Friday, October 31, 2014

On Memory

Some time ago, maybe 15 years ago,
I read a story about a brain researcher
who had a vivid memory of being
a young child in England during WWII.

Around the age of 20, he recounted
his memory to his mother, of bombs
dropping and his neighborhood being
destroyed-- then his mother corrected
him. She told him that while those events
certainly did happen, their whole family
had gotten out of England, and were
hiding safely in the country somewhere
else in Europe at that time. The young
man was in disbelief from what his mother
was telling him because his memories
were so clear and so real.

This event shocked the bright young man
so much that he studied psychology and
the brain at university, and went on to
research memory and the effects of trauma
and suggestion. His false memory became
the catalyst for his life's work.

Now imagine for yourself some traumatic
instance that sometimes haunts you, or
even some sour memory of how someone
insulted you or did you wrong. Admit to
yourself that your mind may be inflating it,
or if radical enough, that it may not have
happened at all. Think you were abducted
by aliens ? Eh, probably not.

The point of this exercise is to root yourself
in the now. The past can really hamper
your ability to be all you can be. What
really matters is "the now."

Focus on the now, and focus on your self.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Missing From Your Exercise: Stance Training

I'll tell you a little story.

Once there was a boy in China who
wanted to learn martial arts. At the age
of 10, he saw the martial arts of a great
master, and asked to become his student.
The master found the boy's character to
be satisfactory, so he asked the boy if
he were willing to endure any kind of
pain and suffering in order to learn.
The boy said he would.

The master taught the boy one stance,
and said he would be back to check
on him. The boy practiced the stance
every day for a year with no other
practice. When the master returned,
he asked to see the stance. The boy
positioned his body, and the master
struck him hard on the back. The boy
did not lose his balance.

The master was pleased, and went on
to teach the boy many more skills. The
lesson here is that great balance can be
attained from practicing a special stance.

By the way, the boy's name was
Sun LuTang, and the stance is
called San Ti.

Many western trainers teach "athletic stance."
This is usually a wider-platform,
bent-knee position for "readiness."

Some trainers teach "wall sits."

Most yoga instructors teach a myriad
of straight-leg standing postures.

But these do not have the same kind
of benefit as what I'm suggesting.

The most common Chinese stance
is called the Horse Stance.

Tai Chi and BaGuaZhang use "Zhan Zhuang"
called Wuji or Quiet Stance.
(although it doesn't look it, his knees are bent)

Or, they use various other postures.

Many kung fu teachers (sifus) explain
that stances are to develop "strong
legs," "rooting" and internal energy.
These are true, but let's take a more
simple approach.

If you try to stand in a horse stance,
and don't have much practice, you
probably won't last long. Your
muscles will contract isometrically
and give out in about a minute.

But with practice, you will last
longer, and be able to develop
a lower stance. The reason is not
because of muscle strength--
but muscle relaxation and control.

When you can relax, curl your
tailbone under, and twist the knees
to the outside, the IllioTibial
Bands act like hammocks for
the weight of your body. Your
glutes stretch, and your weight
rests in these giant rubber bands.

This creates an entirely new dynamic
for relaxed balance, and for impulse
power amplified by coordination.
Trust me, if you don't have this as
part of your physical training, you're
really missing something awesome.

And then there's Fu Style.
We also use Horse Stance, but we
simultaneously move the upper body
around in circles, coils, or both.

Please try Fu Style Rolling Stretch, and
feel free to leave a comment with
your e-mail address if you want more.
We have a more advanced version of
this exercise we call "Grinding Waist."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Brain in Your Stomach

Did anyone ever tell you that
you have guts ? Did you ever
get a gut feeling ? Or have a
gut reaction ? Did some ever tell
you to "spill your guts"? Or that
they "hate your guts"?

If something is difficult or tough,
you either can't stomach it, and
give up trying; or you exhibit
"intestinal fortitude," meaning
you're tougher than the problem.
If you're a real dragon slayer,
someone might say you have a
"fire in your belly."

These expressions didn't just come
by way of happenstance. We have
a brain in our head that does the big
thinking, and we have a second
"Enteric Nervous System" in our
viscera. Scientists describe the latter
as being separate from the autonomic
nervous system, but it "receives
considerable innervation from it."

How many times have you heard
someone talk about the "head and
heart"?  This is generally the same
concept. The head does the "thinking,"
and the stomach-brain does its best
to protect you.

Imagine you're walking along the
beach when suddenly you step on
something sharp. It could be glass,
or a nail, or just a piece of shell.
Before you can even look down,
some part of your being instantly
tried to remove your weight from
that object, even if it meant you
had to fall down. That's your "heart,"
or the nerve-center that's always
trying to keep you from getting hurt.
When you say the wrong thing to
your mom, or your best friend,
maybe that's your heart trying to
protect you from something too.

This ever-present "angel" looking
out for your health and best
interest is a real blessing. It gave
you butterflies when you were
not supposed to ride that roller
coaster, and it saved your precious
foot when you stepped on the sharp
object on the beach.

But as you grow older, it gets more
cautious. It shortens your steps to
make sure you don't fall, and starts
to suggest more and more that you
don't take risks. It wants you to sit
more and walk less. It wants you to
avoid the crazy stuff.

This also seems beneficial, but the
reduction of movement takes a real
toll on the body. The joints gets very
stiff without the full range of movement.
Bones literally start to fuse together.
Then when you slip on the ice, or
step on that sharp object on the beach,
you lack the skills to keep from
hurting yourself.

When I started Tai Chi in 2003, I could
feel that my "heart" or brain-stomach
did not want me to move in that way.
It resisted. But I followed the instruction
of my teacher, and over-rode my
stomach's resistance. Gradually and
gently, I began to reorganize my body.

The scar tissue in my ankle starting
going away, and my right knee fixed
itself. I went through myriads of aches
and pains that started and ended in less
than a week. And the aches were always
in a different place. It's been weird.

Now after more than 10 years of practice,
my head-brain and my stomach-brain
are in great alignment. I think they even
talk to each other.

Tai Chi looks slow and dumb, but there
is just nothing like it to reorganize and
fix your body. That's why they say it's
the fountain of youth.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

PSAs & Mammograms Do More Harm Than Good

It's February 13, 2014.

And like so many facets of human
history, the CURE we created and
thought was perfect turns out to be

A humongous new study on the
effectiveness of mammography
indicates that it's not effective;
and worse yet, it's damaging.

If you don't like the format and
language of white papers, you
can read the distilled version
in the New York Times article.

Essentially, 90,000 women took
part in a 25-year study on the
outcomes of mammography. Some
say the study was imperfect,
especially "scientists" who want
to prove the opposite; but the
well-designed and enormous
study demonstrates a pretty
clear conclusion:

Annual mammography
in women aged 40-59
does not reduce mortality
from breast cancer beyond
that of physical examination
or usual care when adjuvant
therapy for breast cancer is
freely available. Overall,
22% (106/484) of screen-
detected invasive breast
cancers were over-diagnosed,
representing one over-
diagnosed breast cancer
for every 424 women who
received mammography
screening in the trial.

A three--year old study from the
U.K. basically said the same thing.

The para-conclusion offered in
conjunctive-opinion is that "more
money needs to be spent on research
to find out what causes breast cancer."

But that would be a waste too.

I'm going to shock you here, because
I know what causes breast cancer.
You will believe it, but can you
actually do something about it ?

Ready ?


