September 24 , 2007

Greetings. I want to introduce you to my latest online course. The Inner Journey. The lessons focus on the internal, physical elements that allow the Tai Chi practitioner to increase his or her enjoyment and benefits through a deeper understanding of how to work with the internal energy. These lessons, starting in December, will be added over a period of time at my site, www.gilmanstudio.com. I hope you check on occasion to see if new material has been added. And please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. All workshops are held at The Gilman Studio.


Inner Journey Workshop - Sat. Nov. 17
1-4 pm   Cost: $30

I have a three-hour workshop coming up on Saturday, November 17 from 1 to 4 pm at my studio covering this topic. Any student of any style is welcome. It will be a deep inner experience, I promise.

We will use one movement to examine as many essential elements as we have time for. The cost is $30. Just show up or call me at 360 385-5027.


Introduction to The Inner Journey

We are about to embark on a long journey of discovery ? what I call the Inner Journey. The journey relates to Tai Chi Chuan, as well as many other psycho/physical practices for self -improvement. The lessons will gently unfold and offer to the serious student a proven path to reach the goal of Internal Energy Exercises ? self-realization.

The Inner Journey has so many benefits along the way ? improved health, closer relationships, clarity of mind to see situations as they are, deeper sense of purpose, renewed strength to deal with obstacles, and a feeling of oneness with others. All this can come about from a committed practice in the Internal Arts.

Each lesson will focus on a specific inner directed, physical awareness that will add to and improve one?s Tai Chi practice and enjoyment. There are no movements to memorize or new forms to work on. Each of these principles can apply to any Tai Chi style or Internal Art. These principles come from the lifelong study of how the body gathers and releases energy in the most effective ways. The principles I will share come from many sources ? some thousands of years old, others are original to me. What is important is that I know they work. This is not theory, but practical, inner directed, physical principles that are easily provable to be effective. If you seriously study what is introduced, practice with an open mind, be willing to change what and how you do your practices, you will gain more then you thought possible.

Because Tai Chi is my main practice, I will use it to illustrate what I am sharing. I will take one movement sequence, the Brush Knee sequence of the first section of the Yang Style Long Form to work with the principles. Even among Yang Style players there are many different ideas of how this sequence is performed. I hope you can look beyond the outer form to view the inner teachings that apply.

I used to think that there was only one way to do Tai Chi, and that it shouldn?t be changed from how it was passed down, especially if one has studied with a lineage holder of the style. I no longer think this is a virtue. Tai Chi is based on change. If I am stuck to an idea of right or wrong, I will surely be thrown around by life?s circumstances. I must change and adapt, learn and grow, test for myself, trust my intuition, and stay open.

I will now list the names for the essential elements for the Inner Journey. Most of the names will not mean much until they are discussed. They all tie together in some way to make an effective and correct movement, but can be dissected for closer examination.

1) Intention is the Master Key
2) Toe touching
3) Inside/outside of the foot
4) Alignment of the toe, knee, and hip
5) Center pulls up and releases energy to step
6) Spine erect
7) Line up Bei Wei, Dantien, Yung Chuan
8) Gather and release from Kua
9) Coccyx swings
10) Nose/torso alignment with toe
11) Yi goes first ? yin and yang of eyes
12) Yin and yang of Lao Kung — setting of wrist
13) Yi— Chi - Jing
14) Duei La
15) Wave unfolding
16) Express Shen
17) Three Dantiens
18) Heavy arms, elbows, and shoulders
19) Trigger point
20) Pull/ step

Essential Element One Intention is the Master Key

There is one overriding principle that determines how all the rest are applied ? intention. Without intention, all that is left is an empty vessel. Intention gives Tai Chi meaning and direction. It gives shape, variety, and purpose.

Intention and application are closely tied together, as Tai Chi is a martial art. Am I pushing or pulling, following or leading? Do I need a solid structure or one that can easily collapse. Am I setting a trap by appearing to first resist only to be followed closely by yielding? What kind of energy is needed in each phase of each movement, All these questions and answers form one's intention on a physical plane.

Intention springs also from the goal, what I want to accomplish with my practice, which can be different than the martial application. Do I need to relax, stretch certain muscles, calm the mind, strengthen the body, heal problems, or find spiritual awareness? These questions can also apply to the application of movements, but can also be looked at by themselves, with no particular application in mind.

Since I view Tai Chi Chuan as a martial practice with deep roots in the major philosophies of China, namely Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. the physical and spiritual are well integrated. When thinking of Tai Chi as a martial art that aligns with my spiritual path, I use the principle of reacting to situations from a centered, clear space with full regard to helping all people experience themselves also as spiritual beings. That would translate in a martial sense to dealing with aggression without getting caught up in anger and fear.

The Inner Journey will be based on applications of movements. I first must decide what I am doing or what I want to accomplish, then go about making that happen as easily and naturally as possible. Each principle will help in that task.

One of the end points of Tai Chi practice is the point where one only thinks about one wants to accomplish, e.g. evade an incoming push, take control of the situation, and repel the opponent. In the early stages, one must think about what the goal is and then put effort into getting the body to carry out the task in a conscious way. Where is the best place for my feet? How do I root the incoming force? What do I do with my feet and hands to control the situation? What about my breath, energy during the release?

What evolves after much practice is just reacting naturally to a situation without having to think about how to do it. The body and mind work together, at the same instant. When someone throws a ball, I catch it without having to think about how. That is one of the goals of our Tai Chi practice and is dependant upon our intention.


Chan Ssu Jin
Sat. December 15, 2007  1-4 pm     Cost: $30

Chan Ssu Jin, or silk reeling energy, is a form of energy expression that is fairly unique to Tai Chi. Energy, as it moves from ground to hands, moves in a spiral fashion. It resembles a screw, as opposed to a nail. This worshop will teach, in fine detail, how to work with this principle to open the joints and integrate the structure. It is fun, healthful, and useful. Open to all levels and all styles.


Yang Style Applications
Sat. January 19, 2008  1-4 pm     Cost: $30

This is an opportunity to throughly explore the applications for Yang style Tai Chi. Knowing the applications for each movement is the only way to truly master the Tai Chi form. Every internal aspect is dependant upon the applications. Get clear on what you are doing and why. All levels and styles welcome.

For more information, please contact me at michael@gilmanstudio.com.

Best Wishes,

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