Chinatown Tai Chi Center


March/April 2011
Posted By: Sifu Calph
On June 14, 2011 at 17:54

The teacher learns twice

by Sifu

Every week when I drive to teach at our current Lauderdale location, I am grateful for all of our students who drive from various locations in the city to practice tai chi. As I travel, I'm also reminded of what it took to make this school a reality.

Back in 1992 there were no schools in the Twin Cities that taught the Yang Cheng-Fu style of tai chi chuan that we teach. In order to learn this style, I had to travel to train with Grandmaster Wong at his headquarters school in San Francisco. It was a 2,000 mile trip for each session of training.

And after each of these sessions, I was never sure if I could remember all the things I had learned once I got back from the 4,000 mile round trip. I just kept rehearsing Grandmaster's advice to me: "Just practice what you have learned so far and don't worry about what you haven't learned yet."

Fortunately for me, when I returned from those training trips, I taught everything that I had learned to my own students. As the saying goes: "The teacher learns twice." I "learned" whenever Grandmaster taught me. And I "learned" every time I taught to others what my teacher had taught to me. To this day, I continue to encourage all of my advanced students not just to learn but to teach.

Nearly two decades since I began training with Grandmaster Wong, there now exists a Yang Cheng-Fu style school in the Twin Cities. Students no longer have to travel to the West Coast in California to learn the original "Yang Family" style. And just in case you're wondering how Grandmaster Wong learned this style--the answer is that he himself traveled thousands of miles in order to train with his own teacher, Professor Hu Yuen-Chou in Hong Kong.


Eastern Science Confirms Health Benefits

by Kathy White

We all know intuitively that our practice of tai chi improves our physical well-being along with our spiritual and emotional well-being. Did you also know that this has been demonstrated scientifically many times?

Most research on the health benefits of tai chi have been conducted in the elderly population. And in the elderly, tai chi provides many health benefits including improved balance and prevention of falls. Until recently, younger populations had not been studied to see if tai chi conferred health benefits.

Recently a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Promotion Internation, (Vol. 19, No. 1, pp 33-38), examined the health benefits of tai chi in middle-aged women. It was a small study with significant findings. Seventeen sedentary but healthy women aged 33-35 were enrolled in a 12-week tai chi program that met three times a week. A group of similar women matched for age, body size, and activity were also monitored as a control group. At the end of the twelve weeks, the women who actually did the tai chi had significantly improved dynamic balance, flexibility and kinesthetic sense.

The most impressive finding was a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the tai chi group. The study had some limitations, as do all studies, but it supports the notion that tai chi practice confers a significant health benefit to those who engage in the practice of tai chi--or at least in middle-aged women.

It is not only our Eastern style intuitive knowledge but also a demonstrated Western style fact. When friends ask you why you do tai chi, share this good news with them!


Tao Te Ching

by Nikki

Chapter 48

In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.

What a refreshing way to be reminded that our world has become too complicated. How impatient I get when my smart phone doesn't respond fast enough! Instead of playing Angry Birds, maybe I should just listen to the birds.

In tai chi terms, we are reminded that simple and efficient movements in the form are correct. But what is non-action? It can't mean that standing still is the Tao: well, no. But in addition to the simplicity and efficiency of movement, subtlety has an important place in both the form and in the partner work. Subtle movements: the slight turning in of the toe, the pressing out of the back knee, the focus outward instead of down; these subtle movements look like "non-action" but make all the difference in success. The form directs us in big circles, to teach us how, and partner work uses small circles to efficiently direct chi and uproot the partner.

One of Lao Tsu's recurring themes is to warn leaders to refrain from interfering in the lives and pursuits of the people. The last lines are a reminder to guide and redirect, instead of using force against force in partner work. It might also be the way to raise strong-willed children and train rose vines.

Newsletter for Jan./Feb. 2011
Posted By: Sifu Calph
On February 13, 2011 at 10:33

Wishing you a Stupendous "Year of the Hare"

by Sifu

Anticipating the new "Year of the Hare" always reminds me of the story of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise is slow moving. The hare moves very fast. But the hare loses the race to the tortoise, deciding that it is safe to stop for a nap, as slow can never beat fast. 

