How do we move/act without stress?
At the core of stress free living is the understanding that true relaxation or truly being stress free is not simply going limp, or giving up. In Tai Chi we say "true relaxation" is balancing circumstance and reaction and/or movement and stillness. Physically this correlates to relaxation not being limp, this principle is the first thing you learn in Tai Chi and Yoga, a concept that similarly forms the foundation of all meditation practices. To truly relax and be without stress we must have principles in place to balance the situation. In other words these principles form a sort of "skeleton" to our practice. In martial, physical and psychological practices this framework is the cornerstone we use to accomplish skill. Regardless of the particular practice the ultimate goal is balanced action w/ relaxation. Structure is the foundation of this relaxation, a way to live alongside of stress while still accomplishing goals.
In this post we'll dive into some foundations we can all use to accomplish stress free productive life!
The traditional classifications of Chinese Martial Arts
The path isn't the result... many times it's the opposite.
Working toward something we should act as if already having it, this outlook will make the journey much easier. However, it must be understood that the work which needs to be done rarely feels like the goal we are doing it for.
This view reaches far and wide but for the sake of simplicity, we will only touch on how it relates to two topics. Health and relaxation. Like I do with many of my posts let's kick it off with a quote! =)
True words are not beautiful.
"That will never work... in the 'cage'/ on the 'street'/ in UFC/ against a boxer or mixed martial artist!"
If you have I'd say you're/they're probably right. The problem with that statement is the UFC or 'the cage' isn't the be all end all testing ground for martial arts. When it comes to martial effectiveness I'd say there's a lot of truth to pressure testing technique. Moreso I'd also say 'the cage' or the UFC is one of if not the best place to pressure test your technique in a 1 on 1 all inclusive environment.
The more broad problem with that statement is that 'martial effectiveness' isn't the only goal in 'traditional' techniques, styles, exercises, or forms.
The focus when looking at martial arts, especially traditional ones, should be on asking "Does the art build a certain skill, attribute or does it have some other cultural or social relevance?" Various martial arts focus on different aspects of these. Boxing, JiuJitsu, and Mui Thai even fall into these categories. In particular we're looking at skills such as musculoskeletal health, cardiovascular and other forms of fitness, whole body coordination, efficient strength, posture, and rehabilitation of injuries and many more. After seeking the reasoning we then have to ask ourselves is this something we desire from our practice?
It all boils down to critical thinking. In this post we'll offer some references and knowledge to find reasons behind traditional practices and my personal reasons for continued practice of traditional martial arts. After reading this I hope you can make a more well informed opinion instead of scoffing at every demonstration you come by. =)
HAPPY WORLD TAI CHI AND CHI KUNG DAY APRIL 29TH 2017!!!
This brings to light one of the biggest conflicts I have as an instructor... The clash of business and the traditional familial mindset. These outlooks are what we're going to explore today.
How is Tai Ji a spiritual practice?
To quote the Tao Te Ching “The way that can be spoken is not the eternal way”
Spirituality is the same in this sense… I cannot tell you Tai Ji will give you a roadmap to spirituality. Rather, I can say with certainty that it will give you a way to search physically within yourself to find your own answers, and that it will help you become very intimate with all that makes up this shell you call your ‘self’
The following are direct quotes from Chuang Tzu. Keeping these in mind will help bring clarification for the rest of the post…
A poem to inquire
Life happens, this we know is true.
Today we wish was like yesterday,
but by living, the day passes through.
This line of time from present to past,
make the best of today,
for only the best minutes last.
The things we go through
yesterdays weigh heavy,
but by honor we stay true.
Our vision of future
with injury, self doubt, or failure
becomes like a tumor
Slowing us down
the days weight compounds
with our expectations, smiles, turn to frowns
"Flexibility is the key to stability!"
Potetamo, or Bodhidharma as he's called in India, knew this very well, and implemented a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises to assist his monks in meditation. Before this change of pace he noticed many of his fellow monks were falling asleep during meditation. In Tai Chi parlance we would say too much Yin not enough Yang.
In time this balanced way of training evolved into shaolin kung fu we see practiced so prevalent today. It all began from a simple monk striving to train vitality alongside of mental calmness.
In training Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi there are certain joints we should always stretch to keep open. Even if you are not training in a certain martial art we'll cover here the essential stretches we all need to do on a daily basis. =)
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage
Tai Chi Chuan
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu