Philosophy of Movement
Stillness precedes Motion
Slowness precedes Speed
Softness precedes Strength
are the foundations of
Table of Contents
What is Healing?
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Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese sytem for health and healing. For hundreds of years the movements of Tai Chi have offered a proven way for everyone to enjoy the healthy and relaxing movements of Tai Chi.
During the study of Taiji, a student learns the moves mechanically at first. Once the movements are remembered then the process of learning how to improve the flow of the movements ensues for an undetermined length of time. All improvement is based on the practitioner’s effort and willingness to research this art, for themselves, and of course the guidance of a good teacher. But the secret that one discovers is that the real Taiji movement is not the postures themselves, but rather the movements of energy between the postures.
A Summary of Our Internal Taiji Training Procedure
The art of Tai Chi Chuan (Taiji) requires that YOU must be present.
YOU PRESENT means that both your mind and your body must be in harmony while doing your exercises as well as your Taiji Movements.
So, what does this mean? In your practice of Taiji you are learning how to be harmonious in your thoughts as well your movements.
You will learn how to feel your movements rather than just to memorize the movements of an exercise system or a specific form.
Our exercises have been created to allow you to become more flexible. The exercises also allow you to begin to reduce or eliminate the roadblocks of energy within your system. This allows your congenital energy, chi, to flow through your body. As you learn to develop more (Chi) we will have a different conversation about your Taiji and everyday movements.
Performing Classical Taiji you learn that all movements are internal, not external, and come from the following:
All five major styles of Taiji have the following characteristics:
Circular, Calm, Relax, Continuous, Intent, Focused Energy
Chen Style - Hard and soft movements
Yang Style – Elegant and peaceful movements
Wu Style ---- Compact movements
Sun Style --- Light movements
Fu Style ----- Balance with unique waist turning
As you study your Taiji you will learn to never move your arms or legs to create your movements; because….
Yin & Yang must always be clear. You must be conscious of your weight, which is rarely equal on both legs at the same time.
Hips must be relaxed to connect both the upper and lower body.
Then your knees become supple, not bent, to lower your center of gravity.
Now free, your waist will rotate on your spine to create your movements.
Please read the articles on learning Taiji in the articles below for more detailed information.
Thank you for your interest in Classical Taiji!
Our Curriculum is based on Shifu`s private studies with Master Bow Sim Mark - International Tai Chi Gold Medalist 1984 and Inside Kung Fu`s 1994 and 1996 "Woman of the Year", Black Belt`s "Kung Fu Artist of the Year" 1995, One of the Most Influential Masters of the 20th Century, Black Belt, 1999, One of the 100 Most Influential Martial Artists of the Millennium, Inside Kung Fu, 1999, and Pioneer of Wushu Theater a performing art.
Spirit of Change September/October 2002
Wushu Movements by Shifu Robert Goodman
Think about a precious moment in your life when you felt relaxed, and in perfect harmony with yourself and with nature. For most of us in those few and rare moments, there is a special calmness that permeates the soul and the mind. All feels "right". A strong sense of well-being engulfs the entire body. This is what you can experience while performing the movements of Tai Chi Chuan (Taiji) and other internal forms.so, how do you learn and practice this life expanding set of movements?
In Wushu, we refer to these movements as external or internal. The exercises first taught often begin with the external movements of the hands, legs and feet. As you continue to practice them, you very slowly begin to notice differences in your internal movement, the subtle feelings you have on the inside of your being. This feeling is not a sudden stark reaction. It is a group of changes and developments that are much more delicate. You begin to develop an awareness of your body mechanics. Your mind now interacts with you as you express harmony.
One day you will be working out, practicing your exercises or executing a form, and you will let go of how it looks, how you are feeling, what you should or should not do. You will notice that you feel differently. You will feel special.You will feel as if in harmony with the world around you. But, you will not be aware of the world. You will only be aware of your movement. Sound mysterious?
I watch my students as they develop their skills and I delight to see in their faces when they discover a moment of harmony or when they reach a roadblock to overcome. A common roadblock is one of comparison. We have developed into a world of people constantly comparing ourselves to each other.
