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New Qigong Kindle Ebook - Easy Qigong Exercises for Stress Management, Health, and a Balanced Life - Chi Kung

Qigong-Ebook-Cover-250Qigong is an effective meditation technique for stress management and improved health. Qigong (also spelled "Chi Kung") involves calming the mind, relaxing the body, and detaching your mind from your daily concerns by focusing on your Dan T'ien, your breathing, and mental visualization of energy.

Just five minutes a day can make a big difference in your ability to remain calm in tense situations and manage stress at work, at home, even when facing rude and aggressive people in public and on the highway.

My new Kindle ebook includes 163 photos and detailed demonstrations of simple exercises and ancient routines such as The Eight Pieces of Brocade and the Yi Jing Ching Palm, Fist, and Moving sets.

The ebook is only $4.99 and can be read on any computer, laptop, and carried with you on your smartphone or tablet, including Android, iPhone and iPad (the free Kindle app is available for all devices). I put it together and priced it very inexpensively to provide a good reference to the DVD that I produced a few years ago showing the same exercises. Click here to visit the Kindle store.

A clip of the first 5-minute routine from the DVD and the ebook is below. It also includes an introduction to Qigong. Click here to check out the DVD. There is free shipping anywhere in the world:

8 Qualities of a Great Martial Arts Student

Chris Miller and Ken Gullette after a regional tournament in Keokuk, 2006.
I began teaching Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Bagua in 1997. At that point, I had already been a student of martial arts for 24 years. It becomes quickly obvious that being a teacher is a lot different than being a student, although both are learning experiences. Teaching a martial art is a great way to learn at a deeper level. 

When I began teaching, I was practicing and teaching Yang Tai Chi, Hsing-I, Bagua and Qigong. Questions from students made me study harder and do research, and I found some glaring holes in the curriculum of the style I was teaching. That ended up to be a good thing because it led me to Chen Tai Chi.

As I taught for a while, I realized there are qualities that great students bring to class that make it a lot more enjoyable for the teacher -- qualities that indicate the student is serious about the martial arts and will become a great martial artist. 

Here are my Top 8 Qualities of a Great Martial Arts Student:

1. Empty Your Cup. One thing a teacher does NOT like to hear is, "But this is the way my old teacher taught me," or "This is the way we did it in karate (or TKD or insert the name of any other style here). 

If you want to study the old art, go to the old teacher. Leave it at the door when you enter a different class. Learn new things and you just might like it better. Use your old style to inform your new experience. Fold it into your new insights. Otherwise, go back to the other style. 

2. Leave Your Ego at the Door. A good teacher is a good coach. He or she will bark at you sometimes because your teacher wants you to improve. I've been in classes where the teacher never gives specific, personal advice to students. Usually, the students are not very good. A demanding, picky teacher will make you a better martial artist.

I was in a workshop a couple of weeks ago, where Chen Huixian was coaching us on movements in Laojia Yilu. She said something and I began experimenting with sinking the hips on a movement. Across the class, she shouted, "Ken, you're doing this." Then she demonstrated the way I was exagerrating the movement. "DON'T DO THAT!" she said. It cracked me up, because she was being a good coach and that's the way I talk to my own students. If she had not coached me, I might have continued doing it incorrectly. Her coaching made me better. So check your ego at the door and accept criticism from your coach. You benefit in the end. Each time I was offered advice at the workshop, I said "thank you," and I meant it. 

We all have a different vision of ourselves in our minds than what we are actually doing. We all think we look like Chen Xiaoxang or Bruce Lee when we move. To the teacher, we may look like Charlie Chaplin. The teacher is being paid to teach you, so let the teacher help you and accept each critique gratefully. That's how you improve.

3. Bring SPIRIT to every class. When a teacher takes the time and effort to teach, it is disheartening when a student acts slow, lethargic and tired. Sometimes, students just go through the motions as if they are simply going through the moves but don't intend to do it perfectly.

Okay, so you've had a rough day. You want to go home and relax. Fine. So do I. During class, a great student will bring 100% and understand that the instructor wants you to attack the material and attempt perfection with every movement. Martial arts are about spirit. What spirit are you bringing to practice?