From tai chi, we learn the value of moving slowly. It seems natural in our hectic world to always move as quickly as possible and rush to meet our goals and deadlines. However, tai chi shows that this attitude, taken to its extreme, can become self-destructive. There is a Chinese saying: “If you rush, you will shorten your life.” 

At the same time, we should keep in mind that tai chi doesn't always have to be done slowly. Tai chi is not always slow. It has been called “the slowest art and the fastest art.” Tai chi is practiced slowly for health & circulation; but in martial use it is very fast. For example, when students practice the push hands pattern together, it seems to be slow...even...continuous.  But when you put out energy in actually pulling or pushing your partner over – it is very fast. Your partner is uprooted in an instant!

In this Chinese “New Year,” we should take both the tortoise and the hare as our tai chi teachers: both soft and hard, slow and fast...working together.

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Member's Tai Chi Vignette

by Michael K.

I have been a member of Chinatown Tai Chi for the past 4-5 years. My contact to Tai Chi started by a series of events which I will try to explain. After a night out with some old Army buddies, I found myself in a situation. In the morning, I was sitting outside of courtroom on a bench; elbows on knees, my suit a mess and my shoes caked with last night’s dinner. I was in need of a bath.... OK, you could say I was hung over. As I waited, an old Chinese man, who was impeccably dressed, walked by. He stopped and looked at me, I heard him say, “tai chi.” In court I was given community service time. Remembering what the old Chinese man said, I offered tai chi as part of my community service.

There is an epilogue to this incident. A few years later, I ran across this old Chinese gentleman. He did remember me from court; something about my appearance and demeanor stayed with him. I began thanking him; although he knew of tai chi, he denied saying anything about tai chi. He remembers saying “Tide cleans,” apparently this gentleman is quite fastidious.

I continue to come to Chinatown Tai Chi Center for a number of reasons. Sifu Phyllis’ leadership is positive. Her style is clearly seen in her instructors. They are patient; they encourage as you struggle with a form, their corrections make the form feel right. Also you can ask an advanced student a question, and they are helpful. The overall "air" among students is camaraderie. People want you to do well; there is not a sense of competition or hierarchies.

Finally, why do I practice tai chi? I have never found words to describe this. Yes, I enjoy doing the forms. There is a feeling when you do a form correctly of inner satisfaction. Yes, there are reported health benefits. My physical balance and knowing my body space, has improved. I continue to practice Tai Chi and maybe one day the correct words will come. 

- - - - - - -

Tao Te Ching

by Nikki

Chapter 33 is another very well-known passage of the Tao Te Ching. This theme of knowledge and humility is one of the major lessons for leadership; the theme also has implications for Tai Chi practice.

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.

He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of will power.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.

This chapter reminded the nobility of Lao Tsu’s era that knowledge alone is not enough. True enlightenment requires humility. It’s no wonder that Lao Tsu had trouble finding a king to welcome and support him. All the major religions have taught these same themes – humility, self knowledge, patience.

This chapter reminds us of the internal nature of Tai Chi: knowing and mastering self, and staying and persevering are valued over focusing on outward things and overpowering others. In partner work this can be interpreted as knowing our own bodies and what they will do, having confidence that bringing our best to the partner work experience will be enough, and maintaining the patience needed to learn and grow. These qualities are valued more than “book knowledge,” more than mastering others, and certainly more that amassing the “riches” of tournament trophies. Finally, the very last line, applied to partner work, could be reworded to say, “Yield, but don’t give up – that is the way to stay with your partner.”

Newsletter for September 2010
Posted By: Sifu Calph
On October 22, 2010 at 07:29

A New Home

by Sifu Calph

The Plymouth-Macalester space served us very well for about ten months. But, as you know, we had many interruptions, disruptions and the carpeting was hard on our knees.

The space at Lauderdale has been a pleasant change. We have a well-lighted space, a great floor, no interruptions and a good feel to the space all around. So far, student comments have been very positive. Thanks to all of you for your great support.

