Lou Reed – The art of the straight line

Acclaimed rock ‘n’ roll icon Lou Reed (Walk on the Wild Side, Perfect Day) was also a Tai Chi fanatic, practicing Chen style since the 1980s. Sadly, Lou passed away in 2013 from liver cancer, but his writings about Tai Chi, meditation and music are about to be published by HarperCollins. The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi, is out on March 14 via HarperOne, and features a foreword from the late artist’s partner, Laurie Anderson.

If you’d like to get a flavour of Lou’s Tai Chi and his thoughts on Tai Chi then check out this short video called Lou Reed – The Voice and The Practice. It’s nice to see that he was into the martial side of Tai Chi as much as the performance side – there’s a nice clip of him pushing hands with his teacher Ren Guang Yi, for example. I quite like the “New York vibe” he brought to the practice.

Things You Should Be Listening to Right Now

There seems to be a sudden influx of good things to listen to, so, rather than do individual posts on all of them, I’ve decided to round them up in a collection of Things You Should Be Listening To Right Now

1. Peter Lorge on Inventing Traditional Martial Arts

This was very entertaining. It’s a great lecture on the difference between traditional and modern in martial arts, and how ‘traditional’ is in fact usually created by the ‘modern’.

You can get this one on YouTube or as a podcast.


2. Lavell Marshall & Hohoo – Spirit of the Grassland

I loved this so much. It’s a look into Mongol wrestling culture. It’s from Byron Jacobs who filmed it on a recent trip to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia for a wrestling competition and features Lavell Marshal, who left his life in the west to move to the grasslands and practice Bökh.

“Bökh (Mongolian Wrestling) has been practiced by nomadic and steppe cultures for thousands of years. It epitomizes the culture of the Mongolian people and the spirit of the grassland.

Lavell Marshal (Hangai), left his life in the west to move to the grasslands of Inner-Mongolia to study the art under Ho Bagsh (Coach Hohoo), a well-known wrestler and former national Shuai Jiao champion.”

3. Why Conspiracy Theories Are So Damn Hard to Disprove, with Dr Hanan Bushkin

This podcast isn’t necessarily martial arts related, but a lot of martial artists seem to be the sort of people that fall prey to conspiracy theories. I know, because I talk to them. This podcast sheds some light on why that is.

“Dr Hanan Buskin is a clinical psychologist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  In this episode we go deep into the benefits conspiracy theorist get from believing and sharing their crazy ideas and the long, difficult process required to gently wean them off conspiratorial thinking. “

4. Belts, Ranking, Titles & Hierarchy In Jiu-Jitsu With Priit Mihkelson

I had Priit as my guest in episode 5 of my podcast. In his most recent appearance, on the Sonny Brown Breakdown, he lays into the traditional structure of belts and titles in marital arts. He’s always worth listening to and I always find he delivers a fresh and interesting perspective on things.

“I talk to Priit Mihkelson, A Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt From Estonia and founder of Defensive BJJ. Priit always has a lot of interesting takes on the teaching, training & traditions of Jiu-Jitsu and after recently relocating his school I took the chance to ask him about his thoughts on belt rankings. We have a great conversation about how he has applied them to his Defensive BJJ system and set up his new school. We then move on to the use of hierarchy & titles like Professor and Master and their place in Jiu-Jitsu”.

5. Ken Gullette on internal body mechanics.

Finally, here’s another plug for my own podcast, The Tai Chi Notebook Podcast. I had Ken Gullette on recently who practices and teaches all the main internal arts but specialises in Chen style. Here’s the link to the podcast.

I really enjoyed this chat and although it becomes something of, “two old men talking about all their injuries”, at one point I think there’s a lot of value here. It also introduced me to a marital artist called Nabil Ranné from Germany.

Here he is teaching “Lazily Tying Coat” from Chen style.