Sunday, March 29, 2020

MMTCA Newsletter April 2020

"My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try not to go there alone."
-Anne Lamott

I hope this newsletter finds you healthy, safe, and hopeful. I know I asked for more time to write, but this is ridiculous! Be careful what you ask for! But seriously, take your time in all things, be patient, no worry-no hurry.

I'm following the guidelines from our local government, so classes will be suspended for April. The Ivy Bldg. is also locked until further notice. We will check in at the end of April and see what May brings, besides flowers!

I appreciate all the offers of support. Thank you! If you want to continue paying tuition, or even partial tuition, or just gas money, you can mail a check or cash to;

Ray Hayward
1721 Jefferson St.
Duluth, MN

I will continue to write via e-mail, Facebook, and my blog and will be sharing more  movies, articles and videos. I am also filming some lessons and will get them to you as well. Go to the website and follow along for class basics and two guided meditations.

Julie Cisler is also teaching class on line. Contact her for the schedule and info.

Movie suggestion- The Education of Little Tree

Book suggestion-Anam Cara by John O'Donahue

Audio book (go to youtube)- Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castenada

Myself, and a few people I know, are doing a nightly meditation between 7:30 and 8;00 PM for sending out healing, peace, calm, light, and support. Nothing fancy, just sit , join us, and add positivity to the world current. Namaste!

I've been sent photos of some people's home training areas/studios. I love it! If you have a photo of where you practice at home, please e-mail it to me. I'd like to make a blog, keeping you anonymous if you like, showcasing your amazing home studios. Here are two places I practice in Duluth;

My home studio

Evolve Fitness

Thank you for all your support, patience, and good cheer. Be safe, healthy, and breathe deeply.If you need to get in contact with me, for any reason, call, text, message, or e-mail.
cell phone- call or text 612-404-7320


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

-Awakening Osiris trans by Normandi Ellis

Friday, March 27, 2020

Stranded on a Desert Island part two

OK, I'm stranded on a desert island, or quarantined, with 5 books on breath. Here are mine!

1. The Way of Qi-Gong by Kenneth S. Cohen

2. Science of Breath by Swami Rama

3. The Way Of the Ice Man by Wim Hof

4. Tai-Chi Chuan and Meditation by Da Liu

5. Breatheology by Stig Severinson

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stranded on a desert island with 5 Tai-Chi books...

I have played this mental game for years. What if I'm stranded on a desert island with only five Tai-Chi books. What would they be? How about if I was quarantined and could only bring 5 books? Over the years, since about 1986, the first four have been consistent. The fifth has revolved and evolved. Here is my list, with a few for the fifth place. Enjoy your quarantine!

1. Tai Chi Chuan for Health and Self-Defense by Master T.T. Liang

2. Tai-Chi Touchstones; Yang's Family Secret Transmissions by Douglas Wile

3. Ch'eng Tzu's Thirteen Treatise' on Tai-Chi Chuan trans by Benjamin Lo

4. Tai-Chi Chuan and Meditation by Da Liu

5. On Tai-Chi Chuan by T.Y. Pang

5A There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal
5B Fundamentals of Tai-Chi Chuan by Wen-shan Huang
5C Tao of Tai Chi Chuan by Jou Tsung Hua
5D Reeling Silk by Paul B. Gallagher
5E Tai-Chi Chuan, Its Effects and Practical Applications by Yearning K. Chen

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Practice with me at home!

On the following link, you will be directed to my website where you will find many practices and forms. Start with the Warm-ups, then follow the Standing Meditation, then do a set of Golden Roosters, then follow me in the Medium Form, the Sword, everything!! More are being downloaded and filmed and will be posted here and on my website and on Facebook.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Some ideas for your personal practice during confinement and beyond...

When I first met Master Paul Gallagher, he gave me a piece of advise that has opened doors, windows, and huge rooms of learning and insight in my martial, spiritual, and healing pursuits. Paul said I should try to find our what our teacher Master T.T. Liang's daily practice routine was. Paul told me that it was important what you practiced, when you practiced it, and in what order you practiced to make positive gain and not to undo one practice with another.

I went to Master Liang and just asked him what he practiced and in what order. In his amazing generosity he told me. No hesitation! And he gave me insights into why he practiced in the order he did, and what times of day he did different practices. Too easy! I soon found that this was an exception.

