Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual - Book Review

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual: Gao Yisheng's Bagua Twisting-Body Connected Palm Paperback by Gao Yisheng  (Author), Liu Fengcai (Editor), John Groschwitz (Translator)

The Chinese internal martial art of Bagua Zhang, the eight change of the palm, is an art with similarities to Tai Chi Chuan. The author of the book, Gao Yi Sheng, was a student of one the all-time greats of Bagua Zhang, Ching Ting Hua. Gao’s innovation to and standardization of the Cheng Bagua curriculum, as well as his well know fighting ability, earned him a branch of the Cheng school.

The recounting of Gao’s life is almost worth the price of the book. These types of martial histories, while not always accurate, give us insight into the developmental process Gao went through and how he innovated on what he learned. They may not be a way to explore motive but expand our thinking about the influences he was exposed to in the creation of the straight line sets. Also included is the life history of his nephew and student Liu Feng Cai and many of the students in his lineage.

This book is not a teaching book, it was written as a resource for the “in door” students and never meant to be published. If you had access to the book you were a long term, in door student who was already familiar with the basics postures, stances, and movements. This is why the book is heavy on theory, basic rules of the system, etc., and not a posture by posture teaching book. 

Also, you cannot learn a martial art as complex as Bagua Zhang (or Taiji Quan or Xingyi Quan for that matter) from a book. It is not possible unless you have years of experience with basic stancing, body mechanics, had position, application, etc. Learning these arts is time consuming and arduous. Even with a good, open teacher and a willing student it is difficult to learn and will take years of dedication and training.

This book is the official standard for the curriculum of the Gao lineage. Its contents are a must for all practitioner of Bagua Zhang in the Gao system or the Cheng Bagua school. 

I am a 20 year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Gao Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fundamentals of the Wudang Sword Method - a Manual of Chinese Swordsmanship Translation by Scott M. Rodell

This book is a must have for any practitioner of the Chinese sword arts. Scott Rodell is one of the foremost experts of the Chinese Jian and has 40+ years of experience he brings to the table in his commentary and translation. 
The layout of the book is useful as well, he leaves the classical Chinese, the pinyin and the English translation on the page together. I like that because it gives me the opportunity to see the character (I don’t speak Chinese) and look at the tone in Pinyin as well as see the translated meaning in English.
This is not a book for a novice, although it can benefit someone who has no experience, this book is really for the person who has some background in Chinese swordsmanship. The insight and depth of the commentary helps to elucidate some of the finer points of theory and usage. 
I believe the introduction about Li Jinlin the “Sword Saint”, the history of Wu Dang Sword and Chinese history lesson alone is worth the $6 price tag. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

JUNPO DENIS KELLY - An Awakened Mind

"An Awakened Mind—one abiding in Clear Deep Heart–Mind—experiences anger not as a violent reaction but as intense clarity of mind and deep concern.
An Awakened Mind experiences shame as a false belief that I am inadequate, worthless and invalid. An awakened mind hears and differentiates shame and healthy guilt. Guilt is experienced as a wake-up call, an integrity check, exposing something I have done that I will take responsibility for.
An Awakened Mind experiences dissociation for what it is - a missed opportunity to respond, connect, to communicate, or resolve a situation. An Awakened Mind experiences fear not as a reaction but as excitement and opportunity. In an Awakened Mind, intelligence, interest and compassion override, transform and replace the voices of all negative reactive emotions."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Difficulty in Learning Chinese Internal Martial Arts

Internal Martial Arts (IMA) are difficult to learn

IMA takes a long time to unpack and process into the body, I tell my students it is a “custom fit” meaning you have to discover it yourself. In today’s instant gratification society people taking years to really dig into something and learn it are the minority. The mind set it takes to spend hundreds of hours practicing forms, push hands, standing, alone or in a small class setting, and receiving individual corrections is few-and-far-between.

Unlike a lot more accessible martial arts (BJJ, Muay Thai) it takes a significant investment of time and energy to reach a minimum threshold of competency, just to embody the basics. I am not demeaning Muay Thai or BJJ, I think they are fantastic arts, but when people with no experience come to me and say they want to learn fight with Bagua Zhang I tell them to go learn Muay Thai. They are going to be happier, sooner (e.g. they are going to learn how to fight) years sooner by learning Muay Thai or BJJ than they would learning Bagua Zhang. Bagua, Xingyi, Taiji are going to take a long time to achieve even a basic level of competency.