4. Know the Difference Between Quality and Quantity. You are tired of practicing this technique or this form for the hundredth time. You want to move on to something more advanced, more flashy. You learn the choreography of one form and then begin the next one. 

The great martial arts student understands that when you pay your dues and put in the sweat equity of practicing one movement, one fighting application, one form, one strategy over and over and over, hundreds, even thousands of times, that's when quality finds you.

Learning more forms and more styles is the sign of a martial artist who cannot do any of them right. A great student knows that too much too soon is not the path to quality. Nothing tips me off to a mediocre martial artist more than their announcement to me that they have studied this style, plus that style, plus wing chun, plus that style, because I know that their skill is a mile wide and an inch deep.

5. Keep Practicing the Basics. The tendency for a lot of us is to stop practicing basic techniques as we learn more. The truth is, it takes years to get a movement or technique right. It takes years to apply the right body mechanics and to truly internalize a movement or technique. A great student remains sharp on techniques he learned as a novice and works them into regular practices. One of the best practicing methods is to divide the material you've learned into a list that enables you to practice everything in your system at least once a week or more.

In my practices, where students learn Xingyi, Taiji and Bagua, there is a lot of material as you progress over the years. The best students divide the material and work on some of it every day. Perhaps the daily practice also includes the current material, but older, more basic material is also part of it. Every week, you end up practicing everything at least once.

It is not a positive thing when an advanced student is asked to show a new student a technique and the advanced student does not remember it. A good teacher points the way. A good student stays sharp on the material. It's up to you.

At one tournament I attended, I was watching black belt competition and there was a tie in the forms competition. The judges were sneaky. They asked the martial artists who tied to perform the very first form they learned in their system to break the tie.

One of the black belts performed his first form very well. The other had a hard time remembering and fumbled it. That made all the difference. If you had to make a bet, which do you think is the better martial artist?

6. Treat Practice Material Like a College Class. In college, most of the work and research is done outside of class. For great martial arts students, the same is true. This requires not just physical practice, but thinking and research. What does this movement mean? How do the body mechanics apply? What is the history of this art or this form? How does it relate to other techniques and principles I've learned?

Technology makes research a lot easier. You can learn a lot about practically anything with a few clicks of a mouse. It can unlock new knowledge and a deeper understanding.

The danger of this is that you are influenced too much by what you find. If you see a YouTube video showing someone doing a form differently than your teacher, don't copy what you see in the video. Look at it, try to understand it, but talk about it with your teacher before you make changes in your form. Resist the tendency to change it because something is flashier. In the world of the internal arts, every teacher does certain moves differently. It can be confusing. Don't insult your teacher by suddenly performing a movement differently because of a YouTube video.

Practice at home and look deeper as you practice. Study, apply the mechanics in different ways. Treat your art the way you would treat a class in your major. If you let your teacher do all the thinking and demonstrating for you, what would your grade likely be at the end of the semester? How well will you know the material?

In a martial arts class, you learn what to do to take that next step forward. It can be very exciting when the light bulb turns on. But the real work takes place at home. Great students know this.

Also, I can tell you one metaphysical certainty -- when a teacher sees that a student has been practicing on his own, the respect for that student rises. When it is clear a student has not been practicing, the teacher wonders why he bothers teaching the student. It's a fact, Jack.

7. Learn from Defeat. Don't Let Defeat Stop You. I've had some very promising young students in the past who have attended tournaments, competed with other students at their level, and did not win. Sometimes, the defeat causes them to leave the arts.

I have also heard that some Chen Tai Chi students who travel to study in the Chen Village return to America and give up the art because the quality they saw in the village, and the hard work it takes to develop skill, causes them to ask, "Why bother?"

I have given promotion tests to students several times and have stopped the test midway through because it was obvious the student was not ready to promote. A couple of students have quit over this instead of learning a hard lesson about being prepared. I do not give promotions freely. They must be earned, and that takes hard work, study, and preparation. It takes mental toughness. So does disappointment.

