Archive for category Tai Chi

Wudan Sword Secrets

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A record of my writings of Wudan Swords to a dear Student.
Our sword form is quite the authentic one of the original Yang Sword form ( I have a book from Yang family showing the pictures and steps and it conforms) except that my teacher introduced in the sword techniques subtle cutting patterns (Winds he called them), slicing, chopping, poking, plugging. etc… These are ultra rare forms perhaps not know to the Yang family. I do not know and never met anyone doing it the way my master did it although I am certain someone here in China may also have that knowledge. For one part is regarded a secret. A famous student of my master (DFW) wanted to pay my master $50,000 for it and my master declined.

The reason for this is because from the many masters my teacher learned from he learned Wudan swordmanship from General Li Keng Lum (cantonese spelling by sound). He in turn learned Wudan sword from a master who was a hermit who supposedly lived in the forest and was over 120 years of age (and was a fruitarian – eating only wild fruits) and in turn learn his form from the founders in the mountains of Wudan.

I had seen my teacher perform under very closed door (never in public) and only to his closest student (6 including me) in just a couple of ocassions. He taught the few of us the theory of the Wudan sword but he would never teach anyone else. Those move he made at 92+ age were simply incredible and still vivid in my memory. I have never seen such elegance and skill. Certainly Wudan is both an art as well as a most deadly weapon when used in combat.

That why Joseph, dont expect to find total similarities with any sword pattern as my teacher introduced very unique moves and angles including the holding of the sword at the handle. Most people would hold the sword with the focus and grip in the forefingers (thumb and index) but the correct holding as you recall is in the in the thumb and the 3rd and 4th finger.

In addition, you cannot do sword correctly without all your ligaments elongated.

A Model for Longevity and Good Health – The Taiji Way

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I read the synopsis of Master Li Qingyun (李清雲) (1677-1933) of Sichuan, China and it impressed me as a role model to follow.

Master Li Qingyun was a Chinese herbalist, martial artist and tactical advisor. He claimed to be born in 1736, while disputed records suggest 1677. Both alleged lifespans of 197 and 256 years far exceed the longest confirmed lifespan in the western world of the French woman Jeanne Calment (122 years).


Some claim that Li Ching-Yuen was born in 1677 in Qi Jiang Xian, Sichuan Province.  By his own account, Master Li said he was born in 1736.  However, in a 1930 New York Times  article, reported discovery of Imperial Chinese government records from 1827 congratulating one Qingyun on his 150th birthday, and further documents later congratulating him on his 200th birthday in 1877. In 1928, a New York Times correspondent wrote that many of the old men in Li’s neighborhood asserted that their grandfathers knew him when they were boys, and that he at that time was a grown man. Further prove of his likely earlier birth date.  (It is customary as a humble Chinese practice to not boast of his/her accomplishments which would explain why Master Li would not provide his earlier date.

Master Li began early in his life gathering herbs in the mountain ranges at the age of ten, and also began learning of longevity methods, surviving on a diet of herbs and rice wine. He lived this way for the first 100 years of his life. In 1749, when he was 71 years old, he moved to Kai Xian to join the Chinese army as a teacher of the martial and as a tactical advisor.

One of his disciples, the Taijiquan Master Da Liu told of Master Li’s story: at 130 years old Master Li encountered an older hermit over 500 years old, in the mountains who taught him Baguazhang and a set of Qigong with breathing instructions, movements training coordinated with specific sounds, and dietary recommendations. Da Liu reports that his master said that his longevity “is due to the fact that I performed the exercises every day – regularly, correctly, and with sincerity – for 120 years.”

In 1927, Li Ching Yuen was invited by General Yang Sen to visit him in Wan Xian, Sichuan where his famous portrait was photographed. The general was fascinated by his youthfullness, strength and prowess in spite of his advanced age. Returning home, he died a year later, some say of natural causes; others claim that he told friends that “I have done all I have to do in this world. I will now go home.” After Li’s death, General Yang Sen investigated the truth about his claimed background and age and wrote a report about his findings that was later published.

He worked as a herbalist, promoting the use of wild reishi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs.[4] Li had also supposedly produced over 200 descendents during his life span, surviving 23 wives.