This brings me to my second issue, these arts cannot be learned, from the ground up, from a video. Sorry, I just don’t think it is really possible. These arts are hard enough to learn and transmit with a dedicated student/ teacher relationship. A student and teach showing up to class multiple days a week and training. In many cases that is not even enough to reach a minimum threshold of competency. A practitioner who understands the basics and can articulate the correct body mechanics can learn another set or art from a video, no problem.

So, how do you do it? Find a good teacher, practice daily, go to class and train with your class mates as much as possible, think about it a lot and ask questions. 

Miao Dao Competition 2013

Miao Dao Competition 2013

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Taijiquan Classics: A Martial Artist's Translation by Scott M. Rodell - Book Review

The Taijiquan Classics: A Martial Artist's Translation by Scott M. Rodell - Book Review

An amazing book by an expert well versed in Chinese Martial Arts, Chinese Internal Martial Arts (IMA) and Chinese history and culture. The depth of his 40+ years of practical experience in Taiji Quan brings these classic texts to life and gives them a context that make them both accessible and practical to the beginner or the advanced practitioner of any style of Taiji Quan.

I appreciated the candid outline of his translation process. The time and care Mr. Rodell took during the process reaffirmed my confidence in the work. The layout of the book is useful as well, he leaves the classical Chinese, the pinyin and the English translation on the page together. I like that because it gives me the opportunity to see the character (I don’t speak Chinese) and look at the tone in Pinyin as well as see the translated meaning in English.

The classics are enigmatic guidelines, sometimes couched in flowery language, designed to help practitioners to remember various important points of practice. Without guidance to elucidate them they become less useful and accessible to the lay practitioner. Mr. Rodell’s commentary is where this translation shines. His commentary is clear, concise and accessible even to the practitioner with a basic level of Taiji skill and vocabulary.

This book is a must for any Taiji practitioner. The content and execution make this book unique among translations of the Taiji classics.  

I am a 20+ year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bagua and Xingyi: An Intersection of the Straight and Curved

Bagua & Xingyi an Intersection of the straight and the curved: An anthology of Articles from the Journal of Asian Martial Arts Compiled by Michael A DeMarco, M.A. is an amazing book spanning years of in depth articles from the Journal of Asian Martial Arts about the Chinese Internal Arts of Bagua, Xingyi and Taiji.

In the name of full disclosure I am a lineage holder and teacher in the Gao Bagua Yi Zong lineage which is featured heavily in this book.

Over the last 20 + years of my learning, teaching and training these arts I have read or heard about most of the articles in this book but to see them finally collected in one edition is really a great resource for any practitioner of the Internal Marital Arts (IMA).

The articles span multiple generations of practitioners of Bagua Zhang/ Pa Kua Chang (the eight trigram palm) and Xingyi Quan/ Hsing I Chuan (mind-shape boxing) so the depth and breadth of the information can inform the new practitioner or the advanced student. I have read and re-read most of the articles included in the book countless times and have always gained a new perspective on the arts.

Owen Schilling is a 20 year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan, a lineage holder in the Yi Zong School and the lead instructor at Boulder Internal Arts in Boulder, CO.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bagua, Xingyi, Taiji - What to look for in a teacher?

Bagua, Xingyi, Taiji - What to look for in a teacher?

Finding a teacher who will teach you Chinese Internal Martial Arts (IMA) is easy. You can find any number of teachers at the rec center, online, etc., some of which will have good credentials and lineages, some of which are high profile but can’t (or don’t want to) deliver the goods. How are you going to know without an investment of time, energy and money on your part?

The short answer is, you can’t.

But you can ask “who is this teacher as a person?” as you talk with them, watch their behavior, listen to them. You can see the outcome of training this art in your potential teacher.

  • ·         Are they out of shape?
  • ·         Are they happy?
  • ·         Are they arrogant?
  • ·         Are they a bad ass?
  • ·         Are they crazy?
  •       Are they the only ones who have "the real thing"?

I once knew a TKD teacher who had his hips replaced when he was in his early 40’s. That is something I would think about before learning his style of martial arts.

Look at their students, are they engaged? Happy? Did they buy into the “life-style”? Did they drink all of the Kool-Aid or just enough of it?

And this begs the question “who do you want to be?” Who do you want to be at the end of this martial journey?

