Tuesday, December 28, 2021

MMTCA January Newsletter 2022

3rd Generation Master Yang Cheng-fu,
Turn and Chop with Fist

"Ask yourself in the morning, are you happy, strong, and healthy? Are you going for your dream? Are you learning how to make full usage of your mind so the spirit is able to grow and your soul is able to shine like the sun?"

-Wim Hof

Happy New Year! The above quote is my wish for you and yours for 2022. Health on all levels, strength of body, mind, and spirit, and happiness to balance out the slings and arrows life throws at all of us!

A big thank you to my substitute teachers who covered my classes during my December retreat in Colorado! Fred and Julie are amazing and I bow from the waist to them both!

Saturday, February 5th I plan on holding a Chinese New Year celebration. In-person and zoom demos, a banquet, and a modified altar ceremony will round out our celebration. I'll have final details sent out to you in a few weeks. All depends on a certain virus...

Beginning January 5th, I'll be teaching the 150 Posture Long Form on Zoom. One to three postures per week, with sectional reviews, and applications, will all be available. Simply email me and I'll put you on the invite list.

The schedule will remain the same, but with these additions. Tuesday nights will go from two hours to three hours, 6-9PM. Friday night will go from 90 minutes to two hours, 6-8PM. Any questions about curriculum and locations please message me or Julie.

Master Tian Sou-lin,
 teacher of Chen Yen-ling and Shi Da-miao

To answer some questions about private classes. I am able to do them, I just need two weeks lead to schedule them  and reserve a space. They are 75 dollars for an hour. Email or message me.

Book suggestion= Mating In Captivity by Esther Perel 


Thank you Wanda for guiding me through the world of timer and gong phone apps!

Check out my three main pages, Patreon, YouTube, and my Blog. The muse was with me in Colorado and there are many posts, videos, blogs, and lessons on the way!

Here is a list and contact info for teachers teaching and accepting new students in Minnesota. I endorse them all.

Julie Cisler- juliecisler13@hotmail.com

John Stitely- johnstitely@gmail.com

Wanda Koehler- wandajk51@gmail.com

Martin Ebelhardt- mebelhardt@me.com

Mike and Kim Cain- mike.kim.cain@charter.net

John Feely-jpfeely1@gmail.com

Our own Paul Ittner spent time in Maputo, Mozambique, Africa. Here is the note he sent with accompanying photos, so beautiful! (And nice kick!)

"Hi Sifu. I am enjoying quality family time in Mozambique. Africa is truly getting into my heart. The contrast of the poverty and beauty is stark and I am trying to assimilate it all. Tai chi practice is the wonderful equalizer!!! I will be home on the 30th, hopefully, and look forward to seeing you, and class time. "

"Judge not the day (or year) by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you sow."

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Thank you for an awesome 2021! Pandemic aside, I'm extremely happy with the progress I've seen from so many. I'm looking forward to 2022, and the Tiger year, with hope, gratitude, and awe. Won't you join me?


"Money talks, wealth whispers, and true wealth is silent. It's the same with power."

-Shaman Wendy Mandy

Contact info

my phone- 12183419894


email= skrayhayward@gmail.com


blog= rayhayward.com


website=  mindfulmotiontaichi.com


facebook= Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy


                Ray Hayward Enterprises


Youtube= Ray Hayward, the Inspired Teacher


                 Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy


my books at Lulu= lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward


my books on Amazon= amazon.com/author/rayhayward


my Patreon page= patreon.com/rayhayward


Instagram= Ray Hayward, or, ataoistsufitemplardruidviking


Business address,

P. O. Box 28295

Oakdale, MN 55128

And my residence,

1076 Mary St N

Maplewood, MN 55119

Friday, December 17, 2021

Tai-Chi practice and music


Studying with Master T.T. Liang, we did the 150 Posture Long Form to music. Actually trying to stay on the beat. We also practiced with a metronome, which is excellent for beginners who are trying to coordinate their whole body as one unit. 

One time my classmate Bob Klanderud, took an extra cassette player to Master Liang's house in St. Cloud, and asked him to count along with the music as Bob did the form. The rest is history! (Ask me for a copy and I'll email it you!)

When I practice now, I play background music to block outside, and inside, noises. I am working on updating the music for my Long Form, but that is the subject of another blog. For now, here are three links to music I listen to, enjoy!




