09/07/2014 19:16

This page is to notify readers of new additions to the website, and to make whatever clarifications that I feel necessary to their understanding.

    Today's Posting is:  November 6, 2009

    Some more of my mercifully abridged life story in ABOUT ME, the first psychedelic folk rock album ever made, one paragraph long love affairs, and the terrors of the draft. There may be a brief hiatus in the activity of this site while I travel from Moscow to California, and then Hawaii, over the next few days.

November 3, 2009

    Finishing off the Eight Enigmas with the biggest one of all, learning through loss.

November 1, 2009

    Another of the Eight Enigmas, this one on rooting, and Chapter Fifteen of Patriots Wanted.

October 28, 2009

    One more piece of the Eight Enigmas, on adherence.

October 27, 2009

    Posting chapter fourteen of Patriots Wanted. I should also announce a small workshop to be held in Mill Valley, California (San Francisco Bay Area) on the weekend of the 14th and 15th of November. I will discuss the internal aspects of the form, particularly rooting and ch'an-su-jing, and how these apply to the proper applications of the movements. This is open to all persons, and should be of interest to beginners and advanced students alike, as it is not only a guide to form but the key to the martial aspect of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. For further information please contact Tom Maxon at

October 24, 2009

    Today I  am adding another section to the Eight Enigmas article, one on discharge. I have also included in the ABOUT ME section a short account of my experiences teaching a course in fasting at Maui Community College.

October 17, 2009

    I have added the section on jing to my Eight Enigmas of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and also some more material about Leah Ananda in ABOUT ME, concerning his amazing fasting abilities.  

October 14, 2009

    Posting one more enigma, this time concerning the prohibition against the use of strength, or li. I have also eleminated the GUESTBOOK category, since almost no one seems inclined to use it.

October 13, 2009

    My apologies. I forgot to publish the addition listed below, so here it is now. I also continue more about Leah Ananda in ABOUT ME.

October 12, 2009

    In the T'ai Chi Ch'uan article section, I proceed on in Eight Enigmas with enigma number two, separation of subsantial and insubstantial.

October 11, 2009

    Beginning the posting of a rather long article, just completed, Eight Enigmas of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. We start off with one of the biggest, "double-weight." The other seven enigmas listed in the introduction will be posted over the course of this month.

October 10, 2009

    Chapter Thirteen of Patriots Wanted. Hope you like it. I have also added a bit to ABOUT ME, to include something about Don Garret, one of the last people to play regularly with John Coltrane before his death. I have also divided the section into before and after twenty-one years of age.

October 9, 2009

    A rather long segment in the slighly less abridged story of my life appears today, in which I meet probably the most influential figure in my history, Leah Ananda. Of all of the larger-than-life people I have met in my life, and that numbers quite a few, he is the most extreme.

October 7, 2009

    The Reluctant Shaman Returns is the story of my second trip to Tuva, in many ways, even more remarkable than the first. The first trip was hundred degree heat while I worked at the shamanic museum; this was commuting from the outskirts of town in sub-zero temperature (around minus twenty, centigrade) to the Tos-deer society headquarters on the banks of the Yenisey River, a sort of shamanic HMO.

October 4, 2009

    Posting Chapter Twelve of Patriots Wanted.

October 3, 2009

    Still more in the ABOUT ME section. You can pretty much think of my life in two parts, before I  met Leah Ananda, and after. This completes the first part.

September 28, 2009

    I have amended slightly the story of my life (isn't it great when you can do that?), by inserting a section about a rather colorful character about whom I will have more to say later, Russ Howell. It is followed by some reminisscences of  Peter Urban's Gojuryu karate NYC dojo of the sixties.

September 27, 2009

    Another chapter (eleven) of Patriots Wanted goes up today. I still can't tell if anyone is reading the damn thing. Also, I have added an explanatory caption to one of the videos, the one with Hit Tiger.

September 24, 2009

    Today I open a new section of the website, Shamanic Adventures. Please read the introduction before going on to the first entry, The Reluctant Shaman. I have also added to the mercifully abridged story of my life, in the About Me section. We're up to college, now, at least.

September 21, 2009

    Posting Chapter Ten of Patriots Wanted. This is my favorite so far.