It is important to understand that when you begin your study of Wudang, the internal arts, you will be on an individualized journey. You may never be as flexible as the student next to you. You may do a particular movement more precisely than another student, but none of this matters. The only thing that should matter is your continuing awareness of your mind, your body and the harmony between the two. The moment you stop setting rigid goals and expectations is the moment you begin your studies in earnest.
We do special exercises in each class to train students to feel... to control their movements from the inside. This is not an easy task when you consider the fact that every student has devoted their life to doing everything with external movements. So, in class, they look at every movement, including how they walk, to learn and develop this internal gift. This involves no magic or secrets. Just a commitment to being open minded. Success is having no expectations thus avoiding the stress from the beginning.
That does not mean that you cannot be thoughtful or questioning. Like a scientist performing research, it means that you must maintain an openness that allows any data to enter without judgement or a need to prove an answer.
Master Bow Sim Mark, my Sifu, refers to six characteristics of proper Taiji regardless of the style you choose to study. They are circular, calm, relaxed, continuous, intent and focus energy. To master all six of these characteristics in your movements requires a lifetime of study and a commitment to research. I have promised my students that I will attempt to explain each of these characteristics to assist them in their journey. Each individual's expression of these characteristics may differ from mine. But, success will be evident when they achieve more feeling in the expression of their Taiji research. Space limitations here preclude a detailed exploration of each characteristic so let us explore circular, which means round.
I ask my students to think about holding a beach ball, or a ball of energy between their arms and their body while doing their Taiji. Both arms, wrists, hands and fingertips must be circular and the chest must be hollowed, or emptied continuously. It is not enough that one has to learn how to empty the chest, but one must also learn that as the fingertips come together and part again that the internal expression of that movement is done, not by moving the arms, but by hollowing the chest. Of equal importance, the fingertips must separate and come together, not in a linear fashion, but by following the circumference of an imaginary circle.
This exercise will draw attention to any tightness in your body, your fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, chest, neck, upper back, lower back, etc. Your goal should be to practice this exercise until you feel the energy rising up in your body from the ground up through your arms and into your fingertips. The energy you feel will offer a tingling, warm sensation in your hands and resistance of a column of air between the fingertips. The arms and the body will become one with the universe without boundaries.
As you advance in your studies, you can take any form you are researching to break each movement down into a cadence. As you slowly count out each movement within each posture, stop at each number in the count. Examine your foot work, your leg position, and your hand and arm positions. Be sure that you are circular. It is a lot of work and will take a great deal of your time. But, if your goal is proper internal movement and good health, give yourself the correct medicine.
As we help others who seek our guidance and direction, my students and I request and welcome any feedback that will help us to help each other. Yes, there is always more, there is always another door to open in your studies. Just know that this is the first giant step towards beautiful and healthful movements. Enjoy your research and practice. When you ask yourself... "What is my destination?"... you will know that your journey has already begun.
About Wushu and Tai Chi
Wushu or Wu Shu literally translates from Mandarin into War (or Martial) Arts. These arts have transcended time and developed from fighting techniques for survival into an art for improved Health, Flexibility and Balance. Wushu is a series of specific exercises and movements designed to improve one's health while practicing and performing these internal and physical exercises and forms.
Wushu can be divided into two basic categories of training, either external and internal. These two styles can be most easily recognized through the expression of Shaolin as an external method of training and Tai Chi Chuan as an internal method of training, although there is much more to learn in both of these two styles.
The movements of Shaolin are more athletic and acrobatic and are more suited for the younger practioners than the smooth, relaxed and circluar movements of the internal forms. Both styles of study take many, many years of practice to grasp their obvious and hidden potential, and both systems are filled with a multitude of empty-hand forms as well as a variety of hard and soft weapon forms. The internal movements can be best studied through Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing Yi, PaKua, and Leungyi and are well suited for both the older student as well as the younger practioner.
Wushu manifests itself differently in each of us, and at different moments during the times of our lives and at the many various levels of our individual study. A movement that begins externally can, with practice, become a healthful internal movement with more power and focus than it originated with as an external movement. As our studies continue, philosophically the mind and body begin to work together naturally and more in harmony, and through an expression of calmness that might otherwise have eluded the beginner practioner.
