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

Saturday, April 11, 2020

5 Kinds of Postures and Double Weighting

I one time asked Master T.T. Liang what practices I could do to improve my pushing hands when I didn't have a partner. He taught me three practices, Tai-Chi Post, Tai-Chi Long Spear, and how to "Distinguish 5 Kinds of Postures." He showed me how to develop and practice issuing energy in a relaxed and clear manner during my solo form. This lesson can be embraced and practiced in all Tai-Chi forms,styles and systems, and can help with any martial arts or sports.

Before I share that lesson with you I need explain a bit about the concept of "double weighting."  Many students are confused, or only grasp the most basic idea of this governing principle in Tai-Chi. Master Liang gave a short list of what double weighting can be when commenting on the Tai-Chi Classic, We often see one who has painstakingly practiced Tai-Chi for several years but cannot neutralize an attacking energy and is generally subdued by an opponent. This is because they have still not understood the fault of double-weighting. In Liang's commentary ( pg 43 ) he gives the following list of double-weighting defects;

-To collide with your opponent
-To push your opponent with energy in both hands
-To put energy in your upper torso when doing the postures
-To step forward and backward with weight on both feet
-To find the opponent's defect and obtain a superior position of your own by using a hand block

Double weighting means the pressure in your body, either from gravity into your stance, our your opponents body and weight into your body or structure. If gravity is engaging the muscle in my lower left body and legs, I use the right upper body to be balanced and have my energy be able to come out completely.

Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi carefully explained that your technique and what is does to your opponent's body will travel through and affect your body and you don't want it to get stuck or make you tense. He called this the "reaction force," the power going down through your structure, through your feet, bouncing off the floor, and returning back up to you arms and technique. Many times he told me, "Remember, when you hit the heavy bag, it hits you back." Our structure needs alignment and balance so our techniques will be correct. Hitting and pushing are similar, but have a few differences that are beyond this introduction.

The concept of single and double weighting comes from the yin-yang symbol, which is the foundation of the art. We need a black and white, or opposites, not two black fish or dots. Most practitioners think double weighting is just having weight equally on both feet, which is true. We don't want weight on both feet because it locks up our hips and waist and makes movement slow and awkward. But there are so many other ideas for double weighting, yet they can be divided into two categories;.

-You can double weight with a part, or your whole, body, or how my body weight, and gravity, affect my body
-You can double weight with another person, or how weight, tension, gravity, and mechanics affects my technique

Anytime the classics list opposites, they are referring to this concept. When you read insubstantial and substantial, hard and soft, still and moving, advancing and retreating, attacking and defending, they are giving examples of how to be either balanced or single-weighted. Here are a two examples;

Take steps like a cat walking = weight on one foot while the other is empty and free to step, feel, and investigate before transferring weight and gravity to that foot. To be single weighted is to have gravity and balance with one leg while the other is free to perform an action such as stepping, kicking, sweeping etc. I asked about the Horse Stance in Ta-Lu and some of the weapons forms, and Master Liang said as long as we are still, we can have weight on both feet. He cited the classic In motion they separate, in tranquility they fuse into one.

Do not let go and do not resist = resisting can mean pushing your partner at the exact same time as they are pushing you. To be single weighted, you can push any time before or after they push, just not the same time.

This is by no means a complete explanation of single and double weighting, but it will lay a foundation for the 5 Kinds of Postures lesson. If you have specific questions or want an even more detailed explanation, please feel free to contact me. Now, on to the lesson.

Master Liang taught that there are 5 kinds of postures, and we have to do something different when we do each. He said we have to "distinguish and identify each so we will know how to do it." He listed the following, rise, sink, stand, squat, stay the same. He taught that when you come to the end of a posture, you have something to do with your height and stance. Liang said for beginners, try to maintain the same consistent height throughout the solo form.  Paul Gallagher shared this lesson from his Wu Style teacher, Sophia Delza who taught that, "The head should be like the horizon, not a cork bobbing in the ocean!" Master Liang said, "Prof Cheng stood up in White Crane and squatted down in Squatting Single Whip. We also stand up in High Pat on Horse and we squat down in Needle at Sea Bottom."

When you begin your solo form, at the first bow stance, set a height that will be your base height. It can be comfortable with the ability to step, root, and issue, without tension or exhaustion. That is the height you maintain when not doing four of the five options. Notice that built into your form is the return to that height, like when you stand or squat, the first part of the next posture is either to come back up or drop down into a stance. To really get this lesson, you need to not do them during your solo form, but pull postures out and work on them individually before linking them together. I always teach that you don't change the oil in your car while you are driving. OK here goes.

1. Rise One Inch. These postures end single weighted, weight on left foot and action with right hand, or vice versa. The application happens at the end of the movement and you rise to begin issuing energy. They are Da-Chin, Striking Energy, Short-Power. These are also referred to as "twist-step."  Examples are Brush Left Knee where you end with your weight on your left foot, and you push with your right hand. You would rise one inch to engage the correct issuing action. This is where Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing wrote " The right hand is connected in one line of energy with the left foot." Some other examples are Parry and Punch, Fair Lady, Turn and Chop with Fist.

2. Sink One Inch. These postures end double weighted, weight on the left foot and action with the left hand, or vice versa. The application happens in the middle of the posture or action and you sink one inch to recover. We used a shift to issue energy and not only is power generated, but momentum as well. We have to sink after issuing so we don't overextend or loose balance. Master Liang would say, " You don't want to push an opponent off a cliff and you go with them!" These postures are Fa-Ching, Issuing or Releasing Energy, Long-Power. These are also referred to as "favorable-step." Examples are Single Whip where you end with your weight on your left foot and the action is with your left arm. You would sink one inch at the end to root and catch your momentum. In the middle of the posture, when you have stepped but not shifted or issued, you are single weighted, with your weight on your right foot and the action in your left arm. One application for Single Whip being a throw, or trip, over your left knee. Some other examples are Fan Through the Back, Diagonal Flying, and Ward-Off.

