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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Chinese Sword Length - Trans: Scott M. Rodell


一寸長, 一寸強
一寸小, 一寸巧
一寸短,一寸險
~古人說

Yīcùn cháng, yīcùn qiáng
yīcùn xiǎo, yīcùn qiǎo
yīcùn duǎn, yīcùn xiǎn
~Gǔrén shuō

One inch longer, one inch stronger
One inch smaller, one inch (more) skillful
One inch shorter, one inch closer
~ an old Chinese saying

This is an old martial saying that seems to originate at least in part with General Qi Jiguang who wrote, “Short weapons cannot intercept long weapons, one inch longer is one inch stronger (Duǎn bù jiē zhǎng, yīcùn cháng yīcùn qiáng, 短不接長,一寸長一寸強).” In general, the phrase addresses the difference between long weapons, such as spears, and shorter weapons, including swords.

It terms of sword work itself, this may be interpreted in another manner as~
If your sword cuts are an inch longer, they will have more power. However, if they are an inch smaller, that is more skillful. Then the distance to the duifang is an inch shorter, and you are an inch close to land a blow.

This describes the evolution every diligent swordsman moves thorough. At first, one tends to rely on power. Further training brings refinement leading to one’s movements becoming smaller, tighter, and thus quicker. Deflections are then only as big as needed and the sword isn’t swung at the duifang’s body in general, but at a small, exact target. This compacting of one’s technique changes the timing of actions so that your sword ends up moving closer to the target even as the duifang is attacking. Thus the distance to your target is shorter though the starting distance has not changed.
Note that the last word in this saying, xiǎn, is typically translated as danger in common vernacular Chinese. It can however also mean to be near as in anear miss or a close call.. The overall structure of the saying is one where a specific condition leads to a improved result. Following that structure, the distance being an inch shorter, places the swordsman in a better tactical position, one inch closer to landing his or her blow. Certainly, that is also a more dangerous position (for both swordsmen). However, if one has deflected properly, leading the duifang’s weapon into a void while maintain tip control, so that one’s sword is aligned with its target, then in this dangerous position, there is a strategic opportunity.

~ Scott M. Rodell

Friday, July 12, 2019

From Combat to Sport: Origins and Development of the Martial Arts by Tim Cartmell