Good health can be taught, and illnesses and injuries healed, through proper wushu exercises. Very little physical room is required to properly study each day or evening, and the decision can always be made to practice alone, or with others, based on your individual preference. There are very few restrictions placed on this method of study that can bring one good health, self-discipline, improved balance and flexibility. At the same time these exercises are subtley teaching us patience, improved memory and analytical skills. Wushu teaches us that there are no limitations to our potential that we cannot learn to work with positively.
The empty hand and weapon forms imitate the movements of many animals. This knowledge makes the characteristics more interesting and enjoyable to study and exposes the usefullness of each movement as you continue your individual study throughout your lifetime.
In China, basic Wushu training is a cultural treasure and a part of their standardized physical education program. In other parts of the world Wushu is quickly increasing in its popularity as the value of this type of training is being discovered by young and old, ill and healthy, practioners alike.
Spirit of Change Magazine May/June 2003
Health and Tai Chi Chuan by Shifu Robert Goodman
Throughout the ages men and women have always searched for the magic elixir to stave off old age, illness and chronic pain. This is something that affects both young and old alike, but the older we get the less likely we are to bounce back quickly to "normal" health from a chronic pain, injury or malady.
There are many alternatives to choose from, but which one is going to take you beyond the superficial, which repair is going to ... not "give you a fish for dinner, but teach you how to fish" to become self-sufficient. The journey is different for each of us, and the choices are numerous, which makes the solution for each of us even that much more unique for each health issue that arises.
Historically mankind has turned to domestic herbs that grew in their indigenous area, before the advent of prescription drugs, to feel better. Western medical science has developed the greatest knowledge of how to repair the body in emergency situations. People are becoming increasingly aware of "alternative" methods of healing and maintaining good health as they search for not just a "repair", but also a method to prevent illness and to maintain a feeling of good health. I say a feeling of good health to remind the reader that one does not have to accept pain as part of their daily routine any more than one has to sit and wait for the prophetic stiffening of the joints, which will reduce mobility and mentally limit ones actions.
Western medicine has proven itself as the ultimate fire fighter when the body is faced with a life and death condition or when a malady has been allowed to stay in the body too long to be corrected before the damage to the body is irreversible.
So what are the alternatives, how do they work, and why do they work differently for each individual? The term holistic implies more than just a repair, which is one definition of Western medicine. Holistic implies that not just one part of the body should be repaired for good health, but rather the entire body (mental, physical, and emotional) otherwise the "body" does not recover completely from an illness or injury. The whole concept of Western medicine has been to "repair" a problem, which is very different from this holistic approach.
So we begin the healthful journey to find "good health". I think that we can all agree that some exercise is better than no exercise. I hear about the gym programs, weight lifting, running, mountain climbing and biking choices that other people are choosing, and their arguments are all valid to some extent for today's health, but what about tomorrow's health, where will that come from? Eating the right foods in moderation? Partly, but how will we stave off the sore muscles, the achy joints and the poor circulation as we get older? The only way I know of is to practice Tai Chi Chuan (Taiji).
It is not just the practice of Taiji that allows us to become healthy; it is a way of life. I will try to explain: You mean no more chococlate or desserts? No, it means that you can eat anything in moderation while you are researching your Taiji, but you must discipline yourself to some daily exercise and practice. I am often asked, how long will it take me to become healthier? I can only answer that question with another question, how much time will you focus on your Taiji and practice each day?
The hardest concept for most of us to grasp is the time and commitment required to achieve improved health through Taiji, but my Sifu, Master Bow Sim Mark and I want you to know that there is an alternative to taking a pill to "repair" the problem.
In Shaolin, an external martial art style, we speak of becoming proficient in the art in terms of years, while in Wudang, or internal style that include Taiji, we speak in terms of decades. The movie (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) depicts the swordplay and style of Wudang for the first time in the movie theaters for all to see. Now if that is enough to discourage you, please do not let it, because improved health and beautiful movement can be achieved much sooner with focus and hard work. Directing the movement and flow of energy through your body is a more advanced concept of study, but as taught to me by my Sifu, I teach those concepts from a student's first class as part of their curriculum for good health and proper Taiji.
