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Don Tow's Website http://www.dontow.com Mon, 26 Mar 2018 04:45:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Site Overview http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/home/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/home/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:03:04 +0000 http://dontow.com/wordpress/?p=366 The www.dontow.com is the website of Don M. Tow. It contains articles in three topical categories (or pages): Political/Social Commentary, Taiji, and Other Topics.  Currently, a new release of this website is published usually every three months.  The website also has a fourth category “Soccer” about the soccer book that I published in 2006.

Any article in a particular category can be accessed via the corresponding category on the menu bar at the top of the page.  Any article in a particular release can be accessed via the corresponding release on the right sidebar.

This website began in October 2006, and the website has been redesigned twice, once in October 2008, and the second time in November 2009.

We welcome comments from readers. Readers can directly submit their comments at the end of any article.

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Sample Letters from Tong Zeng’s Collection of “10,000 Cries for Justice” http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/sample-letters-from-tong-zengs-collection-of-10000-cries-for-justice/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/sample-letters-from-tong-zengs-collection-of-10000-cries-for-justice/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:00:51 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5033 The “10,000 Cries for Justice” initiative provides an important digital archive of historical written letters about WWII atrocities inflicted by the Japanese military on the Chinese population during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945).  This digital archive documenting the first-hand experience of the victims provides powerful evidence to refute all the false claims made by the Japanese government. It provides a powerful tool to learn from history. By finally resolving the long-overdue injustices, it will help to establish genuine friendship between the Japanese people and the Chinese people, and true peace between Japan and China, as well as other countries.

This collection of letters were written by Chinese atrocity victims sent to Mr. Tong Zeng (童增) starting in the early 1990s.  These letters can be accessed via the bilingual website (www.10000cfj.org). [1]  This article presents excerpts from several sample letters from this historical collection of these important letters.

Originally around 10,000 letters were written to Mr. Tong Zeng.  Since copying machines were not readily available to Mr. Tong Zeng about 20-25 years ago, many of the letters were borrowed by many relatives and friends of the letter writers and by journalists, and were never returned.  Therefore, Mr. Tong Zeng currently has only about half of the original collection. [2]

The letters can be classified into nine categories:

  • Air Bombings (AB)
  • Biological/Chemical Warfare (BC)
  • Nanking Massacre (NM)
  • Other Massacres (OM)
  • Murders (MU)
  • Rapes (RA)
  • Sex Slaves (SS, also euphemistically known as Comfort Women)
  • Slave Laborers (SL)
  • Others (OT)

Reading these atrocities brings chills down your spine, because the experiences of the victims were horrifying and unimaginable.  It makes you yell out loud “how can one human do this to another human?”  Even though it is painful to read about these atrocities, it is important that we must do so, in order to keep history from repeating itself.

We provide excerpts from one sample letter from each of the first eight categories of atrocities.


Air Bombings (AB):  Letter s0098 (clicking on the letter ID allows you to see the whole letter) [3].  This letter describes the air bombing and other atrocities in Wuyi County, Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province:

“More than 8,000 people died from being buried alive, burning to death, freezing, boiling with hot water, cramming pepper water, poisoning, attacking by hounds, starving, body splitting by horses (all kinds), hanging, skinning, mutilation, (gang) raping, live targets of shooting and flesh carving.  …  After the Japanese army retreated in May 1945, 25 shoulder pole loads of human bones were excavated, more than 2,700 skeletons were discovered across the area.  …  18 women were raped (gang raped) before death, over 500 women were raped by brutal force; these women were stripped and raped in broad daylight, and “teased” before being raped, some even died from splitting the body with knife.”

Written by
Tang Qiangshen
Return address: 33 Xinxing Road, Wuyi County, Zhejiang Province


Biological/Chemical Warfare (BC):  Letter s0758.  This letter describes the Japanese Army using cholera as a biological weapon in Yunnan Province:

“Furthermore, in 1941 when the Japanese Army invaded Western Yunnan, after Baoshan was conquered, large crowds of residents living in Baoshan and other places in Western Yunnan swarmed to Kunming to avoid slaughter by the Japanese Army. Immediately afterwards cholera broke out in Kunming. At first people thought it was epidemic plague, but soon it spread to the whole city. Those contracted cholera first would have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, and soon they died in less than one day. On the streets one could see dead people each day. Back then at the biggest and most famous coffin shop (the boss was surnamed Zhao) on Wenmiao Street in Kunming, all the coffins were sold out.”

To keep the Japanese army from advancing from the Baoshan area of Western Yunnan to Kunming and other parts of China, the Chinese army destroyed the Gongguo Bridge, the only bridge on the Lancang River connecting the Baoshan area and the Kunming area, thus stopping the Japanese invasion of Kunming.

“Since the Japanese Army was unable to cross the Lancang River natural barrier, they burned, killed and looted in Baoshan and other places, persecuted common people.  Afterwards, they spread cholera bacteria in Western Yunnan, therefore the fleeing people of all social circles brought the cholera bacteria to Kunming and spread it around.  …  As mentioned above, the number of civilians suffering direct or indirect damage from the Japanese Army runs to thousands and millions. Newspapers published at that time all carried the story.”

Tang Qingyu
November 20, 1992
Address: 53 Jingxing Street, Kunming, Yunnan Province


Nanking Massacre (NM):  Letter s3562.  This letter describes his family’s experience during the NM:

“I was born here in 1936. When I was a little over one year old, the Japanese Imperialism savagely invaded China, and carried out barbarian Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing. My father Zhang Jilu was killed in this Massacre when he was only 27, and later my two uncles were also killed in bombing by Japanese aircrafts, leaving only my grandparents, my aunt, my mother and myself in the family. In the aftermath of this tragic incident, my grandfather Zhang Chuhai lost three sons, my young mother lost her husband, and I lost my father when I was only a little over one year old, which forced my family to lose livelihood.  Since I was young, my mother tasted untold hardship in begging while holding me on her back. Since I was still young, and my mother was a woman, we were humiliated everywhere. Even if we received one meal, we did not know where the next one would come.”

Zhang Mingde
Yinchuan City, Ningxia Autonomous Region


Other Massacres (OM):  Letter s0265.  This letter describes the Nanmazhuan Massacre in Fenyang City, Shanxi Province:

“That day, upon entering the village, the Japanese army captured, beat and killed people from door to door. After they broke into the yard of our house, they began to beat everybody, and took everything from us. Being scared, we had no place to hide. They asked all of us to raise our hands. We were not allowed to move. Then, they tied up my father and my second uncle and carried them away. At that time, our village had over 200 households, over 100 people were brutally tortured by the Japanese soldiers. Among the 100, 40 young men were bound with ropes. They were lined up next to a huge water pit in our village. Inside the pit some area was dry. The heads of the Japanese gave orders to fire and shoot those unarmed villagers, so the soldiers started to shoot them to death with rifles and machine guns. In a sudden, the 40 innocent young men fell into the pool of blood. The whole pit turned red. This is the ‘Nanmazhuang Massacre’ of Fenyang County which created a stir in Middle Shanxi Area during the Japanese war of aggression against China (this case is especially recorded in Fenyang County Annals). My father Duan Huanyou, and my second uncle Duan Huanlong were murdered by the Japanese army in this appalling massacre. I was only 7 at that time and I saw everything with my own eyes how my father and my second uncle were cruelly killed. I can never forget this horrible scene.”

Duan Peishen
February 9th, 1993


Murders (MU):  Letter s0060.  This letter describes the murders of his family members in Fushan County, Linfen City, Shanxi Province:

“We are from Xiadong Village, Dongzhang Township, Fushan County of Shanxi Province. In 1943, the Japanese army came to Fushan, burned, killed and looted everywhere, pursuing the inhuman ‘Sanguang’ policy (the policy of ‘burn all, kill all, loot all’). On August 28th, 1943 (of lunar calendar), they invaded our village, captured my grandfather Zhang Dagen and my father Zhang Kunhui , tortured them ruthlessly and beat them to death . My grandfather was 47 years old and my father was 23 at the time.”

Zhang Xianglong, Zhang Xiangfeng, Zhang Xiangwu
March 1st, 1993


Rapes (RA):  Letter s3626.  This letter describes his family’s experience in Changsha City, Hunan Province:

“One of my older female cousins, only 13, was discovered by the Japanese soldiers even though she was disguised as a boy with her head being shaved. Three Japanese soldiers dragged her away to rape her and cut open her vagina because she was too young.”

“In June 1944, the Japanese army invaded Changsha for the third time. On the afternoon of lunar July 13, when my mother, along with a group of women, was returning home from the countryside, they were captured by the Japanese army, stripped off with hands tied on the back and then bayoneted to death. My mother was bayoneted for eight times and thrown into Xiang River. An old widow was also thrown into the river after being bayoneted to death. As nobody came to collect her corpse, the corpse was pushed to the river bank by waves and eaten by crows bit by bit in the hot weather, with bones dragged away by dogs.”

Zhou Zhenqiu
March 18, 1993


Slave Laborers (SL):  Letter s2114.  This letter describes the experience of his uncle as a slave laborer in Japan for four years.

“In January 1942, many people including my uncle were captured by the invading Japanese army during a raid in northern Daqinghe, Hebei and sent to Tanggu Camp. Later they were sent to the railway station of Tsukino, Tone, Gunma, Japan. They were forced to labor for 4 years in a ravine 3 km southern of the railway station. They dug a cave every day, which was over 15 km long from east to west and used for hydraulic power generation. They did heavy work every day but ate pig feed and they were always starved. Instead of being provided with warm clothes in winter and thin clothes in summer, they were only given a crotch cloth in a year to work naked. The Japanese foremen often beat the Chinese laborers with sticks and whips and called them morons. My uncle saw with his eyes that many Chinese laborers were beaten to death by the Japanese foremen. The life was inhuman and intolerable. Some laborers committed suicide and some escaped and were caught back, bitten to death by foreign dogs. My uncle was strong before he’s captured, but he got weak due to the heavy work. To avoid being beaten by the foremen, he worked hard day and night. There was one time he was too hungry and exhausted in the cave that he blacked out. When he came to himself, he felt great pain in his chest and spit blood. He struggled to get up, thinking about talking to the foremen to take a rest. But unexpectedly, when the wolf-like foremen saw my uncle not working, they started beating my uncle in his head with sticks despite his begging. They didn’t stop until my uncle bled in the head. My uncle was injured, but the foremen didn’t give him treatment or medicine, or food if he didn’t work. So my uncle didn’t have a choice but keep working. The Japanese foremen said, ‘You Chinese people cannot run away. You are just food of Japanese dogs.’  Many Chinese laborers died there of torturing. Also, many laborers were disabled due to the beating or work and some got blinded. They suffered in Japan until the end of 1945 after Japan surrendered. My uncle Wang Jinsheng and other survivors returned to the Red Cross of Qingdao, China in March 1946 with the help of the American army. Finally, my uncle reunited with the family.”

