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Monday, September 25, 2017

Chinese Swordplay (Jianfa) - ~ Scott M. Rodell


"A common problem with beginners' swordplay is concentrating on strategy before mastering technique. This is like discussing chess strategy before knowing all the pieces and how they move to take other pieces. New students search for a trick to winning. However without technique fully mastered and incorporated in one's mind-body, they lack the ability and tools to change when their trick fails them. Likewise, if their duifang has a trick of strategy they do not comprehend, they have no way for responding to unexpected situations. This is the error of putting strategy before technique in the study of swordsmanship. Before thinking about strategy, students of swordsmanship must study each cut, mastering them one at a time." ~ Scott M. Rodell (trans & commentary)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Man with Hook Sickle Spear


                                                        Man with Hook Sickle Spear

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bagua Zhang - Pa Kua Chang - Classes in Colorado at Boulder Internal Arts

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 

WEBSITE             FACEBOOK




Monday, August 28, 2017

Chinese Single Saber (dao, 單刀)





                                                        Chinese Single Saber (dao, 單刀)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cheng style Ba Gua Zhang by Liang Ke Quan


"Rare footage of Liang Ke Quan performing Cheng style Ba Gua Zhang. Although very skilled in both Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Zhang, Liang Ke Quan was more well-known for his Xing Yi Quan. This video was filmed at a gathering that I had the amazing pleasure of attending at a wushu school that he founded in his hometown of Zhuo Zhou in Hebei Province.
Liang Ke Quan was part of the inner circle of Cheng style Ba Gua Zhang and various styles of Xing Yi Quan. His first teacher, Zhou Lu Quan. was a student of Liu Feng Chun. Liu learned directly from Ba Gua's originator, Dong Hai Chuan, as well as Dong's student, Cheng Ting Hua, the founder of Cheng style Ba Gua Zhang. Liang went on to study with many other distinguished masters including extensive study with Cheng Ting Hua's youngest son, Cheng You Xin, Lo Xin Wu and Zhang Yin Wu, a student of Li Cun Yi."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Story Of Ch’ang Tung Sheng::常東昇(1911-1986)

紅葉 – Red Leaves _ Xingyiquan – Baguazhang – Taijiquan _ Story Of Ch’ang Tung Sheng 
Posted by: iwalkthecircle Nov 8 2007, 11:03 PM

http://mastermatt.com/about/sheng.html</a&gt;

The oldest form of Kung Fu, Shuai Chiao can be traced back to Huan Ti, the “Yellow Emperor”(2700 BC). Shuai Chiao means “competing to throw”, so Shuai Chiao is often called Chinese Wrestling, which could be misleading, since leg work(low kicking, leg tangling, and tripping), arm locks, and a variety of hand strikes are all part of this devastaing system.


Grandmaster Ch’ang Tung Sheng

The father of modern day Shuai Chiao was Grandmaster Ch’ang Tung Sheng who died in 1986. Grandmaster Ch’ang Tung Sheng was born in 1908, the year of the Monkey, in Hopei Province in the northeastern section of China -a province long known for the great martial artists produced there. Of all the Masters coming from this region over the past 2,000 years, one of the most pre-eminent is the legendary Grandmaster Ch’ang Tung Sheng, perhaps the greatest fighter in the last 300 years irrespective of style and certainly the most tested and proven one in this century. Grandmaster Ch’ang started serious training in Kung-Fu in 1915 when he was seven years old. He learned the basics from his father & grandfather, but later his teacher was the famous Master Chang Feng-Yen who was well known as the foremost expert in Pao-Ting Shuai Chiao, the fastest and most powerful of the 3 main branches of this ancient art. Chang Feng-Yen was the top disciple of Ping Jing-Yee, who like Grandmaster Ch’ang, was a legend in his own time. General Ma, the first of the great Masters to compile ancient Shuai Chiao techniques for publication, was another prestigious student of Ping Jing-Yee.