When I went to my Shao-Lin/Pa-Kua/Hsing-Yi/Tai-Chi teacher, Dr. Leung Kay-chi and asked him about his personal practice routine, he gave me a quick answer. Now this teacher learned many complete systems and was a disciple of two highest level masters, his late father in law, Han Chin-tang, and his master who he lived with Liu Yun-ch'iao. What was his answer?

Never mind.

I began asking all my teachers and classmates about their routines. I mostly got the same answer, go away kid! I even traveled to California to train, study, and confirm practices and sequences with Master Liang's main pushing-hands and two-person forms training partner, Master Lin Chun-fu. Master Lin was another generous teacher who told me his training sequence, and the pushing-hands practices and sequence he practiced daily with Master Liang in Taiwan.

My teacher Grandmaster Wai-Lun Choi gave me his training sequence and the ideas behind how to put different practices, styles, and training in an order that made steady progressive. Indeed he said, "One hour a day of practice is better than ten hours once a week."

From all this research, I give you my findings, my training sequence, and some reasons why/Wai. In the following blog I'll share some of the basic practices with you in movie and audio form. But for now, read and enjoy.

You can divide your practice into a daily, weekly, monthly, and even seasonal, practice. For instance, what practices are so important that you want to do them every day. Other practices are essential, so every other day will be enough. Some forms I do once a week, either because I teach them regularly or that they are simple, like Tai-Chi Fan for instance. The practices I do once a month are those I don't want to loose, but don't want to practice more regularly. Seasonally, I do more weapons in Summer because I can be outside, whereas in Winter, more meditation and qi-gong, plus "jailhouse Tai-Chi." When I have a partner, two person forms, pushing-hands, sticking-hands, sparring, and fencing take precedence.

So, how to put together a daily practice? You have to start with how much time you have. Then you have to proceed with how much you have, or want, to practice. Space, equipment, partners all factor in. If you are going to class that day/night can you put that into your practice equation? Here is a general sequence with reasons and ideas;

1.Warm-up. Warm ups are different from stretching, which I'll cover later. Warm ups raise your body temperature, get blood into your muscles, lubricate your joints with synovial fluid, and increase joint mobility. They also warm up your intuitive mind and get you into the mood for your practice. Warm ups can be short or long. Start at the top of your body and work downward.

2. Sitting Meditation. I always do warm ups before I sit, so any stress, tension, impatience,or stiffness doesn't call me away from going inward. If I'm doing a short sitting meditation, I may do that first, before the warm ups. What you do when you sit is up to you. Taoists use the formula of movement and stillness. When the body is active, your mind is passive. When  your body is passive, your mind is active. For instance, when you do Tai-Chi, your body is moving, so a passive meditation like being smooth, flow, swimming in air, or lightly feeling your breath are enough. For sitting, because your body is still, use an active mind to relax, deepen your breath, and circulate your energy or ch'i to all places and points throughout your body.

3. Standing Meditation. Standing gives us the chance to work on 4 of the 5 major aspects of Tai-Chi and Internal Martial Arts: Alignment, Relaxation, Breath, Mind. The 5th, Whole-Body-Movement is done after standing. I would suggest doing less time than more time. Muscling through to hold a posture for a specific amount of time can lead to tension. Plus, when it feels good, stop! Less is more in the big picture.

4. Single Movement Training. Master Choi emphasized that if you want to develop whole body power, you have to do whole body movement training. He calls this 9 Joint Harmony. Master Liang called it "intrinsic energy." You simply take a single movement and practice it, trying to start together/stop together, with upper and lower parts in coordination, and when one part moves, all parts move and when one part stops, all parts stop. Doing right and left sides can balance the body and inform the movement/posture.For example, do a row of Golden Roosters going backward, checking to see if you start together, stop together, and feel comfortable, balanced, and relaxed, with effortless breathing. This is the foundation of all internal martial arts. Pa-Kua does single and double palms, Hsing-Yi does the 5 Fists, Wu-Dang Sword has the 13 Energies, and others all have single movements practiced outside of a sequence.

5.Solo Forms. Forms are sequences designed to combine movements and challenge your skills of alignment, balance, breath, harmony, etc. Meditation in motion, mindful movement, swimming in air, reeling silk, you get the picture! Forms also catalogue applications and techniques for self-defense. You try to extend your energy and awareness to the surface of your skin with your solo form practice.

