I will be posting notes and musings dealing with chiropractic, martial arts and health. My Chiropractic office is Glendale Chiro Care located at 1620 Victory Blvd., Glendale, CA 91201. Office phone is (818) 244-7600 or (818) CHIRO-00.
I teach Tai Chi classes at Golden Monkey Healing Studio located at 13259 Moorpark, CA 91423. Classes are held every Tuesday from 7 pm to 8 pm. Beginners are welcome. For more information please call
(818) 331-9107.

Yours in peace and health.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tai Chi Chuan-Ancient Martial Art of China

Tai Chi Chuan means Grand/Supreme Ultimate Fist/Boxing or Fist of the Mind Boxing.

Tai Chi utilizes the mind to develop your internal powers to create this ancient exercise system for health and self-defense.

The ancient Chinese developed Tai Chi for combat, to save their lives. Your best chance to survive is to fine tune your body to create optimum health and to use this expression to defeat any opponent. Tai Chi besides provides fighting skills, it also generates optimum health to increase survival probability by generating and circulating the internally created energy. This energy can be used to heal, for optimum health, to fight if you need to defend yourself and feel good.

There are many different styles of Tai Chi which are named after the family that created the style. Chen family style is the original style and Yang, Sun, Wu, and Wudang are offshoots of the original Chen style, but the principles are the same.

Tai Chi is only a form when expressed properly can be used for combat to save your life. You do not fight in slow motion, but you fine tune the body to flow with whatever speed the situation warrants. The form is a tool to produce a well oiled, balanced, coordinated naturally moving machine by utilizing the breath and the mind.
Clear your mind and body of stress, tension and energize and relax yourself naturally.
Learn the secrets of Kung Fu masters.

In ancient times the beginning students didn’t start with the form. Students practiced special standing meditation postures and breathing exercises before learning anything else. Each training session began with an hour of standing meditation to build up chi. Only after sufficiently developed did they start learning Tai Chi’s martial stances. They included meditation, breathing and martial stances. This lasted 2 to 3 years before tai chi form position was taught. Each posture was separately taught and they were finally linked together. Hold each posture for a long time. Chi gong means chi development and is as simple as meditation and breathing exercises

Students learn to relax their minds and breathe evenly. Blood circulation starts flowing evenly. This corresponds with the tai chi theory of silence produces action.

1) Breathing exercises. These include the tai chi form, where the body slowly moves. Proper breathing is a must for relaxation, just as relaxation is critical for good breathing practice.
2) What makes tai chi so beneficial for chi development? The answer lies in tai chi’s most important principles-relaxation and calmness. These are the keys to chi development.
3) Most people don’t realize that under tension or stress, they exhale longer than they inhale. If they are not relaxed while practicing tai chi, their shoulders tense and their breathing rises, throwing off the timing and smoothness of their form. Tai chi breathing exercises teach students to inhale and exhale at the same rate.
4) Without chi development, tai chi would be just another external martial art or exercise. Chi development comes from passive meditation and stance training. It must also include chi and physical activity, gained form forms practice and breathing exercises. Coordination and flow of hands, fine tuning the musculature creating more sensitivity and increased reflexes. Opening and closing the joints.

Tai chi form and applications—Tai Chi is a scientific martial art. If you don’t follow the principles, the result is poor tai chi.

Each principle is structured around precise body actions, incorporating different angles and directions. There is no question that good Tai chi comes through hard work and correct practice. If you do not correctly practice the form, you will never reach your full potential in tai chi.

The external appearance of tai chi form techniques, postures and footwork must be correct. This external appearance is how you position your arms and legs when you move. As a rule, correct form is also nice-looking form, but with tai chi there’s more to it than just beauty.

Once you learn the form and memorize its sequence, you must work on keeping five parts of your body down. From top to bottom, those five areas are the shoulders, chest, elbows, hips and back heel.

1) 1. Shoulders-always down and relaxed. When your shoulders are raised they cause your chest muscles to tense, making your breathing rise in the chest cavity. For martial art purposes, people with tense, raised shoulders are easily thrown off balance, because their bodies are too stiff. When you shoulders are tense, your striking energy is broken at the shoulder joint. This seriously restricts your power and force.

