Announcing the inaugural Tai Chi/Morning Ritual workshop, Saturday October 3rd

If you are willing to do what others won’t, you can have what others don’t


The Inaugural “Firedance” Tai Chi/ Morning Ritual  workshop

I first began learning Tai Chi in about 1984, studying with Hawkins Cheung (classmate of the amazing Bruce Lee.  His “core art” is Wing Chun, but he took private lessons with the son of the originator) and have practiced and taught it ever since.

Teaching at SF and writing workshops, I only had 2-3 hours MAX to try to convey the value of this beautiful art.  Considering that people can generally only absorb about one move per hour, it usually takes a YEAR to learn the form. And the form isn’t even the most valuable part of the art!  Arrgh!

So…I began to “cheat”.  Find ways to give more value in less time.    And a central question was: what are the core values of Tai Chi?  Why is it the most popular movement and meditation system in the world?

It can be learned by anyone, at any skill or age level.

It can be used for health, meditation, fitness, relaxation, enhancing coordination, flexibility, balance, and much more.

It CAN be used to enhance self-defense–but need not be, and generally is not.  (Using it for self defense demands a harsher, faster training against resistant opponents with a motivation to hit you!)

It requires no equipment, little space, and small amounts of time.

It is a life-time discipline. From 9 to 109, it has something to offer!

How in the world, though, could I convey (at least) a year’s worth of training in a few hours? Was it even possible?

I decided to take the challenge.

For   fifty years, I’ve studied disciplines such as martial arts, yoga, NLP, hypnosis, Pancultural Shamanism, and more.  The almost “magical” secrets that exist in the world, hidden within swaths of cultural mythology, are mind-boggling.

The challenge was finding a way to “deconstruct” everything in the Tai Chi universe and re-assemble it to provide value as fast as possible.  And over the years, have heard back from students that even a few sessions, spread out over years, have changed their lives for the better.

Why?  Because my approach, which I call “Firedance,” connects body, mind, spirit and emotions all at the same time.  We are creatures who live in all of these domains, and by aligning the inner and outer worlds align, and using techniques and approaches pulled from a variety of disciplines, it is possible to accomplish more…much more…than traditional teaching allows.

Countless students have said to me: This was terrific!  Do you have a school?  Where can I learn more?   

Well…anyone loves hearing compliments like that, but I’m fully involved in my writing career and family, and can’t afford the time and energy to maintain a brick-and-mortar facility.   I CAN teach some of these things online, but the most basic teachings are sort of like “tuning forks” vibrating in tune with each other–the person who “has it” has to actually be there, able to make subtle corrections to the way you breathe and move.   It’s a lot like a fire passing from one torch to another.

What could I do, darn it?  Because following a recent promotion from my beloved karate instructor, I now have the responsibility…and permission…to pass on what I have learned in the arts.     And my goal, my passion, my commitment is to create


Together, I honestly believe we change the world for the better.  But how?

It occurred to me that what IS possible is to teach one-day seminars.   I could fly into a city, take one day and cram it FULL of life-changing value.   I know I can do that.  And THAT could be the foundation of a body-mind workshop unlike anything ever presented.

But I need a test group, first.    


So…On October 3rd, I’m going to do a smaller workshop, lasting 4-5 hours, from 10 am to 3pm in the San Fernando Valley.  I will work with a group of 20-30 people, and in that period I’m going give them a program that can change their lives in just 100 Days. In the process we will learn, together, what is the “difference that makes the difference”, the “critical path” to awakening from your dream…or nightmare…of low energy, crushed hopes, poor health, negative emotions and non-existent focus.

The purpose of the workshop is nothing less than taking control of your life, from the root (body) up to your heart, and head.   Body, mind and spirit, all working in unity.


If you engage your BODY first, everything else MUST come along. You can read a book, attend a lecture, listen to an MP3 and it can remain all “head stuff”. There is no “trickle down.”

But if you start with the ROOT, the flowering can be sublime.

Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan will be the framework.  NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED.  ALL LEVELS WELCOME, of any style or no style at all.  All fitness levels accommodated.

If you are a beginner, you will probably remember 4-5 movements—but have an online resource to learn all 108 if you wish. But…it is not necessary, because you will learn an exercise that provides about 80% of the value of Tai Chi, can be learned in an hour, and performed in just minutes a day.

We will use other movement arts to support this: The Five Tibetans, the Five Minute Miracle (Be Breathed), and others to create a simple complete fitness system anyone can perform, every day for the rest of your life.