Wang Jinsheng (dead)
Claimant: His nephew Wang Genyou


Sex Slaves (SS), or Euphemistically called Comfort Women (CW):  Letter s1380.  This is a letter submitted by Zhang Shuangbing on behalf of about three dozen sex slaves.  Below is an excerpt from one of these sex slaves from Shanxi Province.

“In March 1942, the Japanese soldiers came to Jiazhang Village, Xiyan Town and captured my father Hou Yinshai, deputy head of the village, and me. Then, they took off our upper clothes and beat us with sticks. We were bruised all over the body. Afterwards, they took us to Jingui Village and separated me from my father. I was dragged into a room which was then locked and I didn’t know where my father was. At over 11 p.m. that night, someone opened the door and took me to another room. After I entered the room, I saw a black-face officer and realized something bad was going to happen, so I cried out loud, which made the officer angry. He kicked me with leather shoes and dragged me on the bed. Then, he gagged me, stripped off all my clothes and raped me. I just turned 14 and was ruined by them. At dawn, I was taken back to the room where I was first kept. After that, every day from dawn to night, I would be raped by the Japanese for over 20 times.

For over 70 days, I was locked in that painful prison-like room, wasn’t given enough food or water and had to relieve myself in the room, living like an animal. I couldn’t see daylight until I was needed. After over 70 days, I got all swollen up. At last, my family ransomed my father and me with a flock of silver dollars (over 20), a donkey and over 250kg of wheat from my family and over 200 silver coins from my husband’s family. My uncle took a donkey with him to carry me home. We stayed one night at my uncle’s in Gaozhuang and he sent us home the next day. After I returned home, I was so ill that I couldn’t eat or drink. I was seriously ill for over a month. Since then, I have become afraid of dreaming, demented and would have a brain disorder and talk nonsense when I want to talk about important matters or talk too much. My whole life is ruined by the Japanese. Now, I couldn’t even support myself.”

Hou Qiaolian
November 1992


Summary:  Tong Zeng’s “10,000 Cries for Justice” Collection (童增书简) provides clear-cut evidence of the massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese military inflicted on the general population all over China (as well as other parts of Asia) during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945).  These atrocities violated international humanitarian law (also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict) as stated in the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions. Some people consider this collection of victim letters to be analogous to the “Diary of Anne Frank.” [4]  It is important to study these letters because we must not let history be forgotten.  If we learn from it, then perhaps we can have true reconciliation between Japan and China, and genuine friendship between the Japanese people and the Chinese people.  Then true peace between Japan and China can be established.


[1] More background information about the “10,000 Cries for Justice” initiative and its website can be found in two earlier articles “10,000 Cries for Justice” and “An Archive of Historic Cries for Justice Letters.”

[2] Mr. Tong Zeng currently has about 4,000 letters, plus another 1,000+ “Form Letters.”  Currently, the “www.10000cfj.org” displays only the letters, and only about 15% of the letters have been translated into English.

[3] In the “10,000 Cries for Justice” website (www.10000cfj.org), each letter has a unique 5-character ID, starting with the letter “s” followed by four numbers.  If you click on letter’s ID, you can see the whole letter.  Please note that the English translations of some of the letters are being improved.  So when you check the website, some of the wordings might have been changed.  Also, at the end of the English letter, if you click on the button “Click to see the  scanned letter”, it shows you the scanned copy of the original Chinese handwritten letter.  If you want to see the Chinese transcribed digitized letter, go to the search page of the Chinese version of this website (http://www.10000cfj.org/?page_id=141), and type in the unique ID in the first box.

[4] The Liaoning Provincial Education Press also thinks that the Tong Zeng’s Collection has historical significance, and is planning to publish in book form a sample of 100 of these letters.  The scheduled publication date of this bilingual book is July 2018.

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Deflect and Supplement: Part of Fundamental Principles of Taijiquan As a Martial Art http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/deflect-and-supplement-part-of-fundamental-principles-of-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/deflect-and-supplement-part-of-fundamental-principles-of-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:55:18 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5061 The principles of deflect and supplement are fundamentally important for Taijiquan as a martial art.  Although these principles are relevant for all styles of martial arts, they are especially important for Taijiquan.  This article discusses these principles.

From the very beginning of Taiji several hundred years ago, Taiji was always viewed as a good exercise for health and a good martial art.  When we discuss Taiji as a martial art, often we refer to it as Taijiquan, or the fist of Taiji.  The fundamental concept behind Taijiquan is that one does not oppose an attacking force head-on, because then whoever is the bigger and stronger will win.  Instead, one deflects the attacking force or one supplements the attacking force with a force along the direction of the attacking force, as well as many other techniques.  Then the winner does not have to be the person who is bigger or stronger.  We elaborate on these two approaches.

Deflect:  If the attacking force is along the x-direction, then a deflection force with a component along the y-direction will be able to deflect the attacking force. In principle, this deflection force can be very small, and it will still be able to deflect the attacking force, since the attacking force has no component along the y-direction.  This is the basis for the famous Chinese saying “4 ounces can deflect a thousand pounds.”  However, the speed in which the deflection can occur will depend on the size of the deflection force.  So in a realistic application, the deflection force has to be reasonable, but it definitely does not have to be comparable to the attacking force.

This principle is applied all the time in Taijiquan (as well as in other styles of martial arts).  For example, if A (person in black) tries to punch the head of B (person in white) with A’s right fist.  B can mitigate this attack by raising his left hand to deflect A’s right fist to B’s left.


A tries to punch B’s head with his right fist


B raises left arm to deflect punch by applying a small force perpendicular to A’s attacking force


As explained earlier, because A’s attacking force is along the x-direction, as long as B’s deflection force has a component along the y-direction, it will be able to deflect the attacking force even if B is smaller and not as strong as A.

Supplement:  Besides deflecting the attacking force, B can also use another method to mitigate A’s attack by supplementing A’s attacking force along the direction of the attack.  In the above example when A tries to strike B with a force along the x-direction, B can use his arms to apply a force also along x-direction.  Since A is already moving along the x-direction, by supplementing with a force also along the x-direction, B can pull A off balance.

When A senses that he is being pulled off balance, he can change direction by stopping his movement along the x-direction and pull back in the opposite direction.  When B senses that A is changing direction, then B can change from being a defender to becoming an attacker by changing his motion also.  Now, B moves his left foot forward to behind A’s right foot to keep A from being able to step back easily, and at the same time moves his left arm forward and up against A’s upper body, causing A to bend and fall backward.

This sequence of moves is illustrated in the photos below:

 A tries to strike B on the chest with his right fist B turns body to right, then sandwiches A’s right arm with his two arms, and also pulls A in direction he was moving
If A senses that he is losing balance and pulls his right arm back and also moves backward, then B also changes direction.  B takes step forward with his left foot to prevent A from easily moving backward or to B’s left, and at the same time moves his left arm (which is under A’s right arm) diagonally upward (and also slightly to left) toward A’s head while using his right hand to press B’s right arm downward.  During this movement, B also rotates his waist from right to left to add more force to his counter attack.  The end result is that A’s right arm is locked in an awkward and painful position, and A’s head and body are being pushed backward and to B’s left while B’s left foot traps A from moving in that direction  

This sequence of moves initiated by using the supplement principle illustrates how to mitigate an opponent’s attacking force and then followed by changing from being a defender to an attacker.  It also illustrates the meaning of the Taiji symbol.

Taiji Symbol

In the Taiji symbol, the black and white fish-like symbols represent two people engaged in martial art.  For example, person A can be represented by the black fish-like symbol in an attack mode, and person B can be represented by the white fish-like symbol in a defend mode.  The small black dot within the white fish-like symbol represents the attack potential of person B.  That attack potential can change from potential to reality, and the black dot changes to become the black fish-like symbol.  This can be thought of as the Taiji symbol rotates, the black part becomes the white part, and the white part becomes the black part.  Similarly, one can think of the small white dot within the black fish-like symbol to represent A’s defend potential, and when that defend potential becomes reality, the white dot becomes the white fish-like symbol.

Therefore, the Taiji symbol explains the essence of Taijiquan.  One moment one can be in a defend mode, and then quickly changes to an attack mode, and vice versa, one can be in an attack mode, and then quickly changes to a defend mode.  When one is in a defend mode, there is the potential to become the attack mode, and vice versa, when one is in an attack mode, there is the potential to become the defend mode.  Such transformation can be continuous throughout the martial art engagement.

Summary:  From a martial art perspective, Taiji does not necessarily depend on who has the superior strength.  By using various techniques, including deflect and supplement, Taijiquan can be a very effective martial art which does not necessarily require superior strength to win. [1]  Although other styles of martial arts also use many of these principles, they are intrinsically important in Taijiquan.


[1] See, e.g., “Martial Applications of Taijiquan“:  http://www.dontow.com/2008/12/martial-applications-of-taijiquan/, “Taiji and Martial Arts“:  http://www.dontow.com/2010/06/taiji-and-martial-arts/, “Yin-Yang Theory and Martial Applications of Martial Art“:  http://www.dontow.com/2006/12/yin-yang-theory-and-martial-applications-of-taijiquan/, and “Underlying Foundations of Taiji Movements: Perspective from Martial Applications”:  http://www.dontow.com/2008/08/underlying-foundations-of-taiji-movements-perspective-from-martial-applications/.