This article looks at the origins of the martial arts in general and traces their evolution from methods geared toward all out combat to those which include sportive competition. Collectively, all of these arts are considered to be “martial” as they deal with methods of attack and defense in a hand to hand fighting situation. But the training methodologies and technique base of strictly combat arts and those of arts which also include a competitive dimension are often quite different. To begin with, it will be helpful to define the parameters of each. Combat arts are concerned with protecting one’s life at all costs. Fights are viewed as life or death struggles without rules or restrictions on technique. The primary motivation in combat is survival. Sportive arts include non-cooperative sparring practices and competitive matches between individuals.  The primary motivation in such contests is to defeat the opponent within a prescribed set of restrictive rules (these rules are normally designed to protect the participants from serious injury). Techniques considered to be too dangerous are forbidden and other protective measures (mats, gloves, padding…) are often employed.
Sportive martial arts training is designed to improve the fighter’s abilities by approximating a real fight situation, although in a restricted format. Competition allows the fighter to test his skills against another, while at the same time providing an outlet for Man’s inherently competitive nature. Combat martial arts training is designed to provide the combatant with the tools necessary for survival in unrestricted, life or death fights. Proponents of both camps maintain their respective training methods are superior for acquiring real fighting ability. Because of this dichotomy in training methods, a central debate often surfaces in which purely combat oriented stylists argue against incorporating non-cooperative sparring drills and sportive competitions while those stylists which include sparring and a sportive aspect maintain non-cooperative sparring and competition are essential if the practitioner is to acquire real fighting ability. Let’s look at the origins of both combat and sport martial art in turn.
Although ritualized forms of combat (most associated with religious functions) appear early on in recorded history, it generally holds true that all martial arts were originally created for the purposes of group and personal combat only. In addition, early “sportive” martial arts competitions differed very little from battlefield combat, often the only difference being the presence of an audience in the former. Famous examples of early martial sport competition which were basically all out fighting affairs (combats) are the pankration in ancient Greece (first appearing as an Olympic event in 648 BC) and the gladiatorial competitions of ancient Rome. In ancient China, sportive wrestling matches allowed striking, kicking and locking as well as throwing. It was not until the Song Dynasty (960-1276 AD) that wrestlers were forbidden to strike and kick their opponent during competition. Similar examples of organized martial competitions with few if any rules can be found in many of the other ancient cultures. In ancient times, the definition of martial “sport” competition could be defined as “combat before an audience.”
If we go back far enough into the history of modern martial arts which contain a sportive aspect, we invariably come to their non-sportive, combat roots. This holds true for the martial arts of both East and West. Popular, modern sport martial arts, including Greco-Roman wrestling, Sumo, modern Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling), sport karate, judo, and even modern forms of weapons competition (kendo, fencing) all trace their roots to purely combat arts. Western styles of wrestling originate in methods of close combat from the dawn of mankind. Sumo techniques are derived from ancient methods of combat wrestling while in armor (kumiuchi). Modern, sportive Chinese wrestling is a combination of Mongolian and Han Chinese methods, and originally contained striking, kicking and joint locking techniques. Modern forms of competitive Karate can trace their roots to older combat styles of Okinawa and Southern China. Judo is a compilation of earlier combat ju-jitsu styles (and, in fact, remains a complete combat art today, which includes striking and kicking as well as grappling techniques; the majority of practitioners, however, focus only on its sportive aspect in training). So, if all martial arts (including older, sport oriented martial arts) were originally combat methods, where did the schism between pure combat training and the types of training used in modern sport styles occur, and why? Sportive competition evolved from what can be termed the “controlled sparring practices” of the combat martial arts. Most of the ancient combat styles originally contained little if any non- cooperative sparring or competition. Techniques were trained cooperatively in a form or “Kata” format. At various points in the development of some of these arts, different types of sparring drills were developed in order to allow the combat martial artist a relatively safe method of honing his skills against a non-cooperative opponent. Early forms of sparring were aimed at improving combative skill, and although they were non-cooperative, they were not necessarily “competitive.” The goal of this type of training was to increase the chances of surviving an actual life or death encounter, and not to “win” the match per se. But the natural competitive tendencies inherent in human nature eventually demand an outlet, and combat sparring drills became martial sports competition. For warriors and soldiers, the ultimate test of martial skill is in the kill or be killed “competition” of battlefield combat. After months and years of training, warriors long to test their skill. When there are no wars to fight or enemies to kill, the combat trained fighter begins to modify technique in order to compete with others in a non-lethal format. Sport competitions becomes both a test of skill (although in a limited sense) and a safe outlet for aggressive competitive urges. Martial sports competition is born. The kinds of sport martial arts that evolved were limited by their parent combat arts (technical base) and the cultural milieu in which they were created. For example, a combat art based on grappling techniques will naturally evolve into a wrestling based sport. The type of costume popular at the time of the arts inception will also have a great influence on the rules of the sport (hence the use of the gi in judo, the mawashi belt in sumo, the jacket in shuai jiao…). Concerns for safety also require further modifications and the addition of protective gear (padding, gloves, mats…). Martial arts which seem to contain techniques irrelevant to actual combat situations in the modern world can be understood by analyzing them in the context of the time and culture in which they were created.
In modern times, what are the major differences in training between purely combat oriented styles and styles which include sportive competition? There are, of course, many similarities, but the major difference in training is the emphasis placed on forms or “kata” training (including solo and paired practice) and absence of competitive sparring in the combat oriented styles.  Obviously, if a technique is designed to be lethal it cannot be practiced “for real” on a workout partner. In the absence of sparring or non-cooperative drills, there are basically only two ways to develop martial skills, namely, through forms practice and cooperative training with a partner.
