Monday, December 12, 2005

We Are the #1 Tai Chi Blog In Yahoo!

We Are the #1 Tai Chi Blog In Yahoo!

I am so thrilled!

I want to shake all of you hands and thank you all personally. Well, are you wondering why?

Before I give you the reason, let’s do a little tai chi together.

  1. Relax both your body and mind. You should feel as if your head is hanging from the ceiling. Your mind should be still and your breath should be slow and steady. Your Chi should now be circulating in your body.

  2. Open another browser or another tab on your browser.

  3. If you are not in Yahoo’s home page, click here.

  4. Type in “tai chi blog” and hit search.

  5. Now. Check which site is in the first place in Yahoo! Search.

Viola! Are you excited? Are you thrilled? You are the ones that made it happen. Together we are now forever a part of Internet history.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Tai Chi Monkey

I have seen a video clip of a monkey doing karate. I have read a comparison between Bruce Lee and a chimpanzee on Google.

But, can a monkey learn Tai Chi?

The animal instinct of the monkey and its lightening fast movement seems contradictory to the slow movements of Tai Chi, or Tai Chi Chuan.

Moreover, could a Tai Chi practitioner fight a dangerous monkey and win?

Your teachers may have told you a thousand ways to kill. But, have they ever used them? Or, can they really, really, really apply their “deadly” techniques during a confrontation. There are millions of Tai Chi students in the world, but how many of them can actually fight with a boxer, a karate expert, or Brazilian jujitsu practitioner?

If not, what’s the catch? Why is it that only a handful of people can apply the fighting techniques of Tai Chi?

The answer is: They only know about the Yin part of Tai Chi. If you take a closer look at the Tai Chi symbol, it is composed of both Yin and Yang. Trying to omit either side only leads you to the “Dark Side.” (Do you want to be Darth Vadar?)

I remember that grandmaster Cheng once told me, “Speed is the most important element in fighting. You can’t counter-attack an opponent with lightening speed.”

Of course, you can argue this is not Tai Chi. But, consider this: can a monkey learn Tai Chi? Or, more accurately, aren’t we the same as monkey who is doing Tai Chi? If not, why do we even bother learning the “Repulse Monkey” technique?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Path to Enlightenment in Tai Chi

Professor Lin Yun, who was both my Feng Shiu and Buddhism teacher, once told me “The path to enlightenment can be explained in a few sentences. It is not worth more than a few cents. I have ten thousand pound of gold in my pocket that will magically remain the same no matter how I spend it. What I will do is to help the people whom I met at the cross-road to attend enlightenment.”

I think most people tend to believe everything has to be extremely complicated to be valuable or good. When professor Cheng Man-Ching was alive, he kept telling his students the most important thing in learning Tai Chi was to be “sung.” Most of his American students thought the meaning of “sung” were simply relaxation due to poor translation at the time. What professor was trying to say was just to let go and to loosen your body and mind.

A number of instructors from different lineage of Tai Chi have been highly criticizing of professor’s interpretation of “sung” and softness. Some even mentioned that there was nothing new in professor’s teachings. However, “sung” is the basis for everything in all styles of Tai Chi that we tended to forgot. We always want to learn increasingly complicated technique, breathing method, meditation, and Chi training (Nei Kung) without a good grasp of the basics. This is also true in other sports. In basketball, for instance, Michael Jordan mentioned how important it was for him to master the basis when he was still in college. According to him, he was already very good when he was a sophomore. However, if it was not his coach to force him to master all the basics at that time, he would just relied on the cheap shots he had learned to win and he would not be the Michael Jordan we all know of today. In our Tai Chi world, we all see the fascinating demonstration of the great teachers, but forgot that all great teachers from the Chen, Yang, Wu, and other families were all master of the basics. Even their interpretation of hardness may be different, the interpretation of “sung” and softness were all the same.

According to professor Cheng, and my personal experience, a number of Tai Chi people mistakenly believed that they have already achieved the highest levels of Chi development. The main reason was that they were not “sung” enough to let the Chi flow through the meridians and completing both small heaven and great heaven cycles naturally and at will. Instead, they tried to force their chi through the meridians when their chi was not cultivated. If you believe professor Cheng is a scholar of his time, then you should believe what he was telling us – only a handful of people in his years of practice of Tai Chi had achieved very high level of chi cultivation.