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Can the American Dream Be Continued? – II http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/can-the-american-dream-be-continued-ii/ http://www.dontow.com/2018/03/can-the-american-dream-be-continued-ii/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:50:30 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=5019 The U.S. has long been known as a country where if you work and study hard, then you, or at least your children, will be able to get a good education, a good job, and live a reasonably comfortable life.  This is known as the American Dream.  Every year especially after the end of WWII, thousands and thousands of people from all over the world have immigrated to this country (most legally, and some illegally) to seek and often achieve the American Dream.  There are of course many reasons, e.g., the American democratic form of government and the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit, for making the American Dream possible.  In a January 2010 article “Can the American Dream Be Continued?“, we discussed an often-overlooked significant contributing factor to the American Dream, i.e., the unique geographical and natural environment in which the U.S. grew during the first 200+ years of its existence.  In this article, we revisit this issue and elaborate on the implications of not properly taken into account this contributing factor to the American Dream.

Review of the Unique U.S. Environment:  The U.S. is really unique in terms of geographic or natural opportunities during most of its existence.  It offered a vast country with a very small native population.  It offered good natural resources and vast land ideal for agriculture and cattle ranging.  Thus, there was always room to expand and enough resources to share, instead of being a zero-sum situation where one could gain only at the expense of someone else.  The country actually welcomed more new comers to help develop the vast land.  It was partially due to immigration to the U.S. of so many of the best and brightest from other countries that propelled the U.S. economic engine to become the richest and most powerful country in the world.

The U.S. is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the East and the Pacific Ocean on the West, providing natural barriers from foreign aggressors.  It is bordered on the north and the south by two relatively new countries also with a vast land of their own and a small native population.  Until WWII, the U.S. was able to live relatively peacefully without worrying too much about the threat of foreign invasion.  Thus, it could focus its resources and energy internally to develop the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. suffered relatively minor damages from WWII.  That and the above advantages enabled it to develop into the richest and most powerful country in the world after WWII.  Then for another 30-50 years before several other countries (e.g., first Germany and Japan, and then Korea, India and China) developed into credible economic competitors, the U.S. was able to reap great economic advantages all over the world.

This is not to deny that other factors (e.g., its democratic system of government, the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit) were also significant contributors to the success of the U.S. during the first two hundred years of its existence.  The point we want to make is that there was almost an ideal geographical and natural environment for the U.S. during most of its existence that greatly helped it to develop into the richest and most powerful country in the world and created the foundation for the American Dream.

Continuing Expanding Economy and Zero Sum Economy:  When a country has vast land and natural resources to share, adding more people does not create a problem, because there is plenty to share.  Not only that it does not introduce a problem, it actually helps the country to grow, because the U.S. can use the additional manpower and intelligence to cultivate the land, work in the factories, create new initiatives, etc.  In its first 200 years of existence, the U.S. was basically living in a continuing expanding economy, and therefore could absorb and welcome lots of immigrants, especially when among the immigrants were the best and brightest from all over the world.  However, starting near the end of the 20th century when the U.S. no longer has an almost unlimited amount of land and natural resources to share, it gradually changes from a “continuing expanding economy” to an almost “zero sum economy,” when giving more to one person may require a reduction for another person unless you can grow the size of the pie.  When you couple this change with the emergence of credible economic competitors from several other countries around the world, it leads to the question of whether the American Dream can be continued.  In order for the American Dream to continue, we must grow the size of the pie.

How Can We Continue to Make the Pie Larger?  Human beings have both a positive side and a negative side. [1]  The positive side takes more into consideration what is good for the larger community, and the negative side takes more into consideration what is good for me (or me and my family).  The political and social culture of a country can encourage or inhibit more on the positive side or the negative side.  In a continuing expanding economy, not cultivating the positive side of human behavior does not necessarily stop the country from meeting the needs of the majority of its people, because there are always room to expand and enough resources to share.  However, in a zero sum economy, without expanding the size of the pie, it will be difficult to satisfy the needs of a continuously growing population.  In order to grow the size of the pie, the people must work together for the good of the whole.  Therefore, the country must cultivate and encourage actions and policies that can foster people showing more the positive side.  Whether the American Dream can continue will depend on how the American society responds to this challenge.

How Is the American Society Responding to this Challenge?  Although facing this great challenge of the need to increase the size of the pie, the culture and policies adopted by the American society in the last decade have continued as before. They continue to encourage and reward those who exhibit more of the negative side. We illustrate with a few examples. [2]

  • Collapse of the Financial Market: The event that has captured the public and media’s attention in 2008 was the near-collapse of the financial market (occurring first in the U.S. and rapidly spreading to the whole world).  This collapse was due to many banks and mortgage companies and various insurance companies investing in high risk mortgage loans and investments derived from these risky mortgage loans.  During the several previous years of booming housing market when house prices kept going up and people kept buying houses with loans they really couldn’t afford, these companies made billions and billions of profits.  It was not that the people who were reaping these huge profits did not realize that these loans and derivative investments were intrinsically risky and the boom was built on a house of cards that sooner or later would collapse.  They didn’t care, because their motive was to make as much money as possible for themselves and their companies.  The fact that what they were doing could lead to financial disasters for the country and the world is a problem to be worried about later and more importantly is someone else’s problem.
  • Greedy Aftermath Following the Burst of the Financial Bubble:  To keep the financial meltdown from spreading, the U.S. government offered bail outs to many companies.  Companies like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase who had record earnings in 2009 at first accepted the bailout money from the federal government, and then repay the bailout money ahead of schedule when they realized that their plan to give record bonuses in 2009 would result in federal financial scrutiny if they still have the bailout money.  [2]  Again, their motive was to make as much money as possible for themselves, independent of whether their actions were for the good of the country.
  • Recently Passed Tax Law:  The recently passed tax law including tax reduction at the top obviously benefited the very rich, and would increase the disparity between the rich and the poor.  Furthermore, it would significantly increase the federal deficit, leaving this critically serious problem for future generations to face.  The fact that it benefits the rich even if it is not good for the country in the long run did not bother the rich and the people in power.
  • Inaction in Congress:  How many times have we observed in Congress that votes were cast basically along party lines.  To vote along the party line and to retain the support of that party’s leaders and funders were more important than to vote for what is in the best interest of the American people.
  • Essentially No Action from the Republican Party in Investigating Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election:  Republicans as a whole basically have dragged their feet in investigating what should be a most important meddling by a foreign power in the internal affairs of the U.S.  Just imagine what would be their attitude and actions if the Russian meddling was to favor the Democratic Party.  If our objective is for the good of the American people, then our decisions should not be almost purely partisan.
  • Greed and Self-Centric Motive in Labor Unions:  Labor unions definitely serve a useful purpose.  Without labor unions, profits earned from the labor of the employees will not be nearly as well distributed, resulting in a small and very rich owner/manager class and a large and very poor worker class.  However, with the increasing power and influence of labor unions, labor unions often continue to demand higher salaries and better benefits which sometimes can no longer be sustained from a business point of view, especially when their government or corporation is getting closer and closer to insolvency.  Past examples are the airline and auto industries.  State governments and local school districts have been facing tremendous budgetary shortfalls and higher taxes, yet teacher unions continue to oppose strongly any significant sharing of the health insurance premium even though most other types of workers today contribute a non-negligible share of their health insurance premiums.
  • Entitlement Attitude Toward Government Subsidy:  Government subsidy is often needed for the poor and the underprivileged.  However, one should do his/her upmost to rid of the need for the subsidy, and should not adopt the attitude of entitlement to the subsidy.  One should work hard to be self-dependent and should not continue to take the government subsidy.
  • Gun Control:  It has become crystal clear that the lack of control on sales and registration of guns and assault weapons poses serious dangers to our children in schools.  Yet because of the powerful lobbying influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), meaningful gun control legislation has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress.  Apparently what fills the pockets of guns and ammunition makers and dealers and their lobbying contributions are more important to American law makers than the safety of our school children and the American public at large.  We hope that the recent protest movement led by the surviving students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that has spread across the whole country can finally break this long-standing roadblock.  This protest movement and the resultant nationwide brush-fire it has ignited gives us a glimmer of hope that the traditional way of doing business in the American society could be altered to give us the potential of continuing the American Dream.

Assessment:  One may say that all the things and behaviors just discussed are not necessarily new; they more or less have always been occurring.  Yes, but when they were occurring in a continuing growing economy, the impact is nowhere as bad, because there was room to expand and there were enough resources to share with the middle and lower classes.  However, after 200+ years, the advantages of the intrinsic U.S. environment have been mostly spent.  Unless we emphasize how to work together synergistically to grow the pie, we end up in a zero sum economy, when greed and self-centric behavior will lead to a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and policies such as a rapidly growing federal deficit or voting purely by party affiliation which in the short term may benefit certain people, but in the long term will be disastrous for the country as a whole.

As stated earlier, this is not to deny that other factors (e.g., the American democratic system of government and the American pioneering and entrepreneur spirit) were also significant contributors to the success of the U.S. during the first two hundred years of its existence.  Furthermore, we do not mean to imply that more greed and more self-centered motive are found in the U.S. than in other countries.  As a matter of fact, we believe that there are more similarities than differences among people from various countries.  Every human being has a positive side and a negative side.  In a continuing expanding economy, the adverse consequences of exhibiting more of the negative side are no where as severe as in a zero sum economy.  The U.S. and most of the world are now in a zero sum economy.  Whoever can exhibit more of the positive side will create a larger pie and come out first in the competition.  If the U.S. comes out first, then the American Dream can be continued.

Summary:  For over 200+ years, the U.S. offered the American Dream, i.e., if you are willing to study hard and work hard, then you will have a good future:  A good education, a good job, and a good life, if not for yourself, then for your children.  Millions of people from all over the world have immigrated to the U.S. to seek and then fulfilled the American Dream.  This American Dream is real, but can it continue into the future?  We discuss that a significant contributing factor to the success of the American Dream is the unique geographical and natural environment enjoyed by the U.S. for 200+ years of its existence, when it was mostly a continuing expanding economy.  However, after 200+ years and with emerging economic competitors, the U.S. has been transitioning to a zero sum economy.  In order for the American Dream to continue, we can no longer do business as in the past, because we must make the pie larger, and we must build up the culture and adopt policies that encourage people to cultivate their positive side.  Only by working synergistically, can we grow the pie and benefit all the people.  Whether the American Dream can be continued will depend on whether the American society is willing to make the change from doing business as usual to doing business while keeping in mind the interest of the whole society.  Events in the last decade or two do not give us a positive outlook, but we see a glimmer of hope from the recent youth-led protest movement on gun control following the mass murder in a Florida high school.

