Wudang Tai Yi Wushingquan at Wudangshan

I just posted this video from last October’s visit to legendary Wudang Mountain, the highlight of our trip. In it, Master Yang and I perform the first section of the Wudang Mountain Tai Yi Wushingquan, a form that he learned from an old monk during an earlier visit to Wudang. There appears to be several forms with that name, and I don’t know the provenance of the one we’re doing. A great effort was made to restore the Wudang tradition after it had been nearly destroyed during the cultural revolution. Wudang is the spiritual home to Daoism and the Chinese… Read More

Taijiquan Immersion with Rick at Eastover, July 21-23

Eastover Estate and Retreat is a stunningly beautiful holistic retreat center and 600 acre natural sanctuary, located in the heart of the Berkshire mountains. Eastover is the vision of founder Yingxing Wang who orchestrated an incredible ten-year renovation of the entire estate, making eco-friendly choices wherever possible. It opened a couple years ago and focuses primarily on Chinese medicine, qigong, and internal martial arts. The housing is priced very reasonably (by Berkshire standards) and the options range from luxurious to tents pitched in the yard. Check out this online brochure.   July 21-23. Yang Cheng Fu’s 13 Original Postures. This… Read More

Fighter or Martial Artist? Which Are You?

This article appeared in Inside Kung Fu magazine, Spring 07. Ten years ago!   Fighter or Martial Artist? Which are You? by Rick Barrett “He’s a martial artist, sure…but can he fight?” How often have you heard (or said) some variation of that refrain? It is actually an important question, but it does beg other questions: Is there a difference between martial arts and fighting? Is there value in martial arts independent of preparation for fighting? Does such a distinction matter? There are some who would answer the last question with a resounding “No”. To them such a distinction is… Read More

Tai Chi Alchemy visits China – Day 1

It was the trip of a lifetime for me. Last spring my friend/teacher, Master Yang Fukui, suggested we visit Wudang Mountain, the legendary birthplace of taijiquan. We would also visit his hometown of Tianjin, another place with a rich martial arts history (see Jet Li’s film Fearless).  Sign me up! I had visited Beijing in ’99, a great trip, but going to Wudang with Master Yang was like a back stage pass to a world I could never access on my own. Maria was immediately up for the adventure, and so were some Tai Chi Alchemy regulars: Jonathan Bricklin, Mike… Read More

The Roots of Pointing

A question I often get when showing people how to enhance energetic coherence by pointing is, “Why is it the index finger?” The short answer is, “Because it works.” I’ve tested using other fingers with hundreds of people and the index finger is the only one that does the job reliably. The inspiration came from two sources. First, in taijiquan sword forms, the hand not holding the sword is often in a shape called “the secret sword hand.” The index and middle fingers are pointed forward and the ring and little fingers are curled under the thumb. I dutifully did… Read More