Progress in a martial art is all about taking baby steps and constantly learning about yourself. I have always been a proponent of tournaments because, except for being in a real self-defense situation, which I hope none of us have to experience, nothing else makes you put it on the line like competition. You learn about yourself by putting yourself on the line. How do you feel? How do you respond to pressure? If this guy is trying to punch or kick you or take you down, how do you handle it? What scores did you receive from judges on your form? 

The next logical question is, "What do I need to do to make the next experience better?"

A lot of internal arts people turn up their noses at tournaments. And yet, the top masters always promote the tournaments they won. All of them do.

The best feedback I ever received was when I lost in a tournament. One judge scored me especially low at a few tournaments, so I asked her why. She gave me an explanation that enlightened me and made me practice differently. I began winning more. I put it on the line, and learned something that made a difference.

Don't let defeat stop you. Learn from it. Learn about yourself. Use it as a ladder to reach the next level, mentally and physically.

8. Make the Philosophy a Way of Life. A good martial art should make you more peaceful, more connected to the people and the world around you. Great students make this attitude a way of life. That does not mean you ignore cheats, frauds, or criminals. It does not mean that you tolerate mistreatment or cruelty. It does not make you passive. Just the opposite. You should develop the confidence to be who you are, to treat everyone as equals, to respect others, but also to seek justice and to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

In a world full of political heat, a world that makes it very easy to stir up emotions with the quick typing of a message online, it is troubling to see people who claim to be One with the Universe putting negative political comments out to the world. It is far better to ask yourself before every comment made in person or online, "Am I living my philosophy by saying or writing this?"

Making the philosophy a way of life is difficult. We are only human and fall short of our goals. But the effort is noble, and a great martial arts student will try.

Learning Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Bagua Online - Getting Personal Feedback and Coaching


All of my students receive coaching, online and offline.
Learning Tai Chi online, or Hsing-I or Bagua, is not easy. In fact, it's just about impossible to make progress in these arts without personal corrections from an instructor. That's why I have made a decision to add a free perk for members of my membership website. 

Five years ago, I launched an online internal arts resource to help people learn. As the site grew (it now has over 600 video lessons and has had over a thousand members), the type of people who enjoy the site are the following:

  • Students of other teachers who want additional knowledge to supplement what they are learning.
  • Students who feel their teachers are holding something back. For example, one member said his teacher did not teach silk-reeling until you had been a student for several years. What?
  • Former students who want to brush up their skills.
  • Instructors who are looking for new ideas, techniques and principles.
  • People who want to learn but can't afford a bricks-and-mortar school's fees.
  • People who want to learn but don't have a teacher nearby.

For years, I have offered personal coaching for an additional fee. The membership is $19.99 per month, but if a member wanted personal feedback, they could shoot video of themselves and I would take the time to critique them and do a video reply, demonstrating what they needed to work on, for an additional fee of $24.99 to cover my time.

I have decided to make this personal feedback a part of the regular membership at no additional charge. I am eliminating the fee for personal coaching. This type of coaching is such an important part of moving forward.

So here is how it works, effective immediately for all regular, paying members of the site:

  • Shoot a video of yourself doing the forms, techniques, etc.
  • Put the video up on YouTube, either privately or publicly (I suggest privately).
  • Send me the link.
  • I will look at the video and write a detailed email with coaching tips.
  • For 5 members per month, I will shoot a reply video. 

Why am I doing this? I work hard to make the best internal arts site, and I understand it requires effort to shoot and post videos. I believe the serious students will do it, and those are people I want to help.

This was not possible when I was still working full-time, but now that I am doing kung-fu full-time, it's a service I want to add. I appreciate the members of my website, and the thousands of people who have bought DVDs and now ebooks on Amazon. 

I'm a teacher. That's what I do. So if you need some personal feedback, join the site and fire up the camcorder. For those who join the "2 Weeks Free" plan, you will be able to get personal feedback after that two weeks is over and you become a regular member. And if you try the website and don't think it works for you, remember you can cancel anytime.