The bonus is that once you attain a certain level of proficiency you will begin to notice a change in the way that you move, in the way you react to certain external stimuli, in the way that you feel all of the time. It will slowly evolve in your body, and in your mind's body, so that suddenly you will notice that the occurences that used to send you into depression or to the aspirin bottle no longer do and even if you are still stiff and sore, you are not as stiff or sore, and you can feel the difference. Please remember that each of you have spent as many years as you are old working your mind and your body into the place you are in today. You cannot expect that a month or two of practicing Taiji can erase all of your previous hard work.
At that point in your practice you will then decide whether or not you wish to continue your studies and take your Taiji to a higher level to achieve the basic characteristics of good healthy Taiji with circular, relaxed, calm and continuous movements. Once you have achieved those goals there are still two other characteristics to work toward, intent and focused energy. Taiji is a lifelong study. And in the study of Yin and Yang, and improved balance, you will practice Dao, Jian, Tai Chi Fan, Sleeves, Staff and the other internal forms such as Xingyi, Bagua, and Leung Yi to learn more about yourself emotionally as well as physically. And at each junction along the way you will feel better, improve your flexibility and pave the way for improved health today and for your later years; or you can just take another pill.
So what else can one expect from their study of Taiji? One learns how to work hard to learn how to relax. This leads to a lessening of personal stresses. One's mind and body must work in harmony in order to perform the forms and movements of Tai Chi Chuan effectively and healthfully.
There is a catharsis of introspection and personal growth that also awaits the Taiji practitioner. No longer can one be content with just trudging through life; no longer can one remain just an observer of life, but in fact one commits and begins their very individualized journey towards awareness of their feelings and the manifestation of their thoughts and ideas with the study of Taiji.
No longer does one live in a word of judgement and/or negativity as one's focus slowly turns inward to feel the mind/body truly relax as one becomes more flexible and emotionally more secure. You begin to realize that you have the power to change your life. Please note that I did not say control of your life because the study of Taiji teaches us that we do not need to control our life, but rather relax in the expressions of our feelings and thoughts to flow with life. Control becomes less important as a goal and self confidence and self assurance assumes this position of importance, quietly and permanently.
Please remember that the study of Taiji is a jouney, not a destination
Notes on Shifu Robert Goodman
A private student of Master Bow Sim Mark studying the internal and healing arts of Wushu - Wudang style
Awarded Best Demonstration prize for male Taiji at the 5th World Wushu Festival 2000 in Shanghai, China
Contact Shifu: (919) 819-1377 or email@example.com
From the Seven Lakes Insider Newspaper March 14, 2018
Living with Pain, Stress, and Stiffness? Tai Chi Says Don’t
This article was written and submitted by Kim Bishop. POSTED BY: JANNA PTAK MARCH 14, 2018
Who says everyday life and aging has to involve stress, pain and inflexibility? Not Master Robert Goodman and his Tai Chi students. You’ll find them getting healthy and having fun Tuesday mornings at the Seven Lakes West Community Center where Robert teaches a complete system of Tai Chi for health, stress reduction, and personal enjoyment.
Tai Chi is an internal art that begins by learning external movements. Students can experience health benefits even from the very first classes.
“For years I have had neck and shoulder pain,” new student Kim said. “I had tried medication and physical therapy which provided only temporary relief. I had decided that this was part of my life. After 2 sessions my pain was almost completely gone. I am so very grateful to be working with Shifu Robert.”
Robert is described as a dedicated, highly trained, and committed teacher. He has studied with two ‘old world’ masters and has studied the internal arts of Tai Chi for over twenty years. He has also studied Bagua and Xingyi privately with Grandmaster Bow Sim Mark.
Robert teaches his Tai-questrian method of riding to his equestrian students with great success. He receives Equestrian Classical Dressage training under the tutelage of Jean Pierre Guiotat from the Cadre Noir de Saumur, a French Riding School.
Before Tai Chi, Robert had a textbook Type ‘A’ personality. He began suffering from daily intense headaches which he eased with aspirin daily.
At the time, he had his own horse breeding business and two third-degree black belts from two different Shaolin-Kempo martial arts systems.
