When the ching shen is raised,
there is no fault of stagnancy and heaviness.
This is called suspending the headtop.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

7 Skills That Form The Foundation Of Internal Power (And How to KNOW You Have Them)
By Sigung Richard Clear (Second Installment)

2) Defeat the Monkey Mind

How much chatter is there inside your head?

You will want to quiet this chatter down when you want it to be quiet.

In Kung Fu we call this chatter Monkey Mind.

Monkey mind defeats many people because it stops them from gaining real clarity.

I find it easier to start by giving it a single task instead of driving yourself nuts trying to be completely quiet-

You can try to pick out all the sounds in the room-

Or all the different noises your air conditioner makes.

But you can’t just let it wander, because if you do-

Your focus will never improve.

3) Relax

When you stand what do you feel?

Are you aware of body tension that you did not realize you had?

Now that you are aware of your body tension are you able to release it, relaxing more and deeper.
– by Sigung Richard Clear (to be continued tomorrow)

S02E06 – How to make progress in your studies in the Internal Arts – Video



Being able to breathe properly leads to agility.
The softest will then become the strongest.

7 Skills That Form The Foundation Of Internal Power (And How to KNOW You Have Them)
By Sigung Richard Clear (First Installment)

There’s an entire world of confusing practices in Tai Chi that you may have found yourself in if you’re looking for Internal Power.
No doubt, if you’ve been at this for long, that you’ve run across your fair share of these.
One of the most common practices is to hold static postures, or “Stationary Qigong.”
And many people are confused about how it’s going to give you health benefits, or Internal Power.
Well, the short answer is-

It won’t.
At least, not if all you want to do is stand there and space out.

If you want to know what you’re really supposed to be doing during these static postures-
Or it didn’t occur to you that you should be doing anything…

Here are the 7 skills that form the FOUNDATION of Tai Chi, and Internal Power.
And if you work all of them- you’re going to see SUBSTANTIAL changes in a very short period of time.

1) Be Here NOW!

This sounds easy at first but most people find it quite difficult to do until they have trained it for awhile.
Set an alarm clock / timer for 5 minutes and simply stand there for 5 minutes.
Maybe you were already doing that.
Now comes the hard part.
Do not think about anything else but standing there for the entire 5 minutes.
You can pay attention to your body both inside and out but you can not let your mind drift or go anywhere else.
Come back to the article after you have given this a try.
Difficult or practically impossible you say?

Try it for 3 minutes.

You may still find that this is difficult but I would not recommend that you start with much less.
You will learn a lot in these 3 minutes and what you learn will be very beneficial for you in both the short and long term.
– by Sigung Richar Clear (to be continued tomorrow)

Tai Chi Stages of Internal Development – Beginner to Advanced



Let the ch’i move as in a pearl with nine passages
without breaks
so that there is no part it cannot reach.


“The Kua Junction and Dantian Centrality” (concluding C.P. Ong, PhD’s series on Neijin)

The training of inner balance involves resolving imbalances at the “hundred joints,” which is formidable enough, but what makes it even more formidable is that resolving the errors at one joint requires recalibration at the other joints because of the tensile integrity of the body frame. We find a practical and elegant solution to this seemingly intractable problem in the soft organic logic of yin and yang and qi.

Guided by the Principle of Three Sections and the Principle of Three Harmonies4, the many joints are subdivided into sections and correspondences of three for the fangsong resolution to work through systematically, and then through the further subdivisions in refinement. But more than a simplification scheme, the principles guide the transmission of motion through the joints and the harmony of the correspondences.

For instance, the fangsong in the correspondence of the shoulder and kua (pelvis) aligns and balances the torso, which unifies its motion and momentum. In the three-section division, the principle prescribes that the hand as extremity leads, which induces the the driving force at the shoulder as root, to transmit the motion through the elbow (as the middle section) smoothly.

In essence, the principles reduce the issues of the complex of “hundred joints” to the kua (pelvic) junction serving as a base of reference in the fangsong resolution. This reinforces the eminent status of the kua junction as the division between the upper and lower body in generating waist-groin power, discussed earlier. In practice, it means that the fangsong resolution becomes a continual play of muscle activations of the pelvic platform and of the SIJ and the hip joints.

Crucially, the constant reference to the kua is nurturing a centrality of motion at the midpoint of the junction, which coincides functionally with the dantian location. And this is at the same level of the SIJ. The centrality of the danitan affirms the SIJ as the hub of the transfer of forces between the three levers, the spine of the upper-body and the legs of the lower body.

In other words, from the perspective of practice, the fangsong resolution is cultivating qi that accentuates the centrality of the dantian—filling up the lower abdomen and concentrating at the dantian, which is called dantian qi. Thus, the practice of fangsong of the myriad joints is reduced to cultivating the fullness of dantian qi to establish the centrality of the dantian. The fullness of dantian qi signifies that the central status of the dantian is formed (yi dantian wei hexin xing cheng 以丹田为核心形成), and represents the mastery of the art. The establishment of dantian centrality bestows inner balance. The guiding qi in the yi-qi-motion paradigm is dantian qi, and the inspired motion is in accord with the Taiji principles. Neijin is born of this motion.


We conclude by summing up. Taijiquan’s methodology of fangsong-relaxation resolves muscle actions that are too excessive (yang) or too lax (yin) towards inner balance, and in the process cultivates qi energy. As qi develops more fully, Taiji relies on qi as a neural feedback to elicit responses that balance and align the underlying muscle actions. This regulates the many different segments of the body to move in unison and harmonizes the body’s internal momentum. Thus the ideal motion of Taijiquan is produced and the force that arises therefrom (by a change in momentum) is consummate—the force of neijin. This is summed up in the equation below, which paraphrases Chen Xiaowang: Neijin = Qi + Muscle actions. – C.P. Ong, PhD

C.P. Ong Taichi Old Frame



“The abdomen relaxes, then the ch’i sinks into the bones.”

