Friday, April 30, 2010

Interview of Elliston Sensei

Taiun Michael Elliston is my Zen Zensei. Before him, his Sensei was Matsuoka Roshi.

The Japanese word sensei is composed of two characters : "sen", meaning previous or before and "sei", meaning birth or life.

A Sensei therefore is someone who has been "born before" you in the system you are studying and is therefore senior to you. This is not the same as the western idea of a coach. A Sensei can actually do what he teaches, he or she embodies the art, while a coach can teach you how to do something without necessarily being able to perform the skill him or herself. 

This transcript of an  Interview of Elliston Sensei provides interesting insights about our Silent Thunder Order.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

4 Winds Tai Chi - the Third Form, Group practice.

A video of the third form of 4 Winds Tai Chi. In this form, as well as in the Long and Fourth form, we use the same defensive moves we used in the Short form, in the same order. These moves are executed on the Left then on the Right side, so we actually are performing 5 different defensive moves :
  • High Block (Jodan Uke)
  • Outside Middle block (Chudan Soto Uke)
  • Knife hand block (Shuto Uke)
  • Low block (Gedan Uke)
  • Inside Middle block (Chudan Uchi Uke)

In this 3rd form, we insert counter moves after each one of the blocks - throws, or combination of strikes and throws. The Japanese names of these moves - in the Tradition of Nihon Tai Jitsu) are : 

  • Kata Guruma
  • O Soto Gari
  • Tembim Nage
  • O Uchi Gari
  • Tai Otoshi
(sorry, I do not know their names in English...)

Some of these moves request moving three limbs at a time in three different directions, not always an easy thing to do... I have designed the Third form mostly to improve coordination and balance.

This video was taped at the Dothan Botanical Garden in Dothan, Alabama, USA in April 2010.

Thank you to Geri, Carl and Ron for their help and support.

Monday, April 26, 2010

4 Winds Tai Chi - the Long Form

The Long Form uses the same defensive moves as the Short form, in the same order.

Counter attack moves are added after each block, strikes for the 8 first moves, and a head throw for the last 2 ones.

In practicing the long form, emphasis should be in twisting the lower abdomen to massage the digestive organs, and move blood and Chi in and out of this cavity.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

World Tai Chi Day in Dothan

Yinglong, one of the famous dragons of Chinese Mythology said to be the god of rain spared us this morning while we celebrated World Tai Chi Day at Solomon Park in Dothan.

A small group of us braved the threatening clouds and practiced Qi Gong and Tai Chi on the lawn. Actually, the conditions were close to ideal with a temperature way below what we had experienced for this event on the previous years. We practiced together low intensity breathing exercises based on Sanchin kata as well as the 4 Winds Short Form.

An alternative way to practice Sanchin kata is by focusing one's attention on the 3 parts of the Torso : High (Chest), Medium (Stomach right under the solar plexus) and Lower (right above the groin).

Chi follows will, or attention. By focusing on these three parts one moves the Chi along the Conception Vessel - This is a first step on the path of Small Circulation Qi Gong. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

World Tai Chi Day - The First Wealth is Health

The first wealth is health.
  – Ralph Waldo Emerson -

If you regard your life as a trust, you realize that the first resource you have to take care of is your own body. And this can be startling. 
For even your body is not really your own. It belongs to life, and it is your responsibility to take care of it. 

You cannot afford to do anything that injures your body, because the body is the instrument you need for selfless action. That is the fine print of the trust agreement: when we smoke, when we overeat, when we don’t get enough exercise, we are violating the terms of the trust. 

If you want to live life at its fullest, you will want to do everything possible to keep your body in vibrant health in order to give back to life a little of what it has given you.

Take responsibility for your own health ! 
Join us on Saturday April 24 at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate World Tai Chi Day at Solomon Park in Dothan, Alabama.It is a FREE and Worldwide event !

The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin

Here is a quote from the book Boddhisatva of Compassion by John Blofeld. 

It strikes me as exceptionally rich, and worth our consideration...

'You must realize first of all that our minds are not separate from Mind, which, if you have read any Ch'an (Zen) works, you will know is the sole reality. Known in its quiescent state as the Great Void or what you English people call Ultimate Reality, it is simultaneously the realm of form,"the matrix of the myriad objects", as Lao Tzu puts it. By no means must they be thought of as separate. The Great Void and the realm of form are not two ! There is no going from the one to the other, only a transmutation of your mode of perception. 

Mind is like a boundless ocean of light, or infinite space, from which streams forth Bodhi, a marvelous energy that produces in us an urge towards Enlightenment. But to attain Enlightenment, you need vast stores of wisdom and compassion in perfect union. 

Wisdom includes full and direct perception of your own egolessness and of the non existence of anything like "own-self" in any object. 

Compassion is the prime means of destroying all clinging to delusory selfhood. From Bodhi emanate particularized streams of liberating energy - the energies of wisdom, compassion, of the pure activity needed to combine them, and so forth...'

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Self Defense against Knife

The 3 first Self defense videos by Shihan Mike Leverett and Travis Page from the YOSHUKAI Dojo in Auburn, AL.

Visit them on Youtube SHIHANGODAN5 Channel

Segment 2

Segment 3

As everyone is now able to post on the Net, videos of every kind flourish. In matters of Martial Arts, good things are available, unfortunately usually burried under layers and layers of very poor and dangerous stuff demonstrated by self appointed masters and commented by equally self-appointed "Experts".

The Waza (Techniques) here demonstrated by Shihan (*) Leverett and Page are efficient and legitimate. This does not mean they are safe. Safety comes with long practice and training, and even there, there is no such thing as total safety. 


Note : Shihan is a term often used in Japanese martial arts as an honorific title for expert or senior instructors. In Yoshukai Karate, it is attributed by the Grand Master of the organization Kaicho Yamamoto to instructors having at least achieved the level of Yondans (4th degree Black Belt) and taught at this level for several years.