September 20, 2009

    In the videos of the T'ai Chi section is a very short but I feel very instructive demonstration of a certain rather pervasive conceptual error about T'ai Chi Ch'uan. I have much to say about it, and do so in the video's "caption." I think it's important, because it's about the correct "look" of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.

September 17, 2009

    New today is a short video in the Tai Chi section. It was taken a couple of years ago on Maui, Hawaii. One of my Russian students, upon seeing it, remarked, "You look old, and tired." I replied that in fact I was old, and when this film was taken, very, very tired, after a ten mile hike over very rough terrain. Normally, it would not have been a problem, but this expedition marked the very first onset of a problem with my leg, a tarsal tunnel syndrome caused by an old injury, from which I have only recently recovered. So I was not only old and tired, but also in pretty intense pain. Nonetheless, I make no excuses for the technique displayed, or I wouldn't have put it on. I was also a bit uncomfortable in what I call my guru outfit, which I found on a day's notice after the photographer complained about my clothes being too dark. Thankfully, my student Vlasta Pechova made up for my condition by looking very young and not tired at all.

September 13, 2009

    This weekend marked the first of my fall seminars at my Moscow school. The theme is internal aspects of the form and martial aspects of the movements. These might seem unrelated topics but they are far from it. The word internal as used in classical literature almost exclusvely refers to ch'an-su-jing, the so called "silk reeling" winding changes that are the principle source of T'ai Chi Ch'uan's power. Since it is only in reference to this power that the forms are designed,  its understanding is integral to their execution, and this execution provides valuable insight to an understanding of jing. In the VIDEOS seciion of the website I am posting a short film clip taken in the seminar showing the classical application of Single Whip and its Sanshou counter, Hit Tiger. Due to room acoustics the sound is pretty bad, and I wasn't thinking of making a professional video here, but still, some may find it of interest. I am also posting Chapter Nine of Patriots Wanted. My apologies again for the strange alterations to my normally standard paragraphing, but it is still easily readable.

September 7, 2009

    Posting Chapter Eight of Patriots Wanted.

September 3, 2009

    Posting Chapter Seven of Patriots Wanted. By the way, I have no idea as to why my writings, when transfered to the website, are given such arbitrary paragraph indentations, in the case of Chapter Seven, changing the format in the middle of the Chapter. I certainly didn't write this way. Still, what remains is clear enough. So how about some feedback. Ready for prime time? Or should I keep my day job?

September 1, 2009

    This week, Saturday, September 5, Fall classes begin at my Moscow school. On the 12th, I will begin a three week seminar on internal aspects of the form (primarily a study of ch'an-su-jing and rooting) and martial applications. Both subjects are seldom touched upon by most teachers, even those who understand them. Complete scheduling and contact info, etc. can be found at the school website, 

    Also posting Chapter Six of Patriots Wanted. Hoping for more feedback on this. Only comment so far is that it has too many characters. Guess I have to plead guilty to that one; I love characters.

August 28, 2009

    Adding Chapter Five of Patriots Wanted.

August 27, 2009

    This is a most important posting for me, because it tackles head-on the feature of my instruction that people find most controversial, that is, the question of uprightness. What is most annoying to me is the invariable assumption that my attitude represents simply a rejection of the tradition of uprightness inT'ai Chi Ch'uan, whereas I maintain that my reasoning actually supports the tradition, but only seeks to explain the logic creating it, and the training that eventually (but not immediately) produces it. I will confess that my previously posted articles were done so for the purpose of accquainting the reader with my ideas and style, hoping to establish a modicum of trust before presenting this controversial subject. I am sincerely hoping for responses from my readers, positive or negative, to fnd out whether or not I have successfully made my point. I reiterate that I personally do not see any contradiction between my position and tradition, but only object to dogmatism without understanding. T'ai Chi Ch'uan is not simply the application of a massive set of rules, but behavior that results from the consistent application of one principle. Every "rule" must be shown to be a logical evolution of this process. Only then can one really say that he knows what he is doing.  

August 24, 2009

    Looks like I had to change my format slightly for my novel. You will now have to select each chapter individually. Apparently the missing paragraphs were just beyond the capacity for a single article.I have also posted chapter four.

August 23, 2009

    An alert and sensitive reader has informed me that Chapter Three of Patriots Wanted seemed incomplete, a correct assumption. The remaining final paraghaphs have now been included. Chapter Four will be posted tomorrow.