2) Elbows-down, it elbows are raised sideways; any striking or defending arm leverage is weak and energy is lost. Also raised elbows also make your shoulders stiff and chest muscles tense, causing you to breathe high in the chest.

3) Chest---relaxes and slightly concave. Correct breathing is another reason for keeping your chest muscles relaxed. Most people only use the upper third of their lung capacity when they breathe. The accepted goal for both martial arts and health is to use your full lung capacity and breathe deeply into the lower abdomen. To that end, you cannot have tense chest muscles and expect to breathe with your entire lung capacity. When you only breathe in the upper part of your chest, your upper body is too heavy and your lower extremities are too light, which throw you off balance. Also breathing too high in the chest causes the heel of you back to come off the ground. This makes it easy for people to pull or push you off balance
4) Hips and waist-No matter what style of tai chi you practice; your hips should always be tucked, with your tailbone turned upward. If your butt sticks out to the rear, your back is swayed and there is no body connection. This leads to little power and balance. Waist relaxed and flexible. A flexible waist makes your lower body foundation stronger by letting you position your feet in their strongest natural position.

5) Back Foot—when practicing tai chi, your back foot and heel must remain flat on the ground. A common mistake with tai chi practitioners is turning the back foot’s heel or pulling the side of the foot off the ground. Your feet must be flat before they are rooted and stable.

6) Now that you know the five parts of your body to keep down, here are a few more pointers on correct tai chi forms:

1. head-.eye position look straight and eyes follow your hand’s direction.
2.body level=loose power
3.timing(all movements in tai chi like pulling a silk thread form a cocoon-soft and even-being careful not to break the thread with jerky movements
4.. Weight shifting=if done correctly, your moving steps are similar to a cat. A cat steps so lightly, it doesn’t make sound. When you move the same way-light and relaxed-you advance and retreat easily and quickly in fighting situations.

Daily practice is essential for results and results will produce greater mental clarity, memory, concentration, relax and stretch all the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Samurai maxim- A man who has mastered an art reveals it in his every action.

Training is a process of self-discovery, modifying your personality to make yourself healthier, better balanced and more efficient.

Learning any art takes time and patience. Achieve it slowly. To keep moving and exercising you is important. The core of this art is the focus on your health.

Be Natural means to learn or do things without too much thought.

Tai Chi aligns the spine and improves posture. Internal school of Tai Chi calls the spine “the dragon bone or the “dragon” BECAUSE IT IS THE SOURCE OF ONE’S MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL STRENGTH.
Your spinal alignment transforms the internal energy from bottom to top.
Correct posture is of fundamental importance, not only in Tai chi movement, but also for individual health. A relaxed, straight spine is beneficial for health.

You can cultivate gracefulness in your life by practicing the forms.
Zen saying: “Change your body and the mind will follow”

Class Exercises to develop Tai Chi Mind, Body and Spirit:

1) Opening energy 5 exercises
2) Finger, wrist, elbow, shoulder, waist twists, neck, knees, waist stretching and body loosening exercises
3) Coiling arms exercises
4) Chi Gong breathing set
5) Tai Chi Chi Gong breath and movement exercises
6) Form
7) Tai Chi Walking exercise
8) Tai Chi Circling arms exercises
9) Push Hand exercises
10) Martial art applications of Tai Chi movements
11) Advanced Chi Gong, Bagua, I Chuan exercises

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meditation reduces pain levels

I have from time to time heard of monks who can meditate in the freezing cold and maintain a warm body temperature, and those who have a high threshold for pain. Well, it seems that science has proven that meditation helps reduce pain.

AFP, March 3, 2010

Montreal, Canada -- ZEN meditation helps lower sensitivity to pain by thickening a part of the brain that regulates emotion and painful sensations, according to a study published recently. University of Montreal researchers compared the grey matter thickness of 17 Zen meditators and 18 non-meditators and found evidence that practising the centuries-old discipline can reinforce a central part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. "Through training, Zen meditators appear to thicken certain areas of their cortex and this appears to underlie their lower sensitivity to pain," lead author Joshua Grant said in a statement.

Building on an earlier study, the researchers measured thermal pain sensitivity by applying a heated plate to the calf of participants. This was followed by scanning the brains of subjects with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI results showed central brain regions that regulate emotion and pain were significantly thicker in meditators compared to non-meditators.

