wrong, but it may feel a little bit good. Take a walk if it's safe to do so. Read a little, listen to music, sing, play music. Even a short break can give some rest and recharge. I'll continue sending lessons so take one and learn something new, just for the fun of it.

For the Academy's health, I am keeping it closed, both in the physical space and in general, for June. If Covid news changes, we can entertain the idea of outside classes, but there is no hurry. As for our space, I'm assessing the damage and the atmosphere. A good guess is that we will relocate, for too many reasons to list here. I will give more info in the mid-June update.

For Minneapolis' health, send light, healing, love, understanding, justice, and calm. Never underestimate the power of your thoughts, intentions, and prayers. If you have a realty good round of practice and you feel great, send some of that energy out into the world, need will distribute it for you!

I have no words to express my gratitude for your cards, letters, tuition, and support these last months. I am paying some good-will rent and will continue to do so with your generosity and support. Your notes telling me how much tai-chi helps you through all this are priceless gems and treasures. To see the practical applications of this art is encouraging and humbling. Thank you.

Book suggestion- The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (I've been doing this work for some time and it is directly parallel to Master Liang's and Master Choi's breathwork, complete with all the science.)

Sword review- I got my sword from Kult of Athena, a jian or double edged Taiji sword. For the money, it is not anywhere near the quality of the old Kris Cutlery swords. The blade is exceptional, but the handle is not, making it not the best to wield. My suggestion is, spend a bit more and get the Arms and Armor replica of my antique sword, or spend less and get the Han Wei Practical Tai-Chi sword. Now, if I could get paid to review swords, and given examples for my collection, I would embrace a whole new career!

You should continue to get Videos and lessons for the foreseeable future. I have many already filmed and tons of material for you. I will also schedule a zoom class for the Academy in July and share some other on-line ideas I have for you all.

 A quick shout out to the "recon teams" who checked out the Ivy Building and the Academy. Thank you Fred, Robbie, Bob M, Nic, and our landlord Josh.

With this newsletter, I'll be adding a message to you from Julie Cisler, my right-hand woman, who helps me run the Academy and who is a teacher with her own practice.

Take care of yourself, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I'm here for you in any way I can. Bless you all.


"If you are hoping to develop a relationship with someone, a good first step is to find a place to meet. When that "someone" is a god, begin with an altar."
-Diana L. Paxson

My address-1721 Jefferson St, Duluth, MN 55812
cell- 612-404-7320

From My Notebooks

Hello from social distancing to all of you, my Tai-Chi friends and family! I miss all of you very much. I look forward to the day that I get to see you in person again.

We are truly living in "interesting times." I'm glad that my past experience allowed me to quickly switch most of my teaching to Zoom. It saved my income. But, even more than financial survival, this strange situation has benefited me in far-reaching and unexpected ways. I suddenly had to push myself to creatively solve problems I would not have anticipated. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people who tried to learn Tai-Chi from a video and gave up in frustration. How could I appeal to students who were skeptical about trying to practice and learn on a video conferencing app?

Once again, when facing a challenge or difficulty, I turned to the Classics, the principles, and to the treasures in my notebooks, lessons from Sifu Ray and Master Choi. Master Choi says, "The basics are advanced; you must practice." What a gem! Returning to the "basics" isn't a sign of failure, it's an opportunity to see everything with new eyes. I see it as an opportunity for further refinement, for my teaching, for my practice and for myself.

I remember an anecdote a former classmate told me about her second hip replacement. The surgery did not go well, and she had to endure the entire procedure twice. As a result, her recovery was maddeningly slow. She had persistent weakness in that hip, and was frustrated that she couldn't practice her Tai-Chi form. So she tried every other therapy she could find: physical therapy, Pilates, water aerobics, massage therapy, acupuncture, even other Tai-Chi teachers. Nothing seemed to help at all.

Finally, one day she spotted Master Liang's book T'ai-Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self Defense on her bookshelf. She was idly paging through the book, and started to re-read his beautiful translations of the Classics. She started to wonder if she'd really been adhering to the principles she was reading. If not, maybe carefully practicing these basic principles would allow her to at least practice more of her form. She started practicing, very slowly at first, taking great care to include new insights she learned from re-reading his book. Her patience and willingness to go "back to the basics" paid off. She recovered her strength and stability in three months!

We all must face difficulties and frustrations at times. I can't say that they can all be overcome. But practicing and analyzing the basics has helped me through a difficulty many times. I hope that you will also benefit from this important idea. Until we can say hello in person, I wish you and your families safety and peace. See you on the other side!

