Is Tai Chi a Healing Art? Interview with Author of Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi - Peter Wayne

HarvardTai Chi is a martial art. Every movement is a powerful fighting application for self-defense.

But is it also a healing art? Does it have benefits that are more powerful than normal exercise, and if it does, do those benefits come from the slow, controlled nature of Tai Chi and the mindful, meditative components and from the flow of chi?

I would guess that more people consider it to be a healing art than a martial art. But is it really? Or when it is done in slow motion, is it one of the most low-impact exercises that elderly people can do to get them moving and to get their minds off their problems?

Do we think of it as a healing art based on outdated stories and science that doesn't hold up?

And do clinical trials show benefits that can be attributed simply to exercise and calming meditation, or is it something more? Are the health benefits of Tai Chi anything special?

Almost a year ago, I bought the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter Wayne, Ph.D. I began asking Peter to appear on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast last August. After the podcast last month with Dr. Harriet Hall, the "SkepDoc," and the heat I encountered from some in the Tai Chi community following that interview, I thought it was time to balance the scales and talk to someone who is obviously more inclined toward the "traditional" view of the art.

Last week, I was finally able to talk with Dr. Wayne for an hour. The result is this podcast, the 24th in the series.

Don't miss the final five minutes, as I clarify part of the interview and have some final thoughts that wrap up some of the issues raised in the past two podcasts.

Follow this link to listen online or download the mp3 file to your computer -- the Internal Fighting Arts podcast 24 - Peter Wayne.

 

 


Disciple of Chen Bing -- the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Bosco Baek

Podcast LogoBosco Baek is the first senior disciple of Chen Bing who was given permission to have his own disciples. Bosco is the chief instructor at the Chen Bing Taiji Academy USA in Los Angeles.

I first met Bosco when he lived in Chicago, and since I have wanted to have a podcast guest with ties to Chen Bing, I asked Bosco to do an interview.

In the podcast, he talks about growing up in South Korea, how he met Chen Bing, and his thoughts on discipleship and whether it is a "master/slave" relationship or if it is something more positive.

Here is the link to the podcast on Audello. You can listen online or download the file.

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-22-bosco-baek/

 


173 Board Breaks in the Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu Form

Tai Chi (Taiji) is performed slowly so students can learn the internal body mechanics that make it a powerful fighting art.

Every movement in Taiji has several self-defense applications. In my DVDs on fighting applications, I show more than 400 strikes, kicks, joint locks, sweeps, and takedowns in the Laojia Yilu form.

Recently, I decided to go through the 75 movements of Laojia Yilu -- also known as "Old Frame First Form" -- and do as many board breaks as I could find, without repeating any of the movements (several movements are repeated in the form). This video focuses only on striking possibilities in the form -- not chin-na or sweeps or throws. Just strikes and some kicks.

I came up with 144 board breaks in a little over two hours, then, after first posting the video a week ago, I saw 29 breaks that I wanted to add, so we shot those yesterday. My thanks to Colin Frye for holding the boards and my wife, Nancy, for being the ace videographer.

Now for some Breaking News -- 173 board breaks in one Taiji form. If you want to learn the body mechanics behind the movements, join my website at www.internalfightingarts.com, or check out my DVDs on this blog.

Chen Xiaowang says fajin ("issuing power") is the same as the slow movements of Tai Chi. The only difference is when you want to do fajin, you "step on the gas." In this video, I step on the gas.

One more thing about board-breaking. Bruce Lee said "boards don't hit back." Well, neither do heavybags, speedbags, or makiwara boards. These are all tools to develop power, technique, and to get a little instant feedback. Anyone who dismisses board-breaking because of something Bruce Lee said in a movie needs to think a little deeper.

 

 


Internal Fighting Arts Podcast 21 -- Interview with Chen Taijiquan Instructor Jan Silberstorff

Jan Silberstorff
Jan Silberstorff is interviewed in the 21st edition of the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast.