6. Partner Work. When you work with a partner, you try to use their skin, to extend your awareness past your skin, outward. They are your bio-electric conduit! Partner work teaches you applications and self-defense ideas. You learn about your body, and other people's bodies, in a different way and viewpoint. You train your eye for recognition, your skin for sensitivity, and your spirit for fighting and self-defense. And you learn to work with another person.

7. Weapons. Swords, sabers, spears, etc help us extend our awareness through an inanimate object, sending our energy and ch'i to the tip or point. This helps in circulating energy in our solo form practices. Weapons are also for self-defense, strategy, and are a type of weight-lifting.

8. Two-Person Weapons. Fencing helps with the eyes and recognition. Sticking helps with sensitivity and is an even farther projection of our energy and ch'i. Timing and distance are of the utmost importance when sharp things are involved!

9. Hard Style/External Martial Arts. If you train in martial arts where you are trying to be faster, stronger, or have more endurance, than your opponent, this is done after the internal styles and practices. I follow the same sequence of standing, solo, partner, weapons and fencing etc, just in my hard styles.

10. Conditioning. This is where any forearm conditioning, iron palm, post, etc. training is done. When the body, mind, and spirit are good and warmed up, there is a lower chance of injury when conditioning.

11. Strength and Endurance. Weights, running, sit-ups, etc, are done now. No need to fear any tension or strength getting into your soft styles or practices. Also again, you are lowering the injury factor by pushing your body after it is warmed up, having lots of oxygen and ch'i, and a focused mind.

12. Stretching. here is where we try to increase the range of motion in our limbs and body. Our body is warm, the muscles have lots of blood in them, and we're ready to gently yet firmly try to increase our stretch limits. There are many kinds of stretching formulas and theories. I use a few different methods, but all are more effective at the end of your practice.

That is my basic sequence or formula, cataloged from many teachers, lots of personal practice and research, and over 30 years of teaching and guiding others. It is a building of energy and awareness formula. Mornings you want your practice to take your blood and energy from your core and move it out towards your extremities. At night, you want to take your energy and blood, and return it to your internal organs, You can simply reverse the order at night to cool down, go inward and be ready for bed. I would still do warm ups first, but if I had an active day, I may do a shorter set of warm ups.

Another thing I learned from polling so many teachers is that the sequence is important, but that you do not have to have something in each category. For instance, you may not have standing practice, or know any fencing. As long as you follow the general, order you can skip or have gaps, and still be progressing. If I don't have any partners, I skip 6 and 8.

You also don't need a lot of practices. Professor Cheng Man-Ch'ing, Master Liang's main teacher, had warm ups, solo form, pushing hands, sword form, and fencing. His system covered most of the items I listed.  Master Liang had so many weapons and fencing forms that that part of the sequence was extensive.

One thing that is apparent, if you skip about in your practice, randomly choosing what to practice, you make be taking one step forward and two steps back. Having a clear idea and plan for practice is the fastest way to progress. I hope this helps you! I love to help people compose their own practice sequences and schedules. Let me know if you would like to have me organize your workout!

Next blog I'll share some warm-ups, sitting meditation, standing meditation, and the Golden Rooster of Tai-Chi. I'll be filming more of these practices and will share them with you during the quarantine, and beyond! Stay safe, be healthy, and relax.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CoViD19 and the suspension of classes

Dearest Students, Members, Disciples, and Friends,

It is with much thought and advise that I now inform you that I am suspending classes at Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy until April 7th. I may have to go longer, it all depends on the ever-changing situation. If you paid tuition I will keep track and it will be applied to when classes resume. I'll be sending e-mails, blogging, and making some movies for you to keep you all inspired and connected. This was not an easy decision for me, but I feel to err on the side of safety and calm is the best path for me. I hope to reduce any stress you may have concerning classes. I will be here when the dust settles, barring any unforeseen circumstances. One day at a time. Keep safe, be well, and know I am grateful for all of you.

Bowing from the waist,


Monday, March 16, 2020

Embrace Uncertainty

With all the information, and lack of it, here are two excerpts for you to ponder. The first is from an article I wrote about meeting Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm at the East Coast OBOD Druid gathering a few years back. The 2nd is from a Taoist writing called The Travels of Ming Liao-tse;

#1 One experience resonated with me. In a group discussion, many people admitted that they
were afraid of the future and the uncertainty of many things and that they were
experiencing a general fear. Instead of candy coating his response, Philip said, “Yes. You
can think of what is coming as five trains going to crash. What can you do about it? We
want to be certain, but it is the uncertainty of which one will crash and what the effect
will be that is causing deep feelings and worries.” He added, “Certainty is not a principle
we work with. Certainty is the cause of a lot of problems for people. Let go of certainty.
Embrace uncertainty.”