I spent last weekend getting coached on my Laojia Yilu by a great Chen Tai Chi teacher and her husband -- Chen Huixian and Michael Chritton. Everyone needs specific, personal feedback. I do as much as my students do. I would do it for you if you were part of my class, so I will now do it for you if you are part of my website.

Tai Chi Corrections - Chen Huixian and a Great Laojia Yilu Workshop

Chen Huixian gives Ken Gullette hands-on corrections for "Single Whip."
It is a humbling experience, getting corrections on your taiji form by a member of the Chen family. This past weekend, I spent two days at a workshop in Madison, Wisconsin, where Chen Huixian -- a Direct In-Chamber Disciple of her uncle, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei -- gave corrections on the Laojia Yilu form. Her husband, Michael Chritton -- a Certified Coach of the Chen Village Taiji Training Center of China -- helped provide feedback and corrections. 

Everyone needs a coach to let them know when they need a tweak to get back on track. Training as I do here in the Quad Cities, without an official "teacher" since 2006, I need occasional hands-on corrections by someone at a higher level.

I got it this weekend.

Chen Huixian did not try to take us through the complete form. She asked what we wanted, and the group asked to spend more time on corrections and less time rushing through the choreography. Most of us know the form and some of us learned it through a different branch of the Chen family (I studied with teachers and disciples of Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing) so we do some of the movements in a slightly different way. Not better, just different.

I was grateful every time she gave me feedback. Once, when I was overcompensating for some instruction on a movement to sink the hips, she demonstrated how my movement was exagerrated and said, "Don't do that!" The memory makes me laugh because that's the type of thing I would say to my students. Sometimes, when I am thinking about feedback, I drop my head as I contemplate the movement. Once when I did that, she loudly said, "Ken, the answer is not written on the floor!" Hilarious. And true. I'm going to use this.

Michael made a lot of good suggestions during the 12 hours of training. One little tweak there, one suggestion there, always given with courtesy and insight.

The main problem that follows a great workshop is retention.

After both days, I went through the movements of the day in my mind, scribbling down feedback on each movement as much as I could remember. It really helps down the road.

The workshop included a little stance-holding, trying to maintain a posture as Chen Huixian worked around the pavilion, one person at a time. That type of workout will test the leg strength of the most muscular person, and often, by the time she gets to you, the legs are shaking from fatigue. This is not your YMCA taiji where you aren't supposed to break a sweat. When you are put into the correct posture, Chen Huixian will ask, "Leg burning?" Yes, the leg is burning. She will smile and indicate that it is a good thing.

When done properly, taiji training is a grueling workout. The expression they use for the required pain is "eating bitter." The skill you get from eating bitter -- eventually -- is sweet. Or so they tell me. I've had a regular diet of bitter for 15 years. I'd like an order of sweet, please. Stat!!

The Key to Taiji Progress - Baby Steps

The secret to making forward progress in the internal arts is taking one baby step at a time. That is impossible without occasional hands-on corrections from someone at a higher level. I love it, and as Nancy and I drove back home Sunday night from Madison, about three hours away, I was excited the entire drive home.

If you live in the Madison, Wisconsin area, I recommend Khiang Seow as an instructor. He hosted the workshop with Patrick Rogne.

Michael Chritton, their son Xilong, Chen Huixian, and Ken Gullette.
And now, the hard work begins -- taking the notes and incorporating them into practice -- again and again! In November, I plan to attend the Chen Zhenglei workshop at Chen Huixian's school in Overland Park, Kansas, the largest suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The goal is to improve one more baby step or two, and then get new corrections in November.

I will work on shortening my stances just a little, maintaining peng through both legs, and some other little things that I wrote down that include relaxation of the hips, spiraling, foot stability and more details about specific movements that I have not been taught before.

It is part of the lifelong journey that is taijiquan. And it's the knowledge that corrections help you get even better that make the journey so much fun.

