Chinese Opera Duck Walking

 Wait for a couple minutes into the video for the bald guy, first part is just tongue twisters.

Apparently its part of training for the Chinese Opera – how an adult would portray a child’s height. Real impressive that he can kick and walk so quick at that height, not to mention the acrobatics.

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Scientific benefits of meditation

Link to the article…–its-good-for-you-20090819-eqlo.html?page=-1

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Free Internet Workout Timer

 Could be useful for tabata and bag work……. if only I had a computer with Internet access near where ever I workout…….

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Rolling away the knots…

 I’m always suggesting to my students and friends to use a foam roller. I even gave away my original one to my aunt. Its insanely cheap, especially when compared to visits to a massage therapist or chiropractor and you can use it any time you want to. I usually use it for my spine and hip/pelvis area, but you can expand the range of use of it to other areas as well.

At one point I was thinking of writing up an article about how to use it and why, but here’s a pretty good one I found recently. Check it out!

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A nice blog to read

Here’s a blog that I stumbled across some time ago and just returned to again recently. Its great for that combination of historical information coupled with stories of the old masters. That sort of writing is what got me hooked on the internal Chinese martial arts to begin with, so this blog still speaks to the young martial arts geek in me. I’m a lot more practical these days, but this is still great stuff.

It’s called Masters of the IMA

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Nice gentle sparring w/ Anderson Silva

Check it out. Too many people always want to get too rough or try to “win” in their sparring. Here’s a pro at the top of his game, practicing. He’s throwing elbows – safely. He’s throwing leg kicks – safely. They are throwing out combos and getting in their techniques – safely – and without someone necessarily trying all out to stop them from training.

This is the kind of stuff we do when we are doing trading throws in that arena, but it’s still hard for most to do this in general sparring.

Ego prevents everyone from improving, not just the dude with the ego.

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UFC 101 Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffen fight.

Just saw it, and although I love a brawl as well, I just enjoy watching an incredibly skilled fighter totally outclass the other. That is what happened here in this fight. Here’s the final KO shot.


Mr. Anderson has some skills.


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Acupuncture in Europe 5000 years ago

I have mentioned this “find” before to a number of my students, in and out of class. I thought it fascinating.

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Video of Luo Laoshi teaching in Paris

Here’s some great video of Laoshi teaching at this year’s seminars in Paris, France.

Thanks to Ed Hines for putting this together.

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Marcus Brinkman is up on youtube!

This is the youtube channel for Marcus Brinkman, one of my seniors under Luo Dexiu. Marcus also studied directly with Hong Yixiang as well as a host of other teachers. He’s an awesome practitioner and I’m so glad to see him putting more stuff out there. There’s a lot of videos up on his page, definitely check them out!

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The flip side

I’ve been thinking about something since I wrote that last motivation thread. I felt that that post came out a bit on the pessimistic side. Although it was honest, I do want to present another aspect into the equation.

I’ve never seen or yet met a student who I think:

  1. Could not improve
  2. Could not keep improving
  3. Could not successfully learn the material

The problem is usually due to more complex varieties of the motivation issue. In traditional martial arts its not as simple as saying something like “I want to learn how to play the piano” or “I want to learn how to make a good steak.”

The variety of different skills inherent in the internal martial arts are numerous. Especially in an art like Baguazhang. In the end, once you come somewhat full circle, things will seem simpler. But it is often the case that while one is still on the path, they don’t yet know all the paths that they must someday take, what varieties of skills they must conquer.

In the traditional internal martial arts that I have studied, it has been my belief and experience that everyone is capable. This does not mean that everyone was given the same genetic gifts to begin with or that everyone started with the same background. All of these can significantly influence how difficult the road can be for each individual, but that never means that it is impossible.

The true choice of whether something is possible or impossible for that particular person goes back to the question of motivation and whether or not they believe in themselves. Everyone can do, not everyone chooses to and not everyone believes themselves capable of succeeding.

Moreover, and what is likely one of the most serious issues when determining how far one can climb, is that each person often cuts off their potential in learning. They might lack the amount of humility and brutal honesty that is necessary to have with oneself to continue the climb. They might fall into complacency, either assuming they have what they need or that the physical, mental and time costs to continued improvement are too great. They might also just get so stuck in what and how they have done something, that even though they have butted up against the wall and are going nowhere… they still cannot change direction and find the way around. Not all roads that got you to the mountain can get you up the mountain.

For myself, I always try to insure that I learn something with each training session and each day. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering thunderstrike of enlightenment, it just has to be a step further down the path. Sometimes I’ll have to enlist the help of my teacher to show me the way around when I’ve come to a dead end, but that is how it should be. Sometimes I’ll have to take some time out, if the mind is not ready and willing and focussed, even if the desire is there, the ends will not come. Sometimes I’ll have to work around an injury and my training will take a different direction for a time, but in the end I know that this will always grant me greater wisdom into the workings of my body, and my training. Sometimes I have to just hunker down and push ahead, even if circumstances are trying to stop me.

Its not always easy, but its always possible. I still haven’t met someone who I think is incapable. And although not everyone is equally capable, they can all be successful, equally.

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My baby Evelyn

I posted this pic up on Facebook. My new baby girl is now nearly 2 weeks old. Her name is Evelyn Sarah Wood and she’s our newest handful of sleep-depriving joy!

