Archive for May 2014
Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 4:36 PM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Rattlesnakes Use Their Style of Push Hands
Push hands is called Tui Shou in Chinese. It is an exercise, a skill, and opportunity to learn how to apply martial skill from fluid motion. <br>
Tui Shou starts simply by classmate touching forearms, and working back and forth to rock your classmates balance point while at the same time protecting your own.
Tui Shou continues to be a progressive pushhands exercise. While pushing hands the students start with:
- Listening - to hardness and softness, quickness and slowness, adhering
- Attention - to center line while pushing and withdrawing the hand
- Mechanics - waist turning, folding, supporting six sides
Some schools and students stop here, this level of tuishou training will improve ones taichi, bagua and skills and is good for your health practice. This level of pushhands is great for supporting a "Health Oriented" practitioner.
Push hands for power (Jing) is the next level of practice. At this stage, the tui shou practice also brings:
- Stance gripping - ability to use stance and waist to develop foundation
- Waist Sync - power must be synchronized by the waist or it be only a fraction of its potential, and will get the push hands practitioner off balance
- Bio Mechanics - now the structure has to be ready to maintain and express power, not just movement.
- One Time - reducing the gap between intention and expression
This level of tui shou training is essential for students that want to develop Jing power. This is often a slippery area for kung fu / martial art practitioners because their interpretation of jing comes out as snappy and rigid, which isn't correct. Also, this level is where "Health oriented" schools will use the "excess force" excuse, because their students are unable to manage themselves or deliver higher levels of power.
Tui Shou - Push hands to settle matters. At this stage of training, even amongst classmates, every detail counts:
- Power - Six sides, one time, one line, full body integration
- Stealth - Sensing your opponents intention while masking your own
- Cleverness - Using their mistakes, creating pitfalls, baiting
- Speed - Seizing the fluid moment, because within a half-second, the window of opportunity is closed
- Relentless - Create an opportunity and do not back off till you have secured the upper hand
This level is considered to be one below full sparring (san shou). This is what I call the rattlesnake level. The rattlesnake have the ability to cause tremendous damage to one another. Yet they choose to settle matters amongst themselves with a natural version of pushhands. They will connect, adhere, push and pull till one has been repeatedly taken off balance and withdraws. They do not strike one another, and use the skills and strength developed to survive and hunt in the rest of nature.
If you have further interest in Push Hands Workshops and Lessons : Push Hands |Tui Shou Workshop | RaleighEdited on: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 3:07 PM
Posted in Style: Tai Chi
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:18 AM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Calming Meditation is a process, that begins with calming the heart and mind. To draw the mind back inside; rather that being routinely distracted by:
- work responsibilities
- phone calls
We all have busy lives, it is the nature of perspective. However, when the 'busy-ness' starts taking us away, from taking care of ourselves. Then new problems arise; compounding stressors. Not only do we the original stress to deal with, but the fact that it has carried from one day to the next; compounds it.
Calming the heart-mind (shen) first make require support. My students, just like for myself; found it very calming to stand with my Sifu as we would lead me through meditation. It was work mind you, but very calming, and the sensation of 'letting go' was present.
Yet when I would try the same exercise the next morning; it was like I was wrestling with a bear. In my own mind.
All the questions, memories, recollections, timelines would start rushing through my head and heart:
- Why did she say/do this?
- What can I do about this?
- Memories of loved ones
- Responsibilities: This is due on ___
- I got to get to the bank, or pay this bill.
If none of this is familiar to you. Then you are starting way ahead of where I did, nearly 20 years ago. Sifu would say to us, as was said to him, "Practice Every Day". The Dalai Llama says that meditation is cleanse the closets of the mind; that collects debris every day.
I tell my students: "We bathe each day to wash off a days work; we meditate to wash off a days chaos."
Calming Meditation Techniques are used to assist in getting the mind back inside.
Calm the Heart Mind in MeditationEdited on: Thursday, July 03, 2014 1:48 PM
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:12 AM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Meditation in natural places enhances the exchange of chi during practice. Our students practice meditation in many places, you may have seen one of us standing at a park. We always remind students to become a part of nature blend in, so that the deer and bird see you as part of the environment, in tranquility.