James: This isn't news to Buddhism because reports of over-coming pain have been known in Buddhist history for centuries. It is interesting though to see science proving it. It makes sense though that meditation, which regulates the mind would help reduce pain. There is clearly a connection between the mind and body, so it isn't any wonder that Buddhists teach that oneness of body and mind through meditation and mindfulness opens the way for a calmer state of being. This is proving that through meditation one can literally rewire the brain, which surely has something to do with realizing long-term enlightenment.

I have noticed actually a higher pain threshold since beginning my Buddhist practice. I blew it off at first as being pseudo-science experiences but this makes me rethink that position. When I get tattoos I can sit through the pain to where at times it actually feels good!! I think that's in part because I meditate while getting the tattoo. The first few tattoos that I got where quite painful and ironically enough that was a time before I was practicing Buddhist meditation.

This also makes me think of the pain experienced from doing sitting meditation when first starting out or when returning to a dormant practice. Because the more you practice, the less painful it seems to get:

"The often painful posture associated with Zen meditation may lead to thicker cortex and lower pain sensitivity," Grant opined. Several of the meditators tolerated a maximum 53°C produced by a heating plate. They appeared to further reduce their pain partly through slower breathing: 12 breaths per minute versus an average of 15 breaths for non-meditators. "Slower breathing certainly coincided with reduced pain and may influence pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state," Grant said in the earlier study. Ultimately, Zen meditators experience an 18% reduction in pain sensitivity, according to the original study.

James: If everything is interdependent and interconnected then clearly it makes sense that the body can be tempered by the mind when its steered in the right direction. The mind in my opinion isn't entirely useless or bad as some Buddhists might believe. I see it as a wild horse that if tamed, it can accomplish some amazing things. After all, if we shut off the mind completely then we'd be piles of mush unable to be moved to practice compassion, loving-kindness and good will.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Yi Chuan: building strength called Hunyuan Strength

Student: So why is Hunyuan strength so important?
Master Fung: The development of Hunyuan strength is the basis for both health cultivation and self defense. You have to understand that health and self-defense are inseparable when it comes to martial arts. A healthy mind-body is the foundation of strength and awareness and therefore of paramount importance in Kung Fu. The exercises we use to discover and develop Hunyuan strength are beneficial to health. Much has been written about this...deeper relaxation, lubricating the joints, stretching the tendons, strengthening the ligaments, massaging the organs, etc. We are holistically exercising the body in a balanced way. Of course Yi Chuan is martial in nature, therefore we emphasize postures and orbits useful for fighting. When deployed with the proper footwork and timing, techniques expressed with Hunyuan strength utilize the capacity of the whole body to absorb, redirect and discharge strength. Powerful techniques can be delivered without much movement but with sudden and overwhelming force. By arranging our training to develop Hunyuan strength, we address the intertwined issues of health and self defense simultaneously.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yi Chuan information

Benefits of Yi Chuan

Yi Chuan is a unique system of internal training that has recently become available in the West. It provides almost immediate results and can be practiced by people of all ages and levels of athletic ability. By practicing Yi Chuan regularly for even less than a year, one can go from weakness to strength and from sickness to vibrant health. If one is already strong and healthy, then one can become much stronger. Practicing this art will increase mental awareness, help to alleviate chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, asthma, weight problems, diabetes, sleeplessness, nervousness, bad memory and poor appetite. It will also give one a healthier and more vibrant appearance.

Yi Chuan is regarded as a preventive medicine. For office workers, a half-hour in the morning is good for the nervous system, metabolism, and circulation. In fact, everyone who practices these exercises will experience his/her own development and benefit.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yi Chuan

Practices of Yi Chuan

Yi Chuan exercises are soft, slow and gentle, involving a minimum of physical effort while requiring significant mental effort: concentration, directed attention, patience, persistence, imagination, and visualization. The mind does more and the body does less than in external exercise, and the result is that a kind of surplus energy builds up in the body. The hallmark of Yi Chuan is the concentration on various "standing post" postures for the development of the framework of "internal strength." The Taoist philosophy is the primary foundation of Yi Chuan. One of the main Taoist principles states that the true essence of nature is simplicity and nothingness. Therefore there are no forms in Yi Chuan.