-Julie Cisler

Sunday, May 17, 2020

MMTCA Mid May check in

 "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

I hope this mid-month check in finds you safe, healthy, hopeful, and practicing Tai-Chi and related arts, especially RELAXED arts! It's been over 60 days since I taught class in person, but who's counting.

As it stands, we will be closed for the rest of May. The guidelines not only warn of six feet of separation, but they caution about duration in other's presence. That means class indoors is out of the question for now. Unless there is a major breakthrough, I will stay closed for June as well. With that being said, I have filmed a bunch of lessons, have more outlined and ready, and you will be receiving them in your e-mail. I will plan a Zoom lesson for June. and do some live-time lessons with you.

Julie is now sending out the videos and lessons. Let her or I know if you aren't getting them. She is doing a great job of maintaining contact and teaching Zoom lessons. Thank You Julie! Julie, Margo, and Robert have been incredible help in filming ,and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Let me know if there are any forms or practices you'd like to see.

Book suggestion= I don't know how I missed this one, it was published in 2012, and it's awesome!

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual by Liu Fengcai

Speaking of books, my second edition of Real Gold is SO CLOSE!!!! I have lots of additions, photos and more in this edition. Master Choi is also involved, which is so exciting. Stay tuned!

A shameless plug for Ragweed Forge, where I get my throwing axes and such. E-mail Redbeard and see what he has!

I'll be incommunicado for a few weeks in both May and June. If you need to get in touch, have a Tai-Chi emergency, or just need to talk, please contact Julie, Margo, Fred, or John S.

Once again, I am humbled and in awe of your generosity, care, support, concern, and respect! The tuition, notes, cards, and e-mails make me feel totally connected to you all. Thank you!

A bow from the waist,

"The most important word in the English language is hope."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

 What to Remember When Waking

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, movable and frighteningly honest world

where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

-- David Whyte

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Brief Hstory of Hsing-Yi Ch'uan

The legendary and historical founder of Hsing-Yi Ch'uan, or "Shape of the Will Fist," is Yueh Fei, a general of the Song Dynasty. Yueh Fei was taught martial arts as a boy by the village Shao-Lin monk, Jow Tong. Jow taught Yueh archery, spear fencing, un-armed combat, meditation, and literary skills.

Later in life, when Yueh Fei was already a famous general, he would go to the grave of Jow Tong, put an egg on the headstone, and shoot it off. Each year Yueh Fei would go back and shoot an egg farther away. In this way, he showed his master that he was improving the art and skills he was taught.

Yueh Fei developed his own style of spear fighting, and taught his troops 108 Locking Hands. He is also credited with creating the 8 Brocades Qi-gong. He developed five fists derived from spear techniques which could be used even when in full armor. which form the foundation of Hsing-Yi. Yueh Fei was famous for his "double pushing palms" which is mentioned in the Shao-Lin classics, and shows up in the Tiger Style of Hsing-Yi, Liu He Ba Fa, and XinYi Liu He Quan.

The legend has it that Ji Longfeng found Yueh Fei's secret training manuals in a cave near Hua Shan and became a famous martial arts teacher and practitioner. Ji transmitted Hsing-Yi and Yueh's spear method throughout northern China.

Eventually the style was passed to Li Nengran, a bodyguard who ran a bodyguard and caravan escort service protecting stagecoaches and money. Li taught a style consisting of 5 Elements and 12 Animals, plus various weapons. Li Nengran was known as one of four "marvelous martial arts masters" in Beijing and was know as "Divine Fist Li". The other three were, Yang Luchan of the Taiji Quan school, Dong Haichuan of the BaGua Zhang school, and Liu Shi Jun of the Fan-Tze Eagle Claw school, another lineage of Yueh Fei.

Li Nengran taught many students, many who worked for him. Others were martial artists attracted to his simple yet effective style. Some of his more famous students were Guo Yunshen, Che Yizhai, and Liu Qilan.

Liu Qilan also had many famous students who went on to become masters and teachers. Two were Li Cunyi and Zhang Zhaodong, both who taught together in Tianjin and taught over five thousand students.

Zhang Zhaodong had a disciple, Jiang Rongqiao, who also studied with Li Cunyi. Jiang Ronqiao not only taught martial arts, but was instrumental in publishing many books by contemporary masters to help spread their arts and to have workbooks for the Central Kuo Shu Academy, where Jiang also taught.

Jiang Rongqiao authored:

Xingyi Mu Quan (Xingyi Mother Fists);
Baguazhang Lianxifa (Bagua Palms Practice Method);
Xingyi Za Si Chui and Ba Shi Quan;
Xingyi Lianhuan Quan;
Bagua Mysterious Spear;
Qingping Sword;
Tiger Tail Whip.