Forms are designed to allow the practitioner to develop the physical skill and coordination necessary for the application of techniques on another by going through the relevant motions in the air. Training with a partner in a cooperative manner allows the practitioner to actually go through the motions of a potentially lethal technique on another without causing injury. Such paired practice must always be cooperative to a great extent for safety reasons and blows must be “pulled”. Practitioners of the martial arts which train for sportive competition also drill techniques in the air (akin to form practice), but the heart of their training involves free sparring with a non-cooperative partner. Some of the modern derivatives of more ancient, purely combat styles which now include sportive competition will have aspects of both types of training, which are practiced separately. Judo, for example includes sportive, freestyle, non-cooperative sparring with techniques considered to be non-lethal, while reserving the practice of more dangerous techniques to paired, cooperative forms training. The modern form of Chinese “San Shou” (which is a combination of Western boxing, northern Chinese kicking techniques and the throws of Chinese wrestling), Tae Kwon Do, Russian Sambo and several styles of Japanese karate also have separate training methods for combat and sport. Finally, some older methods of combat martial art were modified into competitive sports so that they might survive into the modern world in some form. Modern Western fencing is one notable example. As no one in the modern world duels to the death with swords, older combat sword methods, although greatly limited in scope and application, have evolved into their modern sportive counterparts as their only means of surviving the transition into modern times.
What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of purely combat as opposed to competitive sport martial arts training? The most obvious strength of combat martial arts training is that its technique base contains techniques designed to save the fighter’s life in mortal combat.  Techniques are not concerned with scoring points but with incapacitating an opponent as quickly as possible. Another advantage of combat training is that the technique base is generally (but not always) more well-rounded than that of sportive martial arts. This is because sports have rules, so sport martial artists train to fight within certain boundaries. In actual combat, there are no rules, so the more developed combat arts normally include techniques for dealing with the range of situations likely to occur in a real fight. The techniques of combat martial arts will not be limited to certain areas of the body nor will they rely on using the opponent’s costume. Combat martial arts techniques are often designed to take advantage of the “element of surprise” which is absent from sports competition.  The disadvantages of training in purely combat oriented techniques is that these techniques can never be practiced as they would “for real” (an important exception is throwing and grappling techniques, most of which can be performed as they would in an actual fight, provided the falling partner knows how to breakfall and lands on a soft surface). Potentially lethal striking techniques must always be controlled for reasons of safety. Consequently, techniques of this type must be practiced on cooperative partners. Ultimately, the practitioners of purely combat oriented arts (especially if they have limited real fighting experience) may be at a loss when confronted by a determined opponent who fights back. Absence of experience against non-cooperative opponents often leads to a lack of spontaneity when techniques miss or are met with resistance. Finally, practitioners of arts which do not include sparring are are often unfamiliar with the experience of being struck or taken down unexpectedly, or of dealing with a tremendous aggressive force.
Originally, the controlled sparring practices of combat based martial arts were designed to address the very weaknesses in training listed above. The sport martial artist spends a great deal of time learning to apply his or her techniques against a non-cooperative opponent (who is also a trained martial artist). Sparring becomes a “laboratory” in which practitioners test their abilities.  Those who spar, through trial and error, discover which techniques work for them and the best ways to set up and execute their techniques against an opponent who is fighting back. These fighters become used to physical contact, real aggression and learn to deal with the rapidly changing circumstances which occur in a fight. To the practitioners of sportive martial arts, sparring and competition are viewed as a relatively safe means of developing the attributes useful in a real fight.
The major weakness of sport oriented martial training is that by necessity, the technique base must be limited. Certain target area and techniques must be excluded for safety reasons. Even in those arts with a sportive aspect which include separate training methods for potentially lethal combat techniques, very often the practitioners tend to over focus on the sportive competition (as it seems more relevant to the training, there are frequent chances to participate in sports competition while street fights rarely, if ever occur) and neglect the formal combat training aspects of their art. Sportive arts which allow striking, although allowing the fighters to exchange full power blows, are limited in target area, and may train the competitors to base their combinations on unrealistic reactions. And the necessary addition of gloves and/or protective padding may result in unrealistic reactions to being struck. In addition, practitioner may begin to focus on “scoring points” at the expense of realistic technique (techniques which score points in competition may be inadequate to incapacitate or control an opponent in a life or death fight).  Finally, if the sparring practice requires a special environment (mats, a ring…), clothing or equipment (a gi, padding, gloves…), the fighter may be at a loss when fighting in an unfamiliar (street) environment in street clothes.
The essential point is not to criticize particular methods of training nor make value judgments based on isolated strengths and weaknesses, but rather to look at the various martial arts and their training methodologies from a broader perspective. It is important to understand the origins of the various arts and the logic behind their respective methods of training and techniques. From here, the martial artist can make an informed decision as to which methods of training will help them achieve their individual goals. The more well-rounded and experienced fighter will always have a decided advantage over the less well rounded and less experienced fighter. Once you understand why and how you train, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various techniques and training methods available, you will be able to design the most relevant and efficient training program for your individual needs as a martial artist.
Found HERE 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Water Margin fighter Xu Ning