Chinatown Tai Chi Center has moved several times since its beginning in 1992. After every move, I was reminded that it doesn't matter where you practice tai chi as along as you keep moving forward. It doesn't matter what space you practice in as long as, having laid a foundation for tai chi, you continue to practice and make progress—whether your goal is to build a five story building, a ten story building or a skyscraper.

Exploring our Newsletter

by Michael D.

We are enjoying an excellent newsletter at Chinatown Tai Chi Center and we want to recognize what we have and benefit from it. It is interesting and varied, drawing input from different voices within our group. It also includes information that could benefit your practice of tai chi.

In order to bring the newsletter more into the midst of our experience, Sifu asked me to lead, in class, a discussion of the last issue. Unfortunately it wasn't much of a discussion. There were too many "deer in the headlight" expressions around the room.

So in the future I will prepare a short survey to get input, questions and reactions from you about the current issue. Then I will bring your input into a discussion in this class. This will encourage us all to read our great newsletter, stimulate your thoughts about what's in it and allow us to avoid starting a "cold" conversation when we discuss it in class.

So, read, enjoy and value our publication, and be sure to thank Jaime for her great work.

Member's Tai Chi Vignettes

by Kathy

Tai Chi is my home.

I started Tai Chi in 2008, a short few years ago. While martial arts have been a part of my life for many years, I could no longer participate in "hard style" martial arts. Nevertheless, the ache for the discipline of martial arts was still in my heart.

I visited many Tai Chi schools in the Twin Cities before joining Chinatown Tai Chi Center. When I first walked into Chinatown, I knew I was home. Other students greeted me warmly and with a genuine desire to have me in class. Sifu Calph spent time with me, a beginning student. This is unheard of in many other schools of martial arts. I loved the emphasis on personal development, not learning targeted forms for promotion.

I immediately observed and appreciated the direct lineage of the past masters to Grand Master Doc-Fai Wong, founder of the Plum Blossom International Federation. Later I learned that this organization really is international with schools on every continent except Antarctica.

Soon I had a new group of friends at Chinatown, other people who treasure what Tai Chi brings into their lives. Some have sash fringes that are more advanced than mine; some have fringes less advanced than mine. It doesn't seem to matter. At Chinatown, every student is valued.

Tai Chi brings a peace and sense of inner relaxation into my hectic life that was never there before. Our world is so full of noise and clutter that the moments I spend in standing meditation are a gift of great price. I was not so enthusiastic about meditation of any sort but have learned the value of it through Tai Chi and the encouragement of Sifu Calph.

Tai Chi is practiced quietly in contrast to many other styles of martial arts that emphasize noisy exhalation of a big breath during a strike. The quiet beauty of an experience Tai Chi student in practice is amazing, graceful and balanced. At the same time, Tai Chi is a very powerful martial art and complements my previous training. I look forward to the day when my Tai Chi looks as lovely as some of the advanced student's Tai Chi. I have a place that brings me peace and allows beauty into my life.

Tai chi is my home.

Learning Terminology from the Lo Han 18 Form

Fun-sau 立手: Separate Hands: Roll palms before performing fun-sau when the hands are at solar plexus level or lower. Omit rolling the palms when the hands start from above solar plexus level. Performed as a wrist release move, fun-sau is a signature movement in Choi Li Fut. Keep wrists straight in the final position.

Ding-yuit 按月: Pressing the Moon: An upward pressing motion with both palms in a horizontal position. Use the forearms to block a double downward strike to the head or clavicles.

Fut-sum-jeung 佛心掌: Buddha Heart Palm: A thrusting strike to the solar plexus or sternum using the edge of the palm. This strike is sometimes called san-kiu.

How's Your Tai Chi Knowledge?

Challenge: Okay, as a health art, tai chi doesn't work on the heart directly (like aerobics)--but through some other system in the body. My question for you today is: What system in the body does tai chi work through?

Answer: Tai Chi works through the vascular system. It increases blood flow and it improves circulation. And blood flow has a lot to do with the healing process.