Preparing for a Laojia Yilu Workshop this Weekend with Chen Huixian

Photo courtesy of Chen Huixian.
People in the Chen Taiji community that I respect speak highly of Chen Huixian, a niece of Chen Zhenglei who now lives and teaches in the Kansas City area. If I lived in Kansas City, I'd be studying with her. I have also developed respect for her husband, Michael Chritton, through communications on Facebook. They are good people, and that means a lot in my book.

This weekend, Master Chen is holding a workshop in Madison, Wisconsin. I won't be there for the Friday evening workshop on Silk-Reeling. On Saturday and Sunday, she is giving corrections for Laojia Yilu. I've been looking forward to meeting her and Michael for a couple of years. I've never really trained, even in a weekend workshop, with anyone from the Chen Zhenglei lineage, so I am excited about the coming weekend.

It is interesting to me, as I see videos of internal artists and train with some, how they each have their own stylistic approach to the same form. It seems to drive some of my karate friends a little crazy. Uniformity is important in some arts, apparently. In Taiji, and as I've seen in Bagua and Xingyi, learning the movements of a form is step one -- learning the principles behind the movement is step two -- practicing and becoming proficient is step three -- and step four is adding your own stylistic flourishes, like an artist going beyond the basic brush strokes with an oil painting.

I found a video of Chen Huixian doing the first half of the form on YouTube this morning and watched it. Here is the video of Laojia Yilu part 1.

I definitely see influences of Chen Zhenglei in this demonstration. Chen Huixian and Michael are hosting him for a workshop in Kansas City this November. I plan to be there.

So I've spent a little more time than usual during the past couple of weeks practicing Laojia Yilu to prepare for the workshop. Is my posture good, is my internal strength connected when I move? And a dozen more things on the internal checklist that I ask as I move through the form.

I look forward to emptying my cup and tasting their cup of tea, learning new things, asking a couple of questions about stylistic differences, making new friends, and hopefully taking another baby step forward on this taiji journey.

Stay tuned for further updates along the way, including this weekend from Madison. There is still time to register by going to this page. And my thanks in advance for the sponsor of this weekend, Khiang Seow.

Silk-Reeling Energy and Self-Defense: Strategic Handling of External Force

Yesterday, when my new Silk-Reeling Energy ebook was released through Amazon's Kindle, a couple of friends gave me grief for believing -- they thought -- in an invisible mystical energy that can't be measured by scientific methods.

Ken Gullette and Colin Frye
My partner attempts to do an armbar.
I laughed, because the use of the word "energy" throws off a lot of Westerners. Let me clarify. And as I do, I will show some photos of a self-defense application for one of the exercises that are described in the Silk-Reeling Energy ebook and on the Silk-Reeling DVD.

When the Chinese talk about a certain energy, such as the 8 Energies of Taiji, it is a bad translation when we think of it as a scientifically valid energy. Actually, it is a method or particular skill that helps you strategically handle external force that is applied to you -- a punch, for example.

Ken Gullette silk-reeling application
I begin spiraling the elbow away from his force.
Think of it like a good baseball hitter -- my hero Pete Rose, for example. Pete was not a gifted athlete, but he worked and practiced, even taking batting practice long after his other teammates left for the day. The result was a particular skill when he swung the bat. That could be called "bat jin," or "bat energy." The same would apply to a skilled carpenter who has a particular way he swings a hammer, based on years of practice building skill. There's nothing mystical about it.

So "energies" in Tai Chi, including peng, liu, ji, an, cai, tsai, kao, shou, and others -- are different strategic methods and skills used to handle external force directed at you. Some require you to deflect the force, some attack it, some grab and pluck it, some require shoulder or elbow deflections or strikes. All of the energies include peng.

Ken Gullette silk-reeling application
Spiraling over the opponent's arm as my hand locks his hand.
Silk-reeling energy is a spiraling movement that you practice in your forms, particularly Taiji and Bagua, but also in Hsing-I, the way we practice it. One of the exercises on the DVD and in the ebook is the Single Elbow Spiral. It can look a little silly to the uninitiated, rotating your hand and your elbow, but the photos here show how it is used in one instance -- when someone tries to put you into a joint lock called an armbar.