You will learn, create and refine your “Morning Ritual”–the 10-20 minutes of movement, affirmation, and visualization to align all goals and emotions for your day.  POWERFUL BEYOND BELIEF!

You will learn the “Ancient Child” meditation for emotional healing, focus, and connecting with your inner wisdom.

We will use exercises and concepts from Tai Chi, including “Push Hands”, the two-person energy drill that teaches you to relax under pressure (and opens the door to self-defense applications, although those will not be a part of this workshop) and Chi Gung, the “energy system” that brings Tai Chi to life.

You’ll learn the secret of shifting your emotions ON DEMAND.  Crush (non-medical) depression forever!

And much much more.

We’re going to change the way you breathe, move, think and feel–in four-five hours.   If you will commit to performing your “morning ritual” for 10-20 minutes a day for just 100 days, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  Crush procrastination.   Be the positive force for change in your world you were born to be. And here’s a hint: even your “failures” will be successes!


Saturday October 3rd, 10am-3pm (½ hour lunch break–bring your lunch, a towel or mat, drinking water, and a journal for notes)

6012 Tyrone Ave, Van Nuys

CA 91401


You will leave the workshop with a customized program to heal and accelerate your life.  IF you will commit to actually using it for 100 days (do your best!  that’s all we ask), investing a minimum of ten minutes a day…we will welcome you to the workshop for a token payment, enough to cover the cost of the facility and pay for my Sushi afterwards!  (Well, a LITTLE more than that, but you get my meaning!)

FIFTY BUCKS for the general public

THIRTY BUCKS for members of the LASFS fan community (I love you!), Active service members, students and those with special needs.

That’s it.  Seriously.   One time only, because you are helping me test and refine.  You will be the first group.

Together we can change the world.

With Gratitude,

Steven Barnes

P.S. — (and again, if you want to learn more about that recent promotion, you can read HERE.  Frankly, I’m a little shy!)

P.P.S.–some twenty-five years ago I recorded a “Firedance Tai Chi” video of the entire form.   If you’re interested, HERE IT IS


World Tai Chi Day this Saturday!

World Tai Chi Day is coming this Saturday.  Thought I’d reflect on that, just a bit.  I first studied Wu Style Tai Chi about thirty five years ago, under Hawkins Cheung, who learned it directly from the son of the founder.   Hawkins is a senior Wing Chun practitioner who learned directly from Yip Man, and his approach to learning Tai Chi’s combat applications was deliciously simple: he attacked his teacher every lesson.  And out of the bruises and bumps, he learned. That’s pretty serious.


I was studying Kali with Danny Inosanto at the time I met Hawkins, and befriended Hawkins, and decided that this was a rare opportunity to learn, and shifted over (they shared a school at the time) and for the next three years, there I was 2-3 times a week, practicing every day.  It takes about a year to learn the complete 108 movements (you learn about one move per class) and I really wanted it.


You see, the Tai Chi form is NOT “Tai Chi.” It is…the form.  Learning it is like building a bucket.  What you want is what goes IN the bucket, the specific feelings, perceptions, sensitivities, balances, and internal-external connections that you can only learn actually touching hands with a teacher.  In this it is much like the sexual magic work of the Quodoshka I studied in the Deer Tribe.  The theory was great, but without the Firewomen I actually worked with, it would have been impossible to advance.


Without Push-Hands and actual combatives practice, I would have had nothing but the external form.  Now…don’t get me wrong. The reason Tai Chi is the most popular martial art in the world is that even if you don’t Push Hands, even if you don’t have the slightest interest in the martial applications (which, btw, are very Silat-like), it still has much to offer.


The benefits of Tai Chi are very similar to the benefits of joint mobility drills.  And that means HEALTH, which is far more important than mere “fitness”.  In fact, health contains within it the roots of generalized “fitness.”   They are circles that overlap but are not concentric.   Fitness is “how much, how far, how fast, how many.)   How far can you run in X time.  How much can you lift, how high can you jump, etc. etc.  There is no “generalized fitness” really–it is all specific to some activity you desire to perform.  (That said, there are definitely activities like FlowFit or TacFit that provide such a beautiful mixture of fitness qualities that they come pretty close to “generalized fitness.)


Health is a different thing.   How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?  How well did you sleep?  What’s your mood?  How does your body feel, in general?  Like a healthy animal?  Do you stretch, twist, and move spontaneously during the day?  Animals do.     Appetite for food, rest, sex and exercise?  Is the “kid” inside you still alive and well?    Can you move your body in such a way as to process negative emotions and trigger positive ones at will?  How often do you get sick?  What is your overall energy level?   How is your balance?