Tao Te Ching

by Nikki

Lao Tsu's very short work outlines the spiritual philosophy of the Taoist philosophy. Confucianism, on the other hand, is concerned with the rules and practicalities of everyday living. One of the reasons I like Lao Tsu's poem so much is that he uses everyday metaphors to explain the philosophy, making it just as lively today as it was 2500 years ago. Chapter 53: "If I have just a little sense, I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be of straying from it. Keeping to the main road is easy, but people love to be sidetracked!"

Chapter 64, at 22 lines, is one of the longest chapters of Lao Tsu's work and contains the principal themes of the entire work. These principles are Genesis, the Female (Yin), Union with the primordial, Emptiness, and Knowledge with humility.

Two nuggets from that chapter are especially important to me:

The brittle is easily shattered
The small is easily scattered

In partner work we try to remember to stay "soft" and not "brittle" and to neutralize our partner's attack before it becomes too powerful to control. If our partner is "brittle" or attacks in a small way, we can take advantage of that mistake.

Possibly the most famous lines of the entire poem:

A tree as great as a man's embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.
It's important whatever our level of skill, to be patient with ourselves, and to keep moving forward. Every shovel of dirt is vital in creating the terrace.
Every step is vital in the horny, so taking the first step is as important as taking the last step.

Newsletter for May, 2010
Posted By: Sifu
On May 01, 2010 at 12:00

A Splendid Seminar

On April 17th and 18th, Chinatown Tai Chi Chuan was proud to host the 2-Person Push Hands seminars taught by Dai Sihing Richard Wong. The two days of seminars flew by leaving many students grateful for Dai Sihing Wong's tutelage and with a desire to continue developing the form. While the seminars were exhausting they were also greatly enriching and beneficial to the students who attended. Dai Sihing’s patience and willingness to repeat directions, answer questions, and demonstrate his knowledge were admirable and appreciated.

Comments from a couple of students:

  • "What a skilled and patient teacher Richard is!For a minute there, it all made sense! Now, we can practice to get it right." – Advance Student
  • Richard's energy was exhausting, his patience encouraging." – Intermediate Student

Body Wellness and Acupuncture

by Sifu

Early in my practice of tai chi, I became aware of other forms of "body work." It was as if this "tai chi door" opened, and it made me aware of how my body works. And then all of the connections started happening.

An example is my first introduction to acupuncture. On one trip to San Francisco to learn from Grandmaster, I had some "not-so-fresh seafood." I became deathly ill. But nothing was going to keep me from my intended purpose of training. Grandmaster asked what was wrong with me, and physically I was so sick I could hardly talk. But I told him.

He told me to come into the treatment room. I’d never been a pincushion before and was nervous. After my acupuncture treatment, he told me to go back to my hotel and sleep. All I could think of was the wasted day. But when I woke up five hours later I was totally refreshed, without pain or nausea. My doubt about this form of body work slipped away.

A few years later I was again in San Francisco, and Grandmaster noticed that I was in pain. My shoulder hurt, and I couldn’t turn my neck easily. For the second time, I found myself in his treatment room. After this acupuncture treatment, I rested for an hour and returned to the floor to practice. The pain I’d been experiencing in my upper back and shoulder was gone.

What did I learn from all this? I learned that physical exercise alone will not always be enough to keep you healthy. There are times when we need the help available through arts like acupuncture when our "self-healing" mechanism doesn't work well.

Stand Your Ground

In an effort to learn the proper Chinese names for the stances we use in our tai chi chuan forms, I am giving you the name of some stances and their definitions. I will include different stances in each newsletter. You should become familiar with them. Here are the first two.

  • Diu-ma - Cat stance. Twenty percent of your body weight should be on your front leg and eighty percent on your back leg. If your left foot is forward, it is a left diu-ma.
  • Sei-ping-ma - Square horse position. Both legs are equidistant from the body and the toes always point forward and the knees are pressed out. Looking to the left is a left sei-ping-ma, looking forward is a front sei-ping-ma.

How's Your Tai Chi Knowledge?

