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Get in Shape With David



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Tai Chi Tuesday: Tai Chi Ball Posture for Self-Defense

Posted on 13 May, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

(This article is part of an ongoing series examining various applications of Ta Chi postures.)

As we go through the Tai Chi form, we see the Ball in many places — in part because it resembles yin and yang: one hand up, one hand down, wrists curved in the shape of the symbol.

It also has martial application, to varying degree. 

The large Tai Chi Ball we are most familiar with is the posture just before we do Part the Horse's Mane. This posture gives great leverage to striking with the shoulder and elbow. The Tai Chi Ball shoulder strike is very effective when you are fighting multiple attackers, if someone grabs you from the side. 

Another (possibly less-known) use for the Tai Chi Ball is defending against a grab from behind. If someone grabs your throat from behind, turn your entire body in a full 180 degrees, making sure your hands are in a Tai Chi Ball. From the direction in which you are turning, use that side arm as your top arm and use your body weight to break the grip — and follow through the motion to trap your opponent's hands. 

This technique works pretty smoothly when performed correctly.

Tai Chi Tuesday: The Paradox of Tai Chi Rooting and Movement

Posted on 6 May, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

People who study tai chi are familiar with the term rooting, or to be in solid contact with the ground.

During a tai chi demonstration, viewers notice right away the fluid ease of movement.


However, this presents a paradox: how can we stay rooted and still remain fluid in our movement?


The answer is this: with each step, along with proper breathing and relaxation, we need to focus our body weight onto the soles of our feet. This gives us rooted, constant, solid contact with the ground — and yet we remain relaxed, and therefore can move with unencumbered freedom to maintain our fluidity.


One concept I try to instill in my students is to stay focused. When practicing chi, if you hesitate anywhere within the form, stop right away. Take as many breaths as needed in order to recompose, then get back in contact with your chi. After a few meditative breaths, you then can continue your practice.


One uncorrected mistake can lead to many more mistakes, lack of relaxation and poor rooting. Catch yourself when you lose your chi, and get yourself back on track.


Tai Chi Tuesday: Learn About Jian and Chi Cultivation

Posted on 29 April, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

Tai Chi may be best known for its healing powers, but it also is a devastating martial art. Just ask Robert Dreeben, the author of a comprehensive article on the Tai Chi sword form for

Titled The Contact-Guard Grip — Strong Support for the Tai Chi Sword, Dreeben's article discusses at length the history, design and proper sword grip of the jian, a double-edge straight sword in use for more than 2,500 years in China.

Most Tai Chi schools offer sword classes, if that is of interest to you. I incorporate sword form in my classes, usually at least once a month. Advanced Tai Chi students who learn sword form learn to extend their chi to the end of the sword, which is an excellent practice for cultivating chi.

Tai Chi is a dynamic martial art, and students will benefit from exploring its intricacies. Find a class near you to learn more about it — and e-mail me if you need assistance in finding a class.

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day April 26 Includes Energy Healing Workshop in Vienna

Posted on 15 April, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

April 26 is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, and a number of events are planned worldwide — including Northern Virginia, where I'll offer an energy healing workshop at Meadow Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Va.


My workshop is part of Peaceable Dragon's Tai Chi and Qigong Day event from 10 am to noon April 26. The event will feature demonstrations, as well as mini classes and lectures on Tai Chi, Qigong and more. I will give two demonstrations on energy healing." target="_blank">Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is located at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, Va. For information, visit the Peaceable Dragon website

You also can feel free to e-mail me. Hope to see you there.

Tai Chi Tuesday: Upcoming Tai Chi Workshops and Events

Posted on 1 April, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

Here are a few interesting upcoming Tai Chi workshops in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Hope to see you there!


Taoist Longevity Breathing with Aaron Green 

Bethesda, MD

Morning and afternoon sessions available, $30 per session

(March 29 - Level 1)

April 19 - Level 2

May 3 - Level 3


World Qi Gong Tai Chi Day at Meadowland Gardens 

April 26, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

Demos and mini-classes; free


Tai Chi Gala

May 30-31 and June 1, Best Western Hotel, Albany, NY

$197 for the entire weekend

Multiple weekend workshops. More than a dozen workshops from which to choose. Something for everyone.


The Science of Elastic Force with Mark Rasmus 

May 31 and June 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Green Acres Center, Fairfax, VA

$250 for both days

Incredible sensitivity training. Learn to rebound an opponent.

Sign up at [email protected]


Advanced Tai Chi Principles with David Cohen 

June 7, noon to 3 p.m., Green Acres Center, Fairfax, VA


First in a series

Chi Cultivation and packing chi into the body. Gain more sensitivity for health, self defense and healing.