Similarly, the discussion can also be carried over into international relations.  In order for the U.S. to win friends around the world, our foreign policies must be based on win-win situations.

[1] This is not necessarily inconsistent with the Christian belief that all people are sinners, because different standards are involved.

[2] More examples and information were provided in “Can the American Dream Be Continued?

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Nanking Massacre 80th Anniversary Commemoration: From the Eyes and Words of Eye Witnesses http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/nanking-massacre-80th-anniversary-commemoration-from-the-eyes-and-words-of-eye-witnesses/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/nanking-massacre-80th-anniversary-commemoration-from-the-eyes-and-words-of-eye-witnesses/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 08:00:53 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4948 This year (2017) marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, one of the worst atrocities in human history.  It is a time in history that:

  • atrocious cruelties were inflicted by one group of humans on another group of humans where within six weeks about 300,000 Chinese (including civilians, women and children) just in the city of Nanking were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army, and where about 20,000 women and girls were raped
  • a group of courageous men and women (most were foreigners from Western countries), now called upstanders, who risked their own lives and set up an International Safety Zone in Nanking that sheltered and saved about 250,000 Chinese from being slaughtered and thousands of Chinese women and girls from being raped
  • lessons can be learned, because similar types of atrocities can occur again in many parts of this world if we don’t learn from this part of history
  • reminds us of the power of one, i.e., one person or a small group of persons can start a movement that can change the world

Here is the complete Powerpoint presentation that was presented on December 6, 2017 at the “Nanking Massacre 80th Anniversary Commemoration” at the Monmouth County Library Headquarter in Manalapan, New Jersey that was organized by the New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (NJ-ALPHA). Since this complete file is very large (95 MB), it may take a couple of minutes to load, so have patience.  Here is the much smaller Powerpoint presentation without the embedded audio files (611 KB).

This program presents the observations of eyewitnesses (Westerners, Chinese, and Japanese) that were recorded in their letters, diaries, movies, and interviews that provide undeniable evidence of the existence and magnitude of the Nanking Massacre, which is still denied by the Japanese government 72 years after the end of WWII.

The attached complete Powerpoint presentation contains the following:

  1. Brief background information about the Nanking Massacre
  2. Selected quotes from these eye witnesses (with the audio files embedded and automatically played) [1]
  3. The Internet link of a 26.5-minute documentary based on John Magee’s home movie filmed during the Nanking Massacre that was smuggled out of China and widely shown in the U.S. and the world in 1938 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7R5N6qWScU).

This complete Powerpoint presentation provides a self-contained program that could be reused by someone else.  Any organization who wants to present a program on the Nanking Massacre has my permission to use the above Powerpoint presentation, as long as the first page of the Powerpoint presentation is also shown.

For background music before the start of the program, the following musical pieces are excellent candidates [2]:

It is important to note that this proposal to bring back past history is not to seek revenge, but to learn from history so that past mistakes will not be repeated again any where in the world, and studying this history will help to reconcile the involved countries and people.

[1] I wish to thank Eric Tow for the technical help with embedding the audio files and made them played automatically in the Powerpoint file.

[2] I wish to thank Ying-Ying Chang for suggesting these musical pieces.



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Tailoring Taiji Classes to Audience – II http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/tailoring-taiji-classes-to-audience-ii/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/tailoring-taiji-classes-to-audience-ii/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 07:00:25 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4971 This is a follow-on article to the article I posted two years ago with the same title “Tailoring Taiji Classes to Audience.”  In this new article, I elaborate more on three types of Taiji students:  Those with mobility handicaps, those with memory handicaps, and children.  The key concept is how to teach Taiji to each of these groups so that they can keep their interest and concentration, and at the same time what they learn to do in class is beneficial to them.  It turns out that a subset of the stretching and Qigong exercises that we usually do as warm up exercises to prepare the students’ bodies and minds to do Taiji are good exercises for these types of students, especially for the mobility-handicapped and memory-handicapped students.  The challenge to attract children requires some additional tailoring and creativity.

Students with a Mobility Handicap:  In this section we focus on people who cannot stand for an extensive amount of time, or they cannot walk without help or without a cane, or they are confined to a wheelchair.  Therefore, we will focus on exercises in which the student will do while sitting down.  Since Taiji is known as moving meditation and requires the practitioner to be moving, the usual Taiji exercises will not be suitable to these mobility-restricted students.  But what about the stretching and Qigong exercises that we do as warm up exercises for Taiji?  We now discuss several examples of these exercises.

We usually begin our Taiji class with a series of warm up exercises, such as stretching and Qigong [1] exercises.  In my classes, often the first one we do is the “wave hands like cloud” exercise in which we rotate our hands in front of our body while breathing in or out.  Each hand can be rotating clockwise or counterclockwise, and the two hands can rotate in phase or out of phase, so there are several such exercises. These exercises relax our mind, while exercising our arms and our upper bodies, including rotating our waist, and taking deep, slow breaths.  We can do all of these exercises while sitting down.

Another set of warm up exercises to prepare the body and mind to do Taiji exercises are Qigong exercises like the 1,000+ year-old “Eight Silk Brocade” (八段錦). [2]  Six of the eight “Eight Silk Brocade” exercises can be done sitting down.  This is especially important because the “Eight Silk Brocade” is among the most popular and most ancient set of Qigong exercises.

Another set of warm up exercises is the Paida Therapy (拍打自愈法), or Patting Exercises, in which we just pat various parts of our body with the flat parts or the fingers of our hands. [3]  These patting exercises can strengthen different parts of our body by stimulating blood and Qi [4] flow in the body, and can work from the top of our head to our feet.   Most of them can be done while standing up or sitting down, and therefore can be done while sitting in a wheelchair.

Another type of exercises that Taiji practitioners should do is meditation exercises (although many do not).  Meditation exercises are another type of Qigong exercises, and can calm and clear up the mind, while at the same time involve deep, slow breathing and develop Qi flow.  Meditation exercises can be done while standing up, sitting down, or lying down.  So mobility-impaired students can practice sitting down meditation.

These are just examples of various stretching and Qigong exercises that mobility-impaired students can participate.  They can do these exercises while sitting down, including in a wheel chair, and they will benefit from doing these exercises, both physically and mentally.  These exercises usually serve as warm up exercises for regular Taiji students, but for mobility-restricted students, they serve as the core of the exercises.

Students with a Memory Handicap:  In this section we focus on people who may have trouble remembering things, especially a sequence of instructions on the placements and movements of feet and hands while doing a Taiji form set.  This includes people who may have a memory health problem or just older people with recall difficulties as a natural consequence of advancing age.  Although the exercises we discussed in the previous section for mobility-handicap people also need to follow instructions in doing those exercises, the amount of instructions and the difficulty of the instructions for those exercises are significantly less than the instructions needed to do a normal Taiji form set.  Therefore, even if some students cannot remember all the instructions, the instructor can remind the students of the instructions while the students are doing those exercises.  Whereas if the instructor does that (i.e., providing all the necessary instructions) while the students are doing a normal Taiji form set, it will take a lot of time and disrupt the flow of doing the Taiji form set. [5]

Therefore, essentially all the stretching and Qigong exercises discussed in the previous section for mobility-handicap people can also be done by memory-handicap people:

  • Stretching exercises like “wave hands like cloud”
  • Ancient Qigong exercises like “Eight Silk Brocade”
  • Paida (or Patting) Therapy exercises
  • Meditation exercises (including standing meditation, and not just limited to sitting meditation)

There should not be much problem doing these exercises in class, because the instructor can remind them of any needed instructions while the students are doing the exercises.  When they try to do these exercises at home, they could run into problems.  That is where written instructions should be provided to the students to help to remind them while doing these exercises at home.  Also, YouTube videos on most of these exercises can be found in the Internet, or videos made by the instructor can be provided to the students.  They can then do these exercises at home while they are watching the video on their TV or computer screen.

Since these memory-handicap people are not mobility restricted, you can also teach them to do simple Taiji form sets, such as the Yang Style Form Set 1 (also called the 10 Forms) or Yang Style Form Set 2 (also called the 16 Forms).  Depending on the degree of their memory handicap, doing the Yang Style Form Set 3 (also called the 24 Forms) may require too much memory recall.

Children:  In this section, we focus on children, say between 6 and 12 years old (although the discussion can also apply to young teenagers).  With children, the issue is somewhat different from the previous two groups of mobility-handicap and memory-handicap people.  For children of age 6-12 (and to a lesser extent, their parents [6]), the major issues to attract and retain these students in Taiji classes are:

  • Their interest in attending the classes
  • The ability to keep their interest and attention during the classes
  • What their parents think their children will get out of the classes so that the parents will continue to bring them to these classes

How to keep children ages 6-12 interested in a Taiji class?   The class must be fun.  The class must stimulate their curiosity.  The class must tie to their life experience or their other activities.  Here are some possible methods.

One way of making the Taiji class fun and interesting to these children is to have the children think that doing a Taiji form set is like doing a dance routine.  We know from experience that many children are very much interested in learning dance routines.  However, for a first course in Taiji, the Taiji form sets must be simple, e.g., like the Yang Style Form Set 1 (10 Forms), or the Yang Style Form Set 2 (16 Forms), or perhaps even simpler form sets that the Taiji instructors may have to create themselves.  When creating new form sets, it may be worthwhile to add some movements that involve interactions between two or more students, e.g., using some techniques in the martial applications of Taiji as discussed in the next paragraph.  Then while doing the form set, there will be interactions between different students so that the exercise is like a group game, thus generating more interest and fun for the children.

Taiji is both a good health exercise and a good martial art.  There are some basic martial art principles of Taiji that can be conveyed even to children and have them practice some simple techniques that illustrate these principles.  A basic principle of Taiji is that you do not resist a force head on, but by adding a force in the direction of the opponent’s force, you may cause your opponent to lose balance.  Another basic principle of Taiji is that a small force can deflect a much larger force (like the old saying “four ounces can deflect a thousand pounds”).  The instructor can choreograph simple movements involving a pair of students that illustrate these principles, and even include such movements into a form set that involve movements for pairs of students.

