Saturday, August 9, 2008

August Practice Notes—Olympic Inspiration

If the Olympics serve any purpose, it's to inspire and awe. The same kind of honing of skills of body and mind go into t'ai chi practice. If you haven't tried t'ai chi yet, now's your chance to learn some of the basic movements and enjoy the good feeling and health benefits that the very accessible and adaptable art of t'ai chi can offer. If you've practiced for a while, use the Olympics to study how high-level athletes incorporated some of the identical principles into their work.

For more Olympic coverage, see the Taijiquan Journal blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"When will China host the Olympics?"

"Reaching for Gold: The YMCA and the Olympic Movement in China from 1895-1920"
Commemorating an achievement 100 years in the making, "Reaching for Gold" chronicles the answer to a question posed by a YMCA Secretary in China in 1908 while promoting physical culture in China.
Please join the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, the University of Minnesota China Center, and the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries for the exhibit's opening reception on Friday, August 8, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Elmer L. Andersen Library, on the U of M's West Bank campus.
The China Center also invites you to stay on campus to watch the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies in the Coffman Union theater, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
For directions and accessibility information, please visit or call 612-625-3445.
The exhibit will be on display in Andersen Library through September 27, 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday, and after Labor Day on Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July Practice Notes: It's all About Balance

Life seems so chaotic at times, doesn't it? The noise, pressure, demands of daily life can be overwhelming, with no relief in sight, and a promised vacation or hour to oneself remains ellusive. That's where something like tai chi can help. The few moments per day needed for practice can become not just a refuge, but also a model for how to go about daily life, with calm, perspective, focus, and balance. If you can perservere in creating those pockets of time for tai chi, you can then let those skills infuse your whole life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June Practice Notes---Tai Chi as Martial Art?

Tai chi, at its core, is a martial art and "self-cultivation" discipline, meant to strengthen the body through nourishing the qi, developing mental and physical focus, and understanding body mechanics. Throughout the centuries, tai chi masters have emphasized different aspects of theory and practice to suit their own needs and interests and those of surrounding society. (It may surprise some tai chi people to know that tai chi has even been promoted for patriotism!) Your tai chi practice will be enhanced by learning something about all of its different arenas: health, self-defense, ch'i (qi) cultivation, body mechanics, meditation, and so on. Each aspect will help you develop in new ways. For example, understanding the martial arts application of a move—regardless of whether or not you have an interest in that area—will dramatically help improve your alignment, body mechanics, reaction time, and rooting. Through exploring tai chi's multi-dimensionality, you can always keep your practice fresh.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Great River Director's Book Reviewed

Great River director Barbara Davis' book The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translaton is reviewed by Chinese martial arts historian Stanley Henning in the Fall 2006 issue (published Fall 2007) of China Review International. He writes, "Davis' chapters on the language and literature and ideas in the taijiquan "classics" provide the "icing on the cake"—the insights into Chinese culture, from which to savor her translations....I wholeheartedly recommend this book not only to taijiquan practitioners but also to anyone interested in Chinese martial arts and their place in Chinese culture."

Signed copies of the book are available; write to editor "at" for ordering information. For those who already own a copy of the book, an errata page can be found at the The Taijiquan Classics website.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Video and Book on Cheng Man-ch'ing

Two wonderful new items about Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing have recently been released. The first, the long-hoped for "Shr Jung tapes." These were shot in New York City in the late 1960s and have only been shown at special events. Through great effort, these were edited into a coherent, thematically arranged set of four DVDs titled Cheng Man-ch'ing: The Master Tapes. Disks are Form, Push Hands, Sword, and Ch'i (encompassing informal Q & A with students, calligraphy, and flower-arranging. The DVDs, though expensive at $149, are an incredible boon for any serious student, as you are able to "be in the room" with Professor Cheng, watch him teach, and see him interact with students. Ed Young and Tam Gibbs provided translation in the original videos, and you can see many familiar faces among the participants: Maggie Newman, Ken Van Sickle, Lou Kleinsmith, Natasha Gorky Young, and others. New commentary by Ed, Maggie, and Ken make this a very meaningful presentation.

Douglas Wile has come out with another valuable book Zheng Manqing's Uncollected Writings on Taijiquan, Qigong, and Health, with New Biographical Notes (Sweet Ch'i, $11.95), this time combining Professor's own short works with those about him by Chinese students, articles from Taiwan newspapers, and Wile's own extensive essays that focus on historical and cultural context. This is a very intriguing book with much fresh material that will give food for thought.