ANNUAL 100-DAY PROGRAM
(Day #1 is Chinese New Year's Day each year)

Follow through on your New Year’s resolutions! There is a tradition in internal arts that even seemingly unattainable goals become possible in 100 days of concentrated training. Our 100-day program, open to all, is an exercise in individual discipline with community support. Program participants set a small number of goals, and devote the traditional 100 days to their fulfillment. There are only two meetings: the organizational meeting held on a weekend near the start of Chinese New Year, and a final wrap-up celebration near the 100th day; both meetings are optional-- remote participation via email is fine. At the first meeting, all participants are arranged in a "circle of tortoises" according to similarity of goals or other criteria. Once the circle is set is set no further registrations are permitted, so reserve your place in the circle early by sending the $40 commitment fee to “Magic Tortoise,” c/o Dr. Jay Dunbar, 15 Timberlyne Road, Chapel Hill NC 27514, or bring it to the first meeting. Contact Dr. Jay at drjay@magictortoise.com for specific dates, etc., in the current year.

Inspiration. There are numerous references to 100-days, for example, in the Tai Yi Jin Hua Zong Zhi (“The Secret of the Golden Flower”), a book on meditation and life attributed to Lü Dong-bin, writing in the 9th century:

“Only after a hundred days of concentrated work is the light real; only then is it the fire of spirit.” (tr. Cleary, p. 17)

“If you practice in this way for two or three months, the realized ones in Heaven will surely come to attest to your experience.;” (p. 37)

“On the whole, to set up the foundation requires a hundred days...” (p. 49)

“A hundred days is [a lifetime, and] also a single breath.” (p. 50)

“The hundred days is just a matter of empowerment: gain power in the daytime, and you use it at night; gain power in the night, and you use it in the daytime.” (p. 50)

“The hundred days setting up the foundation is a precious teaching...” (p. 50)

Features and Purpose of the Program.

The program consists of a meeting at the start of the 100 days, a gathering at the conclusion for assessment and celebration, emails from the team coach, a “power-of-three network” for mutual support, some options for group meetings and practice, payment of a personal commitment fee, and personal practice. Our aims are:

  • to apply Taiji principles to daily life and the accomplishment of personal goals,
  • to discover the value and cumulative effect of regular practice,
  • to inculcate habits of focus and attentiveness,
  • to work toward fulfillment of the classics,
  • to experience breakthrough,
  • to support others in the attainment of their goals.

Meetings. Players who wish to participate but cannot make the first meeting must call or email Dr. Jay before the first meeting and send in their commitment fee. At the first meeting we discuss the program in detail, participate in goal-setting, and establish the “Power-Of-Three Network.”

A final assessment meeting will be held on a weekend close to Day 100. At this meeting, we will share our experiences of the training and witness the accomplishment of team and personal goals.

Commitment Fee.Each 100-day program participant pays a $40 commitment fee. $10 of this goes into a pool, and all participants who manage to achieve one of the team goals during the program split the pool. If a pool is unclaimed, half goes to the Dantian Challenge Fund and half carries over to the next Magic Tortoise 100-Day program.

Team Goals. Two team goals have been selected by the team coach as representative of the training required for gongfu : superior achievement which is the result of effort expended over time.

1. Chin To Toe:   from an upright position with one leg bent at the knee, fold at the hips, and touch the chin to the toes of the other straight, outstretched leg (the "hundred day stretch").

Denise Flora in hundred-day chin-to-toe stretch, 20 March 2003.
Magic Tortoise student Denise Flora (shown here on Jekyll Island, GA March 2003) achieved chin-to-toe during our fourth hundred day program. For her reflections and insights on the experience, see her article: “Advice On Achieving Chin-To-Toe”.

2. Dantian Toss:   lying supine, toss a penny one vertical foot off the abdomen.

These goals may seem difficult, but they are not impossible. The process of practice on any of them may produce unanticipated gains in other areas of life. Individuals probably should select one team goal to concentrate on exclusively.

Personal Goals. Participants must file a statement of personal goals with the team coach at the start of the 100 days. However, personal goals are just that. Individual team members may formulate their own goals based on their own vision, needs, and desires. It is better to pick only one or two personal goals so that the effect of the 100-day focus may be more strongly felt. They may be intangible (“begin a meditation practice,” or “eat less sugar”), or they may be operationally defined; that is, their accomplishment is verifiable by objective, measurable criteria. “Lose 30 pounds,” for example, may be easily verified by weight checks at the start and conclusion of the 100 days. Any participant in the program can witness and attest another participant's accomplishment of a personal goal.

Some personal goals from the 25 participants in the first 100-Day Taiji Program were:

  • STAR STANDING MEDITATION: hold star standing meditation for 20 minutes Wendy Olson accomplished this goal in 1999 with a time of 23'50". Barbara Penn accomplished this goal on March 25, 2008 with a time of 30 minutes.
  • earn my yellow sash (verifiable)
  • lose 20 pounds (verifiable)
  • finish editing my third music CD (verifiable)
  • do form without knee going past dynamic limit (verifiable)
  • keep a daily journal (verifiable)
  • meditate twenty minutes every day (non-verifiable, but life-changing!)
  • drive no more than 4 miles above the posted speed limit (non-verifiable but life-changing!)
  • be on time to the first thing I'm supposed to be at each day (non-verifiable but life-changing!)
  • cultivate modesty and humility (non-verifiable but life-changing!)
  • drink 64 ounces of water a day (non-verifiable but amazing!)

There is plenty of room for creativity. The 100-day program is a blueprint for personal discipline. To paraphrase Stephen Mitchell's Tao te Ching, “Let it be present within you. You can use it any way you wish!”

