Monday, 15 December 2014

The Eight Immortal Xmas Gifts for little Sifus

Xmas Customers queuing in the Teapot Dept. Store

It's Xmas time and our thoughts turn naturally to the health and joy of our loved ones. What better way to express this deep connection with our fellow human beings than to spend, spend and spend again. After all, if heaven is to be found on earth, it's to be found in the shopping mall.

And in the valley of the blind, the consumer is King, so the Teapotmonk is opening up his Teapot Xmas Store offering the 8 Immortal Xmas Gifts for the little Sifus in your family.


The Teapotmonk Discount Store: EIGHT IMMORTAL GIFTS!



IMMORTAL SUITS:  NUMBER 1 

NEW JUST IN! The Touch ID Satin Suit
Now iron-free with touch ID buttons


Yes, you heard it right. Just arrived from the Far East today!  This new "self-ironing" Satin Suit is the perfect gift for all creased and worn out Sifus everywhere. Wear the SUIT as many times as you wish: Wear it to the cinema, the supermarket or as many do, just to bed. Wake up, and hey presto its still got its important creases in the all right places.

Made of genuine sustainable, organically grown bamboo leaves from the misty banks of the Wu Dan mountains - these special pajamas (Satin suits) now come with Touch ID buttons so no-one else will slip them on without you knowing.


IMMORTAL INCENSE:  NUMBER 2 

NEW! Wifi Powered Solar Incense Sticks

now wifi enabled 

They never go out! Place a couple respectively under the framed image of your Sifu (maybe beneath the lineage chart - see below) Make sure they are in range of your router, and Switch on!  Immediately you will rejoice at that realistic red Rudolph glow and just watch as a smile appears on Sifu's faded portrait. Now, you can safely go on holiday, close up the Dojo for months at a time and know that your respects will be forever paid. (And, when that martial spirit begins to fade from afar, you can skype in to Sifu directly through the Wifi Powered Solar Incense Sticks!)



THE IMMORTAL CHART:  NUMBER 3 

The Teapotmonk Tai CHi Martial Art Lineage ChartADD YOUR NAME TO THE MARTIAL ARTISTS LINEAGE CHART!


Now you too can prove the authenticity of your SINGLE WHIP with the Teapot Lineage Chart!

Worried when your students ask about Lao Tzu and your Lineage? Anxious that your master never made it into the Martial Arts hall of fame? Fear not new Sifus

With the new Teapotmonk Martial Art Lineage Chart (Add your own name at the bottom) the cloudy dawn of Tai Ch history will become crystal clear with this unique washable - (made from recycled incense sticks) lineage chart to hang at the entrance to your training hall.

RIGHT CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD!



'IMMORTAL MAGNETS':  NUMBER 4 

The Entire Long-Form Fridge Magnets Set

Never Forget the Long Form again with this superbly crafted Yang Lu Chan Fridge magnet set. Every posture depicted in order for you to memorise as you take out the milk each morning or put away butter before the dog gets it.
Find out how to purchase this hand-crafted beautiful set made from the discarded feathers of organically raised pigeons. 

Read more about this and other animal rights in the martial arts here. 


'IMMORTAL CHUCKS':  NUMBER 5 

4G - Wifi Uni-Body Aluminium Nunchaku
Wifi enabled nunchaku from the book One Last thing

At Xmas time its time to give back: Resolve territorial conflicts, depose politically corrupt regimes and bring an end to world recession (Whilst picking up your email) with just a swing or two of the i-Nunchaku.

Find out all the juicy specifications of these new 4G Aluminium Wifi enabled Nunchaku - made in the temple - (Designed in California) 

Find out more and order your set here. 


'IMMORTAL WISDOM': GIFT  NUMBER 6 

Collect The Entire Tao

Yes thats right folks, gather the Tao around you with these 6 Tai Chi Books in either PDF or Epub format: 3 insightful books on Tai Chi wisdom from the mOnk himself AND 3 gorgeous Photo books for a thorough introduction to Tai Chi
Relax over Xmas with this special mOnkish offer! Ideal Stocking filler!  In either PDF or ePub formats - all for the price of one paperback!


Tai CHi Books by paul Read

PDF: Download it now from here or just find out more here.

ePub: Download it now, or find out more here. 

'IMMORTAL AUDIO': GIFT NUMBER 7 

Ways of Learning Audio book by Paul Read

Give your eyes a rest over Xmas and listen to the Ways of Learning Audio Book: Informative, educational and hilarious. Tai Chi and the Martial arts have never been the same since. 