Two weeks ago I was with an older friend.  He misjudged a step and fell.   Without thinking, I reached out to steady him.  I was wearing a heavy backpack, and could not control my own balance perfectly, and in slow-motion, we fell to the ground.  I positioned myself under him to cushion him, collapsing with control, trying to find something, some way to break our fall, thinking in that syrupy fast-motion you experience under stress if you stay calm.   Could find nothing to hold onto, but managed to get my left arm under me to act as a brake.  My right knee was twisting fiercely as he fell atop me. We reached the ground safely.


He said I saved him.  I could feel it in my knee–the stress had twisted it a little out of true.   I still feel it a little, two weeks later.  But…we were both fine.     That wasn’t “fitness”.  How in the world do you train for something like that?  It was just “health.”  Tai Chi contributed the following things:


  • Relaxed perception.
  • Instant reactions.   
  • Balance
  • Lower body strength
  • Flexible tendons (otherwise I’d have torn my knee out, I kid you not)
  • Coordination (for a few seconds, our two bodies became one, with my mind in control of both)
  • Proper breathing under stress.  Controls fear, connects the entire body, allows instinct and tactical mind to operate simultaneously.
  • Spinal flexibility.
  • Relaxation under stress.  Critical to be able to fall safely.


There is more, including things I never consciously knew I was learning.   Many of these qualities can be gained simply through patterned motion and daily connection with your body (processing toxic emotions, removing “sensory motor amnesia”).  They are available if you will just begin to move, and give yourself the gift of connecting your animal and human selves.


The Tai Chi Form I recorded twenty-five years ago, available free on Youtube, can teach many of these things, and I will answer any questions I can about any issues you have in connection with it.  PLEASE, if you have no daily discipline, begin to integrate some practice.  I call Tai Chi a “perfect template”, one of those exercises which, if mastered, convey wonderful, broad-based benefits beyond conscious competence.

Happy World Tai Chi Day!

Steven Barnes

www.lifewritingworkshop dot com

What Type of Exercise is Tai Chi?

There are many different types of exercise: strength training, cariovascular endurance, muscular endurance, skill training, flexibility, explosive movement,  emotional toughening, and so forth.


And no exercise does it all.   One might well suspect that Tai Chi offers genuine “bang for your buck” or it wouldn’t compete for the title of “world’s most popular exercise”.


Lets go over the aspects of fitness that Tai Chi “touches on” but then look at the ones where it excels.


  1. Strength.  If you hold a deep stance and move slowly, you definitely can gain strength of legs and core.  Upper body?   Not much.
  2. Endurance.   By going deep and slow, or high and fast (or deep and fast! Ouch!) you can get your heart pumping, no question.   As cardio as walking, and walking is terrific exercise.
  3. Skill.  Excellent for developing awareness and coordination.  Fighting “sensory motor amnesia”
  4. Explosive power.  Depends on the form, or your modifications to it.  Combat applications will demand explosive movement (generally), so preparing the body for storage and release of elastic energy is built into it…but you have to dig for it, it’s not on the surface.
  5. Self defense skill.  Not under ordinary practice.  You’d have to extract the techniques and principles and practice them under realistic stress.  Do NOT believe that “if you push hands for twenty years, you will be able to fight.” This is an okie-doke.  A con.  For all practical purposes, it simply isn’t true.   Six months of full-out Kali or Silat hand flow drills will cut a push-hands expert to pieces if he hasn’t practiced at intensity.   And by intensity I mean that it has to HURT if you lose.  Pain is the best teacher in the arts, and nothing is really in second place.


Now…other than skill, then, what does it offer?


  1. Balance.  Fantastic. Moving slowly, you have the chance to really feel the “slinky” like flow of balance from one foot to another. Feel which part of your foot is on the ground at what moment as you flow from 80% weight on right to 60-40 to 50-50 to 40-60 to 20-80.
  2. Flow.  Focusing your mind and breath into the present moment is valuable in countless life activities and essential to countless skills.   To find flow, you have to have enough challenge to focus your mind, but not so much as to create anxiety.  A slightly detached sense of interest is very smooth and cool in this arena.
  3. Focus.  See #2.


And what does it SHINE at?

  1. Joint mobility.  If there is a single aspect of fitness that is most critical, it is remembering that fitness is NOT health. Fitness and health are two different circles which overlap.  Generally, you don’t really want flexibility–you want mobility.  The capacity to move smoothly within a non-extreme range.  Relaxed, smooth, flowing motion.  In many ways, Tai Chi is just a complex joint mobility drill, maybe the best in the world.


