Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (II): fix your posture, calm your mind, and adjust your San Jiao

Written by Gioia Zhang

 

Qigong is one part of Chinese culture; Health Qigong is a traditional national sport that regulates one’s mind, body movements, and breathing. The Eight Silken movements are the most popular form of Health Qigong.

Based largely on posture, there are Eight SilkenMovements which fall into two distinct categories – standing and sitting. The standing style involves being widely spread, which supposedly originated during the Qing Guangxu period. It can summarized in the following short verse:

  1. Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao1 双手托天理三焦
  2. Stretch out on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow 左右开弓似射雕
  3. Lift up your arms to heal your spleen and stomach 调理脾胃须单举
  4. Stretchbackwards for physical weakness and sickness 五劳七伤向后瞧
  5. Move your head and legs to reduce heart fire (a special term used in Chinese medicine) 摇头摆尾去心火
  6. Stand on your toes and stretch seven times to get rid of an illness 背后七颠百病消
  7. Clench your fists and open your eyes wide in order to boost your Qi 攥拳怒目增气力
  8. Reach down and touch your feet to stabilize your waist  两手攀足固肾腰

 

The Eight SilkenMovements appear at first to be a simple set of eight movements, but you have to pay attention to every detail to gain the benefits of this type of health Qigong. So let’s start with the warm-up!

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The warm-up can be divided into the following detailed steps:

  1. Stand upright, relax your arms and look straight in front of you.
  2. Step to the left with your left foot so that your feet are shoulder width apart; rotate your arms inwards and then raise them so they are straight in front of you in line with your hips; your palms should be facing down and away from your body.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and rotate your elbows and the back of your arm outwards; hold your arms in front your stomach; palms facing towards you, keep 10-centimeters distance between the fingertips of both hands, your eyes should look straight ahead.

Tips:  lift up your head, pull in your chin, touch your palate with the tip of your tongue, slightly close your lips, sink your shoulders, leave more space underneath your armpits, relax your chest and stomach, drop your tailbone and straighten your upper body.


Please be aware of the following mistakes:

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  •  When you hold your arms in front of your stomach, your thumbs should point upwards; and the rest of your fingers should point to the ground.

 

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  • Do not lean your upper body forwards or tuck your tailbone in.

 

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  •  Your upper body leans forwards, and your tailbone should not tug in.

 

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  • Your feet should not be parallel.

 

This warm-up helps you to relax, regulate your breathing, sink your stomach, and straighten your body. It prepares you mentally and physically for the following exercises.

 

Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao

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“Hold up your hands and adjust your three Jiao” is the first section of the Eight Silken  Movements. The three Jiao refer to the upper, middle and lower Jiao.  The Upper Jiao refers to the body part above the thoracic diaphragm which includes the lungs and the heart;the Middle Jiao refers to the area that lies below the thoracic diaphragm and above the belly button, including the spleen and the stomach; The Lower Jiao refers to the area found below the belly button including the liver, kidneys, intestines and bladder.

Cross your arms in front of your lower body and lift them upwards so they are crossed in front of your upper body keep extending your arms to relax the three Jiao and your internal systems which will help to harmonize your Qi and blood.It accelerates the metabolic rates of your organs and prevents them from sinking. Through stretching, your body and joints will increase inflexibility and shoulder pain and cervical spondylosis will be prevented.

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The first movement can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Move your hands downwards in front of your body with your palms facing upwards. Look straight ahead.
  2. Straighten your knees, raise your hands to chest-level, raise your arms over your head while keeping your palms facing upwards, lift your head and look towards your palms.
  3. Raise your palms until your arms are straight, tuck in your chin, look straight ahead, hold this position.
  4. Bend your knees slightly, lower your arms, hold your hands in front of your stomach with your palms facing upwards
  • One repetition includes one complete movement upwards and downwards. Repeat the complete movement 6 times.

Tips:  While you raise your arms upwards, you have to stretch your body and pause for a short period. When lowering your arms, relax your waist and drop your hips. When sinking your shoulders, relax your wrists and fingers and straighten your body.


Please be aware of the following mistakes:

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  • When you look towards your palms, do not just lift your head.

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  • Do not relax your arms when you raise them

This movement is similar to stretching in general, so when you take a break from work, you can stand up and complete this exercise in a short space of time.