#2"If one of us falls ill, we stop to attend to the illness, and the other tries to beg a little for some medicine, but they take it calmly themselves. They look within themselves and are not afraid of death. And so a severe illness is changed into a light illness, and a light illness is immediately cured. If it is willed that our days are numbered, then there are journey ends. But if we escape it, then we go on as before."

Be safe my friends. Stay calm, breathe deep, and keep moving. Distractions give well needed rest. All will be different in another moon cycle. Please reply and let me know you are doing well in body, mind, and spirit.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Chinese New Year and my 60th Birthday

The weekend of January 17th, 18th, and 19th, 2020,  I celebrated my 60th birthday and an early Chinese New Year of the Rat.  I've been contemplating my 60th for a while. Master T.T. Liang told me that 60 years of age is the lowest level of immortality and I wanted to be ready! He said 80 is the middle level and 100 is the highest. He lived to be 102, what an immortal!

I planned a birthday dinner and had help from Jane, Diane, Julie, and Margo. Little did they know that my party was not to celebrate me, but celebrate my disciples! My upcoming birthday gave me lots to think about, my future, teaching plans, and an opportunity to set things in motion to ensure a smooth transition for my academy, and pave the way for my successor.

When all the plans were made, arrangements set, all that was left was the weekend to arrive! And arrive it did. On Friday morning, Sifu Diane Cannon, and her two senior students Chris Venaccio and Will Allen 6th, came in from Delaware, only to be greeted with good old Minnesota cold and snow! Welcome! In spite of the snow and dismal forecast, 18 people joined me for a dinner a Sakura in St Paul, a very white and snowy St Paul.

After taking our seats, ordering great food, and enjoying great company, I got up to speak. I told everyone there that we were there to celebrate them! I just used my birthday as an excuse. I told stories of different teachers and schools and the various troubles they had when teachers retired, moved, or even died! I told my guests that I will be taking a page out of my Druid teacher Philip Carr-Gomm's playbook.

Let me digress.

At a Druid retreat in Pennsylvania about 6 years ago, I met Philip Carr-Gomm, the chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, OBOD for short. We had a talk about succession and concerns about a peaceful, transparent, handover or succession, so all things are clear, easy and simple. His plan was to name his successor, work with them leading up to the handover, stay after the handover, then be a retired Druid Chief. This is now happening in June.

I thought long and hard about how I want to cut back on my teaching, focus on writing, and getting enough time to complete my Home Study Pushing Hands Course. Plus, I wanted no confusion about who I leave in charge, who I give permission to teach under my name, and make sure there are people in place to continue the great teaching and styles we have been offering since 1984.

Back to the dinner. With no special order, I began to appointment various disciples and give them their responsibilities and marching orders. And now I share this with all.

I'm making the complete Tai-Chi system available to all my students: in books, videos, and classes. I will try my best to get it into all their bodies, minds, and spirits before I fully close my hands.

In two years, when I'm 62, I am retiring from teaching public classes. I will continue to teach private groups and seminars. At that time, I'm turning the school over to Julie Cisler. There is no one I trust more with the running of the school. Julie has been with me for close to 20 years. In that time she served twice as board president at Twin Cities Tai Chi Chuan Studio. She worked closely with me and Joanne in running the non-profit. Julie has been helping me run our academy, teach classes, and she is my partner in my publishing and writing. Julie has excellent learning, practicing, teaching, and people skills and she is a formidable push hands player! Julie Cisler  will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available at the academy for you all.

Fred Sparks is one of those rare individuals who can learn, master, and improvise on ANY martial arts style. He could learn any and all the styles I teach, or any he wants to embrace. I am handing over all the Hsing-Yi Chuan I learned from Master Choi and the 6 previous teachers I learned from. I am concentrating on Master Choi's Hsing-Yi with Fred because that is the highest level teachings I received from the highest level master I ever studied with. Fred Sparks will keep this style for all of you in my absence. Fred  will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available at the academy for you all.

John Stitely is my designated historian and lore keeper of the lineages and teachings I received. John has been helping me catalogue all the styles in videos, writings, and preserving historical documents. John will help me write the history of our lineage and will preserve for all of us our rare and valuable history. John will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available at the academy for you all.

