Friday, October 9, 2009

Chin-To-Toe in three easy steps! (Sure.)


First warm up, starting with stretching the left leg:
Stand relaxed with the feet together. Gently shift the weight to the right leg and lift the left leg out into an open toe stance. Keeping your back straight and head up, slowly bend forward at the hips, reaching out with both hands toward the extended left foot. Hold this for at least 20 seconds, but know your body. Don't force it into a painful, moan inducing position. Then, switch sides and do the same stretch for the right leg. After the stretch, massage the legs.

(Note: Some people do this exercise and bounce the upper body toward the extended foot. I am vehemently opposed to this because bouncing can cause microtrauma in the muscle, which must heal itself with scar tissue. The scar tissue tightens the muscle, making you less flexible, and more prone to pain. But others disagree. And I will gladly post any other well written argument/opinion on the subject!)

Second warm-up:

In the same position, bend forward toward the extended toe with the arms crossed. The goal is to eventually (after time) reach the feet with the crossed arms. In the middle of the hold, switch the arms and then continue with the stretch. Do the same thing on the other side. Hold for at least 20 seconds. After the stretch, massage the legs.

In the same position as before, bend forward toward the extended toe, and if possible, place the hands around the foot and gently pull yourself as far forward as possible. In the beginning, try to touch your head to your ankle. Over time, you can work toward extending your chin toward the toes. Hold this position, again, for at least 20 seconds. After the stretch, massage the legs.

Does your school do it differently? Let us know! It'd be great to see all of the different paths to this well-known stretch.

By the way...
Master Y.C. Chiang has published a new Student Handbook for the Wen Wu School. It is a beautifully explicit publication with all of the Guang Ping basic stretches, principles and philosophy, movements and a lovely section on Tea Ceremonies. I believe it may be purchased through the Wen Wu school at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Conference and 2009 Kuo Memorial!

This year, the heavy hitters come out for a weekend journey of deep learning, revisiting core principles, and reuniting old friends and taiji family. We are very, very lucky to be able to offer a group of presenters who are world renowned internal martial artists:

You'll attend an amazing lecture on Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Methods of Good Practice with Y.C. Chiang, one of the lineage holders of Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi. This will be a rare opportunity to learn from one of the greatest internal martial artists of our time.

You'll experience the power of Hsing Yi applications from Henry Look, one of the founders of our organization. His powerful presentation will not only open your understanding of the internal art of Hsing Yi, but will enhance and cultivate your knowledge and practice of taijiquan to a much higher level.

We are so lucky, once again, to be able to have on our list of guests Madam Hui Liu. A world renowned Qigong master who will give an in-depth workshop on Seated Meditation and Seated Acupressure from Dayan Qigong. For anyone who involved in internal arts, this will be a workshop that will give focused enhancement your practice and your health. Her workshops are famous for deeply detailed and comprehensive information. She is amazing.

Also making this conference one of the best are Donald and Cheryl Lynne Rubbo, legends in their own time, offering a workshop on Cultivating Power - Extraordinary Practice for Extraordinary Times

Randy Elia, whose technique and precision is unsurpassed, will present Fa Li, an in-depth look at the will, intention & spirit inside Tai Chi & Hsing Yi. His presentation will be a seamless weave with Master Look's application workshop. Randy Elia's is not only a talented master of the art, but an amazing presenter, reaching out to students at every level of learning.

Another exceptional presenter and direct student of Master Kuo, Marilyn Cooper, joins us for a Push-Hands demonstration with the Kuo/Kwok influences that will challenge you to move deeper into your form. Cooper is not only a grand champion, but a gold medalist, first place international competitor and world title holder and fascinating presenter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chin To Toe

By Dr. Jay Dunbar

Chin-to-toe has been the special legacy of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan ever since Yang Banhou required Wang Jiaoyu to touch his chin to his toe before he would accept him as a student (see the article by Master Henry Look in v. 1, issue 1 of The Universal Post). According to William Wong Chin in v. 1, issue 2: “Dr. Y.C. Chiang of El Cerrito CA. is the recognized leader of the fifth generation of masters of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan. Before he was accepted as a student, he was required to achieve Chin -To-Toe in 100 days.

Chin-To-Toe is the hallmark exercise of Dr. Chiang's Wen Wu School in El Cerrito. Rather than a goal or destination, Chin-To-Toe is a launch point. All traditional masters of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan began with Chin-To-Toe.”