Dr. Steven T. Chang, who is both
a Medical Doctor and a Chinese
Doctor, has this to say about the

"The delicate intertwinings of
numerous capillaries, nerves,
lactation glands, lymphatic vessels,
and other delicate structures of
the breast are easily damaged by
improper handling. Any damage
to breast tissue can lead to
accumulations and blockages.
These can then lead to lumps, or
possibly cancer. (The breast is so
delicate that caffeine can cause
lumps and cysts to form inside
the breast, as was shown in recent
Therefore, the sensitive and easily
over-stimulated breasts must never
be mishandled by the woman or
her sexual partner. A woman's
partner should never BITE, SUCK,
or PINCH the breast. Contact
should be limited to a very gentle
caress or  kiss.
The breast and nipple can, however,
accomodate themselves to a limited
period of stimulation, that is nursing.
Pregnancy will change the breasts
and nipples drastically, so that the
mother will be able to tolerate the
sucking of the baby. But even the
stimulation for which the breast was
designed must end after eight to ten
months. After (that) further sucking
will cause blockages to form."
(The Tao of Sexology, 1986
ISBN 0-942196-03-1)

if not worse.

I've already condemned the issues
that mammography and PSA tests
are "preventive health care." But
they are not, and should not be
considered viable and beneficial.

Preventive Health Care is taking
care of yourself. It is not something
a doctor can do to you or for you.

Warding off damaging hands and
mouths from your breasts is in fact
preventive health care.

Holding your semen instead of
preventive health care.

Use your mind and take better care
of yourself.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Helmet Theory

People wear helmets for alpine skiing
because a helmet will save your head.

But a theory exists that the helmet
actually encourages you to take
unnecessary risk because you think
you're safer. People ski crazier because
of the helmet.

This theory is poo-pooed, but
let's test it:

If the NFL made a rule change
so that none of the players could wear a helmet,
I bet the frequency of concussions
would go way, way down.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Transmission of Knowledge

Imagine that you aspire to be a TENNIS STAR
(and let’s say you have unlimited resources).

Where would you go for your training ?
Would who be the best trainer or coach ?
Who has the best knowledge; and who might
have the rare ability to teach (or transmit)
that knowledge to someone else ?

It has been proven that the best way to learn
something is to learn it from someone who
already has that knowledge.

So let’s say you use your best resources
to obtain John McEnroe as your coach--
tee, hee. McEnroe can probably speed you
through the training in ways the YMCA
just can’t. Five years of training (without
injury) under the tutelage of a great
master will skyrocket almost anyone’s

How did McEnroe become the world's
number one champion ? His coach was
Harry Hopman, a world-acclaimed coach.

And how did Alberto Tomba, a rich kid from
the city of Bologna, become the best ski
racer in the world ? His dad hired the ski
racing legend Gustavo Thoeni.

Was Mike Tyson destined to become the
greatest boxer of all time ? Or was his
skill carefully developed by his amazing
coach, Cus D'Amato ?

Some of the very best skiers I know
cannot teach a damn thing to someone
else.  I don’t shame them for it. They
just don’t know how to teach.

Of course, Venus and Serena Williams
learned tennis from their dad, who was
not a premier coach--
so not all stars are created by another star.

And there are lots of other variables.
Most people do no become tennis stars,
nor do they have the resources.

This blog is about the transmission
of knowledge. Because that’s what
they call it in the internal martial arts.

If you want to learn something, go find
the best teacher you can. If you want to
learn Tai Chi and martial arts, go see
Grandmaster Fu.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ten Reasons Why Our Health System Sucks

George W. Bush confidently told us that
we have “the best health care system in
the world.”

Rudolph Giuliani echoed that moronic 
statement by claiming we provide
the “best medical care in the world.”

Not even close.

In fact, the U.S. has the most expensive
health care system in the world; but the
health care outcomes-- which are the
statistical considerations of things like
infant mortality, life expectancy, length
of hospital stays and appropriateness
of medications-- demonstrate to the world
that the U.S. health care system ranks
below most other developed countries,
down by Czech Republic.

In a recent Bloomberg study of 48 countries
for Most Efficient Health Carethe United
States ranked 46th, right behind Iran,
Turkey and Dominican Republic.

When I point my finger here, I'm not
pointing it at the hospital system, or
insurance system, or some twisted
account of what the government should
provide; I'm pointing my finger as us,
the U.S. of A. And by "health care system,"
I am including the WAY WE LIVE.