Most children in this age bracket of 6-12 probably have seen movies like Kung Fu Panda, The Karate Kid, movies by Jackie Chan or Jet Li, Shaolin Soccer, etc.  So they already know about Kung Fu and have some interest in learning Kung Fu techniques.  Therefore, including some simple martial applications of Taiji to illustrate the basic martial art principles of Taiji will generate more interest in Taiji and at the same time tie their Taiji class to some of their other life experiences, like the movies mentioned earlier.  In addition, initiating their interest in the martial arts applications of Taiji may lead to additional interest in learning Chinese or other types of martial arts, whether it is Taiji, Shaolin, Wing-Chun, or some other martial arts.

Since children have short attention spans, the Taiji class must be broken down in short segments of about 10-15 minutes each. This can be accomplished since we have a large list of activities we can choose from, including specific warm up, stretching, and breathing exercises, individual Taiji forms, integrating multiple Taiji forms into a Taiji form set, martial applications of Taiji, exercises to relax the mind, visualization of what we are doing to help retain what we have been learning.

All the above arguments that doing Taiji can generate interest in the children and keep their attention while learning something that is useful to their health and their life should be sufficient to convince their parents that their children are spending their time wisely. In addition, the parents may also notice that their children may be calmer, have longer attention spans, and get along better with others.  One friend of mine who teaches Taiji in England told me that the teachers were amazed how much calmer and cooperative of the children who have taken her Taiji classes.

Summary:  This article discusses three types of people who normally do not take Taiji classes:  mobility-handicapped people, memory-handicapped people, and children of age 6-12.  We argue that there are good reasons why each of these three types of people should be interested in taking Taiji classes.  By properly designing the classes, they can fruitfully participate in the classes and get significant benefits from it.


[1] Qigong exercises are stretching exercises integrated with breathing and meditation.

[2] See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baduanjin_qigong.  There are many Internet links for Eight Silk Brocade or Baduanjin.  Because it has been around for more than 1,000 years, there are many variations of the exercises.  Therefore, many of the YouTube exercises you find may not be identical.

[3] See, e.g., “Lajing and Paida Therapy – Reviving Ancient Chinese Self-Healing Exercises”:  http://www.dontow.com/2013/09/lajing-and-paida-therapy-reviving-ancient-chinese-self-healing-exercises/.

[4] In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qi is some sort of bioelectric energy, or life force, that gets circulated and stored in the body.

[5] A major reason for putting a collection of forms into a Taiji form set is to make the exercise to last several minutes so that doing one Taiji form set will result in an aerobic exercise that increases our heart rate and oxygen flow throughout our body.  If we stop in each form because we have to provide a lot of instructions, then the aerobic nature of doing a Taiji form set is no longer there.

[6] It is the children’s parents who sign up and bring their children to the Taiji classes.



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“A Teacher’s Reflection: 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour” by Lisa Wiater, English Teacher at Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, NJ* http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/a-teachers-reflection-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour-by-lisa-wiater-english-teacher-at-ridgewood-high-school-ridgewood-nj/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/12/a-teachers-reflection-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour-by-lisa-wiater-english-teacher-at-ridgewood-high-school-ridgewood-nj/#respond Sun, 24 Dec 2017 06:00:23 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4937 The 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour [1] was a two-week immersion program created to learn about WWII history in Asia.  It allowed me to gain knowledge that I could have never obtained by reading a book.  As a public high school teacher, I firmly believe that study tours are an invaluable way to educate teachers, for the knowledge that is gained is spread to family, friends, colleagues, and of course, students.

Additionally, as the daughter of a World War II veteran who fought in the Pacific Theater, it meant a great deal to go on this trip.  My home contains many photographs and pieces of memorabilia from my father and many uncles who all fought in the War.  Visiting the World War II museum, the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, was quite moving for me.  It contained many war scene reenactments, including details regarding the savagery that took place.  Interestingly, one of the newspapers on display contained the front page story from a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts, a town very near to where I was raised.

Even though I had learned about World War II in school, I knew very little about the Nanking Massacre, slave labor, sex slaves, and biological and chemical warfare. Now, due to this study tour, I believe I know more than the average person.

The visits to the various museums and historical sites, including Unit 731, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, as well as the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum in Seoul, South Korea, left an unforgettable impression regarding the atrocities perpetrated at that time. Further, spending time with scholars who have dedicated their lives to studying, in some cases, the worst in humanity, is inspiring.  The trips to the many cities in China, as well as the visit to South Korea allowed me to not only learn about the various histories, but to experience some of their modern day cultures.

Moreover, after meeting with curators, researchers, authors and survivors, I was once again reminded that regardless of the historical event, all of history is a human story. I found it humbling to hear the stories of survivors who courageously agreed to recount their most harrowing times, all so that we could learn from them.   At the Nanking Museum, we heard the first-hand account of a survivor, Yi-Ying Ai, 89 years old.  I audio recorded her story, which was translated into English by a young college student.  Beyond reading testimonies, I believe it is important to hear the emotions that are so raw and honest, because even if one does not understand the language, one cannot mistake the sorrow and heartache that is heard.  One action that will not be heard on the recording, however, will be the tears that fell repeatedly during her testimony.  The survivor would speak and then pause, allowing the translator to tell her story.  I always watched the survivor’s actions.  While everyone was looking and listening to the translator, the survivor was wiping tears from her eye.  This happened numerous times.  She was telling us a story that happened 80 years ago, and yet she remembered it like it was yesterday; she was reliving all the pain right before our eyes.  As she recounted her story to us, she shared something her mother told her, “Do not be terrified of the corpses. You should only be terrified of live persons.”  How sad and yet, how profound.

As a public school teacher, I believe it is important for students to be exposed to the impact of people’s actions; this includes the perpetrators and victims, but also the upstanders–those who make a positive difference through their involvement. History seems to focus on those who commit heinous acts, but students should also learn about individuals such as John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin and John Magee.  I was not aware of these people, or their courage, prior to this trip.  These people risked their own lives to help innocent victims during the Nanking Massacre.   By teaching students about moral courage, we are all reminded that one person can make a difference.  This is an important lesson that needs to be taught and reinforced.

To that end, as a result of this study tour, various initiatives will take place at my school, Ridgewood High School, in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

  • Making a Difference Speaker Series:  This is a Speaker Series that offers high school students the opportunity to hear 5 different individuals speak about their life in the context of a key historical event.  The general premise is that speakers provide a personal story–not a history presentation, per se–but rather, show how they or their family was impacted by a key event in history.  As the creator of this program, my goal has been to help students see the personal side of history and how an individual’s decision can impact another.  Prior to a speaker’s arrival, the teachers/classes that attend are obligated to be prepared by reading and discussing materials disseminated weeks in advance of the survivor’s testimony.  Following a speaker, teachers/classes also hold a whole class discussion.  I am pleased that Don Tow (President of NJ-ALPHA) and Mr. Chu-Yeh Chang, a survivor of the Nanking Massacre will be two of our speakers.  Since it is the 80th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, I believe it is essential that we have a representative from the Massacre speak this year.
  • Shared folders with colleagues:  On the trip, I bought numerous books, DVDS, and postcard books.  I have taken these items, along with any other materials related to the atrocities that occurred in Asia during World War II and created a “Google Folder,” to share with other teachers, namely in the Humanities areas.  This includes, at a minimum, History, English, and Psychology teachers.
  • Professional Development Presentations/Collaboration:  As a result of this trip, I have been discussing various aspects of the tour with my colleagues.  Additionally, when appropriate, I will also speak at future Social Studies and English department meetings, as well as providing a PowerPoint presentation on the three Upstanders mentioned earlier.  I may also present to students in various History classes.  From other presentations I have done, I have learned that students greatly appreciate seeing pictures taken by a teacher, not by someone else.  Students have stated that it makes the topic more “real” to them.  Therefore, by not only speaking about my study tour, it will make a greater impact if I also show them some of my numerous photographs.
  • Documentary by Tamaki Matsuoka, “Torn Memories of Nanjing”:  The school is considering showing this documentary.  I believe the showing of this film will once again show students and staff that horrific crimes can be perpetrated by “ordinary” people. Further, it will highlight the dedication shown by Ms. Matsuoka of Osaka, Japan, once a school teacher, who now devotes her life to learning and educating others about the Nanking Massacre.  I am honored to say that I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Matsuoka when she came to Nanjing to speak to us and show her award-winning documentary.
  • Student trip to China:  The school is considering a student trip to China where the focus would be on learning about the history related to the Nanking Massacre.  Mr. Tow has been generous in offering to assist me in this endeavor, should it go forward.

Whether it is the Nanking Massacre, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide or another mass killing, all of these terrible times in history share similar characteristics. Unfortunately, some of these common themes can also be seen in the world today. The 2017 Peace & Reconciliation Asia Study Tour helped me to further solidify these commonalities. It also provided me with the necessary information and materials that can be utilized with my students, colleagues and administration, thus working to ensure that the events that occurred in Asia during World War II will not be forgotten.  It is vital that we teach about history; it is our only hope for a better future.


* I thank Lisa Wiater for giving me permission to post her article on my website.

[1] The 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour was organized by the “New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (NJ-ALPHA).

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Highlights of the 2017 Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/highlights-of-the-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/highlights-of-the-2017-peace-and-reconciliation-asia-study-tour/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:00:01 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4817  

On July 14-27, 2017, a group of 17 people participated in a two-week immersion program to study WWII history in Asia.  Ten are from the U.S., six are from Canada, and one is a Canadian citizen currently living in Hong Kong.  WWII history in Asia is seldom taught in American or Canadian high schools with the result that Americans and Canadians in general know very little about that part of WWII history.  The purpose of the Peace and Reconciliation Asia Study Tour is to increase the knowledge of the participants of WWII history in Asia, especially with respect to the massive and inhumane atrocities committed by the Japanese military on China, Korea, and other countries in Asia.  Hopefully upon their return, they would help with the movement to establish peace and reconciliation by seeking justice for these atrocities.  The purpose then is to learn about that part of history to help prevent those happenings from occurring again in the future anywhere on earth.  The Asia Study Tour is sponsored by the non-profit educational organization New Jersey Alliance for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (NJ-ALPHA).  This article describes the highlights of the 2017 Asia Study Tour.