“Fangsong and Qi” (continuing. C.P. Ong, PhD’s series on Neijin)

We take Qi (气), the life-force energy, as given in TCM, but we can think of it as a composite of bioenergy, any energy involved in biological processes. The bioenergy becomes of great interest when it is accessible as biomarkers.

The first sensation of qi-energetics most commonly felt is tingling and warmth in the hands, due to increased blood flow or perfusion. However, Taijiquan relies more on changes in the bioenergy associated with the balance and alignment of muscle actions in the cultivation of inner balance. The experience of discomfort of tenseness or unease in a posture gives the initial sense of bioenergy that results from the internal imbalance of muscle actions.

To illustrate internal imbalance at a basic level, extend an arm out and hold it in balance. The arm is in physical balance but the muscle actions supporting it can vary, for instance, when stretched or drooped. Holding the arm up for ten minutes, tenseness and aches in the muscles would set in, which indicates excessiveness in some muscle actions. Upon sensing the discomfort, the body triggers a reflex response of relaxation, which brings some relief.

This response is called fangsong (放松), which is “to relax and let go.” The reflex response is operationally a reset of the muscle actions, which improves the support with less discomfort. This operation represents the rudiments of the tool, also called fangsong that reduces the errors of imbalances. The lessening of the tenseness by fangsong is accompanied by an ease of flow of motion, which sensation is cultivated as a biomarker of qi energy.

Fangsong is a process of practice that works to continually resolve the errors in the balance and alignment between the outer muscles that activate physical motion and the inner muscles that secure and stabilize the joints and structure. Fangsong restrains the outer muscles from dominating and allows the inner muscles to fire more, and thus to align in balance. The increased activation levels of the inner muscles at the hip joints in fangsong are often experienced as a surge of heat as qi.

At the advanced stages of practice, when qi is sufficiently developed, the fangsong tool relies more on qi as a medium to discern and resolve the imbalances. And the fangsong tool sharpens and refines organically to get at the deeper and subtler errors of muscle actions. In this way, the margin of errors tapers in the fangsong resolution, and the path eventually converges to inner balance.

In the meantime the yi-qi-motion paradigm is realized in the maturity of qi development. Following the yi-command, qi drives the motion forging the unity of qi dynamics (internal) and

motion (external)—nei wai jie he 内外结合. Thus, the yi-command at the top of the motor hierarchy transmits via qi to muscle innervation at the bottom in the discipline of Taiji motion…(to be continued tomorrow, “The Kua Junction and Dantian Centrality” by C.P. Ong, PhD)

Selections from Chen Tai Chi Quan – C.P. Ong



It is said “First in the hsin, then in the body.”

Responses of Neurobiology (continuing. C.P. Ong, PhD’s series on Neijin)

The body is stubborn in its neural responses to recruit muscles, out of habits and convenience, which often turn out to be bad strategy or to bring harm to the body. For example in picking up a box, the hands reach out and the body leans forward. The back muscles fire by reflex to keep the body from falling over. In lifting the box, the weight pulls the body further down, requiring more muscle actions to keep balance. As a result, much of the muscle power goes to the reflex response to keep balance, and little to do the task at hand. There is no feedback of the debilitating effects of the muscle actions that cause chronic backaches. One could move closer to the box, bend down to lift the box with better leverage with the aid of the leg muscles in the same task.

Similarly, in throwing a punch, the muscles of the arm and shoulder tend to dominate. This dominance causes the arm to lunge forward ahead of the rest of the body, cutting the muscle power of the rest of the body to the punch. The body can learn to sense and associate the weakness of the punch to the lack of alignment of the muscle actions.

Although we are presumed to have control of the voluntary movements in the somatic nervous system, we have no direct control—we have no communication with the muscles. The control we have is only at the command level, at the top hierarchy of the motor system. This leaves a huge gap of neural activities between the command and the innervation of muscles that produce the motion at the bottom hierarchy. We have no cognition of any feedback in the gap to guide a preferred combination of muscles relative to the action of the command. Training is at the mercy of this gap of neurobiology.3

The responses of neurobiology work very well for bipedal balance and functionality, but not so in summoning the muscles needed to power performance actions in sports. Golfers have the comparable muscle masses to deliver long drives, but train as hard as they do, amateur players seldom can improve their golf swings in significant terms of a hundred yards. We cannot at will elicit neural responses to fire the right combination of muscles and we actually do not know which ones they are.

To overcome this problem, Taijiquan resorts to the yin-yang theory and qi via the yi-qi-motion paradigm:

Yi dao qi dao qi dao shen dong 意到气到气到身动 Command activates qi; qi signal arrives, and motion is activated.

In the response to the yi (mind) command, Taiji uses qi to signal the activation of muscles underlying the action or motion commanded…(to be continued tomorrow, “Fangsong and Qi” by C.P. Ong, PhD)

Chen Style Taiji – C.P. Ong



In moving the ch’i sticks to the back and permeates the spine.


“Inner Balance” by C.P. Ong Ph.D

Taijiquan’s game plan to generate greater momentum is to regulate the body segments to move in unison. The traditional theory couches this in the principle of harmony—to be in accord with the Taiji principles of yin and yang. This yin-yang harmony pervades every thing Chinese—in food, arts, music, fengshui, etc. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health is a good store of the life-force energy, Qi, circulating in harmony.

Taijiquan incorporates qi in the application of the yin-yang metaphysics to the art of body motion. But there is no quantitative analysis in Taiji theory to tell us what is the harmony of yin and yang. In the manifestation of yin and yang we can develop the cognition of excesses or deficiencies of yin or yang, and hence of yin-yang imbalance. In the musculoskeletal framework, we discern yin-yang imbalances as excesses or deficiencies of muscle actions underlying the body posture and motion.