The secret of longevity

The article “Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog”, from the May 15, 1933 issue of  Time reports on his history, since it included Li Qingyuns answer to his secret of a long life:

  • Tranquil mind
  • Sit like a tortoise
  • Walk sprightly like a pigeon
  • Sleep like a dog

To this account, I met a family of Chinese doctors whose ancestry consisted of a lineage of herbalist where everyone lived past 100 years.  This gentleman was already in his late 90’s when he reveal to me one important concept.  He said one of the keys to longevity is to remember the following saying: “100 diseases emanates from one condition, Phlegm”.  He apologized for not being able to reveal all of his secret formula’s however he did reveal that every year twice-a-year their family members gathered to drink various soups and many formulas of which it had the effect of eliminating phlegm from the body.  One particularly herb is  川贝 (Chuanbei) which is phlegm reducing.

What The Tao Teh Ching Teaches

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I received some questions about Chapter 1 of the Tao Teh Ching.  I will elaborate as best as possible below:

Question #1: The problem (from my point of view) is that this subject (Taoism) is not easy to understand, making it difficult to even formulate a question.

Yes, the title of the book and the flowering content is sometimes considered misleading.  It is only easy to understand after you have acquired wisdom and can interpret its cryptic code.  The surface also appears to sound nice and mysterious but you have to study and interpret it.  Many ancient books are like to to hide secrets away from people who do not deserve the knowledge.  The flowery content makes everyone coming over and over to read it because it sounds pleasant and mysterious.  Yet is not easy to understand for the common person because it is not meant to be easy on the first try in order to discourage most people.  (it was not meant for everyone only for the selected few).

What Chapter 1 does tell you is how to prepare to develop that ability to foretell and find the “secrets” inside that text but not only the Tao Teh Ching text but the “secrets” around your universe.  Once you develop that ability, is as if a new world reveals itself.  I know for myself since I can now see more beyond and more into the future than before and see more the real truth beyond most people.  (But there are people that are better as well and any person understanding certain principles can also obtain it.  That is what Chapter 1 prepares you for.

The last extension of the question is a side note.  “Is that this subject (Taoism) my good disciple says…  The word Taoism needs to be carefully discussed here since some relate it to a religion.  The Tao Teh Ching (to my belief) does not promotes any religion and I would not even consider it remotely related to the religion some call Taoism (although some unwise people would bend facts to say it does for their benefits).  We are not discussing religion here.  We are referring to a tool left by very wise people for posterity for people of worthy cause to find secrets and develop into complete human beings and the the maximum of their destined abilities.

Question #2: Looking at it in the context of Tai Chi, one question I have (my good disciple asks) is regarding the statement, “If always desirous, one sees merest traces.” How does this relate to the “desire” to learn Tai Chi? Doesn’t one need the “desire” in order to learn? If we are desirous, will we end up learning mere traces of  Tai Chi and not the real Tai Chi? How does one know if what you have learned is just “traces” or if it’s real? Or have I completely misinterpreted this passage?

First, I see the Tao Teh Ching as a tool to complement the study of Tai Chi.  When I say Tai Chi I refer to the teachings embodied in the Tai Chi form of exercise.  The Tao Teh Ching becomes the intellectual tool to complement the written classics of Tai Chi the exercise.  (part of which I quoted in my prior posting called “ What is Taiji (Tai Chi), Really?“.

Next I will break down Question #2 into separate parts and provide answers as best I can.  The question refers to the statement “If always desirous, one sees merest traces”:

How does this relate to the “desire” to learn Tai Chi? Without desire you cannot accomplish anything difficult.  Tai Chi is difficult.  You do need that desire to achieve.

Doesn’t one need the “desire” in order to learn?exactly correct as said above.  You need desire to pursue a worthwhile and difficult task.  (I hereby emphasize the words “WORTHWHILE” and “DIFFICULT”.  You can consume your energy for non-worthwhile tasks that are also difficult and lose time and focus which could be used in the pursue of something more long term of value). However after achieving your goal, you can no longer pursue it with desire.  Is like an artist after completing its creation, it destroys it in order to not be attached to it.  (Only when you do this, you will seek for a higher goal.  If now you will forever be attached to that level and stay there enjoying yourself and not progressing).  Again, “Desire” is a tool to be used but only used for worthy things.  (hopefully Chapter 1 teaches you what you consider to be worthy – ie non-material and things are truly lasting.  No food, not clothing, not a TV set…something more valuable for you).  Later in the Tao Teh Ching, it refers to the fact that the wise person after achieving its goal, he “retires”, meaning gives away and stop working in seeking the goal, in other words stops using “Desire”.  I hope I have explained how Desire is a tool.

