Seminars and Classes for May, June, July

Our Academy is happy to announce our late spring, early summer seminars and classes, open to all. They are:

BaguaSemJan2014eBagua Nei Gong (Internal Practice): 4 Week Class

Starts Monday, June 22, 6 – 7 pm (ends July 13)
Taught by Ted Mancuso
Click HERE for more information, and to register.

Click “continue reading” to see MORE seminars Continue reading

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Taiwan Tales 3


Buddhist monk waiting outside clothing shop for a contribution.

  Taiwan is a country on the precipice of its future, politically and culturally. If nothing else this makes for surprise moments. Our 9th floor room has a balcony; rather than waste space, it is overgrown with plants, Daoist rocks and, oh yes, a carp pond stocked with mature koi, big ones. And around the corner, the remainder of the balcony is assigned to a miniature park.


The famous NIght Market; any kind of fish you would want to taste.

The practice tonight was Pigua, a beautiful Long Arm style that generates huge power from a flexible spine. The moves create power by consciously letting go. This is one of SiGong Hsu’s most persistent points, to let go and relax, to start with relaxation not because it’s a nice idea and you need some after a stressful day, but because there is no other way to your truer discoveries of movement. He sees this relaxation concept echoed in many ways.


When someone says “just relax,” it’s the worst.

Sifu had me go through the first Pigua form with all the students. This was definitely a puzzle since I’d never done it. When one of the teachers talked to me, he said he couldn’t believe I had never done the form I realized that Sifu Hsu had made some point through me, as teachers will, about relaxation and the attitude that you know nothing. Difficult cultivation.

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Taiwan Tales 2

TPW2In Taipei you eat at a lot of restaurants. Rather than “fine dining” we often sit down to meals of local, humble and utterly delicious food.

Where Sifu Hsu, also a confirmed foodie, escorts us you would never find otherwise. The food seems simple: small vegetable dishes, stewed meats, light stock soups; a plate of wine-infused cold chicken; slices of rich fatty pork beneath slightly sweet gravy pressed between small white buns; ubiquitous greens enlivened by slivers of quickly sautéed garlic.

TPW4bEach simple dish was infused with the indescribable taste of prolonged human sharing.

 That night at class I practiced two moves for two hours, with Sifu Hsu constantly adding more layers of meaning. After a while, I felt like I was cooking in my own soup.




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Taiwan Tales 1

We’re here, safe and sound. And already working out. For those of you who we’ve made work hard in class you are vindicated. It’s already very warm here!

TP2The first move of Baji Quan about to explode. It wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the fascinating mix that is Taiwan where Japanese, French and Chinese cuisines can be had just by walking down an alley; gingko seeds, tasty eel and stand-up mackerel, all in a block’s radius. Keep practicing, we’re think of you all… warmly.

TP1Here’s Adam Hsu, your SiGong (grandfather instructor) teaching, as brilliant as ever.


Debbie and Ted

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Five Elements Seminar

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 3.34.03 PMClick image above and it will take you to page where video will load. May take a minute!


Here’s a very condensed version of our Five Elements Xing Yi Seminar (6 hours become 3 minutes). Everyone did a great job. Thanks for your participation.

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Learning a Bagua Move

A Bagua Teaching Moment at the Academy thumbnail

Click image above to go to video…

Thanks to Nick and Ikuyo for allowing us to film this lesson.

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Tai Chi Campfire Tales

The art of T’ai Chi is the art of consciousness. The slow, fluid movements of the art gradually blend with the flow of the mind and reveal things often buried in the silent forests of our minds. Most people associate T’ai Chi with the graceful motions of dance-like exercise without knowing the depths of concentration it requires and fosters. Perhaps the following will help illustrate T’ai Chi’s soul. Continue reading

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Tai Chi, A Marriage of Yin and Yang

People know Tai Chi as a slow, gentle and graceful dance. It’s only natural to assume that its famous health benefits arise from its meditative nature. But history tells another story.

It is a story of a marriage made by mutual convenience. And it is a story of a union of parties as different from one another as the Capulets and the Montagues. It’s actually more than a marriage story; it’s a blending of two clans in a union that took centuries to consummate. Continue reading

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Academy T-Shirts!

Tshirt072We’ve moved Heaven, Earth and one large Dragon… and, once again, have Academy T-Shirts!

You can order HERE or just ask at the studio.

Be the envy of your friends and Wear the Dragon!


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Tea Time with Marcus McDonough

For any who has seen Marcus McDonough’s work at the Academy, it will come as no surprise that Senior teacher John Ottenberg recently awarded him the rank of Black Belt in an open ceremony at class.

Marcus is a talented martial artist who  works hard to surpass his natural gifts in order to become an exceptional practitioner. His dedication is evident, not only in his work but also in his concentration and the spirit with which he practices. He is also a generous partner with other students, a qualifying trait for this rank.

Marcus has been involved in martial training since he took Tae Kwon Do lessons as a young person. He has also spent six years training in the Six Animal system. Now at the Academy, he is deeply involved in studying with all the teachers here. Continue reading

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Monday 8:00 PM Class Hiatus

Until the end of April, the Advanced Internal Arts class on Monday night, at 8pm, will be on hiatus. The other advanced Tai Chi and internal arts classes will still meet as usual, so see you there!

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Arts of the Academy

strasnick1Congratulations to Steve Strasnick, longtime Academy student, who recently attended the 22nd Annual Chinese Martial Arts Tournament, on March 15, in Berkeley. Steve won the Internal Style Men’s Division by performing a number of styles, including Taijiquan and Bagua Zhang.

Check our bulletin board in the school vestibule for postings on upcoming tournaments and events. Continue reading

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Sunday Seminar: The 8 Bagua Animals

BaguaSemJan2014eBaguaSemJan2014fLast Sunday was another of the Academy’s open-lesson programs to introduce the Chinese martial arts to a wider audience. This seminar—open to Academy students—was attended by Phil, BaguaSemJan2014dMichael, Cecy, Taylor, Kirk, and also new non-student BaguaSemJan2014gfriends.  Additionally we had the honor of counting Sifu Linda among the Bagua walkers. Travis Rath helped with the teaching efforts and Jean Andrews acted as entertainment and food committee chairwoman. Other participants included some people with extensive Aikido training. In four hours everyone BaguaSemJan2014bsuccessfully learned and practiced eight core movements of the Bagua system; a few people got dizzy, there was a lot of laughter, and Sifu Linda asked very hard questions.

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Black Belt Award

MarcusJan201401No one could have been more surprised than Marcus McDonough, friday night last when, in the middle of the workout class, instructor MarcusJan201411John Ottenberg announced that he was awarding to Marcus the black belt. As John and Sifu Ted Mancuso both expressed, Marcus’s ability to change, reach for new skills, and practice hard with understanding makes him, in instructor Ottenberg’s eyes, black belt material.MarcusJan201415 Continue reading

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Footage: Our Half and Half Seminar

Here’s some video and teachings from our last unique seminar where teachers John Ottenberg and Ted Mancuso show a traditional Praying Mantis form then “deconstruct” it to reveal its fighting essence. A great turnout and a lot of fun…

Making the Martial Arts Whole Again Seminar #1

And if you missed this one in December, be sure to join us in January for the NEW half and half seminar.

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