The Japanese translation of my book PACKING: Supercharge Your Hands was issued in Japan in late August, so our first reader review just posted. This is a reader who really got this message (no it isn't my Mom she's dead these 20 years and more). Total stranger but the guy actually GOT THE FRICKING POINT. Enjoy either the original or the translation (below the Japanese text):
This book is for any Tai Chi practitioner who wants to experience relaxation and connection of every part of the body Every part of your body is unified after you perform this book's "hand work" even for only 10 repetitions. I felt my body relax and connect through this finger work and I was really amazed when it happened. I began wondering what I've been doing so far in my practice up until now. I really thank this author for revealing this secret method. Every time I practice his method I feel that every part of my body from back of my feet to shoulder relax and finally my wrists and palms are amazingly softened and loosened up, I've started to feel that if you don't practice this way you're wasting your time. The feeling is subtle in the beginning but gets stronger and stronger. It's quite simple work with incredible results, a great method.
Posted at 05:52 PM | Permalink
I was recently interviewed for a Japan publication. I thought one of the exchanges might be interesting to people, so here it is reverse-translated back to English :)
Q: You have said that internal power/spirit power or 勁 is a refined form of physical power. You train, sharpen, and refine your raw physical power through Tai Chi practice to produce refined 勁 (focused internal energy)。I assume that 勁 is more advanced than 力 (physical force)。So it should mean that 勁 is more powerful than 力. That is natural, right? So, which is the most painful to receive, 勁 (internal energy) or a boxer’s raw physical punch?
A: It may be surprising but the boxer's punch is much more painful to receive. The JING (kei) is used in two ways for Tai Chi. In one way, the kei can be used to trigger your opponent's own internal tension. Then his body will be thrown outward for a far distance. Somebody watching that will think the Tai Chi player has blasted the opponent with KEI like a fire hose of power. But it isn't that way. The physical power to move the opponent's physical body is the opponent's own body tension. The Tai Chi player will issue his kei power only to "trigger" the response of the opponent's tension. The sudden "explosion" of the opponent's own tension will cause him to physically move his body by himself. He does not "intend" to move, but he has to move because his own powerful tension inside was triggered by the Tai Chi player's KEI injection. It is like an atomic bomb - a neutron beam, which is not powerful by itself, is injected into a chunk of uranium . The neutron beam is used as a trigger to cause a chain reaction inside the chunk of uranium. It is the release of the uranium's own binding force that causes the big explosion, NOT the neutron beam directly. The Tai Chi player's KEI is like the neutron beam. But this result does not cause pain like a boxer's punch. It just makes the opponent's body move a great distance or stumble down to the floor. The other way that KEI can be used is to "drain" out the physical power of an opponent. This is an advanced use of KEI that is too deep to go into at this time. But that also is not painful to the opponent, as a boxer's punch would be. The opponent just feels weak, as though he cannot resist.
Posted at 05:04 PM | Permalink
Many people have experience with qi gong, nei gong, breathwork, sedentary meditation and yoga. Those are wonderful paths, but it's surprising the degree to which Tai Chi is overlooked as a pure energy blast furnace.The point of the work is to ferret out the best internal energy practices. Many people practice Tai Chi for health maintenance, personal combatives, or philosophical insight. In this program however, the quest for internal energy itself is taken as the central goal, and those other goals may develop in time, but they are not the immediate emphasis, nor will they be the direct result, of this program.
We'll begin with some standard principles and mechanics of the Cheng Manch'ing / Benjamin Lo Tai Chi form as well as some elements of the original Chen system, just a few highlights that anyone from 40-year veterans of this style to total newbies can readily perform, and then dig deeper into those poses and linking transitions that seem so simple on the surface. The leading question is: Can we do anything that is fully consistent with the Tai Chi Classic teachings that will enable us to hugely deepen our energetic experience of these basic mechanics?
