Is Tai Chi a Healing Art? Interview with Author of Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi - Peter Wayne

HarvardTai Chi is a martial art. Every movement is a powerful fighting application for self-defense.

But is it also a healing art? Does it have benefits that are more powerful than normal exercise, and if it does, do those benefits come from the slow, controlled nature of Tai Chi and the mindful, meditative components and from the flow of chi?

I would guess that more people consider it to be a healing art than a martial art. But is it really? Or when it is done in slow motion, is it one of the most low-impact exercises that elderly people can do to get them moving and to get their minds off their problems?

Do we think of it as a healing art based on outdated stories and science that doesn't hold up?

And do clinical trials show benefits that can be attributed simply to exercise and calming meditation, or is it something more? Are the health benefits of Tai Chi anything special?

Almost a year ago, I bought the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter Wayne, Ph.D. I began asking Peter to appear on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast last August. After the podcast last month with Dr. Harriet Hall, the "SkepDoc," and the heat I encountered from some in the Tai Chi community following that interview, I thought it was time to balance the scales and talk to someone who is obviously more inclined toward the "traditional" view of the art.

Last week, I was finally able to talk with Dr. Wayne for an hour. The result is this podcast, the 24th in the series.

Don't miss the final five minutes, as I clarify part of the interview and have some final thoughts that wrap up some of the issues raised in the past two podcasts.

Follow this link to listen online or download the mp3 file to your computer -- the Internal Fighting Arts podcast 24 - Peter Wayne.



Ken Gullette Author Page for Amazon Kindle Ebooks on the Internal Fighting Arts

KindleForgive me a little promotion, but I have a new author page on Amazon for my Kindle ebooks. Here is the link:

I try to write ebooks that are heavy on the photos, step-by-step, with straight-forward explanations of the movements, focusing on internal body mechanics. The ebooks cover Chen Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua, and Qigong.

You can read them on any device or computer, as long as you have the free Kindle app

I have 10 ebooks in the Kindle store now, with another on the way soon with fighting applications from the Laojia Yilu form.

The ebooks are priced very inexpensively to make them affordable to all. And I promise, no mystical mumbo-jumbo!

"Research of Martial Arts" Is A Worthy Book for Your Martial Arts Library - Interview with Author Jonathan Bluestein

Research of Martial ArtsThe latest Internal Fighting Arts podcast features an interview with Jonathan Bluestein, a martial artist who practices and studies Xingyiquan, among other things, and he is the author of a new book called Research of Martial Arts.

Jonathan is a serious martial artist who has worked for years to compile this book. I was skeptical when I received my copy, but it became obvious that this is a solid book and a great addition to anyone's martial arts library.

He does not subscribe to Woo Woo theories. Everything is solid and based on good martial arts, even the sections on the internal arts.

I was impressed enough to ask Jonathan to be a guest on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast. He lives in Israel, and despite the eight hour time difference, we did the interview via Skype.

Here is the link for the Internal Fighting Arts podcast #14 with Jonathan Bluestein on Audello -- listen on your computer or download the file.

Here is the link to the Internal Fighting Arts podcasts on iTunes. You can listen to specific editions of the podcast or subscribe through iTunes so that future editions will automatically download to your computer or device.


New in the NOOK Store -- Silk-Reeling and Baguazhang Ebooks

Three of my ebooks are now available in NOOK format and are on sale in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

I published my first ebook in Amazon's Kindle format in June, 2013. Since that time, each new ebook has been exclusive to Kindle, but I am now beginning to roll them out in the NOOK format.

Each book is a great portable reference for its topic.

Bagua-Bldg-Blocks-Cover-3D-250The newest book, just completed last week, is Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defense. It contains 606 photos and detailed instruction in some of the primary principles for fighting with Bagua. Photos are in stop-action, step-by-step sequences, frozen from videos so you can get a clear idea how the technique is supposed to be performed. This book costs only $5.99.

Many martial arts books contain photos, but often there are gaps in the action, and it is not clear how to get from Point A to Point B. My books are written to be crystal clear. I write them with the eyes of a student.

Bagua 8 Main Ebook Cover 250Another ebook that is new in NOOK is the Baguazhang 8 Main Palms Form. It contains 340 photos and detailed instruction, taking you step-by-step in stop-action format through the entire Cheng-style Bagua form. This book costs only $4.99.

The Baguazhang Eight Main Palms Form is the first major form that my students learn after they are familiar with the basic skills of Bagua, including circle-walking, the mother palms, tea-serving exercises, and more.