Many Sundays I stayed at Wu Ming Valley House, and Deer Mountain Taoist Academy, learning and practicing with Master Paul Gallagher. We practiced Tai-Chi, pushing-hands, san-shou, weapons, Pa-Kua and many kinds of qi-gong and meditation. When we ended our practice, Paul would put on classical music, either a record, or the radio, and make breakfast. More like brunch!

My Sunday routine is to listen to classical music during warm-ups, standing, qi-gong, and single postures. I then do "one round to the music." I've been doing this for years, if not decades, to honor my teachers. Here is one soundtrack I listen too regularly, and watch the movie yearly. If you haven't seen Immortal Beloved, you are in for a treat!


Friday, November 26, 2021

MMTCA December Newsletter 2021


“For me personally, practicing the Taoist life-arts, especially Taiji, has been an endless source of delight and inspiration, and a most practical way to learn Taoist philosophy.”

-Master Paul B. Gallagher


As December rolls in I wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season! The longest nights and shortest days are here, but that all begins to change with the Winter Solstice. Hang on!

Our schedule to finish out the year is as follows:

All Tuesday night classes are being held through December, no closures for holidays

Saturday classes will be held on the 4th, 11th, and the 18th. No classes on the 25th and Jan 1st.

Friday night classes will be held on the 3rd, 10th, and the 17th. No classes on the 24th and the 31st.

I’m planning on continuing the Wednesday Night Zoom classes throughout the month. I’m also going to expand the schedule in the new year.

I am still figuring out how to add private class times and will have more ideas for you in January. Thank you for your patience.


Book suggestion = The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton



I initiated the final group of three disciples on November 14th. Congratulations to the newest 7th Generation Lineage Holders:

Matthew Barrett

Paul Dahlberg

Paul Ittner

Margo and Mark hosted the ceremony at their house. A banquet afterwards at Little Szechuan made it a truly enjoyable and unique experience for all.

I’ll be in Colorado for the majority of December. Classes will continue as usual, and I’ll zoom classes from the Rockies. Any questions, concerns, or emergencies you can call or text me 218-341-9894, Julie 612-876-7915, Fred 651-210-5401, or Margo 651-338-1702

A Chinese New Year Demo and Celebration is in the works! The actual date is February 1st, 2022, and I’m looking to have a celebration on the 5th or 6th. I’ll give you more information in the January newsletter.

Thank you for all your support, interest, appreciation, and patience in another year under the shadow of CoViD19. May the upcoming 2022 be a year full of health, hope, laughter, joy, and relaxation for you and yours.

A bow from the waist,


“I strongly believe in cause and effect. While we are living, we must live virtuously, try to enjoy our life, appreciate nature, and finally wait for our allotment so that we have not spent the best of our days vainly.”

-Master T.T. Liang


The year in review from Sifu Ray.

2021 was certainly a challenging year for Tai-Chi classes! And yet it seems to have been a pretty regular year when I look back and see all that was accomplished.

Throughout the year I blogged and filmed lessons, worked on my book, and was able to keep in contact with many of you.

February, we had a modified Chinese New Year demo on zoom. I did MC duty from Duluth, and many people joined in to watch and to demonstrate. We even had people from Delaware join us!

In May we began meeting for outdoor classes at both the East River Flats Park and Lauderdale Park. We were able to continue right up to October, when we went inside for classes held at two locations. We now have St Sahag in St Paul and Christ Lutheran in MPLS for our indoor classes.

It was a year of initiation and ceremony to bring in 7th Generation Disciples and Lineage-holders. I had the honor and pleasure of initiating the following in three full traditional rituals:


Rondi Atkin

Stephen Peterson

Robert Wozniak


Michelle Ashmun

Jennifer Graves

David Kielkof


Mathew Barrett

Paul Dahlberg

Paul Ittner

I also renewed the discipleship of James Postiglione and Bryan Davis with the full ceremony.

I witnessed Diane Cannon initiate two disciples into the 8th generation, Christopher Venaccio, and Will Allen VI. At the time of this writing there is another 8th generation disciple in the wings!

I corresponded with Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi and had weekly phone calls with Master Paul Gallagher. And I reconnected with two of my original karate training partners, Paul Annese and Paul Barrett. I continued my training in Modern Tactical Martial Arts with Master Rob Jones twice this year in Colorado.

My Patreon and YouTube pages are doing well and I’m able to connect in a much bigger circle of students and friends. I’ve posted many videos, both historical and educational, and am in the beginning of cataloging the Pushing-Hands curriculum to coincide with my upcoming book.