In the next blog, I will introduce you to the second and third stages of the Eight Silken Movements – “Stretch out on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow” and “Life up your arms to heal your spleen and stomach.” For all health lovers, please follow my blog posts for more information.

 

[1]The Upper Jiao refers to the body part above the thoracic diaphragm which includes the lungs and the heart;the Middle Jiao refers to the area that lies below the thoracic diaphragm and above the belly button, including the spleen and the stomach; The Lower Jiao refers to the area found below the belly button including the liver, kidneys, intestines and bladder.

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

 

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Internal vs. External Martial Arts

When talking about Chinese martial arts, there are many ways of categorizing them, and calling them internal or external is just another way to do so. One might, for example, ask if a martial art is from the north or the south, from the Wudang or the Shaolin temples, Buddhist or Daoist, for real fight or for competitive sport. Categorizations, most of the time, are but a shallow casing we try to use, to store our knowledge. They might be helpful, but never perfect. And yet, let’s throw some light onto the meaning of internal and external martial arts.

All Chinese martial arts are a practice of accumulating skill. When mastered, those skills are deadly weapons used for self-defense or to kill on battlefields. In turn, when witnessing a true master of martial arts, no one can tell if what he does is internal or external. That is because any truly mastered martial art has the perfect balance of inner and outer.

The categorization of internal and external is as such actually a differentiation of how one specific martial art is learned. We either start from the inside and work towards the outside or the other way around. We either take a seed and nourish it to grow strong, or we take a barren of steel and hammer it to perfection. The result in both cases is strong, flexible, adaptable and precious.

Differentiating Internal and External Approaches

Starting out, internal as a term refers to that which is on the inside, such as our Qi, spirit, and mind. External refers to physical aspects such as body, muscles, tendons, and bones. An external martial art as such believes in raising speed, physical strength and reflexes first. First, you will reach the limits of your body and then you will look to the inside, to understand how to surpass those physical limits. It believes that you first need to do the correct movement with your body, and then slowly understand the internal process behind it, such as how Qi can lead the movements of the body. In the external approach, you might even force your breath to match your movements until eventually they naturally match up.

External fighting: young people, strong bodies and absolute reliance on techniques and strength.

An internal martial art, on the other hand, will rarely spend any time purposely strengthening your muscles or forcing your breath. While aware that our body at first has many limitations, the goals of practice are such as first finding relaxation. Only having achieved initial relaxation you move on to try and maintain relaxation in physically more challenging situations. In its most extreme form, an internal martial art will ask you to never move more than that, which you are able to back up internally. They say that intention leads the Qi and Qi leads the body. Meaning, what you actively put to use is your intention, not muscle. If you cannot, then relax better. Perfect relaxation eventually yields a quality that is often called steel wrapped in cotton, because while the touch of your body might be gentle and soft, upon closer inspections there is something deeply rooted, heavy and strong seated underneath it.

 

Internal arts: age doesn’t matter, physique might appear weak, reliance on perfect understanding of oneself and the opponent.

 

Which Is Right for Me?

In the end, both approaches can yield a similar level of skill. Furthermore, almost every martial art combines internal and external approaches even throughout the learning process. And yet, if forced to answer the question which approach is better, there is a tendency to pick internal martial arts. One reason is simply that internal martial arts are less straining for your body. While an external martial art might strain you to the point of ruining your body. The selectivity of external martial arts ruins many talents before they can come to flourish. Either way, you need an immeasurable amount of dedication to master any martial art. If you have the dedication, you might as well pick the way where your body is more likely to last through until the end.

Leave a comment to discuss this topic with me and check out this post on Quora, if you want to read further into it.


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The 5 Elements in “The Art of War”, Knowing Yourself and the Enemy

By Joshua Neuhaus

Sunzi is a scholar and a military commander of the warring states period in China. That puts him into the same period of scholarship that also Confucius and Laozi are said to have participated in. In “The Art of War” he compiled strategies that cover in considerable detail how to be victories on any battlefield. The format he follows in doing so is to bring up a problem and then offer a method for solution. He teaches which criteria you need to analyze and how to evaluate the input you gain. Furthermore, he covers the qualities a good leader needs and many psychological components, such as how to make your troops follow your command or how to make your opponent pull back.