"Japanese Edo print of Water Margin fighter Xu Ning. Wikipedia ~ He was the martial arts instructor of the Gold Lancer Unit in the Song Imperial Army, where he trained his soldiers to use the unique hooked lance. Highly respected by his colleagues and other jianghu figures." Thomas Chen - found HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Gao Style Bagua - Tianjin 2017


                                               Gao Style Bagua - Tianjin 2017
                                  2017第一屆高義盛八卦掌天津同門聯誼會紀念短片

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Gao Yi Sheng Double Stick Form



"This set was treasured by master Gao Yisheng for it's practical combat applications. The techniques can be applied to a variety of double weapons such as swords, sabers, knives, clubs, Iron rulers, hard whip, etc
The Double Rattan Stick form is not a Bagua set and is said to have originated at Shaolin, and to have been one of the special weapon sets of the Shi Zi Chui Men school. The master in this video is Chen Baozhang, student of Liu Fengcai who learned this set from Gao Yisheng."

Monday, May 27, 2019

Xing Yi Quan - Wang Jinguo, Iron Luohan lineage, performing Splitting fist (Pi Quan 劈拳)



May 2019, Beijing, China, Xing Yi Quan master Wang Jinguo performing Splitting fist (Pi Quan劈拳).

Wang Jinguo (王进国) is one of early top disciples of grandmaster Pan Zhiyuan, wo was top disciple of top student of legendary Iron Luohan Zhang Changfa/Zhang Xiangzhai (铁罗汉张长发 aka 张祥斋). He is now 70 years old and he has been learning with grandmaster Pan since child age, more than 50 years. His style is delicate and bright, full of inner power. Lineage: Li Luoneng(李洛能)---Liu Qilan(刘奇兰)---Liu Dianchen (刘殿琛)---Zhang Changfa (张长发)---Pan Zhiyuan (潘志源)---Wang Jinguo (王进国).

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Chinese character Jian (劍) or sword


"The ancient bird script calligraphy for the character Jian (劍) or sword. This picture is from the inscription on the famous King Goujian sword". FOUND HERE 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Taiji Principles Explained (太極法說, Tàijí Fǎ Shuō) ca 1875 Trans. Scott M. Rodell


Taiji is round,
no matter what,
inside, outside,
up or down,
left or right,
it never leaves
this roundness.
Taiji is also square,
no matter what,
inside, outside,
up or down,
left or right,
it never leaves
the square.