Challenge: Most of you know that "double-weighted" in tai chi refers to having your weight equally distributed between both legs, rather than having the majority of the weight on one leg rather than the other. The challenge for you to answer is: "What is another example of being double-weighted in tai chi?"

Answer: If a person attacks you with "hard" and you respond with "hard," that is also "double-weighted." Tai chi says: use soft to overcome hard. So, if you are both "hard," then that would also be "double-weighted."

Member’s Tai Chi Vignettes

by Satish

I joined the Chinatown Tai Chi Center about two years ago. I had researched the school and contacted Sifu. After I attended the first few classes, I knew it that I had landed in a very helpful group and that they understood the Tai Chi concepts pretty well. I resolved at that time to stick with the group as long as I could. For some reason, I did not give importance to Fringes but rather to the practice itself which helped in my morning/evening meditations immensely.

There are three important points that I learned and was able to implement in my day-to-day activities and I want to describe them here.

Bend your Knees:

The first point is specifically about breathing. When the body is healthy and the mind is free and both are truly relaxed, we take a nice, light and almost cool breath. I learned that when I bend my knees in a tai chi stance, I can create this breath easily and, more importantly, direct it into the dan tien region of my body. This helped me immensely in my meetings at work. When talking to a group, if I get nervous, while standing I simply bend my knees a little. This makes me take a deep breath into the tummy and relaxes me a lot. The good thing is that nobody knows I am doing it, they just see me standing in front of them while I speak.

Look Beyond:

I like the part when Sifu says to "Look beyond" while practicing Tai Chi. I learned that looking far and beyond (not absent minded) relaxes the mind and somehow makes me energetic. I use this in my day-to-day activities. If I get challenged with a problem, I simply write it on a piece of paper. Then, while in Tai Chi or regular meditation, I practice looking beyond the paper and the problem. Believe me, this helps me a lot.

Bent But Not Bent:

april, one of my teachers, always repeats that Grandmaster says "bent but not bent." She specifically corrects me when I am doing Repulse Monkey. In essence, when the hand strikes it should look bent and at the same time straight. While striking, I think the opponent should see the strike has been done with all the power. So he might see a straight hand after the strike. But in reality, from my side, I am not giving all the power when striking; I hold a little back. This automatically makes the hand a little bent. This is helping me a lot at my day-to-day work. For example: when giving out any pertinent directions/information at work I tell myself "bent but not bent" and I know how much information to hold back and how much to give out.

I sincerely thank Sifu and the group for guiding me during Tai Chi class and I hope to attend classes as regularly as I can.

Newsletter for March, 2010
Posted By: Sifu
On March 01, 2010 at 00:00

Tai Chi and Massage

by Sifu

Often I've wondered what my life would be like if I had never studied tai chi chuan. In future newsletters I plan to share some of my tai chi experiences. Now though let me talk about some other forms of body work that I became aware of once I’d started training in tai chi chuan.

When I first began training in tai chi (and even up through today), we would often practice hard for a couple of hours and mostly it was three times a week. Sore, tired muscles were the result. Then came the revelation that many of the early tai chi masters would not only inflict pain and injury on an opponent to harm them but they were also trained in how to heal people with touch.

From that I had a growing desire to learn more about the healing touch. I enrolled in massage school and completed a course. It was a great experience. The results gave me such an appreciation about healing the body with touch. Later Ed took a course in Shiatsu and I was again so impressed that I took a short course to learn more about that type of body work as well. Massage has always been an important part of my life, whether self massage, working on someone else or getting a massage myself.

In actuality, massage and tai chi are closely related. In many ways push hands is like a massage. It is good for health and is a kind of "self massage." And one of the benefits of practicing the tai chi forms is that it massages the "internal organs."