3. Stand Up. These postures come up almost completely at the end. They either help with the application or give a rest to your legs. They also add dimension and flavor to your solo form. Examples are White Crane Spreads Wings, and High Pat On Horse.

4. Squat Down.  These postures go considerable lower, or well below, the established height that you set to do your solo form. They either help with the application or add extra exercise as well as ,stretch, strength, and challenge to your form. Examples are Needle at Sea Bottom and Squatting Single Whip, also know as Snake Creeps Down (or Creep Snakes Down!).

5. Stay the Same Height. These postures are the same height during the beginning, middle, and end. The reason is because they either have too much information, or not enough! These posture are either emphasizing the health, mediation, and qi-gong aspects, or they are only giving a partial application. These are tricky without having a teacher who knows the health, self-defense, meditation and philosophical meaning of each posture. An example of the health benefit outweighing the self-defense would be Cloud Hands. A partial application would be Play the Guitar. In these you would just stay the same height and give equal emphasis to height and action.

That is the lesson I received. I learned it, mastered it, and now teach it. So, now it's your turn to work! Do the following lesson with your solo form. It won't matter the style or lineage or tradition.


Take each posture in your solo form and  assign it one of the five actions, rise, sink, same etc. according to how the hand/weight is at the end. For example, Parting the Wild Horse's Mane, or Diagonal Flying. Is it single weighted, opposite hand and foot, or double weighted, same hand and foot? Review what to do and then practice changing the height, or not.

Be careful, some have multiple or many ideas and can be done rising, sinking or staying the same. Have a clear idea what your want these kinds of postures to do.

Kicks are all single weighted i.e weight on one side action on the other, so rise for those.

Two handed posture like Push, Press, Fair Lady, see if you can pick one hand for the main action and do the rise, sink accordingly.

When in doubt, stay the same height.

Good luck! Do this work on your solo form before you apply it to weapons. Now, on to your own exploration and discovery!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Some Thoughts on Home Study and Practice, a rant!

"Never send a kiss by messenger."
-Sufi Proverb

With our world changing before our eyes, my fear is that we will throw out the baby with the bathwater. What do I mean? There are ways to learn and practice that involve other people. Just because we can watch something on line doesn't mean we really learn it, even if we can imitate it exactly.

For example, would you let someone perform surgery on you who learned from youtube? There are four other aspects to learning besides sight, namely hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. I'd even venture a 6th sense, the five senses combined inside. Plus the sight learning from a screen lacks many dimensions and depths.

Tai-Chi is above all concerned with feeling. Balance is a feeling, not a sight. Otherwise, blind people could not walk, and you could not walk in the dark. For health, we feel what is going on inside our body, and for spiritual growth we feel what is going on with our energy and spirit. As a martial art, Tai-Chi relies on sense of touch, not sight and distance. That is why the close distance of pushing-hands training is so important.

To learn from a teacher is to get corrections and tune-ups on lessons learned. Insights into learning styles, personalities, and breakthroughs only happen face to face. A screen can't stop you and give correction or guidance. Even live-time on-line classes lack the feeling of people in proximity, with their sense open to learning and sharing.

Instead of changing the age old, time tested, proven way to teach and learn, I'm going to sit, and wait, and watch. I am doing a Zoom class and meeting soon, and filming some forms and practices for the interim, but these are temporary, not final. I am not in any hurry to change what I know to be effective until I have more information.

Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi told me a phrase in Chinese, Hao Chun Sam Sao, meaning "passed from my mouth into your heart." He explained it as the method of transmission that happens between master and student. The Yang's Family called it the "Oral Transmission," or the "Wu-Dang Transmission." This has been the way for hundreds of years. I'm not going to drastically change that a few weeks into a pandemic. Don't get me wrong, I'm washing my hands, physically distancing, etc, but that is for now.

This is one reason why I emphasize that you are able to warm up, meditate,. do your qi-gong, practices forms, etc. at home, on your own. One time I asked Master Liang what can I practice for pushing-hands when I don't have a partner. He showed me three practices, which I will film and share. He showed me where the rises and sinks are in the solo form to practice long power , fa-ching, and short power, da-ching. He taught me how to strike a post, and he taught me solo techniques for the long spear.
Master Choi taught me many methods with a ball on a table for sensitivity. Master Gin Foon Mark told me a partner is the highest level of training, and all the various equipment, dummies, and bags are for when you don't have a partner.

So, I'm not against change, I do embrace uncertainty, but I also know that we are in flux and change and we can't accurately make adjustments without full knowledge. In my prosperity training I learned, "Don't make decisions when emotional." I'm not going to. And I am emotional, along with the whole world. So be patient with all this, me included. We will get through this and we will experience the wonderful arts together again. I leave you with a quote from Siddartha by Herman Hesse;

"I can think,
I can wait,
I can fast."

P.S. An addition from my amazing friend, brother, and mentor, Master Paul Gallagher.

"The teaching must be passed from warm hand to warm hand." 
- Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Home Practice Spaces, Part 1

Here are photos of people's home dojos, practices spaces, workout areas, Kwoon/Tang meaning Hall, etc. I am so inspired by these! Send me photos to my e-mail if you want to be in Part 2. Thank you!

                                                                        Marty E.


Paul I