Monday, November 9, 2009

Look at this, hard science is finally admitting it.

Tai Chi Exercise Reduces Knee Osteoarthritis Pain In The Elderly, Research Shows

ScienceDaily (2009-11-01) -- Researchers have determined that patients over 65 years of age with knee osteoarthritis who engage in regular Tai Chi exercise improve physical function and experience less pain. Tai Chi is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength, flexibility, and self-efficacy. ... > read full article

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pink is the new black...just ask Sheila.

This is the newest ranked belt at the dojo. I wanted everyone to see what belt a real warrior aspires to.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Blog from Wim Demeere

I think this is worth reading, I am planning on buying the book. Fighting in the Clinch.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I found this on and think it is well written

Well, im no expert obviosuly, but from my understanding the forms while they absolutley were originally designed to instill techniques, the whole idea of Tajiqaun is to not "stagnate" the "internal flow", thats why the forms practices are so important and done so slow in Taiji, in order to concentrate on full body relaxation and "whole body power", what we today would call using the core muscles, in Taiji that has to be threaded in one smotth cycle starting from the feet , directed by the waist and then "expressed" through the hands.

Traditionally, single patterns of movement were learned and repeated over and over until mastered, only then was the next pattern taught. Once the student had mastered an entire sequence of movements individually, the movements were taught in a linked sequence (a 'set'). The goal of training is to cultivate a kind of 'whole body' power. This refers to the ability to generate power with the entire body, making full use of one's whole body mass .

once you get into the "fajing" or explosive movement there will be tension at the second before impact,..pretty common theory in alot of arts, boxing even as i understand it aims for a whip like motion with the hips "snapping the punches". the forms are trained at a slow pace to learn proper movent and whole body application, but once you got that Taiji is to become very fast, a relaxed body moves much faster than a tense one..hence the aim of the practice.

Another hallmark of Tai Ji Quan as a combat art is that it has, as its foundation, the principle of natural movement. All the movements and techniques of the Tai Ji Quan Arts are based upon natural strengths and reactions. Because training is less a matter of conditioning new responses as refining inborn abilities, real fighting ability can be cultivated.

"All Tai Ji Quan techniques are combinations of the energies of the Eight Techniques: ward off, roll back, press, push, pluck, split, elbow and body stroke [peng, lu, ji, an, cai, lie, zhou, kao]. In its broadest sense, ward off energy can he applied to the whole body. It is the energy resulting from proper alignment and relaxation which gives the Tai Ji Quan fighter the elasticity and springiness necessary to fight. In a stricter, technical sense, ward off is the energy which supplies buoyancy and supports weight (as soft and flexible water is able to support a massive ship). Roll back is energy which moves incoming force past one's body toward the rear (as a revolving door gives way and pivots around its center). Press is the force which rebounds from the ground up in a pulse and bounces the opponent away from the body (as a rock bounces off the taught head of a drum). Push is a force which puts pressure downward (like the force used when you lift your body out of a pool by pressing the palms down on the outside deck). Pluck is a sudden, downward jerking force towards the rear of one's own body (like the force used to pluck an apple from a tree). Split is the energy of coupling (force applied in parallel but opposite directions which causes a rotation around their center point); it is the force generated when you turn a steering wheel with both hands on the sides of the wheel. Elbow is whole body ward off power focused through the elbow (think of closing a car door with your elbow when your hands are full). Body stroke is whole body ward off power channeled through some part of the torso, usually the shoulder (think of breaking a door down by leaning into it with your shoulder). All the various techniques of Tai Ji Quan, including throwing, locking, kicking and striking, are combinations of these eight energies."

But like mentioned and common knowledge, finding someone who really teaches this aspect of it isnt easy to do, mostly the Chen styles are more fight minded.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Person Application Set

Last weekend I attended a four day intensive with two of my teachers, deepening my understanding of Taijiquan and specifically the two person application set. More will be posted.

I learned this set 13 years ago and have been playing it since then. It was great to get a fresh look at it from my teachers after they have 13 years of refinement. It is elegant, refined and effective. I am still digesting much of the new material. Expect to hear more about it. Real Taijiquan.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How to piss off your training partner

I thought this blog by Wim Demeere was pretty appropriate. I have seen a few of these things myself, even in Taiji classes. I guess two person work is two person work.

How to Piss Off Your Training Partner, Part 1
By Wim .

I first wanted to name this guide “How to Piss Off your Training Partner and Get Your Butt Whipped” but figured that might be a bit excessive… Not everything in my top three list will get you beat up in class, so some moderation is in order. But this behavior does often result in the offender getting either a beating, a couple of nasty blows under the radar or at the very least the training partner doesn’t want to play anymore. In a way, this guide is the opposite of this one about how to train at a new martial arts school or gym. read the rest here

Monday, April 27, 2009

Martial Arts Stories

So, I have to write this after the last couple of weekends. Many folks ask alot of questions about what martial arts are and how they relate to life. The first story I want to tell is how martial arts can affect a kids life very quickly.