Plug in your headphones, wash up the dishes, take out the dog or try doing both at the same time! Everything is possible with the audio version of Ways of Learning.

Narrated by the mOnk himslef, you can listen to a sample here. Or download the file from here.



'IMMORTAL IMAGES': GIFT  NUMBER 8 


  • How about a new wallpaper for your phone or tablet? 
  • How about a new poster for your Dojo wall?
  • How about something that not only looks great, but make you think too! And its free!





Grab these PLUS MORE Free Posters to send anonymously to your competitors today. Browse the collection here and download all you want! 



Feliz Navidad as we say here in spain. Here's hoping somewhere within, you fnd the resources you need to make 2015 all you wish for. Whether it be practising out of doors , deepening your training or generally just laughing more and worrying less. 

Teapot Tidings to All. 





Friday, 12 December 2014

TIME TO STEP OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE GRASSHOPPER




Listen above, download to your fave device or subscribe for free in iTunes


Sometimes, when walking the dog or shopping for artichokes, strangers come up to me and ask: "Hey Teapot, where is the best place to practice my Tai Chi: "On top of the Wudan mountain, deep inside the Chen village or at my local Shaolin temple?"

I always say: "Oh any of those, and while you're over there, buy yourself a nicely ironed yellow satin suit and maybe a jade tassel to hang from your mobile phone case. Because you're not Talking Tai Chi, you're talking Tai Chi fluff."

It's all well and good developing your tai chi to an enlightened level in the confines and safety of a classroom, but if you can't perform on the street, what value has this walled garden approach to life?

And when I say "perform on the street", I'm not talking about street Shuriken skills. I'm talking about, exposing your wobbly Golden Rooster to the wider world.

Festive Shares

What better way of finishing the year with a festive post about sharing your Tai Chi? You can share it by spreading the word, you can share it by downloading and distributing the poster below, the podcast above, the free Tai Chi Photobook listed at the bottom of this page. You can share it by supporting the Bean Curd Boxer and grab a book below as a presie for a friend - or by Taking Your Tai Chi Out onto the Street. 

Three Reasons to take your Tai Chi Out onto the Street


First Reason: Turn a Hobby into a Way of Life

Firstly, unless you learn how to employ techniques into your daily life, Tai Chi will remain a simple past-time. A bit like collecting bottle tops. In order for Tai Chi to become something more than than a bottle-top collection, you must practice at home, at work and even out on the street. Practicing in parks and public spaces helps to build confidence and to shift your place of attention.

Each year, as May approaches, I haul one local class of mine outside the studio and onto the street. We invade a park, a square or large public space and begin to do a form, sword drills or chi gung.





Initially, every student dreads it, they fear they may be seen by someone they know, Youtube'd without their consent or just ridiculed by passing teenagers. But, learning to let go of these fears is partly what it is all about. 

Practicing outside also marks the beginning of the essential process of internalising your Tai Chi. 

Most of us, don't have a handy Taoist temple on the corner of our street to go and meditate in when we feel a bit stressed out. Most of us live in urban environments that are often noisy, dirty and densely populated. We must learn to work within this environment, rather than hide from it.

So as you do the Form in public, don't worry about how you are being seen and what others are thinking of you. (Though this is quite normal at the start.) No one likes to do things badly or incorrectly, least of all in public, in as it does little to boost your self-confidence. 

But one way of overcoming this self-consciousness is to practice regularly outside. The first time is difficult, the second less so, and the third much easier. Over time, as you get used to people stopping, watching and then moving on, your practice shifts inside again and although you never close down the awareness of what is happening around you, there is an important change in where to place your focus and where to concentrate your energy. 

This is a lesson you cannot learn in the confines of the classroom where the environment is excessively controlled, manipulated and secured from interruptions. Under these conditions it's easy to imagine you are at one with the Tao. 

Now, some of you may be saying, yeah, but what happens when people start pointing, or jeering or throwing asparagus at you as you crouch down into squatting single whip. Well, take it as a compliment that you are not being completely ignored, and that seeing someone perform tai chi in a public space is still considered something quite special.

This brings me onto the second reason to practice outside 



Second Reason: Sharing What You Do


Teapotmonk

Many people actually love watching the slow movements. It makes them feel relaxed too! All that internal and external vibration is going out into the great universe around you, and here in front of your very eyes people are responding to that energy. All those electrons are changing as you perform, observed they change shape and connect to others. This is the hidden soft power of practising outside.

