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Anatomy Trains

“The most reasonable part in us is the part that does not reason.”- Tom Myers

The theory of Anatomy Trains, is an innovative relook at how the fascia integrates the coordination of multiple muscles in a single movement. In a simple way of describing fascia, the connective tissue that protects and wraps our muscles and organs, is in the relation to muscle movement would be as the plastic that wraps the electrical threads, muscle tissue, in wiring. The extracellular make up that lies outside the muscle tissue wraps it as a whole integrating a single movement instead of separate muscles working in a cascading chain of events as previously thought in physiology. For example the muscles of the entire arm could be likened to a chain of “sausage links” that can be moved together in a complete movement rather than one muscle activating another and then another and then another in response. The latter of course would not be an energy efficient system. These chains, or as noted as trains, are myofascial meridians and are likened to the the meridians in Chinese medicine. There are twelve trains, similarly like the 12 meridians in Chinese medicine, though, the connective trajectories along the body vary in various forms. I’m sure inspiration was drawn from Chinese medicine in this intuitive theory on how the body works. Though there is a lot of work going on at the moment in Anatomy Trains, the connections haven’t been proven in research or scientific studies. One can definitely see though the similarities in meridian theories and kinesio-therapeutics.

The twelve trains are,

The superficial front and back lines
The lateral line (2)
Spiral line
Superficial front arm Line
Superficial back arm line
Deep front arm line
Deep back arm line
Front functional line
Back functional line
Deep front line

These fascial line can demonstrate the kinetic movement of the body together or that of individual limbs in their directional movements.

So what does this have to do with Tai chi chuan?

In the integrative movements of the whole body while doing the form, one can see the coordination at work of these fascial lines.
One sees the movement lines and the stability lines as one performs a particular movement. Of course one could call the movement line as the Yang line, and the stability line as the Yin line.

These are some thoughts as I am progressing further through the form. In the next post, a break down of the arm lines and the movements of the negative and positive circles of the form will be discussed.

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Good to see you, after so many years of focusing my attention on other pursuits. I have struggling with a solo Acupuncture practice for the past three years, that I haven’t found a time to talk about Tai Chi! Though, I have had another pursuit where I delved into the exploration of the Yi Ching and its influences in Daoism, Buddhism, and Chinese Medicine. You can read about it in my other blog, Vajraroad. Here I go into the particulars that make up the Yi Ching.

And now for Tai Ji!

The Practical Method is a direct way for finding the limits of the body. It is elusive and cruel sometimes but it is also dynamic and wonderfully fluid. The elusive nature is within the self. You have to pull out what you can barely dish out and then give it that extra 5%. I find myself completely zonked after doing the form a couple times. It is cruel, because of the amount of training that you have to do to keep up with the form. I, myself, am not disciplined enough to be regimented to keep up that I make small progress here and there, and find myself repeating spots to continually re-learn the form. As you progress with the movements you find out that there are particulars of stability that you have to gain. To maintains those “stabilizers”, one has to continue practicing, daily!

It should be a joy to practice Tai ji Chuan, but you know after work, you don’t really want to go to the gym, do you?

Slacking a few days off from the form I realize that I sacrifice, tonicity, tempo, and direction. It then takes a week of regular practice to return to that place. But, lo, when you reach that place of stability, all that there is left is flow! Dynamic movement that you know, can penetrate any surface.

I had to make a commitment to myself, to reach a level of consistency with my form, and that would be to practice daily, but not just once a day but at Da Qing Shan.

Da Qing Shan, is located on a beautiful green mountain near Ri zhao, port to the Yellow sea. This is Master Chen’s International Tai ji school. It is exciting, daunting, and I welcome the experience.

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Enter the Dragon

Its been about a year and a half since starting the Practical Method, and after putzing around with so many different conceptions of posture, movement, and skill; finally something clicked in. Even though Master Chen Zhong Hua and most of his students have this dynamic quality to their moves, it doesn’t mean much force is being used. After weekly going about trying to replicate such moves, fast, slow, hard, and soft, I kept noticing day in and day out that I was still using too much force. Every little extra bit of force added into the form build momentum, and by the time you reach the end of the form it is a great cascade. Because of the building momentum, my form became blotchy, forgetfull, and broken apart. The fluidity between the forms became stop and go, as I had to put the brakes on continually between movements. In putting the breaks hear and there, the momentum would manifest in a different way, and upward rushing of yang, where my mind would jostle and then say to its self, what do I do next? Did I do that? Did I just do a movement 3 steps ahead. The mind wants to cut corners all it can, especially when it is racing ahead.

