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.

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.

Monday, April 13, 2020

MMTCA Mid-month Check in April 2020

"You don't have to feel everything."
-Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hanson

We are coming up on a month of no classes. I miss you! I love having more time to write and research, but I also get so much from sharing with you in classes. And I love your questions that make my mind work and grow. For now, I will keep the Academy closed for May. Even when we get the OK to open up, I'm going to take the Tai-Chi idea of waiting and not rushing ahead. As we all know more in the coming weeks, we'll be able to assess and make good choices.

I got a thank you card from Master Choi. He really appreciated his birthday card full of your greetings, wishes, and red envelopes. I thank you as well.

We know that Tai-Chi is a marital art. I want to give you something to ponder on that subject. You are probably never going to be attacked by someone armed with a Kwan Do. You probably won't sword fight anybody to the death. Even though it feels like the Zombie Apocalypse, you might not be dodging teeth and delivering head shots just yet. And even if you do, all these different opponents have to rest, sleep, pee, and can be defeated. What you will be attacked by, and it can be 24/7, is fear, worry, tension, anger, stress, and lack of control. These are real enemies and can rob you of health, calm, peace, relaxation, and lower your immune system. Your training of being in the moment with an aligned, relaxed body, breathing deeply, smoothly, and slowly are your weapons and defenses. Practice what you know of the warm-ups, standing, qi-gong and Tai-Chi and related arts and practices. Don't be concerned if they are right or correct, whether they feel good or like crap. Just do it! Do it for you. I know from my own experience that you will receive benefits even if it's a shitty practice, pardon my French.

Thank you to those who mailed April tuition. I especially enjoy your notes and letters. It is kind of you to be concerned about me and my welfare. Things here in Duluth are slow, quite, and moving along. I hope to see you all up here someday.

We have a youtube page now, thanks to Julie, Matt B and Bryan. That page with hold and catalogue most of the historical movies and some contemporary as well. Our web page will trim down to just have movies of the current practices at our Academy. Thank you to John Stitely who is doing a great job archiving and preserving our rich heritage and history. Just look up Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy on youtube.

We had short zoom meeting this weekend with a few people to work out things and to make a huge leap in our tech learning curve. If this lockdown continues through the Summer, I'll make some meetings for us to communicate. For the time being, I'm filming some forms and practices for you and will send them by email. I am taking requests, by e-mail, but for now the following will be coming to you;

Wu-Dang Wu-Li Sword
Master Choi dumbbell routine
Pa-Kua Foundations Form
Deer Horn Knives
Hsing-Yi Two-Hand Linking Saber, and Two-Handed Change Saber
A few more postures for Man Chiang Hung
Indian Clubs routines
Solo Spear drills
Fast Form Updates

It is sad news to tell you that Minnesota Karate Supply is closing their doors April 30th. Kerry and Jackie have been great friends and amazing suppliers for all our martial art needs. Call them and see what they have left, or if you can get in there, I know there is a pandemic. Best of luck on their new life adventures!

I hope you are all safe and well. Call, e-mail, or text if you need to talk to me. Heck, I've got time! I look forward to seeing you all soon, when it's safe, and to doing Tai-Chi with you.


"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."
-Michelle Obama