We define yin-yang balance in Taijiquan, called inner balance, as a state where the muscle actions underlying the body posture or motion are not excessive or deficient. Once we have cognition of the errors of muscle actions, we can work to resolve them towards a better state of balance. But, even as this points to a pragmatic approach, we encounter problems. We cannot allocate so much muscle actions here and so much there to resolve the imbalance as in a scale balance nor are we cognitive of the muscle actions directly.

However, we can cultivate cognition and sensations of the effects of the errors of muscle actions. In a medical checkup, the doctor puts a stethoscope on your chest, and asks that you breath in. In doing so, the chest is heaved up, and the body becomes top-heavy, which falls easily with a gentle nudge. While the body is in physical balance, the abdomen is hollowed, weakening internally the support column of the midsection, and rendering the structure less strong in balance. The body can learn from the top-heaviness as an effect of yin-yang imbalance of muscle actions.

There are many varying combinations of muscle actions underlying a body posture and motion. What should be the preferred combinations of muscle actions for a given body posture or motion? Taijiquan’s answer is inner balance, namely, the combination of muscle actions with lesser errors. That is, the practice seeks states of lesser errors towards inner balance. But will the body listen?…(to be continued tomorrow, “Responses of Neurobiology by C.P. Ong, PhD)

Chen Tai Chi – Master C.P. Ong


Let the ch’i move as in a pearl with nine passages
without breaks
so that there is no part it cannot reach.


What is neijin? by C.P. Ong Ph.D (First Installment)

Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) practitioners harbor the dream of developing the magic of Neijin (Internal Strength). Neijin—the stuff of the kungfu prowess of Taijiquan—is mysterious because the art of Taijiquan resides in the internal, not characterized by the vigor of physical activities that we are familiar with. Neijin seems to defy physics, but there is no new physics.

A good place to start to understand neijin is at the waist, which is the source of power actions in sports, work and martial arts. Taijiquan’s term for waist power is specific, called dang-yao jin 裆腰劲, which translates as waist-groin power. The terminology indicates that the power is derived from the actions of both the groin (dang) and waist (yao). This involves the play of the pelvic platform, called the kua 胯, and Taijiquan places the greatest emphasis on the kua in practice. Indeed, the classics of Taijiquan1 are replete with references to the waist-groin region as the control center (Zhu zai yu yao … 主宰于腰).

The Biomechanics of waist power

In generating waist power, the upper body rotates in one direction, and the lower body turns in the opposite direction in support. Where should the division of the rotational motions between the upper and lower body be? If only the shoulder and chest were turning to power the upper body action, the rest of the muscles below would be underutilized, a common flaw. If the division of the rotations occurred at the knees, then the muscle mass below would have to support a much larger mass above, which would cause injuries to the knees or ankles. The division at the kua junction represents the most proportionate distribution of muscle masses between the upper and lower body…

There is another factor of anatomy. The vertebral column ends at the sacrum which sits on the pelvic (iliac) base at a flat joint, called the sacral-iliac joint (SIJ). The SIJ forms the hub of the transfer of forces between the upper and lower body via the three levers, the spine and the legs through the pelvic platform.2

The hub function of the SIJ has actually been observed in the classics:
If body cannot maneuver to take timely advantage (de ji de shi 得机得势), then the problem is at the waist and legs (Qi bing bi yu yao tui qiu zhi 其病必于腰腿求之)…(to be continued Tuesday) – by C.P. Ong Ph.D

Biomechanical Insights of Silk Reeling Practice with C.P. Ong (this is a follow-along video. The audio is not so great so use the closed captions if necessary)



The ch’i is always nurtured without harm.

On Heart
January 26, 2021 by Huai Hsiang Wang

In the animated human body, there are three energy centers:

– The abdomen is the center of vitality for the normal functioning of the body mechanism.
– The head is the center for the mind energy, corresponding your body sensations to the involuntary participation with the external manifestation.
– The heart is the center of the astral energy, orchestrating both the vital and mental energy in animation.

By opening up from the heart, I am referring to the practice of modulating the de-flamed mental energy at the guidance of the mental orb to confluent both the mind-body energy to the chest where the heart locates.

With the released muscular tension and activation of the fascia, together with the alignment of joints to connect to the antenna, then one is able to baptize oneself by releasing the de-flamed mental orb to the heart as an observer.

Then it is possible for one to breathe in rhythm with the energy in animation, modulating the vibration and frequency, en-rapport with the life energy in animation, cultivating the capability to exhale and inhale, inflation, and deflation.

From the substratum of the Prana in animation, one will be able to see that the All in manifestation is nothing but mentalism, life energy in animation, Prana in Dynamics.

In peace.
– by Huai Hsiang Wang

Prana Dynamics.mpg



The waist is like the axle and the ch’i is like the wheel.

13 Reasons Why the Small Universe (Microcosmic Orbit) is Awesome
– by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen (Final Installment)

#11 – Inner Alchemy: The Small Universe isn’t just about circulating energy; it’s about transforming it. In my articles on the 12 Dimensions of Qigong, the Small Universe falls under Transforming the Qi. In the world of Chinese internal alchemy, this practice is similar to the philosopher’s stone. It is said to turn your base energies into something more refined and more potent. If you’re interested in this kind of esoteric journey, then the Small Universe is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

#12 – Tai Chi Synergy: For those who practice tai chi, the Small Universe can act as a powerful complement. The principles of yin and yang, soft focus, and flow are common to both. When you integrate the Small Universe into your tai chi practice, as past masters did, you’re essentially turbocharging it. The flow of qi becomes more harmonious, and your movements gain an added layer of fluidity and power. If you’ve never felt a buzzing vibration through your arms and legs as you practice your tai chi form, then it’s time to learn the Small Universe.

#13 – Deviation Protection: when practiced well, the Small Universe is actually protective against qigong deviations. This idea is confusing because some people have experienced deviations as a result of incorrect Small Universe practice. How can both be true? Think of it this way. Strength training will protect our health in countless ways, but only if we do it safely. If we lift too much too fast, and if we use poor form, then we might end up injuring ourselves. On the other hand, with a better methodology, strength training will help protect us from falls, sarcopenia, heart disease, and diabetes.
– by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen

Fast Tai Chi Set



The hsin is the commander, the ch’i the flag, and the waist the banner.