August 21, 2009

    What's Good About Grabbing was written over the last two days. I apologize for a lack of grahics in the final section. Some of the positions may be a little hard to visualize, but experienced students will be familiar with them. I will try to add some helpful illustrations in the future.


August 19, 2009

    Most recently posted is my T'ai Chi Ch'uan article Discharge - It's Use and Abuse. I feel that students' rather understandible urge to duplicate techniques associated with mastery, while simply a noble and harmless effort in the case of most pursuits, is much more dangerous to one's development where T'ai Chi Ch'uan is concerned. The idea that greater experience and skill in the "subtleties" of shoving other people as hard as possible will someday lead to the power to "discharge" one's opponent is to make the tacit assumption that the latter is simply a refinement of the former, which it most decidedly is not. Sincere play-acting in the case of external skills is tempting and excusable; to indulge in such childishness with T'ai Chi Ch'uan, however, is the height of foolishness.

    Alert readers of my novel, Patriots Wanted, will notice that the names of the Lebanese characters have changed. In my first draft, I was sadly unaquainted with authentic Lebanese names, a defect which is now rectified.

    I would definitely like some feedback from this effort, and also to my T'ai Chi articles. I am preparing to publish what I consider my "magnum opus," The Theoretical Basis of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and reactions to these articles will give me a good idea of its probable reception. 


May 3, 2014


Alert readers will notice that it has been almost five years since my last entry. This lapse is mainly due to the birth of my son, Alexander Robertovitch Amacker, who is now four and answers to the name Sasha. This name was until recently the most popular name for boys in Russia. In my Russian class I have six Sashas, five boys and one girl. Nevertheless, in America some seem to think that it is a name for girls only. I hope that this does not bring on the "Boy named Sue" syndrome. His appearence in my life has been probably one of the most important events in it, and has pretty much diveerted me from any activities as self-centered and potentially narcissistic as maintaining this site. But the eBook publication of The Theoretical Basis of T'ai Chi Ch'uan has given me an incentive to show some signs of life to those whose curiosity might be aroused by that work.  


May 7, 2014


Having partially recovered from the shock of restarting this website, and realizing that now I have a certain obligation to stay on it at least to some degree, I am faced with the need to descriminate between actual useful information to interested readers and the probably universal tendency to think that the most irrelevant and insignificant facts about one's life fall into that category, as witnessed by the spontaneous upchuck of such data in my "life story" as catalogued in the "about me" section. I actually was about to excise it altogether when a couple of people suggested that it was, if not exactly useful, at least passibly entertaining. Today two items might qualify as legitimate entries (1) I am posting tomorrow on YouTube three connected videos totalling thirty minutes or so in length of some rather off-the-cuff tuishou with my student Sasha Komisarov, recorded in Moscow about five months ago. This is an attempt to give some demonstration of the tuishou sensibility suggested in my book THE THEORETICAL BASIS OF T'AI CHI CH'UAN, and the kind of hand-pushing that results. (2) I will be giving a "Summer Solstice" seminar on the same subject in Mill Valley, California, on the weekend of June 21-22. This is open to all styles and levels of experience, and will be devoted entirely to techniques of t'ui-shou as described in my previously mentioned book (Amazon - $9.99). I strongly suggest at least a brief perusal of this text if one plans to attend. What I am teaching here is an extremely cooperative skill, so no one's expertise at "defeating" or "pushing" T'ai Chi Ch'uan "opponents" will be of any use whatsoever in this context. I hasten to say, however, that I would virtually guarantee that there is no one who will not feel his abilities in that regard greatly improved by this experience, especially if he is interested in the actual martial application of the art and not merely its Sumo-like variant. (I should mention, however, that my students almost invariably win these crude contests when, despite my active discouragment, they cannot resist entering them. Over fifteen years ago one of my students won the gold medal middleweight t'ui-shou contest in China.) Because of the extremely fundamental nature of this material, it should be the basis for even the rankest beginner's study of t'ui-shou. However, because of its almost universal neglect, it should be an equal revelation to even the most advanced student. The weekend course will be four hours a day, 10:00 to 3:00 (1 hour break for lunch), $100/day or $160 for the two days. Please contact Tom Maxon (Mill Valley) at  for location and additional details. 

