Monday, February 15, 2016

The Quest for Orthodox Taoist Tai Chi?

A local student came over to my studio, student seeking advice on looking for authentic Taoist Tai Chi Chuan. He has been a student of "Taoist Tai Chi Chuan Society" and is questioning what they do. Well... for starters I don't like playing policeman, on these types of subjects cause everyone can do what they do. I think if it is helping someone get better health and wellness then that is perfect. It really does not matter per se what is so called "authentic", because once it leaves China and comes here it is a adapted tradition. America the melting pot, not a exclusive one view collective consciousness culture by any means.

I am no stranger to this Tai Chi Association; I have taught many of their teacher's Qigong and Meditation, Energy Healing throughout the years here in Michigan and in Windsor Canada. Many of them do it privately in fear of reprisal from the group, but its cool I understand, there can be alot of politics even in Tai Chu Chuan Groups. Many come to me for supercharging their personal practice, or how to setup  personal shrine for the home. I never ask any questions about the group, or what they do...I do what I do and that's enough! Nobody appreciates a busy body gossiper.

Taoism & Quest for Orthodoxy

In Western Cultures there is a quest for creating fringe Taoist Society's. This is not the only group trying; there are many. The founder of the Taoist Tai Chi Society took up these practices to heal himself and he was successful. Today it really has evolved into a large network of groups worldwide. They even have a Taoist Temple in Canada. But is it true Taoist Tai Chi? Hmmmm read on (lol)

Truth is the form is a adapted version of the Traditional Yang Cheng Fu form of the Yang Tradition. We could say it is follows in the consciousness of  "Taoist Spirit" inspired and follows loosely Yang Family/Style structure. The form follows a nice easy flowing style just like the Yang's. It is not a well oiled performance form that just looks flawless, but it does flow for commoner use. They have the reasoning for how they perform the tradition. They are doing positive work for people and they generally offer the practice inexpensive or free.

Wutang Taoism  is the root of true Taoist Tai Chi Chuan. A tradition with many forms techniques, Martial Arts and Meditation Traditions and even Religious practice. Wutang Mountain is a large place with many Masters and teachers, and so there are countless variations. Wutang Tai Chi is not the easiest way to enter into Tai Chi, but it is the source tradition of Tai Chi Chuan as we know it. The smaller 13 forms are usually the ones people like for basic health routines, but it takes teachers willing to share with students. Many like the Chi Cultivation Meditations over the form, cause the practice works quite fast for stress and illness. Many seek Taoist Identity and like the religious tradition, and mentor under a real Master ordained in all of the Traditions. Taoism is a never ending study of the self and nature. Adopt the "forever a student" approach and be open to learn; work on yourself and you will go far.      

Wu, Sun, Hao and many others are adapted largely from Yang Family. Yang Lu Chan was a genius with his technique and tradition and he became famous all through China. There are many variations of his teachings that even exist to this day that were birthed from his travels and teachings to his sons. The reason there are so many variations like many Master's he and his sons taught students based on ability and interest. Many teachers teach like this to remain open and to serve the many.  

In the beginning Yang Lu Chan was a Chen Stylist in the beginning. The Chen Family is more closely to what Wutang Tai Chi Chuan is, but its more of a family style of Chen Family teachings. Even Chen Family Tai Chi Chuan has a wide array of teachings as well. So it is a endless sea of adaptations today. Each school and practice has their view point how to make their system work. All I will say is follow the ones that gives you desire to practice and joy when you do it. It will take a mentor in whatever Tai Chi Chuan tradition you do to ensure you do the form correctly and not to injure yourself through improper postures and movement. 

Taoism in western cultures is complicated; it is complicated even in China. Daily life in China is not like it use to be before Mao Tse Tung and the Communist Red Flood. All the teachers I have ever studied with left cause of it. Taoism, Buddhism and other practice systems can no longer exist as it was. A sad true story to a once paradise on earth; but it don't matter cause it is omni present everywhere now. The traditions will go on and adapt. What was traditional may not be of value in the future anyhow. 

Many act like they own some rights to the Tao; no one owns what cannot actually even be described; lol...Many get real political with Taoist practice, quest for making it a mission, the "Tao of Dollars" the marketing of Taoism which just really pisses off all the Orthodox Lineage Masters off. True Taoism follows the making the practices available to those in need and not with a recompense price-tag attached to it. This is done in Traditional Buddhism as well-all truths groups I will say. With that said this is the West- if you want your group to survive you will have to support the mission, nothing is free in America! Don't let a good thing die in the "spirit of self sacrifice" and a very Asian way of doing things.

The real Taoist experience is everyone's own experience. So again noone "owns the Tao"; feel free to tag it as such- its your life, live it as you see fit. I think if you like this Tai Chi Tradition follow it. The core philosophy behind any of these practices should be the emphasis of sharing for the masses and helping one another out. As Hua Ching Ni has taught for many years TAO=Together As One.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Qigong: A Branch of Chinese Medicine

Qigong: A Branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Recently I have encountered a influx of people seeking specific help with serious health challenges. In talking with them what comes up in the conversation is using Qigong forms, Meditations and Therapeutic practice for helping with what they are living daily with. Many are under the assumption that there are marketed Qigong practices for such disorders such as Asthma, Bronchitis, MS, ALS etc. What they don't understand is that there is not a "one fits all" Qigong practice for this or that.