I spent the month of October in Delaware, teaching classes, seminars, private classes, and visiting with friends and family. I taught at Twin Willows Tai-Chi Studio and Ming Tao Tai-Chi Studio, and even got to spend time with my son Alex!

No matter the restrictions and difficulties, I feel very good about 2021 and all we’ve accomplished. I’m proud of your relaxed warrior spirits and all the roadblocks and obstacles you’ve overcome to continue your Tai-Chi Journey. I’m thankful for all your support and dedication during this past year. I look forward to more training, more lessons, more conversations, and more ways to share this art with you.

Thank you all for a great year. I mean that sincerely. No matter what life throws at us, Tai-Chi has a way of smoothing things out, giving energy to deal, and calm to recharge. I feel so lucky and blessed to have this art!


-Sifu Ray


Contact info

my phone- 12183419894


email= skrayhayward@gmail.com


blog= rayhayward.com


website=  mindfulmotiontaichi.com


facebook= Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy


                Ray Hayward Enterprises


Youtube= Ray Hayward, the Inspired Teacher


                 Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy


my books at Lulu= lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward


my books on Amazon= amazon.com/author/rayhayward


my Patreon page= patreon.com/rayhayward


Instagram= Ray Hayward, or, ataoistsufitemplardruidviking


Business address,

P. O. Box 28295

Oakdale, MN 55128

And my residence,

1076 Mary St N

Maplewood, MN 55119

Sunday, November 7, 2021

MMTCA November Newsletter 2021


“I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting for you to make it art.”

-Toni Morrison

November is here and we are fully indoors with our classes and practices. I don’t know what will happen with the next season of CoViD19, but if it doesn’t get bad again, I’m going to continue in-person classes.

Speaking of classes, my schedule for the foreseeable future is the following:

Tuesday 6-8Pm at St Sahag   http://saintsahag.org/

Wednesday 630-715PM on Zoom (email for an invite if you haven’t been attending regular class or outside practices)

Friday 6-730PM at Christ Church   http://www.christchurchluth.org/

Saturday 9-10AM at St Sahag

I am also posting lessons on my Patreon and YouTube pages.

No Classes Friday Nov 26th, but there will be class Saturday Nov 27th.

If you find yourself locked out call either me 218-341-9894, Fred 651-210-5401, or Julie 612-876-7915 and we’ll let you in.


My trip to Delaware for the month of October was full of Tai-Chi, friends, hospitality, and some serious classes and events. Not to mention some great food! I taught at both Bryan Davis’ Twin Willows Tai-Chi Studio and Diane Cannon’s Ming Tao Tai-Chi Studio, both in Newark. In addition to seminars, classes, and private classes, I witnessed two disciple ceremonies conducted by Diane, and renewed Bryan’s discipleship in the full traditional ceremony. I also filmed more for my Patreon and YouTube pages and got to visit with my oldest son, Alex.

It was my honor and privilege to stand as witness for the initiation of the first disciples into the 8th generation of our lineage. Simu Diane Cannon, 7th generation disciple and lineage holder, initiated Christopher Venaccio and Will Allen in separate ceremonies. In addition to the kow-tows, incense, and witness, the initiates also performed a traditional tea ceremony marking the entrance into our Tai-Chi family. I was asked to give an introductory talk about the history and tradition of the ceremony, and we enjoyed feasts and fellowship after both ceremonies. I was deeply moved and could see the sincerity and appreciation of all who attended.

I also renewed Bryan Davis’ discipleship with the traditional ceremony. Bryan was one the earliest “bestowed” disciples and he asked for the traditional initiation. I performed the ceremony and his daughter Rose stood in as the witness.

There will be one more disciple ceremony this year during this month. I will give you a full report in the December newsletter. Congratulations all disciples new and veterans!

Book suggestion= 7 Star Praying Mantis Kung-fu by Leung Ting


Thank you to Fred, Karen, and Dan who hosted pushing-hands practices at their homes during October. I bow to the ground to you three.

Thank you again for all your patience, support, and appreciation. I have more plans for 2022 and hope we can get back to more regular training and practicing. I am already working on a Chinese New Year Demo and Banquet and will give you more details after New Year.

A bow from the waist,


A message from Simu Diane Cannon-

Reflections on Discipleship Ceremonies October 16-17, 2021

On October 16 & 17, 2021, I had the honor to welcome into our Yang Family Lineage two very dedicated T’ai Chi students, Christopher Venaccio and William Allen VI! It was a very exciting and emotional day, as the realization of the magnitude of commitment I was making to these fine men became very real. The decision to bring them into my family, for life…..it is truly a promise and a bond that exceeds any bloodlines or contracts I have made in the past. I felt very honored and humbled to realize that they too were all in - ready to make that commitment to me and my family and this profound Art and Lineage we all share.