“Who knows himself and the enemy, does not need to fear the outcome of a hundred battles. Who knows only himself, but not the enemy will win as many times as he fails. Who knows neither himself nor the enemy, will lose without exception.” Sunzi

To know yourself or the enemy cannot be achieved without developing a holistic view. The social and emotional climate of your troops and your people might change any time. A change in this climate might, for example, be caused when the ground you are acting on is lacking in providing foods or shelter for your people. If your people are starving anger might arise in their midst. Keeping in mind that you will want the climate to be peaceful and productive and supportive of your own goals you will need to set your mission accordingly. When you know what your mission is, then you can understand what kind of commander is suited for it. The command needs to be able to establish authority and lead your troops, it needs to understand which moves are necessary to accomplish the mission. This means that the command is in charge of designing methods. The quality of your methods and the assertiveness shown in applying them will decide over loss and victory of ground resources. And that is where one complete circle is drawn, as now you might have new ground to life off, which offers foods for your previously starving people. Success has come, your people now are not angry due to starvation anymore. On the other hand, your territory might be too great and your police forces too small to keep up with suppressing criminal activity. That is when your climate will make another change and you will have your next mission.

This flow of climate -> mission -> command -> method -> ground is one possible interpretation of the 5 elements model. While Sunzi does not emphasize this terminology himself, his book does indeed apply the idea just as the above-described way. To be precise the above is not just any 5 Elements (wu xing 五行) model, it is the 5 Elements in its flow of creation and nourishment (sheng). Originally it would read as earth condenses to create metal. Metal dissolves to nourish water. Water is absorbed to nourish wood. Wood burns to strengthen fire. That which is burned by fire returns to the earth.

In the application of “The Art of War” to the 5 elements, one might go further to reverse the flow. The reversal of the above flow (Sheng -> Cheng) is called flow of information, it follows the idea, that if you know if you know the opponent’s mission, then you know the needs of his people. If you know the troubles their climate has, then you know which resources their people are lacking. This flow emphasizes the need of concealing yourself from your enemies because if you don’t, they can easily learn all about you and anticipate your moves.

The 5 Elements interpretation of “The Art of War” can help you to understand yourself and your enemy. You could try to find a few parallels in your own martial arts system. Or even go as far as to apply this method to your business or personal life. While the original texts might have been about war, it’s application is universal. It is a study in its own right.

Your ideas and thoughts are always appreciated, please share them!


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

The Eight Silken Movements – An Ancient Guide

Written by Gioia Zhang

 


Around two years ago, probably due to how unlucky my animal year is (just kidding haha) 1, the state of my mental and physical health started to go downhill. I therefore started paying more attention to self-care and gradually developed a great interest in traditional Chinese medicine. Every time I go to my doctor for further advice, she always mentions the Eight Silken Movements, which are easy for both the elderly and children. They have slowly become part of my morning routine and are now the first thing I do after waking up. I would now like to introduce the sequence to you. I hope that more people can benefit from these movements! 


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The Eight Silken Movements or the Eight-Section Brocade, like the Five Animal exercises and Taichi Chuan, is a popular kind of physical exercise in China. It has a long history and is widely known throughout China. The first records of the movements date back to the Northern Song dynasty and are now more than 800 years old.  A “Jin” (Brocade) (锦jin3) is a high-quality silk product which is woven using multi-colored silk. For the ancient people, brocades represented the colors of the rainbow, beauty and elegance. These symbolic meanings perfectly embody the characteristics of the set of movements which contains delicate arrangements, smooth motions, help to prevent illness and strengthen the body.

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Compared with other types of exercise, the Eight Silken Movements have the following advantages:

  • As a callisthenic exercise, you do not need any equipment or have to be in any specific location in order to do the workout.
  • Efficiency; the entire sequence of movements lasts about 10 minutes and is only practiced once every morning and night.
  • Flexibility; it consists of 8 sections which are easy to learn. You can choose one or multiple sections for each workout according to your personal needs
  • The postures help to improve flexibility and are simple, making them suitable for people of all ages.

Full-body workout; the movements in combination with the regulated breathing exercises take care of the body, both inside and out.

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The Eight Silken Movements provide a full-body workout for both muscles and bones. The movements stretch the muscles and increase your internal strength, namely increasing flexibility and suppleness.