He tells his students that he was a quintessential, goal-focused, driven professional. However, his quality of life and health were at an all-time low.
Tai Chi changed his life, driving away his pain and stress as he progressed. Now he lives to teach others.
“We do special exercises in each class to train students to feel… to control their movements from the inside,” Robert explained. “This is not an easy task when you consider the fact that every student has devoted their life to doing everything with external movements.
“So, in class, they look at every movement, including how they walk, to learn and develop this internal gift. This involves no magic or secrets – just a commitment to being open minded. Success is having no expectations, thus avoiding the stress from the beginning.”
This internal practice has amazing health and healing benefits.
“We are not just learning Tai Chi ‘moves’, but actually understanding the basis behind this ancient art,” one student explained. “Not only is the class interesting and beneficial, but it is actually fun! I look forward to continuing the journey and discovering what else may await.”
All are welcome to attend this Tai Chi beginner’s class at Seven Lakes West Community Center, Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Contact Master Robert at (919) 819-1377 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. www.tai-chi-arts.com
Using Tai Chi to Build Strength
by Jane Brody - Personal Health Columnist
for The New York Times
Sept. 10, 2018
Tai chi moves can be easily learned and executed by people of all ages and states of health, even elderly people in wheelchairs.
Watching a group of people doing tai chi, an exercise often called “meditation in motion,” it may be hard to imagine that its slow, gentle, choreographed movements could actually make people stronger. Not only stronger mentally but stronger physically and healthier as well.
I certainly was surprised by its effects on strength, but good research — and there’s been a fair amount of it by now — doesn’t lie. If you’re not ready or not able to tackle strength-training with weights, resistance bands or machines, tai chi may just be the activity that can help to increase your stamina and diminish your risk of injury that accompanies weak muscles and bones.
Don’t get scared by its frequent description as an “ancient martial art.” Tai chi (and a related exercise called Qigong) does not resemble the strenuous, gravity-defying karate moves you may have seen in Jackie Chan films. Tai chi moves can be easily learned and executed by people of all ages and states of health, even those in their 90s, in wheelchairs or bedridden.
It’s been eight years since I last summarized the known benefits of this time-honored form of exercise, and it has since grown in popularity in venues like Y’s, health clubs and community and senior centers. By now it is likely that millions more people have become good candidates for the help tai chi can provide to their well-being.
First, a reprise of what I previously wrote as to why most of us should consider including tai chi into our routines for stronger bodies and healthier lives.
It is a low-impact activity suitable for people of all ages and most states of health, including those who have long been sedentary or “hate” exercise.
It is a gentle, relaxing activity that involves deep breathing but does not work up a sweat or leave you out of breath.
It does not place undue stress on joints and muscles and therefore is unlikely to cause pain or injury.
It requires no special equipment or outfits, only lightweight, comfortable clothing.
Once proper technique is learned from a qualified instructor, it is a low-cost activity that can be practiced anywhere, anytime.
One more fact: Beneficial results from tai chi are often quickly realized. Significant improvements involving a host of different conditions can be achieved within 12 weeks of tai chi exercises done for an hour at a time twice a week.
Much of the research, which was reviewed in 2015 by researchers at Beijing University and Harvard Medical School, has focused on how tai chi has helped people with a variety of medical problems. It is summarized in a new book from Harvard Health Publications, “An Introduction to Tai Chi,” which includes the latest studies of healthy people whose mission was health preservation as well as people with conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.
Of the 507 studies included in the 2015 review, 94.1 percent found positive effects of tai chi. These included 192 studies involving only healthy participants, 142 with the goal of health promotion or preservation and 50 seeking better balance or prevention of falls.
This last benefit may be the most important of all, given that every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room following a fall, and one in five falls results in a fracture, concussion or other serious injury.
For example, in an analysis of high-quality studies published last year in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers at the University of Jaen in Spain reported that older adults who did one-hour tai chi sessions one to three times a week for 12 to 26 weeks were 43 percent less likely to fall and half as likely to incur a fall-related injury.
Tai chi provided superior benefits to other fall-reduction approaches like physical therapy, balance exercises, stretching, yoga or resistance training. Tai chi, in effect, combines the benefits of most of these: It strengthens the lower body, improves posture, promotes flexibility, increases a person’s awareness of where the body is in space and improves one’s ability to navigate obstacles while walking.
