Tradition True & Untrue

I read this article today and have some thoughts on it as follows.

An innovative approach may not necessarily be a repudiation of the past and thus a threat to tradition. It may actually be a rediscovery of what is true and reveal tradition as preserved to be false.

However, some masters refuse, perhaps as an issue of face, to face up to the fact that they do not have a monopoly on the truth. In such instances, instead of preserving a true tradition they actually make a mockery of it and does injustice to students by passing off a distorted tradition as being unchanged and thus worthy of transmission when nothing could be further from the truth.

Thus, when a master claims his style to be unchanged I would recommend to thank him and quickly walk away because no style remains unchanged no matter what the master says.

Principles can be immutable but the expressions and characteristics that define a style will change because no two persons are alike. For example, I used to learn from a master whom many lauded as being recognized as so and so an authority but not many know that his ability at a certain practice that underlies his style is bad and even his own teacher said so. That being the case his transmission has already veered off the path.

No one likes to hear anything bad about the style that they go with. But then when one gains little from the practice it is one who pays the price. So if you value your time and money pay heed to the warning signs and sometimes you may want to listen to your rational mind rather than your emotional mind.

When necessary, do not hesitate to kill Buddha on the road when you see him. That or remain a prisoner of your own making.



Slow & Steady

It is not my intent to write this post. Instead, I wanted to reorganize my blog by removing the folders eBook and MyWingChun and creating a TaiChiLite folder.

Then I saw Paul’s comment to my comment to his latest BojiLite training video practicing the Yum Chui. I advised him to go slow in his practice. Interestingly, I also advised another student learning Tai Chi this morning to go slow also. So what the heck, let’s make a post about it.

Slow – when learning anything go slow. The priority is to get the steps correct instead of rushing to complete it.

When you go slow you have more time to see and feel what you are doing. If you go too fast you miss out on a lot of things, more so if the art is filled with fine details that cannot be readily sussed out, at least not with a lot of practice, research and investigation.

Steady – you should move at a steady rather than erratic pace. A steady pace enables your body to coordinate better in the early stages of learning, particularly during changes that involve turning and twisting.

As Lao Tzu wrote :-

To know harmony is called constancy
To know constancy is called clarity

Chapter 55 : Purity of the New-Born
Tao Teh Ching

Mastery will come when your hands are enlightened with the clarify of a mirror that only reflects what is before it in the present. So go slow and steady in your learning.


A New Beginning

I have not written about Tai Chi for a while as I’ve been having fun sharing information and tips on the practice of the basics of Pok Khek Kuen at the BojiLite Study Group on Facebook.

Most online groups tend to be top heavy with lurkers but on our group we weed out the lurkers. So those who remain are members who sincerely and actually want to learn something instead of just taking part in gossips and meaningless arguments. Our group may be small but we have meaningful participation.

I think for me the rewarding part of theĀ BojiLite Study Group is see members actually make progress in their learning. It may be slow but it is sure. The basics look easy but members know after they try that it is not easy. There is more to it and the knowledge will reveal itself as they soldier on in their practice.

That theĀ BojiLite Study Group is making progress makes me wonder if such an approach will work for Tai Chi as well. I am thinking of making a condensed training program based on the form outlined in my eBook TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form.

Anyway, just an idea for now………..



Quick Way to Condition the Forearm for Sao Chui

Sao Chui can be a great strike in that if you hit a person in the head with it you will literally knock him down if not out.

However, before you actually try to hit someone with Sao Chui there is something you need to do first and that is to condition your forearm. If you don’t then you may hurt your own arm when you hit someone hard.

In Pok Khek Kuen training conditioning the forearm with an iron bar or barbell is a must. Alternatively, you could use a sledge hammer as shown below :-

A suitably weighted sledge hammer can do the job of conditioning your forearms nicely. Its probably cheaper than a barbell plus if you ever need to relieve stress you can use it to go pound a truck tire ……..



Sixth Lesson is Up

Finally, I have written the Sixth Lesson of the 7-Brief Lessons.



Of Rootedness & Power

I am writing to my friend to answer his question about how to cultivate power and rootedness using non-standing posture methods.

I might as well write a general post on it since a lot of readers would be interested to know too.

To start off with I would say that :-

a) If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer

b) If you make the wrong assumption, you travel the wrong path

c) Ignorance can impede your progress, so make sure you arm yourself with knowledge

d) Find a baseline to compare your practice to. Adjust and change the baseline when necessary

e) Keep your mind open to possibilities, including those that you know nothing about, never heard of before or beyond your current understanding

The first thing I want to address is can standing posture teach you how to generate power. I will say this – standing perfectly still will not allow you to generate power. Even when we use intent we still need to move, even if the movement is very little.

I once read a story of a Yiquan master who stood in a standing posture for three years to train the ability to mentally pull a tree in the distance to his hands and push it back. Some may point to this as evidence that standing posture teaches fajing.