In my opinion learning IMA and martial arts in general needs to be a balancing act between health and happiness. Inevitably, if you engage in sparring, rolling, hard training or other types of “use” training you will get a significant injury. Know you are going to get injured doing most martial arts even at a recreational level but most of those injuries are not going to impair you in 10, 20 or 50 years.

Finding a teacher is easy, finding a good teacher is hard. You have to do some research and ask some questions, but in the end you have to get in there and find out for yourself. But the real test is, does your art make you a better person in your everyday life? Does it make you happier? Healthier? More confident? Or does it make you an asshole? A bully? Or some mix of the above? Look to your teacher to see where your art will take you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Kunwu Sword Manual by Li Lingxiao Translated by Scott M. Rodell

Advice from the
Kunwu Sword Manual by Li Lingxiao (昆吾劍譜, 李凌霄)
Yī kě chuán zhī rén bù chuán, shī rén. Bùkě chuán zhī rén ér chuán, shī jiàn. Rú rèn rén bù zhēn, níng shī rén wù shī jiàn. Zìgǔ jiē rán, fēi wúbèi zhī lìn yě.
If there is someone that the art can be transmitted to, but it is not, that person is lost. If someone who can not receive the transmission is taught, the sword art is lost. So recognize the people who are right. Rather lose a person than lose the sword art. Since ancient times it was always this way, it is not our generations stinginess.
from the Ten admonishments for the Sword Art
Translated by Scott M. Rodell

Friday, March 24, 2017

Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman

Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman

This is my teacher Marcus Brinkman. Beginning and Ongoing classes in Gao Style Bagua here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation.
·        First Class Free
·        Increase Muscle Strength
·        Improve Flexibility
·        Regain Stability & Balance
·        Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning

Reasonably priced - Excellent Instruction - Fun/ Dedicated Training Group 
                                           Check the full website: HERE 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Xingyi Quan Classes - Colorado - Hsing I Chuan Classes in Boulder

Boulder Internal Arts offers a complete system of traditional Chinese Internal Kung Fu training.  Xingyi Quan (Hsing I Chuan) classes give you a method for building self awareness, lasting health, and personal transformation through movement and martial contact in Boulder, Colorado

  • First Class Free
  • Learn Self Defense
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Regain Stability & Balance
  • Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning

  • Reasonably priced - Excellent Instruction - Fun/ Dedicated Training Group

    WEBSITE             FACEBOOK

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Fighting – and, not or – Fitness by Matt Thornton

    Fighting – and, not or – Fitness by Matt Thornton - 

    Found HERE

    Why has every successful military force known to man, from the ancient Greeks and Romans, to the modern CAG, Navy SEALS, and SAS, placed physical fitness as a priority?
    Among my first students was a large, strong, older man who made his living as a roofer. Jovial and tough, we trained together a lot. His forte when we sparred was the head and arm position (a modified headlock on the ground, where the person on top has control of both your head, and one of your arms), what in Judo is known as ‘kesa gatame’, or what Larry Hartsell would affectionately call, “Kassy”.
    We’d glove up and spar. Younger and with more boxing, I’d get the better of him on the feet. A takedown would occur, and somehow, in the mix, he would always end up holding me in an airtight head and arm. The pressure on my neck would increase. Unable to escape, I would eventually have to tap.
    Over time I became better at avoiding the position. But we both knew it was there. And should he get it, we both knew I’d be in trouble.
    At the time I was learning Jiu-Jitsu from one of Paul Vunak’s students, Thomas Cruse. He lived in Eugene, and when possible I would visit and ask all the questions that had arisen as a result of sparring. He’d offer solid advice. I’d drive back and try it on the roofer. And I would still be stuck.
    Finally, another chance to train with Rickson presented itself.
    My Judo partner and I, Craig Bell, who shared the space with me and paid half the rent, brought Rickson up to Oregon for a seminar. During a private lesson Rickson broke down the fine points of the position. Mechanically, it was a simple solution. The head and arm is a fixed position, meaning the possibilities are limited. And like all things in Jiu-Jitsu, when the correct method is known, and the right timing ingrained, the escape can feel easy.
    A good rule of thumb to remember is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is always common sense – in retrospect.
    As soon as possible I got back on the mat with the roofer. Within fifteen minutes I was able to escape every time. From that day forward, he couldn’t hold me in that position. Jiu-Jitsu had presented me with a puzzle. A puzzle I obsessed over for months. But, like all puzzles, it admits to a solution. You just have to know how to look.
    One thing that also shined through over those early years was just how important physical fitness, “conditioning”, is to actual fighting. Sure, when done perfectly, when you completely outclass your opponent, you may be able to achieve a lot without much exertion, just as Rickson did one day when I watched him ironman a room of grapplers without breaking a sweat. But those are not the opponents we are training for. Remember principle #4 (from the upcoming book):
    The willingness to engage in competition and the willingness to be vulnerable, exist in equal measure, if the competition itself is a worthy one.
    Read the rest HERE