As my partner executes the technique, I spiral away from the direction of the force with the elbow, spiral down over the crook of his elbow, and then change directions to put him into an elbow lock. This type of movement, combined with fajing, can break an attacker very quickly. It's a close-up style of fighting that embodies the best of Taiji and Bagua -- taking his force, relaxing and deflecting it, and then countering using proper internal body mechanics and spiraling.

Ken Gullette silk reeling self defense
The spiraling locks my opponent's elbow

Silk-reeling energy, like all of the skills of the internal arts, are not intended to make you one with the Universe. The basic intention is a skillful physical strategy for overcoming an attack. Every movement in Taiji and Bagua is a silk-reeling exercise. As you practice your art, look for the spiraling in each movement, how it comes from the ground, and how each part of the body is involved in the spiraling. 

I love these arts. My own understanding of silk-reeling and its relationship to the other "energies" has grown in the past 15 years or so, and I pass along what I learn through my website, DVDs, ebooks, and this blog. Thanks for reading it.

The Silk-Reeling ebook is available through Amazon Kindle.

The Silk-Reeling DVD is available through Amazon or through my website (there is no shipping charge if you buy through my website).

Silk-Reeling Energy in Taiji, Bagua, and Xingyi -- New Ebook on Amazon Kindle

SRE-Ebook-Cover-250My new ebook on Silk-Reeling Energy for Tai Chi, Bagua and Hsing-I has 173 photos and detailed instruction on 18 exercises that will help you develop this important physical skill and take your internal arts to a higher level.

In the Chen family Tai Chi classical texts, they write that if you do not understand silk-reeling, you do not understand Tai Chi.

When I first learned about silk-reeling, my teacher, who claimed to be an internal arts "master," told us to screw the foot into the floor and "imagine" our chi traveling in swirling circles from the foot to the hand. And by the way, don't forget to cultivate chi and detach your mind.

I have met many Tai Chi students -- and even some teachers -- who believe similar things because they were also trained by people who didn't know what they were doing. They studied at the local YMCA or at a fitness center and believed their teacher was a "master." I know this because some people have come to my classes and have called me a master. They are always puzzled when I laugh, and then I explain that there are very few masters in America. 

SRE-Apps-1All the students who have been given the wrong information have good intentions, as I did when I was misinformed. I thought I was learning the real thing. 

Then I investigated Chen Tai Chi and discovered internal body mechanics that have been lost by most Americans who practice Tai Chi. Among those body mechanics are the ones I have identified as the key six:

  • Establishing and maintaining the ground path.
  • Establishing and maintaining peng jin.
  • Using whole-body movement (not as easy as it sounds).
  • Using silk-reeling energy.
  • Rotating the Dan T'ien.
  • Opening and closing the kua.

All six of these skills are important in the 18 silk-reeling exercises described in the ebook.

SRE-Apps-2Since each of the silk-reeling exercises is important to performing Tai Chi and Bagua (we also make it a key part of our Hsing-I), the exercises also have self-defense applications.

In these three photos, I show one application of silk-reeling as a means of deflecting a punch.

When the force is coming, you establish contact. Next, you spiral and guide it away. This does not
take very much strength, especially if you remain balanced, centered, and use the body mechanics of the internal arts.

SRE-Apps-3As you can see, as the deflecting arm spirals (watch the movements of the hand), the punch is no longer a threat because it is no longer aimed at me.

When you have neutralized the force, your opponent should be off-balance enough for you to counter.

 This type of deflection is done in a relaxed but structured way -- and by structure, I mean utilizing the ground path, peng jin, whole body movement (whole-body connection), rotating the SRE-Apps-4Dan T'ien and opening/closing the kua. Beyond that, there are other skills including sensitivity and more. The new ebook is a companion to the Silk-Reeling DVD. It is the result of years of practice and learning from students and disciples of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing, and I have also learned directly from Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing. This is among the first material I teach my students because a foundation in these six basic skills is crucial to performing quality internal arts. Even then, it takes many years, but that is part of the fun of these arts.

What is Silk-Reeling Energy in Tai Chi and Bagua?