SRE-Ebook-Cover-250My Silk-Reeling Energy ebook is also now available in NOOK format. Silk-Reeling Energy is a spiraling action that travels from the ground through the body, giving more power to your internal techniques. It is not mystical, it is physical, and this ebook is a great reference, showing exercises that are taught by Chen Xiaowang and others to beginning students. This spiraling motion is an essential element of Taiji and Bagua, and is also a key part of Xingyiquan. This book is also only $4.99.

Each of these ebooks are companions to a DVD, and is very handy if you are in a practice location with a tablet or phone and need to reference a movement or technique.

I don't really like to put this type of "commercial" blog post up, but this is a major development in the dissemination of my internal arts curriculum and I want everyone who uses NOOK devices to know.

In the coming week, two more ebooks that have been on Kindle exclusively will go up in the NOOK format -- my Qigong ebook and the Chen 19 Form Self-Defense applications book. Stay tuned.

Bagua Self-Defense Ebook Contains 606 Photos and Step-by-Step Instruction

Bagua-Bldg-Blocks-Cover-3D-250Baguazhang is a beautiful art -- smooth, flowing, with spiraling, twisting movements and circle-walking. 

But how do you fight with it? How do you use it when someone attacks you?

Like any martial art, you start with the basics and practice, practice, practice.

My newest ebook, titled Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defensetakes you step-by-step through some of the most basic and important fighting concepts in Bagua, and walks you through more than 130 fighting techniques that really work -- without mysticism, laser-focused on internal body mechanics.

Ken Gullette Bagua Self DefenseThese are the techniques I practice with my students. I believe in self-defense that works, not flowery, metaphysical stuff that falls apart as soon as you face someone who is not cooperating. Bagua is like any other martial art -- the most effective techniques are often the most direct.

You will learn 25 ways to achieve the three main goals of a Bagua fighter -- uproot, unbalance, and control your opponent's Center.

You will learn self-defense concepts such as Rotating, Twisting, Supporting, Boring, Scooping, and 20 more -- each one demonstrated and explained through specific self-defense techniques that highlight the movement and "energy" that each concept represents.

Photos are presented in stop-action sequences. You are not left to fill in the gaps from one movement to the next. Every movement and technique will be clear through the images and instruction.

The sequence of photos here shows one technique from the concept of "Scooping."

This ebook, and the companion DVD, is what my students learn after they learn Bagua basic skills and their first form, the 8 Main Palms form. Without understanding the basic building blocks of Bagua self-defense, Bagua movements are meaningless. This knowledge gives their movements depth, and provide them the tools they need to begin moving from form to self-defense.

I try to give a lot of value at a reasonable price. The cost of this ebook is only $5.99 on Amazon Kindle. Follow this link to the Amazon page for Basic Building Blocks of Bagua Self-Defense.

The internal arts seem mysterious, and when the techniques are clouded in abstract, mystical terms, they become indecipherable. Some of this is perpetuated by teachers who simply parrot what their teachers said, like people do in a religion. Other teachers have giant egos and they need people to see them as possessing of supernatural powers and "indoor" knowledge.

I write all my ebooks and produce my instructional videos to break through all of the nonsense and show you the real martial art beneath the supernatural silliness. Real Bagua fighting does not depend on some invisible and unproven energy (qi) flowing through your body. Real Bagua is amazing enough on its own without all that baggage heaped on it, so my ebooks and videos are aimed at showing you the internal body mechanics that give you the relaxed power that makes Bagua an effective art for self-defense. 

Cheng Style Baguazhang 8 Main Palms Form - New Kindle Ebook

Bagua 8 Main Ebook Cover 250The Cheng style Baguazhang 8 Main Palms form is the focus of my eighth Kindle ebook, available now in Amazon's Kindle Store.  This ebook has 340 photos and step-by-step instruction on every movement in this important Bagua form.

The 8 Main Palms form is the first major Bagua form that I teach my students after they have learned basic bagua skills. There are eight sections that contain a lot of information. This form is considered the essence of Baguazhang.

Each section includes a sequence that is performed twice -- once on each side. The photos show a detailed breakdown and instruction of each side.

My goal is always to create books that I would want to read as a student. One of the things I have seen in martial arts books over 40 years is a lack of detail on movements that appear to be "transitions." I try to include that detail so readers know how they get from one movement to the next. I try to leave nothing to guesswork.

The instruction focuses on body mechanics, stripping away the mystical, abstract nonsense that is in some internal arts books. A lot of that type of vague instruction is confusing and leads to misinterpretation. My goal is always to use plain language that clearly communicates the movement and mechanics.

