Monday, December 24, 2012

Translating Chinese

A couple of years ago* I posted some comments about the need to have highly qualified people translating Chinese medical texts into English. Translation is difficult even for the most experienced.

Mo Yan, the 2012 Nobel Prize winner for literature recently addressed a reception at the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm on December 7 during his tour to the Swedish capital to receive his prize. He said "I think translation is much harder than writing: It only took me 42 days to write Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, while it took Swedish sinologist Anna Gustafsson Chen six years to translate the work." (Source: Beijing Review, December 20, 2012).

* see:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chinese Idioms, English Idioms

I found a Chinese counterpart to the English saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" and I like it better.

It is: 活到老学到老 (huo2 dao4 lao3, xue2 dao4 lao3*) "One is never too old to learn".

It is much more positive and very true. We should continue to learn new things throughout our lives.

*The numbers after the words refer to tone marks

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hsing-I Training

Hsing-I is considered one of the three internal martial arts in China. By chance, I was loaned a Chinese textbook on Hsing-I training that was used by someone who had studied Hsing-I in the early 1970's. The book was even more interesting because the instructor made handwritten notes along with the diagrams that shed more light on correctly performing each particular technique. I was able to scan diagrams and have posted below one of the pages.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Shhh! "Grass is napping, please don't disturb"

If it were'nt for signs we would get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. Fortunately, the Chinese realize that most of us can't read Chinese and they have taken great efforts to accommodate us - sometimes with funny results. Here are some of the "Chinglish" signs I have found in China. (If you click on the pictures you can see them in an enlarged view).

This sign was posted on the front of a hotel in Baoding 

Two signs from Xiang ge li la (Shangri-la) in Tibetan, Chinese and English.

 Signs found around Lijiang

The sign below is from Lijiang. The top characters are in the Naxi Minority language, center is Chinese characters, and English below.

This was taken in the mountains around Jiuhua Shan. It has Chinese, English, and Korean. The picture says it all.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Unusual Menu Offerings

While visiting Lijiang we ate at a number of very good restaurants. One restaurant has some unusual items on the menu so I took a picture to share with you.
You can click on the picture to enlarge and read.

Monday, September 10, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Delicious and Interesting Food

Traveling in China gives one the opportunity to try a lot of different food prepared in different ways. Here are some pictures of some of the dishes we had in Xiang Ge Li La and Lijiang. Picture 1: assorted vegetables. Picture 2: soup. Picture 3: I don't remember but it was good! Picture 4 is a rice dish prepared inside bamboo. You use your chopsticks to get the rice out. Picture 5 is a street vendor cooking a breakfast. Dough is rolled out like a pizza and placed on his stove, then he spreads an egg batter over it. After cooking for a few minutes and folding it in quarters you have a hot and delicious breakfast meal that will fill you up until lunchtime. Amazingly good and it's only about 50 cents! Picture 6 This dish is made from green peas. The peas are cooked until they become a thick paste and then they are fried. Picture 7 is a soup. You can see the Black Wood Ear Mushroom in the bowl. Very tasty! Picture 8 is a Naxi woman selling glutinous rice. They are just mildly sweet. The last picture is a bottle of Sour Yak's Milk. The plastic top is held on by a rubber band and you poke the straw through. It is very much like a liquid yogurt. Imagining drinking plain kefir but only better.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Naxi Dancers, Lijiang, China

While visiting Lijiang we had the opportunity to watch Naxi dancers in the old town square. The women and men here are pictured with their traditional dress. The the Naxi ethnic minority mostly live in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, while the rest live in Sichuan and Tibet.

The colorful traditional dress of the Naxi women pictured below.

Monday, September 3, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

The Ganden Sumtseling Monastery (Songzanlin Monastery) is the largest Tibetan Temple in Yunnan Province. It was built in 1679 and is situated at an elevation of 11,090 feet. It is the most important Tibetan Monastery in southwest China. The main monastery structure built in Tibetan style has a gilded copper roof similar to the one at the Potala Monastery in Lhasa.