Here's why our health system sucks:

1. Diet
Diet isn't what you avoid eating, it's
what you eat. Sugar correlates directly
with diabetes; greasy foods are now
said to contribute to Alzheimer's;
and both contribute to obesity. But
on the other side, people who try to
lose weight or stay thin end up in the
E.R. or the hospital because they don't
eat things like meat. Most of the vege-
heads and vegans I've known get sick
all the time. Alcohol is dietary; and
though we don't drink as much as
many places, our drunks are as
drunk as anywhere. Our diet sucks.

2. Exercise
"Whaaat ?" you say, how can exercise
be part of the problem ? Check out
the injury rate of bicycling; it's worse
than football. It's been two years
since The New York Times expounded
on How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.
Everyone knows that running causes
degeneration of the joints and puts
people in the hospital for knee and
hip surgeries. Tons of people tear
a muscle lifting weights. And the new
Cross-Fit fad is hurting people all
the time. Injuries from exercise
costs money, missed work and ends
up causing more and more problems
as life goes on. We're hurting us.

3. Sports
Apart from mere exercise, "Athlos"
or competition pushes people to do
all kinds of crazy. Kids get hurt
playing football, basketball and
soccer. Adults get hurt running
marathons, triathlons and "tough
mudder" competitions. Ballet and
gymnastics are likely to tweak your
body for life. But wait-- there's more !
Now we have "extreme sports," where
people go bigger and faster than
ever before; hell, they even make
stuff up to be extreme. Broken
bones and collapsed lungs have
nothing on the cost of traumatic
brain injuries and shattered spines.
Subtract that from your bottom
line, America.

4. Lack of Self-Care
In China, people take care of
themselves. Here, we run to the
doctor just as soon as something
goes wrong. There's a tremendous
difference between the two. The
Chinese exercise for health and
longevity. We exercise to look
good and to get six-pack abs.
The Chinese carefully choose
each food for its medicinal
benefits. We eat whatever sounds
good or is lying around. Simply
put, we just don't take care of
ourselves. The Chinese must take
care of themselves because they
don't have the option to run to a
hospital. An ounce of Prevention
is worth seven pounds of Cure.

5. "Preventive Healthcare"
Alright, you understand the point
that we don't self-care--
but little do people realize that
our medical system has a function
it calls "prevention" that can make
things much worse. In essence,
these are the medical screenings
to indicate pre-cancer cells and
the like. The problem with these
screenings are the high percentage
of "false positives," meaning the
test will "indicate a problem" that
will likely never manifest as a
disease. For men, the Prostate-
Specific Antigen (PSA) test tells
the likelihood of prostate cancer.
One in 1000 men will be saved by
the test; but 4-5 will die from
cancer even though they've been
screened. Most men with elevated
PSA levels turn out to not have
cancer; and only about 25 percent
of men who get a prostate biopsy
(flesh removed and tested) due to
elevated PSA levels actually have
prostate cancer. But the elevated
PSA makes men very anxious, and
many times they demand the doc
perform surgery; this can lead to
all kinds of successive problems
like impotency and urinary issues.

6. Infliction
That's the best word I could
come up with to describe the
U.S. phenomenon of people
shooting each other and
running into each other with
automobiles. Both of these two
situations are unique to the U.S.
They are cultural issues created
through our rich but short history.
No where in the world do so
many people get shot by firearms
or find themselves in car accidents.
We do inflict sexually-transmitted
diseases upon each other too.

7. M.D. Ego
The reason guys like Bush and
Guiliani proclaim our health care
system as the best is because of the
unparalleled egos of medical
doctors. They go to school for a long
time, have to endure rigorous job
training, and end up feeling god-like.
Mis-diagnosis is rife in the U.S., and
so is misappropriate choice of med's.
M.D.s refuse to have anyone looking
over their shoulders, check ing their
work. But 40 out of 100 medical
charts have glaring mistakes, and
98,000 people die every year from
mistakes doctors make. Doctors are
messed  up As my Chinese doctor
says all the time,
"Western doctors kill people !"