Before becoming a student of Master Jou, Tsung-Hwa, I studied Guang Ping Taijiquan for three years, and traveled from New Jersey to San Francisco in 1976 to study with Master Kuo Lien-Ying. I have never achieved chin-to-toe, but I began a One Hundred Day Program in my school to encourage students to achieve “impossible” goals: specifically, chin -to-toe (in honor of Master Kuo) and a one-foot penny toss with the dantian (in honor of Master Jou).

In March 2003, one of my students, Denise Flora, became the first in our school to achieve the chin-to-toe stretch. Most people who hear of it do not believe this stretch is possible: "The legs are longer than the torso!" they exclaim. But a picture is worth a thousand words. Please go to the link on our website at for an article Denise wrote offering her insights into achieving this stretch. Congratulations, Denise!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Master Yung Chung Chiang Shares About Guang Ping Yang & More

By Valarie Prince Gabel

I first met Master Y.C. Chiang about 6 years ago. Not long after that I had the privilege of meeting his wife Master Liu. My impression of them was of two gracious individuals who had great skill and knowledge.

I was also fortunate enough to take a few classes at the Wen Wu School while Master Chiang was still teaching. After class the students gather in the little kitchen and have tea with their teacher. When he stepped out for a minute I looked at the other students, mouth agape, and asked if they knew at all how very, very lucky they were to be casually sitting around with such a wonderful teacher at the head of the table.

Over the next several years I have also had the pleasure of taking a few lessons with his advanced students and teachers. Fu Tung Cheng and Allen Trigueiro come fondly to mind. I have also been able to attend several of the Guang Ping Association conferences which fosters the sharing, learning and hands on experience of our form.

However, until the weekend of July 12 & 13, I had not had the opportunity to witness and participate in an event, lasting several hours at a time, centered strictly on Shrfu and Shrmu's teaching. The workshop truly gave me the opportunity to drink in the essence of who they are and what they are about. The event was held in Orange County, California at Irvine Community College and was hosted by JoAnna Schoon, one of the Association's National Advisors and a Tai Chi teacher at the college. Since I am a tai chi student/teacher my focus was mainly on Master Chiang although I could appreciate the grace and beauty of Master Liu's Dayan Chi Kung and tea ceremony.

At 81 Master Chiang is a living example of what correct living and correct attitude makes possible. He did a demonstration of White Crane form on Saturday much to the delight of all present. The first movement involves dropping to a level so that thighs are level with the ground (low horse stance), and holding that position for longer then I personally would be comfortable holding. Shrfu did so with apparent ease. Of course, the rest of the form was executed with a power that seemed unending. And this is at 81! We have all heard the wonders of the power of practicing with chi over long periods of is true!! And he shows no signs of stopping. I must also add that Master Liu's demonstration of the 2nd set of the Wild Goose form was absolutely breathtaking.

There is a definite reason this man wears the title of Master. He is an extremely educated and cultured human being. He is a doctor of acupuncture, an herbalist, world renowned painter and calligrapher. As JoAnna says "What has always struck me about Shrfu is the breadth and depth of his knowledge.

He excels in the Martial Arts, in Ch inese Painting, in Calligraphy, in TCM,and in good virtue. Wen Wu School offers the best of Chinese Culture, and its name refers to that: Wen referring to culture, and Wu referring to the martial arts."

Over two days, 5 hours total, he also demonstrated each of the Yang Guang Ping forms replete with application explanation and error corrections. He had everyone spellbound as he performed each movement effortlessly. Every one of us felt the specialness of participating with a true master of movement. And rather then being dour or stern his lively sense of humor keep us all laughing and smiling.

Eighty met for a banquet held in Master Chiang and Madam Liu's honor on Saturday evening. JoAnna picked an excellent local Chinese restaurant. There were dishes served that most of us have never had before, everything was delicious. JoAnna presented the masters with Hawaiian leis which they appreciated very much. I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table close to theirs and could appreciate the fragrant flower scents along with them. Conversations were going on nonstop all evening between students, teachers, spouses and family members attending the
feast. The only complaint would be that there was too much good food! Master Chiang and Madam Liu donated 2 paintings to be raffled off after dinner. I don't know which made us drool more, the paintings or the food.

The second day Master Chiang spent several hours continuing his lecture and refining form. During his lecture he shared information regarding exercises for heath. A couple of tidbits were: the arm and shoulder warm up or 'windmill' expels harmful chi as well as benefiting the shoulder, toe kicks stimulate yang meridians and heel kicks stimulate the yin, and the removal of excess fire element is accomplished by slow inhale of breath and rapid exhale. Questions were asked and answers were given. He holds no secrets, shares all he knows. His true love of martial arts, chi, green tea, etc., and obvious respect for all life was there for all to see no matter the level of the attendee. I have been practicing tai chi for over 25 years and thoroughly enjoyed the entire event. A student of mine came to the Sunday lecture after having only 3 weeks of lessons. She told me how happy she was to have followed my advice to not miss this 'once in a lifetime event.'