Jiang co-wrote a book on Taiji with Yao Fuchun. Jiang also wrote the foreword to his student, Chan Yikan's, book on the Main Form of Liu He Ba Fa. Through his intensive study, Jiang Rongqiao got the essence of the three internal styles and the sword. Later in life, Jiang went blind. Master Choi said Jing's sensitivity got even better when he only relied on his sense of touch.

Chan Yik-yan learned the complete system of Hsing-Yi Chuan from Jiang Rongqiao, including some forms and practices not see in the public. Chan also, learned Hsing-Yi from Chu Kuei-ting, a student of the famous Li Cunyi. Chan Yik-yan taught Hsing-Yi to his student and successor, Wai-lun Choi.

Awakening Osiris

Well, I just finished Awakening Osiris by Normandi Ellis. It took me over two years! No, I'm not a slow reader, nor was it a major tome. It was just one of the deepest, most rewarding reads I've had in a good long time.

I saw this book on my friend Rob's coffee table. I had read some quotes and my Druid Course from OBOD had suggested it, but I never got around to reading it. I had read a rather dry and scholarly Egytian Book of the Dead, and when I finished, I never looked back. This time it was different.

When I picked up Ellis' version, the first thing I read was ,

"I am the sojourner destined to walk a thousand years until I arrive at myself."

That struck such a deep chord in my heart. It spoke to a feeling deep inside me. I read here and there and each passage spoke directly to me and my life so far. I ordered the book and dug in, but it was a slow slog. I tried to breeze through but I was stopped all along the way with insights, confirmations, and guidance. Here is one that both taught and confirmed so much for me at this time,

"The god you seek is within. The truth you chase lies between your own eyebrows. Look again with a different eye."

Reading I found the roots of all the Western Mysteries like Alchemy, Astral Projection, Kabbalah, Knights Templar, and Freemasonry. I saw the foundations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I found my Golden Egg meditation as well as many that coincide with the Taoist Small Heavenly Circle meditation. Shape-shifting, animal lore, and elemental lessons were revealed in those pages.

I have immense gratitude to the translator, Normandi Ellis, who channeled more than translated these ancient lessons and ideas. Her spiritual approach made the lesson come alive and be present for me at a time where my own exploration and work are all inward directed.

If you've read this, read it again. If you haven't, you are in for a spiritual treat!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

MMTCA Newsletter May 2020

"If I can do it, you can do it. We all are capable. The spirit has no age."
-Wim Hof

May 1st, Mayday, Spring in full swing! Get out and enjoy the sun and air! Summer is around the corner and we live in an amazing state.

I'm going to keep the Academy closed in May. I will host some Zoom classes, but more importantly, I am recording some lessons that you can follow whenever you like. And you can review them over and over! I hope to start with outdoor classes in June, but I truly don't know when that will be safe for us all. I'll send another mid-month check in.

I have given the e-mail list to Julie Cisler, so you will be getting updates from her as well as from me and the Academy. Julie is hosting Zoom classes and I encourage you all to partake.

Here are three places you can also get swords;

Cold Steel

Museum Replicas

Kult of Athena

And here is a shameless plug for my favorite Viking throwing axes, Ragweed Forge

Thank you so much for sending tuition in these trying times. You are supporting me and this art with your generosity and concern. I especially love the notes and cards telling me how you are doing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Book suggestion-

Movie suggestion-

Remember to check out our youtube page-

I'll check in again mid month. If you need to talk, or e-mail, or text, please don't hesitate.

Stay safe,


my cell= 6124047320
Facebook and youtube= Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
my home address= 1721 Jefferson St. Duluth, MN 55812

"I have been in many shapes
Before I assumed a constant form;
I have been a narrow sword,
A shining bright star,
A letter among words
In the Book of Origins."

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Lineages.

"When you drink the water, don't forget the well."
- Chinese Proverb

When I first went to Chicago, to study with Grand Master Wai Lun Choi he
brought me over to a photograph, prominently displayed in his school. The
photograph was of 7 people, four seated and three standing. Master Choi
said, "This photograph shows all the different martial arts and teachers which
come down to me." He said that four of the masters were his own teacher's
direct masters. The photo showed the Grandmaster or lineage holder of Liu Ho Pa Fa,
Wu Yik-fai, and his successor, which was Master Choi’s teacher, Grand Master Chan Yik-yan. At the end of that first lesson, Master Choi gave me a copy of that photo.

