First of all a belated happy new year! 2020 has undoubtedly been a strange and challenging year. I guess most of us hadn´t seen that coming when we entered 2020. I wonder what 2021 will bring.
In this Newsletter I will write a bit about the upcoming release of exploringqigong on February 1 – a program solely focusing on Qigong and health related issues – a bit about the intensive Springcamp here in DK in April, the possibility of booking Skype sessions, the upcoming consecutive live sessions with Q and A, and a bit about on what foundation and the basis exploringtaiji is built on, and not least why I have created the extended curriculum.
I am very happy to announce that a separate line solely focusing on Qigong is now a reality! And you as a member of exploringtaiji with your feedback has had an impact on my final decision to create the line.
On exploringtaiji there is already a lot of Qigong (Neigong) since it is an important part of the process of developing internal strength. Many of you have given me feedback with a wish to learn more Qigong and that together with many of the inquiries I have received in mails, etc. about the topic, finally made the decision to create it easy for me.
In the program I will cover many different Qigong sets, from Emei Qigong over Soaring Crane to 5 Animal, Baduanjin, Hunyuan and more. When the subscribers learn the different sets and styles, they will simultaneously get written material about the theory and focus area for each set. It should make it easier for both the student, and for those of you who are teachers, to get a deep understanding of the sets. I am really looking forward to launch it and you can have a preview here.
Last year I had to postpone my sold out Wintercamp in March (due to the corona) and just managed to do an “amputated”, in terms of number of participants, in October before another lockdown was a reality.
The camp was a great success though – very intensive in a both relaxed and at the same time focused and hardworking atmosphere.
I will do another camp again here in April 22. – 26. The borders will be open at that time, I am sure.
Everyone can participate, as long as they are prepared for intensive training in an accelerated teaching environment. People who participated last time have first priority, next are people who are on exploringtaiji – and if still available seats, everybody else.
Do not hesitate to write me if you are considering the camp.
Skype sessions and live Q and A:
During the lockdown I have had more people who have signed up for Skype sessions – which is good. That being said, I had expected even more people would make use of that opportunity when face to face sessions wasn’t an opportunity, but no.
I think many people still believe that it is not possible to learn Taiji via Skype. Years back – I would have said the same. But I have had to rethink my view on that.
Looking at it now, had I had the chance to do some of my sessions with let’s say Sam Tam, Wee Kee Jin or my Chen teacher, it would not only have saved me a lot of money and travelling long distance for training – but even more important, I would have developed faster. In a Skype/Zoom session I can teach the movements, watch the other persons movements, and do corrections and answer questions as they pop up, etc.
Let me give you an example: A Swedish student wanted to dig deeper into the understanding and “motor” behind Taiji. Simultaneously he did also want to learn Master Huang’s own Taijiform (72 movements and very circular and doesn’t take up much space – and not on exploring), and later a bit more than the first section of the Chen style (spiraling, cemtermove, qinna and release of fajin – some of it on exploring under the extended curriculum). Both of the abovementioned forms he didn’t learn previously but he does them very well now! Only taught to him on Skype.
Of course, we miss out on “the touch” but it has been possible for me to do most of the important corrections – even when it comes to holding on to tensions and let go of them, etc. – simply through the screen. When we meet again in person it will be so easy to take it to the next level, without having to first focus on learning the choreography. So, my advice to you is – think twice before you rule out Skype sessions as an opportunity to learn more and or/dig deeper.
Speaking about online possibilities for learning and getting feedback. Those of you who are on Facebook and in the group of exploringtaiji, please feel free to ask questions, share some of your experiences, maybe a video from your training sessions, etc. in the group. In that way other can benefit from it and I will in case of questions, answer in the group.
I will start do a monthly FREE live Q and A on Zoom or another platform for members on exploringtaiji.
I will probably choose a topic for each session or throw in a few questions to get each session started. I will announce the first date soon.
Exploringtaiji – the essence, from foundation to advanced:
When I created exploringtaiji I had been thinking about it for quite a few years but at the same time decided that I wouldn’t do it before I felt I had a deeper understanding of the system of Master Sam Tam, just as I already had with the system of Master Huang as well as the Chenstyle – and to be honest, a few others. First learn – being a student and dig deep.
Gradually an idea formed in me which among other things originated in that I wanted to make the learning process shorter for new people than the very traditional – and at times slow way – that I had been through. There are many good things in the traditional teaching methods (accept the role of being a student, ask only questions when allowed to, watch and learn, fate in the teacher, etc.) but also some quite as good which actually can delay the development for the student.
You know I like quotes and especially trying to live up to the ones I use, so I decided long time ago that I would in my own learning process use the essence of the quote, “Learn the good parts, forget about the bad”. And I have asked my students to do the same thing when it comes to things I teach or share.
Anyway – I realized out of many years of experience – that creating a system where I used the basic and essential from the system of Master Huang to create and develop a strong connection to the ground (vertical connection – melting, relaxing, relating to gravity as good as possible, etc.) before entering into the system of Master Sam Tam, which focuses more on a horizontal approach and lightness.