So, before your next Tai Chi practice, just be honest to yourself once, and ponder on whether you are “sung” enough. If you think you are, the chance that you are wrong is very high. Let me tell you an untold story about Ben Lo – a senior student of professor Cheng Man Ching who is famous for his basics and fighting skills. In early 90s, even Wolfe Lowenthal told me that Ben Lo has the best “Kung Fu” of all the Professor students alive. However, most people do not know was that he lost in a match to his former student and classmate – the great Huang of Malaysia, during his trip to Malaysia with William C.C. Chen and his students. After the match, he asked Mr. Huang how did he achieve his level of tai chi fighting skills. If you are still with me, I think you should be able to guess the answer from master Huang. His answer was that Professor told him to be “sung,” and Ben was not “sung” enough.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Farewell to my Teacher – Grandmaster Cheng Tin-Hung

News from Hong Kong has confirmed master Cheng’s death on May 7, 2005 in his Tai Chi Mansion in China. Tai Chi circle has forever lost one the best gladiators of our time. Although he was not well known in the US, his fighting skill is highly appreciated in the Far East and Europe. Even the Chinese government has invited him to advise on how to implement fighting tournament in China.

Although I know that Tai Chi is a way of life or a path of self-realization, I am sadden by the fact that a number of his students has deviated from Master Cheng’s original teachings while they have NOT reached the skill level of master Cheng. In addition, most of the books that he had co-authored in the west are mostly direct translation from his Chinese books.

One word of caution for master Cheng’s inner circle is to avoid fighting for being his successor like in the case professor Cheng Man-Ching. Right after professor passed away, some of professor’s student used legal action to took over Professor Cheng’s dojo and expelled the students hand-picked by professor to run his dojo if he was in Taiwan.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Who Killed Professor Cheng Man-Ching

Professor Cheng left a legacy behind when he passed away at the age of 75. However, his death also raised questions about his immortality, Tai Chi skill, and the correctness of his teaching. Although Wolf Lowenthal insisted that Professor Cheng had prepared for his death by hand picking his successors in his New York dojo before he went back to Taiwan, so much rumors had aroused overshadowed this notion.

I asked about professor’s death when I was on a trip to Taiwan. Most people reiterated what a professor at the National Taiwan University had told me - professor was poisoned. In his book Steal My Art, T.T. Liang also recalled the incident and advocated that professor was in fact being poisoned. The stroke that led to his death was caused by his failure to recover from the poison. If this is true, the questions remained are who wanted to kill professor, what was the motive behind the killing, and who was involved?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Cheng Tin-Hung - The Martial Art Champion

An old photo of Cheng Tin-Hung taken after he had won the martial art championship in Taiwan. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Lower Your Cholesterol and Heal Your Heart

Heart decease has become the number one killer of our age. Unlike a decade ago, most health care practitioners agreed that diet and exercise are, in additional to medical treatments, also extremely important in the combat against heart attack.

Tai Chi legend Wu Tu-Nan, who was strong and formidable even before he passed away at the age of 108, recommended a simple way to both lower your Cholesterol and heal your heart. Here are the three simple steps:
  1. Practice Tai Chi 10 or more minutes a day.
  2. Focus on your middle finger.
  3. Use the middle finger to lead all the movements.
Note: Wu Tu-Nan had 7 years of western medical training and 6 years of Chinese medicine training. He had healed many people with different ailments that both Chinese and western medicine were unable to heal.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Frog Starring at the Sky

A long time ago, a frog look into the sky from the bottom of a well said to himself, “The sky is limited. Why do I have to bother?” -- Chuang Tze

Is this a common misconception of our world caused by our bias or non-open mindedness? Most people practicing Tai Chi nowadays are limiting what they believed to be Tai Chi. Most of us even believed that TC is great, but if I am really into a fight, I will use my Karate, boxing, or jujitsu. What’s your limiting view of Tai Chi?