Yang-style t’ai chi ch’uan

My Tai Chi Adventure

Tiger Crosses the Tiber: (The Journey from Hard to Soft)

Everyone knows that it is very hard to convince a Hard Stylist to go soft style unless you will really see something compelling for you to go that road. It came through many questions that need to be answered first.

First Brushes with the Soft Art:

I went to the Fuente Osmena Circle in Cebu, a park where many people were practicing healthy stuffs I saw joggers, military dirty dozen exercises, even dogs running around, and the elderly moving oh so slow that to me was like a waste of time. It did not do you any cardio that it seems that it is not strengthening you at all. I was so sure that it the only exercise for those that were already too slow in their movements. A conclusion I kept for years, until…

Hard Headedness Leads To Injury:

I always tell my students follow instructions to a K since this is Kung fu. That is what we Teachers are here for, to guide you, you need to be under the watchful eye of a teacher. Learn from me even the mistakes I did.

Costly Mistake:

A back injury happened to be not in the Kwoon but in a western weight training gym. Here is how it happened and as a lesson to all I will be pointing out the mistakes I made.

It was early in the morning I jogged all the way to the gym about 6-7 kilometers. I was the first to be there, the gym keeper opened the door said I could start my workout while he gets water.

-Sifu’s words: “Never do movement without not moving for a long time“.

Make sure you develop the discipline to warm the muscles you will use and nourish it with Chi before you do anything with it. In Traditional Kung fu this is done by first and foremost lighting your candle do the meditation to get into yourself, as for first your mind is not there it might be on the concerns for the day and if your mind is not there (unmindfulness is a great cause of injury) you need to bring your mind to yourself and what you are doing.

That morning I did not follow that teaching and I thought to myself “Jogging 7 kilometers was enough warm up” but in the back of my mind or I knew it was drilled into my thick head by Sifu that other exercises does not necessarily work on the muscles you use, you need to zero in on the correct muscles used in the movement and one by one or holistically nourish them with Chi. In short I was not following instructions to a K, I was Lazy I was Hard headed! leading to my folly!

-always remember, Obedience is Important!

The Injury “An Accident looking for a place to happen!”

So there I was in the western weights gym, nothing wrong with that Shaolin Martial Artists used weights too like heavy rocks, water buckets, etc.

So vividly I remember the gym keeper open the door welcomed me in and said he will fetch water first and to help myself with the weights.

The Stage for the Accident:

I looked for a good spot and found one. This spot was good in front of the wall clock, near good ventilation. The only thing was there was a heavy weight in the middle of my spot. I knew what weight was right for me and definitely this was too heavy! But again my mind was not yet totally in sync with what I was about to do, I have not done the meditation with the mind and body nourishing. So of I went with a little thought of what I was going to do and headed for this big monster of a weight for I was not going to work out with this I was just going to move it. Not realizing that in order to move it I had to carry it, and so this man who did not do his homework that his Sifu has drilled to his head went nonchalantly to this weight and moved it, in order to move it I lifted it then like a small thunder I heard my lower back go “CRAAACK!”

It was so painful I could not breathe. I said to myself looking at the Clock “How long will it take before I get brain damage for not having air in my brain? I was staring at the wall clock and the only one in the gym to help me!

I could Imagine Sifu’s Face saying “You Hard Headed! I tell you many many times!” Sifu always said “no need to take notes I will be repeating and repeating my lessons to you”.

I remember his red face with anger when two crazy drunk students went up the kwoon during the afternoon when he was resting and started practicing with the spear. Of Course one injured his hand with blood everywhere Sifu woke up with the commotion and chased both of them out of the Kwoon with his Staff. He was so angry at those students who had the guts to practice with weapons without his presence and permission and Drunk! They scampered like rats being chases by an old man it was kinda hilarious to see but it was kinda Seriously Insane thing to see. And here I was in a much unenlightened accident that I just knew I would get an earful from Sifu Ty. Then again maybe I will be brain damaged already for I still could not breathe until…. I remembered some breathing exercises that I tried to activate my Diaphragm to suck in air, and it did like the lungs were activated again. I was breathing but the pain was still terrible.

The water boy arrived and saw me now in seated meditation I told him what happened and we did some stretching exercises but that was an injury that was menacing and gets you really angry at yourself. You only realize all the things you were taught and wish you followed it to a K.