The participants come from a range of professions:  teachers and educators, film makers, historians and researchers, lawyers, college students, community leaders, and activists.  We visited five cities (Shanghai, Quzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, and Harbin) in China and one city (Seoul) in South Korea.  We learned about the major atrocities of WWII in Asia:  Sex slaves (or euphemistically called Comfort Women by Japan), Nanking Massacre, slave labor, and biological/chemical warfare (including human experimentation and vivisection).  The highlights of the study tour were:

  • Hearing testimonies from germ warfare victims, Nanking Massacre survivors, former slave laborers, and former sex slaves
  • Visiting several heart-wrenching museums
  • Inspirations gained from observing the life-long efforts of many activists who dedicated their lives to the peace and reconciliation movement.

This article describes these highlights.

Survivor Testimonies:  One of the most horrific atrocities of WWII in Asia was the use of biological (germ) warfare on civilian population.  One consequence of such germ warfare is rotten leg disease as a result of bacteria infection from anthrax or glanders.  A rotten leg disease victim endures unimaginable suffering of painful and itching skin and flesh problems and extremely foul smell that continues for a lifetime.

You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

We met several of these victims in our one-day excursion to Quzhou (a city of about 2 million in Zhejiang Province and a 2.5 hour high-speed train ride southwest of  Shanghai).  Our host in Quzhou was Mr. Wu Jianping (吳建平), who lost several of his  family members and the President of the Quzhou Germ Warfare Victims Association;. [1]  At the Quzhou Minquon Hospital (:衢州民康医院) we met the husband-wife couple Fang Cai Pei (方加倍, 86) and Ye Sai Chou (叶赛舟, 89), who recalled the tragic experiences in the early 1940s when they were young children.  Both of them also lost many family members when Japan unleashed on Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces a series of germ warfare attacks in retaliation to  the Doolittle Raid [2].  Mr. Fang also got infected with the rotten leg disease.  Fortunately, his was a minor infection, and his rotten leg disease was cured in the 1960s.

At another hospital in Quzhou, the Zhejiang Quhua Hospital (浙江衢化医院) we met another rotten leg disease victim Chen Chunhua (陈春花, 80) who told us that in order to save their lives, many rotten leg victims had to have their legs amputated, and that for some the suffering was so unbearable that it drove them to commit suicides.  It was at this hospital we heard of the good news that in the last few years this hospital and another hospital in Shanghai (No. 9 Shanghai People’s Hospital, 上海第九人民医院) have successfully treated 118 rotten leg disease victims.  This hospital has now treated successfully 79 rotten leg victims, with another 39 by the hospital in Shanghai.  The treatment method was developed in the last few years by Chinese doctors and medical researchers based on the “Vacuum Sealing Drainage” procedure first developed in the West in the 1990s.  The treatment method could be very expensive, costing more than $10,000 U.S. per patient in the more serious cases, but they were all paid for by government medical insurance and by contributions.

Chen Chunhua’s legs before and after treatment (photo from Scott Masters)

At the Nanking Massacre Museum, we heard another sobering and unforgettable testimony from the Nanking Massacre (NM) survivor Ai Yi-Ying (艾义英).  She is 89 years old, and was nine at the time of the NM.  She courageously recalled that her father, three cousins, and many other relatives were killed during the NM, how she together with her 2-year-old brother, and her almost full-term pregnant mother escaped by hiding in the mountains.  Shortly after, her mother gave birth to a baby girl, but the baby froze to death.  When they did receive some food from some kind passer by, the mother would always give the food to her 2-year-old brother and her.  Her brother would eat the food, but she always shared her food with her mother.  She said that there were always dead people around her, and she would have nightmares of these dead people.  She never forgets the advice from her mother:  You should not be afraid of the dead people, but should be afraid of the living people looking for girls to rape and boys to kill.  They finally found safety when they were able to reach one of the refugee camps of the International Safety Zone.

Present in the session with Ai Yi-Ying was also Tamaki Matsuoka, known as the “Conscience of Japan.”  Tamaki lives in Osaka, Japan, and was an elementary school teacher, and has spent the last 30 years of her life trying to find out what happened during the NM.  She has interviewed more than 250 former Japanese soldiers who were stationed in Nanking and more than 300 Chinese NM survivors.  She found that the recollections of the Japanese soldiers and the Chinese survivors correlate very well in terms of  where, when, and what happened.  Tamaki has written several books (in Japanese, Chinese, and English), and has made several documentaries, and has given numerous talks and shown her documentaries in Japan.  We heard from Tamaki on that afternoon and saw her documentary “Torn Memories of Nanjing.”  Tamaki also visits Ai Yi-Ying and other NM survivors on a regular basis.

Tamaki Matsuoka, translator Shelby Song, Ai Yi-Ying

One of the sessions in Beijing was with Mr. Tong Zeng (童增), the President of the Non-Government-Organization (NGO) “Chinese Federation of Civil Claims Against Japan” (中國民間對日索賠聯合會). He was the one who in 1990 initiated the campaign that Chinese citizens have the right to sue the Japanese government and corporations for compensation due to various atrocities suffered by the Chinese people even though the Chinese government as a sign of friendship had waived the right for wartime damage compensation when China and Japan established diplomatic relationship in 1972.  At this meeting, several Chinese victims shared their experiences with us.

Mr. Li Liangjie (李良杰), President of the Chinese Slave Laborer Association (中國奴隸勞工協會會長) told us that as slave laborers, they worked extremely long hours.  They were treated cruelly and inhumanely.  The Japanese didn’t care for their health; if they die, they die.  However, he also said that it is a characteristic of the Japanese that if you are strong, they will respect you, but if you are weak, they will oppress you even more.  So on several occasions they went on strike, and then received slightly better treatment because the Japanese who ruled over them were afraid of their superiors’ reactions if they found out that the Chinese slave laborers were not working.

Mr. Gao Xiongfei (高熊飞), a victim of Japanese bombing when both his mother and he at age 4 lost their right arms.  He was the first Chinese atrocity victim to sue Japan for compensation and has been the most persistent person in this endeavor over the last 20+ years.  At first the lawsuits were filed in Japanese courts, but eventually they all failed.  Starting a few years ago, lawsuits are beginning to be filed in Chinese courts.  There is hope that there will be some success here.  Furthermore, partially because of these lawsuits being filed in Chinese courts, some Japanese companies, like Mitsubishi, are more willing to sign acknwledgment/apology/compensation agreement with some of the Chinese slave laborers. [3]

In Seoul, on a day three days after the death of Kim Kun-ja, a former Korean CW and the day that she was buried, we visited the House of Sharing outside of Seoul where Kim (and several other CW) lived.  It was a day of mourning, but also a day to remember the unfinished business to seek justice for the hundreds of thousands of former CW worldwide who experienced unimaginable sufferings as young girls more than 70 years ago; we also especially remember that there are still several dozen living CW around the world.  On that day (7/25/2017) we had the privilege to meet and hear Lee Yong Soo (李容洙), 88, who was forced to become a CW in 1943 when she was only 14.  Her experience included suffering electrical torture, beatings, and cuttings by knives.  When she returned home after the war, she was not accepted by her family.  Her coming out in public in 1992 gave her life a true purpose.   She has been a most persistent advocate of the CW cause, giving testimonies in front of the U.S. Congress in 2007, in San Francisco in 2015, in Tokyo in 2016, as well as in many other places.  We gain inspirations from people like her.

Museum Highlights:  Our first stop was the Chinese Comfort Women Research Center at the Shanghai Normal University in Shanghai.  Here Professor Zhiliang Su and his wife Professor Chen Lifei have been doing research on CW for more than 25 years [4].  Their research have documented numerous Comfort Stations all over China (as well as in other parts of Asia), with the first one established in Shanghai in 1932.  They have found evidence for a huge number of Chinese CW, including many who are still living and have come out in the open.  Their research has shown that the number of CW worldwide is approximately 400,000, about twice the previous commonly mentioned number, because most of the Chinese CW were not accounted for in the previous figure.  We also saw the first CW Memorial in China which shows a Korean CW, a Chinese CW, and an empty chair for a 3nd CW representing CWs of other countries.

New CW Memorial in Shanghai

The Comfort Women cause was reinforced again when we visited the “War and Women’s Human Rights Museum” in Seoul. Here we learn about the horrible sufferings of the CW, which the Koreans prefer to refer to these elderly women as “halmoni” which is grandmother in English, and also about hope for the future from the justice seeking movement and the world’s longest demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul which has occurred weekly since the beginning of 1992, and attended by hundreds of young students.

At the Nanking Massacre Museum in Nanjing, one always asks the question “How can a nation be so barbarious that it killed 300,000 people in six weeks, with most of them being civilians, including women and children, and raped over 20,000 women and girls?”  Unfortunately, numerous eyewitnesses, including Japanese, confirmed that it did happen.  The museum provides ample evidence on the reality of the Nanking Massacre.  When the Japanese government still denies the existence of the Nanking Massacre and does not educate their young people about it, and often making remarks that it was fabricated by the Chinese, it is everyone’s responsibility to press Japan to own up to her deeds so that that kind of atrocity will not be repeated again in the future in any place in the world. [5]

Perhaps the most sobering part of our study tour was visiting the “The Museum of War Crime Evidence by Japanese Army Unit 731” (also known as the Unit 731 Museum).  Here we learn of the horrifying biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction developed and deployed by Japan all over China.  The germ warfare weapons resulted in deadly diseases like cholera, bubonic plague, and typhoid, as well as life-long horrible diseases like the previously discussed rotten leg disease.  The Japanese military also engaged in completely inhumane and deadly experimentation like exposing human limbs and bodies to freezing temperatures and vivisection with live humans (including American POWs), like operating on live humans without anesthesia to determine their bodily response to various bacteria infections.  If it were not true, one would think that this is just science fiction.  Unfortunately, it is all documented here in this museum, including American declassified documents.