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Xing Yi Quan master Wu Huijin, Pi Quan 吴会进师傅,正宗劈拳

     Xing Yi Quan master Wu Huijin, Pi Quan 吴会进师傅,正宗劈拳
    "Master Wu Huinjin (吴会进) from Taigu, Shanxi province, is grandson of famous great grandmaster Wu Dianke(吴殿科). His style is very orthodox, following the legacy of Dai family, Li Luoneng(李洛能) and Che Yizhai (车毅斋) Xing Yi Quan old traditional form. Lineage: Li Luoneng(李洛能)- Che Yizhai(车毅斋)-Liu Jian(刘俭) -Wu Dianke(吴殿科)-Wu Xiufeng (吴秀峰)- Wu Huijin(吴会进) Wu family is onr of most important descendants in Xing Yi Quan circles. *"

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Taiji Quan - Marcus Brinkman

    Taiji Quan - Marcus Brinkman

    Beginning and Ongoing classes in Xingyi & Bagua here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation.
    ·        First Class Free
    ·        Increase Muscle Strength
    ·        Improve Flexibility
    ·        Regain Stability & Balance
    ·        Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning

    Reasonably priced - Excellent Instruction - Fun/ Dedicated Training Group 

    Click HERE for more info!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman pt 2

    Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman

    Beginning and Ongoing classes in Gao Style Bagua here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation.
    ·        First Class Free
    ·        Increase Muscle Strength
    ·        Improve Flexibility
    ·        Regain Stability & Balance
    ·        Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning
    Reasonably priced - Excellent Instruction - Fun/ Dedicated Training Group 

    Sunday, February 12, 2017

    Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman

    Gao Bagua Hou Tien - Marcus Brinkman

    Beginning and Ongoing classes in Gao Style Bagua here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation.
    ·        First Class Free
    ·        Increase Muscle Strength
    ·        Improve Flexibility
    ·        Regain Stability & Balance
    ·        Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning
    Reasonably priced - Excellent Instruction - Fun/ Dedicated Training Group 

    Friday, February 10, 2017

    Gao Bagua Leg grab/ Take-down - 2008 Boulder CO

    Gao Bagua Leg grab/ Take-down - 2008 Boulder CO

    Beginning and Ongoing classes in Gao Style Bagua Zhang here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation. This is my lineage and what i teach at Boulder Internal Arts

    Wednesday, February 8, 2017

    Saturday, February 4, 2017

    Ming Sword

    To celebrate the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, and to kick-off our Eastern Warriors: China theme for February half-term, the Ming sword has been chosen as February’s Object of the Month by Natasha Bennett, Acting Curator of Oriental Collections.

    The Ming Sword

    This sword is one of the greatest treasures in the Oriental Collection at the Royal Armouries. It is heralded as one of the most beautiful, detailed, and intricate examples of ornate metalwork still in existence from the early Ming period. It is particularly precious because armour and weapons from the time of the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644) rarely survive. The name ‘Ming’ was adopted as a dynastic title because it means ‘bright’ or ‘shining’, and this stunning sword certainly lives up to that association.

    A Sword can mean many things…
    Chinese swords tended to fall into two main types; the straight, double-edged jian, and the single-edged dao. By the time of the Ming era, the dao dominated as the practical choice for both military and civilian use, but the more archaic jian retained great significance as a symbolic object. It could be used to demonstrate social and professional rank, respect, power, wealth, favour, and artistic taste. Swords such as this played an important role in courtly culture and diplomacy, helping to forge and even sever links through the processes of gift-giving or intimidation.
    This particular sword is clearly a high-status object. The hilt and scabbard are richly ornamented in gold, silver and semi-precious stones. The three-dimensional monster-mask forming the guard is exquisitely worked with its flaming, curling mane and jaws which seem to clamp around the top of the blade. Sinuous, beautifully detailed dragons furl within cartouches on the pommel and scabbard.
    At either side of the pommel are the Eight Buddhist Emblems of Good Augury (‘ba jixiang’): the wheel of law, the standard, the treasure jar, the pair of fish, the endless knot, the lotus, the parasol, and the conch shell of victory. The Sanskrit inscription halfway down the scabbard has been translated by specialists in the past as ‘Honorific Sword’ or ‘Precious Sword’; this could be a reference to Buddhist symbolism and the jewels or emblems associated with monarchy.