 May 18, 2014

Just checking in to assure my readers that I have not abandoned my post again. I have no illusions that the details of my day-to-day existence are of any relevance or interest to the public at large. I think Gracho Marx once said "I would never join any club that would accept me as a member." On my part, I would never be interested in befriending anyone who was interested in the mundane details of my life. 

Book sales are steady at two or three a day, and I'm hoping for interest in my upcoming deminar in Mill Valley. The first reel of the video I mentioned in my last note was well received, apparently briefly "going viral" after being on "Best T'ai Chi Videos." The second and third reels are being posted tonight, and feature much more t'ui-shou and "uprooting" demonstrations. 

May 30, 2014

Preparations to depart for California in two weeks, and thence to Moscow for the summer and fall, have understandably begun to occupy most of my time. Book sales have declined to one or two copies a day, a normal course of events, I suppose, for the second month. I see that more "inspirational" efforts tend to sell much better, and I suppose there will always be a better market for such efforts than for highly technical books such as my own. I now would like to write an even more technical work building upon the "theoretical basis" of the first one, analyzing various moves of the Sanshou Exercise from that perspective. I realize more and more that I was very privledged to receive the tranmission of Sanshou from one of the two men who actually brought it from the mainland to Taiwan, Chu, Ch'u-fang. When immigrating him into the US we were required to provide "certificates" testifying to his skill from accredited "masters" who had instructed him. He informed us that he had no such certificates, and that his teachers, Yang, Cheng-fu and Yang's student, Chen, Wei-ming, were dead. When we emphasized the need for such documentation, he asked for a few days, afer which time we received a flood of bonafides from various well-established Taiwanese teachers. He answered our puzzled inquiry concerning these by saying that actually these men had all been his recent students, all very anxious to receive the transmission of Sanshou. Almost every other teacher today must trace his knowledge of Sanshou back through these various Taiwanese teachers, and so ultimately to Mr. Chu and his associate. I have carried on his instruction through forty years of my own teaching, culminating in the very extensive work of my Russian students over the past decade and a half. Sanshou suffers greatly from the tendency to try to master its entire sequence as a kind of elaborate dance. I would rather break this pattern by approaching the techniques individually and out of context, allowing for a full exploration of their various possibilities, not only those selected for the sanshou sequence. These possibilities must be examined as more than arbitrary martial responses, but as subtle variations in the "civil" relationship, which bring about these varying martial choices in a completely logical and "deconstructable" manner. Chief among these is perhaps the horizontal split, which is never shown in the single movement form, and only appears as the final and most difficult variation of Ta Lu. This move is most enlightening for its abundance of completely different variations in response from what appears to be a single and fairly straightforward technique, usually referrd to by westerners as "clotheslining" one's opponent. Here may be easily constructed responses that produce completely different results, all dependent upon slight variations in the attack, angled up or down, applied circularly or in a straight line (or a combination of both), or upon various possible mistakes in application. One of the problems of normal gung-fu training when transferred to the street is that in training attacks are applied skillfully, which means also conistently. This means that standard responses are always applicable. In fact, errors in attacking technique do not mean that standard responses will work better, but more often that they must be replaced with completely different answers. I other words, when fighting one must respond to what the opponent is actually doing, not what he thinks he is doing. The student of Gung-fu, used to a more sophisticated application of different ideas, is likely to cling to a more sophisticated and, in this case, less appropriate response. This move is a good case to study. When first confronted with the correct Sanshou copunter, both my partner and I were completely unable to make it work, and pretty certain that nobody could. When we confronted Mr. Chu with this opinion, he invited us to try the move on him. He completelt flattened me on the first try, but I quickly pointed out to him that he had not used the Sanshou response. "Of course not," he replied. "Your technique was so bad the correct response wouldn't work." This is my continual experience with Taijiquan. I am first told "you could never make that work on me," and then, "see, you couldn't make it work; you had to switch to something else." It brings home the point that the instinctive expectation of everyone is that a martial art should enable you to impose your will on another, which is dependent upon the unconscious assumption that the implimentation of this idea means that you never need to change. The assumption in Taijiquan is that every question has an answer, every attack a counter-attact, and that your skill must be that of change itself. As Mr. Chu said once, "Anyone can have no ideas. Every idiot, every rock, has no ideas. What is hard is to have an idea and let it go."