Methods from my books on this subject will be presented, and we'll talk about how to integrate it all into a practice that yields massive energy harvests for the same amount of time that a more standard Tai Chi practice would occupy. If you already know a lot of other nei gong systems, you will hopefully find some ideas you can take-away and work to possibly integrate with your existing program. If you have not been introduced to active energy work before, you will hopefully develop some enthusiasm for the superficially simple and yet extremely intense results of an purely energy-centric approach to Tai Chi.
Posted at 12:01 PM | Permalink
Some teachers and writers love to hoke up internal martial arts (such as Tai Chi) by comparing them to dance or taking them as show-biz, symbolic ritual, or Vegas floorshow, whatever. The answer to all that comes straight from the purest source - Sagawa Yukiyoshi, greatest internal martial artist of the 20th century:
Some martial arts regularly hold exhibitions, expending extra energy in showing off for the audience. When the contestant strikes a blow, it doesn't look as impressive if the shoulders are relaxed, so he ends up putting power into his shoulders. The need for showmanship distracts martial arts schools that hold these exhibitions. That's where their energy goes - into pleasing and impressing the crowds. And so they deviate from the main purpose of bujutsu. Bujutsu is not a show for people to watch. Accolades from others are not the goal; if you seek that, you won't truly progress. What other people think doesn't matter.
Posted at 08:19 PM | Permalink
Posted at 11:59 AM | Permalink
People seem to think the danger of nuclear war is a thing of the past. I'm the total opposite. I think the danger is absolutely imminent and growing every day. You've got three nuked-up bullies facing off: USA, China, Russia. All of the commanders' and politicians neurochemistry is bubbling and stewing in some unholy froth of patriotism, nationalism, cultural chauvinism, pride of the volk, and general real estate envy. They gonna throw down.
The irony of course is that when they push the buttons, it will ostensibly be for the sake of the good people and the homeland's mothers and apple pies, but the fact is that the leaders of these countries actually don't really like their own people very much. They kinda hate them. Within their own countries. Within their own race.
In their own immediate organizations they are all backstabbing and crab-dragging one another to get advantage. The hate each other! And the poor losers who aren't part of their elite political games, those outside the charmed inner/winner circle? May as well be another (lower) species in their eyes. Basically what John Lennon said "they hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool". Totally nailed it there bro!
So even though these wars will be waged on behalf of the respective peoples with their precious "cultures" and all that BS, it's really astonishing to realize how little respect or interest their own leaders actually have in their welfare (except in a vague, abstract "volk" or "the hundred million" sense, that kind of bull shit). They truly give less than one single fuck.
Anyway. The comic above was published around 1953 or so. You may think it's dated, obsolete, a failed prophecy of a bygone era. Nope. The comic up to the last couple panels is accurate reporting on our world of right now.
For more please read the spiritual classic NAGENDRA, which is woven around the story of the previous time these war-mongering assholes threw down and almost totally trashed the place:
Posted at 03:10 PM | Permalink
In place of open comments here (TCGS blog) I have a small Facebook discussion group (anybody can join the admin will approve anybody innocent til proven guilty).
Recently somebody made an important observation over there:
What I've been working on lately is not so much flowing practice in the zmq37 form, but the transitions.
When in the named postures, I can hold the posture for a while and explore where I am holding tension and attempt to let go. I can make sure my feet are in the right place, my hips squared and so on.
In the transitions, of course cat step, crack step, etc. But what has really grabbed my attention lately is where I am holding tension during the transitions. For example, during the large steps in "Fair Lady Weaves Shuttles," I have noticed that habitually instead of sinking into my supporting leg and relaxing, I tend to tense up the shoulder on my moving side to try and hold myself up by my shoulder. This is wrong and is working at cross purposes to my trying to relax throughout the form.