The stance work peculiar to the internal martial arts systems differs from the more external variety in that it treats the body as a single framework and unit-organism similar to a strand of pearls. Through continued practice, your body is strengthened and healed both externally and internally from inside-out. The sustained postures develop not only an extraordinary whole-body framework, but also a subtle emanation of chi can be felt.

The Practices of Yi Chuan are very approachable. One can practice while one is standing, sitting, walking and lying down. Through steadfast practice, one can soon experience a surge of vital energy throughout the body.

At its highest level, Yi Chuan is intimately linked with the concept of self-cultivation. Liberating the mind through self-cultivation enables the practitioner to develop a more intuitive consciousness - a central aspect of Taoism and Buddhism. By relaxing the mind into its own state, the Yi Chuan practitioner strives to regain the mind's original, self-existing pristine awareness. This awareness is thought of as the essential unchanging ground from which all things arise.

*For a reference of Yi Chuan practices, see Master Dong's book: Still As a Mountain, Powerful As Thunder : Simple Taoist Exercises for Healing, Vitality, and Peace of Mind

Chi Gong (Breath Work)

Six Powerful Qigong Secrets for Generating Greater Strength

John Du Cane
Over many centuries, Chinese internal martial artists developed numerous skills for cultivating immense strength and formidable endurance, with or without the use of weights (as in weapons training).

Here are six of the most powerful qigong techniques for increasing your strength:

Low-stance standing
Whole books have been devoted to the power of standing postures to develop strength and energy. Crucial elements include: aligning the body correctly to minimize gravitational pull and optimize flow, the ability to remain relaxed while maintaining a low stance and correct abdominal breathing.

Central to this technique is the idea that we can employ an almost photosynthetic capability to “feed” ourselves by absorbing additional energy into our bodies from the external environment. The effect is similar to pumping up a car tire. The body becomes, with dedicated practice, highly buoyant and resilient. High-level practitioners are capable of “bouncing” strikes off their bodies. Absorbing techniques require great skill and perseverance in the use of attention to induce this phenomenon.

Creating a vibratory current
This is a very high-level practice for “upping the charge” in your body. Again, the skilled use of attention and extended practice are key, as you learn to vibrate energy backwards and forwards to promote higher intensity within your frame. The potential with this kind of technique is unlimited.

Compressed breathing
Qigong masters discovered that you can regulate strength in the body by creating greater pressure in the abdominal area. There are several methods used for “packing” extra pressure by compressing the breath in a forceful manner, while holding the stomach area very tight. The more you do this, the more strength you will be able to exert throughout your body.

Localized tension control
Once you have mastered compressed breathing and developed your attention skills, you can learn to shift your qi and “tension” into a very concentrated spot or area in your body. The training for this often involves specific movements or held postures that help direct energy to that area. Even vulnerable areas like the front of the throat can be trained in this manner. To illustrate this point, one of my teachers would use a palm strike to shatter a ballpoint pen lodged against his throat.

Elastic winding
Internal martial artists figured out how to “load tension” into their muscles by deliberately twisting their bodies like coiled springs. This coiled position is either held for long periods or used as a preparation or transition for explosive action. Iron Shirt qigong uses this technique as do forms like The 18 Buddha Hands and The Five Animal Frolics.

Dragon Door author Pavel Tsatsouline gave a modern explanation of how elastic winding works in a past issue of Milo magazine:

“Muscular force is generated by actin and myosin filaments overlapping each other and forming cross-bridges…once the actin and myosin filaments have maximally overlapped, more tension can be realized by spiralling of the myosin filaments. A change in the length of the pitch of the actin helix may also boost force production during a very intense muscular contraction. Both processes can be compared to twisting a rubber band after it has fully contracted…it enables the muscle to store high amounts of elastic energy as the descending weight stretches the bands and the twists in the bands on the way down.”


One of the best actions we can take, with courage, is to relax....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome to My Blog

I will be posting notes and musings dealing with chiropractic, martial arts and health.

My Chiropractic office is Glendale Chiro Care located at 1620 Victory Blvd., Glendale, CA 91201. Office phone is (818) 244-7600 or (818) CHIRO-00.

I teach Tai Chi classes at Golden Monkey Healing Studio located at 13259 Moorpark, CA 91423. Classes are held every Tuesday from 7 pm to 8 pm. Beginners are welcome. For more information please call (818) 331-9107.

Yours in peace and health.