But not just humans. How do the birds respond? Do cats come out to watch or sleek away in fear? Do dogs bark incessantly or follow you around as you slide from one fair lady to another? 

I remember once doing the  Form in the middle of a field in Southern England, and gradually all the cows at the other end started to drift toward me. By the time I had finished, I was completely encircled by a group of grass munching herbivores. All with their eyes fixed on me, all munching away with, what I assumed to be, great interest.

Of course you may be one of those that don't notice these things and close your eyes when doing in the form and travel off to other dimensionswhich brings me to reason number 3.

Third Reason: Adaptation


There are some people that practice martial arts and at the same time live in other galaxies. They hover their way into the class, lighting incense as they enter, wearing their shiny ironed satin suits, their dry cleaned Chinese slippers, quoting Lao Tzu, and tossing their yarrow sticks onto the ground to help them decide which direction to face before signing the register.

If this rings a bell, then you need to Practie outside, because you can't indulge in this nonsense. You can't control your environment. You must adapt to it, you must test the flexibility of your teachings.


Where to Practice Tai Chi


So where should you go? That's down to you and the place you live in, but bear in mind that playing Tai Chi in the middle of a roundabout at a busy motorway junction may not conducive to good practice, air quality or safe and distraction free driving.

Try going out in the rain, or after it has stopped raining, during a mist or after a recent snowfall. Each condition has its own qualities and can only be discovered once you leave the confines of your centrally heated or air conditioned  bedroom.




4 XMAS GOODIES -  Four Ideal Stocking fillers for the festive season.

Looking for something to get that budding Ninja in the family for Xmas? Look no more...


1: Free Tai Chi Art Book 

A beautiful FREE photo book on exploring Tai Chi as an art form. Get it Free in iBooks searching for Art in Tai Chi or as a PDF here


2: The Manual of Bean Curd Boxing


Discover techniques for taking your tai chi out into the street in the chapters on Standing like a flamingo, Driving like a tortoise, Walking like a cat, or yodelling like Tarzan. Grab the ebook or paperback here. 


3: Ways of Learning Paperback

It's been a while coming, but the paperback book is now available on Amazon or here in paperback. Sabotage a Martial Artist today and order him/her a copy.


4: Poster Grab the "Contented Man" Poster featured in this weeks post from the link below or from my Pinterest Tai Chi Board

Yup, the Contented Man Poster is downloadable to your mobile device as the perfect Yuletide gift. Get it, and many other posters for free here.








Thursday, 4 December 2014

Day of the Ninja: A Force from Below


What is "Day of the Ninja"?


The Classic Ninja T-shirt from BoyMeVoy in Tarragona

Recently, I received an invite to join "Way of the Ninja 2014". As someone who owned a ninja t-shirt, I thought I'd take a look. The site was nice and black and looked like a ninja site should. I was attracted to the idea of a Ninja Day, as I believed it was about collectively ascending or descending pagoda rooftops, but as it turned out, the idea of the site is to gather together a collective ideology around ninjas - drag them into the 21st century if you will - and in the process encourage modern day ninjas to commit to change, experimentation and progress.
It all sounded good to me.


Co-incidentally, teaching this week's class involved explaining the force behind rooting and pushing in Tai Chi. As always, I spoke about the force coming from below, not from above (in my usual bad Spanish) and explained that we had to let go of the idea that our response (answers) should come from above, and instead from the rooted strength below.

So, what's that to do with ninjas and shoes with toes?

As you may know, I live in Spain, and right now a social movement is underway that threatens to sweep away a lot of old ideas about organisation and power that emanates from above. (Hierarchical power and political groupings). This new movement has emerged from all the ground-based social protest movements of the last 5 years. It is attempting to seek validity and authority by constantly asking for approval from "below". In other organisations, the top layers are fundamental. Without them the structure collapses. But now, they are less important, for as leaves fall from the tree, the trunk and roots remain intact. 

So I was thinking about all of this when I was looking to see what commitment I would make to Day of the Ninja 2014. Well, I thought, I'll gather together a few relevant articles about "Power from Below" (see list at the end of this article), and make a commitment to myself for the next 12 months.



Thus, my commitment to the year ahead (drum roll please...)

My commitment is that I will - as far as I can reasonably do in a country where I am not nationalised citizen - attempt to publicise the ideas of change from below, strength from deep roots and a willingness to allow leaves to fall each autumn (outside the strict confines of the martial arts). Combining the strength of our root with the vocabulary and training ideas of yielding to overcome, listening through quietness and a soft philosophy, I shall endeavour to incorporate these ideas beyond the ropes of the fighting ring, beyond the portals of the dojo and beyond the incense burning altars of tradition.