My girlfriends son is 14, he has studied some taiji with me, but wanted more socialization with his study. We got him enrolled in a great dojo here in town, after reviewing quite a few. He studies Aikido and Arnis as well as kenjutsu now. He has been studying since the beginning of October. He takes it quite seriously and is the youngest Aikido student that Grandmaster has ever taught. Well, this Saturday afternoon, he was walking from an adjoining neighborhood back to ours accross a wooded path, and four 13-15 year olds decided that they wanted his Xbox game more than he did. Two of them pulled out pocket knives. One put it up to his throat, the other put the blade on his arm. Marc kept his cool. He didn't challenge them and when he got his chance he got out of there. He knew that with his limited training he wasn't a match for four kids his size that had knives.

Two things are important as outcomes of this story. One, he kept his cool under pressure. Two, he wants to redouble his training so that he never feels that way again. Martial Arts training is more important than ever in society today. It is much more than fighting. It is awareness of ones surroundings, honest awareness of ones capabilities, and it is the ability to not be afraid so that we can live our lives fully.

The second story I think captures the best use of martial arts that I can imagine. As I worte about, I was at a Jiujutsu seminar last weekend. The founder of Atemi Ryu JiuJutsu was there. He told some great stories about fights that he was in. What follows is the story that he said he was most proud of.

Dr. Chenique (Grandmaster Atemi Ryu Jiujutsu) was exiting a highway in Miami when he observed a car pulled over by the side of the road. There was a lady standing outside of the car in the rain, obviously in an altercation with the occupant of the car. The car then sped off leaving the lady standing there in the rain.

Dr. Chenique pulled over, asked the lady if she was ok, and if she needed a ride. She said that she was ok, and that he would come back to get her. The driver of the car obviously saw that Dr. Chenique had pulled over, and came ripping back to where this was all happening. He exited the car and began to verbally assault Dr. Chenique.

Dr. Chenique (remember, this is his story that he was most proud of) calmly told the driver that he should treat this lady better and then asked him what he was going to do...beat up a 53 year old, bald, fat guy. He said that as soon as he uttered these words, the driver of the car began to lose his aggression. Dr. Chenique had stopped the fight before it got started, caused the man to change his behavior with out any force at all. Sun Tzu would have been proud.

Sometimes force and violence are neccessary, but the warrior is the one who hopes it can be solved without them. It is the warriors who pay the price when force and violence are used as solutions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taiji (tai chi) vs. Jiu Jutsu

OK, I'm not really righting about a vs. type scenario, but I thought this would be a fun title. What I am writing about are the results from a two day workshop that was just held in Fayetteville, NC. Now, this workshop was primarily Jiu Jutsu, with a bit of Aikido thrown in. The seminar was put on by Musha Dojo, head instructor Grandmaster Lioni Velazquez, top student of Dr. Philip Chenique, Atemi Ryu Jiu Jutsu. There were a bevy of highly ranked instructors there as well, from Sanuces Jiu Jutsu.

By now, you might be asking "what does this have to do with Taijiquan?" Well, the short answer is that myself and one other participant in the seminar are taiji practicioners. No, we are not switching arts. We were feeling other practicioners, were were testing what we had learned, we were seeing new relations between Yang Style forms and martial arts that might seem as remote as Jiu Jutsu. Guess what. We were not left in the dust. In fact, I would say that we held up as well as anyone with our level of experience in Jiu Jutsu would have. Naturally, our break falls were not so pretty, we did not roll as gracefully, but we certainly were just as effective with alot of the techniques.

Now, why do you think that I wanted to write a blog about this experience? Simple really, Taijiquan often gets the bad rap that it isn't really martial in nature. I seem to be on a one man quest to prove that Taijiquan is a different kind of martial art, but that it is a martial art and that it does indeed have martial application.

So, if you want to read about those continuing exploits, feel free to read my blog.

BTW, I am not however one of the guys that thinks Taiji is a hard style in disguise. Nor am I one of the guys that thinks I can knock you over with a Chi blast. I belive in the scientific applications of technique, and praticing those techniques until you can do them correctly, then adding resistance to the practice, eventually testing them against a completely non-compliant agressor, all the while still maintaining the Taiji principles.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is taiji?

So, I was thinking alot about taiji and its relationship to other martial arts. Specifically because of some conversation on youtube about a push hands controversy that has now carried over to Bullshido. It really doesn't seem like many people understand what taiji is. When trying to explain it, a lot of us get mis-quoted and sucked into other discussions, such as the purpose of martial arts, new training vs. traditional training, lineage, etc.