I would say no, this is missing the point. The standing still is to teach you to calm your mind to the point where you can feel your body, and by forcing you to stand still to reduce the amount of unnecessary movements you are making.

It is only when you reach a state of calmness and elimination of unnnecessary movement that you are able to use intent to move your body in a different, more optimal manner. So you see you still need to move your body.

The form route basically uses the same method but approaching it from another direction. We keep training the movements using intent, moving from gross to fine, big to medium to small, until by compliance to the principles we are moving optimally.

But as I mentioned in another post today it is very difficult to teach kids to generate power by the use of standing postures. It is just as difficult to teach kids using forms.

Actually, to cultivate power it is not important which method you want to use. When I teach Tai Chi to students I would tell them not to focus on power but rare is the student who would actually listen because they think of fajing ability as a magic pill that would bestow martial invincibility on them. Actually, this is not true.

Good fighting skills are reliant on the person and his technical abilities. If a person’s heart is not in it he will still lose a fight. So will a fighter without good skills but the right heart. To be a winner one should have a good balance of personal and technical abilities.

As personal abilities are subjective we normally do not go into them. It is easier to discuss technical abilities as these are more objective.

The question of power and rootedness need not be the same, yet they can be.

Consider this – if you run fast and throw yourself at another person you will have power but will you have rootedness?

Similarly, if you sink really low into your stance you will have strong root but would this lead to stronger fajing ability?

My conclusion is that a balance of both would work best. I suspect this is why a lot of internal systems use small frame characteristics because it would allow them sufficient rootedness with minimal compromise on fajing ability.

So back to the question of how to use non-standing posture method to train power and rootedness. My views as follows :-

a) Basic rootedness – use the Pok Khek basic posture. The basic procedures are listed here.

They are necessary but not sufficient if you want to have a more internal way to do it. You may find it hard to believe but if you get the basic posture right you will have instant rootedness.

The problem why this does not work for most people is because they do not diligently follow the instructions nor try out as many times as necessary to get it.

b) However, nobody stands still in a fight. You need to move, and move while keeping your balance even as you are under attack or returning fire.

This is where you need to train yourself to move. In Pok Khek Kuen we learn how to move by learning the Leung Yi Bo.

There are a few other ways to move, however, the Leung Yi Bo teaches a basic, essential principle that we use in combat. So if you don’t get this principle then your ability to apply the techniques properly will be compromised.

c) The basic posture when applied to the Leung Yi Ma posture lay the foundation for a posture that will allow you to generate power in different ways.

The best part about the above is that in as little as 6 months you can generate decent power………… but only if you actually put in the training. Reading about it, fantasizing about it, intellectualizing about it is useless and for keyboard warriors.



Power Generation for Kids

Here’s an interesting question – how do you teach kids how to generate internal power?

Certainly this is a big challenge because if adults have a problem learning to do it then teaching kids will be a huge hurdle.

I have a friend who is trying to teach his daughter self-defense. Part of the training involved learning how to stand for long period of time. I am not sure if this will work for kids because of their shorter attention span, not to mention that one must fight the pain to continue standing.

This is what I think :-

a) The requirement to learn how to stand in order to cultivate the ability to generate internal power is a myth.

b) Standing still can be counter-productive because you never see any high level master spar without moving at all. Even the no-touch kongjing masters have to move!

c) Power generation is not a matter of internal or external. Instead, it is a matter of classical mechanics plus intent.

d) Teaching classical mechanics via drills is the easiest way to learn. However, the fastest way to master power generation is via the use of intent.

e) The problem with learning how to use intent is that :-

i) Very few people are able to keep their focus long enough to do it.

ii) Most people either don’t believe it and refuse to devote enough time to learn it properly.

iii) Some people fall in love with the how of the method and end up intellectualizing it rather than actually practicing it.


I believe the reasons above are why I have yet to see any kids demonstrate internal power. In fact, most adult practitioners are actually demonstrating what should be properly known as external power.

There is nothing wrong with having external power so I don’t know why people are obsessed with calling it internal power when it is not. Doing so and being in denial will only cause one to miss out on what actual internal power is really about.

So how would I teach a kid how to generate internal power?

I wouldn’t. Not directly anyway. If I were to do so I would so a combination of methods :-

I) External method (physical)

a) Learn the simple Leung Yi Ma in-situ body turning to unify the rotation of the body

b) Expand the exercise to Leung Yi Bo to unify the body in stepping

c) Learn to generate whipping power by learning how to do Sao Chui

d) Increase heaviness of Sao Chui by using hand weights

e) Refine the rotating of the body to increase acceleration of striking arm

f) Test the power of the Sao Chui strike

II) Internal method (intent)

a) Train simple intent by using relatable examples

b) Fix the intent through lots of repetition

c) Test result of intent training by checking power through striking of pads

d) Integrate method of movements using intent into self-defense techniques