This is what’s keeping me busy:


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Nice looking exhibition match with Fedor and Aoki

Some great transitions and throws in this one.

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Issues with motivation in training and life

 Josh Leeger asked a question about my thoughts on motivation following a post of mine below. I decided to transfer my answer to a new post in the hopes that it can lead to more discussion and more meditations on it from me as well. So, my thoughts on motivation:

Motivation is something that I’m increasingly pessimistic about (and I didn’t mean that in an ironic sense). I can only speak for me and my experiences here, but, here’s some points I’ve noticed in my studies of martial arts:

1 – Even a motivated, dedicated person will have different levels of motivation over his lifetime. I can cite myself in this category. With kids, wife, stress, money problems, injuries… all sorts of things conspire together to stand in the way of a good training schedule. I can’t practice as much now as I would like to or did when I was younger. I go through cycles where I train more and when I train less.

2 – I’m not even sure you can “teach” or “inspire” motivation. I’ve seen hundreds of people that would talk the talk, but never got around to walking the walk. And walking the walk long term is what is needed in gongfu – skill acquired through hard work over time. As much as I’ve personally tried to push and lead people to try more and to drive themselves harder, it doesn’t seem to do much. I think I can set an example, I think I can occasionally get like minded people, but I’m just increasingly pessimistic about creating a motivated individual from one who is not.

3 – And honestly, our culture is progressively not promoting self-motivation. Many believe its preferable to go to a group aerobics, yoga or crossfit type class than it is to learn the lessons of forging oneself, the lessons of dedication and self-discovery one can obtain are left by the wayside though, in that case. Being led by the collar is not the same as boldly going forward under one’s own power. But then again, gaining spiritual, meaningful internal insight is not something that society is promoting or putting value on these days.

4 – I personally predominantly teach adults, not young kids in a wrestling program, or zit-faced teenagers at army boot camp. I can’t really force them to do anything. I remember trying to get my students to work towards certain goals over a 3 month period. Although they were all self-dictated goals, they had 3 months, they were concrete and obtainable… only one person out of about half a dozen got anywhere close to completing their goals. Disappointing, but instructive to me as well about the level of people’s motivation. Heck, I can’t even make people come to class on a consistent, regular basis and that is something that I think should be the bare minimum necessary.

5 – My innate nature is to just tell people to suck it up and get to it. When I was a kid if you had to do your chores, you had to. It wouldn’t matter to my Grandpa if I didn’t feel like chopping wood today, either I did it or I didn’t do anything else until I did. Whining is generally the name of the game these days. Whether it’s “I was tired,” to “I had something else to do,” to “I hurt my little thumb and can’t practice,” to the slightly more honest “I just didn’t feel like it” – It’s apparently easier to whine about it than to dig in and do it.

6 – Another cultural reason, many people, in an effort to preserve their own sense of responsibility and prevent damage to their ego, would always prefer to place the blame and responsibility on someone else, rather than themselves. You hurt yourself, you sue someone else. You didn’t learn that in school, you blame the teacher and the school. You’re fat, you blame society and “the man.” It’s always easier for people to feel good about themselves by shifting all this onto something or someone else.

There’s probably a lot more to this. I’ve got to get back to the kids now though. More later.

And I would love to hear other thoughts on this!

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Baguazhang and the concept of “play” in training

In its most simple sense, baguazhang likes to take things and play with them. The art is based on the attitude of play. You can play with forms, you can play with opponents and training partners, and you need to play with the tools of your training.

A simple example of playing with a “tool” in training is taking one basic form or fighting principle and varying it in a number of different senses. Doing this as a deliberate process allows you to get to the essence of that form or principles jin. You must take it apart so that you can see what it is, inside and out, and so that you can learn to put it back together in any form you want. Take our first houtian straight line form of kaizhang, or opening palm, for example. From the basic template, you can learn to practice it long for the training of power, or short for the expression of power. You can apply it with either hand, on either the inside or outside of your opponent. You can apply it driving forward or while retreating. You can use it to overwhelm or to flow around the strengths of your opponent. You can use it to enter high or low, or to force your opponent’s center high or low. You can step straight in or at angles around the opponent. You can strike with a palm, as in the basic form, or with a slapping hand, a fist, your knee, your elbow, etc.

Another example of a practice in baguazhang that used to be common, but that I don’t see often anymore, is that of free-flowing creative circle walking. Using the circle as a template and letting the jin flow out of your body, your mind and your consciousness was a common method of play in baguazhang when the art was first being disseminated. Beyond our own Yizong group, I have seen it practiced before in a couple Beijing bagua schools – I’ve seen Ma Chuanxu and Yang Kun do this personally, but it unfortunately does not seem to be as common anymore. And when it is done, especially in the West, it is often painfully obvious that it is being done too soon, without the foundation work in place. When the jin are not part of your body/mind, what comes out is just sloppy arm waving, not part of the art of Baguazhang.

Taking the basic essence of a thing and changing it big and small, forward and back, right and left, up and down, and more… this is the base of how we play in bagua. In a sense, the core jin of the moves we are trying to express is what is sacred, everything else is in flux, in change, in a state of play.

More later.


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