What is internal strength? It is a kind of force that can be easily directed and controlled. It is stored within and does not manifest itself externally. Internal strength is holistic, flows through the body, and is found throughout the body in equal measures, as is fully described by the saying, “iron covered by cotton, hardness hidden in softness”. There is a fundamental difference between internal strength and physical strength. Physical strength comes from our muscles and is gained through the kinds of exercises you would normally do while working out at the gym.  This kind of muscular strength easily deteriorates once you reach the age of 60. But if you have strong bones and muscles, you can live well into your 80s or 90s and still have an outstanding physique and good posture.

One’s temperament decides the quality of one’s internal strength.  Having a good temperament leads to the development of an easy-going, generous, joyful and peaceful internal force. Exercising internal strength requires us to put muscular force to the back of our minds, clear our minds of all distractions and to concentrate on our inner-most feelings. Long-term benefits of practicing the Eight Silken Movements include improving your skin, building your ligament strength, and increasing joint flexibility. Over time, the entire body becomes supple, and Qi cleanses the mind, body and soul.

Excluding the aforementioned advantages, the Eight Silken Movements also improve the nervous system and circulation, as well as your immune system.  During the exercise the internal organs are gently massaged which can help to improve vascular congestion and reduce blood pressure. The Eight Silken Movements rely on deep breathing, which can slow down your heart rate and improve blood circulation. In the long run, it can help to reduce cardiac output and increase lung capacity.

In the next few blog posts, I will introduce to you some practice tips for each movement, but you can also get a better understanding of the sequence of movements from the following video:

Usually, one is supposed to have much luck in his animal year, but the opposite is sometimes true. Animal year refers to the recurrent year of one’s animal sign in the twelve-year cycle.

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Hmong in America: Keeping in Touch with Old Roots

Written by John Murphy

 

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Have you heard of the Hmong people? The Hmong are one of the ethnic groups referred to as the Miao in China- the name is sometimes interchangeable. Did you know that there are actually a large group of Hmong people living in America? Many of the Hmong in America were initially resettled after the Vietnam War, fleeing as refugees from a homeland that had been rendered unsafe. Initially, in 1975, only around 3500 Hmong people were granted asylum in the United States, but by 1980 there were 30,000 Hmong people living in the United States. The number of Hmong refugees in America slowed for a bit during the early 1980s but increased again between 1987 and 1994– at this time 56,000 Hmong refugees were accepted into the United States. As of 2018, the Hmong population in the United States is around 281,000. In comparison, there are around 9.4 million Hmong people living in China (China is the country with the largest Hmong population in the world). Needless to say, the Hmong population in America is small, but they are still a very significant ethnic minority in the United States, and they represent a unique and fascinating culture.

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Initially, Hmong refugees in the United States were dispersed throughout the country by various organizations and often placed in poorer neighborhoods, which at the time consisted of primarily African American residents. Over time, however, the Hmong people generally moved together and consolidated so they could be around other Hmong people. Nowadays, the highest concentration of Hmong people in America is in the states of California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  St. Paul, Minnesota is interesting in that it has the most Hmong people per capita in the United States (roughly 10% of St. Paul is made up of Hmong people). Why is this? The cost of living in St. Paul is much lower than some other parts of the country, and jobs (such as factory jobs) were more readily available. So, living in St. Paul allowed Hmong families, who were disadvantaged in a capitalist society, to afford the necessities for a successful life.

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Hmong Americans at the University of Wisconsin

 

Hmong Americans have historically faced many challenges. However, the new generation of Hmong Americans is educated and displaying a large amount of social mobility. One struggle for Hmong Americans is the question keeping in touch with their traditional culture. Many young Hmong Americans feel like they need to identify with American culture in order to fit in, and that a lot of traditional ideas are incompatible with modern society. However, while many young Hmong Americans feel it is necessary to reform some of their traditional ideals (e.g. more rights for women and no teenage brides,) they still keep in touch with their old culture by celebrating holidays and dressing up in traditional garb. While there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate poverty Hmong American communities, ultimately, the story of the Hmong in America is an uplifting and inspiring one and truly representative of the famous ideal of the ‘American Dream’!

