November 20, 2012

New I Ching Book and Movie

 The venerable gray-covered I Ching book on many people's shelves was originally translated and annotated by Richard Wilhelm, a German living in China during the early 20th century. His work was later translated into English by Cary Baynes. Finally, there is now a biographical look at Wilhelm, and the huge impact his work had upon Western thought. To see the trailer, follow this link.

The I Ching: A Biography
Richard J. Smith (Princeton University Press)
Richard Smith, who teaches at Rice University, has come out with a new book about the I Ching: Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature. "In this concise history, Smith traces the evolution of the I Ching in China and throughout the world, explaining its complex structure, its manifold uses in different cultures, and its enduring appeal. He shows how the indigenous beliefs and customs of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet "domesticated" the text, and he reflects on whether this Chinese classic can be compared to religious books such as the Bible or the Qur'an. Smith also looks at how the I Ching came to be published in dozens of languages, providing insight and inspiration to millions worldwide--including ardent admirers in the West such as Leibniz, Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan, Jorge Luis Borges, and I. M. Pei. Smith offers an unparalleled biography of the most revered book in China's entire cultural tradition, and he shows us how this enigmatic ancient classic has become a truly global phenomenon."

September 30, 2012

In Memory--Bataan Faigao, Rocky Mountain Tai Chi

Bataan Faigao, head of Rocky Mountain Tai Chi, has passed away. The Boulder Camera reported that Bataan was terminally ill, and was on a pilgrimage to China's sacred locales, when he died. He is known as someone who really embodied a deeper sense of tai chi. He had a very quiet way of teaching. He is quoted as saying,

"T'ai-chi Ch'uan is a journey of spiritual discovery. I encourage students to work hard and to adhere to principles," Faigao wrote about his philosophy of teaching the discipline on the foundation's website. "I teach T'ai-chi Ch'uan as a complete system for health, meditation, self-defense, and as a way of the tao. Learning this art is a process that takes care of the external to get to the internal, going back and forth from form to application, understanding and experience."
Bataan was born Dec. 1, 1944, in Cebu, Philippines. He married Jane Greeley Faigao in 1966; she preceded him in death. They were lifelong students of t'ai chi ch'uan, studying with Grandmaster Cheng Man-ching in New York City from 1968 until Cheng's death in 1975. They moved to Boulder the following year and established the Rocky Mountain T'ai Chi Ch'uan Foundation and directed Naropa University's Traditional Eastern Arts department. A memorial will be held in Boulder on October 6th.
For the complete article in the Boulder Camera, click here.
"The Dharma of Taijiquan: An Interview with Bataan Faigao" by Edward Clark,
appeared in Taijiquan Journal (Volume 4 Number 4 -- Fall 2003).

March 14, 2012

New Books and DVDs

William C.C. Chen's approach to taiji focuses on practical aspects of movement. Practical Body Mechanics of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is the title of his new DVD, an overview of his teaching system. This particular DVD gives a taste of his "three nails" principle for the foot, a look at the use of hand dynamics, gathering of qi, use of the kua, push hands, and more. Chen's presentation is very personable with a good dose of humor; the sound and other production values are quite good, including a fun "Pink Panther-like" introduction. The DVD is available only through Chen's association.
William C.C. Chen teaches in New York City and has a wide following around the world; he was a student of Cheng Man-ch'ing in Taiwan.

January 7, 2012

Yoga Practice Caveats and Lessons

When is a good thing too much? When it creates problems. That's the case for some yoga practitioners, as described in this New York Times Magazine article. According to yoga instructor Glenn Black,
...a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury. “Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”
While tai chi practice seldom leads to injury, the lessons of yoga practitioners--students and teachers alike--should give pause for thought. How far does one push oneself? How does one work out safely?