Member’s Tai Chi Vignettes

My name is Chris and my first experience with Tai chi was in Michael Dotson's class at MCTC. I needed a physical education credit for the degree I've been working towards and I had read about the health benefits of Tai Chi. As the semester came to a close, I asked Michael where would be a good place to continue as I was enjoying his class. He brought up Chinatown Tai Chi Center. I looked up the school; however, it was ways from home. I chose to look into other schools that were closer to home. After my research, I decided that the drive to Chinatown Tai Chi was worth it. The lineage of our past masters makes this school feel more "legit" than other schools. When I finally get properly rooted into a form, it is obvious that this art has been around a while. I also like that there were multiple instructors - the more ways I’m told to keep my elbows down the more likely it is to sink in. One aspect of Chinatown I didn’t realize until I had been here a while is that Sifu Calph’s happy spirit brings joy to every class. Thank you, Sifu.

Getting Erika and Sarah to join me in this exercise took some cunning. My daughter, Sarah, likes the exercise and body strengthening she gains from Tai Chi. She also enjoys the company of adults who treat her as part of the group and not like a kid. However, I’m pretty sure that showing her some of the "intention follows your eyes" exercises was what really captured her attention. Erika, my wife, was pretty skeptical at first. I showed her the brocades, which she liked, but the whole idea of standing on one foot had her worried. I finally convinced her to attend a class to just watch; our wonderful teachers got her to join in - and yes, she can balance on one foot. Erika's glad that I encouraged her to join me and is feeling the health benefits. She also enjoys the community and laughter in learning. One of my favorite parts of Tai Chi is after the forms become internalized; there is a very calming aspect to practicing this art.

How's Your Tai Chi Knowledge?

Challenge: What is the fastest way to make progress in tai chi?

Answer: Grandmaster said that he fastest way to make progress in tai chi is just to practice. Just keep practicing, trying to make it better.

Challenge: In tai chi push hands we talk about developing "listening energy." But "listening" does not mean that we listen with our ears. So, my question for you is: What do we listen with?

Answer: In push hands, you listen with your hands and your mind, not your ears. You listen with your skin by using your skin as an antenna. You wait for your partner's actions and deduce how they will react. You learn to listen by touch. (acceptable answers are: hands/mind/skin/touch)

Newsletter for January, 2010
Posted By: Sifu
On January 15, 2010 at 00:00

An Old Idea Reawakened

By Sifu

Welcome to the first 2010 issue of the Chinatown Tai Chi Chuan newsletter. Several years ago a newsletter had been circulated for the students to share ideas, knowledge, questions and important upcoming events. Once again a newsletter is being created for everyone to enjoy. This newsletter is not just for a select few to post information in but for anyone who has information, stories and questions they wish to share with others. If you have something you would like to contribute to the newsletter or wish to learn more about, simply write down your idea or suggestion and place it in the "I Have An Idea" box or email Sifu.

Hope you enjoy the first edition!

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is not just about lion dances and firecrackers; it's actually a 15-day celebration where families and friends gather together, gifts are exchanged and, of course, lots of food is eaten. The New Year occurs on a different day each year. In the year 2010 that special day falls on February 14th. In the Chinese culture each year is known by its animal zodiac. The year 2010 is also known as the Year of the Tiger. There are 12 animals that recycle through the years, the year of the Tiger also occurred in 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998.

The Lunar New Years can be traced back thousands of years through traditions and legends. In China workers usually don't work the week of New Year's. In the days prior to the new year, a "sweeping of the grounds" takes place where every corner of one's house is swept and cleaned. Couplets, short poems expressing good fortune for the family, are written on red paper, then placed on the walls and gates. To ward off ghosts and monsters, New Year Paintings decorated the doorways. On the morning of New Year's Day families gather together and the unmarried members, regardless of age, are given red packets containing money. Many wishes of wealth and good fortune are made for the coming year.

On the final 15th night of celebration, called the Lantern Festival, children carry lanterns in a parade during the day. Later lanterns are placed outside the homes to protect those within. It is during this festival's parade that the lion and dragon dances take place. The celebration is highlighted by honoring the household gods and family ancestors.

There is much more that could have been written about the Chinese New Year's celebration. This article is but a glimpse into those special days. I highly encourage you to do some research on your own and explore this fascinating ancient culture so you may have a better understanding and appreciation.