Grandmaster Ch’ang has often stated that Master Chang Feng-Yen was the best teacher in that time regardless of style, and, as a result, many of the most promising young students wished to study with him. Of many who came before Master Feng-Yen to exhibit their basic skills, very few were chosen. Grandmaster Ch’ang was not only one of those few, but by the time he was eventeen he was already declared a Master himself, had attained proficiency unmatched by any of his peers, was the favorite pupil of Master Feng-Yen, and had married his Master’s second daughter. When Grandmaster Ch’ang was about 20 years old, he left Hopei Province and went to Nanking to study at the Central Kuo Shu School, the best in all China, in order to learn all the major styles of Kung-Fu. Since the best instructors and students from every major style were represented there,admission was an honor and exposed the practitioner to the widest possible cross-section of Chinese Martial Arts knowledge that could be found anywhere- in a phrase, if it wasn’t practiced there, it probably wasn’t worth much. Once again, Grandmaster Ch’ang’s capabilities were such that after five years of training with the best students in all of China, he emerged at the head of the program and became the teacher of the Shuai-Chiao department, having also mastered the styles of Shing Yi, Lo Han, Tai Chi, Pa Kua, and most elements of Shaolin in addition to his own!

At one point he went to challenge the Mongolian champion at their annual meet in Chang-Chia-Kuo, and in so doing had to fight the well known Kuhli, a giant of a man standing well over six feet tall and weighing almost 400 lbs.! Grandmaster Ch’ang agreed to use only wrestling techniques, and, despite the difference in size, repeatedly countered dozens of attacks by the Mongolian champion while throwing him down again and again with a variety of beautifully executed moves.

In 1933, at the age of 25, Grandmaster Ch’ang entered the Fifth National Kuo Shu Elimination Tournament in Nanking. This “no holds barred” competition involved over 1,000 participants and included Masters in all major styles from all over China battling each other for supremecy in all-out combat. Grandmaster Ch’ang won all of his matches, including one over his arch rival Liu Chiou-Sheng, and emerged the heavyweight grandchampion. Significantly, this was the last great tournament of its kind where Masters who were trained in the old ways fought in an “anything goes” manner to determine the very best among them. This national meet was considered to be the severest test of the ability, strength, and skills of any fighter and the winner was fully acknowledged to be the undisputed Champion of all China. Such open, free style, “no holds barred” tournaments on that scale were never held again, leaving Grandmaster Ch’ang the last truly tested fighter open to challenge by anyone regardless of style or system!

Both before and after his brilliant victory in the National tournament, Grandmaster Ch’ang traveled frequently with the intent of seeking out different teachers all over mainland China that were known to him to be famous for certain techniques or movements. It has been said that he studied with most of the best living Masters, humbly playing the role of “student” even though he could defeat them. He continued this quest until he had learned the specialties of some 70 different teachers and was satisfied that the techniques he knew were the best in existence.

During World War II, Grandmaster Ch’ang trained elite units of the military where he eventually rose to the rank of Lt. General. His exploits during this time are a story in themselves and would take a book to recount. Just one aspect of his many experiences involved challenging all of the top Judo experts at the Kuang-Si Province prison camp. Over a thousand prisoners were interned there and amused themselves by practicing Judo all day long. After challenging and beating their Chinese guards, they were confronted by Grandmaster Ch’ang who had heard of their prowess while teaching in Kue-Lin, the capital of Kuang-Si Province. Grandmaster Ch’ang fought every one in turn, including three high ranking champions, Hakayama Taido, Hisa Kuma, and Michi Masao, and defeated each of them handily.

In 1948, the National Athletic Meet was held in Shanghai. Unlike the tournaments before the war when hundreds of great Masters were still living(many died in the war), the meets following the conflict were not open, free-style, “anything goes” in organization. In conjunction with this major change, Shuai Chiao was now an independent contest and using other styles of Kung-Fu as the Grandmaster had done formerly were not allowed. Even so, the scope of the contest was large, with participants coming from 32 provinces, 12 special municipal cities, nine overseas Chinese teams, and 58 Military police units! Grandmaster Ch’ang, now 40 years old, represented the Army and easily won the overall championship proving he was still number one even after 15 years had passed!