Finally when it was suggested to do three yi lu to one Ehr lu, was it then that I could see my extremes, and then I could start slowing things down. I could feel the excess, and only discipline in completing the moves could I finally make the form continuous.

TaiJi documentary

A Chinese documentary on whether Tai Ji as a martial art still has any interest on China’s youth. It goes through its history and its applications as three youths learn from masters.

Practical Method

I first encountered the Practical Method in the lonely winter of Japan, where I lived in rural Wakayama, with a Ukelele to strum the cold weather out. Japan has mild winters, though too cold to practice Tai ji, I turned to Youtube for hints and fascination. Having learned from Dr. Wu, many varying styles, I became interested in Chen, because it was the one I had the least exposure to, also it being said as the original form, I knew I had to learn it. Flipping through the channels of Chen, I encountered the prolific, Chen Zhong Hua, teaching from western pacific Canada. He was one who had broken down the old forms from its present flourished forms to a simple elegant dynamic force. His demonstrations are powerful and unique. One cannot but be amazed by the power of this beauty. At that time, he had a small youtube following with some blogs by fellow practitioners. Quickly his following grew, and his presence became international. I did buy his DVD of his form, but found it difficult to follow through. I left it on my back burner, as I came back home. Two years had passed, and again I remembered about that time that I was fascinated with this style, there had to be a practitioner back here in the states. Only finding a small group in Milwaukee, and one person in the far west suburbs, I tried to follow through it again, but failed miserably. In a strange coincidence of things some time later, a posting by a fellow acupuncturist, Yaron Sideman, who practices a form of Chinese Herbal Medicine that has a similar regional root, Huan Yuan, reminded me of the Practical Method. I reached out again, with my interwebs, and stumbled finally on someone, Spencer Jones, who recently had studied in China intensively the form, and lives in Chicago.
So far, its nothing like the Tai ji that I have learned, finding it a lot more rooted than any form I’ve done. I have only completed the first form, and I am eager to continue.

Spencer Jones teaches in Ukrainian Village, out of Bend Yoga on Damen.

Earlier today, I went to the park simply to get out and enjoy some of the sun doing Tai ji. Enjoying my practice, with some children playing flag football in the distance, I spied an Elderly Chinese man holding his “grand daughter” at his bosom. Upon finishing the form, He walks up to me smiles, and stands parallel to me in and begins to embrace the ball. I follow him and embrace the ball also and he quickly corrects some of my posture. He just shakes his hand or moves his hand to his hip to gesture, “like this.” I make my corrections, and all this while he has his “grandchild” at his shoulder. He continues doing the form, and I follow. Impressed that he can do Tai ji with a toddler at his shoulder, I smile and say thanks upon finishing. He struggles with his English, stating that “She doesn’t understand English, yet.” Directing my attention to the child at his shoulder. I smile at her also, and say thank you, in English and Chinese. And say good-bye. I think I might of met two teachers today!

Next Door Chicago

Next Door is a nice little gem tucked away in the borders of Lakeview, and Lincoln Park. It is a thriving cafe that serves up Intelligensia, and a nice selection of noshes to keep the mouth satisfied. College students of all kinds come here to cram, prep, or what not, as well as self employed entrepreneurs, who need a breath of the fresh buzz in here. Conceived of by State Farm, the cafe is thought of as a hub for the community, to bring ideas, innovations, and self help classes for those who are interested. Located near Trader Joes, on Diversey, the space is ample for a multitude of projects and developments. The modular furniture, allows a play for the space to reform according to the needs of the day. 

Just recently, I have been teaching Tai ji chuan on Thursdays in the eve, at 7:30pm. The class is simply an introduction class, focusing on the Yang style 8 form. If anyone is interested in getting their qi flowing and moving in the eve, head out and experience what this great place has to offer.

http://nextdoorchi.com