Quoted from Yang Banhou’s
Taiji Principles Explained (太極法說, Tàijí Fǎ Shuō)
ca 1875
Trans. Scott M. Rodell
FOUND HERE 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Chinese Sword - Single Guarding Saber Trans: Scott M. Rodell




吸氣蓄勁。吐氣發拳。蓄勁如張弓。發勁似放矢。拳脚如是
。刀法何獨不然。苟不吸氣。則無吐氣之能。苟不蓄勁。必無發勁之力。發勁要上下相隨。收勁要呑吐相應。

Xī qì xù jìn. Tǔqì fā quán. Xù jìn rú zhānggōng. Fā jìn shì fàng shǐ. Quánjiǎo rúshì. Dāo fǎ hé dú bùrán. Gǒu bù xī qì. Zé wú tǔqì zhī néng. Gǒu bù xù jìn. Bì wú fā jìn zhī lì. Fā jìn yào shàngxià xiāng suí. Shōu jìn yào tūntǔ xiāngyìng.

Inhaling stores internal power. Exhaling releases the fist. Store energy like drawing a bow, release energy like releasing an arrow.* Fists and feet are thus. The saber method is not any different. If one does not inhale, then one is not able to exhale. If one does not store internal power, there is certainly no power to release. To release power the upper and lower (body) must follow each other. Gathering internal energy inhale and exhale must work together. 

*This line is a direct quote from the Taijiquan Classic the Insight into the Use of Thirteen Postures. 

Quoted from Single Guarding Saber (單戒刀) by Jin Yiming (金一明)
Trans: Scott M. Rodell        Found HERE 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Baguazhang Introduction by Tim Cartmell