This is Volume One of a two-part series on the 8 Main Palms form. The second volume, available by the end of the month, will focus on the self-defense applications of each movement. The ebook costs $4.99 and is available in Amazon's Kindle Store. Follow this link to read a sample and to get more information.

The ebook is a companion to the 8 Main Palms form DVD that includes step by step video instruction on the movements and their fighting applications.

Chen Taiji 19 Form Self-Defense - Video Highlights from E-book Photo Shoots

Chen 19 Apps Ebook Cover-250During the past month, we have had photo shoots for the new ebook on Amazon Kindle. It's titled Chen Taiji Self-Defense - Fighting Applications for the Chen Tai Chi 19 Form.

The book was published yesterday. It costs $4.99 and includes 239 photos and coaching on 106 self-defense applications from this short Chen Taiji form.

Fighting applications in the form include joint locks, hand strikes, punches, knee strikes, kicks, sweeps, throws, and takedowns. The photo on the cover was taken in 2008, showing an application for the closing movement of the form against a strangle. Most of the photos were taken during the past month.

Below is a video with just a few highlights of those applications. My lovely wife Nancy, the Vice President of Cuteness at our school, is the videographer. Colin Frye is my training partner. He takes a bit of punishment but he's young. He'll survive. :) If you are interested in the ebook, click the link in the first paragraph above. 

How to Fight with Tai Chi - Self-Defense Applications from the Chen Taiji 19 Form

Chen 19 Apps Ebook Cover-250I have written an ebook with 239 photos and detailed instruction for 106 self-defense applications that are found in the short Chen Taiji 19 Form. The ebook is titled Chen Taiji Self-Defense - Fighting Applications from the Chen Family Tai Chi 19 Form. It is available on the Amazon Kindle store for $4.99 and will play on any device with the free Kindle app installed.

The Chen 19 Form was designed by Chen Xiaowang in 1995. He was asked by students around the world for a shorter form to fit into their busy daily lives. Also, in my opinion, I believe he wanted to provide a Chen family answer to the Simplified Yang 24 Form that has become the most popular Tai Chi form in the world.

The Chen 19 Form takes about 5 to 6 minutes to perform if done slowly -- less time if you do it with power and speed. It is based primarily on the longer form, Laojia Yilu. Movements are a bit conservative, with less obvious silk-reeling, than the Chen 38 or Xinjia forms. This is the first form that I teach new Taiji students. I have practiced the 19 Form since 1998, when I learned it from my teachers Jim and Angela Criscimagna, from 19-12-9Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang (who Jim and Angela hosted for workshops) and later I practiced it with another of my teachers, Mark Wasson.

Tai Chi (also spelled Taiji) is a martial art. When you understand how the movements are used in self-defense, you will better understand the true intent of each movement.

Fighting applications in the form include punches, palm strikes, knee strikes, kicks, elbow strikes, joint locks, sweeps, throws, and takedowns.

This is the second volume in my two-volume series on the Chen 19 Form. The first volume, Chen Taijiquan 19 Form, is a step-by-step instructional guide with virtually frame-by-frame photos of the movements (more than 200 photos). In 2008, I produced a DVD with instruction and self-defense applications for the Chen 19 Form.

The true intent of a Tai Chi movement is self-defense. If you do Tai Chi without knowing how the movements are used in self-defense, you are practicing without knowing the true intent of this powerful martial art. 

19-12-10The movements in the Chen 19 form can also be found in other Tai Chi forms regardless of which style you study. They might be performed in slightly different ways from a stylistic perspective, but they all originated in Chen Taiji -- movements such as the Opening of the Form, Wave Hands Like Clouds, Step Back Whirling Arms, Stepping Three Steps, and other movements.

One of my favorite applications from "Wave Hands Like Clouds" is shown here in two photos. Your opponent punches and you sweep his leg out from under him as you pull his arms across. This is an example of "Split" energy and it is one of the applications for the part of Wave Hands that involves stepping to the left as the arms sweep across your body.

Several years ago, I did a 3-volume DVD set on fighting applications of Laojia Yilu. There are more than 400 self-defense applications demonstrated on the DVDs. Even then, I didn't cover them all. With demonstrations and coaching for 106 movements in the Chen 19 Form, I hope this encourages students of Taiji to experiment on their own and use creativity and body mechanics to explore even more as you learn this amazing art.

Follow this link to see the ebook on Amazon

Chen 19 Form - New Ebook Teaches Chen Tai Chi Short Form Step-by-Step

Chen 19 Cover Graphic250How many times have you looked at a martial arts book that teaches a form (kata) and find that you are confused about how to get from one movement to the next -- little "transions" are left out of the photos?