I began the ceremony with a brief welcome and explanation of the day, then introduced Sifu who we were so blessed to have with us! Sifu gave a wonderful talk on the history of discipleship, I shared some thoughts and feelings as to what was about to take place and then we began the Kow Tows, followed by a beautifully executed traditional tea ceremony, offering of incense to the altar, signing of the discipleship certificate, exchange of gifts, congratulations and thank yous! It was truly a special moment in time….you could feel the presence of the Masters before us, the sincerity in the room, the level of trust we share, and the seriousness of what just took place! Families United! The 8th Generation of Lineage Holders has now begun - what an historic event!

The love and excitement in the room was tremendous! We were all ready to celebrate the day, the new life we are embarking on with one another, the idea that now the best is yet to come! We shared fantastic meals and drinks with celebratory smiles, laughter, and joy! I am beyond grateful to have these two men in my life, my family, and the lineage. It is a day that will resonate with me forever, inspire me to become a better teacher, student, and friend.


Black clouds,

Fallen blossom and pale moon,

The hurried flight of birds,

The arrival of lonely autumn,

The time for us to part.

Much has been said, yet

We have not come to the end of our feeling.

I leave you this poem

Read it where the silence of the world possesses you,

Or when you’re fretted with disquiet,

Long must be this parting, and.


That all my thoughts have always been of you.”

-Translated by Bruce Lee


Monday, September 27, 2021

MMTCA October Newsletter 2021


“Just like a single cell, the character of our lives is determined not by our genes but by our responses to the environmental signals that propel life.”

-Bruce Lipton


Fall is upon us, and outdoor practices and classes are coming to an end. Beginning October 12th, my Tuesday night classes will be inside at St Sahag church in St Paul. http://saintsahag.org/

My Friday night classes will be inside at Christ Church Lutheran starting the 15th. http://www.christchurchluth.org/

I’m solidifying the Men’s and Women’s Saturday Pushing-Hands practices. Julie will send that out to you when I have dates and locations.

For now:

Tuesdays 6-8Pm at St Sahag’s, 203 Howel St, St Paul 55104

Fridays 6-730PM at Christ Church, 3244 34th Ave S, Minneapolis 55406

Saturdays at various people’s home dojos, more info to come.


I’ll be in Delaware the month of October teaching seminars and classes. If you have any questions about classes or locations while I’m gone, Julie is your contact person. If you need to contact me, text and email will be the best.

Julie Cisler phone 612-876-7915 and email, juliecisler13@hotmail.com


I will be here the whole Winter, January through April or May, depending on classes, and will have more classes and locations for our curriculum. I’m also beginning to look for a more permanent home.


I’m excited to announce that I began posting the 10 Basic Pushing-Hands Drills on Patreon! I am coordinating these drills with excerpts from my upcoming Pushing-Hands book. You will also find these on my YouTube page.




Book Suggestion=Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements



On September 26th I had the honor and pleasure of initiation three senior students, and one renewal, into the 7th Generations Yang Style Lineage. Having requested discipleship, been tested and found ready and worthy, and passed through a formal ceremony, I recognize:


Michelle Ashmun

Jennifer Graves

David Kielkopf

James Postiglione 


As my personal disciples and inner-door students. Congratulations!

I have two new addresses for you. Here is my business,

P. O. Box 28295

Oakdale, MN 55128

And my residence,

1076 Mary St N

Maplewood, MN 55119


I’m still giving Covid the caution and prevention it deserves. I am slowly going back to in-person teaching and as soon as we get some kind of “all clear” I’ll add more classes and two-person practices.

Thank you,


“Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.”

-Esther Perel


Julie’s Message

Hello! Thanks to all of you who have attended my classes during this strange and challenging time. You are the best!


New students are now welcome to join my classes anytime. Until October 15, I will continue to hold classes in my backyard, and on Zoom. For the colder months, I have two excellent spaces, and I am negotiating other possible locations. Please note: Some class times will change slightly.


Here’s the new schedule so far, starting October 16:


Tuesdays 6:30-8:00pm at the Black Forest Inn Banquet building. Parking is available on the street and in the restaurant’s parking lot, which is just south of the restaurant on Nicollet Ave. http://www.blackforestinnmpls.com/pgs/info.php


Saturdays 12:00-1:30pm at Christ Church Lutheran, 3244 34th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406



These Indoor locations ask us to follow CDC guidelines. Please wear a mask in these indoor spaces when you attend class in person.