The Search for a Cure:

Of course Sifu was last in the list for I would get a mouth full. I went to all the healers, quacks doctors, chiropractors, etc. no healing happened. I was so desperate I reached the farthest and highest mountains where faith healers spit on your back, spill blood of a live chicken on your back, ashes to ashes dust to dust, nothing. Traction Machines from the state of the art Makati Medical Center, I thought to myself wow “Man is this frail, one injury and you could be downhill from there!” of course I also saw the spiritual part of this “Could this have happened because of Sins and wrong doing? “Of course no answer for that but it was at the back of my mind.

Sifu Ty’s Hand:

Wow! I was not different from the people lined up for healing in the Kwoon of Master Ty. I was human after all, I thought that I was not an ordinary mortal when I was doing my forms and learning Kung fu. Now I will be one of those people lined up for healing. What a humiliating thing, what will my classmates say? Again thoughts about the spiritual side came. Is God humbling me? Was I getting too proud? I know he humbles me so very often!

A Humbling Experience:

I remember that I rode a Taxi home and I told the driver to take a left turn at the sign saying no left turn. He said I can’t do that I will be caught by the police. But you see in the older times in Cebu, I could get away with that for my Dad a Lawyer was a very influential man. The Police people and Firemen who were near our house were always in our big parties, and my head got big and thought I could do some power play. So I told the driver, just do it I know all these police men they will see me and let you go. The driver was an old man he retorted “You young people who do not know about life think you are so hot shot huh! I was a war veteran who risked my life in war for a country that would have good laws and people to follow for our peace and well being who do you think you are! He came in like a flood scolding me like crazy I was dumb struck and I learned my lesson. I felt the Universe or God always did something to get me on track.

In line with the Injured in Master Ty’s Kwoon:

I went early morning so few students would be there! Already there were 3 people in line. The adopted children of Master Ty saw me and wondered why I did not light the candle to start my practice but instead sat in line with the sick, disabled or injured. Humbled like a wet chick (basang sisiw) I saw the smirk of the ones who lived in the house of Master Ty. He saw me like a hawk and asked me to come to him first. Asked “Ano Problema sa Iyo” he spoke very broken Tagalog and Bisaya to those who did not speak Chinese. I said “I got Injured” He said “How” he listened shaking his head many times and I knew what he wanted that I was learning my lessons so my story was like this I did this and where I was wrong was I did not do this …I did this was wrong cuz I did not do this so his head was shaking when I was saying the story of the injury and nodding when I would say where I went wrong. Of course this was a long thought out plan, the story was smooth and the lessons were clear. So finally he said “Bring out all your money!”
He got it and told Jaime his adopted son to buy a list of things. He even had to add for the money I had was not enough! So he let me wait while he treated the other patients, and of course when the students came my story would be the lesson of the day, what never to do again!

The Weird Medicines:

Jaime came back with one big sack of Ginger and many other Chinese smelling herbs and they started to pound these gingers to bring out the liquid. He brought me to the side of the table, then ask me to lower my pants then he got a coin and scratched my back then put the ginger into the skin every now and then. I saw he mixed the liquid ginger into a brown substance that began to look like mud. Then he placed it on my back where the injury was. He wrapped it into a sash like cloth. And gave me a bottle of brown pellets I was to drink 3 a day. He told me to do the standing meditation and told me some tips on the posture to help the injury. These medicine and healing stuffs helped but as he already told me it will not be the same, I have to be more careful because this is the spine, when we are doing is strengthening the muscles that hold these bones together, strengthen the bones, and some vitamins to strengthen the ligaments too. Even sleeping positions were explained and even where it might hurt in the legs.

The 2nd Brush of Tai Chi

I guess the Tai Chi voyage started with a search for a healing art. After practicing what they call hard kung fu or the external systems which if not properly monitored can be quite taxing for the body. Well from the injury of my back which I thought it would be good to start slow. I began to look into a little of Tai Chi.

My mobility impaired and an irritating pain on my back that would happen when the weather was cold made me look and look and look for more cures. I was in denial that it would not be perfect anymore; injured people will have to live with an injury. To all students reading always follow the proper instructions for if you go wrong an effect of injury could be life long.

-Sifu Vince

The Martial Arts of Tai Chi

The Martial Arts of Tai Chi

As I recounted my entry into this mind boggling art that moves so slow and has almost no fist postures making it very deceptive in combat was only more on the healing aspect to me. Until! I saw, I felt and my questions conquered. I saw that it answered so many many details of Martial Arts. It was a shock to me.