Master Huang would probably turn in his grave if he knew that I used his system as a foundation for Master Sam Tam’s. On the other hand – I know for sure that Sam Tam are not too excited about that I think there is a need to start out with another system before going into his …
But I have done so out of experience – many, many years of experience.
A lot of the people I have met who have 20 years plus training in the system of master Huang (students of the “new school”, which means after 1970s) have primarily and often solely the idea of melting and taking everything into the ground – which they are good at – but they also tend to be collapsed and compressed in their structure as well as being stuck to the ground and often quite bad when it comes to moving.
On the other hand during the 16 years I have being coming in Sam Tam’s house for private tuition and thereby of course met and trained with a lot of his students my experience has been that the ones who “had something”, where the ones who already had trained, integrated and understood the importance of the vertical connection and relaxation before starting out learning from Sam Tam.
Many others – often big strong men – have been fascinated by Sam Tam’s tremendous power and “wanted” that and were not so interested in lets say training the Taijiform, doing the Pushhands patterns, Standing Meditation with deep relaxation, etc. It was the power they found appealing, and in my eyes, they forgot to step aside, watch him – and how small he is – and then realize on a deep level that it has nothing to do with being big, strong, fast, etc. Or like he has said to me many times, “When you use (the) force, you lose (the) force.
Actually yielding is the answer to most of it all – physically, mentally, letting go of ego, etc. – but to explain in detail, it will be a full article on its own.
You must remember that both Huang and Sam Tam had practiced many different systems – and were good at them – and have had many teachers, before they developed and continuously refined their systems.
We need the balanced structured and relaxed body (vertical) before we move into the expansive, light and moving approach (horizontal).
In other words, we take the essence of what we have learned and include it into the next stage.
But just as happy as I am in the fact that many people now have taken my idea of the fastest way to develop skills and progress is to go through and from vertical to horizontal, some mistakenly think, this is the end point and all there is to it. It is not.
The whole idea of the vertical and horizontal aspect and focus in training is based on my experience and introduced by me in my teaching approach – both in exploringtaiji and in face to face teaching.
Tested on many different people, private students, my intensive group and more, before I systemized it and introduced it on a larger scale.
I have seen students who have only trained for a few years reach higher levels compared to people who have trained for decades. I have also seen people who had trained for decades and were able to empty the cup and learn from scratch again, develop very, very fast. You could in this case say – you must follow the method. It works.
As I wrote, many have taken up my ideas about this approach and teach it. That is all fine – I am happy to be capable of inspiring. Just as I have formulated the developing stages in Standing Meditation, which has become a reference point for many in their training and teaching (melting, separating the flesh from the bones, expanding, inflating/deflating, shrinking the bones, etc.). But it is all just part of an ongoing process – it doesn´t stop or are limited to that. We don’t want to try to fit everything into a box and by doing so, neglect the next parts which are just as important.
Once the abovementioned are integrated to an acceptable level, it is time to start focus on the spiraling aspects of the movements – both in Formtraining, Standing Meditation – and especially in partnerwork.
After that – centermove. That everything originates in the center and ALL the limbs – not only the arms – are free to move when YOU move (This is why that I in the extended curriculum introduces a bit of the first Chen routine, because I found it the easiest and fastest way to learn the beforementioned before including it in Sam Tam’s Taijiform and partnerwork). Then the opening and closing in the body and the hands around laogong, then the Qi aspect and later the Yi. Each process takes time to both fully understand and more importantly – integrate. (Maybe you remember that I once said that it took me about a year of daily practice, to go from the heaviness and strong connection to the ground in the system of Master Huang, to be capable of moving with light steps in Sam Tam’s Taijiform).
All the abovementioned approaches and steps are included in the extended curriculum – both as solo practice and partnerwork. Just as all the previous videos are, so you have a chance to go back and both watch and train specific parts which you might realize as you go a long that you didn’t understand and integrate fully. Or simply from time to time do some foundation practice – like I do – because it is the fundament everything is built on.
Training and analyzing:
It is important in your practice and development to analyze and self validate. But never during your practice. You can do it before and of course after. Or as Sam Tam puts it, “When you do it, you do it”.
Way to often I have run into students who tell me that during their practice they are also analyzing which I do not recommend. In your practice you should sense, feel and be open to whatever happens.
Yes, in our initial phase of practice we do need to follow instructions on what to look for and the correct Formmovements. Corrections take place from outside in via the instructions we receive. Later though everything should happen from inside out following whatever occurs during a training session. Like I have told students when they for instance ask me in relation to Standing Meditation which positions I take, for how long I stand, etc., that I have no clue. I know where I start (Wuji) but I have no idea of which positions I end up doing or for how long I stand (for the most part though somewhere between 40 – 60 minutes). As you get more experienced you should follow – and trust – what you feel and sense happens, and allow for it to evolve.
Did you purchase the book?
As you know my book was ready for purchase last November. If you didn’t buy it yet, I recommend you do so. And once you have read it, please feel free to give your review on Amazon.
You can take a look at the book here.
All the best