Adam Mizner is a young master of taijiquan that has been a great inspiration to myself & many fans of tai chi. His skills are apparent in the videos below … but the aspect of Mizner’s art that I personally have found most thought provoking is his deep philosophical / metaphysical / spiritual rooting for all his taijiquan.
Sifu Mizner’s tai chi is uniquely influenced by his understanding and practice of the Buddha’s Satipatthana Sutra (roughly translated as “Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness”).
Satipatthana – most commonly associated with Theravada Buddhism – is probably best known as the foundation for the practice of Vipassana Meditation. Vipassana (literally translated as “insight into the true nature of reality”) is one of the world’s most ancient techniques of meditation, rediscovered by the Gautama Buddha. The Buddha taught Satipatthana as the ‘direct path’ (ekayano maggo) to the realization of Nirvana, achieved ultimately by achieving the “Four Foundations of Mindfulness” (cattaro satipaṭṭhana).
These Four Foundations of Mindfulness are:
- Mindfulness of the body
- Mindfulness of feelings (or sensations)
- Mindfulness of mind (or consciousness)
- Mindfulness of phenomena (or qualities)
To ascertain the connections between these Four Foundations of Mindfulness and Sifu Mizner’s profound approach to the deeper aspects of taijiquan practice, we can turn to Mizner’s own articulate words:
“Mindful awareness is the supreme tool in training, and is the essential energy of taiji. This energy is classically known in taiji circles as ting jing or listening energy. So what is it that we listen to? …
First is [mindfulness of] form or the material body. Starting with our own body in our taiji forms practice and moving on to the bodies of others in our taiji push hands practice, one directs their awareness to the knowing of the aspects of the body:
- Structural alignment (alignment of the 9 pearls),
- Weight distribution,
- The stretching and un-stretching of the tendons,
- And the presence and placement of the physical center of gravity
… Most so called internal arts stop at this level of refined awareness of the body led by mental intent.
Second is mindfulness of feelings. It is at this stage that we work with the chi or fine material energy. The chi is most easily perceived through feelings, and this path of practice helps one to bypass the common pitfall of relying on imagination and visualization of the internal energy (as this can quickly become a fabricated fantasy rather than a direct knowing of reality in the present…
Third is the training of mindfulness of mind, once again, both of oneself and of our training partners. Mindfulness of the mind starts from the courser aspects of mind and moves to the refined. The thought formations in the mind are observed and trained to act in a skillful way, perceptions are observed and purified… Unskillful mental states such as aggression and fear can be known directly in the mind, let go of, and replaced with clear awareness…
Finally, we have mindfulness of phenomena. This stage refers in general to the awareness of the workings of cause and effect in relation to the training of the first three foundations of mindfulness – and specifically to the realization of emptiness through direct experience.
One trains in mindfulness of body, feeling (chi), and mind. Through direct experience we begin to realize that body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and sense consciousness are all inherently empty and thus release attachment to them. This is the goal of the training, in this emptiness the duality of yin and yang, yield and issue, self and opponent, taiji and non-taiji, cease to remain. Everything becomes an aspect of your own mind which in itself is empty. This is the realization we aspire toward.
Adam Mizner Taijiquan Videos
Heaven Man Earth Tai Chi Classics – Part One & Part Two
Tai Chi Push Hands Seminars @ Adam Mizner’s School in Thailand
Sifu Adam Mizner’s Ten Hints for Taijiquan
- Taiji is a principle, not a technique or a posture. Embrace the paradox.
- Let go of all unnecessary tension. That is called relaxing.
- Always keep the nine pearls aligned. When yielding, disconnect the pearls. When sinking, connect the pearls.
- Sungis the relaxation or transformation of stress or force from the material plane into emptiness. Returning that force from emptiness to the material plane is called issuing.
- To issue is to let go of stress or force.
- Move mind, then chi, then body. Move from the dan tien.
- Find the five, then the three, then the one.
- Start by stretching the tendons. Later, stretch just the opponent’s intent.
- Taiji is pure discernment energy. It is all in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
- This path is transcendental. When practiced correctly, it leads to true intent, which leads to appropriate attention, which leads to letting go.
CONCLUDING . . .
Considering that at the time of this writing, Sifu Mizner is a mere 31 or 32 years old … I am sure I am not alone in my high hopes for where the Young Master will take this great internal art as his practice progresses. Definitely, from all I have heard and seen, Adam Mizner is a shining beacon for the West’s Native English Speaking Taijiquan Practitioners. Keep up the good work Adam! Hope to study & train with you soon.