Setting the Knee (Part 3): The Most Important Movement in the Form

I just shot this video after class last night to further illustrate the importance of “setting the knee.” Even students that have been with me for decades found this enormously helpful. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away. Oftentimes, habitually over-shifting to the outside of the foot results in atrophy of the muscles on the inside of the thigh. Hold on to something (wall, chair, table) as you learn to trust the power that comes from being centered and rooted. Take it slow. It’s worth the time and effort!

Setting the Knee (Part Two)

“Correct Knee Position” is not a topic that exactly quickens the pulse. For most of us it sounds like a real snoozer. We don’t really care. That is, until there is PAIN. For the first fifty years of my life I had little regard for this ingenious and delicate joint. I rode my knees hard and put them away wet. Playground pick up basketball, high school football, running through the woods, competitive push hands…I was pretty oblivious to the pounding my knees were getting. Then I started getting sharp stabbing pains when I walked up and down stairs. My knees… Read More

Setting the Knee (Part One)

I have long advised taijiquan practitioners to consciously “Set the Knee” before loading the substantial leg. Meaning, you make sure that your structure is in place before you put weight on it. The knee should be in the optimal load-bearing position before asking it to handle not just the weight of the body, but also the force generated by the powerful muscles of the legs, back, and buttocks. To which I now add, “No, really.” The habitual patterns established long, long, LONG ago tend to override that simple instruction and filter it out. It requires a conscious decision to tell… Read More

Baguazhang for the Ages

I just started teaching baguazhang (pa kua) basics at my 6:30 Wednesday class in Staten Island and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m fairly late to the bagua party, having just started my practice in my 60s, but I’m appreciative of the unique qualities it brings to my practice. Its spiraling movements and energies are similar to some of the luoxuanzhang that I have have practiced for 10 years or so, but luoxuanzhang is a hybrid (bagua, xingyi, taiji, and yiquan) and bagua is its own thing. Baguazhang derives its name from the “Eight Trigrams” of the Daoist classic, Yijing… Read More

Reflections on TCA in Sedona 2017

After 23 tries I think I’m starting to get the hang of this. The 23rd annual Tai Chi Alchemy in Sedona wrapped up a couple months ago and the magic is still very much alive for me. The love, laughter, and open-hearted appreciation of this group pervade my every breath. TCA arises each September, Brigadoon-like, in the exquisite red rocks of Sedona. We enter a time warp and seemingly pack a year of experience into a few short days. People start to roll in a week early to get their full measure. Newcomers are greeted as old friends. Old friends… Read More