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Miao Baby Customs: Childbirth and Child-rearing

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Written by John Murphy

Are you familiar with the culture of the Miao people? In the West, you may have heard of the Hmong people; the Hmong have the same roots as the Miao. Today I want to share with you the beliefs and customs the Miao people have toward regarding child-rearing and pregnancy. Long before a newborn baby leaves the mother’s womb, Miao parents consider many things about a newborn baby’s future. It is customary for Miao people not to widely discuss a pregnancy with others, fearing that if word gets out the baby is at risk to be harmed by evil spirits. So, it is common for an expecting Miao mother not to make any announcement until it is physically apparent that she is pregnant. During childbirth, mothers and mothers-in-law help out, while the father helps cut the umbilical cord and washes the newborn. Just like in the West, having a baby is a big event in a family’s life and requires participation from many members of the family.

Another belief prevalent among the Miao people, is that a child must be born on a “right” day in order to have an auspicious future. For the Miao, this means girls being born on even days (e.g. 2, 4), and boys being born on odd days (e.g. 1, 3). The Miao calendar follows a lunar cycle and begins with an odd day until 29 or 30 days, when it resets. The Miao people aren’t the only ones to follow the lunar calendar– in fact, all ethnic minorities in China celebrate their traditional holidays in accordance to the lunar calendar.

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But after a child is born, what is his or her future growing up in Miao society? Well, traditionally, the Miao people follow gender roles, where the man is expected to provide the material and spiritual needs for his family, and the woman is expected to raise the kids and maintain the household. Parents often hope for a male child because a son is able to continue the family line and provide sacrifices to ancestors, as well as take care of his aging parents. For spiritual reasons, Miao custom dictates parents are not allowed to live with a grown-up daughter and son-in-law, and so parents fear they will lack a sanctuary to reside in at old age if they do not have a son. This is why if a Miao woman’s first child is a male, it is said she has brought her family good fortune. Of course, times are changing, and we do not know what the future will look like in Miao society. It may seem like some of these traditional beliefs are limiting, but it is important to acknowledge the role of tradition in fleshing out culture. And it is clear that the culture of the Miao people is very fascinating. If this interests you, you can check out more information about the Miao people on the Interact China website, or in other posts on this blog!

 

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About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

Yamada Mumon Roshi – Finding the Self

By Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Yamada Mumon during his time was a monk of Mahayana Buddhism. In a collection of his words, Zen and meditation are explained in an easily comprehensible way that resonates with the broader masses of people. “Yamada Mumon Roshi’s Words” gives us insights into the role that Zazen (Engl.: sitting Zen meditation) plays in everyday life. It also emphasizes the hope that Zazen will not only be practiced for the benefit of oneself but also would come to benefit everyone. Lastly, his words even give detailed instructions on how to practice Zazen.

This article focuses on the meaning of Zazen and how Zen can help us to learn more about ourselves.

Yamada Mumon

Zazen and the Role It Plays

Yamada wants to clarify that Zazen first and foremost describes a certain mentality, and actually, body posture has less significance. Yamada explains the mentality of Zazen humorously, telling an anecdote from the Second World War. It is said that there was a line of people and more continued queuing up, as everyone expected to find something interesting with so many people gathered there. It turns out, at the end of the line there was a stranger’s funeral waiting for them. This anecdote is intended to convey the need for investigating our own self. We should avoid following a way just because others before ourselves took it. How to find and walk your own way, that is the question Zazen starts with.

Answering this question is not about conceptualizing or taking a scientific approach. On the contrary, it is about surrendering instinct, habit, and intellectual judgment. The “real self […] sees, listens, laughs and cries”: emotions come without thinking. Meditation can give rise to an inner clarity in which the real self can be perceived.

Mentality and Physical Posture

As mentioned, mentality takes precedence over physical aspects of meditation. Provided we have the right mental practice, we can, in fact, do Zen-Meditation regardless of whether we’re sitting, lying, standing or walking. That said, a beginner’s preference should be to do sitting meditation. Out of the four postures sitting is the calmest, yielding an inner calm as well.

Yamada Mumon instructs us to find both physical and mental calmness. Just like clouds in water will only go away when one stops stirring, the real self can only become visible through practicing tranquility.

As for how to enter the right mentality, we are instructed to cut all ties with the world surrounding us. We must separate ourselves from our sensual impressions. The Chinese monk Hui-Neng said, “not to move from seeing self-nature inwardly is called Zen.” By detaching oneself from the outer world, one can find tranquility.

