- to encourage taijiquan players to focus on dantian development
- to honor and perpetuate the example and gongfu of Master Jou,
Tsung Hwa (1917-1998)
The Magic Tortoise School offers the Jou
Medallion* as a prize to any
taijiquan player of two or more years experience who can toss a
U.S. penny one vertical foot with their lower abdomen.
Yang Banhou (1837-1892)
practiced this demonstration of dantian
development with rice grains; Jou, Tsung Hwa (1917-1998) suggested
the one foot standard, and used pennies.
*THE JOU MEDALLION.
The Jou Medallion is a two-inch,
custom designed, high relief, art quality medal-- die-struck in bronze
and protected by a light lacquer. It features a sculpted portrait of the late
Master Jou, Tsung Hwa on the obverse, and his "essentials for the practice
of neigong" in characters superimposed over a taiji diagram on the reverse.
The Jou Medallion is the only medal awarded to taijiquan players from any
school or style for private, individual achievement, rather than for
competition or performance.
[Design by Dr. Jay Dunbar; calligraphy by Almanzo
“Lao Ma” Lamoureux; layout by Francis J. Chandler; and bas-relief by Charles L. Vickers,
whose credits include the 2005 “Minnesota” Quarter and the 2001 Presidential
From a supine position (lying on your back), usually
with head and knees raised, and without touching your body with your hands,
toss a U.S. penny placed on your lower dantian as high as you can. For
more information and practice tips, see below.
To enter the Dantian Challenge you must have been
studying taijiquan for a minimum of one year (verification required:
you may be known, vouched for, or you may demonstrate your knowledge of
a taijiquan form. A letter signed by a person who is known or vouched
for will also suffice). You must agree to allow your name to be listed
with other medalists if you are successful.
NOTE: Participation in the
Dantian Challenge is free. However, we
gratefully continue to welcome donations to the Jou Tsung Hwa Memorial
Dantian Challenge Fund.
RECOGNITION. Each participant who meets the standard will receive the
Jou Medallion (one for life), a certificate, and will have their name
added to the list of medalists on this website.
|Penny Tossing at The First "Magic Tortoise" Event, 1984.
| Jay Dunbar and Steve Rhodes on the ground, watched by
Rusty Ault, Nevitt Ensminger, Bernie Mayr, Michele Bittner, Jeff Davis,
Kathy Kimball, Jane Marshall, Thom Efird, Pat Rice, Almanzo (Lao Ma)
Lamoureux, Kim Ragland and Kam Hitchcock-Mort. (Baby Katharine Dunbar in stroller
Master Jou, Tsung Hwa is the author of The Dao of Taijiquan:
Way to Rejuvenation and was
host of the annual Zhang Sanfeng Festival, held at Tai Chi Farm
New York from 1984 until the
year after his death. He encouraged players of all schools and styles to
share with one another and learn from
classic stories and principles to demonstrate the martial ability, health
benefits, and spiritual advancement
promised by the art of taijiquan.
Master Jou was a living example of achievement in all aspects of taijiquan, and an inspiration to others through
his indomitable will to better himself and his unwillingness to rest on his laurels. He continually strove for
breakthrough; and when he achieved something, he would set goals that were further off: he would "raise the
bar." Master Jou constantly practiced dantian movement and the relation of that movement through chansijing
to all other parts of the body. His primary method of cultivation was prebirth or reverse breathing, which he
refers to in the 7th edition of The Dao of Taijiquan as "breathing without breathing": wu xi zhi xi. This was the
centerpiece of his teaching, and resulted in a practice we now call "Yi Yue (One Moon) Neigong."
Master Jou was inspired by the story of Yang Yu (Yang Banhou), oldest surviving son of Yang Luchan, who liked
"...to test his inner force by putting a few grains of rice on his abdomen, and while he was saying 'Ha,' the grains
were launched to the ceiling." (The Dao of Taijiquan, pp. 57-58). Lying on his back, Master Jou could toss a coin
several feet in the air from his dantian -- a casual feat he could perform at any time, even through his clothing.
To him, this was a measure of qi in the dantian, which he referred to as "money in the bank." Master Jou
believed that taijiquan players serious about following the classics should strive to toss a coin at least one foot.
The penny toss is not an end in itself; but neither is it a "parlor trick." While accomplishment of the one foot
standard does not guarantee that a player will be superior in form, push-hands, or health, it does indicate that
the player has laid a proper foundation for subsequent achievement. Forms and applications are like appliances:
they must be plugged in to a power source to work properly. In taijiquan, this source is the dantian. Yet players
continue to rely on muscular force because they have not tapped the dantian's potential.
The first step is to convert your dantian into a power plant through the practice of taiji qigong. The penny toss
is simply a way of testing the energy levels the dantian is generating. Next, you must check your wiring: you
must connect your power supply, through various breakers and switches, to the outlets throughout your house.
Chansijing exercise, meditation, and the structural and dynamic considerations described in the classics will help
you accomplish this. Finally, empowered directly by the dantian, the forms and applications of taijiquan will
work as they were designed to work: the shiny chrome toaster will make toast instead of merely looking good on
the counter. Or to use another of Master Jou's analogies: isn't it sad to see taijiquan players expending so much
effort pushing their cars around? It's time to put the key in the ignition and start the engine. In taijiquan,
dantian development is an essential step toward genuine ability.
SPONSOR. The Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School, based in Chapel Hill NC, is the originator and sponsor of the
Jou, Tsung Hwa Memorial Dantian Challenge. The school reserves the exclusive right to certify the
accomplishment of the standard, to produce and award medals and other certificates of participation and
achievement, and to publish the list of those who have successfully met the Dantian Challenge.
OPPORTUNITIES TO BE TESTED.
To participate in the Jou, Tsung Hwa
Memorial Dantian Challenge, contact Dr. Jay Dunbar at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-(919) 968-3936. You may, for example:
- visit the Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- invite a faculty member of the Magic Tortoise School to your area
- make an appointment to be tested at an event Dr. Dunbar may be attending, such as
the Zhang San Feng Festival in East Stroudsburg PA
SUPPORT THE CHALLENGE BY GIVING TO THE DANTIAN CHALLENGE FUND! To make this event a reality, both now
and "in perpetuity," please consider making a donation to the Dantian Challenge Fund. Make checks payable to
"Dantian Challenge Fund" and send to: Dr. Jay Dunbar, 15 Timberlyne Road, Chapel Hill NC 27514-1522.
Supporters are listed on the Magic Tortoise School's website at four levels: White Cloud Immortal ($100+),
Cinnabar Field Marshal ($50-$99), Qi Booster ($25-$49), and Stone Tortoise ($1-$24). Multiple donations are