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Written by Sifu Donald Reynolds

August 10, 2011

When Lead and Mercury Combine...

Written by Sifu Donald Reynolds

August 10, 2011


Written by Sifu Donald Reynolds

August 10, 2011

Internal Cultivation

Written by Sifu Donald Reynolds

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What To Expect From Kung Fu Training

Written by Sifu Donald Reynolds

August 10, 2011

The Kung Fu Tournament

Written by Bob Sciascia

May 07, 2010

Winter and Nutrition

Written by Bob Sciascia

February 28, 2010

NSA Students Triumph at Tai Chi Tournament

Written by Michael Taggart

Sunday, March 15, 2009

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Written by Sifu Jamal

August 1, 2008

Essential Tai Chi Principles

Written by Sigung Norman Smith

May 05, 2005

How Soon Can I Get My Black Belt?

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What Is Qigong?

Written by Sigung Norman Smith

August 26, 2004

Kung Fu vs Karate or Tae Kwon Do

Written by Sigung Norman Smith

August 26, 2004

Ten Ways To Become A Forms Champion

Written by Sigung Norman Smith

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Push Hands is a two-person training that makes Tai Chi unique from other styles. It is a practice based on the principle of four ounces deflecting a thousand pounds. The exercise shows you how to neutralize an opponent's attacking force and position yourself for a counter-attack if necessary. The emphasis here is on sticking to the opponent's attacking arm/hand, while using shifting and twisting techniques, flowing with the opponent's movement without resisting his force. It is a great exercise for training to fight, as it helps you develop the body's coordination, sensitivity, and responding power. There is no other exercise quite like this. It's an exercise to also train your body awareness, sharpen your nervous system, sharpen your feeling, and later on you'll sharpen your sensitivity of your opponent's chi and his strength and weakness just by touching his hand. It's a training that enables a weaker or slower person to overcome a much stronger, faster opponent, by emphasizing on yielding and feeling. It's very good for overall development of health. Push Hands uses your whole body, mind and nervous system. Push Hands is a relaxed, two-person sparring exercise that one may begin upon completion the Tai Chi 24 Short Form. It may be considered as the bridge between the Form and fighting practice.

Three specific techniques are emphasized: Sticking: maintaining light contact with an opponent. Listening: sensing the magnitude and direction of an opponent's force Yielding: responding to an opponent's force partially by giving way, and partially by controlling or guiding its direction.

The ultimate goal of the training is to reduce the amount of force needed to neutralize attacks, so that one may defeat speed and strength with skill. Students begin with Fixed Stance Push-Hands and progress to Walking or Moving Push-Hands after approximately six months of twice-weekly practice. Da Lu is available for more advanced students. Fixed Stance: Ward off, roll back, press, and push. The two yielding and two attacking moves of beginning Push-Hands emphasize a strong root for shifting the weight forward and back, and flexibility in the waist for twisting left and right. As mentioned above, all Push-Hands practice is two-person Walking: Back-and-forth mobility added to the same four Fixed Stance movements. Pre-requisites: Tai Chi Short Form and Fixed Stance Push-Hands. Classes are on-going and can be joined at any time. Da Lu: Sometimes called the "four corners technique" because corner movements replace the back-and-forth motion of Push-Hands, with use of the shoulders and elbows and wider footwork. Da-Lu sticks to the basic principles of Tai Chi Chuan in that we never step backwards; always coming in from an angle in attack and our defense is also our attack. And this is where most people teaching Da-Lu go wrong in that they teach a backwards step within the routine. Da-Lu teaches us the most economical way of moving the body in order to gain the most power from our attacks while at the same time using the least possible amount of energy. But this is not easy. Tai Chi is not meant to be easy... Ever! Most people find the movements of Da-Lu difficult as they feel cumbersome at first and this simply comes from having to learn it firstly incorrectly! I say incorrectly because you must first be taught and practice a good Tai Chi foundation in the beginning. We must learn it step by step and slowly.

To be precise, Tai Chi is categorized as an internal soft-style kung-fu. "Internal" means that the emphasis is on strengthening the internal body, the muscles, tendons, bones, internal organs, and it follows a quiet, meditative training that lets the body do the job without forcing it. While external training, such as in gym exercises and weight lifting, works on certain groups of muscles separately, internal training works on the whole body and the mind as one. The mind needs to be empty, clear and calm. Internal systems take longer to achieve, but it is very powerful and deceptively so, with no obvious or flashy moves like high jumps and kicks. Internal systems offer a more practical and economical approach to fighting. At the same time, Tai Chi has a greater healing effect on the body as opposed to other systems.

The characteristics of Tai Chi are deep breathing, circular movements, smoothness, and the capacity to be slow-yet-fast, with the nervous system completely attentive. The practitioner of Tai Chi doesn't try to use force against force, as in other styles. Hsing-Yi, for example, is a popular internal style of kung-fu that is harder rather than soft. "Will Boxing", and is characterised by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power A Tai Chi practitioner learns to yield to an opponent's force while keeping in contact with his body and seeking an opportunity to strike, instead of matching force against force. This best illustrates the Tai Chi principle of four ounces deflecting a 1,000 pounds, and is the essence of Tai Chi's power.