I feel as if I have received a vitamin booster shot in the chi! My motivation to
practice more has been heightened. I feel a renewed desire to watch every step, every shift of weight, every arm/hand/hip/shoulder/knee/foot/wrist/waist/head/back movement more closely then ever.

For those of you who have not or will not have the same opportunity I highly recommend you attend at least one of the Guang Ping Association conferences. There is that same sense of sharing, learning and camaraderie going on among the teachers and students. You come away with such a sense of renewed enthusiasm.

And lastly but not least I wish to extend 10,000 thanks to JoAnna Schoon who held the vision of the workshop up high enough to make it happen. It was a ton of work coordinating Shrfu and Shrmu's visit: accommodations, meals, transportation, etc. She also spearheaded the fund raising, registration of students for not only workshops but medical consultations. JoAnna made sure there was green tea for all as well as teacups, teapots, hot water, all for 70 people!

Job well done JoAnna.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Xingyi Boxing Manual: Hebei Style’s Five Principles and Seven Words

By Nick D'Antoni

Jin Yuntang was a student of Shang Yunxiang and Sun Lutang (perhaps better known to modern practitioners).
It is clear after reading his introduction and the testimonials of his students, that Jin’s association with Sun Lutang, “… under whose guidance I traveled for more than ten years” was formative and life changing. First published in 1931, this brief manual is a concise presentation of the essentials of xingyi as presented in the five element fists which Jin calls the Five Principles. Jin uses the traditional “song” form, short mnemonic and evocative verses, to produce a manual that is both spare, and eloquent.

Mr. Groschwitz, the translator, has chosen to include the Chinese text in parallel throughout the book this
will be of help to some. He also includes in each section sketches illustrating each posture, which appear to
be based on the photographs of Jin Yuntang from the original, as well as pages that include reproduction of
calligraphic blocks from the publication in Chinese. The inclusion of this traditional brush calligraphy particularly contributes to a pleasant aesthetic and provides relief from the blandness of the longer sections of Chinese text set using modern typographic font. The end result is a book that is also fairly pleasing to the eye in it’s layout and design and thus a comfortable browsing experience.

The translation includes the traditional numerous forewords, or testimonials, that precede the text of the manual proper. It is supplemented by a lineage chart illustrating Jin Yuntang’s placement in the Xingyi family tree, as well as a short section of biographies “… translated from the Encyclopedia of Chinese Martial Arts published in 1998.” The criteria used to select the biographies presented here is Jin’s Xingyi lineage, and the list includes biographies of: Yue Fei (1103-1142),Ji Jike (1602-1680), Cao Jiwu (1669-?), Dai Longbang (1713-1802), Li Feiyu (1809-1890) “… founder of Hebei-style Xingyi …”, Guo Yunshen (1820-1901), Liu
Qilan (1819-1889), Li Cunyi (1847-1921), Sun Fuquan [Lutang] (1860-1933), and Shan Yunxiang (1864-1937).

The manual is in two parts. The first part, The Five Principles, begins with the “Preparatory Posture”, and
then presents each principle, or fist, in its own section consisting of a three-verse mnemonic "song” accompanied by an illustration of the form. This is followed by a longer passage, the “Discussion on the Rising and Falling of …”, that is a more detailed descriptive passage addressing both the basics and stance as well as principles of movement. The order of the five fists as Jin presents them is: pi quan, beng quan, zuan chuan,pao quan,and heng quan. The second part of the manual is a chapter of five line “songs” Jin calls The Seven Words and Twenty-One Methods of Xingyi Boxing.

This second part ends with a “song” in the longer form, reminiscent of the Song of the Universal Post that is
familiar to Guang Pingers, entitled The Essential Points of Xingyi Boxing’s Harmonies and the Extremities. A
clear and concise illumination of the traditional three internal and three external harmonies.

Though probably not the greatest book, and certainly not the most definitive ever published on Xingyi, this
little volume is an easy and enjoyable read. I believe it can be returned to and appreciated many times over as one’s practice develops and evolves. If you don’t really know much about Xingyi but are curious and
interested in an accessible basic look, I think this book could be useful. If you’re actively studying the art and are looking for deeper understanding, then I believe there is something in the economic language here that can be helpful as well. All in all, a worthwhile exploration.

I’d buy it. Heck, I already did!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5