View from the Monastery of the surrounding countryside.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

China's Taoism Shrine to mark 600th anniversary

BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- A series of memorial activities will be held later this year in central China's Hubei Province to mark the 600th anniversary of the construction of the ancient Chinese Taoism building complex at Mount Wudang, the provincial government announced Tuesday. 
 For the rest of the article, see:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Xiang Ge Li La (Shangri-la) Watch Dog

Xiang Ge Li La (Shangri-la) is an area of China that is a primarily Tibetan county in northern Yunnan Province. The elevation of the city is rather high, around 10,800 feet. While walking around the older city I noticed this handsome dog on a rooftop watching the going's on in the narrow streets below him.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: WuDang Kung Fu

In Ngong Ping Village on Lantau Island, Hong Kong there was a Kung Fu performance by Wudang style martial artists. The video was framed by umbrellas that people used to shade themselves on this hot August day.
Wudang Kung Fu (or Wudang Gong Fu) has its home at Wudang Mountain. Wudang Mountain is the birthplace of internal martial arts where the great Daoist priest Zhang San Feng came to live as a hermit and learn the Daoist methods of attaining immortality. During his time here and through his practice Zhang San Feng created Nei Jia Quan, or what is now more commonly referred to as Tai Ji (tai chi).

The main focus of the video is the performers in the center but you should watch the video a few  times. If you do you'll notice in the back on a narrow stage is another martial artist who appears to be doing a separate form yet it blends seamlessly together with the men at the center from time to time. It is really wonderful to watch! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Po Lin Monastery

On my initial visit to Lantau Island I noticed a cable car going up a mountain. On further investigation I learned that it took people to visit Po Lin Monastery and the large bronze Buddha. My friends and I decided to visit it. The cable car is a fantastic ride. The only drawback was waiting two hours in line to get on. The wait was worth it though.
Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. The monastery was founded in 1906. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives – as well as many Buddhist Scriptures. When I went inside I was surprised to find that people were taking pictures inside the Monastery. I have been to many temples in China and taking photographs is always forbidden. However, I could not find a sign here indicating not to take pictures. Feeling a bit guilty about doing the wrong thing I took a few pictures anyway. It was a rare opportunity that was unlikely to happen again. Here is a photo of the three Buddhas at the main alter.
Buddhist Statues in Po Lin Monastery

There is also a large Buddha associated with the monastery. The Tian Tan Buddha statue that was completed in 1993. It is 112 feet tall and weighs 280 tons. When you are on the cable car ride you can see it from miles away.  There are 268 steps to climb up to the Buddha. We didn't do that though. The temperature of Hong Kong in August was around 90+ degrees with 80% humidity and we were hot enough already.

The Tian Tan Buddha statue

Tian Tan Buddha from Ngong Ping Village

People walk up 268 stairs to go up to the Buddha

Note: If you are going to see Po Lin Monastery it is well worth the extra money to ride in the Crystal 360 Gondola with glass floors. It not only gives a better view but you get shifted to a different line that gets you on the gondola much faster. It saves you at least another hour of waiting in line for the less expensive regular gondola. The gondola ride is worth the wait though. It is over 5 km in length and you get spectacular views.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

East Earth Travelogue: Hong Kong's Lantau Island

On a recent trip to China I had to stay overnight before catching a plane to the mainland. I decided to stay on Lantau Island. Lantau Island is where the airport is and is connected to Hong Kong and Kowloon by road, ferry, and subway. It is also the home of Po Lin Monastery and an 80 foot tall Buddha. Po Lin Monastery and the Buddha statue are major tourist attractions and draw thousands of people each day (In fact, when I returned to Hong Kong two weeks later we took the 5.6 km cable car ride to the Monastery and had to wait two hours in line because there were so many people). Generally, this area is packed with people, as is the rest of Hong Kong, but on the south side of Lantau is Silvermine Bay where I booked a hotel room. This was a pleasantly quiet little town with virtually no one on the beach while I was there except for some cattle. Yes, "No Dogs Allowed" but Lantau has feral cattle, remnants to the days of rice farming. They now roam free and look really healthy. The sun, sand, and surf must be relaxing for them. It was the last thing I expected to see in Hong Kong.

"Feral Cattle on the Beach, Silvermine Bay,  Lantau Island"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why don't acupuncturist's recommend ice?

There are many opinions regarding using ice as a therapy. Often time doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists recommend using ice on an injury. They may tell their patient to use ice or alternate using ice and heat. Acupuncturists on the other hand don't recommend ice. Why? Ice is not a part of traditional Chinese medicine. 

