The Ground Path is Step One in Building a Strong Body Structure for Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua

Internal Strength CoverThe first concept I introduce new students to is the ground path.

We do exercises with a partner to learn how to establish and maintain the ground path and combine it with peng jin.

But some people who see a photo like the one here make the mistake of thinking, "That's useless. You can't use that in a fight."

In this photo, Colin is pushing into my right elbow and I am grounding the push into the ground through my left foot.

Colin is not supposed to push with too much force, although as you can see in the picture, this particular drill is used to show that you can, in fact, set up a pretty strong structure using the ground.

The ground path is generally practiced without too much force because the idea is not to make you Superman, to meet force with force.

The idea is to provide internal strength to your body structure, but as you hold that strength in, for example, a self-defense situation, your goal will not be to meet force with force, you will learn to maintain your structure as you adapt to incoming force, neutralize it and overcome it.

PengThe beach ball situation in the Internal Strength DVD is the answer. When I jump on the ball in the pool, it gives, but it maintains its structural integrity, the pressure builds and there is a point when the ball springs back and spins me into the water. It doesn't meet force with force but it wins, anyway.

So by practicing the ground path exercises, the goal is to learn to maintain that structural integrity when force comes in. Maintaining that structure through all the movements of the form is the next goal, and then you apply it to push hands and other self-defense concepts and applications.

On my website, www.internalfightingarts.com, I take you step-by-step through internal skills from basic to advanced in Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua. Try two weeks free and start (or continue) your journey in these fascinating and complex arts.


Is Your Mind Quiet Enough for Tai Chi? An Interview with Instructor Michael Dorgan

Michael Dorgan
Michael Dorgan

Is your mind quiet enough to do Tai Chi?

In the latest edition of my Internal Fighting Arts podcast, I interview Michael Dorgan, a Hunyuan Taijiquan instuctor and owner of Hunyuan Martial Arts Academy of San Jose in California.

Michael is a disciple of the late Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang. He has also studied with Wong Jack Man, George Xu, Zhang Xue Xin, Feng Xiuqian and Chen Xiang.

Michael was a correspondent for Knight Ridder newspapers stationed in Beijing in 1999 when he met Feng Zhiqiang.

In 1980, Michael wrote the article about the Bruce Lee/Wong Jack Man fight that eventually sparked the movie "Birth of the Dragon."

Michael talks with me about training with Wong Jack Man, Michael's opinion about the fight, his training in Chen Hunyuan Taiji, and the importance of a quiet mind and a virtuous character if someone is to attain high-level skill in this art.

Michael's website is www.taichisanjose.com

Here is a link to the podcast on Audello. Listen online or download the file:

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-43-michael-dorgan/

You can also play it here (below) or find it on other podcast distributors, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

 

Practice Tip -- You Kneed to Read This

Chen Taiji SteppingI have been sending out weekly training tips to members of my website and other people on my email list. If you would like to join the list and receive weekly emails, use the form at the bottom of this post.
 
This week's training tip is short and sweet.
 
The next time you work on a form and you come to a stepping movement, put the energy in your knees when you step.
 
If you think about it, most of the time you probably are just moving the leg, or stepping with the foot on movements such as "Stepping Three Steps" or "Whirling Upper Arms" (performed by stepping backward).
 
If you put your mind and your energy into the knee, and use the lifting of the knee as the focal point of your stepping, you will find that your steps will become more light and lively (as long as you don't stomp down as you land).
 
So don't lift the foot when you step, and don't lift the leg -- lift the knee. Think of having your "energy in the knee."
 
It will keep you from shuffling your feet, which is never a good thing, and it will make your steps more lively.
 
Also, when doing moving push hands or otherwise engaging with a partner to practice close-up fighting techniques and methods, the livelier you step, the more you can defend against foot sweeps or other disruptions of your structure if the opponent uses his legs and feet to try to unbalance you.
 
Let me know if you have any questions on any of the material the site or on the DVDs.

Connecting with the Yang Family -- an Interview with Holly Sweeney-Hillman

Holly-Sweeney-Hillman-Sword1One of my favorite reasons to do my Internal Fighting Arts Podcast is the enjoyment I get when I talk with dedicated martial artists.

I have never interviewed someone who has studied tai chi directly with the Yang family until now.

The new edition of the podcast features an interview with Holly Sweeney-Hillman. 

She is a student of Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun, and she teaches Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan in the Bedminster area of New Jersey. 

Her website is www.taichistrong.com.

In this interview, we talk (among other things) about balance, her love of the science of movement, what it is like to study with Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun, and the upcoming International Tai Chi Chuan Symposium, to be held next month in Italy. 

If you like this podcast, please send the link to your friends in the arts. It is also available on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Audello, and other podcast platforms.

 

 

 


Seattle Taiji Instructor Derryl Willis - the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview

DerrylI met Derryl Willis at a Chen Xiaoxing workshop in Chicago several years ago. He is a disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang and the instructor at the Seattle School of Chen Style Taijiquan. He has made many trips to China to study in the Chen Village. And on his first visit, he stopped traffic just by walking down the street. 