And how many times have you been disappointed that the instructions for the movements lack depth? Step out with your left foot is not always helpful when more is supposed to be happening inside your body.

This is why I am putting the forms I teach into ebooks. The new ebook is called Chen Taijiquan 19 Form - Detailed Step-by-Step Reference for the Short Beginner's Form of Chen Tai Chi. It includes more than 200 photos -- almost a frame-by-frame breakdown of the form. In fact, I was flipping through the pages fast on my iPad and it almost looked like a movie.

I also discuss the body mechanics and direction the Dan T'ien is rotating, where the ground path should be felt, and other details that are almost impossible to find.

The Chen 19 Form was created by Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang around 1995, after he received numerous requests for a short form -- the Chen answer to the Yang 24 Form, which is the most popular short form in the world. He took movements primarily from Laojia Yilu to create the short form.

This ebook presents the Chen 19 Form the way I learned it -- directly from Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang and his students -- and from insights I have gained through 15 years of practicing the form. This is the first Chen form I learned. It opened my eyes to the original style of Taijiquan and I never looked back.

If you don't know Chen style, and are curious about the forms, this is a very inexpensive way to see one in detail (the ebook only costs $4.99). I price my ebooks at around the cost of a venti white chocolate mocha at Starbucks. As usual, I try to provide good information at a low cost to the student.

One of the best uses is as a reference, and to check the body mechanics of movements. Has your teacher given you some of the information? If so, this is a good reminder. If he/she hasn't given you some of the information on body mechanics, you should ask about it. Your teacher either doesn't know it, or perhaps he has a different take on it. Perhaps your teacher will say your hand should be in a slightly different position in some movements, or your feet should be in a slightly different position. That's okay and it is to be expected. Have you ever seen two different masters doing the same form? They always do it differently. Also, Chen Zhenglei's 18 Form is performed differently from Chen Xiaowang's 19 Form. That's just one of those things. Each is carving out his own Tai Chi empire. Personally, I'm teaching at my own level. You won't mistake my skill for a master such as Chen Xiaowang. I am not a master and never will be one. But some masters won't give you some of the information that I will share. My book is written for those who can use the information to practice or to check their own form, and then eventually seek out personal instruction by a qualified instructor.

The ebook is available through Amazon's Kindle store. The Kindle App is free and can be run on your smartphone, iPhone, iPad, and other tablets, laptops and desktop computers. You can take it with you anywhere you go and practice the form with reminders available at the touch of the screen.

Follow this link for more information and sample pages of Chen Taijiquan 19 Form -- the new Kindle ebook.

In a couple of weeks, I will publish part two -- the self-defense applications of the movements in the Chen 19 Form. Stay tuned.

Tai Chi Fighting - There Are No Transitions in Tai Chi

4-1-Brush-vs-punch2When I was first learning Tai Chi, the word "transition" was used often. Holding the Ball was a transition into Part the Wild Horse's Mane. Circling the arms was a transition for Brush Knee Step Forward. After changing teachers and styles, I learned a simple truth:

There are no transitions in Tai Chi.

As I later learned, a self-defense application is built into every movement in Tai Chi. Every movement. 

No matter where your hands and feet are, a fighting application is there.

4-2-Brush-vs-punch3Here is a case in point, one of 108 self-defense applications demonstrated through 259 photos in my new ebook, Yang Tai Chi 24 Form Self Defense. The ebook is only $4.99 through Amazon Kindle -- a great reference for those who practice Yang style Tai Chi, particularly the 24 Form.

Let's say that someone comes up behind you and grabs your shoulder, preparing to punch your lights out. Now, this could even be done from a clinch position or against a punch, but I'm showing this particular set-up as a way to demonstrate the movement.

In picture 2, you step in and your arms have circled as they would in the "transition" before the hand moves out in Brush Knee.
Notice that you have used your leg to block his, setting up some pretty good leverage. Your arm is under his armpit.

4-3-Brush-vs-punch-takedownIn picture 3, you do the movement Brush Knee and he falls over your leg.

Tai Chi is a closeup fighting art, designed to break an opponent and put them on the ground. It is a martial art. Every movement is a hidden or obvious martial arts technique.

If you are only practicing for health and meditation, you are not practicing a complete art. When you understand what the movements are designed to accomplish -- yes, the "intent" (which is NOT to cultivate chi) -- you will further understand how the body is supposed to move, and the "energy" you are supposed to feel.