Taiji Ten Ten

Taiji Ten Ten

  1. The energy at the top of the head should be light and sensitive
  2. Sink the chest and raise the back
  3. Remains relax with no tensions
  4. Distinguish full from empty
  5. Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows
  6. Use the mind and not strength
  7. Unite the upper and lower body
  8. Unite internal and external
  9. Continuity without interruption
  10. Seek Stillness in movement

1. The head should be upright so the shen (spirit) can reach the headtop.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercise, esp. fire channel and water channel.

2. Sink the chest and pluck up the back.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercize, esp. lung channel.

3. Sung (relax) the waist.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercise, esp. dai channel.

4. Differentiate insubstantial and substantial.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercise, esp, small channel exercise — but also by many others such as taming the tiger.

5. Sink the shoulders and elbows.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercise, but also by many others such as 9 movements of chen style foundation.

6. Use mind and not force.
This is informed by the 8 channel exercise, but also by standing or in brush knee fa li exercise.

7. Upper and lower mutually follow.
This is informed by many but press elbow exercise and single whip/an are good canidates.

8. Inside and outside coordinate.
This is informed by many but especially combined whirl arms exercise.

9. It is mutually joined and unbroken.
This is especially informed by silk reeling jibengong.

10. Seek stillness in movement.
This is informed by many exercises; it has multiple meanings. it could be informed by combined whirl arms, or standing. One aspect is sinking in transition.

Diary of a Failure (Part 3)

So I had this friend, and he worked hard. No, I mean, he really worked hard. He trained 4 hours a day, then after that he taught classes at his teacher’s kung fu school. In fact for a while I think he had his own school. This guy was in the zone. He started early, maybe around 9 or 10. He was basically a “master”, or in-the-running to become one. He should have easily baishi’d and gone on to carry the linage.

Then when he was 25 he just stopped.

I mean boom, ok, it’s over. No more kung fu.

Ya wanna know what happened?

Really? You want to know what was the big deal?

He realized he would never make any money doing kung fu so he quit and got a normal job somewhere doing something like a chef or bus driver or accountant. You know, adult continuing education. It worked out for him. he has money now. I think, for a while, he tried (like so many others) to cross-over into some kind of functional training/fitness instruction. But in the end he became something like an accountant or a bus driver.

So yeah that’s it. Another life destroyed. Dreams crushed. A lifetime wasted.

There’s no money in this game. There’s no hope.

Fixing your Life

I had a dream. I wanted to be just like my teacher. He was amazing. No, you don’t understand — there was a confidence about him — a strength, a power. When he moved the mountains moved. When he flowed it was the river flowing. I knew, I could see it. It was not like normal people.

One day I had to go away because I was young and I didn’t have any money. It was sudden. I wasn’t in control of my life. But I vowed to honor him, to never forget his teaching, and to remember him and one day to return and show that I was a good student. That I was worthy of being his student.

Decades passed and although I occasionally tried to look him up I was never able to find him again. From what I had heard he went to China to continue his training — not that I felt he needed to, but surely because out of everyone I have ever seen he was ready for it, he was capable of scraping together what little there was left for him to learn and reaching a new level. But over those decades the fact is I was never able to find him again, anywhere. There were whispers, here and there, but he was gone.

I tried to understand. This guy was good. He was better than most head instructors I’d met. But he had either failed, quit, given up or been forced into different waters. I couldn’t help but eventually make the connection between him and I, not in that I have any kind of skill, but that in the end life did damage to our dreams. It didn’t make sense that he wasn’t in the spotlight these days. That is who he was. If he wasn’t out there, it couldn’t have been his choice.

About midpoint, 15 years after I had met him (and a good 15 years ago) I ran into the former president of the New York Go Club. He and I became fast friends and he was a very wise man so he told me the real history of the club and he told me about the dreams, and the reality, of professional weiqi play in America. What he said struck a bell — it was all so similar to martial arts, to my experience and to the sad fate of so many others.

The old man teaching in the school gym. Clearly a master. So old, so unknown. When I looked twice, he was gone. Forced out financially, maybe, too old, maybe dead.

The school on augusta. So well known, so respected. But they’re just not there anymore. Finances. Maybe they are somewhere else, I don’t know.