Master Choi pointed to the person sitting on the far right. His name was Chu
Kwei-ting. Master Chu was one of the four famous Chu Brothers who had all
studied with Master Li Chun-Yi , All four Chu Brothers learned Hsing Yi and
Pa-Kua from Master Li. Chu’s oldest brother was a national full contact
champion during the 1920’s. Chu also learned Wu Dang Sword from General
Li Ch'ing-lin and appeared in the very first public book on Wu Dang Sword.
Chu also learned Tai Chi from Yang Cheng-fu after challenging Yang and
being defeated. Grand Master Chan Yik Yan learned Hsing Yi and Wu Dang
Sword from Chu and had the great experience of having Chu as his sparring


The person sitting to the far left is Master Chiang Jung-Chiao. Master Chiang
learned Hsing Yi and Pa-Kua from the famous master Chang Chao-Tung, as
well as Hsing Yi from Master Li Chun-Yi. Chiang leaned Wu Dang Sword
from General Li Ch'ing-lin and Yang Style Tai Chi from Yao Fu-chun,a student of Yang
Cheng Fu. Grand Master Chan Yik Yan learned Tai-Chi, Pa-Kua, Hsing Yi, and Wu Dang Sword from Chiang.

The person standing in the middle of the back row is Master Han Sing-kiu. He was a student of the
famous Master Wang Hsiang-Chi, the founder of Yi-Chuan. Master Han was not only a student of Master Wang but also his Godson and one of his top four students known as "The Four Diamond Warriors" of Yi-Chuan,. Han was known for his fighting skills. At one point Grand Master Chan and Master Han were room mates as well as training partners. Grand Master Chan learned the complete system of Yi-Chuan from Han and was given hand written notes from Wang Hsiang Chi, which Master Choi now has in his possession. 

The person sitting in the front row second from the right is General Chang Chih-chiang . General Chang was chancellor of the Nanking Central Kuo Shu Martial Arts College. General Chang was a student of Grand Master Wu Yik-fai. Wu held the office of  dean of the college and was in charge of curriculum. General Chang was also a friend and training partner of Chan Yik-yan, standing back row left. One day Wu remarked to the General, that Chan was a serious and dedicated student, a disciplined practitioner, and an accomplished martial artist. Wu said “Of course I cannot ask him to be my student”. The General quickly found Chan and informed him of the conversation with Grand Master Wu. Chan immediately went to Master Wu and asked for instruction.

 The person sitting second from the left, Grandmaster Wu Yik-fai, learned Liu Ho Pa Fa from three different masters and was the 8 generation grandmaster of that style. Known as the hidden "fourth internal style," Liu Ho Pa Fa was taught at the Central Kuo Shu College in Nanjing. Master Wu also added the famous Loi Hung Bat Sai ( Loi Hung's/ Li Hung's 8 Techniques ) also known as the “Mother and Sons Linking Palms" into the style . The person standing on the far right, Yin T'ien-hsiung, learned Loi Hung Bat Sai from Wu.

The person standing in the back row, far left, is Grandmaster Chan Yik-yan. Master Chan was a business man and industrialist who learned martial arts from a young age. Chan started with Shao-Lin but then moved on to the internal styles. Chan learned Pa-Kua, Hsing-Yi, Tai-Chi, and Wu Dang sword from Chiang Jung-Ch'iao. Chan learned Hsing-Yi, Wu Dang Sword, and free-fighting with Chu Kuei-t'ing. He learned Yi-Ch'uan from Han Sing-kiu and he practiced with General Chang Chih-chiang

After being accepted as a student of Grandmaster Wu Yik-fai, Chan Yik-yan studied privately with Master Wu until he completed the training and was designated Wu's successor and 9th generation lineage holder and grandmaster. Chan Yik-yan studied the complete system of Liu Ho Ba Fa including meditation, internal development, and weapons. Chan continued to spar with Chu Kuei-ting, yet after studying with Wu, he found he could more easily control Chu when sparring. Chan studied with Wu Yik-fai until he fled to Singapore to escape the fall of the Bamboo Curtain. Before Chan left, Wu arranged for the photograph to be taken and designated Chan as his successor and the 10th Grand Master in the Liu Ho Ba Fa lineage. Chan continued to correspond with Master Wu and sent much needed supplies and food until Wu’s death.


 Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi studied with Grandmaster Chan Yik-yan and was designated his successor and the 10th generation grandmaster and lineage holder of Liu Ho Pa Fa. Master Choi learned that complete system as well as Tai-Chi, Hsing-Yi, Pa-Kua,and Wu Dang Sword from Chan. Indeed, Choi is the refinement of all those teachers, lineages, and styles. With much gratitude and praise, I submit this article. All mistakes are mine, all the treasures are from Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi and the teachers and lineages whose shoulders he stands upon today.