Archive for the ‘Taiji’ Tag

Qigong & Taiji Sets for All Students   1 comment

"Tiger" from Dragon & Tiger Yiquan

“I don’t have time for Taiji!”

So many times, I have heard this, usually from “non believers”, but occasionally I myself am guilty of such thoughts.

Well now…… If you have been training with me, you have been exposed to a variety of Qigong and Taiji sets.  It is important to keep in mind that eventually, as you assimilate the principles into your life, everything will be Taiji. Yet in the beginning, we all need some ‘forms’ to direct us in the Way.

This page is just a list of some of the forms that I have shown to my classes and some for advanced students.  With so many options, it is easy to just pick one or more depending on your goals or time frame.  All of my beginner students have been doing the first four or five on this list, and I consider these a “core group” of practices. Over time, I will show everyone all of these sets.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to get bored, so add the others in occasionally as you want to.  There is always time to get in a quick “Soaring Crane” or some Zhan Zhuang practice anywhere any time.

Some of the Qigong and Taiji sets for beginner and advanced students

1.)    “Wuji” a standing qigong for overall health, perform for one minute to as long as you wish!
2.)    Dong Family “Warm up Qigong” strengthens the posture and opens the joints. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.
3.)   Wudang Daoist Abdominal Breathing Qigong, five simple exercises that form the foundational skills for all qigong, taiji  and meditation practice.

4.)  Dong Family “Basic Qigong Set” builds and distributes qi through the whole body. Takes about 7 to 8 minutes to perform.

5.) Taiji Walking

6.)    “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The first section of the long form of Taiji (Tai Chi). A total body and mind Qigong and martial art form. Takes about 6 minutes to perform.
7.)     The Dong Family “Hard Qigong” A zhan zhuang practice that builds structural integrity in your physique. These ten postures can be done in as little as 5 to 10 minutes or as long as you wish.
8.)    “Dong (Yang) Style Taijiquan” The second section of the long form of Taiji. Takes about 12 minutes to perform.
9.)    “Soaring Crane 1” is a medical qigong set to strengthen your overall health. Takes about 5 minutes to perform. See video here: Soaring Crane with Master Dong
10.)    “Tiger Mountain” AKA “Taiji Gong” an assemblage of some postures from Yang style Taiji set. Takes 5 to 10 minutes to perform. See video here: Tiger Mountain
11.)    “Zhan Zhuang” or “Standing like a post qigong” Strengthens your stances and internal energy; I suggest just picking any of the postures from the Taiji form and stand still as long as you can comfortably. Take at least 2 to 10 minutes or as long as you wits to perform. See photos of Yang’s Taiji postures here: Yang Cheng Fu
12.)      Yiquan Zhan Zhuang. Eight basic standing postures and a few other simple postures designed to open the hips and strengthen the legs and back and build structural integration into your physique Takes from 5 to 40 minutes to perform.
13.)    “Dong Sitting Qigong, Long Form” From Master Dong Zeng Chen. A total mind and body Qigong for meditation, thrusting vessel, small circle qi and upper body strengthening. Takes about 30 to 40+ minutes.
14.)    “Dong Sitting Qigong” From Master Dong Hu Ling. A simple sitting routine for the upper body qi, the mind and the eyes.

15.)  Five Elements Qigong, Wu Xing Qigong is a nine form set that is a medical qigong toning the internal organs and meridians. See video here: Ziranmen Five Elements Qigong.

16.)  Muscle and Tendon Changing Classics, Yi Jin Jing is one of the oldest known set of gigong, originally authored by the famous Da Mo.

17.)  The Eight Brocades, Ba Duan Jin is another old classic set.

18.)   Zi Fa Gong, spontaneous Qigong comes when you have figured out some of these basic sets  then you let your qi body lead you to move or not to move.

19.)  Wudang Daoist (Hun Yuan) Primordial Qigong, a new set I have been showing and will be writing out soon…

20.)   Wudang Five Animal Forms, another new set I will be showing in 2012

Over time I will expose everyone to parts or all of these forms, just keep coming to class and reading online and most importantly: PRACTICE

Do some Qigong everyday!  Keep it simple but……Do it!

Qigong Attitude   3 comments

First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.

Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.

Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.

There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free.  The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses.  Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.

Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.

Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training.  Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth.  Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.

The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Tiger Mountain Taiji Gong   9 comments

Tung Hu Ling Photo from Chip Ellis web site

Taiji Gong… “Tiger Mountain”

This simple qigong can help form the foundation to  high level Taiji skill.

Dong Hu Ling was my teacher’s father and the first Dong family member to carry on the family tradition started by his father, the famous Dong Ying Jie. Dong Hu Ling had two sons, Zeng Chen, and Kai Ying. Dong Hu Ling was a world-renowned Taiji master.

Master Dong’s first name, Hu translates to “Tiger” and his middle name, Ling translates to “Mountain”. This qigong exercise was conceived by Master Hu Ling and based on some common Taiji postures; designed to be done standing or sitting.

Dong Zeng Chen does this form a little differently but I chose to publish the “original version” at this time.   A student of Master Tung Kai Ying first taught this Qigong set to me.  Sometimes referred to as “Taiji Gong”, most of us know it by Master Dong Hu Ling’s name, Tiger-Mountain.