The theories of Oriental medicine go back thousands of years. Physicians at that time were great observers of nature and the cycles of nature. They noticed that during the winter, people were less active, animals hibernated or were very inactive, and plants looked dead. In the summer, when it was warm, plants looked alive and animals and people were active. They associated cold with inactivity or death and warmth with activity or life. They also noticed that people naturally gravitate to warmth. When it is cold people circle around the fire or source of heat. This was true since time began and is still true today. Heat was used as a therapy. Cold was not.

You should note that the word "acupuncture" is a Western description of the Chinese therapy of "Zhenjiu". "Acus" means "needle" and "punctura" means "to puncture". The Chinese word for this therapy is composed of two words "Zhen" meaning "needle" and "jiu" means "moxibustion". So the Chinese word for "acupuncture" is actually a reference to needling therapy and heat therapy. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb artemesiae vulgaris (Chinese: Ai ye) on the skin or over the skin. It provides heat and warmth to the body. The ancient Chinese must of thought highly of the use of heat in their treatment to make the word "jiu" a part of the description of what they were doing.

I think the Chinese realized that cold constricts the arteries and veins and impedes circulation. I often see people with chronic injuries and it just so happens that they've been told to ice the injured area which they do often. To me that is half of their problem. When I ask them if the the ice feels good the reply is that they don't like it but they are following the doctors orders. When I tell them to stop and use heat instead they often notice that their injury starts to feel better right away.

If you have an injury and want to use ice I suggest using it for 24 hours or less then use heat and of course liniments. There a good book about treating injuries called "A Tooth From the Tiger's Mouth" by Tom Bisio, L.Ac. I highly recommend the book. Mr. Bisio offers a good explanation of the reason ice is not used in Oriental medicine.
Remember, if you have a chronic injury or a recent injury don't use ice, use heat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sifu Lew will be missed

We were sad to learn of the passing of Sifu Lew. He was a teacher of Qi Gong. If you search this blog for his name you will find more information about him. Here is a brief bio taken from a workshop that he gave in 2008:
Share K. Lew, now in his nineties, is a Taoist priest with over 70 years experience in the traditional Taoist arts. Master Lew received part of his education at Wong Lung Kwan, a Taoist monastery on the Luo Fo mountains near Canton, China.
Master Lew studied at Wong Lung Kwan monastery for 13 years. During that time he trained in the full range of Taoist healing and martial arts. At the core of his training was the secret system of cultivation known as Qigong (Chi kung). Master Lew was the first person to openly teach authentic Taoist Qigong to non-Chinese, beginning in Los Angeles in 1970. Master Lew’s monastery style, the Tao Ahn Pai (Taoist Elixir Style), dates back over 1300 years to Lu Dung Bin, who was born during the Tang Dynasty, and became one of the Eight Immortals of Taoism.
We offer our condolences to his wife and daughter.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More Tai Chi from the past

Diana Armstrong and Michel practice Tai Chi San Shou (Moscow, Idaho August 1977)

Michel and Diana Armstrong practice Tai Chi Single Moves (Moscow, Idaho 1977)

Michel and Barbara Isaksen practice Join Hands (April 1979, Idaho)

Step back like a Monkey. Tai chi in Merritt Island, Florida Nov 1979

Charles Quinn and Michel practicing Join Hands (Moscow, Idaho February 1980)

Michel practicing Tai chi on Snow Mountain (1982, California)

Michel and Laurie Laird April 1979 near Troy, Idaho. Laurie died five months later in an accident September 20, 1979.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Tai Chi from the past

Michel Czehatowski teaching Tai Chi to (left to right) Do Nghi, Huynh Hai Kong, Nguyen Hong Thu Thi, and Luong Phunon Dai at the Buddhist Council for Refugee Rescue and Resettlement (BCRRR), City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Talmage, CA. This picture was taken June 18, 1981.

Teaching warmup Tai Chi Exercises at Cultivating Virtue School, City of 10,000 Buddhas, Talmage, CA October 1981

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tai ji update

I recently got together with my Taiji instructor, Paul Pitchford, after not seeing him for more than 25 years. I took my first Taiji class with Paul in 1975 when he taught in Moscow, Idaho.
On the left is a picture of us taken in Moscow dated January 19, 1979 practicing double Join Hands (i.e., Push Hands).
Below is a picture of us practicing double Join Hands on January 21, 2012 - almost 33 years later to the day!