AN INTRODUCTION TO BA GUA ZHANG
Ba Gua Zhang is recognized as one of the three orthodox "internal" styles of Chinese martial art (the other two being Xing Yi Quan and Tai Ji Quan). Ba Gua literally translates to Eight trigrams. These trigrams are symbols which are used to represent all natural phenomena as described in the ancient Chinese text of divination, the Book of Changes (Yi Jing). Zhang means palm and designates Ba Gua Zhang as a style of martial art, which emphasizes the use of the open hand in preference to the closed fist. Ba Gua Zhang, as a martial art, is based on the theory of continuously changing in response to the situation at hand in order to overcome an opponent with skill rather than brute force.
Although there are several theories as to the Origins of Ba Gua Zhang, recent and exhaustive research by martial scholars in Mainland China conclude without reasonable doubt that the Art is the creation of a single individual, Dong Hai Chuan. Dong was born in Wen An County, Hebei Province about 1813. Dong practiced local martial arts (which reportedly relied heavily upon the use of open hand palm techniques) from his youth and gained some notoriety as a skilled fighter. At about 40 years of age, Dong left home and traveled southward. luodexiub.gifAt some point during his travels, Dong became a member of the Chuan Zhen (Complete Truth) sect of Daoism. The Daoists of this sect practiced a method of walking in a circle white reciting certain mantras. The practice was designed to quiet the mind and focus the intent as a prelude to enlightenment. Dong later combined the circle walking mechanics with the martial arts he had mastered in his youth to create a new style based on mobility and the ability to apply techniques while in constant motion (heretofore unknown in the history of Chinese martial arts).
Dong Hai Chuan originally called his art "Zhuan Zhang" (Turning Palm). In his later years, Dong began to speak of the Art in conjunction with the Eight Trigrams (Ba Gua) theory espoused in the Book of Changes (Yi Jing). When Dong began teaching his Zhuan Zhang in Beijing, he accepted as student only those who were already accomplished practitioners of other martial arts. Dong's teachings were limited to a few "palm changes" executed while walking the circle and his theory and techniques of combat. His students took Dong's forms and theories and combined them with the martial arts they had studied previously. The result is that each of Dong's students ended up with different interpretations of the Ba Gua Zhang art.
Most of the various styles of Ba Gua Zhang found today, can be traced back to one of several of Dong Hai Chuan's original students. Among these students, three individuals were responsible for passing on the Art to the greatest number of practitioners. One of Dong's most famous students was a man named Yin Fu. Yin studied with Dong longer than any other and was one of the most respected fighters in the country in his time (he was the personal bodyguard to the Dowager Empress, the highest prestige position of its kind in the entire country). Yin Fu was a master of Luo Han Quan, a Northern Chinese "external" style of boxing, before he began his long apprenticeship with Dong. Another top student of Dong's was Chen Ting Hua, originally a master of Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). Cheng taught a great number of students in his time and variations of his style are many. A third student of Dong's who created his own Ba Gaa Zhang variant was Liang Zhen Pu. Liang was Dong's youngest student and was greatly influenced by Dong's other disciples. Although Ba Gua Zhang is a relatively new form of martial art, it became famous throughout China during its inventor's lifetime, mainly because of its effectiveness in combat and the high prestige this afforded its practitioners.
The basis of the various styles of Ba Gua Zhang, and the practice all styles have in common, is the circle walk. The practitioner literally walks in a circle while holding various static postures with the upper body or while executing "palm changes" (short patterns of movement or "forms" which train the body mechanics and methods of generating power which form the basis of the styles' fighting techniques).
All styles have a variation of a form known as the Single Palm Change. The Single Palm Change is the most basic form and is the nucleus of the remaining palm changes found in the Art. Besides the Single Palm Change, the other forms include the Double Palm Change and the Eight Palm Changes (also known variously as the Eight Mother Palms or the Old Eight Palms).
These forms make up the foundation of the art of Ba Gua Zhang. Ba Gua Zhang movements have a characteristic circular nature and there is a great deal of body spinning, turning, and rapid changes in direction. In addition to the Single, Double and Eight Palm Changes, most but not all styles of Ba Gua Zhang include some variation of the Sixty-Four Palms. The Sixty-Four Palms include forms which teach the mechanics and sequence of the specific fighting techniques included in the style. These forms take the general energies developed during the practice of the Palm Changes and focus them into more exact patterns of movement, which are applied directly to a specific combat technique. Ba Gua Zhang is an art based on evasive footwork and a kind of guerilla warfare strategy applied to personal combat. A Ba Gua fighter relies on strategy and skill, rather than the direct use of force against force or brute strength, in overcoming an opponent. The strategy employed is aggressive in nature and emphasizes constant change in response to the spontaneous and "live" quality of combat.
In addition to the above forms and methods, most styles of Ba Gua Zhang include various two-person forms and drills as intermediate steps between solo forms and the practice of combat techniques. Although the techniques of Ba Gua Zhang are many and various, they all adhere to the above mentioned principles of mobility and the skillful application of force. Many styles of Ba Gua Zhang also include the use of a variety of weapons, ranging from the more standard types (straight sword, broadsword, pear) to exotic weapons, used exclusively by practitioners of the Ba Gua Zhang arts.