13 Reasons Why the Small Universe (Microcosmic Orbit) is Awesome
– by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen (Third Installment)

#7 – Deeper Meditation: The quiescent nature of the Small Universe will enhance your existing sitting meditation practice, leading to deeper states of bliss and awareness. Or if you don’t have a sitting meditation practice, then the Small Universe will fill the void (even if you practice it standing).

#8 – Spiritual Growth: I’m no longer a fan of the word “spiritual” simply because it has been misused and abused for too long. Nevertheless, the Small Universe can help us to connect with something larger than ourselves. I’ve gone on some pretty amazing cosmic adventures while practicing the Small Universe, and you will too if you practice consistently.

#9 – Internal Power: These days, increasing your punching power isn’t super important, but it was life-or-death for past masters. The Small Universe was one of the biggest secrets in the world of internal martial arts. If this topic is important to you, then you owe it to yourself to learn the Small Universe. It’s hard to quantify, but I would estimate that I punch roughly 1-2 boxing weight classes above my actual weight. So for example, I’m a Super Welterweight (147 to 154 pounds), but I probably hit more like a Super Middleweight (160-168 lbs).

#10 – Fun: If we do it right, the Small Universe is a fun little internal game. It’s an exciting next step for those who have enjoyed practicing basic qigong techniques and are ready for a new challenge. My students have told me that the Small Universe opened up a whole new world of qigong for them…(final installment tomorrow) – by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen

How Much Qi Were You Born With?



The I [mind-intention] and ch’i must interchange agilely,
then there is an excellence of roundness and smoothness.
This is called “the interplay of insubstantial and substantial.”

13 Reasons Why the Small Universe (Microcosmic Orbit) is Awesome
– by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen (Second Installment)

#3 – Increased Longevity: This benefit is hard to prove, but we should not ignore the fact that past masters often talked about the Small Universe being the key to a long and healthy life. The Small Universe, it was often said, will help you to reach the age of 100. I’ll let you know in 49 years!

#4 – Healthier Meridians: The Du meridian is said to be the ultimate yang regulator while the Ren meridian is said to be the ultimate yin regulator. By circulating qi through the Ren and Du meridians, the Small Universe acts as a yin-yang regulator for the energy in the entire body. In other words, even though we are focusing on just 2 meridians, all of the meridians will get healthier. This is probably why past masters often said that the Small Universe would keep hundreds of illnesses at bay. This was a poetic way of saying that the technique will help you cultivate more health and vitality.

#5 – More Vigor: The Small Universe seems to increase energy levels beyond what other types of qigong typically offer. With practice, the orbit between the Ren and Du meridians eventually takes on its own momentum. This acts like an internal generator that produces energy as it circulates. If you’ve seen benefits to your energy levels with other types of qigong, you should see even more improvement with the Small Universe.

#6 – Sexual Vitality: There is a qigong technique specifically for sexual vitality called the Small Circle, which circulates energy from dantian, down to the perineum, up to mingmen (in the lower back), and then back to dantian. This small loop in the lower body is basically a baby version of the Small Universe. Practicing the Small Universe will give us similar benefits to the Small Circle, specifically: stronger orgasms, greater ejaculation control (for men), less sexual dysfunction, and deeper emotional connections before, during, and after sex…(to be continued tomorrow) – by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen

Is Tai Chi a Form of Qigong?



The ch’i mobilizes the body.
Make it move smoothly, so that it may easily follows the hsin.

13 Reasons Why the Small Universe (Microcosmic Orbit) is Awesome
– by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen (First Installment)

The Small Universe (Microcosmic Orbit) is awesome. Whether you’re an intermediate or advanced practitioner, this technique has something profound to offer. Let’s dive into why it’s more relevant today than ever.

The Small Universe is a powerful and ancient qigong technique. I’ve written several blog posts about it, and this will be another in that series. You don’t need to read the previous articles in order to understand this one. In fact, this article might be better to start with.

In the past, the Small Universe was practiced by a small number of people in China, and many of them were monks or nuns. Today, qigong is practiced by literally millions of people all over the world, and very few of them are monastics. The world has changed.

Is the Small Universe still relevant in today’s world?

Why would someone in the 21st century want to practice this technique? What are the real-world benefits for regular people like you and me? What’s the incentive?

I would argue that it’s not only relevant, but that it is even more practical today than it was 1000 years ago.

The Small Universe is a game changer for the modern practitioner of qigong or tai chi. Here are 13 reasons why:

#1 – Emotional Regulation: The Small Universe is surprisingly useful for harmonizing emotional distress. Once you get the hang of the technique, you can use the breathing methods even when you are agitated. Energetically, it also circulates qi through all of the organ-emotion systems, thereby smoothing out imbalances. As a trauma survivor, I have also found the Small Universe to be useful for healing (but you have to approach it in an trauma-informed way).

#2 – Better Mental Focus: The Small Universe requires a special kind of soft focus. The same focus is sometimes used in sitting meditation, but I personally find it much easier to implement using the Small Universe. I love that we get feedback in the form of qi sensations, which are helpful for measuring progress. For example, as you gradually practice the Small Universe, energy points like dantian, huiyin, and mingmen really come alive. The more they come alive, the easier it gets to focus the mind on the technique, and the stronger your mind becomes as a result…(to be continued tomorrow) – by Sifu Anthony Korahais, Flowing Zen

Should You Learn Qigong, Tai Chi, or Both?



The hsin [mind-and-heart] mobilizes the ch’i [vital life energy].
Make the ch’i sink calmly;
then the ch’i gathers and permeates the bones.