Now, I have always been an advocate that taiji is a martial art. What martial arts means to me has changed quite a bit throughout my life, from the desire to be able to defned myself(kid), to the desire to be able to "kick butt"(teen), do my job (soldier), finally it became about the warrior philosphy.

I won't get into the warrior philosophy here, what I will say though, is that being trained in warrior arts (like the samurai) allows us to eliminate fear and more fully experience life. Not just pound someone. I digress though from the original question.

What is Taijiquan?

My newest simple answer is a martial art with all the details.

The applications exist in many other martial arts, but there is still a difference. Quite often I have heard that what we all end up doing in the end is taiji, no matter what martial art. My teachers teacher in china was 92, he did not posses the strength to "whoop ass", what he did have was a very refined technique and way of moving. He was still efficatious at 92, able to uproot and topple his students.

There are alot more conversations to deal with here. Patience, this conversation will unfold just as a flower. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aikido and other arts

So, seems like none of my kids are interested in taiji. Either that, or I am not the right teacher for them. Previously, my sons took Hapkido from a very reputable Grandmaster here in town. Now, Marc, my girlfriends son has taken up Aikido. I am really enjoying it. The dojo that he takes at is Musha Dojo, here in Fayetteville, NC. They are a reputable and down to earth dojo, open to other styles. I have seen very much in common with the Taiji that I practice and teach. In fact, I am now teaching taiji there one night a week.

So, it is with pride that I direct you to a video of Marc doing randori for his yellow belt test. Check out to learn more about the Musha Dojo.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Taiji s and isn't - Repost

What Taiji is and isn’t
Current mood: annoyed
Category: Blogging
Ok, so I am quite frustrated. I study Taiji as a martial art, one of the few I am afraid though. The more I search for resources, the more disappointed I am.

Taijiquan is a highly developed martial art. It is not a specific form. What makes taiji special is that it follows a set of principles. There are many sources for these principles, so I am not going to restate them here. One of the main ones is that the body moves as one unit. No part of the body moves independently.

Here is where my frustration comes in. When I find resources for Taiji that relate to it as a martial art, inevitably, these sources are not prescribing to the principles. Jou Tsung Hwa's book, The Tao of Taijiquan states it the clearest. Any form or style can become Taiji if practiced according to the principles.

This statement can work in reverse, any form can no longer be Taiji if it does not follow the principles. This is what I see quite a bit, on Youtube and in books when supposed experts are teaching combat applications of Taiji. What they are teaching is valid fighting skill, applications that can be taken from the Taiji form, but they are not Taiji. Guys, it isn't taiji if it does not follow the principle that I have stated above.

Now, I am no expert, but I do test what I practice and what I teach. The school that I learn from encourages testing and teaches that if taiji is not practiced in a manner that works, that the practicioner is not getting all of the full benefits.

I also want to comment about the combat effectiveness. I have worked with and/or learned with students of multiple arts, pail lum kung fu, Hapkido, Aikido, Jujitsu, TaeKwonDo, etc. and have found Taiji counters and moves to be effective. I have often been able to assist the practioners in correct application of their applications. All of our arts are based in physics, philosophy and physiology. In fact, many people would be suprised to learn the similarities between styles and effective practice in senior practioners.

One last note. My teacher learned his primary art from a master in the Wudan Mountains region of China. His teacher was 92 years old, and still physically active and able to defend himself. His teacher taught Wundanshan Taijiquan as well as the Tang system (Tangquan, Baguajian, and others). At 92, his Tang system practice and applications certainly were not external any more. I will blogg about external vs. internal at a later time. I hope everyone gets something positive from this.



Hello everyone. This is the new official blog for me, Richard L. Martin. I am a Yang Style Taijiquan practicioner in Fayetteville, NC. I have studied this art for over 13 years from some great teachers. Lately (the last year or so) I have really become more dedicated to the study of this art in it's complete form.

Frankly, I have been disheartened by the state of Taijiquan in America. Many learn it only for the meditative and health aspects. That is great, but Taiji is still a martial art. If you only learn it for the meditative and health aspects, then you should not be teaching it. If you cannot actually perform the moves with a combative, non-compliant training partner, I don't feel you should be teaching it.

There is a whole other side to this as well. If you are not displaying actual taiji principles, while performing it solo and with a partner, again, you should not be teaching it. If you don't know about the taiji principles...I think you are getting the point. There are quite a few teachers that in my opinion should not be teaching it.

I know this is true of all the martial arts, but Taijiquan is my martial art, the one that I love, the one that I have decided to study and to learn, and the one that I have chosen to teach.

So, trying not to be two "Yang" in my first post may not have worked...but,

Here I will share my musings on this art, as well as link to others that I feel demonstrate good taiji. My first link will be to Master Jou Tsung Hwa, who authored the book The Tao of Taijiquan. Shou e bagua, jiao ta wuxing.