The “Power-of-Three Network”. A “buddy system” for mutual support and inspiration is integral to the cohesiveness and success of Team 100. This system will not utilize the standard pairing of couples, but will rely on groupings of three: a “power-of-three network.”



TEAM GOAL 1: CHIN-TO-TOE, THE "HUNDRED DAY STRETCH"

Chin-to-toe is a well-known but rarely achieved stretch in Chinese wushu circles. It has been the especial legacy of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan, which was brought to America by Grandmaster Kuo Lien Ying in 1965. Master Henry Look, a senior student of Kuo, tells the following story of Yang Ban-Hou, son of the founder of Yang style, Yang Lu-Chan:

One day, Ban-Hou, on his way to the Imperial Court [where he taught a modified form of his Taijiquan to the Manchus] walking past the Royal Horse Stable, observed a young stable boy practicing the same Tai Chi forms he was teaching nightly in the Royal Garden. He confronted the boy as to how he could know this style of Tai Chi so well. The stable boy, named Wang Jiao-Yu, confessed that he had learned the forms by spying on his teaching nightly.

Ban-Hou learned the boy was Chinese, not a Manchu, and that they both came from the same city of Guang Ping. He asked the boy if he was serious about learning Kung-Fu from him. The boy immediately said yes and dropped to his knees to pay respect and appreciation by bowing to Ban-Hou one hundred times and with each bow hitting his forehead against the hard stone pavement.

When Wang finished bowing, his forehead red and bruised, Ban-Hou said to him, “If you really want to learn real Kung-Fu from me, you have to bend down to touch your chin to toe within 100 days.” Wang Jiao-Yu practiced very hard daily and succeeded in touching his chin to toe way before the 100 days had passed and thereby became one of only three disciples accepted to train by Yang Ban-Hou.
(“The Universal Post” vol. 1, issue 1)

Grandmaster Kuo Lien-Ying required this accomplishment for teachers in his lineage. Another account of this stretch from the Guang Ping lineage:

Today, Dr. Y.C. Chiang in El Cerrito CA is the recognized leader of the fifth generation of masters of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan. Before he was accepted as a student, he was required to achieve Chin-To-Toe in 100 days.
Chin-To-Toe is the hallmark exercise of Dr. Chiang's Wen Wu School in El Cerrito. Rather than a goal or destination, Chin-To-Toe is a launch point. All traditional masters of Guang Ping Yang Taijiquan began with Chin-To-Toe.
(William Wong Chin, in “The Universal Post” vol. 1, issue 2)

Before meeting Grandmaster Jou, Tsung-Hwa, Dr. Jay Dunbar studied Guang Ping for three years, travelling to San Francisco in 1976 to study with Grandmaster Kuo Lien-Ying, who introduced the Guang Ping style to America in 1965. Most people who hear of this stretch do not believe it to be possible. “The legs are longer than the torso!” they exclaim. But with the proper method, it is possible. (Master Shi Zheng-Zhong, executive coach of the Taipei Kuoshu team, visited one of our classes and demonstrated this stretch. He was in the Triangle area as a guest of Henry Lai.)

How do we go about achieving the 100-day stretch? When asked if he gave any special instructions for the stretch, Master Henry Look said, “I just say what Grandmaster Kuo said: 'If you can touch your chin to your toe in 100 days, I'll teach you something special.'” For some, apparently, this was sufficient motivation: all five students to whom he issued this challenge achieved it in 100 days or a little over.

Shifu Nick Gracenin, of Sharon PA, who was at one time able to demonstrate chin-to-toe and can still demonstrate forehead to toe, gives the following advice:

Stretch various parts: dorsal flexion of the ankle for example, and the three parts of the hamstring by stretching with the foot turned in, straight, and turned out.

Stretch high (on barre), middle (the 100-day stretch), and low (sitting on the floor).

Stretch with the body high (just folding the hips), medium (with the nose pointing out away from body) and low (aiming chin toward toe).

Try the stretches with the forward leg both straight and bent (some can only feel the hamstring when the knee is bent).

Shifu Gracenin also suggests three things are required in making a little progress every day:

  • Correct method.
  • Volume (frequency, repetition).
  • Intensity (push a little; do your best).

Here is some advice on point one, above: “correct method”:

  • fold from the hips,
  • stretch outward, not so much downward,
  • relax into the stretch (120 seconds)
  • start with one hand on the extended thigh, one on the shin; then reach for the foot: try to put laogong on yongquan; then touch elbow to the toes, then head to toes, then...chin-to-toes!



TEAM GOAL 2: DANTIAN PENNY TOSS

For information on this goal see Jou, Tsung Hwa Memorial Dantian Challenge.

SUGGESTIONS TO REINFORCE DAILY PRACTICE

  • Keep a list of team and personal goals by your bed (or under your pillow!)
  • Every morning, or when you begin practice, ring a bell (it says, “Remember!”)
  • Wear or carry something to remind you of your goals (jewelry, odd socks...)”")
  • Master H.H. Lui's dictum: “NPNB: no practice, no breakfast.”
  • Get used to practicing while you're doing other things (read or watch TV in stretch position...) Live with it!
  • Change your routines to remind yourself to practice.
  • Set obstacles ahead of you in time (strings across doorways, a pile of books in the middle of the floor...) as reminders.
  • Cross off days on a calendar.
  • Keep a practice journal.
  • Buy a special candle and light it during practice.
  • Develop similar methods of remembering that work for you: set aside time.
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The Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School
c/o Dr. Jay Dunbar, Director
15 Timberlyne Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-1522
919.968.3936