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 http://www.magictortoise.com/100day.htm#denisetoe for an article Denise wrote offering her insights into achieving this stretch. Congratulations, Denise!


  1. Lucy.
    Very nice blog. It's cool to see all the input on GuangPing Tai Chi. I can still do chin to toe at 57. Do you teach GuangPing in Ohio? Studied with Bing Gong and Kuo Sifu back in the mid 70's. How is push hands taught in your classes?

  2. Old Tai Chi Guy-
    Sorry for the delayed response. I didn't get notified that there was a comment...

    So nice to hear from you! I do teach Guang Ping in Ohio - Columbus!

    Sounds like you were lucky to study with the best. Don't know if you'd be interested but this year's Guang Ping Conference will be in San Francisco at the time of the Kuo Memorial. Should be really good. I bet you'd see many of your taiji brothers and sisters.

    I almost rarely get to teach push hands these days. But we do two levels - the first is just sticky hands to allow people to learn to talk and listen. They slowly understand the concept of ting jing, emptying the mind, relaxed awareness, being sung.

    As that begins to develop, we introduce partner practice of San Shou.

    Hope you can make it to one of the conventions.

  3. Hi Lucy.

    One of my gung fu brothers, Robert Bergman will be giving a presentation at the Guang Ping Conference this year. I'm going to try and get down to SF. I'm studying Tui Shou from Jim Madras who studies with Sam Masich. It's great stuff, but really complex from my pov. I'm miles away from getting functional sticking, but boy, it's fun. Wow, you studied with Master Jow? I'd like to pick your brains on that. Perhaps I'll see you in SF. Great that Guang Ping style is being taught in Ohio. Check out my blog on push hands and help me with some tips. http://taichieugene.blogspot.com/

  4. Hi Roger-

    I am really excited to see Robert's presentation - we all are!

    I actually did not study with Master Jou - the article above was written by Dr. Jay Dunbar (you may know him, teaches in NC) but I posted his article here. I only know of and have read the books of Master Jou...wish I could have studied with him.

    Thanks for posting your blog! I'll definitely check it out. And if you do make it to SF, please seek me out, would love to meet in person.


  5. Hi Lucy,
    Congrats on doing the Chin-to-Toe Stretch. I'm interested in how you achieved it? How long did it take you? I learned Tai Chi from my Father and we used to do Sticky hands and Push Hands all the time in my basement, I now teach some select people at my dojo that I work at.

    I also visited a seminar where a Dr. Yang from Boston showed us some Chin Na self defense moves. I taught 6 and I only really remember 3. He was very wise, and kind. Glad I found the Blog.

  6. First of all, thanks for the comment Casey, and I'm sorry that I'm two months late in responding...yikes!

    Just to be clear, I posted this article, but the chin-to-toe achievement was one of Dr. Jay Dunbar's students, Denise Flora. The above article was written by Dr. J, as we familiarly call him.

    I can tell you how we stretch for Chin-to-Toe, and like Taiji, it's a daily practice. And one that you really have to be careful doing. I know many people who have torn hamstrings and dislocated hips forcing their bodies into positions that they aren't ready for. And I believe - although I know many disagree - that certain body structures physically cannot do chin-to-toe. Our bodies are alike, but bone structures are put together differently. (A good source on this is "Anatomy for Yoga" by visiting www.paulgrilley.com. I know, it's yoga, but anatomy is anatomy!)

    So, I'll post our chin-to-toe warm up and see if what you do is similar! It'll be neat to see.

    It's great that your dad taught you taiji and that you guys did sticky hands and push hands. We actually had a great conference this year in San Francisco with a few really, really nice workshops on Push-Hands.

    Glad to hear you're passing on good stuff to your students.