Lastly, Yamada remarks that one should not be tempted to believe a dark surrounding could ease the difficulty of practice. Rather, a dark environment can cause illusions, daydreams, and might also lead you to fall asleep unintendedly. So, we should keep our eyes slightly open and stay in a well-lit place.

How to Find the Self?

Yamada’s instructions on meditation go into deep detail describing the correct lotus posture and how to ease the breath and heartbeat, among other things. However, the core principle remains tranquility yields transcendence. Yamada’s advice to beginners simply is: pick a bright and calm environment and sit down in the lotus posture. Do this as often and committedly as possible and the inner fog clouding our view from our inner self will slowly clear. This practice might even become an inspiration for others, teaching them to stop getting in lines that we don’t really belong in.

Source: http://onedropzen.org/uploads/Yamada_Mumon_Roshi.pdf


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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The Common Heritage Between the 5 Major Tai Chi Styles

Written by Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Chen

The originator of Tai Chi (Pinyin Taijiquan), according to legend, is Zhang Sanfeng of the Wudang mountains. When witnessing the fight between a snake and a crane, he is said to have found the inspiration to create what has come to be called Tai Chi. Historically, however, the origin of Tai Chi can only be traced back to the Chen-Family about 300 years ago. The Chen Style was founded about 300 years ago by Cheng Wangting in Chenjiagou. The other four major styles of Tai Chi are Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. They are all related and often influenced by each other.

Zhang Sanfeng witnesses the fight between a snake and a crane

Yang

For a long time, Tai Chi was rarely taught outside the Chen family. Yang Luchan, the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi, was one of the early exceptions. He learned from Chen Changxing, of the 6th generation in his family, the Chen Style. Yang achieved great skills and came to develop his own style. Whereas Chen Style combines fast and slow movements and incorporates jumping and stomping techniques to a greater extent, Yang Luchan’s style was slower, more even and flowing.

Wu/Hao

The Wu/Hao Style, also called the first Wu Style, has been shaped by both Yang as well as Chen Style. The founder Wu Yuxiang learned from Yang Banhou (the 2nd generation Yang) and Yang Luchan, and then he learned from Chen Qingping (the 7th generation Chen). It is said, Yang Luchan introduced Wu Yuxiang to the Chen family. The movements of the Wu/Hao style may be characterized as slow, flowing, and small, with a narrow stance and tall body posture.

Wu

The second Wu Style, which is simply called Wu Style, was jointly founded by Wu Quanyou and his son Wu Jianquan. Wu Quanyou learned from Yang Banhou. Wu Jianquan, in turn, learned from his own father. A striking feature of this style is the sideward-leaning body posture. While raising the upper body is considered crucial in Tai Chi, the Wu Style internalizes this principle. In practice, this means they are still raising upwards, even though their body is leaning to the side.

Sun

The Sun Style connects Wu/Hao Style Tai Chi, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang. Tai Chi, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang are known to be the three most influential internal martial arts. The founder of Sun Style is Sun Lutang. He first learned Xingyiquan and Baguazhang and then moved on to study Wu/Hao Style Tai Chi under Hao Weijian (3rd generation of Wu/Hao). The Sun Style is similar to the Wu/Hao Style, employing a narrower stance and a taller body posture. It prioritizes gentleness and steadiness, consciously avoiding any surplus muscular tension.


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Sparring in Tai Chi – Tuishou and Sanshou

By Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Is Tai Chi really a martial art? Does what you learn really enable you to defend yourself? The short answer is yes, Tai Chi is a martial art. Progress in Tai Chi brings you crucial skills for self-defense.

While Yang Chengfu more than a hundred years ago was teaching this martial art to selected soldiers of the imperial palace in Beijing, Tai Chi nowadays has been opened to the masses. As Tai Chi was introduced to a society that has little need for martial skills, it’s immensely positive influence on physical and mental health has certainly become a compelling factor leading to its popularization. But health is not the only reason to be fascinated with Tai Chi.

One Turns into Two

When practicing Tai Chi, fighting is often the last thing we draw into consideration. However, one who truly wants to explore the deeper sides of Tai Chi will need to develop an understanding of its martial meaning and capacities, for which one will need a partner to practice with. Training alone and with a partner are two complementary units like Yin and Yang.

Establishing a strong basis is the first thing to do: the body needs to get used to ideas like opening the joints and the Tai Chi specific term relaxation. Having completed this initial stage, you are ready to start learning Tuishou.