Stay tuned for more In-person classes! If I can’t secure an indoor space, I’ll continue to teach the following classes on Zoom:

Mondays 11:30am-12:30pm

Wednesdays 11:30am-12:30pm

Fridays 3:30-4:30pm


If you really prefer to attend classes on Zoom, I will continue to allow students to attend even my in-person classes online. Still, I hope to see all of you and safely practice in-person with you soon!




Friday, September 3, 2021

MMTCA September Newsletter 2021


The late Grandmaster, Gin Foon Mark, my Southern Praying Mantis teacher, Como Park, 2011.

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”

-Maya Angelou

The weather has been perfect for outside practice these last few weeks. I hope to keep classes outside into October. The year I moved here, 1984, we had class outside into November! I have a few options for indoor classes, and will keep you posted. Covid19 is still a factor and I do want to provide safe and healthy environments while training. Patience is still key!

A hearty THANK YOU to my subs and guest instructors! I am able to travel and teach outside of Minnesota with your help.

My Northern 7-Star Praying Mantis teacher, the late Sifu Lo Man-biu, second row, far right.

Speaking of travel, I’m going to Delaware for the month of October. I’ll be working with Sifu Bryan Davis and Twin Willows Tai-Chi the first half of the month, and Sifu Diane Cannon and Ming Tao Tai-Chi the second half. My classes in Minnesota will continue as before.

Book suggestion=Secrets of the Karambit by David Seiwart



While I was in Colorado, I got to meet up with my long time student Mike Sauter, and his son Kai. Mike is one of the few to earn a teaching certificate from me in Northern Praying Mantis and Shao-lin. Mike is a full-contact fighting champion, as well as forms and weapons. We worked on a few ideas and concepts, then I tested Kai’s stance work, which was excellent. As always happens when martial artists get together to train, the time flew by!

As of September 1st, I’m no longer teaching beginner classes. I have five students who are more than qualified to bring people on to the Tai-Chi path. Call or text any of the following for new classes and start times:

Julie Cisler, Minneapolis, 612-876-7915  https://mindfulmotiontaichi.com/

John Stitely, St Paul, 651-328-7777

John Feely, Stillwater, 651-323-8714 https://www.rivervalleytaichi.com/

Mike Cain, Rochester, https://mctaichi.org/

Wanda Koehler, Northfield, 612-209-5752


September 9th marks my one year anniversary on Patreon! My page has been such a great addition to my teaching, and helped me navigate the pandemic. I’ve been able to reach people beyond Minnesota, reconnect with old friends, and share many forms, practices, and lessons. As I learn even more about the page and the various services, I plan to expand my teachings. I have a few forms to finish posting, then I’ll start posting pushing-hands drills, methods, etudes, and applications. If you haven’t joined my page please do! If you’ve been my patron for this past year, I am truly grateful.




While you’re online, also check out my YouTube page, Ray Hayward the Inspired Teacher. You’ll find many historical and instructional videos there.



Questions, comments, ideas, feel free to text me at 218-341-9894

My teacher, Dr Leung Kay-chi turns 83 on Sept 4th, Happy Birthday!


Wishing you a happy and gorgeous Autumnal Season!

With a bow,


“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

-Sydney J. Harris


Here is a message from Julie Cisler

It’s been great to work with many of you in the park again. But shorter days and cooler temps are coming. Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy needs a new home!  


Our old space in the Ivy Arts building was spacious, but too large for our current needs. We’re looking to re-open in a slightly smaller space.  


I am currently looking for a new home for Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy. We haven’t found a permanent space yet, but I’m excited to be able to find a new home for our school.  


Thanks to several helpful tips from classmates and teaching contacts, I’ve found a few good sublet options, with wood floors, plenty of space, and ample parking. We plan to have indoor classes available by October 1. 


Our new schedule will include beginner-level classes taught by me, and classes for Sifu Ray’s students. I will also continue to offer classes for my long-term students. Expect email updates with our new schedule, COVID guidelines, and location(s) in about 2 weeks. 


I look forward to seeing you again!







Sunday, July 25, 2021

MMTCA August Newsletter 2021


John F practicing Tai-Chi in the Black Hills. Nice kick!

"I am not my thoughts. I am what I do."