Having won two national tournaments and proven himself countless times in hundreds of matches, both friendly and otherwise, Grandmaster Ch’ang went on to teach at the Central Police Academy in Taipai for nearly 30 years. During that time he was also Chief Official for all of the national tournaments on Taiwan and Shuai Chiao advisor for the military, the police, and the educational system. Though many Kung-Fu styles are taught in Taiwan, none have the prestige of Shuai Chiao, where the Taiwan Shuai Chiao Association boasts over 38,000 members– making it one of the largest Kung-Fu organizations in the world!

In April, 1975, Grandmaster Ch’ang, then 68 years old was invited to Morocco to give an exhibition of the Chinese arts to the King(Grandmaster Ch’ang’s faith was Islamic). During his visit, a 4th degree Tae Kwon Do instructor in service to the King as head of his personal bodyguards challenged Ch’ang and was accepted. The “match” lasted only seconds as Grandmaster Ch’ang deftly dodged the attack of the Korean and knocked him unconscious with a slap of the hand! Obviously, the years had not diminished the physical power and skills acquired by being trained by Masters from the previous century, the likes of which now exist only in a small handful of very old men.

In February 1982, the Grandmaster organized the International Shuai Chiao Association and spent much of the time since promotiing his art by traveling throughout the world giving demonstrations, workshops, and seminars. In June 1986, at the age of 78, the martial arts world was saddened by his untimely death.

The extent to which Grandmaster Ch’ang was respected, revered, and feared by the Chinese martial arts community is incalculable. He was regarded as a literal “national treasure” by Taiwan and was the only Master to be granted the red, white, and blue belt, the national colors of Taiwan, which was buried with him and will never be awarded again. Since the knowledge and the caliber of men needed to train someone as Grandmaster Ch’ang was trained no longer even exist, the 10th degree in Shuai Chiao was retired upon his death never to be awarded again. Some say that as much as 60% of all Kung-Fu knowledge that existed in the earlier years of this century went to the grave with him!

In perhaps all of Chinese Martial Arts history, no one ever went totally undefeated for well over half a century- certainly not if they accepted any and all challenges as Grandmaster Ch’ang did! Indeed, he was not only just one of a kind, but, unfortunately for all of us, Grandmaster Ch’ang was one the likes of which will never be seen again. Amid all of the competing and conflicting claims made by latter-day teachers as to whose style or system is superior, no one except the disciples of Grandmaster Ch’ang can state that their teacher defeated the teachers from all other styles at a time in history when the deciding factor in victory was who walked away!
Master Mollica on being thrown by
Grandmaster Ch’ang Tung Sheng:

“Attacking Ch’ang Tung Sheng was like sticking your hand in a blender…
He hit you, locked you, and threw you to the ground with one whirling motion!”

-Matt Mollica, 5th Teng
Posted by: iwalkthecircle Nov 8 2007, 11:05 PM

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Chinese Swordsmanship - the Art of the Jian - Trans by Scott Rodell



莊子曰:
夫為劍者,示之以虛,
開之以利,後之以發,
先之以至。
Zhuangzi Said:
"The art of the jian is to 
deliberately 
expose a weakness, 
giving the enemy the 
impression they have 
the opportunity to attack. 
Your hand moves after the enemy, 
but your jian strikes first."
Trans. Scott M. Rodell

Chinese Swordsmanship - the Art of the Jian 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bagua's Greatest Masters, Beijing 1993



Bagua's Greatest Masters, Beijing 1993

"Video tape of some of the demonstrations of the 1st meeting of the Guójì Bāguà Zhǎng Liányì Huì (International Bagua Zhang Friendship Association). This meeting took place in Beijing on December 24-27 1993. "