Over the years, while learning to meditate and practicing calming the mind, we have been approached many times. Most kids ask their mom and dad; "is that a statue" or "is he real"? People will stop to observe and usually get tired of waiting for one of us to move, so they move on. There are a few sincerely interested who will walk to me while practicing and ask "can I ask you, what are you doing?" My response for the last 15 years has been "I'm exercising just like you, you are walking on the outside, I am walking on the inside."
Meditating in nature can provide a very strong bond to your practice. Connecting you to a part of the world. When you go to the park to practice, don't look for the right place; just go, and you will be drawn to it.
We recently had a student practicing and had their picture taken. It was amazing how he did blend into the environment when sketched.
Edited on: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 4:37 PM
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 6:05 AM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Meditational Tools are used to help draw the heart and mind into self.
Tools for Meditation provide a resource to inspire and draw the mind inward.
Tools assist beginners who are first trying to corral and calm their minds. These tools encourage the mind to come back, when we get distracted, or locked into a thought, memory, and/or a responsibility.
- create a dedicated area and name it, (alter, ceremonial, quiet area, etc)
- put pictures of people that encourage and inspire you. Whether you knew them or not.
- Lighting a non-perfumed incense helps maintain focus, mental clarity, and we use to have a sense of time while practicing meditation.
- candles - warm candle light draws the mind in
- meditation beads
- non-vocal music preferably gentle flute
- running water, the sounds of a water fountain reminds us of evolving and change
- chanting and praying
- dedicate practice - put a picture of someone you love and respect in your meditation area and dedicate your effort and time to them
- a vase with goldfish or beta
How a student responds to initial practice or to just calming down can be very different. There is no predicting it; however we can tell very quickly what path the student is taking:
- Strong arm approach, "I will force myself to be calm and build a wall around me". Creates lots of intensity.
- Ostrich Approach, "I will just put my head in the sand for a while"
- Love Peace, "The I am just going to let it all go"
- Thinkers, "The I am going to analyze every detail, of everything while I am here"
- Plus many other tendencies.
We start students with short bouts of training, to get the mind lured in. The progress according to a students intensity, instincts, and schedule. There are few things that are more personable than meditation.
Posted in Mindfulness - Attention
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 5:53 AM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Establishing a Foundation
The first priority of all Tai Chi students is to establish a baseline of health that assist them in performing throughout each day. Some students come in excellent physical health and spend more time learn to integrate their body with intention, others may come in overweight, unstable, some students are battling disease or even facing a wheelchair. We work to help everyone to find where they are and move forward.
When Tai Chi is performed with lower stances and move through purposely, or moved through swiftly, it has been shown to have similar health benefits as walking, jogging, and other activities.
Tai Chi performed in higher posters is ideal for those striving to improve balance and coordination. Studies have shown these people benefit by having less falls and accidents while performing daily activities.
Many insurance carriers have recognized the benefits of Tai Chi and provide reimbursements or coverage for people who participate regularly.
The Tai Chi -USA Today published an article on the health benefits of Tai Chi. Including the observed physical health benefits, there were several other important gains.
UCLA Study on Tai Chi demonstrates that Tai Chi exercise can develop a resistance to Shingles through regular training.
The health benefits assoiciated with the mind and the electrical activity of the mind has also been researched. People who practice tai chi report benefits such as 'developing calmness', 'less fragmented', relaxation, and many others.
Dr. John Gilbert performed studies on tai chi practitioners that demonstrated an amazing ability to manage and alter their mind in such a way, that electrical recordings were extraordinary. Some of these findings were written in the "Journal of Neurotherapy".
Beta mind waves are our 'active thinking' electical impulses. They are rapid waves that occur with the stress of dealing with everyday life. Beta waves are also associated with negative, analytical, and angry emotional mind sets.
Alpha mind waves are slower and are associated with a relaxed mind, internal and inward focus, such as when we daydream or meditate. It is during this state that we are mindful of our surroundings, yet the deeper sub-conscious mind can signal and produce visualization in our state.
