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June 2011 - Editor's Notebook

Editor's Notebook

Wang Fengming continues his explanation of the eight techniques of Tai Chi Chuan and again gives detailed, illustrated applications that use plucking (pulling down), split, elbow stroke and shoulder stroke.
These combined with the first four—ward off, pull back, squeeze and push are the core techniques which are used with stepping forward, moving backward, look to right and shift to the left and central equilibrium.
One of the most difficult is central equilibrium. It takes many adjustments learned over a long period of time to get correct alignment for physical equilibrium while moving. More difficult to achieve is central equilibrium with energy, emotions and spirit. Both physical and intangible equilibrium are expressed in the idea of stillness in motion.
Howard Choy discusses the methods and benefits of dantian rotation. This is a meditative technique that has been adapted to Tai Chi Chuan.
Some meditation disciplines coordinate the rotation of a “ball” in the lower abdomen in coordination with the inhale and exhale of the breath. There can be six to eight or more patterns for these circles. They can also be coordinated with the Tai Chi movements.
A number of Chen style teachers I have interviewed discussed dantian rotation. Chen Qingzhou used a cast iron ball to teach students how to rotate the dantian. I have been told that in the Wu style of Wu Chian Chuan rotation of the dantian is done by some teachers.
There are many benefits to this practice. It centers the qi, stabilizes the mind, improves the health and once it becomes very natural it can improve martial skill. It can be done sitting, standing and lying down, walking or doing martial arts.
S. Dale Brown of Cleveland, TN, writes about his experience of keeping a journal regarding his practice and experiences in classes.
Very often insights or special experiences are lost over time and keeping a journal can preserve those experiences so that it becomes a resource to consult over time to refresh your practice.
He gives examples of journal notations and how it can influence and enrich the learning experience.
S. Dale Brown was first introduced to Tai Chi Chuan in 1996. In 1999, while attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Dale began training under the guidance of Dr. Zibin Guo.
Dale has continued his training with Dr. Guo and the Chattanooga Tai Ji Community studying Tai Chi Chuan, Xingyiquan, qigong, and wushu. He has also traveled to China and Taiwan to experience martial arts abroad.
Rose Oliver discusses how practice can change over time for a student and how teachers over many years can alter teaching methods.
For instance, she discusses teachers who as they age can change their practice while still being effective martial artists. She said they sometimes have younger, senior students teach more difficult routines.
The learning process is organic and necessarily changes as one builds on the experience of one’s practice. Of course, if one does not practice much, then not much changes.
Peter Ralston gives his insights about the meaning of double weightedness. This subject has been discussed a number of times in the magazine and each writer has his own insights.
Peter Ralston was raised in Asia and began studying martial arts as a child in Singapore. By age 20, he had black belts in judo, jujitsu, had been sumo champion at his high school in Japan, judo and fencing champion at UC Berkeley (where he majored in Pre-Med Anatomy/Physiology).
Eventually his focus became centered on Tai Chi Chuan, which he has been practicing since 1968.
He teaches internationally and at his Center in Pipe Creek, TX, and is the author of six books, including Cheng Hsin: The Principles of Effortless Power, Zen Body-Being, and his newest book about the nature of consciousness, The Book of Not Knowing.
George Jepson, a transplant from the Northeast to Truth or Consequences, NM., has been practicing Kwong Ping style for some 24 years.
Some people give up learning or practicing Tai Chi Chuan without much of a struggle. George Jepson won’t give it up, even with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which makes it hard to breathe out.
There is more about Yu Cheng Hsiang, who died last November, from his students, including Robert Murphy, his most senior student, Caroline Terrell, Dr. Kung-Ming Jan, George Locker and Stanley Moy.•

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