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Taiji Sword (太極劍) by Wu Tunan Translation: Scott M. Rodell


From the introduction to Taiji Sword (太極劍) by Wu Tunan (吳圖南) -
夫劍法無運用不能因敵致勝,微變化焉能出入神奇。是以初學劍術者,或姿勢不正確,或動作不自然,或應用不純熟,或轉換不玲琍。是皆由於不知運用之變化使然也。蓋用劍之法,紐勁為上,靈捷為先。目宜速,身不可滯。手宜敏,步不可遲。 久之,自然動作儒雅,舉止大方。其形勢似飛鳳。其勁力透中鋒。使用腰力,運動全身。故發勁用勢,非僅徒用手指着力而已耳。
Those practicing sword who do not practice applications can not achieve victory over different types of enemies,*(*There are different types of swordsmen and one must practice applications to deal with them in different ways analysis each, then taking advantage of their weakness.) (without practicing applications) if the enemy makes little changes you can not move the sword in and out with miraculous skill. Therefore, when first studying the sword art, maybe the postures are not correct, maybe the movements are not natural, maybe the applications not skillful, maybe the changes are not nimble. This is all due to not knowing the changes in applications. Concerning the application of sword techniques, the higher skill is turning power, being spirited and quick is also a priority. The eyes must be fast, the body cannot be sluggish. The hands must be agile, the steps cannot be late. After a long time, your movements naturally become refined, with a graceful bearing. Your postures resemble a flying phoenix. Your power passes through your center. Use the power of the waist, move the entire body. Therefore, when releasing power in a movement, do not merely use the power of the hand.
Translation: Scott M. Rodell

From the introduction to Taiji Sword (太極劍) by Wu Tunan (吳圖南) -

It is not possible for the. to be defeated by the enemy. It is a beginner's sword, or a posture, or an act of nature, or an unnatural application, or a change of ling. It is because of the changes that have been made. With the sword of the sword, the new is the first. I will be able to do so. Hand, step by step. For a long time, natural action is elegant and generous. The situation is like flying Phoenix. It's hard-Core. Use your waist, sport. Therefore, it is hard to use a finger, not just a finger.

Those practicing sword who do not practice applications can not achieve victory over different types of enemies,*(*There are different types of swordsmen and one must practice applications to deal with them in different ways analysis each, then taking advantage of their weakness.) (without practicing applications) if the enemy makes little changes you can not move the sword in and out with miraculous skill. Therefore, when first studying the sword art, maybe the postures are not correct, maybe the movements are not natural, maybe the applications not skillful, maybe the changes are not nimble. This is all due to not knowing the changes in applications. Concerning the application of sword techniques, the higher skill is turning power, being spirited and quick is also a priority. The eyes must be fast, the body cannot be sluggish. The hands must be agile, the steps cannot be late. After a long time, your movements naturally become refined, with a graceful bearing. Your postures resemble a flying phoenix. Your power passes through your center. Use the power of the waist, move the entire body. Therefore, when releasing power in a movement, do not merely use the power of the hand.

Translation: Scott M. Rodell

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Major Methods of Wudang Sword by Huang Yuan Xiou - Book Review

“Shaolin shadow boxing and the Wu Tang sword style, do you think your Wu Tang sword can defeat me?” Wu Tang Clan – Bring Da Ruckus - Enter the 36 Chambers - movie sample from Shaolin & Wu Tang 1981 (dubbed).

The Wu Tang/ Wudang sword method is famous in America because of the Hip-Hop group The Wu Tang Clan’s use of samples from, and love of, Chinese kung Fu movies. The book The Major Methods of Wudang Sword by Huang Yuan Xiou is a classic and a must have for anyone interested in Chinese straight sword (Jian) methods, philosophy or anyone interested in historical swordsmanship. This book translates the original text with pictures. It outlines the basics of the Wudang sword method but do not expect to learn something a complex as the Jian from a book. The book is a wonderful reference tool, but it is not meant to learn the real method from.  

