Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a Question to See the Answer.
Here's a start.
A question was asked:
Kelley Graham responds -
Yes to both. I chose that word carefully to describe my program. The meaning depends on the student's expectations.
I feel that Internal Kung Fu enriches all aspects of life's experience. For those on a spiritual path, my program is useful. For those who are not, my program is useful.
The UCB Program emphasizes the ability to contact and, more importantly, develop the parts of the brain associated with consciousness, insight and awareness.
The result of this process is that a person behaves well and in accordance with the highest standards in, hopefully, any context. Professional, personal, private, spiritual, physical... Whatever the conditions, 'natural grace', is apparent in all movements and decisions.
'Natural' means it's already there - part of our Primary Inheritance - only to be realized or uncovered for expression. Hard work is needed. Much bitter to get the sweet.
'Grace' also connotes dignity and composure under stress. especially when taken in context with 'Power'.
Go to http://ucbprogram.com/user/password and follow the directions.
Contact Kelley Graham using the contact link or call 520.770.1200 for a brief informal interview concerning your aims and intentions. Then come down and see how we train and if it's for you. That's it. First class is free.
NOTE: Please create an account on this website and agree to the terms and waiver of liability before training.
It depends on what you commit to the process. As a rule of thumb, three good practice sessions per week will enable reasonable progress. If you can only get two sessions in, you will maintain your level, but slip over time. Four sessions is best.
So much depends on how you define 'Proficiency'. The UCB Program seeks to help you change your condition. Think of the UCB Program as a tool for refining the body, deepening your awareness and increasing concentration.
When refining, loosening or softening the body, progress can be easily measured in terms of range of movement, pain relief and raised energy levels. Structural accomplishment is similarly easy to quantify... you are much stronger.
Since measuring progress in awareness and concentration is so difficult, we endeavor to note the external manifestations or symptoms of such progress. This is why partner training is so essential. In solo training you may feel or believe that you've improved, but as soon as you touch another person, you know.
Without the honest feedback provided by vigorous partner training, progress in mindfulness and concentration is just talk and conjecture.
That having been said, a reasonable level of structural integration can be reached in three years of dilligent practice. You will notice immediately more relaxation and increased energy. Going beyond this, it's hard to say how long it will take since students are so different and have such wildly different expectations. Besides, it's the journey, not the destination. Try to manage your expectations keeping in mind the present moment. This is one important aspect of "Empty Cup, Beginners' Mind".
'Eating Bitter' refers to the efforts and energy required to change your condition and is an important concept in traditional training. Instruction challenges you on many levels, without hard, bitter training you cannot come to know your limits, much less expand them.
Real change is rare and requires courage, energy and commitment to accomplish. This is the 'Sweet'... Eat Bitter to get the Sweet.
Kalama Sutta (Kalama Sutra)
Do not simply believe what you hear just because you have heard it for a long time.
You should go beyond opinion and belief. You can rightly reject anything which when accepted, practiced and perfected leads to more aversion, more craving and more delusion. They are not beneficial and are to be avoided. Conversely, you can rightly accept anything which when accepted and practiced leads to unconditional love, contentment and wisdom. These things allow you time and space to develop a happy and peaceful mind. This should be your criteria on what is and what is not the truth; on what should be and what should not be the spiritual practice.
Urban Retreat Center training is immersive and will require your very best efforts. We are unique in that we're training awareness itself - the cause - rather than effects of this accomplishment. Sustained efforts are explicitly mental and physical, not just physical, and can lead to profound insights.
First, we overwhelm the ego to get to the body, then we exhaust the body to get to the mind. This approach helps the student to capture the feeling of neutral... to better manifest 'no advancing and no backing off'. This is the first understanding of Tai Chi Principles in the body.
You will change, if you train sincerely.
We say that: "You do the training and it does you."
We learn and follow Tai Chi Philosophy, Concepts and Principles, however, it must be stressed that our process is NOT intellectual or one of further habit, accumulation or imitation.
Practice generally follows this sequence:
- Brief questions and answers.
- Loosening, stretching and warmup exercises.
- Kelley Graham presents specific topics to explore in training.
- Light partner training, nei gong, medium intensity exercises, postural training and formwork.
- Heavy partner training and more intense work.
- Standing postures or QiGong
Hope to see you there.
This is a simple question with a not-so-simple answer.
First, to progress on this path, "Brutal Self-Honesty" is required. Partner training helps you avoid devusion and lets you see clearly... You may 'believe' that your skill level is improving, but you won't really 'know' until you touch another person.
More importantly, when you train with others who are working the same principles and curriculum as you are, improvement occurs much faster than when practicing solo. It is said that 'A Rising Tide Lift All Boats'. Without partner training, you cannot progress beyond a superficial understanding.
It is also said that 'Consistency = Knowledge' and that 'Understanding comes from Doing'. Understanding the Internal takes 4 hands.
The rule of thumb is 80/20. For every 80 minutes of solo practice you want to get a minimum of 20 minutes partner practice.
I feel it is useful to recognize a distinction between 'Internal' and 'External' approaches to practice, especially for the beginner. However, as training progresses, 'harmonizing' oneself dissolves all such distinctions... regardless of utility. We are then simply talking of 'refinement' in ones practice.
For an overview of the distinction, here's a start...
Neijia and Waijia
In the UCB Program we have many excellent meditations, drills and exercises to help you change your condition. Training for health or martial is really a question of emphasis or 'flavor'. Both martial ability and health are byproducts of proper training, not goals in themselves. We train for awareness and - most importantly - because we enjoy it.