However, it is not necessarily the most EFFICIENT joint mobility drill.  In other words, if someone has bad back, aching joints and so forth, if it takes them a year to learn the form before they can reach “unconscious competence” and relax into the slow-motion swirl and flow of the movement, frankly most people will never get there.   When I teach Tai Chi at a convention,  I have one or two hours to try to give my students something of value.  And it could well be that the mobility drills with which I begin class are the most important lesson of all.


Basically, you work through your entire body, top to bottom, rotating and flexing every joint at least five times. A possible order is: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, trunk, hips, knees, ankles.    In five minutes you can work through every tendon, ligament, joint and muscle in your entire body, and this daily work might be the single most important “health” activity you can commit to, for a lifetime.


Tai Chi does this, and in a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing manner.  But if you want to cut to the chase–or to learn the perfect warm-up for Tai Chi, I suggest Scott Sonnon’s joint recovery drills, available free on Youtube:

Every day, for the rest of your life.   Five minutes to feeling GREAT when you wake up in the morning (the saying is: if you want to heal a bad back, do it slowly.  If you want to prevent a bad back, do it daily). Aren’t you worth it?




The ANCIENT CHILD 30-Day Program is Here!

Buy now - Steven Barnes - The Ancient Child - Evolution.ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY PROGRAM months talking about this innovative program ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY PROGRAM Finally, after a lifetime of learning, thirty years of teaching, and three years of testing, the ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY PROGRAM is ready!

After months talking about this innovative program, I wish I could say that I “created” this program, but the truth is that what I’ve done is gathered the very best from the very finest men and women I’ve ever been blessed to study with, practiced it all to the best of my ability, and find the point inside myself that all roads lead to…and then ask WHAT WERE THEY ALL SAYING IN COMMON?

What was it my teachers were trying to bang into my #$%% head?

  1. Whatever you want to master, you have to do EVERY DAY.
  2. You have to integrate mind, body, and emotion, or you can never be whole.
  3. You have to RAISE YOUR ENERGY if you want to get out of your rut…

It took decades of learning, of teaching, studying, failing, succeeding, and failing again, to distill it all down to its essence, and I bring it to you today. (more…)

Tell the truth about your own life, and you become much harder to lie to.


Reading this research study on adverse childhood experiences, which begain in an obesity clinic, I 100% agree with what this article says: behavioral dysfunctions are a form of PTSD, often related to childhood trauma. This is one reason that the “Morning Ritual” concept incorporates both the “Ancient Child”, heartbeat meditation, physical motion, and focus. Why I believe so strongly in dealing with the fear that lies at the base of all negative emotion. Sigh.

I can tell you the first time I realized how bad it was, and how I needed to trust instinct rather than the surface or “presenting” stories. I was a GOH at a convention in Texas, and teaching a morning Tai Chi workshop. There was a lady on the periphery of the workshop, trying to do the movements. She was extremely obese, and more, her teeth were rotted out. My first impression was that she was like one overweight person pushed into the middle of a second one, a very sweet small face and bright eyes in the middle of a puffy cocoon of fatty tissue. Over 300 pounds. (more…)

Ancient Child–Evolution

About twenty-five years ago I adapted Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to the process of designing your life.

And called it “Lifewriting.” Since that time I’ve taught Lifewriting to thousands of people in person and through audio and video courses, lectured on it at the Smithsonian, at Mensa, on radio and television, at universities and workshops, and have been blessed to receive countless letters and emails and hugs and tearful thanks that the technologies I grouped into that very special pattern have changed and saved lives.

But there was a limitation to “Lifewriting”, something I always saw but wasn’t wise enough to improve. You see, the limitation (I won’t call it a “problem”) was that it was a mental technique, a strategic syntax for organizing resources into an optimal pattern. It works, no doubt about it.

But…the greatest path in human life is that of evolution, of awakening, of becoming an “awakened adult”, and my great spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy taught that that path can be approached by opening your heart OR awakening your body… but never by creating mental models.

That was what I’d done, created a wonderful mental model. That meant that it was great for navigating “the dream”, but not so much for going beyond. What I needed was something that did both. Having a great time in consensus reality is no mean feat. I may consider that just the beginning, but it’s nice to pay the bills, be popular, win athletic awards and all that good stuff.

But…it’s just the beginning. (more…)