The Tao Teh Ching later on goes by clarifying that the only Desire you are suppose to have is the “Desire to Discover the Tao”.  So this may sound to some people contradictory (and many subjects in the Tao Teh Ching and Tai Chi as well are contradictions.  Here is where you learn that contradictions are also powerful tools.  This is for future discussion).  So, again, Desire must be used for valid purpose.  Using your Desire to accomplished things that have limited value will waste energy and time.

If we are desirous, will we end up learning mere traces of  Tai Chi and not the real Tai Chi?” You now know that you need Desire for anything worthwhile and difficult.  Tai Chi is worthwhile and is difficult so you need desire.  And if you have the right teachings you will learn the real Tai Chi.  That is why is important to have the proper transmission from an authoritative source.  I am most gratefull for the rest of my life to the teaching of my master teacher Professor Hu Yuen Chou.  But I also had the tremendous desire and I worked very hard and spent a lot of time and sacrifice to study and seek.  I certainly used a lot of Desire to pursue real Tai Chi.

How does one know if what you have learned is just “traces” or if it’s real?Tai Chi teaches to accomplish things with least effort following the Natural Law.  Assuming you have no modern facilities, no cars, no motors, how to use 4 ounces to deflect a force of 1,000 pounds?  When you do push hands you are trying each time to do the same with less effort.  Then you learn you can accomplish the same without any effort.  How to deflect 1,000 pounds without effort? not even 4 ounces?

If you are accomplishing that and getting better you are moving in the real direction.

What are traces.  Hopefully by now you can tell of a incorrect Tai Chi motion performed by many common practitioners.  Perhaps you can look at the physical movement of other people and tell they are using unnecessary force to do things and thus get injured.  If you have practiced Tai Chi with the right person and continue training and studying and asking and searching, you will arrive at the true destination, and the Tao Teh Ching serves as the guide.  (Read it once, keep reading, and 5 years later bring it out to compare again to see if you are still following its guidelines).  The same with Tai Chi every day make a Tai Chi movement and make sure you remind yourself to keep the ligaments stretched and how to use least force to get moving.

The exercise I demonstrate in class of how to move an object like a chair from one place to the other with least work and effort.  Hopefully you can also in your daily routine automatically unconsciously do effortless things and the realized later you did it differently and easier than before.  You can begin seeing that you are thinking and doing things other ordinary people have more difficulty doing or using more force doing.

Best way is to teach a new student who has never done Tai Chi.  See how ackward the movements are.  How undeveloped their muscles are and how undeveloped their knowledge is.  Also discussing Tai Chi with other apparent Tai Chi people including so called masters and experts.  Especially the charlatan ones.  You then begin to see thru the fault of others how your wisdom and true knowledge is developing.

The ultimate test will be to ask if the action follows the Natural Laws of the Universe.  This only means nature is your best teacher.

Today we have a lot of clutter and things that creates smokescreen in front of us and clouds the vision of what is real and what is not.  It becomes more important to pursue true knowledge.

Tai Chi Chuan, the exercise of Tai Chi, trains the physical body and develops the muscles of the mind to be able to receive deeper knowledge.  It is up to each individual to put it to practice.  Desire becomes a tool to not let go and continue your pursue, develop martial skills, body strength, mental discipline and give you the foundation to receive the knowledge.

I want to close by saying, the knowledge comes to you naturally but you have to have the body and mind prepare to have it flow into you.

To prove my point above using myself as the laboratory.  Many people rely on cosmic and obscure tools and fortune tellers that on their own needs profit and fool people that enjoy the “traces“.  Many of my students and family knows I have been making simple predictions over the past 8 years which now has manifested as facts now including the collapse of real estate and the stock market.  (Never did I knew how major it was going to be).  Now I will tell you on record that in the next few years from 2010 there will be major food shortages and pestilence and the rate of earthquakes will increase until the major war completes.  People will turn against people, government will turn again people.  After this period completes with the major war, peace will return for 50 years but before major disaster complete.

This is the Natural Law of the Universe reacting to the major consumption of yin resources oil and gas and material of the past 50 years and that now will lead to a reaction in yang energies in order to achieve balance.

Thru this period, practicing Tai Chi and meditating on the words of the Tao Teh Ching will bear you fruits and even prepare for it and for some others even benefit from transforming negative yang energy into positive yin energy.