Inspirations from Life-Long Activists:  A most uplifting part of the study tour is to hear and see the life-long commitments of many activists who have dedicated their lives to seek justice for all these atrocity victims.  We had the fortune to meet and discuss with many of these life-long activists. We mention a few examples below:

  • Wu Jianping (吳建平), as President of the Quzhou Germ Warfare Victims Association, has helped to establish the Quzhou Museum on Japanese Germ Warfare in China (侵华日军细菌战衢州展览馆), organize medical treatments for the rotten leg victims, and organize the victims for lawsuits against Japan.
  • Wang Xuan (王) has been China’s leading advocate for more than 20 years for the germ warfare victims.  She has been involved in almost all aspects, from lawsuits in Japan, research on germ warfare consequences, seeking medical treatments for the victims, and raising funds to pay for the successful treatments of dozens of rotten leg victims.
  • Tamaka Matsuoka (松岡環) is a Japanese activist who has dedicated almost 30 years of her adult life to find out and document her findings on the Nanking Massacre.  By interviewing over 250 Japanese soldiers who were stationed in Nanking and confirming their recollections with those of the Chinese victims removes any doubt on the authenticity of the Nanking Massacre.  She is especially applauded because she faces a very hostile environment in Japan, and when she began doing this she also worked as a full-time school teacher.
  • Kang Jian (康健) is China’s leading lawyer on lawsuits against Japan for the sex slave and slave labor victims.  She started on this in 1995 with lawsuits in Japan and has continued with lawsuits in China, often providing pro bono services to her clients.
  • Tong Zeng (童增) was the first to argue that Chinese citizens have the legal rights to sue Japan for compensation in spite of the fact that the Chinese government as an expression of friendship waived the right to request compensation from Japan for wartime damages when the two countries established diplomatic relationship in 1972.  He first advocated this idea in 1990 with his white paper “China Demands Japan to Compensate Atrocity Victims” 《中国要求日本”受害赔偿”刻不容缓》.  This led to “10,000 cries for justice,” a collection of letters written by atrocity victims in the early 1990s. [6]  He has continued for more than 25 years in leading the campaign to seek acknowledgment, apology, and compensation for various atrocity victims.
  • Lee Yong Soo (李容洙) has spoken in public on numerous occasions around the world ever since she came out in the open in 1992 about being a sex slave.  Her testimonies helped the audience to understand the sufferings of sex slaves and open their hearts to want to seek justice for this atrocity.

Sample Testimonials from 2017 Asia Study Tour participants:

  • “To listen to a witness is to BECOME a witness”
  • “This once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about World War II in Asia”
  • “On this journey, I learned so much about the history of World War II in Asia that I never knew I never knew!”
  • ‘’I did not know that the senior scientists and doctors returned to Japan and many became foremost scientists and doctors of premier universities and hospitals in Japan with apparently little notice given to their participation in the horrific experiments that killed thousands of persons.”
  • “We can no longer say we don’t know about the atrocities after we had the chance to meet with the sexual slavery, germ warfare, Nanking Massacre, and slave labor survivors and listened to their authentic first-hand account of the crimes against humanity committed by the Imperial Japanese soldiers that had left them scarred forever.”
  • “How to actually achieve the “Peace and Reconciliation” that is rightfully demanded, by so many people on so many fronts. It seems that so much work in this regard must be done in Japan itself, where it is resisted, repelled, and denied, and also in the U.S. as well, to discontinue her complicity.”

For the complete testimonials of all the participants, see http://nj-alpha.org/study-tour/.


[1] Our excursion to Quzhou was suggested to us by Ms. Wang Xuan (王), China’s leading advocate for seeking justice for the Chinese germ warfare victims.  She also introduced us to Mr. Wu Jianping.  I also want to thank Mr. Zheng Wei Yong (郑伟勇) who helped us to make all the arrangements with Mr. Wu.

[2] In April 1942, the American government launched the famous Doolittle Raid by bombing several cities in Japan.  The planes were launched from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean and landed or crashed landed along the coast of Zhejiang Province, when many Chinese civilians risked their lives to harbor several dozen American pilots and their team members.  Although the bombings did little damage to Japan, it did raise the morale of the American people and government.  To retaliate against the Chinese providing support to the Americans, Japan unleashed her furor by repeatedly using biological weapons of mass destruction and other retaliation measures on the Chinese people.  This resulted in about 250,000 deaths in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

[3] See, e.g., http://www.10000cfj.org/en/?page_id=5483.

[4] When we visited their research center, Professor Su was actually in the U.S.  So we met with Professor Chen only.

[5] Please read and sign the new Nanking Massacre Petition.  This link contains both the English petition and the Chinese translation.

[6] For more information on the 10,000 Cries for Justice, see http://www.10000cfj.org/en/.

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Stages of Learning Taijiquan As a Martial Art http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/stages-of-learning-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/stages-of-learning-taijiquan-as-a-martial-art/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 06:00:31 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4896 Taiji is both a martial art and a good health exercise for people of all ages.  As a matter of fact, when it was first invented several hundred years ago, it was even more used as a martial art, e.g., to protect villages from bandits or as body guards for transporting people and goods.  That is why Taiji is also known as Taijiquan, the fist of Taiji.

Just like learning everything else, be it learning to read, write, mathematics, riding a bicycle, cooking, drawing, playing a musical instrument, or playing soccer, there are several stages in the learning process, i.e., there are several skill sets one needs to learn.  When one has learned a particular skill set, then one can proceed to learn a more advanced skill set, and it takes repeated practice to learn and retain a skill set.  For example, in mathematics, one first learns the basic skill set of arithmetic, composing of skills of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.  Then one learns the skill set of algebra, composing of skills of using variables, equations, and solving the equations.  Then one learns the skill set of geometry, composing of skills of learning the relations between lines, shapes or figures, space and their various properties such as area and volume.  Then one learns the skill set of calculus, composing of skills of learning to divide things into smaller and smaller parts (differential calculus) or adding smaller parts into larger parts (integral calculus).  The learning continues to other skill sets, perhaps leading even to inventing new skill sets.  Furthermore, the learning is not necessarily linear, i.e., one doesn’t have to finish learning one skill set before proceeding to learning another skill set.

This article describes the stages of learning Taijiquan as a martial art in terms of its basic skill sets.

Fundamental Principles of Taijiquan:  The first skill set of learning Taijiquan is to learn about the fundamental principles of Taiji, such as:

  • Relax the body and mind; this helps to reduce stress and increase one’s sensitivity and awareness of an opponent’s intentions and moves
  • Keep the upper body straight, as though there is a rope attached to the top of one’s head going straight up to the ceiling; this facilitates the necessary constant shifting of directions
  • In general do not have one foot directly in front of the other foot, i.e., have the two feet separated in the transverse direction by about one shoulder width; this helps to increase stability
  • When stepping down with the front foot, step down first on the heal, and then step down on the toes; this helps to make all parts (leg, body, and hand) of a person moving simultaneously toward the opponent and thus increase the power of the attack
  • Keep the waist flexible and loose; this helps to increase the power of one’s punches and kicks by adding the rotational power of the turning of the waist
  • Do not oppose an attack head-on, but utilize the opponent’s motion to get the opponent off balance and counter attack appropriately; this helps to defeat a bigger and stronger opponent

When I say that this is the first skill set of learning Taijiquan, I do not necessarily mean that every Taiji teacher will start their first class with teaching these principles.  Usually what they teach in the first couple of classes is the beginning of some basic form set, such as the Yang Style 10 Form, 16 Form, or 24 Form, or the Chen Style 24 Form, 56 Form, or 81 Form.  However, earlier on when they are teaching one of these form sets, they should also explain and emphasize the previously mentioned fundamental principles, because it is extremely important for the students to learn doing the forms following these fundamental principles.  Otherwise, it is much more difficult and time consuming to correct them once the students have developed bad techniques and habits.

Basic Forms:  As already mentioned, usually some basic form set is taught to beginning students while also learning the fundamental principles of Taijiquan.  The reason that a set of forms is practiced together, and not just individual forms is because by combining a number of forms together to become a form set, then it would take several minutes to practice the whole form set so that practicing a form set can become an aerobic exercise by stimulating the heart and lung.  Also, different forms may illustrate different martial applications.  So practicing a form set is practicing multiple martial applications.  In an actual fighting situation, a fight seldom ends after the first encounter.

Qi Development:  Taijiquan is an internal martial art which means that it emphasizes the development of Qi. [1]  Although Qi may be a very puzzling concept to non-practitioners, it is almost as real to practitioners as their blood, their pulse, or their breath.  But it requires persistent exercises over many months/years to develop.  Qi is usually developed via meditation exercises (standing, sitting, or lying meditation exercises).  For example, stand upright with legs separated by one shoulder width with knees slightly bent, elbows by your side, hands pointed forward at stomach height, thumbs pointed upward, and the other fingers curled and left and right fingers pointing to each other.  Relax your whole body and mind.  Take deep slow breaths.  As you breathe in, lower the diaphragm and expand your abdomen forward and also expand the back of your abdomen backward, and as you breathe out, raise the diaphragm and contract your abdomen (both front and back), known as Natural Lower Abdominal Breathing.  Or conversely, as you breathe in, lower the diaphragm but contract your abdomen, and as you breathe out raise your diaphragm and expand your abdomen, known as Reverse Lower Abdominal Breathing.  In either case, as you breathe in, imagine that you are pulling in and depositing your Qi in your Dantian (an area about 2-3″ below your navel and 2-3″ inside your body which is considered to be the reservoir for storing Qi), and as you breathe out, push the Qi from the Dantian to the rest of your body, e.g., to your palm and fingers as you strike an opponent.

If you practice such standing meditation on a regular basis (if not daily, then multiple times per week, with each practice lasting 30 minutes or longer), then Qi will become more real to you, and you will feel Qi developing and circulating inside your body.  In the previous paragraph, even though we associate the inhaling and exhaling of air with respectively the deposit of Qi in the Dantian and the expulsion of Qi from the Dantian, as you advance in your Taijiquan skills, the deposit and expulsion of Qi can occur at any moment and it doesn’t have to depend on other bodily motions, including inhaling and exhaling.

Push Hands Exercises:  Doing Taiji form sets is an individual exercise.  However, a martial art application always involves at least two people.  Therefore to practice Taiji as a martial art, i.e, to practice Taijiquan, one has to go beyond practicing form sets.  That is the purpose of practicing Push Hands when two people practice together with each trying to get the opponent off balance.  Each person can use his/her repertoire of offensive and defensive moves, including peng (棚), lui (捋), ji (挤), an (按), cai (採), lie (洌), zhou (肘), and kao ().  By touching the opponent in a relaxed way, you can sense your opponent’s motions and intentions, and your opponent cannot so easily sense your motions and intentions.  So by knowing your opponent and the opponent doesn’t know you, you already have the battle half won.  You can practice static push hands in which you do not take steps, and dynamic push hands in which you can take steps forward or backward.  Click here for a video of some simple push hands [2].