“Tai Chi Can Make you Stress Free”
from TaiChiUSA, Andy Lee

“Tai Chi is a martial art that is known for its slow, graceful movements and deep breathing techniques. Most people practice it for the health benefits but did you know that it can also help reduce stress?

Yes, that’s right folks. Tai Chi is the ultimate stress-buster. Not only does it help calm your mind, but it also helps relax your body and lower your blood pressure.

But how exactly does Tai Chi do this? Well, it’s all in the moves and groves. The slow, flowing movements of Tai Chi help to release tension in the muscles and joints, while the deep breathing helps to oxygenate the body and clear the mind.

So, if you’re feeling stressed out and need a little pick-me-up, grab your Tai Chi shoes and head to our school. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did. (BTW no special shoes are necessary)

But beware, Tai Chi is not only for old people, it’s for everyone! Even for the young and restless, Tai Chi can help you find your inner peace and balance, whether you’re a stay-at-home dad/mom and/or a high-powered executive.

So, next time you’re feeling stressed, don’t reach for the bottle of wine or that pint of ice cream (don’t hate us). Instead, grab your Tai Chi gear (any comfy cloths) and get ready to experience the ultimate stress-busting workout.

Tai Chi, the ultimate way to relieve stress, and we make you look like a boss while doing it!” – from TaiChiUSA, Andy Lee, Founder

‘Defeating Stress’: UC Irvine Professor Studies Benefits Of Tai Chi



Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin,
the more you practice,
the more skill.

“Tai Chi is Opening and Closing Happening Simultaneously” Part 2

If you’re perceiving the form like this – a series of opening and closing movements that happen one after the other, then you’re not quite on the right track.

The key is that the opening and closing are both happening all the time simultaneously. So, as one part of the body is closing whilst another part is opening.

Look at the yin yang symbol. If you follow it around in a circle with your eye you can see that as one aspect grows stronger, the other aspect diminishes, but is also being born again and growing. It goes on in an endless cycle.

It’s these cycles you need to pay attention to in the form. It should feel like this cycle of opening and closing movements is going on with one movement giving birth to the next, rather than perceiving them two separate movements where one starts, then stops, then the other starts and stops. The movement is continuous. It goes out, it comes back, it goes out again.

Silk reeling circles
Let’s break this down into something more tangible.

A while ago I made a video course on the basic single handed silk reeling exercise. This exercise is great because it gives you a chance to work on opening and closing in a relatively simple movement.

Out of the whole course, part 1 is probably the most relevant video to explain what I mean:

Here’s what I’m doing in the video: I’m looking for a slight stretch across the front of my body and a slight stretch across the back of my body (the yin/yang aspects). As the arm goes out the front of the body gradually becomes more taught until there’s enough tension there that I can use it to pull the arm back in. As the arm comes back in, the back of the body becomes slightly more taught until there’s enough tension there to use it to expand the arm outwards. This is all integrated with reverse breathing which powers everything from the Dan Tien area. It’s a very stretchy, rubber band-like practice.

You can start with big, crude circles, but work down to smaller more subtle circles.

But ultimately you’re looking for the feeling of the cycle of yin and yang, opening and closing going on in the body.

It’s this feeling that you need to take into the Tai Chi form where opening and closing happening simultaneously through a myriad of different movements. – by Graham Barlow, from “Tai Chi is Opening and Closing Happening Simultaneously” (The TaiChi Notebook)

Learn what Qigong is. Learn to feel your Qi with Tai Chi week 3



Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.
Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

“Tai Chi is Opening and Closing Happening Simultaneously” Part 1

That’s one of the secrets of Tai Chi, right there. Unfortunately, as with much of the truths about Tai Chi Chuan, the statement doesn’t make any sense unless you already know what it means.

As an art, much of Tai Chi is self secret like this. In one way that’s frustrating, but in another way it’s freeing because it means teachers don’t have to hold things back. The secrets reveal themselves over time.

Look at the Tai Chi Classics, for example. They’re a collection of pithy martial arts sayings that hide deeper meanings. “5 ounces of force deflects a thousand pounds“, “Walk like a cat.“, “Store up the jin like drawing a bow.”, etc.

Many of the sayings in these documents don’t mean anything to people reading them who don’t already understand them. So, there’s no risk in losing ‘the secrets of the art’ by publishing them, which is perhaps one reason why the Tai Chi classics are in wide circulation, while other martial styles keep their writings secret, held only within families.

Perceiving opening and closing
When you’re doing your form, can you perceive movements that are obvious opening movements, and movements that are obviously closing movements?

It’s good if you can. If you can’t then think about this – roll back (lu) is clearly a closing movement, and ward off (Peng) is obviously and opening movement. Look for the same actions in the other movements. On the opening movements, the body expands outwards. On the closing movements the body contracts inwards.

But that’s not the end of the story. (It is for now. To be continued tomorrow) – by Graham Barlow, from “Tai Chi is Opening and Closing Happening Simultaneously” (The TaiChi Notebook)

Learn what Qigong is. Learn to feel your Qi with Tai Chi week 2



Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.

Excerpt from “Tai Chi Should Be Heavy, Like a Stone”

All wise and knowledgeable Internet-enabled Tai Chi practitioners know that we need to “move from the dantien” in Tai Chi Chuan. (This is the supposed secret to Tai Chi that you get told by your wise master only after you have paid the required tuition fees for a number of years. 🙂 )

But again, where does the action originate? I would say that, just as in JiuJitsu, you don’t actually “move from the dantien” by originating action there. Your dantien moves, but it’s your foot that provides the impetus. Your foot pushing against the ground is where the ‘power’ comes from in Tai Chi Chuan.

(A side note here for the Order of Advanced Tai Chi Wizards of the Internet: When you get this concept of the power from the ground you will find that you can actually originate the movement in the dantien as a kind of dropping force that is then rebounded from the ground, so it’s less of a push with the legs. File this under “advanced” if it makes no sense right now and come back to it later).