Tao Teh Ching – Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 prepares you for the seek for wisdom and true knowledge rather than just ordinary knowledge.

I am using quotations from Lao-Tzu: “My words are very easy to understand” by Man-jan Cheng.

The Tao Teh Ching or Dao De Jing (simplified Chinese: 道德经; traditional Chinese: 道德經; pinyin: Dàodéjīng) is easy to understand but not to decipher.  Below are transmission I received from my Master.

Chapter 1: “The Tao that can be said (described)  is not the everlasting Tao.  A name that can be named is not the everlasting Name.

The word Tao (Dao or 道) means path or road.  It also implies a destination like Nirvana or a state of enlightenment.

This Chapter 1 phrase above says, that there is a true tao but it may not be the one most people are talking about and telling you. Neither is the one where a name is given.  Beware of the ordinary Tao that others say they know and you decide to follow and learn from them.  (Beware of ordinary knowledge).

This beginning statement is very important because if you start with the wrong knowledge it will take years or decades or a lifetime to undo your thinking.  If you have the wrong knowledge, is like getting into the wrong path or road, you will likely end up in the wrong place.  Start by seeking the right knowledge and the knowledge that can lead you to the right path (Tao).

Also, anything you say can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

Another way of summarizing the above is: “Beware of inferior and ordinary knowledge”, “You cannot describe the real Dao”. (ie you have to experience it, you have to internalize it.  When you have it you will know).

“That which has no name is the origin of heaven and earth”.

Here the author is using the words no-name to mean the true Tao (which you cannot describe and give a name).  So you read it as “That which is the Real Dao is the origin of heaven and earth.  (This implies ENERGY).

That which has a name is the Mother of all things”. So this is understood as the things that can be described and given a name and you can see (MATTER), is the origin of things.

The following is a cryptic paragraph which if you understand how it is arrived you can encrypt much of the book (provided you have been trained in an internal martial art like Taiji – Tai Chi).

Thus, if always without desire, one can observe indescribable marvels; (take not of the words INDESCRIBABLE MARVELS for later reference).

“If always desirous, one sees merest traces.”

Indescribable Marvels = cannot be described = cannot be said = Tao (ie. you can see the Dao and its manifestation, if you are always without desires).  But if you always have desires you only see the surface not the real thing.  (without desires and training you can see beyond what is in front of you, the real thing).

“Those two come from the same source but are differently named.” (“ENERGY and MATTER” come from the same origin but are name differently and have different functions but come from the same place – Taiji which comes from the state of Nothingness).

“Both are called Mysterious”.

“The mystery of the Mysterious is the gateway to all indescribable marvels.

The interpretation is that BOTH (what the “No name” and the “name” that leads to Tao and Traces are called MYSTERIOUS).  The word MYSTERIOUS is not used in the context of saying what it is but a name by itself.  It is not trying to say that both are mysterious but is saying that Both are called by MYSTERIOUS.  So next time you see MYSTERIOUS you replace it for BOTH. To be used in the next sentence.

“The mystery of the Mysterious is the gateway to all describable marvels”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it Chapter 1 has given you the secret to what is needed to find the Dao.

The mystery of the Mysterious.  ie the mystery and riddle of the Mysterious (who is the Mysterious?).

This is the sentence structure:

…the <X> is the gateway to <Y>.

INDESCRIBABLE MARVELS from above we said was Dao (Y) and the mystery of <X> is…?

The mystery (the secret) to <Dao> is…?


By understanding what is said in the above Chapter 1, the seeker is told that the secret to obtaining wisdom and superior knowledge (true knowledge and not ordinary knowledge) begins in understanding that the Mind must be developed, nurture, prepared and protected above all!

What is Taiji (Tai Chi), Really?

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This post starts a series of Taiji reports which I hope will become the basis of the Taiji chronicles to be published in the Taiji Page.

Taiji as known by most people who are outsiders to the true knowledge of Taiji, Taiji is a slow moving exercise.  Most people these days, if you asked they will say the have seen people “DOING” taiji in the park.  Mostly by older people.

Taiji is the way to understand about the universe and how you fit naturally into it.  The purpose is to be able to survive and strive in the real world.

Taiji is deep but is extremely practical.  When mastered, you can achieve physical and mental task effortless.

That is why the Tao Te Ching (Dao Deh Ching) says with inaction you can achieve better results.

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