Nowadays, we live in a world of noises and distractions, where technology connects us to the world, but isolates us from our local communities. Many of us wouldn't hear the church bells through our insulated walls. The sound from our entertainment systems, would drown out air raid sirens. Fortunately, caring people have created technology that can let us know when we are in danger, or when someone in our community needs our help, using our ubiquitous smart phones.
Last night, in Canada's largest city, an Amber Alert was issued at 11 p.m. Eastern Time. An Amber Alert, for those who don't know, is an abduction alert system used in many countries around the world. In Canada, it is used when a child under 18 has been abducted and believed to be in imminent danger, and when there is enough information, such as description of the child, the abductors, or a their vehicle, to direct a search. The alert is broadcast on television, radio, social media, and to mobile devices within a relevant geographical area.
When an alert is issued, time is crucial. Regrettably, it is often too late.
The Amber Alert did not save the 11-year-old girl last night. But the suspect was quickly located as a direct result of someone receiving the alert.
As shocking and sad as the outcome was, it was more shocking to learn that some people actually called 9-1-1 to complain about the alert itself. To all of those selfish whiners who complained about a collective effort to save a girl's life, please get professional help, either psychiatric or spiritual. If you are a student in my school, or wish to be, you can be assured that your lack of compassion will limit your education. There is a long-standing tradition within the martial arts that we offer, of teaching the advanced lessons only to students who display good character.
I wonder what systemic social issues have created a world where some people think that rolling over to read an amber alert in the middle of the night is considered a curse-worthy inconvenience. Who are these self-centred buttheads who whine about living in a world where people care about children, and in which the wonders of modern technology offer you the simplest opportunity to help?
My sleep is precious. But it is nothing compared to a child's life. Wake me anytime with your Amber alerts, as many times per night as you like. If I can join the search, I will. If not, I will sleep better knowing that I live in a world where people are expected to care about each other.
- Ian Sinclair
[*See also "Hue and Cry - Wikipedia"]
Suitable for beginners. Join anytime. 12-week and 1-year plans. Attend 1, 2, or 3 times per week.
Note: "Tai chi basics" classes at Black Lotus Martial Arts and Fitness are free to their members. Go to http://www.blacklotuskickboxing.com for more information.
Advanced tai chi:
Suitable for those wishing to explore the deeper aspects of tai chi, including the martial art. More complex forms, advanced internal works, partner exercises, and comprehensive self defence training.
• Martial arts: taijiquan, xingyiquan, baguazhang, shuaijiao, qinna, sanshou, weapons, and more.
• Practical self defence
• Qigong and meditation for health and healing
• Tai chi for health, fitness, power, and relaxation.
Live online lessons are also available for students around the world.
There will be changes this year…because there are always changes.
For one thing, there will be much less emphasis on group lessons. My focus will be on private lesson, both in person and online.
Private lessons can be booked by individuals or small groups. A unique curriculum can be designed for each.
There are no seminars currently scheduled for the new year. But that is expected to change.
We will be hosting some seminars in Orillia, and I may be going back to Europe this year. There has also been interest from California, New Zealand, and Australia. Information will be posted here as it develops.
The fact is that most students are not interested in going all the way, and there is no need for me to tell them that they should complete the journey. I am happy to give them whatever benefits they want to take away with them. If they follow this path for a while and then diverge, I am glad to help them on their way. But I want to give them all the tools necessary to take them as far along the road as they want to go, because I believe that the world becomes a better place when true martial artists are allowed to follow their personal journeys toward enlightenment.
While most of my students come to learn tai chi for the physical and mental health benefits, a significant number come to add tai chi skills to their martial art. Some of my students are jiujitsu or mma teachers or competitors, some are with military and law enforcement. But whether they come to improve their health or combat skills, the art is the same.
The most recognized benefit of tai chi is health of mind and body. This is in spite of the art's history as a martial art. Those who do not wish to practise tai chi as a martial art, can continue to progress indefinitely without participating in the more "martial" aspects of the curriculum. There is some overlap, however. Tai chi "for health" students may learn about the martial applications, or combat principles of the art without ever practising them enough to be able to apply them. Sometimes these students think that knowing a little about a martial art means that they are martial artists.
This is the same with many martial arts. The exercises and drills which are taught in most martial arts classes will not, on their own, guarantee progress to martial mastery. There are several important elements that are omitted from regular classes because most students are not actual martial artists, meaning that they are not mentally or physically prepared to do the training that is necessary. You can't efficiently teach advanced skills to those who don't have the proper foundation, just as you can't teach students with whom you don't share a common language.
But tai chi is still practised as a martial art to those who wish to go there. It even has several sport components.
Bridging the gap between "Tai chi for health" and "Tai chi for Martial arts"
One important element of tai chi is refining the ability to maintain mental and physical balance in the face of external conflict. At one stage, this involves an exercise called tuishou (Pushing hands). In practice, tuishou is a cooperative exercise intended to develop skills that can be applied in meditation or in combat. In sport, the goal is to uproot your opponent. Points are given to the competitor who remains balanced while their opponent stumbles or falls.
Tuishou can be a bridge for those who want to develop some advanced tai chi skills without fully embracing the rigours of martial training. It can also give advanced martial artists of other styles a skill set that may be lacking in their normal training.
There are three main types of tuishou matches. Each type has a variety of different rules and formats, depending on who is organizing the event:
- Fixed step tuishou requires to competitors to keep one or both feet still.
- Restricted step tuishou allows forward and backward movement of the feet but does not allow sideways stepping, or reversing of a stance. The foot that is in front must remain ahead of the other.
- Moving step tuishou allows competitors to step anywhere within the arena (often a square or circle similar to a boxing, sumo, or wrestling ring.) Points may be give to the competitor who ejects the opponent from he ring or downs them by push or throw.
Some types of tuishou competitions are very subtle affairs. Others are hard to distinguish from mma, or judo, or wrestling. This video demonstrates a tuishou competition with a rule format that is somewhere in the middle.
Here is a demonstration of basic taichi training methods and applications.