A New Hope?

My student had a premonition that the traditional Chinese martial arts will become extinct soon.

Many years ago my Ngok Gar senior predicted that one day their art will die out. It has not completely died out yet but it may not survive for more than another generation.

Sometimes until something is lost we will not treasure it. And when its gone and truly lost it becomes silly to try to reconstruct it. If its gone, then its gone. The time to do something is before its gone, not after its gone.

I told my student about my experiment in BojiLite. He mentioned that it may be easier to teach children who unlike adults may be more open to listening to instructions. I understand what he is saying because in Boji our basic posture requires the feet to be parallel. Now how difficult could it be to follow a simple instruction to keep the feet parallel?

As it turns out it is a difficult task to keep the feet parallel. Some do it because they just have to do it. Yet, some don’t think that its important to keep it parallel. Others do it as a matter of habit or they do not know they are doing it.

The last category is that who do it for their own reasons, never mind if its obstructing their progress. You would think that its logical to change your habit when it is hampering your progress. But no, its not gonna happen and then they wonder why they cannot make progress. Its a strange world indeed.

At this point I should say that even if there are people learning and bringing the art forward unless they bring the proper requirements along then they are just carrying forward an empty shell. An art that is left with people dancing to meaningless forms, even more meaningless drills and silly applications will not last long, unless they market it as a health art, or perhaps a cultural thing to do.

There are many good arts out there. Many are becoming irrelevant because they take too long to learn. I am not saying that getting results within a short learning period is bad. In fact, in the days of old many Bojiquan (Pok Khek Kuen) practitioners were combat ready within months. I suspect that even then this is not soon enough for today’s learners who want the results like yesterday.

Caveat – be careful of what you wish for in terms of short term results. Some training will harm you and cause permanent damage. I told my student about an enquiry from someone who wanted to learn Wing Chun which I am no longer keen to teach.

Anyway, I was curious to know why this person who is doing boxing and Muay Thai, two very practical art, would want to switch to Wing Chun. So I asked and he said he had a scaphoid issue (that’s a fracture in the scaphoid bone in the wrist for us layman).

What was more surprising is that he has not hit the mid-thirties in age. With this injury he was told to avoid hard impact. So the implication is that he should also avoid situations when he has to fight. Ouch! This is certainly a major setback for anybody. This is why we need to take care of our body and avoid practices that are potentially injurious particularly for the long term.

Anyway, back to topic, teaching children is not something I am inclined to do. This might be something others can do better than me. I have enough problems trying to teach adults. If I want to teach a group class I might just do it in the open in the park or along the park connector behind my place. But I know how groups dynamics are with politics, backstabbing, jealousies, and so on.

Maybe there is hope and maybe there is little or maybe there is no more hope. Some things we cannot change and its better to leave things to play out by themselves. We can but take a day at a time. As Lao Tzu said :-

For someone who desires to control the world
I see no chance of success
The world is an instrument of the Spirit
It cannot be controlled
It cannot be grasped
Those who try to control it are defeated
Those who try to grasp it, lose it
So the Wise man seeks not to control





TaiChiLite is my vision for an improved way to learn Tai Chi in a shorter time frame to gain the following benefits :-

a) Health through proper alignment, structure and balance

b) The learning of (a) will go side-by-side with understanding how the movements are used so that the limbs, body, timing, angles, etc can be properly performed. No more useless waving of hands, meaningless relaxation and breathing patterns, etc.

c) Gain a functional hands-on grasp of biomechanics without having to study physics, understand formulas, read through useless theories or listen to some wannabe master give lengthy lectures on the topic that cannot be translated to functional skills

d) Train the mind by learning to use intent to control movements and use techniques properly via the application of strategies

e) Be able to apply limited power (fajing) on the spot after learning and going through the movements a few times. You still won’t be able to use it in a free-for-all but at least you won’t have to learn Tai Chi for years before you can do it. No tricks here, just hacking physics, intent and biomechanics to unlock this capability that you already have in you


The above sounds idealistic, right but its not. Its a result of my learning, researching and teaching of Tai Chi particularly my curiosity as to why students who have background in Chinese martial arts seem to have a hard time learning Tai Chi forms. Was it because the forms were too complex, or its my teaching that is overly detailed.

For example, some readers may consider what is covered in TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan form as complicated. However, my actual teachings is easily twice if not three times more complex.

After much thinking, reflection and analysis I have devised another way to teach the basic Yang style 108 form. However, the big question is whether it will work. As they say if you don’t try, you don’t know.

The good news is I have tried and the results are much better than anticipated. Is this because of the method of teaching alone or also due to the student is a good question. I should say half half.

In the past trying to teach the sequence of Ward-off, Rollback, Press and Push is a killer. Now I actually get to see decent results within a short time. In one lesson I taught Press to a student. The result still holds after one week.

Today I taught Push with demonstrable fajing. Let’s see if the result will hold next week. The student is also able to grasp the logic of flow from one movement to the next. The ability to change from Ward-off to Rollback and retain the requirements to neutralize and apply power remains after 2 weeks.

TaiChiLite looks like the way to go as a method of transmitting traditional principles using updated teaching methods to enable the learning of more with less.


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………..


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