Sifu Diane Cannon will help me co-write two books, one on Tai-Chi Fan, and the other on Wu Dang Wu Li Sword. The sword book will also feature many translations by Master Liang never seen before. Diane is also branching out and teaching Tai-Chi academically in Delaware. Diane Cannon  will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available in Delaware.

John Feely is teaching in Stillwater at his River Valley Tai-Chi. I will help with John teaching in Wisc and nearby communities. John  will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available for you all.

Wanda Koehler is helping me teach Tai-Chi through the Carleton College Rec Center. Wanda will be taking more classes and responsibility and continuing our teachings in Northfield. Wanda  will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style.

There are others continuing great work and will receive their duties at a later date.

Now, on to my successor. My choice is not any kind of judgment of my students who I didn't choose. I need to have one leader. A single voice after all the discussions are done and a decision needs to be made. A person who can speak for me, whether I'm living or dead. The student I can send people to for instruction.

I chose one who has a combination of skill, commitment, passion, and curiosity. A person who went through hell with me when I was forced to leave the old studio. Someone who is in love with Tai-Chi and obsessed with it as much as I am, almost! A student who passed through a solemn ceremony to become my disciple and a 7th generation lineage holder. Someone who has progressed by leaps and bounds!

My successor is Margo Bock. Margo has been with me for many years and learned deeply the lessons and principles needed. She is currently going through an intense period of training, with me as her coach, sparring partner, mentor, councilor, confidant, and teacher. In 5 years I will close my hands and Margo will take up my public teaching. If I get hit by a bus, go to Margo Bock. She will also receive Master Choi's complete Pa-Kua style and will have it available at the academy for you all.

Together with Julie Cisler, Fred Sparks, and John Stitely, Margo will help to make sure the academy will be there to share the world's exercise, and the teachings of many masters, styles, and lineages. I have talked this through with my mentor Master Paul Gallagher, my master Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi, and my partner Jane Shockley. I took a long time to come to this decision and am at peace with my choice. I hope you will show Margo the same respect you give me and help her as you help me. Margo's title is Da Shih Mei, Big Elder Sister. In my family of disciples and students, I am officially letting you know.

Whew! That was an intense night for me, and it was only going to get busier with the Chinese New Years demo and banquet. The next morning I was pleasantly surprised to find the disciples at the academy, decorating it for the demo and ceremony, and taking charge! After lots of practices and workouts, we set up and one of the best demos began. (The following photos will give you an idea)

After the demonstration portion, Margo, Julie, Diane, and Fred led the altar ceremony complete with description and instructions. My pride and joy knew no bounds and my cup runneth over! We then went to Peking Garden in St Paul, where Jeannie Li had arranged a 13 course new year banquet!! Many new dishes and some old goodies, plus an amazing 13 courses for vegetarians, made Saturday Night one for the diary and record books!

Sunday morning brunch with family, friends, and disciples, and a visit from my classmate Bob Klanderud, made for a nice finish to my plans. An  evening sipping whiskey at Emmett's Pub, with Chris V as the master of the waters of life, left me with a headache the next day! So worth it!

Monday Diane and crew flew back East, Julie taught class, everything changed, and didn't, and life went on. I feel a shift, people stepping up, changes coming, and it all feels right. Thank you all for making my birthday, Chinese New Year, and my life so good. I am blessed.

Group Tai-Chi Solo Form

Sifu Diane Tai-Chi Fan

Group Tai-Chi Sword

San-Shou Julie and Loren

Tai-Chi Cane Form


Wu-Dang Wu-Li Sword Sifu Diane

Tai-Chi Sabre

Tai-Chi Fast Form

Margo Tai-Chi Double Sabre

Hsing-Yi 5 Element Linking Form

John S  5 Element Change Form

8 Styles Bat Sik Choi

Steve Hsing-Yi Kwan Do

Fred 7 Halberds Strung Like Pearls

Pa-Kua 8 Inner Palms Paul I, Steve, Paul D

Pa-Kua Deer Horn Knives Fred, Margo, John S

6 Harmony Staff Paul D and Margo

Two Person Karambit Wanda and Matt

5 Elder Staff John F

6 Harmony Staff Fred and John S

Karen Eagle Claw Double Daggers

Altar Ceremony

Banquet at Peking Garden