Tuishou

Tuishou means pushing hands and upon learning it, it might very well be the first time a student is challenged to accommodate not just him or herself, but also a partner, to find a harmonious and meaningful exchange. As Tuishou is only one method of practice, with its own set of rules, one of the prerequisites is to not punch or kick. Its physical aspect is limited to pushing and yielding. For Tuishou, you first learn the upper body and then the lower body. For training the arms, each partner raises one arm, using the wrist as a contact point. The arms start circling: first simple circles, then more complicated circles. Each partner will add in his or her second hand and start adding more different contact points. Contact at first is only the wrist-palm area and then later moves towards the elbows, shoulders and even the entire upper body. First without any footwork, then in a fixed stance moving the weight forward and backward. Only after becoming comfortable with the preceding stages may one move on to moving steps. The practice of circles is eventually extended into the practice of applications: such as pushing, rolling back, warding off, etc.

Preceding in this order, with relentless practice you will slowly develop your skills. Alongside Tuishou you will also start learning Fajin-exercises, which cover striking, pushing, and kicking techniques. When the body and mind can transition smoothly to meet all situations, without being hindered by the necessity to think, then once again the challenge can become more complicated. This is when you start learning Sanshou, which means free hands, a term for free fighting and sparring.

Sanshou

If the student is not advanced enough to learn Sanshou, then he or she will not be able to profit much from the practice. He will become tense, his Qi moving upwards and his body becoming unrooted. He will try to use muscular force to overcome his partner and defend himself. This wrong use of force needs to be avoided, as within the Tai Chi philosophy it is seen as something weak, that can easily be abused by one’s opponent.

At its pinnacle, Sanshou may include every little thing one has learned throughout his/her entire practice. The amount of discipline required to study Tai Chi to such completion is immense and that is exactly why in the hands of most people, Tai Chi will be a health program, rather than a martial art. However, if practiced as a martial art, there are no limitations. One can grow beyond his or her own style, and even grow to be able to meet, study, and spar with masters from other martial arts like Shaolin or Karate. What one intends to do with such a skill, in the end, is up to the individual.

Check out this video to see Sanshou choreography from a competition in 1980:


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have the passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Top 6 Films to Get to Know Chinese Culture (II)

Written by Yuqing Yang

I hope the previous blog has already given you some insight into Chinese culture and history, so here is the other half!

 

~ Modern family relations (Family Drama) ~

推手 (Tui Shou; Pushing Hands)

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It is one and first of Lee Ang’s “Father Knows Best” trilogy together with the other two movies – The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994). The story is about an old Chinese Taiji teacher emigrating from Beijing to live with his son, American daughter-in-law, and grandson in New York. The title of the film is a pun. Pushing hands is part of Taiji routine, for which two persons have to learn to exercise and balance their power. It also perfectly parallels with the family relations between father and son, old and young, and East and West. Since the story is limited to a family, every detail and cultural subtlety has been taken care of. The content judging from personal, philosophical, and cultural perspectives is extremely rich.

 

 

~ Justice in a new era (Western/Comedy) ~

让子弹飞(Rang Zi Dan Fei; Let The Bullets Fly)

It’s an action comedy written and directed by Jiang Wen. Set in 1920s in Sichuan, a battle of courage and wits between bandits and corrupted governors takes place.  The cast includes all well-known names of the Asian film industry like Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Carina Lau. It is an ambitious project taken in China not only because of its unfriendly implication towards government also because of its western movie genre. Even till now, it is still one of its kind.

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~ Love in big cities ~

森林 (Chong Qing Sen Lin; Chungking Express)

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It is a romantic movie written and directed by the Hokng Kong director Wong Kar-wai. The film stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong, Tony Leung and Valerie Chow, exclusively pillars of Hong Kong entertainment industry. It consists of two separate stories about police officers’ breakups and encounters with drug smuggler and bar worker in Hong Kong. It is interesting that the title has nothing to do with the city Chongqing, merely referring to the concrete jungle main characters get stuck in. This movie perfectly captures fleeting moments in big and modern cities. Many of the actor’s lines have become catchphrases in the new generation and are still widely used and cited.

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I hope you would like some of them, and please let me know by commenting below if you want to get more recommendations or any thoughts you have!

 

 

 


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!