    Tibetan Buddhism had become established in China during the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279–1367) and became further entrenched during the early Ming period.
    Features of the decoration present on the hilt and scabbard are closely aligned with the ornamentation of other iron ritual objects which were commissioned by the early Ming emperors to send as gifts to one or other of the great Tibetan monasteries.
    It is therefore highly likely that this sword was produced in the court workshops of the Yongle emperor (1403–24). Moreover, the sword suggests distinct Tibetan influence in its overall form, and the pattern-welded blade is probably a later replacement which seems to be of Tibetan manufacture. It may well have been bestowed on an allied Tibetan ruler to promote diplomatic relations, or presented to a powerful monastery to gain favour. Alternatively, it may have been made for the Yongle emperor himself.


    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    Myths about Chinese Swordsmanship - Scott M Rodell

    Myths about Chinese swordsmanship

    Chinese jian with dual rows of huawen

    Damascus steel with lamelae of twists running obliquely toward the point on
    either side of the median ridge.


    There are many widely-held misconceptions about Chinese swords. I have
    selected five of the most commonly repeated. I will attempt to dispel them.
    Most of the stories have been passed down from generation-to-generation
    by the Chinese themselves. These stories are based on “fairy-tales”.
    Indeed, frequently these stories are repeated by people who have never handled
    an antique sword and who know nothing about Chinese swords, or about metallurgy
    or about the art of the swordsmith.

    Misconception 1:
    The Chinese carried “Belt Swords” which they wore around their waists

    Tales of whip-like ‘belt’ swords are nonsense and show an ignorance of
    metallurgy and battlefield combat. Whatever “belt swords” may have
    existed (and the collecting and museum community have yet to see a single
    authentic one) would have only been useful as an assassin’s weapon used to
    slash an unsuspecting victim. There is no way to combine the three important
    sword qualities in a flimsy, whip-like blade. An overly flexible sword would
    lack the structural integrity to thrust or cut with accuracy and control or to
    effectively deflect a blow from even a stick, never mind a larger weapon like
    a spear, halberd, glaive, or fauchard. Only a fool of a swordsman would want
    to meet an irate farmer swinging a chunk of 2X4 with a thin, flimsy jian.

    Misconception 2:
    There is a special taiji jian designed specifically for this art

    Today jian are commonly referred to as “taiji swords”
    in martial arts equipment catalogs and by the general public. This implies
    there is a jian tailored especially for the art of taiji jian.
    Aside from the fact that what makes a good sword tends to apply universally
    to everyone, the principles discussed above allow for only slight variations
    in possible serviceable variations.
    Historically in China, there were just never enough taiji jian
    practitioners to form a market to which sword smiths could cater.
    Before Yang Luchan brought taijiquan to Guangping and then
    Beijing in the mid-nineteenth century, it was limited to just one
    small place, the Chen Family Village (Chenjiagou).
    Taijiquan practitioners required swords with the same characteristics
    as any other fencing system. They were (are) also constrained in the same
    way any other martial art was, by the laws of metallurgy. Nineteenth century
    taiji jian swordsmen adopted existing sword types, rather than
    inventing new ones.

    Chinese suishu peidao of
    giangang with the vein distinguished
    from the gu of the blade by way of a serrated


    Thursday, January 26, 2017

    Gao Ba Gua Zhang Fighting - Full Video

    Beginning and Ongoing classes in Gao Style Bagua Zhang here in Boulder, Colorado. Focusing on teaching a method for self cultivation, lasting health and personal transformation. This is my lineage and what i teach at Boulder Internal Arts

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    Ancient sword is pulled from sheath after 2,300 years

    "Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient sword thought to date from 2,300 years ago – and it still looks glittering and lethal.
    The sword was found in an ancient tomb in China – near the city of Xinxiang, Henan Province.
    It’s thought to date from somewhere between 475BC and 221BC, during the Warring States period – a violent era before the first Chinese empire became unified."