This is very well expressed and it gets to a key feature of the ZMQ37 method. The method is engineered to bring the practitioner to exactly the above kinds of awareness and insight. Though of course not at all impossible with other Tai Chi and Qi Gong styles, it is less likely, or will take much more time, to achieve comparable awareness of habitual tension. That's due as much to psychology as to the mechanical structure of the respective methods.
As long as you have even the smallest scintilla of 'performance mind' i.e. you retain any trace of the mind nicely rendered by Carly Simon in her hit song:
You had one eye in the mirror as
you watched yourself gavotte
That kind of 'performance mind' will kill any hope of reaching the deceptively simple insight expressed by the OP above. But most practice methods out there, Tai Chi / Qi Gong / Whatever, engender 'performance mind' to some degree. But humble, simple, slow & plain ZMQ37 form is beautifully and consciously engineered under the hood to slip under the wire of this common human failing.
Another issue is 'arm centricity'. Most methods (though their great Founders never meant it to be so) somehow end up encouraging a tremendous and primary focus on arm movement. This mechanical patterning then allies itself with the more general human tendency to be fanatically arm-centric, resulting in a perfect storm of arm obsessivity. Lots of tense arm waving going on. This is a very subtle criticism for me to make, because the arms and hands ARE in fact super important for the internal, but ONLY as the terminus of the ARC extension. Not in their own right as normally performed. I can't restate the entire model here. My point is simply that, take my word for it, the ZMQ37 method, though it cannot totally eliminate this problem, is designed to minimize it as much as possible.
Another deep quality of the ZMQ37 method that even its own practitioners sometimes fail to fully grok is its detachment from a timeline. There is no unidirectional timeline. That requires some explanation. Most methods do not embody 'full undoability'. That is, you are fully committed along an irreversible timeline. You cannot do any given move or transition 'in reverse'. That's because either the steps are too long (performance mind again - long steps look cooler!) which means that to back up you'd have to distort (and tense up) your body in returning to the prior pose. The fajing accelerations as found in i.e. Chen Tai Chi are also temporally uni-directional and have no "Undo" in that sense.
Now, I myself love Chen Tai Chi, and I have known and occasionally practiced the full Old Frame 1st Routine since I was intensely grilled into it decades ago. I do respect the style. But that kind of work will never lead the average performer to any deep internal insight, for all the reasons cited. If you are a Tai Chi genius then fine, you're good. But the chances are vanishingly small that most of us will reach the profound internal states that I've discussed in my books through these methods.
Most methods have a unidirectional timeline pressue and forward-only ratcheting orientation that pushes you along (regardless of surface physical speed, I'm referring to a deeper underlying orientation here), in effect papering over the speedbumps and potholes that might otherwise bring you up short and trigger fundamental self-awareness, as nicely captured by the OP in his opening remarks above.
And, to return to the reader comment at the top of this post, what is the real issue here? Is it the identification and elimination of physical tension just for its own sake, or as just another obsessive human game? No. The pursuit of relaxation for its own sake would become just another physical/mechanical game, comparable to Feldendkreis or other such nit-picky practices. The ZMQ37 system is way deeper than that. The emphasis on relaxation is only to set the stage for what the relaxation enables, something far far more amazing and interesting, which is the activation of the true internal power (totally unknown or ignored by quasi-physical methods such as Feldendkreis and all the others of same ilk).
THAT is the real point of it. No physicality, not even relaxation, for its own sake. It's not easy to transcend the physical, even with such a sophisticated (though understated) tool in your hands as the ZMQ method. But don't make it any harder than it has to be. Don't let your method work against you, as most unwittingly do.
The kind of insight into one's own habitual tension which the OP has displayed (comment above) is the absolutely essential pre-condition for beginning to experience the real internal. The ZMQ method may not be a shortcut or a royal road but at least it won't work against you as most systems paradoxically do, for the reasons cited. The ZMQ37 is precision-engineered to trigger internal self-awareness which is the essential pre-requisite for internal power.
Posted at 07:40 AM | Permalink