Theta wave occur usually right before sleep, the nod-off period. Delta waves occur during only the deepest sleep.
Tai chi has shown the mental health benefit of increasing Alpha waves and reducing Beta waves, bringing us into harmony with ourselves and our environment. It has also been shown that physical healing can occur during this reduced chaos and that symptoms such as high blood pressure can benefit.
The health benefits of Tai Chi have also been witnessed on many occassions. We have one student who that when she first started could hardly move without fear of losing her balance and falling. Now she can stand with one foot extended in the air for 30 seconds.
Years ago, a young man who inflicted with multiple sclerosis worked started with tai chi and the standing meditation in hopes to slow the process. He would come to class shaking uncontrollably, sometimes even fall to his knees, but he would gather himself, stand and perform his meditation exercises, and we would witness the calming move through his body. I would often observe him practice and it would inspire me to stand and practice, to move further. As many of the people that were diagnosed at the same time he was, would pass away, he would come to practice. He regained much of his indepence and lived a much fulfilling life with his practice. I think of him each day I don't feel like practicing, and I get out there.
A lady came to practice to get her energy and health, as well as to move through grief. One night in a resturaunt a gunmen came in and began shooting. Her husband put her on the ground and covered her, as well as their unborn child. A bullet passed through him, then into her. He died that evening. She understandingbly was having difficulty coping with the loss, and feared for the sake of the child to come. She worked, we worked and I remember her talking about how much better she felt after get assistance. To my knowledge she had a healthy child, and regained the movements in her hip.
The Benefits of Tai Chi are studied, but mostly we see them in life. It is not a magic remedy, yet it is therapy that allows us to cultivate, acknowledge, and grow.
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 2:57 PM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Over the years we often get to meet students from other schools, and often they want to learn our style of kungfu and Tai Chi Chuan. Many times they would mention 'close door student' or 'advanced technique training''; and I honestly had no clue to what they were referring to. Sifu Chin would often joke about the secret movement kungfu, like 'super finger' or 'knife hand' that led students to believe that there was a secret technique that would overcome all others. We know that this really isn't so, in fact, we know that if we expect for technique to bail us out of a jam, we are in real trouble.
However, over the years, we also learned that there is deeper understanding kungfu. Most of the time, this kungfu and Tai Chi training were physically simple by instruction, but challenging, methotical, and non-negotiable with the mind-set of the training. We keep our Hsing-I, Hop Gar, and Old Fighting Style Tai Chi Chuan closer to the vest, not because of 'secret', but because of the demands and expectation for both teacher and student.
There were only a few times with Master Chin did he require that we pay him extra for training in an area. It wasn't a fee to learn, it was a committment fee, so that when you were getting it, and realized how difficult it was, you wouldn't quit. Having gone through some of this now as a teacher, I better understand, because it is challenging on both to maintain the perserverance and steadiness to make the unnatural... natural. This was also the reason that Master Kuo had Sifu Chin committ $1,000 to learn Hsing I in the early 1960's, after Master Kuo told him for weeks it was 'too hard'.
As our students will attest, as many are currently going through some 'reverse engineering' of their Tai Chi Chuan, it is the understanding and naturalness of the simple principles that drives all the kung fu. Not the 'Super Finger' technique. Get into practice, and train the areas that need the work, develop your understanding in movement, and non-movement and you will advance yourself.Edited on: Friday, November 20, 2015 8:41 AM
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM by Sifu TW Smith the site author">Sifu TW Smith
Recently I was asked about KungFu Podcasts. What is it about?
The Culture, Adventure and Impact of Martial Arts
The two Podcasts are different in focus:
- Podcast of Tibetan Kung Fu is designed for our community, it is more personal
- KungFu Podcasts is for Martial Arts in General. To serve more Global topics.
KungFu Podcasts will support:
- Teachers of various styles, but with similar interests
- Haap (Our Preying Mantis) is a common mascot, but again, you know that, but that isn't listed there
Point is, You may have interest in the topics and energy in KungFu Podcasts, and you are encouraged to visit or:
KungFu Podcasts is a chance to explore Martial Arts History and Stories :)Edited on: Friday, October 03, 2014 6:32 AM