First Martial Encounter:
Dylan Halili- Dylan Halili was first and foremost a fantastic real friend. Our friendship started when I was in the music entertainment world. He was a DJ of one radio station who was interviewing me about music. We hit it of when we talked about martial arts. We almost did not end the whole night. He was a high level Tang soo do fighter.

Introduced him to Kung Fu:
I gave him a gift of a great kung fu enlightenment (which only he and I know for deep secrets abound and I first shared a jewel to him)

When you share it comes back a hundred folds:
Yes this came true with Dylan because the guy is a natural. I have high respects for his great gift of natural ability. He started studying so many things and shared a lot with me which I believe as a product of a Gift.

And Then the Internal:

Dylan started going into the internal arts and was going deeper and deeper. All the time I was telling him Dylan until I see it at work it is all mumbo jumbo to me. But this guy just never stopped his learning I was amazed at his dedication 3 years no absence, 5 years no absence, 7 years no absence and with his real china town renowned teacher Master David Chan. He brought me to his teacher but maybe it was not the time. For I could not see the magic of this slow stuff etc. until!

The Radio Booth enlightenment:
Dylan and I first met in a radio booth and must have been a preparation for a great enlightenment to me to happen again in a radio booth.

I came from Cebu and He picked me up and I went with him to his Radio Show. Then after he said “I want to show you something.” And me always so willing to test skills then said ok. He just stood in a very small stance. He said “ Push me anyway you want, just no strikes just test my root and stances” I retorted “in that stance I might plaster you in the wall I thought“ but to my utter surprise he was like glued and cemented on the floor. I could not budge him.” I thought to myself “Where is the trick here? Is this a slight of hand or magic? It seems so unreal?” he said “This is what I can show you of internal Skill and Power” Not to mention so many things inside it, many incredible things.
Thoughts and questions flooded my mind. Of course I could say, this is not fighting! But that does not answer a real reality before me, I thought to myself this power could definitely help in whatever skills one has.” To dismiss it as not practical or not fighting at all, is missing the point that it is a big ingredient of the whole picture. I remember its always part of my speech repertoire to say that balance through stances is very important… you cannot deliver a powerful strike if you are loosing your balance.” This “Balance and Rooting has to be in place and Big stances are a big part of the equation” Of course I remember what I say. But right before me was just a small stance with great rooting. This was an eye opener to me. Then I thought to myself” why do you think your teacher Doc Fai Wong studied Tai Chi he was a choy Li Fut Kung Fu Master already?
When I finally told Grand Master Doc Fai Wong that I wish he could teach me His Martial Tai Chi he said “You made a good decision”

Grand Masters Doc Fai Wong’s Tai Chi in Action:
When I was in the room of Doc Fai Wong my Wu Tai Chi teacher Francis Onglatco was there. Doc Fai Wong started to teach me a pattern of pushing hands and Sifu Francis said “Wow can you allow me to try out my skills on you” Grand Master Obliged. There is a protocol or rules in pushing hands and that is to first have three circles before you go all out to uproot or push to knock someone out. But in Sifu Francis out he just came in like a flood and for the first time I saw how someone fly on the air in contact. He was flying on the air and landed in the middle of the bed comfortably. And he was so happy! Saying “I was looking for this all my life.” He tried and tried and tried but could not touch Doc Fai Wong. Being a very gracious Sifu of the Wu Style he said to me. “You need to learn his Traditional Yang Style it is very good and Powerful” So when I saw these things there was no turning back. I started my journey to the internal side of Kung Fu. It is still very mysterious to me but an exciting development in my kung fu.

-Sifu Vince

Tai Chi (The Healing Martial Art)

Tai Chi (The Healing Martial Art)

My first view of Tai Chi was on the Healing Aspect, because of my need for it. I felt first hand that if Made the wrong move, wrong posture, it caused pain in my back, looking back now I think the thing that I learned was really posture correction. I was very aware of every move.

Seeing many things because of Tai Chi:

The right time came for Tai Chi, I was willing to try anything to help with my back problem, my Hard Style was helping, but I could not accept my condition and not seek for more relief if there was something there I wanted to try it. I think this condition was a mind opener for me.

Enter Tai Chi:

My first teacher was Sifu Francis Onglatco, he said he was in the Cebu Country Club every morning from 6-8 and I was invited to learn his Tai Chi. The respectable Wu Style.
The benefits I got from this workout is too many too count. I will be mentioning them in the complete book. But here are some,

A Battery Charged:

Being in the early morning sun everyday has a benefit you cannot imagine. I learned vitamin D is needed even just for your body to untilize Calcium. So even if you take calcium with no vitamin d it is nada! The Sun made me feel charged and energized I could not believe it. About 5 to 6th day then the benefits begin to come. I miss it! As I write.

