Monday, November 30, 2009

13 points to relax your body

How do you relax when you are stressed? How do you get rid of the stiffness from your body? You can always try the Preparing Stance form from Yang Style Tai Chi. You can stand this form for 5 minutes, it will help you relax your body. To help with your preparing form totally relaxed, I've enclosed my Yang Style Tai Chi Class notes 1 (which I prepared for my beginner Tai Chi class), you can check from top to bottom of your body. Basically you need to stand up, two arms hanging beside your body; eyes looking forward, feet parallel.

Preparing Stance

Points to remember:

1. Imagine there is a string hanging on top of you head
2. Eyes looking straight forward, don’t look up or down.
3. Mouth lightly open.
4. Tongue supports the roof of your mouth.
5. Chin tucked in.
6. Neck relaxed
7. Don’t raise shoulders
8. Arms naturally hanging beside your body
9. Leaving space between arm pits.
10. Palms relaxed, Space between fingers
11. Dan Tian ( Red Field, about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel) shirks in.
12. Waist relaxed
13. Butt tucked in
14. Two feet parallel, as wide as your shoulders, don’t pivot them or in or out.
15. Make sure you feel your whole body relaxed
16. Check this list one more time to make sure you have everything right to the point.

After you make sure you have all your points checked twice. Try to empty your mind. Let your body stay in this form for at least 5 minutes.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 09

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Push hands, Step by Step

When I was trying to teach a student push hands today, he tried to resist my form. Instead of using the form I've demonstrated to him and others, I have added another form to trick him and unbalance him using the same form. After class, I told him, you should not resist if it’s a demonstration of a particular usage to the class.

Many people are very competitive. Everyone wants win but lose. You are not really winning here because you lost an opportunity to learn how the movements works by “wining” ( push people away).

First, you need to learn both ways. In order to get familiar with this move, you need practice on a partner. This partner has to feed the movement to you for you to test. If this partner changes the way of feeding the right move, then you are not learning your movement right. On the other hand, you need to learn how you apply this move to this person. You need to be in that person’s shoes to understand better. Putting yourself on the opponent's side will help you understand the move better.

Furthermore, the person you're pushing hands with needs to give you feedback. Ask questions such as,

“Did I touch the right spot?” If the answer is “no”, ask him/her to show you the right spot.

“Do I have the right transition?” If the answer is “no”, ask him/her to show you which part went wrong.

“ Do I have right sized circle?” If the answer is “no”, adjust your circle.

“Am I relaxed enough while doing this?” If the answer is “no”, try to relax more.

Now this might be the point of view of this particular person, so try it with another person and see what he/she says differently.

Moreover, try to summarize how you feel in addition to what you've collected from your partner and double check with your teacher to see if all the movements are correct. Practice on the right move until you feel you've done the best with it.

Finally, write all the information down on notes, so you won’t wake up and say “Oh, I spent 5 hours figuring this out, but I can’t remember anymore.” Pen and paper are always better tools than your brain. My father, Master Zhang, Lu Ping also has a Post Doctoral degree in Mathematics, but he still took notes while learning things.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi '09

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lao Tzu's Secret to extend your life

Confucius was one of the most knowledgeable people of his century. One time, he was confused about something. He traveled all the way to see Lao Tzu. After Lao Tzu answered his question, he called Lao Tzu his teacher. Why was Lao Tzu so knowledgeable that even Confucius looking for an answer from him, because Lao Tzu was the head of the library system of China during that time. He had done so much more reading than others that no one else compared with him.
The contribution Lao Tzu gave to us is "The Tao Te Ching". There are four very important sentences for human life in the Tao De Ching:

"When man is born, he is tender and weak;
At death, he is hard and stiff.
When the things and plants are alive, they are soft
and supple;
When they are dead, they are brittle and dry.
Therefore hardness and stiffness are the companions of death,
And softness and gentleness are the companions of life."

This is Lao Tzu's Secret to extend your life. Lao Tzu told people that by making yourself soft and relaxed will help you live longer. This implies the purpose of Tai Chi which will make you relaxed and soft. To find out more about Lao Tzu, you can get a copy of Tao De Ching or you can get a copy of a New Calendar I made - The Flow of Nature - Wisdom of Lao Tzu, it can be found at Cafe Press. This calendar combines beautiful waterfall pictures I have taken during my hiking trips over the last 10 years with some of my favorite quotes from Tao De Ching.

2 Resources listed above:

Tao De Ching

The Flow of Nature - Wisdom of Lao Tzu

Copyrighted By Huan's Tai Chi '09

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should we have circles in Tai Chi?

A student asked about whether he should do big circles or small circles during Tai Chi.

For beginners, they should start the circle big, after years of practice, they can then reduce the circle to medium, and then small.

When you try to start the circle as a beginner, you often don’t have a nice round circle. Some people also only did half of the circle which means they didn’t complete the movement and hurried to the next movement. Tai Chi can be used as martial arts. For example: During fighting: if you don’t transfer your opponent’s attack completely with a circle, you might get a hit on the face. For health purposes, you didn’t transfer your energy entirely if you didn’t complete the circle.

The benefit of the big circle is to help you relax more. It will also cover more areas for protection during push hands or for you to concentrate on more areas since the circle is big. The advantage of the medium and small circle will help you with speed during push hands. It will help you with following and adhering better on pushing hands. It will also move your energy faster. The advantage of mixed small and big circle will help you confuse opponent in push hands.

For master level Tai Chi practitioners, only a few of them can do Tai Chi without circles. They can bounce people out with just a simple Dan Tian ( Red Field acupuncture point) movement. It doesn’t mean they have never done Tai Chi without circles. They started to have Tai Chi with the big circle just like you and I did. Later, they reduced the size until they can do the circle from their Dan Tian ( Red Field). If you want do your Tai Chi well, concentrate on circles.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tai Chi may increase your EQ


What is more important to you, having a high IQ or a high EQ? I think it’s nice to have a high IQ but having a higher EQ is more important. It not only affects your life but also other people in your family, work, church and community.

People who have higher EQ’s tend to have more positive emotions and less negative emotions or they are able to control their negative emotions easily and transform them to positive emotions. Negative emotions such as anger, fear and shame can cause conflicts. Positive emotions such as joy, hope and enthusiasm can bring progress.

Tai Chi is like a Swiss knife. Practicing Tai Chi not only benefits our physical, and psychological but also emotional health.

By slowing down each movement, it will help bring calmness and reduce anxiety. By relaxing our body, it will help us empty our mind and temporally forget about fear, guilt and anger. By putting more concentration on our movements, it will reduce our concentration on negative thoughts and emotions.

The preciseness and details of Tai Chi will help us think and repeat which better prepares our movements. If we could slow down, prepare, and think before acting rather then hurrying up and getting into a fight, we would not get in to so many conflicts.

We always consider our opponent’s reaction before each Tai Chi movement during practice of push hands. If we can do that for any occasions in our life, then we can bring progress.

Because the process of not having/ eliminating/ or having less negative emotions during Tai Chi practice, Tai Chi brings positive emotions and may increase our EQ. This is my point of view. Do you have any thoughts and comments?

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi '09