Is it Still Tai Chi Without Push Hands?

The Importance of Ting Jin -Sensitivity

by Sigung Richard Clear

Can you do Tai Chi without Ting Jin (Sensitivity) and still call it Tai Chi?

Ting Jin commonly translates as Listening Energy but is actually more like “sensing / feeling.” To me it is one of the most important – maybe THE most important – skills in the art of Tai Chi.

Why?

Allow me to explain.

Tai Chi is equally a healing and fighting art. The skill sets that make it a healing art are the same skill sets that make it a fighting art. The difference between healing and fighting is in the application of the skills.

If you are going to heal yourself using your mind, breath, relaxation, etc. then the first requirement is for you to be able to feel the injury and surrounding area. You must be able to discern where the problem is and is not and what the problem feels like to help determine what kind of internal adjustments to make and how much adjustment to make.

To fight with Tai Chi you must learn how to stop an opponent through light force strikes. This skill is important due to many factors including (but not limited to) the likelihood that the opponent will be younger, larger, and faster than you. Along with avoiding conflicts as much as you reasonably can this idea of an unfair fight is a basic understanding of the fighting part of Tai Chi.

Probably the best way to defend against such an attacker is to deliver a fight ending strike that penetrates to the opponent’s spine. The #1 internal target is the spine. If you can strike someone with a focused hit that goes directly into their spine and nowhere else then that will decisively end most confrontations.

To do this you must be either be able to generate incredible amounts of force or you must be able to aim the force you have to a specific area that will end the fight. The ability to feel the spine and into the spine (using your Sensitivity) is the primary requirement to make a hit go into the spine. You must be able to do this the instant that you touch them or that they touch you. In a real situation even a second delay is too much.

The ability to feel inside like this is referred to as Ting Jin. The ability to do it instantly is referred to as Knowing (Dong Jin). These 2 skills are of the utmost importance in Tai Chi Chuan and are specifically talked about in the Tai Chi Classic writings of senior masters from the past.

How do you develop Ting and Dong Jin?

The best way to do this is to play freestyle push hands. You can then use solo form work to practice the skills that you learn from push hands, but playing the freestyle push hands with a focus on the internal qualities is the best way to accelerate your progress. The 2 practices are of equal importance in order to really take your Tai Chi skill to more than just a beginner level.

One more thing. If you commit the “Double Weighted Error” it stifles your ability to properly move and to feel inside yourself and inside your partner / opponent. So, studying what the error is and how to avoid it are essential to your Tai Chi practice. To learn more about the Double Weighted Error please visit my page at http://www.clearstaichi.com/fixing-the-double-weighted-error .

Until then, keep training. :)
Sifu Clear

Additional Resources:
Push Hands Training:

To develop Ting Jin / Knowing: http://www.clearstaichi.com/dong-jing

Large Frame Tai Chi

In Tai Chi there are 3 different frames that are used. Large frame, medium frame and small frame. They each have their uses and applications. This post is about Large frame.

Large frame Tai Chi is good for teaching large groups because it is easy for everyone to see the teacher and follow along. It also lends itself to moving a little more slowly without stress. It is pleasing to the eye and is commonly what is used for picture and videos of large groups practicing in the park.

Due to the aesthetics, sometimes large frame can be overlooked as only a health and healing modality and can be thought of as not providing nice internal benefits. However, there are some very nice healing and internal benefits to be gained from large frame. I will explain some of the benefits in the following paragraphs.

Large frame Tai Chi is great for folks who have Parkinson’s Disease and related cognitive and movement disorders such as Palsy. Large frame Tai Chi performed with correct Yi training helps get the mind into the muscles and promotes full movement as well as help in rehabilitation. We have developed a Tai Chi protocol for Parkinson’s sufferers using Large frame, Yi training, and several other skills. Our protocol produces noticeable results in the very first session, including improved mobility and balance.

Large frame Tai Chi is great for working on your Yi (mind intent). You mentally fill up the space you are working in so that your mind perceives and maps the space you are occupying as you practice. This also improves proprioception. It helps create new mental pathways inside of your body, and it helps you to make better connection to any object / person you are trying to affect. The Yi that is developed from practicing large frame can then be used in both healing (yourself and others), and it also can be applied in very martial arts ways.

The proper use of Yi leads to the state of “Knowing” (or “Dong Jing”), which is a high level Tai Chi skill. Dong Jing is not achieved though Large frame Tai Chi alone, but requires specific training. There are concrete steps one must go through in order to achieve Dong Jing. You can learn what those steps are. All of the training you need to achieve Dong Jing is available in our course called “Knowing: Dong Jing & Yi.”

Learn more here: http://www.clearstaichi.com/dong-jing

Take Care,
Richard Clear

Solo Training: How to Build Iron Body & Internal Power without a Partner

One of the most common questions we get is:

“I don’t have a training partner, Can I build Internal Power?”

First, there are limitations to how much you can progress without a partner. Part of your regular training routine should be dedicated to finding additional training partners.

However, you should never let an absence of partners stop you from training.

Qigong exercises and forms are the two most common ways to train by yourself.

Unfortunately, far too many people simply perform the movements of their Tai Chi sets or their qigong and that simply isn’t enough.

The key to getting benefit from these types of practices is to know exactly what they are designed for, how they produce the benefits you’re looking for and be able to feel the energy flow or principle you are working on.

So, before you do a Tai Chi set you must first ask yourself which skill you are going to practice while you perform the set.

Is it alignment? Root? Peng? Silk Reeling? Iron Body?

Pick one and focus on just that skill. Make sure you are paying close enough attention that you can find and fix the errors you make during your set.

If you’re practicing Qigong it’s a little different. While the Tai Chi set can be used in many different ways for many different things, A Qigong exercise is usually designed as a very specific tool with a very specific goal.

So with Qigong exercises you must pick and choose which ones will be most beneficial to your goals.

The Qigong exercises in the Internal Iron Body DVD have been carefully selected to compliment each other and maximize your Internal Iron Body and power development.

These are all solo exercises you can train by yourself.

They are taught step by step so you’ll not just learn how to do them, you’ll learn the principles that make them work. So you can apply this understanding to all your Tai Chi.

Iron Body is NOT about getting hit

A lot of folks train Internal Iron Body so that they can take a hit.

This is wrong.

…and it’s missing the true purpose and value of Iron Body practices.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to take a powerful hit without injury is a great side effect.

But it’s not the purpose of training.

Remember, we have to assume the attackers are armed and can hit very hard. So not getting hit is still a top priority even with advanced Iron Body skills.

So, What’s the Point?

Internal Iron Body is about making your body stronger, more connected, healthier and more resilient from the inside out.

Your body is only as strong as the weakest link.

You can have the strongest arms in the world but if you pick up a large object incorrectly you’ll still throw your back out.

Internal Iron Body training is about making you healthy and vibrant and strong from the inside out.

…and filling in all those weak links.

It’s also about power.

When you hit someone, with almost any part of your body, you are now hitting with everything.

And when you issue (with fajing for example), you can issue much more power because your body has the integrity to do so without hurting yourself.

This is why all the internal arts contain iron body methods.

Learn these methods with our Internal Iron Body DVD that’s on sale until Thursday.

Hate mail from other Tai Chi teachers.

A little while ago I was cleaning out some of the old spam comments on our Tai Chi site and stumbled across this nice piece of criticism we received from an Internet Tai Chi Guru back in 2009.

This was right after we started talking very publicly about the Iron Body training in Tai Chi.

This letter is a great example of the more common myths and misconceptions about Iron Body training.

Sifu Clear,
Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, whose family created tai chi, was asked one day if the Chen family practiced Iron Shirt. I was there. He replied, “Iron Shirt good for demonstration, not for fighting.”

If you read the book, American Shaolin, about the young American who studied for 2 years at the Shaolin Temple, you’ll find that the monks who do the miraculous feats of chi like breaking ice blocks with their heads or concrete with their hands are all crippled by the time they reach middle age. The guys who use their heads to break things have huge knots on their heads and talk in stutters.

You are leading students down the wrong path. Tai Chi depends on good body mechanics, not fantasy. You can’t fool physics, and the human body will be hurt by force. A silly slap on the chest with a forearm is far different from a blow from a motivated attacker.

If you or any of your students have attained real powers doing this, I encourage you to stand in front of an MMA fighter and let him hit you anywhere he wants — maybe the nose. Then let’s see how your chi dispersal myth protects you.

[Name removed to protect the misguided]

The most common misconception about Iron Body training is that there’s only one type.

The term Iron Shirt is most commonly associated with the external Iron Body methods used by Shaolin performers for demonstration. If that’s the type of Iron Body that Master Chen was referring to in his quote I absolutely agree with him.

..but the teacher who wrote this email seems to have missed that distinction. He goes on to describe examples of external iron body taken to horrible extremes.

I’ve met highly skilled Iron Body specialists who say that this is a mischaracterization and is not representative of external Iron Body done properly (much less internal Iron Body.)

After all, Tai Chi is an internal system and so by definition any Tai Chi Iron Body methods would have to be internal and not external.

Now this teacher goes on to say, “Tai Chi depends on good body mechanics, not fantasy.”

Well, one of the core body mechanics of Tai Chi that is emphasized quite heavily in Chen Style is Silk Reeling.

Silk Reeling is essentially a method for running spirals through the body. It’s no coincidence that this same spiralling as at the heart of many muscle tendon changing methods.

Many external/internal kung fu systems exploit this principle for its iron body effects by pushing it to extremes. It’s also a key component in the Kuntao Silat Iron Body method that we talked about a few days ago.

Tai Chi uses this principle in much more balanced ways. In Chen style it’s the most obvious. Yang and Wu style use it constantly, but it’s done very softly and subtly so that it’s typically invisible to the average person.

…but that’s just one principle and only one type of Iron.

As we discussed a few days ago, The Golden Bell method taught in the Tai Chi Iron Body DVDs is different altogether.

A massive part of Tai Chi education is understanding force and how to control it inside the body.

How to deliver a lot of power of course,

…but also how to take a serious hit and neutralize it, dissipate it or send it back to the person hitting you without taking any damage yourself.

I wouldn’t expect your run of the mill Tai Chi teacher to know this, but any of the prominent teachers out there should be able to rattle off a bunch of ways Tai Chi produces Internal Iron (and most can.)

In his last two paragraphs this guy falls victim to two very common misconception that are usually only present in folks who have not trained with many internal martial artists before.

That external stylists hit harder
That we don’t hit each other in training

We work with a lot of folks with many different backgrounds, internal and external.

There are plenty of external folks who hit hard, but the internal folks I’ve met are consistently more powerful. Their strikes penetrate much deeper and suck much more to receive.

How do I know this?

Because we do a whole lot of drills where you stand in front of someone and let them hit you wherever they want while you practice neutralizing, redirecting or dissipating the force of their strikes.

I understand why someone who’s only been to a couple bad Tai Chi schools — and looked no further — would have these misconceptions. But in today’s world a quick internet search will find a bunch of internal guys who train with contact and power.

…and of course anyone who’s taken the time to become a prominent teacher in the field will have met a bunch of folks who train this way over the years (and probably should have done a bunch of this themselves.)

Anyway, help us dispel these myths by practicing your Tai Chi Iron Body. Become an example of the results Tai Chi can deliver.

The Shortcut Myth (it’s not what you think)

“There are no shortcuts in Kung Fu.”

I bet you’ve heard this before. I know I have.

And I would almost agree.

Except…

What do you call the direct route when no one else knows it?

It’s not really a short cut. It’s just how you get there.

Like taking the freeway instead of the scenic route. You’re going 75 mph while everyone else is winding their way through the mountains at 30 mph.

..one switchback after another…

up the mountain, down the mountain, then back up again. Over and over and over.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the scenic route… When I have time.

But if someone told me I had directions to the freeway and I ended up on some one lane road in the middle of nowhere, I’d be pissed.

There are no shortcuts in kung fu ONLY if you know everything already.

I know I’ve still got a few things to learn…

So I always keep an eye out for that freeway sign.

Even Sigung Clear is still learning. Now more than ever. He’s constantly looking for the next level of information. Filling in more pieces of the puzzle.

And always looking for better ways to teach the things he already knows, in the hopes that his students will one day catch up to him.

If you feel like you’ve been on the scenic route a little too long…

Try the freeway for a change.

It’s still hard work,

But you’ll get there a lot faster.

The Fa Kung Healing course is packed with information and skills that would normally take folks months or years to learn, but we can teach it in a 3 day workshop. (by video it will take a bit longer.)

That may sound like a shortcut but it’s really just high quality information taught in the most effective way we know how. (Sigung Clear has been teaching this method for 20 years after all.)

Tomorrow is the last day you can save $100 on this DVD package:

http://www.clearstaichi.com/fa-kung

Take Care,
Ben Sterling

How do you know Qi isn’t just your imagination?

I began teaching Fa Kung Universal Energy Healing back in 1996 and over the last 20 years I’ve heard many different questions about Qi and energy healing.

Here’s one that comes up regularly from people who have not had previous experience with high quality energy healers.

“How do you know you can really Sense/heal/interpret Chi and it is not just your imagination?”

Most people have some amount of arthritis due to general wear and tear and old age.

Energetically arthritis has a very specific sensation.

That sensation is very different from other sensations.

In a blind test, practitioners of my Fa Kung Healing method can easily feel where someone has arthritis and can distinguish the difference between arthritis and other conditions such as neuropathy (loss of sensation usually due to poor circulation and loss of nerve conductivity.)

The treatment method for these two conditions is also quite different. Arthritis is treated by drawing off the stress and neuropathy is treated by encouraging chi flow and circulation to the area.

I teach this method in great depth in my Fa Kung Healing DVD package.

This DVD set will be on sale for 3 days, starting March 15th.

Take some time to practice my Internal Push Hands method over the weekend.

The sensitivity you build from Internal Push Hands will speed up your progress with the Fu Kung healing work (as well as many other skills.)

The basics of how to play are in the second week of The Practical Guide to Internal Power.

Best Regards,
Richard Clear

The Danger of Acupuncture

There are many types of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM.) The healing method I wrote about yesterday is what’s known as a Fa Kung (emitting work) method.

It specializes in releasing and focusing energy to another person for the purpose of helping them to heal or repair an injury or illness.

Most emission training available today is taught in acupuncture schools. It involves the acupuncturist focusing their energy through the needles and into the patient.

However, I have spoken with many acupuncturists and find that most do not utilize qi emission in their practice.

The reason is that most acupuncturists are taught to build, focus and transmit their own physical energy into the patient.

This is dangerous.

If the acupuncturist continues to treat patients without replenishing their qi they become quite ill.

The problem is that running even a small practice requires hours of qigong everyday to replenish this loss. Money, family and time constraints tend not to allow the practitioner enough time to replenish their energy.

Fortunately, this is not the only way to do Fa Kung.

The Fa Kung method in my energy healing course is actually healthy for you. It is practiced a bit differently and does not use your personal store of energy.

First you connect to the ambient universal energy and then focus and emit it like a fire hose hooked up to a fire hydrant instead of just a 10 gallon tank.

The result is that the practitioner gets healthier as the energy passes through them while doing the healing work.

Since I began teaching this method 20 years ago, I’ve taught a lot of acupuncturists and energy healers of various types who have used this method into their work. Not only do they report a significant increase in the results of their clients, they also enjoy large improvements to their own health and well being.

At the end of April I will teach this method in an intensive 3 day workshop.

This workshop is appropriate for all levels of experience.

Go here to see details and register:
http://www.clearstaichi.com/qi-healing-workshops

If you can’t make the live training, watch for the our Fa Kung Healing Package DVD sale March 15 – 17.

Best Regards,
Richard Clear

What is Qi Healing & How Does it Work?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) qi is the generic term for the various types of energy that power our bodies including the bio-electrical and chemical processes that are the “alive” aspect of our biology.

Without qi (energy) we are just a collection of organic matter (skin, bones, etc).

Qi is responsible for the repairing and healing of our body.

In TCM you’ll often see illness described in terms of qi imbalances or blockages.

Treating these issues can involve balancing the qi, removing blockages and focusing qi to areas that need it.

Different types of TCM will accomplish this in different ways. Herbalists, for example, will use herbs to stimulate the qi while an acupuncturist will use needles.

One branch of TCM called Fa Kung (emission work) specializes in working directly with the qi.

You can see an example of this in the lesson “Strengthen Mind Intent & Heal Others” of The Practical Guide to Internal Power:
http://www.clearmartialarts.com/?p=14742

Fa Kung Universal Energy Emission and Transmission is one of the older and more secret schools of qigong. It includes how to absorb, build, emit and heal with qi. This includes sensing, interpreting, balancing & healing specific injuries & illness with qi.

A fa kung qi healing practitioner can remove blockages and focus qi directly to any area that needs it. The basic healing method involves several steps.

1. The practitioner scans and feels the subtle energy field and feels for disturbances and differences in the field.

There are as many different sensations as there are injuries and maladies. The initial learning process for this must be directed by an experienced teacher who can help the beginner decipher and interpret what they are feeling.

2. Either pull out the blockage and any accumulated stagnant/negative and then replace it with Universal Qi or simply focus Universal Qi to the area.

3. Seal the area so that the Qi can flow and the energy field is put back into its natural state once again.

Does Qigong completely cure every malady known to man including broken bones protruding through the skin and allow people to live to be several hundreds of years old?

No, of course not! Every type of TCM has it’s strengths and weaknesses.

Normally it is best to get broken bones physically set by an emergency care physician who specializes in such things.

So far I have not found an ancient 200+ old qigong master or anyone even close.

What I have found are teachers in their 80’s and 90’s that are still very spry and healthy leading very full active lives.

In our culture I see a lot of folks between the ages of 29 and 79 who look like they are many years older than their birth age and who have many physical problems that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

My Fa Kung healing course you’ll learn how to use this powerful healing method, not only for your own health and wellbeing, you’ll also learn how to help others benefit from this method.

Next week (March 15th) this course will go on sale for 3 days. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Best Regards,
Richard Clear

Ronin Kai Talks On How Internal Push Hands Helped Make Him A Push Hands Champ

Ronin Kai

Ronin Kai

We’ve been talking a lot over the last couple of weeks about how Clear’s Internal Push Hands can build internal power, offering testimonials from our students and investigative pieces on different aspects that the system addresses. But, the clearest indication of the power of internal push hands are the results of our students, and today we’re going to spotlight a three time push hands gold medalist and student, Ronin Kai. I had the opportunity to interview Kai about his experience and success in two tournaments he competed in in 2014-2015.

Kai currently lives in Houston, TX, where he enjoys the vegetarian cusine and the diverse martial arts the area has to offer. He’s a practitioner and instructor in several disciplines, including Meditation, Yoga Neijia (Xing-yi, Bagua, Taiji), Escrima and Pencak Silat. In addition, he is also a certified Clear’s Tai Chi instructor.