-Gary John Bishop

I am writing this somewhere in the Pike National Forest...  Wow August is upon us! I hope you are enjoying your Summer so far. State Fair, Irish, Fair, Renaissance Festival, all the Summer in Minnesota good times are coming up.

Thank you to the guest teachers who are covering my classes! I'll be back mid August and we'll change up the curriculum a little bit.

A great deal of work, research, and generosity has been done for us nonspeaking Chinese martial arts practioners. Many of the classical works, including books by some of Master Liang and Master Choi's teachers, have been translated into English by the scholar Paul Brennan. Check out his site and support him if you can.


Book suggestion=Wu Style Taijiquan by Wang Pei-sheng. Lots of excellent training ideas and history for all styles, with many applications.


I will not be accepting new students, and my classes and practice times will be closed September 1st. I am taking time to focus on the current, active students and supervising their training and progress. I have been getting many inquiries now that the pandemic is slowing and I have excellent disciples and students who are now offering beginning classes for new Tai-Chi students. If you have referrals, you can have them contact me and I will put them in contact with someone near them.

Thank you for all your support and appreciation. I am filming in the mountains and will be posting new information and lessons on my YouTube channel and my Patreon page. Please consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel, and if your are not on Patreon, supporting me on my page. Both are titled "Ray Hayward, The Inspired Teacher." I AM inspired to share these wonderful arts and sciences with you.

I'll see you soon! Keep cool, keep calm, and keep practicing,


"Let go of certainty. The opposite isn't necessarily uncertainty. It's openness, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather then choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow."

-Tony Schwartz

contact info:

my phone (new)- 12183419894

address= 1721 Jefferson St, Duluth, MN 55812

email= skrayhayward@gmail.com

blog= rayhayward.com

website=  mindfulmotiontaichi.com

facebook= Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

                Ray Hayward Enterprises

Youtube= Ray Hayward, the Inspired Teacher

                 Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy

my books at Lulu= lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward

my books on Amazon= amazon.com/author/rayhayward

my Patreon page= patreon.com/rayhayward

Instagram= Ray Hayward, or, ataoistsufitemplardruidviking

Master Chen Wei-ming, 4th generation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My answer to the Long Meditation question

Yang Ch'eng-fu

Thank you all who sent their ideas, musings, and comments. You will see we tracked on many items! Here is my rather long answer from my meditations and ponderings, and thoughts on training techniques for practical use. 

During a thirty-minute round of Tai-Chi, I am working on my alignment with gravity, and the careful transfer of weight from foot to foot and leg to leg. Paying attention to where and how my center of gravity moves. This culminates in training my balance. 

From the beginning to the end of my round, I am constantly checking my relaxation and seeing if tension shows up in jerks, inconsistencies, shallow breath, forgetting the sequence, and losing balance. Relaxation is the key to speed in martial arts, sports, music, etc. 

 Breathing with my nose and not my mouth and starting and ending each breath with my lower abdomen, helps with proper oxygen levels. I want to neither over breath nor under breath. Breath keeps me calm, maintains my energy levels, and helps with endurance at my age. 

For thirty minutes I work on coordinating the upper and lower parts of my body. Using the principles of start together/stop together, and having my whole body as one unit, I work on my whole-body power. Power in Tai-Chi comes from the harmony of the 9 Joints and the whole body unified in any action.

 Using my mind to direct my body, practicing meditation in motion, I work on my intuition, instinct, and will-power. 

There are so many turns, shifts, bends, circles, and sinking in thirty minutes of solo form practice. These are the foundation of the Willow exercise and the defense in pushing-hands. 

So what am I working on and perfecting for a thirty minute round? I am working the whole time on Balance, Speed, Power, Endurance, Defense, and Will-power! That is my answer. 

As for techniques for mastering for sparring and self-defense, although there are some great techniques in the solo form, most are for a very narrow set of circumstances. If you think you are going to use Single Whip while sparring or fighting, you will probably end up like the modern Tai-Chi masters who are getting beaten up. 

I suggest four techniques to master for sparring, Fair Lady, Parry and Punch, Brush Knee, and any of the front kicks. Remember big moves in training become small moves in fighting. Do these four at least a thousand times in the air, then another thousand against a bag. 

Then, practice defending against single punches and kicks. Then practice kicking and punching at a moving, non-compliant opponent. Then try offense and defense together. This is how you learn how to fight. 

Just doing solo form, or pushing-hands with a willing partner, is not enough training. Just my experience and opinion. Namaste!