What Tai Chi Chuan specialises in is transmitting this power to the extremities without interfering with it as much as is humanly possible. We know that in Tai Chi we need to be relaxed (song), which seems like the last thing you’d want to be if you have to hit something hard, but there is a method in the madness.

In Tai Chi Chuan you are trying to transfer that power – the ground reaction force – from your foot all the way to your fingers as smoothly as possible and directing it with the dantien. This is called ‘threading a pearl through the 9 crooked gates‘ in the Tai Chi classics. The gates here are the joints of the body. All the breaks in connection between your foot and fingers are the points where power leaks out. Usually we cover these things up by using muscular strength to get by – you can spend years fooling yourself with this, and it’s a very hard habit to stop.

Points of interest, where we generally mess this up, are the lower back (keep it open) and the shoulders (stop using them as a power source). The whole body should be Song.

‘Relaxed’ doesn’t mean light and floaty. It means heavy and rooted like a stone. – Graham Barlow, from “Tai Chi Should Be Heavy, Like a Stone” (The TaiChi Notebook)

Learn what Qigong is. Learn to feel your Qi with Tai Chi week 1



To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.

“What is the Purpose of Sticking Hands” (continued)

Practitioners often see similarities between Push Hands and Sticking/Sticky Hands. The difference comes down to intent. Usually Push Hands teaches the practitioner to stick to their opponent without striking and has more to do with unbalancing your opponent. Of course, it also teaches the practitioner to “listen”!

There is also a difference in Sticking/Sticky Hands depending on intent. Wing Chun emphasizes Sticking Hands training with the intent to strike without receiving a strike in return. The goal is also protecting your centerline, while attacking your opponent’s centerline. The Wing Chun practitioner will “chase the body, not the hands” with straight, sometimes even “choppy” movements. Wing Chun is considered a striking art because the practitioner aims to strike as many times as possible in a short period of time.

Most practitioners feel that you must have arm/hand contact with your opponent so that you can “feel” what your opponent is going to do. This allows you to respond appropriately. However, what if your opponent avoids arm contact? According Chu Shong Tin, famous Chinese Kung Fu and Wing Chun instructor, contact is not always necessary. Obviously, this would require extensive training in several stages in Sticking Hands: single sticking hands, rolling hands, practicing the defending and attacking techniques, and free sparring. Each step requires “step by step” learning and commitment.

According to Ray Hayward, in his May 2016 blog, Master Chang Chao-tung was nicknamed” lightning hands” because of his physical speed and “how fast his sensitivity and reactions were”. When practicing Sticking Hands, we must be relaxed, focused, and flexible at all times in order to achieve this level. Easier said than done for the majority of practitioners!

During my Yang Tai Chi training years ago, we practiced Sticking Hands during a workshop. I had not done sticking since the 90s when I taught and practiced Chen (both martial and non-martial). Full disclosure: I found that although having your eyes closed/covered taught you sensitivity, it also required a certain amount of trust in your practice partner.

I hope you have the opportunity to try Sticking/Sticky Hands. It’s a very interesting exercise and effectively teaches us a lot about listening and sensitivity. It can actually serve a practical purpose in our everyday life by teaching us to “listen” without using our ears.

If you have an opportunity, try it. You may enjoy the experience! – Christine Morgan, Instructor, Balanced Life Tai Chi



Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.
To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

What Is The Purpose Of Sticking Hands?

Almost every internal martial art has some kind of sticking practice or Sticking/Sticky Hands (Chi Sau in Chinese Cantonese). Sticking Hands is both a principle and the drills used to “stick” to an opponent. Touch is maintained in most of the drills but there are exceptions. Even though Sticking Hands has been mostly used as a fighting principle, it trains you to use your natural reflexes by responding to your opponent/partner’s moves and/or intentions no matter which form you practice. As you would imagine, there are many different variations of Sticking Hands drills.

In non-martial practice, it is commonly known as “sensitivity training”. Eyes are closed or covered. Sticking Hands improves your reaction time, teaches you about sensing balance, and trains you to sense your partners intention, predict when they are going to move, and in what direction. Best of all, you learn how to follow the path of least resistance.

When playing Sticking Hands, players usually face each other with each of their arms or hands in contact. Some trainers use a simple “rolling” pattern to start, while others use a series of turns, dips, hand raises, gentle pushes, etc. The point is to “feel” the opponent and to not lose contact. It is a great exercise to not only improve sensitivity, but to develop the ability to “listen”. Some instructors have practitioners create a situation where one opponent is “trapped” (so to speak) and the other has a clear path in order to strike. Again, this all depends on the goal of the exercise – either fighting or increasing sensitivity (or both).

Internal martial artists use “sticking” as a strategy for fighting external styles which use speed, strength, and distance in order to be effective. The principles and practice of sticking are the “counters” to these styles. Sticking (in other words, being in contact) teaches and allows us to feel where our opponent’s power is coming from and to sense their intention. The key is being more relaxed than our partner or opponent. This allows us to deflect or move away to reduce the opponent’s power and speed. Speed can fool your eyes but not your sensitive touch…(to be continued tomorrow) – Christine Morgan, Instructor, Balanced Life Tai Chi



Sinking to one side allows movement to flow;
being double-weighted is sluggish.

“Internal movement is the major difference between Taiji “Quan” and Taiji “exercise.” Taiji “exercise” has helped improve the health of many people, and so there is nothing wrong with it. Taiji practitioners all over the world have already proved this. Also, many Chinese/western doctors, specialists, and scholars have used medical theories to support and praise its health-enhancing effect. However, Taiji “exercise” is certainly not equal to Taiji “Quan!” It’s good for health and fitness, but it doesn’t include the Kung Fu functions that enable people to fight with others or defend themselves.