In this Internal Fighting Arts podcast interview, I talk with Derryl about the meaning of being a disciple, the importance of practicing the basics, and a valuable technique that one of his teachers, Madame Gao Fu, used to drive home the body mechanics of Taiji.

 

 

Bruce Lee, MMA and Shaolin Monks -- the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Matthew Polly

Bruce Lee bookMatthew Polly and I have a lot in common.

Bruce Lee inspired us when we were young and sparked our interest in studying martial arts.

We have remained Bruce Lee fanboys even as we have grown up.

We both went into journalism.

I discovered Matthew's work when I bought "American Shaolin" a few years ago, a book he wrote after spending two years living, training and performing with Shaolin monks in China. It was a real-world look inside this mysterious world, and I loved it.

A couple of months ago, I was in Barnes & Noble and decided to look at the martial arts section. Once upon a time, it took an entire bookcase to hold the martial arts books. Now, the books about traditional arts don't even stretch across one shelf. It's depressing.

But I saw a new, big biography of Bruce Lee on the shelf, titled "Bruce Lee: A Life."

When I saw Matthew Polly had written it, I bought it. 

It is such an exhaustively researched, wonderfully written book that I had to ask him to be on the podcast. I was very happy that he agreed.

At the same time, I saw that he had spent two years training in the MMA and wrote a book called "Tapped Out." I ordered the book and began reading.

I couldn't put it down.

Another thing we have in common is that neither of us take ourselves too seriously. The books he wrote about his experiences are full of self-deprecating humor. He's a funny guy.

In this interview, we talk about "Bruce Lee: A Life," his experience in the MMA, his experience with the Shaolin monks, and the lessons we can learn from each of these fascinating subjects.

Every martial artist should read Matthew Polly's books. Here is a link to the podcast. It is also available on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast distributors.

http://internalfightingarts.audello.com/internal-fighting-arts-40-matthew-polly/

-- by Ken Gullette

 


Do You Share the Quality that Made Bruce Lee Successful?

I am reading "Bruce Lee: A Life," by Matthew Polly. Bruce possessed one quality that he had in common with almost all successful people.

Bruce Lee believed in himself, had a goal, and worked hard to reach his goal.

Do you have a martial arts goal? Do you want to learn Bagua, or Taiji, or Xingyi? 

It is a good idea not to write down a goal that is overwhelming. Do you want to learn Chen Taiji? Then start with the silk-reeling exercises. Set a goal of learning one every two days, and set a time to study. It may only be ten or twenty minutes, but that is okay. 

Perhaps your goal is to learn a form. You can have a big goal such as "Learn Xingyi," but then have smaller goals that help you achieve the big goal. 

Do you want to learn the Five Fist Postures? Then write down your goal, set a day to complete it, and then plan out the time to study and practice and get feedback.

Maybe your next goal is the Bagua Swimming Body form. Set a time to complete it, then make a plan to take it movement by movement. Study part of one section each day. Before you know it, you will reach the end. 

Do you want to manage the stress in your life? Then set a goal to do that, and begin studying and practicing qigong every day. Even just five minutes a day can make a difference in your life if you work at it.

On my website -- www.internalfightingarts.com -- members find step-by-step instruction in the skills they need, from basic to advanced, in these arts. Plus, they have the opportunity to get personal feedback on their movement, mechanics, techniques and their progress.

But they have to set their own goals and work at them.

Success in anything does not happen just by thinking about it or watching free YouTube videos.

What are you going to do about it today? How much time will you spend setting your goal and planning the steps and the time you will take to get there? 

An instructor can only point the way. The rest is up to you.

Bruce Lee didn't let anything stop him from achieving his goal. At one point, he was earning less than $200 a month teaching gongfu. His first school closed because students moved away or had to quit for various reasons. He faced discrimination in Hollywood and the cancellation of his first TV show, "The Green Hornet," left him unemployed.

But he had the vision. He knew what he wanted and he did not let anything stop him. Unfortunately, he did not live to see just how well he achieved his goal, but he did achieve it. So can you.

What is stopping you?

-- by Ken Gullette


Tai Chi and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu -- The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Graham Barlow

Graham-Barlow
Graham Barlow

I came across Graham Barlow's blog, the Tai Chi Notebook, a few months ago and saw that he would be a good guest for my podcast.

Graham has studied Tai Chi for 25 years and began studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at age 39. He now has his black belt in BJJ.

So do the skills for self-defense in Tai Chi transfer to jiu jitsu, or does BJJ simply give you more tools for your arsenal?

Here are links to the podcast. Listen online or download it for listening on the go. It is also available to subscribe in iTunes (Apple Podcasts).

Graham Barlow interview via Stitcher

Graham Barlow interview via Audello

Internal Fighting Arts podcast on iTunes