Think of your health, if it's poor, you address the cause not the symptom. Martial ability and health are the symptoms of practice. Expectations of an 'end result' of any sort limit your ability to be in the 'present moment' and subsequently diminish your ability to respond appropriately to the conditions at hand.
QiGong (Chi Kung) are gentle exercises designed to help one discover their natural state. Anyone can practice QiGong as it is performed standing or sitting as ones health dictates. One important benefit of the natural state is increased levels of Qi.
Results of increased Qi include:
- Increased Flexibility
- Increased Concentraion
- Increased Energy
- Better Immune Function
- Improved Digestion
The most important thing for a beginner to keep in mind about QiGong is that the breath and movement must be harmonized.
The UCB Program follows a logical and systematic progression with clearly defined milestones. As always, keep in mind it's the journey, not the destination.
The Greater Flow refers the intrinsic energy movement in the body. Each of the four limbs has a specific circulation that one can feel as the awareness deepens. There is also a circulation associated with the torso - down the front and up the back. Meridian work is a subset of the Greater Flow.
In our methodology, recognizing the Greater Flow opens the joints, supports good health and cultivates Listening Skill or Ting Jin. Maintaining the 'Flow' also ensures that the structure is balanced, correctly aligned and that relaxation is present. In short, the Greater Flow is a foundational tool for 'Harmonizing with Yourself to Harmonize with the Opponent'.
Spinning hand training is the core of our partner practice. It comes from I Liq Chuan, The Martial Art of Awareness. Other martial arts practice similar movements, but call their practice 'rolling arms'. Spinning Hands is unique in that I Liq Chuan training focuses on a specific 'internal feel', developing highly refined awareness & powerful concentration. I Liq Chuan also requires precision and 'flow' resulting in great power and a supple ability to change in harmony with any conditions. Natural fighting ability arises from this awareness.
Please read more from the I Liq Chuan International website.
If you'd like to see some more video examples, here's a place to start.
From the I Liq Chuan System Guide.
"Learning is not to accumulate or imitate... Put your intention on your attention in order to become a reflective receiver... Do not think or judge... With mindfulness we learn, or look into our body, feeling, mind and nature."
- Center of Gravity Force - Center of the feet
- Perineum pointing down to the balance beam line
- Dantien - Suction & Condense
- Mingmen - Project & Expand
- Crown - Suspended
- Sternum - Suction & Condense
- Qua - Maintain the energy on the center of the hips
- Drop shoulders over the hips
- Tucking of the ribs
- Nine solid & one empty on the feet
- Elbows always wrapping down
- Knee pointing to the toe
- Balance the body of Yin & Yang
It is helpful to think of the 13 points as 'anchors' for awareness. These anchors help the student train well and follow the curriculum. After some time, awareness expands so that the 13 Points become one feeling. This marks the first stage of 'Harmonizing With Yourself' and the first realization of understanding what is meant by 'Become a Reflective Receiver'.
It's called Tai Chi Foundations for Kids and can be found using the 'Classes -> Kids' link above.
Yes! It's called 'UCB For Strength & Balance
Our program is a short series of simple movements 20 to 40 minutes long. These movements address relaxation, balance, bone density and coordination. Training can be described as a gentle synthesis of the following activities:
- Mindfulness QiGong (Chi Kung)
- Strength training (No weights are used)
- Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)
Online classes available.
If you wish to have more structured, hands on training, please contact us using the link above. We offer ongoing classes, but most will only need a single workshop to get started. You will find costs to be quite reasonable. Gather a group of your friends and get in touch!
The UCB Program seeks to change your condition through the use of many techniques.
Please see Sit and Spin and make sure to check for dates in Upcoming Events on the sidebar.
You will find that the aims of our 'activist' training are quite similar to those of seated 'quietist' meditation. Seated meditation compliments moving meditation and vice versa.
If your primary training is in seated meditation, you will find our program to enhance your progress. For that matter, anyone from any martial art, movement background or meditative discipline is welcome.
It is said that DaMo taught the Buddhist monks a series of exercises because their single-minded sitting was ruining their bodies. So, in our approach, activist and quietist practices are balanced.
Following I Liq Chuan philosophy we encourage students to practice mindfulness at all times in all activities.
Internal Training emphasizes the harmonious use of the bones and connective tissue to generate power. Useful dietary supplements include:
- Anti-Inflammatory Anti-Oxidant - Turmeric is very effective and avoids the harmful side effects of aspirin or other over the counter products. Capsules are an easy way to reap its benefits. Use only as needed, as a substitute for other anti-inflammatory like asperin. Give your liver a break.
- You may want to get turmeic capsules that include Bromelain to assist assimilation. Sometimes they are hard to find, so Bromelain caps might be good too. I like the chewable ones.
- Joint Care - Pills and drink products with glucosamine and chondroitin help build up your white tissue. Here's an article outlining product quality and use.
- Linament - Zheng Gu Shui is an amazing product. Do not use any 'Hot' products for muscles like Tiger Balm. You will 'Cook' your tendons.
Please follow the informational links provided and check with your health care provider as to the safe use and efficacy of these products. I only share what works for me and am not a doctor or any other kind of medical expert.
Avoid processed sugars and caffeine as these are artificial energy sources. Internal training will give you all the energy you need. If you have been training in the Internal and find yourself using these substances, take a good hard look what you're learning... except for very specific and TEMPORARY circumstances, you shouldn't need ANY artificial 'performance boosters'.