“The best evidence is: Taiji “Quan” requires the full concentration of the mind; it operates vertically like “high mountain and deep valley.” Taiji “exercise” can be done with or without the full concentration of the mind; it operates horizontally like “flying cloud and flowing water.” As long as it is Kung Fu, no matter what style it is, and Baji is no exception, the most basic training of the mind is the vertical operation of “high mountain and deep valley,” sinking into the ground and rooting underneath. If it moves away from this, it is no longer traditional Chinese Kung Fu!” – “High Mountain vs. Flowing Water” by Adam Hsu (Translated by Joan-Huey Dow)

Have a great weekend, everyone, and keep practicing.



Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and
move like a turning wheel.

“I emphasize these two qualities because I consider them to be universal, meaning that they’re applicable for all internal development. Whether you’re talking about Taiji Quan, Qi Gong, Nei Gong, seated meditation, or anything. Song 松 and Ting 聽 are the mother and the father of the internal. In my view, anytime that you step outside of these two qualities, you fall outside of the correct path. We use these two qualities to self-check so that you can reflect on your own practice and question. Am I developing and using Song to do the exercise? Am I developing and using Ting to do the exercise? Because the moment one of those is missing, you have veered off the true path. So, we use these as a self-check mechanism and also to develop them deeper and deeper. Because the higher the quality of Song, and the higher the quality of Ting, the more guaranteed your successes.

“Now, these two qualities bounce off each other, feed each other, and are dependent on each other. A simple example would be something very mechanical. For example, imagine if your shoulder was injured. Let’s say it was dislocated, and it was inflamed and stuck. It is immobilized. So it is extremely tight, and there’s no Song in the shoulder. Now, when it’s all inflamed and immobilized like that, if you try to Ting your shoulder, in other words, you allow your awareness to penetrate into the shoulder. You will find that you can’t perceive any detail. Your shoulder is experienced like a lump of clay. The lack of Song blocks the ability to Ting. You cannot Ting. Now, however much Ting you can get, and however much you’re capable of allowing the mind to penetrate your shoulder, that is the part of your shoulder you can release. So you can Song deeper. Then the Song increases, now the mind can penetrate deeper and again. Thus the increased Song allows the Ting to increase. Then the increased Ting will enable you to Song deeper. They work together. One is increasing the other, and forming the very basis of all internal development.” – Adam Mizner



The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people,
how can it be due to swiftness?

“You must have some degree of physical strength to practice martial arts. This strength can be developed in various ways and acts as the foundation for your development. It is not uncommon for practitioners to spend the first few years of their training working solely on the development of strength before moving onto the next stage. For most, they will spend a lifetime at this level, unaware that there are potentially higher levels to explore.” – The Martial Man



From the sentence “A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds”
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

“The training of traditional Chinese Kung Fu must have “internal circulation” and “external movement” together; “body” and “mind” closely working hand in hand. If there is any deviation from this principle, it is not a traditional Chinese Kung Fu; it is martial arts from other countries. Whether Baji or Taiji, all styles of traditional Chinese Kung Fu must use body and mind simultaneously for every move and every posture. There must be no departure from this rule at any moment. The way to operate the mind in traditional Chinese Kung Fu is: When practicing a posture or a form, our arms/legs/body move horizontally on the surface of the earth, sometimes standing and sometimes squatting. However, our mind must move vertically, up and down, like traveling in a “high mountain and deep valley” to control our body movement.” – “High Mountain vs. Flowing Water” by Adam Hsu (Translated by Joan-Huey Dow)



The strong defeating the weak
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands
are all the results of natural abilities
and not of well-trained techniques.

“It’s already in you. You already are the energy in animation. So here’s the trouble. Everybody starts from the ego mind. But it’s this ego mind that has blocked you away from this sensing of it. So you are already perfect. Everybody’s the same. There’s nothing missing. Without energy there can be no possibility of life. You already are the primal energy in animation and more. You are the animator not the animated.” – Huai Hsing Wang

See you tomorrow and have a great practice.



I’m finally back. My wife contracted the COVID virus in early September, so I had to pull double duty for a couple of weeks and decided to take the rest of the month off to work on my internal arts practice.

Transposing occurs when the deeper intelligence produced by open awareness infuses glimpses (moments of deep understanding). At this point, what an internal artist learn about his or her art can be transposed to all areas of life and what the internal artists learns about life can be transposed upon his or her internal art.

See you tomorrow.


The opponent does not know me;
I alone know him.
To become a peerless boxer results from this.

Dear Friends and Practitioners.

Today we have the first part of “OVER-SIMPLIFIED AND UNDER-PRACTICED” from Grandmaster Yuan Xiugang’s Wudang Daoist Traditional Kungfu Academy.

“In the West, there are many books about Daoist history, Daoist practice, and translations of various Daoist texts. However, there are few actual Daoist Masters in the West.

“Recently, more Western people have taken great interest in Daoism and Daoist practice and, as might be expected, they turn to books for information. However, one of the troubles with looking to books for information about practice and theory is that there is no one to whom questions can be directed. In order to become a student, one must first seek out a qualified teacher; in the case of Daoism this teacher is recognized as a Master with deep knowledge and experience in their teachings.

“The intent of this article is not to undermine the importance of books, but to implore those interested in learning to remember that books are recordings of others’ experiences and opinions and can never take the place of a Master.

“It is first important to point out that the translations of Daoist books often tend to oversimplify Daoist living and practice and as a result make these theories unattainable and unable to be grasped in our lives. Western study and philosophy tends to center around understanding through intellectual pursuit and research. Despite scholarly endorsement, Daoist theory and practice is not merely an intellectual pursuit, but an applied regimen for living and study. In order to truly understand Daoist practice, it is absolutely necessary to experience it.