The Jian is called the “king of weapons” because of its complexity and subtlety. It was traditionally thought it would take 10 years of consistent training to begin mastery. Because of its difficulty it was also referred to as a “scholar’s weapon” and traditionally depicted as the preferred weapon of the aristocracy of ancient China.

The Major Methods of Wudang Sword is an important work and even more important because it was one of the few English translations (until recently) of a Chinese Jian manual (check https://brennantranslation.wordpress.com for others). I believe the thing that sets this translation apart from other translations is the author and translator are both long time practitioners of the Wudang Jian method. They lend their insights to the translations and they help clarify some of the underlying principles of traditional Chinese swordsmanship.


There are several chapters devoted to the basic theory of the Jian. I think these chapters are some of the most insightful because they outline different practice methodologies. With names like “yin – yang sword circle method” and “triangular paired-practice method” there will need to be some explanation, and for the advanced practitioner I found some of these chapters to be most illuminating.

This is an excellent book and a must have for anyone interested in Chinese straight sword (Jian) methods, philosophy or anyone interested in historical swordsmanship. The biographies, history and discussion of the methods are rare in Chinese and even rarer in English.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sword Method - Required Knowledge - translation by Scott M. Rodell


劍法須知
Sword Method Required Knowledge
Second of Six Points:
二、初習定式須穩,稍遲無礙。如習字然,間架不穩,書法絕不能工。練習純熟,疾徐自能適中。不可惑於人言。但以求快為能。
Èr, chū xí dìngshì xū wěn, shāo chí wú ài. Rú xízì rán, jiān jià bù wěn, shūfǎ jué bùnéng gōng. Liànxí chúnshú, jí xúzìnéng shìzhòng. Bùkě huò yú rén yán. Dàn yǐ qiú kuài wéi néng.
2, When beginning practice the fixed stance must be stable, (moving) slightly slow is not a hindrance. Like practicing calligraphy, if the structure (of the characters) is not stable, then your calligraphy definitely can not be refined. If you practice skillfully, then fast or slow you find the right balance. Do not be confused by what people say, that speed equals skill.
Quoted from
Kunwu Sword Manual by Li Lingxiao
trans.- Scott M. Rodell

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Yang Tai Chi - Yang Chengfu’s Taijiquan Applications translation by Scott M. Rodell


太極指明法
用勁不對,不用力不對,綿而有剛對;
丟不對,頂不對,不丟不頂對;
沾不對,不沾不對,不即不離對;
浮不對,重不對,輕靈松沉對;
膽大不對,膽小不對,膽要壯而心要細對;
打人不對,不打人不對,將敵治心服對。
(太極拳使用法,楊澄甫)

Yòngjìng bùduì, bùyòng lì bùduì, mián ér yǒu gāng duì;
diū bùduì, dǐng bùduì, bù diū bù dǐng duì;
zhān bùduì, bù zhān bùduì, bù jí bù lí duì;
fú bùduì, zhòng bùduì, qīng líng sōng chén duì;
dǎn dà bùduì, dǎn xiǎo bùduì, dǎn yào zhuàng ér xīn yào xì duì;
dǎ rén bùduì, bù dǎ rén bùduì, jiāng dí zhì xīnfú duì.

Using internal power is not correct, not using muscle strength is not correct, 
soft but with hardness is correct;
to lose (contact) is not correct, to resist the flow is not correct, 
to not lose contact and not resist is correct;
to stick is not correct, to not stick is not correct, 
not too close not too far is correct;
floating is not correct, sinking is not correct, 
agile and spirited, loose and sunk is correct;
being bold is not correct, being timid is not correct, 
being courageous with the mind finely focused is correct,
hitting people is not correct, not hitting people is not correct, 
the rival controlled so that his heart submits is correct.

translated from Yang Chengfu’s Taijiquan Applications
by Scott M. Rodell

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

JUNPO DENIS KELLY·SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2017
"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." http://www.mondozen.org/

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.