“I believe a strong solo practice and a willingness to cross train with different groups have given me a broader perspective on the skills I am working towards,” Kai said, “I currently teach mindfulness practices to an elementary school full time, I teach Tai Chi and Qi Gong to a local cancer hospital part time, and teach martial art classes at a local park.”

With his width berth of disciplines, exemplary commitment to the community, and teaching duties one wouldn’t think Kai would have time to compete, but he managed to enter into two different push hands tournaments to test the skills he learned from his participation in Clear’s Internal Push Hands Workshop and Certification Camp. He specifically wanted to test the internal skills he had learned in a non-compliant environment, against more experienced push hands practitioners.

When I asked him about his time at the workshop, he had this to say:

“Learning from Sifu Clear was a great experience. His hands on approach really helps you feel the skills you are working on and he presents the information in a simple but cohesive way. I am grateful that Sifu Clear is willing to share the Internal Arts openly instead of the classic storyline of waiting for 10 years and maybe we might show you the real stuff. Combining the Internal work I learned with Sifu Clear, lots of hard work and touching hands with multiple partners really cemented my love for this Art.”

Kai’s hard work paid off. During his competition he earned 3 gold medals in Push Hands in two different tournaments from 2014 to 2015. In his matches he went up against practitioners who had twice as much experience in the arts. Despite the gap in experience, he managed to succeed utilizing the internal skills of Clear’s Internal Push Hands.

Here is a description of Kai’s tournament experiences in his own words:

The two skills I would attribute to my wins were Sensitivity (Ting Jin) and Sung (dynamic relaxation) from the Internal Arts. With both of these skills combined it was easier for me to auto correct my posture and detect weaknesses in my partner’s own structure. Of course when my partner would use increase force I would have to be able to redirect his momentum and still be able to execute my moves under duress.

In one of the semi-final matches my partner would continue to tense his chest every time I got him. He started getting angry, wouldn’t look me in the eyes and it felt like he had a rock in his chest. With the Internal Push hands sensitivity training I was able to pinpoint this area and wrap around it, once that had happened I had complete control of his mass. It was definitely an eye opener seeing me bounce him around no matter how hard he pushed.

The final round for Gold Medal proved to be even more of a learning experience for me. As soon as [my partner and I] touched hands his whole body was tense. He came straight out of the gate blasting with brute force. The tendency to respond with force is always there but keeping calm and relaxed really helped me hold my ground. After few points scored on his side, I had tuned into his structure and began redirecting his force against him. His eyes would become wide as saucers as I bounced him to the floor several times. My sensitivity and technique was so ghost like he didn’t have any idea what I had done to him and it made him even more perplexed. This match really sunk in the Sung aspect of our training and whole body breathing. After 3 rounds to get to the finals my partner was breathing heavily and I was still relaxed. It’s a reminder to let the breath travel freely in the body and the more relaxed you are the more efficient the breath becomes. This is where the healing aspect shines in these arts and continue to unravel with a lifetime of experience.

Wow. You can see from Kai’s story that the internal principles developed by internal push hands can be directly applied to beat aggressive and more experienced opponents. You can check out Kai’s finals match at the 2014 International Chinese Martial Arts Championship below. Kai is the gentleman on the left in the video. These videos were uploaded by his opponent, Javier Rodriguez, a 10 year+ vet of Push Hands. You can check out Javier’s YouTube channel, where the videos are hosted here

Part 1

Part 2

You can see Kai applying internal skill in the video to redirect and anticipate his opponent. Really impressive. Clear’s Internal Push Hands has had three different students go on to win gold or silver medals at push hands tournaments. All without ever competing in push hands before. With stories like this, it’s easy to see that internal push hands equals results. If you want to build internal skills with push hands, be sure to check out Clear’s Internal Push Hands Instructor Course DVD Package, which features all of the techniques and skills covered at the Internal Push Hands Workshop. You can still get the entire package for $100 off with our launch sale. But you better hurry, because the sale ends today.

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