    Read more HERE 

    Wednesday, January 4, 2017

    Sword Master Scott Rodell - interview

    A excellent interview with Sword Master Scott Rodell found HERE

    Angelika Fritz features this blog in her blog. So she recently asked me to answer a few interview questions. Here are my responses -
    • Could you please tell a bit more about yourself? (e.g. since when are you doing Taijiquan? martial background?)
    I began studying martial arts at the age of nine and jus kept going. I started studying taijiquan with Robert Smith while I was at University and through him met many accomplished teachers who helped me get where I am today, including my principle teacher, Wang Yen-nien. I also studying with TT Liang and William C.C. Chen.
    • Which style are you into and why? (you could also talk about what you emphasize most: health, fight, meditation, philosophy…)
    I practice Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan (楊家秘傳太極拳) which I studied under Wang Yen-nien. Though today taijiquan is often presented as either a heath art or a martial arts, suggesting that it is one or the other shows a basic misunderstanding of the art. This is the result of contemporary repackaging of the taijiquan. One only needs to read any of the period literature left behind by the Yang Family for it to be blindingly obviously that taijiquan is a martial art. It is also clear from the writings that the mediative and heath aspects are and integral part of and the result of a solid martial approach. As Cheng Man-Ch’ing wrote in Master Cheng’s New Method of T'ai Chi Self-Cultivation, “Taiji form practice that ignores functional application bestows health benefits that are artificial at best.”
    • You focus a lot on Chinese swordsmanship. What fascinates you about the sword?
    Something that can not be put into words. I suppose it is the same feeling a surfer has when he or she rides a really powerful wave or a musician jams with other great artists. I hope that in our time we will see more students rediscover this wonderful art and leave behind the practice of simply waving their weapons around as if it is Harry Potter’s wand and treat it with the respect it deserves.
    If I may add one more thing… Through my company we offer real Chinese swords that are the size, weight and as sharp of Qing and Ming period swords. Occasionally we have had calls from practitioners who self described themselves as “teachers” who then asked if our swords are sharp? I reply, certainly, swords are sharp. (You don’t call a gun store and ask if their guns shoot bullets do you?) The next question is do we have any that aren’t sharp, because this “teacher" is afraid of cutting him or herself. No. I then in return ask, no offense, but if you are afraid of cutting yourself with your own sword, what is that saying about your skill level? Remember, these are people who have announced themselves as a “teacher.” Next is either, you are right and an order, or more commonly, “yeah but… ”
    • What is the biggest benefit you get from your practice? (does it help you in any specific way? Which impact does it have on you? What changed since you started?)

    A good, well practiced martial art It benefits every aspect of life.  When practiced in the fashion the founders laid out for us, Taijiquan is no different. It is only the limiting of the art by ignoring these instructions that the art is less, as in when it is presented as a only health or spiritual art. It is ironic that practitioners take up such a holistic art only to ignore it’s core aspects and disregard the teachings of Yang Luchan.
    • Which piece of advice would you give a beginner in Taijiquan? (e.g. what is most important? How to get better?)

    Don’t pick your teacher based on who is closest and most convenient to get to. Find one who really teachers the entire art rather than watering it down because he or she hasn’t the skill or courage to practice sanshou.
    • Who are or were your most important teachers? (please refer to max. 3 teachers, you could explain why they are so important to you)
    Wang Yen-nien.
    • Is there any teacher or master you would like to learn from in the near future? (you could name 1-2 and write shortly what you would like to learn from him/her)
    No. There must come a point where a student must stand on his or her own feet and stop relying on teachers. The false humility that is popular in martial arts is as much a delusion and egoistical as is false bravado, both equally hamper students. Better to be clear and honest about where you are. This is not to say that I am not always looking to learn. I find that teaching pushes me to constant learn and look more deeply into my practice. As does training with other skilled practitioners of any martial art.
    • Is there a book you recommend? One you often like to pick up and refer to? (1-2 books about Taijiquan could be one of yours or from another author, maybe even another blog you like to follow)
    Most books on taijiquan are pop culture fluff. For the most part, it is best to stick with the classic works. I recommend Douglas Wile’s translation of the Yang Family Manuals, “Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions.”
    And Loius Swaim’s translation of Yang Chengfu’s book, “The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan.”
    I hope that my forth coming work, “The Taijiquan Classics - A Martial Artist’s Translation,“ will also be of use to students of the art. The eBook version should be out later this month or early January.
    I hope that you will answer my questions. Because I really like to connect with other Tai Chi people and bloggers. Let’s spread the word of how great Tai Chi is!
    Thanks for asking me…
    Be well, Scott M. Rodell