First, you must seek a well trained and knowledgeable Tai Chi Chuan instructor; not necessarily a "famous" instructor. Second, learn all of the postures, beginning with one posture as a time. Learn how the hands and feet move in each posture and how they coordinate with the body's weight. Third, after you have learned all of the postures, begin to refine them. Work on making the postures smooth, rounded, well balanced, and coordinate them with the three human treasures: mind, power and spirit. After you have completed this third level, you are considered as having achieved the beginning stages of Tai Chi Chuan training.

Originally, Tai Chi Chuan was famous as a martial art, and was not for old, sick or weak people. However, as a result of its characteristics (i.e., slow, relax, concentrate, balance and lightness), Tai Chi Chuan became known for its value as a preventive therapy. For that, many older people practice it in the early morning in the parks, as is commonly seen in China. This gives people the impression that Tai Chi Chuan is only for old people. However, as a result of its flexibility in practice, Tai Chi Chuan can be of benefit for the young, old, sick, weak and strong people. The martial art value of Tai Chi Chuan requires that one has strong legs, good body condition, and unity of mind, energy and spirit. To achieve these requirements, one must engage in the complex and difficult training of Tai Chi Chuan.

Following is a list of the major things that one must pay attention to at all times, especially when one first learns the solo form.

  • Correct posture: One must master the body, hands, and standing postures.
  • Circular motion: One must keep in mind that there are both small and large circular motions in every movement of Tai Chi Chuan.
  • Lightness: One must be light in every movement, especially stepping of the feet, shifting of the body's weight, and pushing of the hands forward.
  • Slowness: One must be slow in all movements in order to have control and concentration.
  • Even: One must be sure to execute all movements at the same speed and keep their knees bent at the same height at all times.
  • Balance: One must move the hands evenly throughout the solo form. In addition, the body's weight must be on one foot before stepping with the other foot.

Outwardly, a posture is correct when it looks natural and comfortable. Inwardly, a posture is correct when one feels the energy coming from the feet to the hands. In order to have a correct posture, one should begin with the outward appearance. Following is a check list for this appearance:

  • Lower the elbows and relax the shoulders
  • Bend the knees to line up with the shoulders
  • Do not over extend the hands
  • Keep the head upright and the eyes looking straight forward

If you are having trouble remembering the sequence of postures, you are not alone. This happens to everyone at some time. The best method of remembering the postures is frequent practice and learning one posture at a time. Break-down the movements into how the hands and feet move and how the body's weight controls balance before moving onto another posture. In this way, you will truly understand every posture and will then not forget them as a whole.

When one practices Tai Chi Chuan the knees are always bent, the movements executed slowly, and the body's weight supported by one leg at a time. These requirements put greater stress on the legs, thus making them painful for a time. However, after one has practiced the art for a period of time, leg strength will build and one will not have this problem again as the legs are stronger and thus able to support the body's weight. With this comes a better understand of the concept of full and empty.

To become good in Tai Chi Chuan, one must follow the rules at all times, practicing all of the movements naturally and comfortably. If this is not done, then Tai Chi Chuan will be of no benefit to the body. In time, everything will come naturally. After one has learned the movements, one should begin to study and understand some of the concepts that underlies this art. To become skillful in Tai Chi Chuan, there is but one word: practice. It is said that after one practices the solo form thousands time, its principles will begin to appear. The following is a list of the four things one needs to follow in order to become good at Tai Chi Chuan:

  • More thinking: Use the head to find out why the movements move the way they do.
  • Ask more: Asked all the questions you may have at your instructor(s).
  • See more: Spend more time observing how other people practice and take what is good.
  • Practice more: The true way to learn is by actually practicing and not just standing around and talking about practicing.

Yes, the results of doing Tai chi truly have benefits the joints in the body. In Chinese medicine, conditions like Arthritis & Rheumatism are considered the result of stagnation (Toxicity) or poor circulation. Tai Chi will improve your circulation as well as strengthening and expand the range of movement of the joints, especially in the hips and ankles.

Yes, Bad Back Problems are a true example of what Practice of Tai Chi can Cure and improve you motion mobility. Tai Chi will help to align your back and relax the muscles within the movement of the form which becomes a powerful therapeutic tool and will enable you to walk freely, We have a few students in our school which have already recovered from back problems and are now walking freely..

Yes, Today Western Doctors all agree the Tai Chi helps to lower High Blood Pressure and High Hypertension in the body. Tai Chi will help with blood circulation and is designed to be a non-stressful use of physical movement (Low impact) in order facilitate organ health (Heart, Liver, Lungs, Spleen and Kidneys) which are all intention of Tai Chi Practice as an "Internal Healing Art". We have several Medical doctors in our Tai Chi classes today which tell their patience to study Tai Chi at our Academy.

Yes, Tai Chi practice will truly relieve your daily stress. Tai Chi might well be considered the World's oldest stress reduction program. Anxiety, Worry, Fear and a host of negative mental state of mind can cause serious physical symptoms including blood pressure, accumulated tension in the muscles and joints which can lead to arthritis and even heart attacks. Practicing Tai Chi will relax the muscles tensions; improve posture and deepening of the breathing process to affect you in a positive state of mind and emotions.

Martial arts training for beginners and masters alike - dial 610-631-9200to set up your first visit.

As an established martial arts instruction team in Audubon, Northern Shaolin Academy has helped countless residents learn a wide variety of styles.


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