Jan Silberstorff is one of the martial artists who was at the top of my mind when I launched the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast more than a year ago. I have heard such great things about him from other Chen Taiji folks that he was on my wish list of interviews.

Luckily, he was in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, doing workshops at Bill and Allison Helm's Taoist Sanctuary, and Bill helped arrange for me to talk with Jan. By the way, Jan Silberstorff is pronounced "Yahn Zeelberstorff." 

Jan was the first Western indoor disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, and he is the co-founder of the Chen Xiaowang World Taijiquan Association. He is based in Germany, but Jan travels the world teaching Chen Taiji.

Our conversation started with his beginning as a street punk in Germany, and his evolution in the martial arts and Taijiquan. His story is that of a determined, dedicated martial artist. Among other things, Jan tells us Chen Xiaowang's surprising reaction the first time he saw Jan perform Taiji, and he talks about how his practice has evolved, and what he is working on now when he practices.

Jan does not have an English website, but you can reach him through this site for the Chen Xiaowang World Taijiquan Association - Germany. 

He has two charity websites, which provide housing for street children in Brazil and Sri Lanka:

http://www.wctag-hilft.de/

http://www.island-of-the-children.org/en

He also has a website through the Center for Daodejing Studies:

http://iods.eu/wp/

Here is a link to the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast via Audello. You can listen online or download the file here: 

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-21-jan-silberstorff/


The Eye of the Tiger and the Three Internal Harmonies -- Spirit is the Beginning of It All

Ken-Spars-1983-EyeofTigerDid you ever find yourself in a situation where a bigger bully attacked you and it was clear that you didn't have a chance? Have you ever been frightened and covered up to protect yourself?

Here is another question. Have you ever found yourself in a position when you had to defend yourself and you were determined to win?

There is a big difference between those two situations, and the difference is Spirit.

In the internal arts, Spirit is called "Shen." It is the "emotional mind."

The Three Internal Harmonies begin with Spirit. The state of your emotional mind combines with your Mind/Intent ("Yi" -- pronounced Yee). Shen is often called the "emotional mind" while Yi is sometimes called the "wisdom mind."

Think of one of the greatest fighters in history -- Muhammad Ali. Think of his attitude when he entered a fight. Confident, bold, smart, ready and willing to rumble.

Then think of a time when you were sparring -- or perhaps in a fight in school or on the street -- and you were not confident, not sure of your toughness, and afraid you were going to be defeated.

This is the difference between strong and weak Spirit.

You can train spirit when you are practicing. If you practice weak technique and fail to push yourself toward excellence and precision, you have weak Spirit. But if you push yourself to be stronger, faster, and precise and powerful with your mechanics and techniques, even when you are just practicing, you train your Spirit to be strong.

Sometimes, I get on students for having weak Spirit. They just sleep-walk through their techniques in a sloppy way. Sometimes, I can tell a student's spirit is weak when he expresses doubt in his ability to defend himself.

TourneyOne student spent years training, but he was unable to solve his own poor self-esteem. He constantly put himself down and said he would be unable to defend himself in a real fight. Early on, he competed in tournaments, but he was defeated time after time, and it became a vicious cycle -- he did not have the Spirit to win and he did not win. He gave up and stopped competing.

"I can point the way," I told him many times, "but I can't take you there. You have to understand and believe that you can do this."

When I find myself in a situation that could potentially require self-defense skills, I instantly adopt the Eye of the Tiger. I am calm but ready, and I will not be defeated. It is this Spirit that helped me win fights when I was younger and tournaments when I was older. 

When rapists are targeting victims, they look for women who appear to have weak Spirit. Women who are confident and appear strong are passed by in favor of victims who look like they will not fight back.

In Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Bagua, your Spirit and Intent combine, then your body mechanics, body structure and technique are directed to achieve the Intent. If your mechanics and technique are right, your Chi is flowing. In this way, the Yi leads the Chi. Your mind's intent leads the body mechanics and technique. 