Tiger Mountain is comprised of ten Taiji postures each repeated as you rotate your upper body from side to side while standing or sitting in one place and expanding and contracting as one would if actually performing the Taiji form.  Alternate the hands and subtly sift your awareness to whichever hand is on the leading side.

Master created a fun little poem to remind practitioners of the postures and their sequence.

In the beginning
From the clouds
She wove
Heaven and Earth
Then the tiger
Brought the horse
To its knees
Between two peaks
Across
And push, (and hold) to the end.

The corresponding Taiji postures are:

Beginning
Cloud Hands
Fair Lady Works the Shuttles
White Crane Spreads its Wings
Strike Tiger
Parting the Wild Horses Mane
Brush Knee and Push
Twin Fists Strike the Ears
Cross Hands
Push
Hold the last push and then end as if doing the Taiji form.

This easy to remember, simple to practice, and enjoyable Qigong takes about only 5 to 15 minutes to do and can be done at any speed you wish. Initially, move slowly and smoothly (concentrating on perfecting you movements) while keeping  your feet straight, but as you improve you can turn your feet slightly to get a bow stance and add some more speed and energy.

Advanced students can adapt this exercise into a high level skill by turning more, Dong Zeng Chen’s version is done like this.  You can also add intensity by sitting lower in a horse stance, Tung Kai Ying’s version is done in this manner, but with out the waist turns of his brother’s.  I like to play around with  learning to flow through the main Taiji stances as I turn from side to  side. Turning from a bow stance and turn-into a side horse stance and then into a horse stance and then repeat as they turn out to the other side.

Repeating:  bow—side horse—horse—other side horse—other side bow

When transitioning through the different stances slightly turn the feet and sink down each time you move through the “horse stance”  This method will totally rebuild your hip joint and help students “Open the Kwa”.  Be sure to use proper Taoist breathing techniques, don’t force anything.

After you have mastered the timing and the flow and of course the softness, you can try it faster. Eventually adept students can learn to use to add in “Fa Jin” to their movements. If you can master turning through 5 different stances fluidly and then deliver quality Fa Jin strikes you you will have a tool to help you take your Taiji to the next level.

This simple, soft, easy, and basic qigong practice can also show you the way to high level form practice. Helping to build power and energy for your health and for powerful martial arts performance.

Read also: “Taiji Gong”

Copyright Cory Williams 2010

See the related video on the sidebar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWPTt1ZfR5Y

The Way to be Followed Alone   3 comments

The Greatest Samurai circa 1645

Of the many things that can be learned from the martial arts perhaps the most poignant are the philosophies of some of these warriors.  These men were faced with a constant struggle with death always looming in the background.  The coping mechanisms they used can be an inspiration for us all to make peace within ourselves.

One of my favorite warriors of the ancient world,  Miyamoto Musashi was the greatest samurai and author of the classic book “The Book of Five Rings”  Musashi had a long career that included winning over eighty sword duels with other adepts. Later in his life, he turned to meditating and Zen studies. In his last days, in the year 1645, he sat down and penned this short list of precepts.
A few days later he died…..Leaving this profound list of guiding principles known as “Dokkodo” “The Path of Aloneness”

1.  Do not stubbornly rebel against the ways of the world.
2.  Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3.  Do not rely upon any half-hearted feelings.
4.  Think lightly of yourself and think deeply of the world.
5.  Remain detached from desire.
6.  Do not regret what you have done.
7.  Never be jealous of others.
8.  Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9.  Abandon resentment and complaint.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of love or lust.
11. Disregard your personal preferences.
12. Accept your dwelling and living conditions.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hoard ancient treasures intended for future generations.
15. Do not mindlessly follow the ways of the world.
16. Do not become obsessed with weapons or fighting.
17. Do not run from death.
18. Do not accumulate goods and riches for your old age.
19. Respect the gods, without relying on their help.
20. You can abandon your own body, but never let go of your honor.
21. Never depart from the way of strategy.

These ideals are presented by Musashi to encourage us all to cultivate the only thing of this world that lives on after we leave it….Character

Posted March 23, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in Buddhist, Philosophy

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Wu Wei…Non-Striving   Leave a comment

There is no "try" only do, or not do (Master Yoda)

Recently someone said to me, “I need to learn to relax”, after apologizing for laughing at the remark, I poised the comment, “Realize that you can’t learn to relax, you need to un-learn being discontent.”

When things are going well, they just flow correctly. A pro athlete never forces anything; neither does a pro musician, or an artist.  If they did, you could tell it was not quite right. When things flow from your heart it is true and correct and it shows. When we are balanced within and we are in harmony with our surroundings there is no “effort”

Every time I “try real hard” in life, I usually mess things up. So will you if you don’t understand the principle of “Non Striving”

Among the basic Taoist principles that can improve our lives “Wu Wei” is the most important and pervasive concept of all.  Not forcing things seems like an obvious concept to most of us and yet our competitive nature often encourages us to do so.  It’s not that “force” is a bad thing but unnaturally forcing things usually is.  Make things right with the universe and effortlessness is an indication that you “get it”.
Any feeling of “forcing”, “striving” or “contrivance” tells you that you do not get “it”.

