TRANSFORMATION: Tai Chi Movements with Verbal Affirmations
by Robert R. Abbott, Ph.D., published in April 2021
Mu-i was created by Zen master Stephen Dog Kow Roshi in Hawaii almost 20 years ago. Zazen meditation entails sitting in a fixed position for many hours. Such concentrated stillness is outside the experience of most Americans. Mu-i, an activity consistent with the spiritual traditions of Asia, was a path to energize American students before they sat for meditation. Stephen Dog Kow Roshi collaborated with Tai Chi Master Lo Pang-Jeng, known in the West as Benjamin Lo or Master Ben. Their project resulted in a unique practice more similar to a hard form martial art such as karate.
Instead of the slow, silent, graceful movements of traditional Tai Chi, Mu-i movements are fast, the breath is forceful, and words are spoken energetically. The words—or just as accurately—sounds are the shouted ten numbers 1 to 10 intoned in Cantonese because of the sharp ending to these words in that language. The emphasis is on the forceful abdominal utterance termed hara that accompanies each of the 10 movements. Mu-i was then popularized by a number of teachers who brought the form to the U.S. mainland over the last decade.
Having been a practitioner of the Tai Chi 108-Form since 1986, a form I learned in Myanmar and Thailand as taught by Chinese masters, I came to Mu-i through Master Zochi Young in Oakland, California in 2013. Master Zochi Young had made a very significant change to Mu-i by adding words or affirmations in English. Between 2013 and 2020 I practiced and taught Mu-i at a number of venues, always with the English affirmations.
TRANSFORMATION is done comparatively slowly and intended to be a 90-second practice, done one time, just after you get out of bed. Stand up, do it once quickly and get on with your day. In a sense it becomes a default reminder on how to relieve stress and be successful in a rapidly changing culture and especially the gig economy. The practice culminates in affirmations and movements linked to feeling love and to feeling joy and peace of mind, which are core markers of preparation for a true spiritual journey. The core elements of TRANSFORMATION are now published under the Peace Corps imprint and available through Amazon. See additional information at TRANSFORMATIONTAICHI.COM. Master Zochi Young is my co-author.
Especially in our cultural environment, one that is in constant motion, communication and validation are essential.