Rooting and Making Kua Flexible:  Rooting means to sink your body weight and have your feet rooted to the ground. [3]  While doing this, your body must be relaxed and your Qi must be lowered to the Dantian, which is the reservoir for Qi.  With the feet firmly planted on the ground, then you can generate more power.  With your body relaxed, that power from the feet can be transferred to the upper body.  At the same time, Qi from the Dantian reservoir can flow to another part of your body, e.g., to your striking hand in a martial art application, thus increasing your power.  In Taiji the involvement of the mind is very important.  Initially,you may not be able to feel your Qi.  So you use your mind to guide the movement of Qi.  For example, during a long and strenuous exercise you may become hot and your face becomes red, then you can use your mind to imagine that your Qi is being led from the face and top part of your body down to your Dantian.  Similarly, when you warm down by raising your hands upward while breathing in slowly and then downward while breathing out slowly, you can also imagine that you are guiding your Qi from the head/upper part of body to the Dantian as you are moving your hands downward while breathing out.  With regular and continued practice, you should be able to sense your Qi, but still letting your mind to guide your motions.

The ability to make your kua flexible and have more control over it is a very important skill in Taijiquan.  As a matter of fact, it is critical for reaching advanced levels.  Even though this was known from ancient days and was mentioned in the Taiji classics, it is a skill that is not necessarily widely taught or understood.  The kua is related but not the same as the hip.  The kua is the junctional area between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of your body; it is also known as the “inguinal crease.”  The skill is to be able to sink and rotate the kua (which is different from rotating the hip or turning the knee) by slightly lowering that part of your body and slightly folding the inguinal crease. This position resembles a cat ready to pounce on a rat.  It puts the weight of your body more on your feet, and not on the knees, and allows you to spring forward/upward, and therefore provides more power in martial applications.  Again, it takes regular and continued practice to perfect this important skill. [4]

Integrating Internal Movements and External Movements:  The next stage is to improve the flow of Qi so that it is more guided by the mind, and not so much by the physical movement of the body, or even the breath.  In other words, the required external motions and breathing that previously led to generation and circulation of Qi can be gradually reduced to smaller and smaller amounts, so that ultimately it can arise almost spontaneously, essentially under the control of the mind.  This requires constant and persistent practice of all the previous skills  To get to this advanced stage of Taijiquan as a martial art, even when you are practicing the form sets by yourself, you always have one or more imaginary opponents fighting you.  But when you are in an actual fighting situation, you should have confidence in yourself by staying calm and relaxed as though there is no opponent around you.

Concluding Remarks:  Taijiquan is both a good health exercise and a good martial art.  Although to learn to do some basic forms may be easy, to learn the various skill sets to become an expert Taijiquan practitioner from the martial arts perspective is complex and takes many years of constant and persistent practice   Just like learning any complex subject, be it mathematics, arts, music, or physics, there are several skill sets one has to learn.  The learning process is not necessarily linear, i.e., one doesn’t have to finish learning, or master, one skill set before proceeding to learn another skill set.  One could simultaneously be practicing several skill sets at the same time.  But the commonality in learning is that the amount you achieve is proportional to the amount of work you put in, although different people may have different proportionality constants.


[1] In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or in Chinese martial arts, Qi is an internal life force or energy that can increase the attacking power and also the absorbing power of a practitioner.

[2] Click here for another video on Taiji Push Hands.  The book The Essense of Taijiquan Push-Hands and Fighting Technique by Wang Fengming contains a detailed discussion on Push Hands.

[3] See, e.g., articles on rooting in “Taiji Forum” and in “Tai Chi Society.

[4] For a short explanation of the position and movement of the kua, see sample video.  For more explanation of the kua and its importance in martial arts (as well as in other sports), see, e.g.,

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New Nanking Massacre Petition for 80th Anniversary – December 2017 http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/new-nanking-massacre-petition-for-80th-anniversary-december-2017/ http://www.dontow.com/2017/09/new-nanking-massacre-petition-for-80th-anniversary-december-2017/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:00:23 +0000 http://www.dontow.com/?p=4880 Over a period of about six weeks starting on December 13, 1937, a huge number (around 300,000) of Chinese, mostly civilians including women and children, were massacred by the Japanese army in Nanking (now called Nanjing). Countless women and girls were also raped.

These gruesome events were recorded by eye witnesses from around the world, including Americans, Germans, British, Japanese, Chinese, as well as many other nationalities, and were documented in diaries, home movies, and oral interviews. Here are a few such examples:

Yet the Japanese government still denies such atrocities 80 years after their occurrence. For the sake of justice, history not repeating itself, and world peace, this situation must change.

Therefore, there is a new Nanking Massacre Petition being posted in the GoPetition website.  This petition contains two requests:

  1. The Japanese government must publicly admit and apologize for committing the Nanking Massacre and other related atrocities in China and Asia during the period 1931-1945.
  2. For the sake of world peace the U.S. government must use its influence to press Japan to recognize this part of history, instead of partnering with Japan to surround, isolate, and weaken China.

The reason for Request #1 is that the Japanese government must not continue to deny the existence of the Nanking Massacre, and the Japanese government and the rest of the world must learn from this part of history, so that such atrocity will not be repeated in the future in any place in the world.  Only with proper recognition of this part of history can genuine friendship be established between the Japanese people and the Chinese people, and true peace be established between Japan and China.

The reason for Request #2 is if one studies the history of U.S. policy toward China and Japan in the last 70 years since the late 1940s, one will see that the U.S. has adopted a series of policy decisions that not only have not applied any pressure on Japan to acknowledge and apologize for Japan’s WWII atrocities, but have actually tried to groom Japan to be the U.S.’s front-line pawn to surround, isolate, and weaken China.

U.S. adopted this policy starting in the late 1940s when she sensed that the Chinese Communists would most likely win the Chinese civil war. We list here only a few examples of such policy decisions in the late 1940s and early 1950s:

  • The U.S. did not prosecute any of the leaders, scientists, or medical doctors who headed Unit 731, Japan’s huge biological and chemical warfare laboratory and manufacturing center in Harbin, China in exchange for getting these people’s knowledge and expertise in biological and chemical warfare [1].
  • The U.S. did not prosecute Emperor Hirohito, even though he was a hands-on emperor who knew and approved of all key decisions by the Japanese military [2,3],
  • Unlike the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the Potsdam Declaration of 1945, and the Japanese Surrender Treaty of September 2, 1945, which all declared that Japan should surrender back to China all those territories, such as Taiwan, that Japan seized from China, the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty only stated that Japan should relinquish former Chinese territories such as Taiwan, but did not explicitly say that they should be returned to China.  The treaty was orchestrated by the U.S. and over 50 countries were invited to the treaty conference, except that China (either the People’s Republic of China or the Republic of China), the country that suffered the most from the war with Japan, was not invited to the treaty conference.  This intentional twisting of history leads to remarks by American leaders, such as Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, co-author of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, who said in 1955 “the treaty ceded Taiwan to no one; that Japan merely renounced sovereignty over Taiwan, and that America cannot, therefore, admit that the disposition of Taiwan is merely an internal problem of China.”  Therefore, as early as 1951, it was already fairly clear about the imperialistic intention of the U.S. toward China and their planting the seed to ally with Japan to isolate and weaken China.
  • On December 25, 1953, the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (also known as Okinawa Prefecture) issued, with no legal grounds whatsoever, Civil Administration Proclamation No. 27 and unilaterally included the Diaoyu Islands as part of the Ryukyu Islands whose administrative rights would later be handed over to Japan in 1972, thus planting the seed of controversy.
  • Although on many occasions the U.S. would state that it does not take a position regarding the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, the U.S. would also claim that these islands are covered under the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.  In other words, U.S. showed itself willing to go to war with China with no moral or legal justification.

In the last couple of years there has been so much complaints by American political leaders and the American press over China’s actions in the South China Sea as violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  However, studying the facts about this issue will lead to the conclusion that what China has done is completely consistent with UNCLOS, and yes, there has been an abuse of power, but the country doing the abuse is the U.S., not China. [4]

Finally, the U.S. has accused China of military aggression and creating instabilities in the world, but it is the U.S. that has military bases all around China, and has military alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. The U.S.’s huge 7th Fleet is patrolling the waters all around China with 60-70 ships and submarines, 200 to 300 air crafts, and about 40,000 sailors and marines.

For a more detailed discussion of the U.S.’s complicity with Japan against China, see “How to Understand Japan’s Intransigent Policy Toward Her WWII Atrocities?

Therefore, we believe that to seek justice for the atrocity victims of WWII suffered at the hands of the Japanese military, Japan must step forward to acknowledge and apologize for the massive and inhumane atrocities she committed, and the U.S. must pressure Japan to own up to her responsibility and should not try to groom Japan as its front line pawn against China, because that does not lead to world peace.

The U.S. can vigorously compete against China economically, but should also collaborate with China and other countries to help solve many of the world’s pressing problems, such as fighting against terrorism, environmental protection, world hunger, and world peace.  We must understand that this complicity with Japan against China is in the long run not in the best interests of the U.S. and the American people.

It is heartening to learn that the Ontario legislature in Canada is considering of passing Bill 79—an Act to proclaim every December 13 “The Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day.”  It is equally heartening to learn that the noted Japanese-Canadian writer-poet Joy Kogawa has just published an article in the Toronto Star supporting Bill 79.

Please sign the new Nanking Massacre Petition before December 1, 2017. We will then forward the signed petition to the Japanese government, the U.S. government, the Chinese government, and the United Nations.

The petition also contains a Chinese translation.


[1] See, e.g.:  Factories Of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-1945, and the American Cover-Up, by Sheldon H. Harris, Routledge, 1994. ISBN-10:1568656556.  A Plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan’s Biological Warfare Program, by Daniel Barenblatt, HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-093387-6.  Article by American medical historian Dr. Martin Furmanski in the book Blood-Weeping Accusations:  Records of Anthrax Victims, by Li Xiaofang, 2005.

[2] Herbert P. Nix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; 2001.

[3] David Bergamini, Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, William Morrow, 1971.

[4] For background information and a discussion of this issue, see Don M. Tow, “South China Sea Dispute:  Abuse of World Power,” China-US Focus, September 15, 2016:  http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/south-china-sea-dispute-abuse-of-world-power.

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