Eight Pieces of Brocade

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Few days ago I found a video of this amazing martial artist, Faye Yip, who performs “Eight Pieces of Brocade” beautifully.
Her mix of grace and power is very fascinating and inspiring to me! I have been looking for a nice version of this very ancient Qigong sequence for awhile and eventually I found it!
It’s so energizing and gives a deep sense of peace.
Tomorrow I will practice it with my students!

Summer break

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Dear Tai chi lovers,
Summer is here and most of us are planning to leave for their home country for few weeks, to spend time with relatives and friends.
This is a special moment of the year, a moment during which everybody who’s leaving will quit, for quite a long time, all the usual activities.
This break can be refreshing for someone, frustrating for others.
If you belong to the second group of people, then Tai chi can help you, because you can practice it wherever you find a quiet place. Practicing Tai chi will help you out a great deal when you suffer from jetlag, either when you arrive to your home country or when you come back to Japan.
I strongly encourage you to keep practicing without your mates and sensei; this is the moment when you deeply internalize what you have practiced during the class.
There’s no advancing in learning without personal, independent practice.

Tai chi can be your internal treasure, the source of refined and dynamic energy that you can store up and reuse whenever it is necessary.

Keep that in mind and enjoy your summer!

Many blessings.

Mirror practice

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Last Tuesday I proposed to my students Sofia, Doris and Mary the “mirror practice” while doing “Cloud Hands”.

“Mirror practice” means split the group into half and align people into rows, so that each one faces another person.
It’s not easy at all, one needs a lot of concentration and coordination in order to move as if you were looking at yourself in a mirror.
I myself got confused, while giving directions to my students… That was hilarious! We were all laughing but then we focused on our form and performed a perfect “mirror practice”.

My students even switched from one side to the other, challenging themselves! I am really proud of them and we had a lot of fun.

Once my students learn the 24 Yang style form, left and right side, we will all perform “mirror practice” for the whole form!

Challenging, indeed!

Tai chi at GE

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I have been invited by General Electric Japan to give a demo class of Tai chi.
The company wanted to provide relaxation classes to the staff and last Wednesday GE celebrated the World’s Health Ahead day, providing Yoga, seminars on supplements and nutrition, and Tai chi.

There were almost twenty people joining my class. They followed me diligently for one hour, practicing Chi Kung and Tai chi.
When I showed them the self defense applications of the main stances we were studying, most of them were so surprised! They did not know that Tai chi was a martial art and they were even more surprised by how hard it is to practice the basic walk in Tai chi, moving from one “Bow stance” to another. How can Tai chi “relax” if it engages so many muscles? And why is Tai chi called “walking meditation”?

When we think to relaxation we think to “collapse” on the couch, doing anything. This can help for awhile, but afterward we feel still exhausted because we haven’t really relaxed. Through Tai chi we basically lower our energy stuck in the “head and heart” complex to the lower body. Afterward we feel relieved, fulfilled, rebalanced and deeply restored: this is relaxation.

Focusing on our posture, balance and coordination breaks the cycle of toxic, recurrent thoughts. One can think that meditation is concentrating on one thought but this would mean again being used by a thought.
Meditation, in my opinion, means listening to your body, connecting the mind to the current sensations in your body and breathing correctly and thoroughly, in order to eliminate anxiety (breathing out) and open to life (breathing in).
That’s why Tai chi is called “walking meditation”. Simple like that…

Being brave

Doris and Sofia

Doris and Sofia

Yesterday Doris and Sofia were very brave because they accepted to perform “Eight Style’ by themselves. They did a great job and I understand ┬áthere’s a lot to remember to perform this form. Their stances are getting nicer and the transitions smoother.

They pushed themselves and they definitively stepped into a new phase of their Tai Chi practice.

Congratulations to Doris and Sofia!

“Yema Fenzong” and “Lan Quewei”

Today I felt that my Italian friends and I were blessed, at Yoyogi Park. It was cold but sunny, we practiced as usual and at the end of the lesson Katia shot these amazing photos. Simona was willing to help me in demonstrating the martial application of “Yema Fenzong” (“Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane”) and “Lan Quewei” (“Grasping The Sparrow’s Tail”). As soon as the practice was over and everybody reached home it started raining!

Enjoy the photos!

Yema Fenzong

Lan Quewei

Tai Chi in Yoyogi

Today Micaela, my Italian friend, and I practiced at Yoyogi Park. This morning the sky was blue, the air crispy and the sun shining: the perfect day!
We went to our usual spot and started warming up. Then we practice the walk, the change of direction, back and forth, and “Eight Style”. We reviewed all the main stances breaking them down to the single moves.
The cherry trees are already blooming and it was beautiful to practice Tai Chi with the traditional Chinese music in this amazing scenery; I really felt connected with nature and with everything and everyone.
It’s incredible how Tai Chi can make a bond among people!
But the most ineffable thing for me was to feel the commitment and the motivation of my student Micaela!

Thank you

I want to thank all my friends who came and watched my performance last Sunday at Sogo Sport Center, in Hamacho.
I want to thank also those ones who wanted to come but couldn’t.
I was happy about how I performed; a lot still needs to be refined but I feel my internal energy is getting better and better.
You can watch the performance, shot by my husband, in the video page.
The title of the video, “One move, one hundred moves“, describes the true essence of Tai Chi and is a traditional saying that tells a lot about the smoothness, the never ending motion and the roundness of each move in Tai Chi. My teacher, Master Gao, mentioned it to me for the first time, few years ago and I still remember it. It means that, in order to do a move correctly, you need to do 99 other moves!
Challenging, indeed!

Practice at Yoyogi

Every Thursday, in the morning, I practice Tai Chi with my Italian friends in Yoyogi Park, central Tokyo. It’s a lot of fun, I love their very active attitude and their curiosity. Today I wanted to remind them the difference between “Ward Off” and “Parting The Wild Horse’s Mane” since both stances start holding the ball. I’ve been asked about the martial application of “Ward Off” and after I showed it we starting talking about Tai Chi and self defense. I mentioned “Push Hands” techniques as a gateway for students to undo a person’s natural instinct to resist force with force, teaching the body to yield to force and redirect it. “Push hands” is performed with a partner and allows to learn how to respond to external stimuli using techniques from their forms practice. Training with a partner allows a student to develop ting jing (listening power), the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner’s intention. In that sense “push hands” lets students to train in the defensive and offensive movement principles of their martial art: learning to generate, coordinate and deliver power to another and also how to effectively neutralize incoming forces, in other words, to be in control and defend oneself.
I found this video very interesting and I invite you to watch it.