The “it” I am referring to is the understanding that you are (or not) coming from your heart.  Do not think this is easy however, I’m no Pollyanna; you might say “It’s simple, it’s just not easy”.  The Tao Te Ching is full of commentary on this subject in fact almost every one of the 81 verses contains a statement about Wu Wei.

“The sage does nothing and yet nothing remains undone”
“My way is simple, yet no one can follow it”
“An infant can follow the way. But can an eighty year old?”
“To manage a large country is like frying a small fish, the less you poke it the better.”
“The sage leads by following”
“Water is the softest thing in the universe yet it overcomes the hardest things”
“The greatest misfortune is discontentment.”
“The sage never contrives greatness that is why he is truly great”

The other day someone said to me, “I was told (by a qigong teacher) to force the qi downward during qigong”, holding back a laugh I smiled and went on to explain “Wu Wei” a guiding principle.

When we relax, the qi will flow effortlessly, using “force” causes muscle tension that uses up more qi then it allows to pass through, resulting in less movement of the qi.

Again I recommend getting your very own copy of the Tao Te Ching (see my reading list) the philosophy of Taoism provides a foundation for understanding reality.

First, learn all you can; then forget it all. Learning is prejudice and contrived and will limit you. Having expectations can lead one to disaster. Knowledge is only a starting point, when we apply the principle of “Wu Wei” we turn knowledge into something far more valuable…Understanding

Posted February 13, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in Qigong, Taiji Principles, Tao, Taoist Meditation

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Front Page of Maui News   4 comments

Isle seniors learn graceful gestures

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo Cory Williams shows Kula’s Louise Brandeburg, 84, how to block a punch Tuesday.

Seeking strength and balance in the shade of a Spreckelsville monkeypod tree, a taiji class goes through its moves at Kaunoa Senior Center on Tuesday afternoon under the direction of Cory Williams. Williams teaches a half dozen classes weekly for Kaunoa, including locations in Lahaina, Kahului, Kihei and Spreckelsville. By mixing the “energy cultivation” exercises of “qigong” and the martial-art maneuvers of taiji, Williams said, he helps Maui seniors stay active and on their feet. Williams said taiji is now the accepted spelling of tai chi.

copyright Maui News and Matthew Thayer

Thank you everyone!!!!

Posted February 3, 2010 by The Maui Taoist in News and Events, Uncategorized

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Understanding Reality: Balance and Harmony   1 comment

Part 1 Balance

Align with Heaven and Earth,
Relax and discover the truth about balance
Move with dignity and grace through life,
And harmony will be your companion.

Balance is a function of aligning with Heaven and Earth, relaxing into our roots and exploring the confidence of equilibrium within the self.

Harmony is a function of remaining balanced as we move through time and space, remaining content, while interacting with the forces of nature that act upon us.

Balance is always first, only then can we harmonize well.

In life, there are many ways we can discuss balance and harmony…..
If you think about the opening words, it is apparent that I could be talking about many different aspects of balance and harmony; be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, they all share the same principles.

In fact, if we learn the hierarchy of achieving balance and harmony in one realm we can apply the formula to any of the four realms mentioned. Understanding reality is one of the goals of Taoist praxis, and understanding balance and harmony is paramount to that goal.

For Taiji practitioners as well as in all aspects of life this is a fundamental principle. For example, “aligning with Heaven and Earth” could mean, to know your values and morals and align to them, this could help you relax in a relationship, feeling secure and confident about yourself. The balance gained will allow you to compassionately harmonize with your partner and remain content.

Taiji (the supreme ultimate) teaches us how to achieve balance and harmony in all things through the understanding of the simplest of methods. I have written blog posts about this topic that can be found elsewhere on this site.

To review, the most basic is the physical then as we move inward the next level of understanding is the mental, then the emotional and at the center is our spiritual core.  Each level feeding its energy into the next one and each level is more complex than the one before it.  As we move up through the layers in quantum leaps, the understanding of the principles reinforces the reality of the truth of the hierarchy of our personal growth.

In regards to transformational improvement of our lives then, all we need to do is start with the simple, external physical methods and understanding will emerge with practice over time and through space…

Back to Taijiquan…..and balance and harmony….

When we move in Taijiquan we first need to balance, then we can harmonize with things as we move.  Now reread the opening lines and see what you can glean from the simple instructions.

In class, when we are transitioning to one leg, I say repeatedly…. Align, relax, and move.  There are two alignments. First, there is “rotational” where you align your nose, navel, knee and toes.  Secondly, there is the “Taiji Pole” where you align your Crown Point, perineum, and ankle, actually the bottom of your foot about 1 inch in front of the ankle.

After you are aligned with Heaven and Earth just relax into your leg and explore some counterbalancing with your arms and legs until you find that one spot where you feel confident. When you move (step) maintain a moving counterbalance to harmonize with your movement.

The Taoist sees the simple in the complex and the complex within the simple, achieving balance and understanding all things trough harmonizing with the principles of nature.