Year of the Tiger

Were you born in the year of the tiger? See if the zodiac description matches yourself or someone you know. Some characteristics that individuals born in the year of the tiger portray are: patient but short-tempered, free spirited, suspicious, fearless, adventurous, sensitive, charming, and tend to be a risk-taker. They are natural leaders who are absolutely loyal and affectionate towards those they love. In their career choices they tend to excel as business managers, social activists, writers, explorers or possibly race car drivers. They are most compatible with people born the years of the horse or dog and should avoid interacting with anyone born the year of the monkey.

Curious about famous people born the year of the Tiger? Wait no more: Sun Yat Sen, Queen Elizabeth II, Sheryl Crow, Beethoven, Emily Dickinson and Jay Leno. Hope you enjoyed learning about the year of the Tiger, if you would like more information about the different animal zodiacs go to

New Year - New Goals
"What are your Tai Chi goals for the year 2010?"

It is time to ask each student at Chinatown Tai Chi Center to think about his/her goals. Your goals might be learning a new form, maybe two. Or maybe you want to learn how to develop better balance or promote and increase your Internal Energy. Perhaps you want to read and understand more about tai chi principles. If one of your goals is to test for your next fringe level either with Sifu or Grandmaster Wong, now is the time to start planning.

Whatever it is that you would like to improve, Sifu and the Instructors would like to know what you are hoping to learn more about starting now. So please take the time to write down some things you would like to learn/improve this year and put your thoughts in the "I Have An IDEA" box.

Ed's Corner
Posted By: Ed Calph
On January 01, 2010 at 00:00

I've decided to label this column "Ed's Corner." Every day, after teaching at New Spirit Middle School (70% Hmong, 30% Latino & African-American) I go to the "corner" of Cleveland & Ford Parkway to have tea. It's at the "corner" where all my best thoughts come together.

Already, this has been a spectacular New Year, with the school moving into the facilities of Macalester-Plymouth UCC. In addition, Grandmaster Wong is my "Kung-Fu Brother." We were both born in the Year of the Rat. We were both married in the same year. He has provided me with the title for the next book to be published on his teachings. A sequel to the first, it will be titled: Treasures of Tai Chi Chuan: Lessons with Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong. My intention is to have this work in print by the end of 2010.

I close this first column with this quote: "If you practice one day, you have one day's benefit. If you practice 10 days, you have 10 days benefit. If you don't practice at all, you have nothing."

March 2010

I am in the process of compiling a "dictionary" of tai chi chuan, based on interviews and articles contained in over 80 issues of Tai Chi Journal over the past 20 years. It will cover A-Z (a = arms, b = body, c = chi, etc). The same format will be used to compile the forthcoming book on Grandmaster Wong's teachings, with a revised title: Dictionary of Tai Chi Chuan: Lessons with Doc-Fai Wong.

On Sunday, March 28, a reading will be offered of my favorite quotes. In addition, students will have the opportunity to ask questions on topics of interest which will no doubt be addressed in this informative compilation. I close this second column with two of my favorites: "The teacher is like a guide who gives you the key to the doorway. But you have to open it and explore the other side for yourself."

"There comes a point where the teacher you need is yourself."

May 2010

The reading from the Tai Chi Dictionary that is being compiled was a fun and invigorating time! What follows are some excerpts from the reading, listed alphabetically, for those who were unable to attend.

  • On breathing: "Tai chi breathing is comfortable and without burden, as if breathing in one's sleep."
  • On energy: "Tai chi breathing is not the practice of forms or techniques, but the study of the water-like characteristics of its energy. The ocean has no technique: it sinks you, floats you, and surrounds you. If you jump in you are soaked."
  • On form: "Take each movement and polish it like a fine jewel." "The outside of the form is like a tea cup that holds tea. It's the tea, or internal energy inside, that has the value."
  • On practice: "Tai chi breathing is like the making of fine wine: time and patience are necessary."
  • On push hands: "In push hands, your partner is your teacher."
  • On relaxation: "Relax from the soles of your feet to the hair on the top of your head."
  • And last but not least: "Eventually, tai chi becomes a part of a person's total life, so that every response will be a tai chi response." The Chinese have a saying: "The kung-fu has now got into your body. It is part of you now."

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