You know what Mr. Go Club told me? He told me that it was dangerous to get stronger. Many people try and they end up destroying their life.

So I figured, what I had to do was fix my life first. First I needed money. A lot of money. I figured that out early on. What business do the poor have to learn martial arts? This is a truth not for us, but for them. Because you are not in control of your life.

This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. If you are serious about martial arts, stop training and go fix your life first. Otherwise it will only ever be a hobby for you. Then again, maybe that’s all you want. But if you want more, now you need to fix it as fast as possible. It takes a long time to align yourself to this. Personally I feel it was worth it. If I knew this lesson earlier I would have been able to start much younger. But I was always so poor and under-educated about money. I will make sure to teach these lessons to my students in the future, it is so important, not just how to throw punches and kicks!


I’ve been living in Taiwan for 10 years and I’ve been back only briefly to visit relatives.

Recently I’ve planned a trip to Toronto solely to train in martial arts. Why? Because I haven’t found a better teacher anywhere in Asia. That might sound like hubris or blindness but it isn’t. I’m older now, and the fact is that the relationships I have formed in the past have a certain weight which lends them a trust and reliance which is not easily formed elsewhere. If it helps, consider the limitation mine and not that of those who live here.

As the day approaches when I spend my time in Toronto I have taken up photography as a hobby. As a result I have been looking at other people’s photos online, and as a result have joined some photo groups on Flickr related to Toronto. As I look at these images, memories stir. Biting cold waiting for a streetcar — but not too unmanageable. How life was like back then. Trying to find good work. Training in the park. University life, college life, and life outside of it. It is impossible to say how things would have turned out if I hadn’t gone to Taiwan. I am not sorry I left. It was for the best. Perhaps now that I have finally made my way in life I am allowed to feel homesick. Perhaps that is a benefit. I’m sure it is.

So here I sit, it’s 2 am in Asia right now, and all I can think of is what happens one hundred days from now.

I wish I could tell my teachers how much this trip means to me. It is the cumulation of my whole life. I’m not being melodramatic. It’s not hyperbole. It really is. The emotions behind it run deep, perhaps deeper than even I am aware. But in the end there is no point in talking about it too much. The best and in fact only way to deal with it is to channel it into physical exercise and photography. A while ago, I would have said wei-qi as well. But there are many sacrifices I have had to acknowledge, even though some of them have not yet been made.

If you want something badly enough in life you can have it. The question is what you are willing to give up to get it. Sometimes it is not as bad as you think and you can have your cake and eat it too. But the journey can be painful and tiresome. The way I got to where I am is a lot like that. In the process I had to disregard everything I held dear. And now, here I am, right now, here today, and I have the power to say that it is a new day, a new beginning. This is my secret power which makes me more than any superhero. I have the power to change, not just myself, but all of the people I used to know, and all the places I used to visit. In fact the whole world. So, tomorrow is another day.

Garmin Group “Canada Top Runners” Changes Leaderboard Metrics

This week for the first time, I will fail to win, place or show in the Garmin Groups “Canada Top Runners” and “Downtown Toronto Running”. I have previously reached first place since joining those groups. They have both spontaneously changed to “distance run” which disqualifies me as I have a Vivofit 2 and not a Forerunner or Fenix or whatever their running watch is.

Interestingly enough, prior to my arrival both groups were step tracking groups dominated by the same person (no need to name names). This person was consistently second by a margin of 10% to 20% while I was a member. In any case, the person is now first again and I am at the bottom of their group, so I quit their groups. I can no longer participate on a fair and even playing field, my (entry level) watch only reports step tracking.

I continue to dominate the “Let’s Move Canada”, “Garmin UX Taiwan”, “Vivosmart China” and other groups I am a member of. I am currently first in the 150k Step Challenge this week as well.

Soon I will back down from step diary challenges and devote more time to the splits diary and wuji diary. After I accomplish those goals my long term plans are to ease into a more traditional routine, keeping the same hours but replacing walking and so forth with mainly jibengong, forms and single posture repetitions should come very naturally. I will touch more on this process in a future post on the topic of cross training different systems.

I’m a little disappointed in the way Canada Top Runners and DTR groups have handled my presence, but in the end I was not planning on being long term competitive. Just establishing a baseline amount of training time.