When you are determined, and have good technique, your Strength (Li) happens naturally. Strong Shen and Yi and good Chi cannot help but generate strong Li.

This is the meaning of the Three Internal Harmonies. It is not mystical. Chi does not mean a mystical invisible energy flowing through meridians in your body. It means proper structure, mechanics, and technique. Strength is the result of a strong mind and a precise body.

By training seriously, pushing yourself toward precision, power, and good conditioning, and sparring with a variety of partners to develop your self-defense skills, proper Spirit should come naturally.

But I can't take you there. I can only point the way. Your Spirit is unique and lives within you.

Finally, do you want to see a great example of Spirit? It is embodied in a small French bulldog who could have been eaten by two big bears that invaded his yard. But his Spirit and his Intent produced some powerful Chi. It is a funny video, but it truly drives home the point. Do you have the Spirit of this bulldog?  


The Tao of Tai Chi -- Part 2 of the Internal Fighting Arts Interview with Taoist Monk Yunrou

Yunrou Guan Dao
Chen Tai Chi instructor and Taoist Monk Yunrou.

The 19th edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast features the second part of a two-part interview with Chen Tai Chi instructor and Taoist Monk Yunrou. He became known as Arthur Rosenfeld, as a martial artist and author, but has taken on the name he was ordained with as a Taoist monk -- Yunrou.

This interview covers some interesting topics:

** The need to boost the self-defense aspects of Tai Chi.

** The problem of "having a plan" in fighting.

** The Guan Do and its relationship to Tai Chi Chuan.

** Becoming ordained as a Taoist monk.

Yunrou lives and teaches in the Pompano Beach/Boca Raton area of Florida. His website is www.monkyunrou.com. 

Here is the link to listen online or download the podcast on Audello. 

Internal Fighting Arts 19 - Taoist Monk Yunrou Part 2

 

 


Chen Xiaoxing Gives Private Push Hands Lesson in Chen Village

This video shows Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing giving a private push hands lesson to my former teacher, the late Mark Wasson, in the early 2000s. 

Mark was on one of his many visits to train with the Chen family in Chenjiagou, but it was a cold winter day and in those days, the village was still without heat in most of its buildings. So Chen Xiaoxing graciously came to Mark's hotel room to train him.

Mark died in 2013 after a long battle with Crohn's Disease. He helped to popularize Chen Taiji in the United States, sponsoring or arranging sponsors for Chen Xiaoxing and others to visit the U.S. for workshops, and Mark also took several Americans to Chen Village to train.

When I studied with Mark, I sponsored Chen Xiaoxing's visa for his 2006 visit to the United States. In return, Chen Xiaoxing stayed in my home for a week and we practiced like this every day. I learned a lot and, after being thrown to the ground so many times, got a brand new perspective of my basement carpet.

This is push hands for self-defense, using the movements and energies of the form to unbalance and counter against your opponent.

 

 


New Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu Instruction on DVD -- 5 Hours of Detailed Instruction on 2 DVDs

Laojia Yilu Cover Front 250I have been working for more than a year on my newest DVD on the Chen Tai Chi Laojia Yilu form. Now, it is finally done! Five hours of detailed, step-by-step instruction is now available in a 2-disc set.

For years, members of my website and customers of my Chen 19 DVD and Chen 38 DVD have asked for a DVD version of Laojia Yilu instruction. I did video lessons for the website in 2009 and 2010, but wanted to reshoot it in widescreen format for the DVD (technology has changed a little).

Laojia Yilu is considered the "essence" of Chen family Taijiquan. It means "Old Frame First Form." I began studying the form around 2000, and along the way I have had coaching from Chen Xiaowang, Chen Xiaoxing, and my instructors, who were students and disciples of the Chen family. 

I have been teaching the form for more than a decade, but due to health setbacks along the way, it has taken me a while to decide I was ready to put it on DVD.