SRE-Cover-PhotoSilk-reeling energy is one of the unique qualities of the internal arts of Chinese kung-fu, particularly Tai Chi and Bagua, but it is also found in Hsing-I, at least the way I practice it. The Chinese refer to this skill as "Chan Ssu Jin."

Silk-reeling energy is a physical skill. There is nothing metaphysical or mystical about it.

Many people around the world have been fooled by the word "energy," which is a poorly translated way of saying "method" or "power" in Chinese. When we hear the word "energy" being used in this way -- including peng energy or liu energy or any of the "energies" of Tai Chi -- we think that it is referring to a scientifically valid electrical or chemical/physiological energy coursing through our bodies.

If that were the case, Michael Jordan used "slam energy" to dunk a basketball. Babe Ruth was a master of "swat energy" when he hit a home run.

That would be wrong. Silk-reeling "energy" is a physical method of using spiraling movement through the body, connected to the ground, using peng jin, whole-body connection, Dan T'ien rotation, opening and closing of the kua. It requires loosening and extending the joints, including the shoulder, elbow, wrist. The spiraling movement, when combined with these other skills, increases your ability to deliver relaxed power.

The first time I studied silk-reeling, I was taught wrong by a man who claimed to be an internal arts master. Like most Americans, Europeans and many Chinese who call themselves master, he was not. I was told to "imagine" my chi traveling from my foot to my hand in a spiraling wave. I should imagine it moving through my body in a spring-like series of circles.

My friends, you can imagine "chi" all day and never do the spiraling movements of silk-reeling properly. It has nothing to do with imagining anything, any more than Michael Jordan imagines chi when he dunks that basketball.

SRE-12-3On my Silk-Reeling DVD, I teach the concepts of this in detail. There are also videos that instruct in detail on my website. And I put more than 170 photos of silk-reeling exercises into an ebook that is available on Kindle as a reference and companion to the DVDs. It showx step-by-step movements through 18 exercises from the DVD that shows how to develop silk-reeling movement. The photo at left is from exercise #12 - Diving Palm Spiral. In this photo I am closed into the left kua, grounded from the right leg, and preparing to sink and spiral outward, grounded from the left leg.

It's not easy explaining how silk-reeling works without showing, but it is a crucial element in quality Tai Chi, Bagua, and Hsing-I, even though it is not discussed very often in Hsing-I. In my classes, we make it a vital part of our Hsing-I movement.

Silk-reeling has been lost by some arts -- you can see it is missing when you watch people perform. I see Tai Chi people practice all the time and there is no silk-reeling happening at all because their teachers were not taught properly.

If you are practicing or interested in Tai Chi, Bagua, or Hsing-I, you must have an accurate understanding of silk-reeling, and it must be more detailed than "cultivating" or "imagining" chi. It is a physical skill that involves spiraling through the body. If your teacher is not teaching this, the information is still available to you elsewhere.

The ebook is not available on Amazon. It plays on any device or computer, including iPhone and iPad -- you simply need the Kindle app. Here is a link to the ebook.

New Kindle Ebook Available -- Signposts on a Martial Arts Journey: Tai Chi, Hsing-I, Bagua, and the Art of Life

Signpost-Ebook-Cover-1000I celebrate my 40th anniversary this year as a martial artist. Since 2006, I have been writing posts on this blog outlining that journey. The main goals have been to provide useful information and also to make readers think.

Now, 50 selected blog posts -- short essays -- have been collected in a new Kindle ebook titled "Signposts on a Martial Arts Journey: Tai Chi, Hsing-I, Bagua, and The Art of Life."

The short essays cover martial techniques, experiences with instructors and students, and the philosophy I have used to sail through the ups and downs of life without being capsized.

It is only $3.99 -- less than the cost of a martial arts magazine -- and I selected articles that would provide more information and inspiration than what you typically get in a magazine.

Each article is short enough to read just about anytime. I carry my iPad with me and sometimes read when I'm waiting somewhere (for Nancy to come out of a store, for example).

Check it out by following this link to