“The Daoist concept of 无为(wu wei), or “non-action,” is a theory that is difficult to grasp, let alone exemplify. Those high level Masters who have attained a state of wu wei in their practice have done so through many years of practice and self-refinement as taught and passed down to them by previous generations of Masters. However, many translations loosely allude to wu wei and as a result lead many readers to believe that wu wei is a philosophy of “doing what one wants to do,” a sort of “whatever” philosophy, a philosophy that one can simply decide to adopt. In considering this example, we can now assess how it is both over-simplified and unattainable. This style of translation of wu wei is over-simplified in that it inadvertently defines wu wei as a state that one chooses to be in. In truth, wu wei is a state where all action by a person is spontaneous and natural. However, in order to attain this state of wu wei, years of self-refinement through specific Daoist practices must be strictly adhered to…” (to be continued tomorrow) – “OVER-SIMPLIFIED AND UNDER-PRACTICED,” Wudang Daoist Traditional Kungfu Academy.

In Today’s Video, we have an extensive, detailed view of the Grandmaster of Wudang, Zhong Yunlong leading a training class.

Today’s Video: Training with Master Zhong Yun Long – Wudang Sanfeng Pai



A feather cannot be placed,
and a fly cannot alight
on any part of the body.

Dear Friends and Practitioners.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday weekend and practice. Today we have Part 3 of “THE JADE EMPEROR’S HEART SEAL CLASSIC” from Grandmaster Yuan Xiugang’s Wudang Daoist Traditional Kungfu Academy.

“The text states ‘百日功灵 – Bǎi rì gōng líng’ , which can be translated as ‘one hundred days and the technique is established’. This line is in reference to the opening of 小周天 (xiǎo zhōu tiān), ‘the microcosmic orbit’. Many translators of this passage have translated literally without first referencing the representative quality that the number ‘100’ has in Chinese language and culture. For example, when referring to ‘everything’ in Chinese language, often times it is written as ‘the one hundred things’ or ‘the 10,000 things’; a relatively small number which represents a far more vast amount. Another point that is ignored is that opening the microcosmic orbit in this amount of time is an impossibility in internal practice, especially for people with no background or foundation in Daoist practice. A more realistic reference point for opening the microcosmic orbit is counted in years. As we can see from this, the ‘one hundred days’ as written in this text is not meant to be taken as a literal marker for how long it takes in order to open the microcosmic orbit, but is merely stating that it takes much work and time. If neidan practice were as easy as many modern translations make it out to be, everyone on earth would already be immortal.

“Misinterpretation of lines such as 百日功灵 is one of the reasons why many people confuse ‘nei dan’ (internal alchemy) practice as something that is both quick and easy. Prior to this line is another line that references time: 頃刻而成 (Qīng kè ér chéng) – ‘Instantly you have success.” The meaning of this line is that although it may take many years to understand Daoism and your personal practice, when you do, it feels like an instant. There is another Chinese phrase that is used in order to help those studying and practicing Daoism: 道不言寿 (Dào bù yán shòu). The meaning of this phrase is that ‘Dao does not discuss time or age.’

“In order for us to understand that you can ‘instantly have success’ with our practice we must understand that ‘Dao does not discuss time or age.’ When we understand this, we can then understand why 10 or 20 years is only an instant. Knowledge is only gained through great experience and its processes. Dao is endless and timeless. Our conceptions of time in relation to Dao is merely an instant. If we are really interested in practicing Daoism, we must understand that it takes great devotion, discipline, and continued practice. If we understand this, then it is much easier for us to connect with Dao and excel in our practice and cultivation. These are natural laws of Daoism and Daoist practice.” – “The Jade Emperor’s Heart Seal Classic,” Wudang Traditional Daoist Kungfu Academy

Today, Garandmaster Yuan work one-on-one with a student to present Tui Shou (Tai Chi Push Hand) basics.

Today’s Video: Master Yuan Xiu Gang Teaching Tai Chi Push Hands



If the opponent raises up, I seem taller;
if he sinks down, then I seem lower;
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long;
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

Dear Friends and Practitioners.

Today we have Part 2 of “THE JADE EMPEROR’S HEART SEAL CLASSIC” from Grandmaster Yuan Xiugang’s Wudang Daoist Traditional Kungfu Academy.


‘Jing, Qi, and Shen are all interconnected in our practice of meditation. We have to make sure in strengthening and cultivating the three treasures in our bodies that we avoid allowing ourselves to waste these energies. This should not be understood as merely physical wasting and spending. One of the greatest ways in which we waste our bodily energies is through our emotions. If our emotions are in a constant flux or imbalance, a great amount of energy is being spent, as opposed to being retained and stored, and thus imbalance is created. Not only are the Jing, Qi, and Shen in our bodies interrelated, but our physical bodies and our emotions are also interrelated. Each of the 5 organs correlates to each of the 5 emotions. We can see from this that it is not only important to have a healthy and balanced body, but also a healthy and balanced mind. If we want to improve our Jing, Qi and Shen, then we must improve our bodily health as well as our mental and emotional balance.

‘It is only by our constant devoted practice that we can continue to cultivate the three treasures in our bodies and enjoy the wonderful benefits of that cultivation. As our cultivation and practice grow we can begin to understand more and advance deeper into our experience of Dao, and when we understand our practice more deeply and can learn to abide by the natural laws of our practice we can learn to truly enjoy the path that we are on. But we must make sure that we are practicing correctly.

‘Something to note in our reading of the Yu Huang Xin Yin Miao Jing is the use of specific amounts of time in attaining certain accomplishments in practice, such as ‘100 days’ or ’12 years.’ It is important to clarify that these references to time are not to be understood as specific lengths. Often times in modern interpretations of ancient Daoist writings and transmissions symbolic language is inaccurately translated using literal understanding of figurative and representative language. As a result in contemporary society this has led to a great misunderstanding of the true depth of practice, leading to a widely held belief that Daoist practice is quick and easy…” (to be continued next week) – “The Jade Emperor’s Heart Seal Classic,” Wudang Traditional Daoist Kungfu Academy

In today’s video, Master Yuan goes back to basics – Tai Chi basics, that is. It’s one of the longer videos from his seminar in Austria. So, you have the long holiday weekend to study it. Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend, everyone. And keep practicing.

Today’s Video: “Yuan Xiu Gang: Learning Tai Chi Basics”