I had great instruction and I took a lot of notes. I hold nothing back. The instruction on these DVDs is my effort to pass it on after years of hard work. If you are a disciple of one of the Chen masters, this DVD is not intended for you. For most students of the art, I believe they will find nuggets on these DVDs that would take years to get from some instructors, if you got them at all. For only $24.99, I don't think you will find a better investment, even if it takes you just one or two baby steps forward. 

Ken-Gullette-Chen-Xiaoxing
Getting Laojia Yilu instruction from Chen Xiaoxing in 2005.

As usual, I put a lot of emphasis on internal body mechanics, infusing each of the movements with the ground path and peng jin, whole-body movement, silk-reeling, Dan T'ien rotation and opening/closing of the kua. I try to drive home the body mechanics with each movement. This is NOT just a DVD where the instructor shows a movement at different angles and then doesn't explain the movement in-depth.

When you look at Chen masters, each one performs a little differently than the next. Their stylistic differences make some movements appear quite different. Some are more conservative and others include more stylistic flourishes.

Regardless of who your teacher is, and how differently their movements appear, the fundamental concepts and body mechanics should be the same. Because of this, you will learn from this DVD set. And if you don't, just send it back for a refund. 

You will see a front and back view of the complete form, then each movement is broken down in detail. You will also learn as I coach a student who has never learned Laojia Yilu, and you will avoid beginner mistakes as you watch me correct him in his movement and structure.

It is like going through an in-depth class with actual instruction that goes beneath the surface of the movement. There are even a few fighting applications (but the applications of Laojia Yilu are already available on my Tai Chi Fighting Applications DVDs).

As I shot and edited these DVDs, I put the videos on my website. One member who has already learned Laojia Yilu called them "a revelation," and another was stunned by the detail. That's the kind of feedback I like.

As usual, shipping is free anywhere in the world and there is an iron clad, no hassle Money Back Guarantee if you are not satisfied for any reason.

Click this button to go to a secure order page, and check out the clip below to sample part of the DVD.

 

 


Interview with Taoist Monk Yunrou -- The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast

YunrouArthur Rosenfeld is an author, ordained Taoist Monk who was ordained with the name Yunrou (pronounced "Yoon-ro"), teacher and a student of Chen Taiji Master Yan Gaofei.

As Arthur Rosenfeld, he is author of more than a dozen books, including "Tai Chi: The Perfect Exercise." He has also written fiction, and his newest book, "Yin," written under the name Yunrou, is described as a "Lao Tzu love story" and will be published November 1, 2015.

This is part one of a two-part interview with Yunrou, in which he talks about the forces in his life that drove him toward the martial arts, Chen Taiji, and the philosophy of Taoism.

You can listen to the podcast online or download the file via this link: http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-18-taoist-monk-yunrou/.

It will also be available on iTunes, where you can become a subscriber. 

By the way, at the end of the podcast, Yunrou tells of an incident he was involved in at Starbucks, resulting in a "random act of consciousness." You can see the story that went viral by clicking this link to the NBC Nightly News report.


History of Tai Chi -- Historic Sites in the Chen Village

This video shows some historic sites in the Chen Village, in Henan Province, China -- the birthplace of Tai Chi Chuan. Among the sites is the wall where Yang Luchan watched the Chen family perform their art. Eventually, he was taught the art and then went to Beijing to create his style of Tai Chi, Yang style.

The video was taken by my former teacher, the late Mark Wasson, who went on many trips to Chenjiagou to train with the Chen family. On this visit, he was accompanied by Bill Helm of the Taoist Sanctuary in San Diego.

Mark was a pioneer, one of the early Americans to visit and train in the Chen Village. He helped bring some of the Chen family to America for the first time, including Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing.

Mark, who died in 2013, narrates this video. Chen Village has changed a bit since this was taken in the early 2000s. The government realized there was money to be made, and facilities have sprung up as tourists began coming from around the world to study the amazing art of Taijiquan.