Sadly for the Day of the Ninja, I won't be Running across a Pagoda roof, wearing a ninja uniform or donning shoes with toes, but don't get disheartened. The campaign will not rise or fall on my choice of footwear. Have a look at the site here and read the posts below for an overview of how to apply ideas outside the Dojo and onto the streets of your community.
Oh, and watch out for news about Spain over the next 12 months, it could be interesting. 

More Dark Reading: 4 Essential Articles to Modern Day Ninjas

1: Alan Watts Poster and Article on Power From Below
2:  Ninjas and Bean Curd Boxers
3:  The Power Of Listening to the Question. (Podemos in Spain)
4:  Why the Youth can Show us the way forward. (A force from Below)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Art in Tai Chi: New Free eBook

Where is the Art in Tai Chi? 


It's an interesting question, for there are those that advocate that the only art in Tai Chi is found in the martial, without which, you are left with only non-sense. Others point out that perhaps this non-sense is in fact the essence.

To confuse matters even more, some argue that the art in Tai Chi is really only found in the harmony of its philosophy, the wearing of shiny clothing normally found in asian countries, or bouncing students off walls on Youtube videos.

As Heisenberg said, these things vary depending on who you are and where you look. Even then, the act of looking will change them further.

With Heisenburg in mind, the Bean Curd Boxer thus offers:

FREE TAI CHI EBOOK: 

THE ART IN TAI CHI 


Composed of stunning full page photography, quotes, links to videos and text guaranteed to make your Chinese slippers curl as you put them to bed at night.

Yes, it's free. Well, for the next week anyway. And it's rather exciting for it's the first book I've created in iBooks Author. But whoa! Hang on, this doesn't mean that all of you without an i-device can't read it, no, no no!

Because it's also available as a delicious, tasty takeaway PDF too from here.  Enjoy, share and let me know what you think.

Grab the free book for the iPad, iPhone or Mac from iBooks on your device or from here.

Grab the free lickable PDF from here. 



Saturday, 22 November 2014

Prohibition or Prevention? Snow Clearing and Tai Chi

Applied Tai Chi in a Real World

We talk a lot in the martial arts (some may say too much) about how to apply the skills we learn in the classroom. Rarely, however, do we open the conversation outside the field of combat.


Avoidable deaths during Snow Clearing


This week, reports on extensive snowfalls in the USA were reported by the BBC (Spanish version link)  In the report, warnings were given again and again about the health dangers of clearing snow in the over 55 age group. Doctors warned that over a 100 people a year die in the USA whilst clearing snow.

They stated that snow clearing is:



  1. An upper body arm activity
  2. That the arteries are greatly restricted due to the cold
  3. That people hold their breath when exerting themselves.

Once again, the warning goes out to not engage in the activity if over 55 years of age.


Is it just me or is this well-intentioned but simplistic advice, misleading and unhelpful?

Tai Chi And the Art of Snow Clearance

In Tai Chi we learn from the very first class that there is no activity that does not engage the whole body. All arm effort must be rooted in the waist and legs and not in the arms by themselves.

We learn that the movement of breath is crucial in all activity and that to hold one's breath is contrary to good health and to be avoided at all costs.

And we learn the art of minimal productivity. Do less, not more. Push don't lift, and take small steps rather than grand leaps.

So why is medical advice going out on a major news channel that does nothing to empower, engage or usefully advise?

Prohibition or Prevention?


Why isn't the advice going out that excess exertion is contrary to our health and that just because the arms are involved in a movement does not mean that the source of energy and strength is found there.

Anyone who has ever had to dig the earth would tell you that there are simple rules to follow. Even any superficial web search will tell you these. It's all in the waist, the legs, and the back. Not the arms. It's posture not posturing. 

Tai Chi can teach us a lot. The basic fundamental ideas about energy use, posture, and effort are there in all our daily activities from breathing to thinking and to moving in all activities. 

So, as participants in the art of doing less, how do we want to teach APPLIED TAI CHI? Forget the fa-jin acrobatics, instead teach people to apply their skills to everyday life. There are a least a 100 people a year that will be most grateful. 

How we Apply Tai Chi outside the classroom is the subject of The Manual of Bean Curd Boxing. Find out more here. 



Saturday, 15 November 2014

The art of fighting without fighting: What benefits are there to a lifelong study of the arts?