Early Morning Energy Absorption:

Every day the world is renewed, to experience this, to face the east where the sun rises. Will give you energy starting from what you see, what you feel, the posture giving you chi circulation, etc.

Psychological Advantage:

Where our tai chi requires you to face is of great Phychical advantage, Sifu said when face the east where the sun rises you must believe that today is a new day not the same as yesterday. Today luck can come beyond your wildest imagination. When you unite with the universe. Your mind is renewed.

Savor the wonder of the Universe:

When you see the sky it will benefit you beyond measure. Here you will be in awe and a state like that is very positive.
My teacher said you do not need to go to church. Church is already here when you look, loak, admire and give thanks to all you see.

-I disagree to this because I am a Catholic Christian and there is more to the creation when it is the creator himself that comes in you. But that is my belief. My teacher is entitled to his own way of thinking. Let’s respect that!

The slow can see things clearer the fast can just blur it:
My won words to this answer to the slow thing is this, when you do something very slow and you know what you are looking for and what you want to develop you can see it , feel it and work on it better.

Another enlightening point is if you do it hard your bones will have a benefit too but how many repetitions can you make? When do it slow you will have the time required to develop the skill and more repetitions because it does not hurt so you are able to observe yourself and your practice partner to learn from his movements and feel his intentions. The fast and hard has its place the slow and internal has its place.

I particularly am very grateful to Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong for he was able to let me see how you could fuse these arts together and let it compliment each other. He said “ I put in choy Li Fut Jing into Tai Chi!”

Other practitioners would say “ you have to quit and forget one to enter the other “ this I do not agree maybe to set aside for a while to concentrate on what you are learning but all that knowledge is for you to be a better you in martial arts and as a whole. No need to forget it all but fuse it all! Again my own opinion.

Well lets go back to the topic, we were in the benefits I saw and answers began to come up to all the questions in my mind. We all need answers what will make sense to us is what sticks others that do not yet just keep listening to the teacher guiding you and those that did not make sense might make sense down the road.

Back to the Seeing Things: Concrete Example: My Dads reading Chair

My Dad is a Lawyer and Loves to read. He had a chair in the side of the room where he had good lighting and good air ventilation. Our house started getting some floods during the storms and this chairs legs got weakened by that water. Then a slight imbalance I noticed on the chair. My dad started complaining about back pains and leg pains. He loved to take walks and eat healthy so we were wondering where this all was coming from?

Modern Medicines and Doctors:

We brought my Dad to many doctors in the big hospitals and famous doctors. Medicines were prescribed but no healing was obtained. I had my strong suspicion to that misaligned chair. To me if it rocks a little the chairs stability was in question and if you put your weight on a chair like that I am sure it will misalign your back. Body alignment is major in Tai Chi we check if all postures have good body alignment structure. Major! Major! so I could see something wrong here.
I was hot on that chairs imbalance, it was so slight but I had my big doubts. When my Dads Birthday came, I was adamant that our gift should be a new reading chair.
You see when someone tells you to sit properly and there is no bad effect yet there is no need to follow instructions to a K right away. So I guess that’s what my dad felt just a little chair imbalance no major problem. But little things pile up in everything in everything in life.

But here came the new chair, and Voila! All the back pains, leg cramps was gone. He felt like brand new!

To me the thing that Tai Chi is also very big aside from the Martial too, is distress because of some secret training and what your Sifu whispers to you. And the most unassuming enemy, our modernday culprit is Stress.
The Modern Discovery of Stress:

the concept of stress was introduced in the 1930s when a young scientist named Hans Selye was observing his lab rats. As he worked in his laboratory, he was constantly dropping the little creatures, chasing them around the room, and trapping them in the corner. He discovered that his rats kept getting ulcers and hormone imbalances. Borrowing a term from engineering, Dr. Selye coined the idea of stress to describe how the pressures of daily life — the rat race — can make us sick. The best way of combating stress is to take the nearest exit, find a quiet spot, give some time to do the meditation or

Spiritually open the Bible, a holy enlightening book and enjoy fellowship with God in His Word.

By Dr. David Jeremiah

As for my Spiritual Regimen I take the noon Mass to get Spritual Energy.

-Sifu Vince