Furthermore, if you should trip, tai chi can enhance your ability to catch yourself before you fall. It has also been shown to counter the fear of falling, which discourages people from being physically active and further increases their likelihood of falling and being injured.
Even if you do fall, tai chi, as a weight-bearing but low-stress exercise, can reduce your chances of breaking a bone. Four well-designed clinical trials showed that tai chi has positive effects on bone health. For example, in a yearlong study in Hong Kong of 132 women past menopause, those practicing tai chi experienced significantly less bone loss and fewer fractures than those who remained sedentary.
For people with painful joints and muscles, tai chi enhances their ability to exercise within a pain-free range of motion. Pain discourages people from moving, which makes matters worse as muscles get weaker and joints stiffer. The movements involved in tai chi minimize stress on painful areas and, by improving circulation, can foster relief and healing.
A 2016 study of 204 people with knee pain from osteoarthritis found that tai chi done twice a week was just as effective as physical therapy in relieving their discomfort. But that was not all: Those doing tai chi for the 12 weeks reported that they were less depressed and had a better quality of life than those undergoing physical therapy.
Tai chi can also be an entry point for people who may have fallen off the exercise wagon but want to get back to doing more vigorous and often more enjoyable physical activities like swimming and hiking, or biking and walking to and from errands instead of relying on vehicles that pollute the air and clog the roads.
Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that sedentary older adults begin with balance, flexibility and strength training exercises before launching into moderate to vigorous physical activity. Tai chi is ideal for getting people ready for more demanding action.
And, in the process of getting your body in shape with tai chi, you’re likely to improve your mental state. In a New Zealand study of college students, tai chi was shown to counter depression, anxiety and stress. It also enhances an important quality called self-efficacy — confidence in one’s ability to perform various activities and overcome obstacles to doing so.
This is the second of two columns on countering muscle loss. The first is here.
Jane Brody is the Personal Health columnist, a position she has held since 1976. She has written more than a dozen books including the best sellers “Jane Brody’s Nutrition Book” and “Jane Brody’s Good Food Book.”
The Health Benefits of Proper Tai Chi Chuan
by Shifu Robert Goodman
It has taken Yoga many decades to become a recognized mainstream exercise format in the World and now Tai Chi Chuan (Taiji) is quickly becoming an exercise system of choice for all health issues. Taiji is now recommended by physicians in addition to their standard treatments for chronic illness, stress reduction, arthritis and relief from the aging process; alternative healers such as acupuncturists and naturopathic doctors have recommended this exercise system in addition to their focused healing work for years. Today many students are seeing their physical therapists for injuries and replaced joints after surgery and in addition they are decreasing their healing time effectively with their study of Taiji; why?
In summary, Tai Chi Chuan is a system of postures and exercises that utilize the movement of energy through the body, called Chi energy, through the various channels or pathways in your entire body to promote an internal massage of sore muscles, joints and organs as well as opening the connection between the upper and lower body which enables the Taiji practitioner to feel the energy moving throughout their entire body, thus promoting an internal healing of their mind and body.
What makes this process simple and fun is that Taiji allows each individual to personalize their movements to accommodate their state of being each day. Taiji recognizes and respects that each individual will create the movements of Taiji differently based on the time of day and how they are feeling at that moment. I teach my students that as long as the proper characteristics of Taiji are followed a student can still perform their movements correctly even if it is different than the movements of their teacher or other students around them.
There are five established Styles of Taiji:
The hard and soft of Chen Style
Elegance and peacefulness Yang or Yeung style
Lights movements of Sun style
Compactness of Wu style
Balance and unique waist turning of Fu style
Wu Hao was later added to this list
All styles must follow the same six characteristics of Taiji to be considered proper Taiji. Taiji is not just choreographed, syncopated, external movements, but something far deeper and more exacting in its manifestation. Forms are created to improve your memory, flexibility and allow you to self-heal while you are having fun learning and practicing them regularly.
Master Robert has been studying the internal arts for over thirty-five years. The last twenty-five years privately with world renowned Grandmaster Bow Sim Mark.