 What has made Qigong work is that it's basis is a branch of  Traditional Chinese Medicine; which has a methodology for correcting Health Challenges. So in this first of a series today I would like to address how I view this practice in relation to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Qigong Group Classes and Self Practice Sets

We live in a culture now that anyone can try just about anything through a little effort. There is people filming Qigong practices and marketing them to promote their art. There are classes in most cities of some sort being held. When I began in this field it was largely held within the East Asian Community, and it was very closed to many westerners for the most part. I can remember a time when women were not allowed to participate in these classes and Martial Arts! Nowadays its almost the complete opposite, probably due to a generational change. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Martial Arts is also a world wide accepted tradition and not a underground movement as well. This is what is happening, the tradition is changing for the better; anyone can participate which makes it more richer of a tradition. 

There are countless Qigong sets. In the 1980's when Qigong was first taking shape in the USA and in Canada, there were few traditions and teachers. The quality in many ways was better cause it focused on a more condensed approach and not a endless amount of practices, systems or approaches. Most of the Japanese and Chinese Masters I studied with required  you to memorize what you learned precisely. You would not progress to the next stages of training until you get did it almost flawlessly  what was taught.

What still is true today as was it was when I was just learning and understanding is that anything can make one "healthy & balanced". These practices that have been adapted from Traditional Chinese Culture practice systems, are for strengthening the body/mind. So Taiji sets, Stillness Qigong and Dynamic Qigong etc any can help an array of once thought of incurable disorders. What makes them effective is the mentor/therapist/teacher whom has a complete understanding of the tradition they are teaching. In many cases herbs are used along with bodywork, to assist in the flow of energy. 

Qigong Group Classes and Self Practice Sets should always be accompanied by some sort of feedback from a experienced practitioner. Without proper mentoring, it is a Guessing game of what the set is suppose to lead one into. I often say "you must understand the view teaching" and all the salient elements with it. The videos used should also come from a source tradition teacher; often times today you see many promoting a "C" average copy of what their teacher sells as well.  I find that very funny cause why would they not promote their teachers video; really not a ethical display of character. In most cases the source tradition teacher should be the standard bearer of that given tradition, buy their video! At last count a friend of mine estimated there use to be like two standardized versions of Eight Brocades Qigong; now there is over 100 less than optimal adaptations of it. It has created complete confusion for many, which is a problem for the unknowing new student.

The videos that are often promoted is only a snapshot in time of what is - at that day and time; and should not reflect the totality of what the practice/tradition is. This is where classes and mentoring come into play. A teachers only job is to teach you to do; what they can do and to open your mind to the tradition and take it forward. Sadly often many teachings are partial and this is where sets don't deliver or work essentially, cause students don't have the insider details.

As far as healing disorders using Qigong Sets; there have been many sets to have beneficial uses for some forms of Cancer, MS, ALS and common miscellaneous disorders, diseases. A student really needs to establish a routine and understand the divisions of Qigong for Health and Wellness. What one can do essentially for Body/Mind Health daily.  Again anything can heal to make one whole. So its not black and white, and there is no Majikal Qigong set that can be boxed into this. What makes certain practices work is a complete understanding of the method from the Master teacher, which is often from a deep long line of lineage and history. So the teacher/therapist intuition on the practice is crucial in this case. The student following through with compliance of diligent practice as well.

  Identify Specifics of Disorders

Using Qigong for certain disorders come into play when one is actually sick or less than optimal. The Chinese view point of sickness is that when imbalance hits, the Chi is already in a bad state and should corrected and maintained quickly. One has to strike a balance with yin/yang very quickly. We often use terms like "finding the pattern" which is the total constellation of a persons signs and symptoms as gathered by traditional four identifications, including tongue and pulse signs. The Pattern Identification is the crucial work with helping one with Qigong and again herbs and Bodywork go hand in hand here as well as specific dietary requirements based on a complete look on ones health.

As far as classical illness/disease, this, is made up of a smaller group of symptoms which are believed to define that problem in many persons generically speaking with it. Such illness defining signs and symptoms are a illness of pathogenic signs and symptoms or those by which it is specifically known. Thus, while a illness/disease usually has a narrow definition of specific signs and symptoms, identifying and finding the pattern is the entire body/mind
composition of given individual. Standardized procedure is that a person needs to get into private therapy and get a Traditional Chinese Medicine intake done and then identify the pattern of imbalances of yin/yang, so balancing can begin to take place. This kind of Qigong Therapy is way different then generalized self practice Community Classes. Specifics are being addressed and in many cases Chinese external/internal herbs maybe administered as well. With this being said you will be guided hopefully precisely and completely into health and wellness of optimal health. I will also note that it can take some time as well; it will take a person determination, a strong will and compliance to do whatever the therapist is guiding one to do.

Qigong is a wonderful tradition; it is a branch of Chinese Medicine. It is a standardized approach; and in my opinion it is the best approach because it teaches the seeker how to maintain their health and does not become a therapist reliant tradition. The spirit of Chinese Medicine lays in the Mentor teaching the student how to adopt the teachings in their life and maintain health and wellness. I recommend to all my students and friends I meet that are looking for balance is to get to my private Chi studio and lets begin balancing the complicated health issues once and for all! This really is the proper way to work on personal health issues that may be plaguing one for a long time. I hope you have find this article of value; for people interested in Qigong its way deeper than a community event-it is Chinese Medicine.