8. Ignorance of Other Systems
To make matters even worse, there are
arrogant groups of assholes out there
who still demand that Science-based
medicine is the only way-- even
though our health system is as bad as
it is, and these assholes have no other
ideas on how to make things better. They
ignore the 5000-year old Chinese
system, even though it's fare more
cost effective and kills way fewer

9. Pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceuticals are killing people.
Have you heard the news about
statins ? Statins are the drugs to
help control cholesterol. Well,
they are killing people ! Hormone
therapy is killing people. Doctors
prescribe Prednisone for everything--
and it robs you of your immune
system. Listen to the commercials;
since drug companies have to list
the possible side-effects, you get to
hear all kinds of crazy things that
drugs can do-- but most important
is when they say "can sometimes
cause death."
One hundred years ago, cocaine
was the hot pharmaceutical. Now
they say aspirin would never get
through FDA approval. What does
that tell you ?

10. Stress
Money, marriage, sex, love, cars,
kids, driving, sitting, family, health,
addiction; Lust, Gluttony, Greed,
Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.
The American lifestyle is rife with
catalysts of stress; and it is well short
of remedies.
Alcohol is temporary.
Vacation is temporary.
Most of the common fixes are just
band-aids, and just about as temporary.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Which Foot Do You Favor ?

Stand, and relax.
Which foot do you favor ?
Have you ever noticed this before ?

Whether you're 20, or 30, or 40, or even
god-forbid older than that, you've been
favoring that foot for a long time.

How do you think this affects the rest
of your body ? Is it possible that your favored
foot is creating asymmetrical use of your
knees ? Or your hips ?

Yes, it's more than possible. In fact, favoring
one foot develops asymmetrical "stretchings"
of some tendons, and asymmetrical "stabilizations"
of some muscles.

In effect, this creates diagonals and slants
throughout your entire body-- and messes
you up completely. All of your physical
movement, including your walking-gait,
will be effected by favoring that foot.

Now let's scroll back up and look at the photo
at top of the blog one more time. Do you notice
any problems ?

Look again.

Now scroll down.

How about now ?
The red line across her shoulders is not level.
"So what," you say. "That's because she
favors standing on her right foot. "

The great Tai Chi masters say "your sickness is
to be found in your hips and waist," and that
"when one or both shoulders are lifted, sickness
can enter the body easily."

Okay. Now what if she were sitting ?
You draw the red line.
Obviously, this is not the same woman, but
we can imagine that it is--
or that both of these women favor her right foot
when standing, and her LEFT BUTT CHEEK when
sitting. This position does look fairly natural, doesn't it ?

What would you say about her shoulders ?

Now look at this guy.

He doesn't appear to be favoring one foot,
but I'm sure that he is. From first glance,
he appears to be posturally "straight."
But with the red lines, he clearly is not.

And how about this guy ?

Can you see it ?
Can you see that he is all kinds of crooked ?
Or are you still saying,
"So, what? So, What !!"

Well, you know what folks look like when
they get older. Favoring one foot does this:

While his shoulders appear to be straight in
this photo, quite obviously, nothing else is straight.

True story, this is what happens to the body when it ages.

I like to pick on Jillian Michaels because I think
she hurts more people than she helps.
Look at her and draw the red lines:

Believe it or not, these are in chronological order.
In most photos, Jillian is sloped like this.

And some day, Jillian Michaels is going to look like this:

Your question should be,
"How do I head this off ?"
"How do I keep myself from getting more and more crooked ?"

First, look at yourself when you brush your teeth.

Do you lift one shoulder ?
Is your back crooked ?
Are you favoring one foot ?

There are folks with tremendously healthy, straight bodies.
They look like this:

Even standing on one foot, their shoulders are level and there
are no crazy slants and diagonals across their bodies.

These people practice Tai Chi.
There's a lot more to it than you think.