Monday, March 19, 2018



Many years ago while learning tai chi, I watched my teachers closely as they slowly swam through their forms. There was always something there - something unseen and seen. What I could not see was what they were doing internally, what they were shaping with their minds. But what I could see was the effect, the by-product of their mental activity, reflected in their physical appearance. It was as though they were painters... I could not see the paint but I could see what happened to the canvas.

What I recognized in their forms, I noticed first in their hands. It was the “beautiful palm” of Yang Style tai chi. Their hands were soft, naturally curved, as if gently cupping water. The fingers were never rigid, bony, or tensed. Something made each finger full, inflated, energized. Each hand was like a small baseball catcher’s mitt of soft leather and dense padding. The hands moved as though passing through a medium of thick liquid. This quality extended into the forearms, soft and plump like a baby’s arm. 


I couldn’t see the actions of their minds but I could feel that they were feeling something, moving inside. 

Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1936)

It had been said that Yang Cheng Fu had huge hands, even for a man his size, from many years of dedicated tai chi practice.

While learning tai chi I never heard the term, Lao Liu Lu (Old Six Routines.) But mind intent tai chi, the function of Lao Liu Lu, is in essence, what I was taught, directly and indirectly. I had read the Tai Chi Classics quote: 

“The mind leads, the chi follows the mind, the blood follows the chi.” 

It made sense and was taught to me directly... to imagine a ball of energy in each hand or a beach ball between the arms in “Embracing the Moon.” Directly, I was being told to put my mind into the forms. Indirectly, the instruction was reinforced every time I watched my teacher’s forms. I could sense the influence of their mind intent when they used it in each movement. I began to feel what they were feeling.

T. T. Liang said it best in the title of his book, Imagination Becomes Reality. You put your mind (imagination) into the hands and eventually other areas of the body - back, hips, shoulders, elbows, etc. You use imagination and it changes your reality. Soon you begin to feel things. There are sensations you cannot see and side effects that you can. The hands are soft and full, the capillaries expand and fill with blood. The hands develop that look that my teacher’s hands had. With improved focus, the hands grow warm, eventually hot, and the finger tips sweat.

In recent years I have read,
THE MIND INSIDE TAI CHI, by Henry Zhuang. In it the author does an excellent job of explaining Lao Liu Lu, the art of putting yi, mind intent, into tai chi forms. 

At length he presents the nature, conditions, and effects of this approach. He explains that without mind intent, tai chi is merely a nice aerobic exercise. He tells of how Yang Jian-hou (1839-1917) passed on knowledge of the technique privately to his sons. He then follows the trail of masters who eventually felt it was time to reveal this secret for the benefit of practitioners and the future of tai chi.

Now my comprehension is improved. At last I’ve come full circle to understand what my teachers were relaying without so many words. I’ve also come to believe that there is a related phenomenon with the conveyance of any physical discipline. When intensely learning the art, the student begins to look like the master, even with their different physical characteristics and nuances. I saw it with my teachers, I saw it in other students, and I was even accused of it on occasion.

What I have learned is to empty the body of tension, fill it with mind intent, and the chi and blood will infuse the structure. This ancient approach to tai chi is the ingredient that raises the art above the realm of physical movement and into the frontier of energetic development. 

If you're not doing it already, the experience can be transformative for you and your tai chi.
                                          - John                                                                       

Friday, March 16, 2018

"To quiet the mind, 
release tension, 
and move by intention,
is to grow closer to who you are."

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“Knowing others is intelligence; 
knowing yourself is true wisdom. 
Mastering others is strength; 
mastering yourself is true power.” 

- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Sunday, February 25, 2018

White Dragon Martial Arts - Tai Chi for Self-Defense


White Dragon Martial Arts 

Tai Chi for Self-Defense

Tai Chi is one of the oldest documented forms of self-defense dating back over 1500 years. It is also known for its many health benefits.

White Dragon Martial Arts is one of San Diego's oldest and largest kung fu and tai chi schools. We have been teaching the complete Yang Family Tai Chi System for health and self-defense since 1985.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

White Dragon Martial Arts - Tai Chi for Health


White Dragon Martial Arts 

Tai Chi for Health

Tai Chi in San Diego, California by White Dragon Martial Arts. White Dragon is one of San Diego's oldest and largest kung fu and tai chi schools. We have been teaching the complete Yang Family Tai Chi System since 1985.

Thursday, February 22, 2018



Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love, and Wisdom

by Robert Peng with Rafael Nasser

Over the years I have collected many tai chi and qigong books. Some of these works could easily qualify for a college text book while others are more of the attractive box store offering - an introductory book with nice pictures. However, Robert Peng’s qigong book, THE MASTER KEY, falls into its own category. It is engaging, revealing, instructive, inspiring and fairly extensive. For me it is now a prized addition to my tai chi/qigong library. 

Among its many qualities, there are five aspects in particular that have made this book a winner for me.

1.) AUTOBIOGRAPHY: The first part of this book (about 20% of the text) is autobiographical. The author takes the reader into his world, his story, to explain how qigong entered, changed, and improved his own life quite dramatically. He also provides information about the life of his master, Xiao Yao.

Peng was born the youngest of four children in a family in Xiangtan, Hunan Province, China. Born with a serious heart disorder, as a young boy he suffered physical pain and was restricted from playing as healthy children did. At the age of eight his health took a bad turn. It was then that he encountered the mysterious Mr. Tan (Xiao Yao), the boiler room manager at a local hotel. Little did he know that his 82 year old acquaintance was actually the one-time abbot of a Buddhist monastery and a renowned qigong master. Young Peng began to learn qigong from the old man and soon experienced a dramatic reversal from his heart condition. For the next 13 years he studied with the master and paid visits to his monastery, the Jiuyi Temple, in the distant mountains. Peng eventually mastered his teacher’s art, Dan Ming Qigong - Elixer Light Qigong.

2.) LINEAGE: The Dan Ming Qigong taught in this book is a combination of Buddhist, Taoist, and Shaolin practices. This is my first exposure to qigong with this sort of mixed lineage.

3.) DANTIANS: The qigong in this book works extensively with the body’s three, major energy centers, dantians (tantiens) as well as the central qi (chi) meridian. It also instructs on how to concentrate energy at projected external points and brought into the three dantian locations.

4.) PSYCHOLOGY: This is the first book I’ve seen that devotes significant material to exploring the psychological impact of energy imbalances on human emotion and character. The author explains how energy deficiencies in one or more dantians can influence a person’s thinking, emotions, and actions.

5.) MEDIA: This book is the first I’ve seen that not only provides detailed descriptions of its exercises, but also directs the reader to on-line internet video segments demonstrating the exercises in real time. The video material is available at:

As if these offerings weren’t enough, the book provides ample clear photographs of the author demonstrating the techniques with computer graphics depicting what happens energetically during the exercise.

This book is part true life adventure and part workbook, providing a generous presentation of qigong theory, sources, and practice. THE MASTER KEY is an uplifting spiritual story framed with positive encouragement, personal experience, and clear presentations. This book is designed to help the reader achieve a healthier, happier existence. I am pleased to be able to recommend this unusual book to you.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Tai chi lets you find the center 
and the spirals emanating from it."

- Painting of Mrs. Men Bao,
Bao's Lung Fei Tai Chi