A Martial Arts Cafe Conversation:

"What is it about the martial arts that attracts such weirdos?" 
"What makes you think we are all weirdos?" I replied. 
"Look at you. The way you walk, the way you look at people, the way you use your body, your posture even your hands. Everything is contrived."
"Perhaps it just looks that way to you."
"You see? You even speak in cliches."
"What do you mean?"
"Your words, like your moves are predictable, moulded by calloused  ideas and training practices. Such a soulful warrior you make..."

And so the conversation continued...

Years later I now look back on that first discussion - perhaps obsession would be a more appropriate description - and wonder how anyone can justify a half century pursing a single "path".


So why does anyone learn a martial art?  


Many do so from an Interest in oriental philosophy, many others, in search of self confidence, a more defined presence, or because it can offer (to the globally confused) a simplified world view where everything is either black or white:  East or West, Right or Wrong, Succumb or be Overwhelmed, Yin or Yang. 

Some even strolled in through the Dojo doors, talking of fighting, fitness, discipline, spirituality, or - and I swear this is true - because they liked the idea of wearing a neatly ironed starched white uniform. 

I suppose we all reminisce now and then as to the whys and wherefores of our origins. Some may look fondly back to that series of Kwai Chang Caine, others go further to that bull-slayer himself - Mas Oyama. For many, I am sure, it would have been that classic coliseum fight between East and West, oriental and occidental, form over freedom. Hairy over smooth chested opponents!

Popular Culture

But it wasn't just about the attractions of the East. Back in the early 70's the United Kingdom was - culturally speaking - something of a desert. The consumerist culture had been launched, and launched successfully. Little remained on the streets of Inner London, than the discarded, broken shells of previous lives. 

To find meaning in this otherwise meaningless moment, we all searched further afield for inspiration. Most people settled for the haircuts and the songs of ABBA. Some of us, however, stumbled on and into the local dojo.

For the next decade or two I'd keep searching, flirting between styles of karate, taekwondo, fencing, judo...ending up during the mid 80's training in Way Lin - in East London. You may just spot me in the video below - I'm the small one, doing his best at dodging the Instructor's* flying fists.




The Internal Arts

It would, however, be my last savoury taste of a "pure" martial art. After a few unexpected events I embarked on the slippery slope of the Internal Arts, beginning with Aikido and concluding with Tai Chi. 

These were Arts that taught me another definition of strength: that it lay not in speed nor reflexes, but in vulnerability and concession. Such an apparent contradiction proved seductive, and consistent with the history, depth of philosophy, traditions and practices spoken of in such classics as the Tao Te Ching. Ok, maybe the odd roundhouse kick appealed too, as did the Chinese slippers and an occasional fling of an i-nunchaku.

Evolve Or Stagnate

Alternatively, some practitioners interpreted their newly acquired skills to foster an even greater sense of self-preservation and survival. Survival through strength and force. Calloused knuckles and grimaces that exiled the inner qualities of Vulnerability and Yielding - and in their place established a stagnant hierarchy - as inflexible as those damn starched uniforms.

The Inner arts however, called out in another voice against the banality of western consumerist culture. They still do.

No art must remain invulnerable to evolution! No art deserves to be fossilised, to be placed on a pedestal, worshipped with deference in the light of burning incense. No, even the martial arts must adhere to the timeless rules of the Tao: 

Everything evolves, everything has its time, everything must die.


Back at the Outdoor cafe

"Then what have you learnt these last 4 decades pray tell?"
"Value."
"What value?"
"Exactly. What value indeed. A word that appears without meaning in this fleeting breath of life. In in a world in which every reference to value has been dug up, removed, hijacked, camouflaged or left to decompose..."
"Meaning?"
"That we now need, more than at any previous time, to recognise that when we condemn another, in truth we condemn ourselves. When we "win" through attack or invasion, in truth we have already lost the war."
"That's it?"
"Doesn't sound much I know. But it's a conclusion that reverberates through all time: That the real art of fighting is found, without fighting". 


This article was originally written as an introduction to the historical novel One Last Thing: Featuring the words and actions of Bruce Lee, Mas Oyama, Kwai Chang Caine, Cheng Man Ching, Rocky, Carl Jung, Marshall McLuhan, Seth Godin, Lao Tsu, Dr. Who and a plethora of characters from the popular history of the martial arts. Find out more about the book here. and the free Images Book accompanying ePub

*R.I.P Ruben Joseph: Of the Way Lin School



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