Learn to better absorb, feel and emit chi.

E-mail for more information

Tai Chi Tuesday: Applying Tai Chi to Weightlifting

Posted on 25 March, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

if you are thinking about  starting a weight training program, look to Tai Chi for some good lifting practices.

First, always keep your knees soft. Having your knees hyper-extended (in the locked position) with extra weight can stress the knee joint and the connective tissue around it

Next, as the weight moves, try to feel the weight increase in the souls of your feet. This will help to decrease stress across the other joints.

Finally, keep your breathing cyclic. (Ideally, exhale on the lifting motion.) Those of us who get lost in the lift and forget our breathing pattern should remember to make each motion a breath. This will aid in good oxygen circulation and nutrient distribution as you lift.

What are other Tai Chi practices that can successfully be applied to weightlifting?



Tai Chi Tuesday: Play The Lute

Posted on 11 March, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

I have been asked on more than one occasion for the self defense applicatioin of Play the Lute. In the form, it looks liike just a defensive posture.

Truth be told, it's more well-rounded than that.

When performing Play the Lute in form version, the left hand is slightly in front of the right and the left foot is held slightly off the ground. As you perform this skill, remember to stay rooted on the right leg. (More on that later.)

One self-defense application would be to combine this with Part the Horse's Mane. An attacker throws a punch, we neutralize with Part the Horse's Mane, then we slide past our opponent. Our right hand is on or near the right shoulder of our opponent as we slide past. Our left hand is on the back of their collar. Our left foot kicks out one of the knees of our opponent . We give the collar a tug and our would-be assailant hits the ground.

Another application would be to use our left hand against the elbow and our right hand against the wrist of an attacker as s/he throws a punch. At the same time, the left leg kicks out, breaking our attacker's knee

That's one of the beauties of Tai Chi: it doesn't look that devastating in practice, but every movement has a purpose — in most cases, internal and external (but that is another blog for another day).

Mark Rasmus to Be in Fairfax in May

Posted on 23 February, 2014 at 20:45 Comments comments ()

Sifu Mark Rasmus will visit Fairfax again, in May, I am happy to announce

For those not familiar with Sifu Rasmus, he teaches what he calls the Science of Elastic Force. In a nutshell, Science of Elastic Force states that, with proper training and relaxation, you can feel the elastic properties of an opponents structure. (tendons and ligaments) and use that elastic property to to off-balance or bounce your opponenet. In Tai Chi circles, this an expressiion of  fa jin.

Sifu Rasmus has other skills to present as well.

For his full biography, please visit his Web page.

You can also check out some of Mark Rasmus workshops on his YouTube channel. Here is a video from that channel:

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Are you interested in studying with Sifu Rasmus in Fairfax? I have studied with him in the past and learned a lot. Let me know what you think!

Tai Chi Tuesday: The Value of 'Part The Wild Horse's Mane'

Posted on 18 February, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

Part the Wid Horse's Mane is one of the most recognizable Tai Chi postures.

As the body shifts left, the right hand crosses the left wrist, then drops to the right hip. As this happens, the left hand arcs to the left and the torso follows. Ths ending position is called "ward off."

I mention the right palm crossing the left wrist because if you practice the movement in this fashion, it will be consistent every time.

Now, here is why this posture is so practiced.

First, it's a basic skill needed for more advanced self defense study. As we learn about structure in Tai Chi for self defense, we begin by having a partner grab the forward arm (in this case, the left arm). As our partner applies light pressure, we relax, which sends our partner's force into the ground. If we do this correctly, our partners will move as they apply pressure. 

Secondly, it's good for chi devlopement. I If we stand in this posture and practice abdominable breathing, we can get a feel for good rooting and eventually feeling good energy flow between our hands.

Thirdly, Part the Wild Horse's Mane has multiple self-defense applications, including throws, arm-breaks and blocks for punches and kicks.

Keep these points in mind next time you practice.

If you have questions about the self-defense aspects of Tai Chi, contact me

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Planning for Success

Posted on 13 February, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments ()

Healthy eating is an important part of heath and fitness. Help yourself succed by planning for success.

Make your diet a healthy reflex. Create a snack drawer with all of your foods pre-packaged to a single serving size. That way you can grab a package to toss into your gym bag, briefcase, etc. on the go.

By having healthy alternatives on hand, you're less likely to reach for something more nutritious when you need to eat.

Keep plenty of reusable bowls on hand so you're as good to your wallet and the environment as possible. Buy in bulk and spend a few minutes once a week or so measuring and packing, which will save you time and money. 

Tell me: ahat do you have in your snack drawer? What's on the menu for your healthy eating lifestyle?

Image courtesy of The Flavor Network.