Each of Dong Hai Chuan's students developed their own style of Ba Gua Zhang based on their individual backgrounds and previous martial training. Each style has its own specific forms and techniques. In essence, all of the different styles adhere to the basic principles of Ba Gua Zhang while retaining an individual flavor of their own. Most of the styles in existence today can trace their roots to either the Yin Fu, Cheng Ting Hua, or Liang Zhen Pu variations.
Yin Fu styles include a large number of percussive techniques and fast striking combinations (Yin Fu was said to "fight like a tiger", moving in and knocking his opponent to the ground swiftly like a tiger pouncing on its prey). The forms include many explosive movements and very quick and evasive footwork.
Cheng Ting Hua styles of Ba Gua Zhang include palm changes which are done in a smooth and flowing manner, with little display of overt power (Cheng Ting Hua's movement was likened to that of a dragon soaring in the clouds, it is said each time he turned his body, his opponent would fly away.) Popular variations of this style include the Gao Yi Sheng system, Dragon Style Ba Gua Zhang, "Swimming Body" Ba Gua Zhang, the Nine Palace System, JiangRong Qiao's style (probably the most common form practiced today) and the Sun Lu Tang style.
Liang Zhen Pu's style can be viewed as a combination of the Yin Fu and Cheng Ting Hua styles. Liang’s student, Li Zi Ming, popularized this style.
The basic focus and function of all martial arts is fighting. Since there are only so many ways humans can move in a martial context (strike, kick, push, pull, etc.), what distinguishes one style of martial art from another? Collections of techniques do not make up a style, neither does mimicking the movements of an animal, bug, or even another person constitute a style of martial arts. In the last analysis, a style of martial art is distinct and recognizable as a coherent system because it adheres to a set of specific principles.
luo.gif (8726 bytes)All styles are based upon a set of fundamental principles, and every movement, technique and strategy applied or created must be in alignment with the chosen principles of that particular style. These principles define and determine the nature of a style in two major areas, namely, body use (Ti) and application (Yung). The principles of a style will determine how things are to be done. For example, the principles of one style may dictate that the muscles must be tensed at impact when throwing a punch, while another style's principles demand total relaxation throughout the blow. Practitioners of both styles are punching, but there is a qualitative difference in body use (i.e. different styles of punching).
Just as the principles of body use determine the physicality of the practitioner and the specific methods of moving and generating power, the principles of application determine the technique base as well as the fighting strategies of a particular style. The evolution of martial arts: styles have always come about this way: A student of one or more styles of martial art comes upon a new principle or organizes a set of principles in a unique way, based upon his background, experience and personal bias. The result is a new style of martial art. It is new not because the founder added a few techniques to his existing style, but rather because he changed all that he had done before to align with his newly understood principles of body use and application.
The founder of Ba Gua Zhang, Dong Hai Quan, was an expert in a Northern Chinese style of martial art akin to Long Fist, which emphasized the use of the open hand. Subsequently, Dong spent a number of years living with a group of Daoists who practiced a method of walking in a circular pattern while chanting. The practice was used as a means of reaching enlightenment. Dong later combined the circular footwork and body method learned from the Daoists with the martial arts he studied in his youth to create a new martial art, later to become known as Ba Gua Zhang. Please note that the Daoists taught Dong absolutely nothing of a martial nature; what Dong acquired from the Daoists were the principles of circular footwork and a certain method of body use. Dong modified the movements and techniques of his original form of martial art around these principles, thereby creating a new style of martial art. It is very important to understand that Ba Gua Zhang as a style of martial art is not simply a collection of forms and techniques, but rather an art based on a set of unifying principles.
Dong Hai Quan only taught established masters of the martial arts; he accepted no beginners. The training was designed to allow his students (already masters of other martial arts in their own right) to modify their original arts in accordance with the principles of Ba Gua Zhang. Because of the diverse backgrounds of Dong's original students, their resultant styles of Ba Gua Zhang may differ greatly in terms of form and technique, but all are truly styles of Ba Gua Zhang as they adhere to the underlying principles of body use and application which define Ba Gua Zhang as a unique style. There will always be room for creativity within the Ba Gua Zhang arts. As long as a movement or technique adheres to the Fundamental principles of Ba Gua Zhang, it is Ba Gua Zhang.
What are the basic principles of Ba Gua Zhang? It is helpful to divide the analysis into two major categories: principles of body use (with the primary emphasis on the ability to generate power with the body as a coherent Unit) and principles of application
BODY USE:
The basic solo training in Ba Gua Zhang is designed to teach the practitioner how to control his or her momentum and timing in order to generate power with the entire body mass as a coherent unit. In the Chinese martial arts, this type of power is referred to as whole body power (Zheng Ti Jing). Whole body power enables the practitioner to issue force from any part of the body with the support of all other parts. Each part of the body coordinates with every other, generating the maximum amount of power available relative to the individual's size and weight. Whole body power is applied in all categories of Ba Gua Zhang techniques, striking, kicking, grappling and throwing.long_an.gif
In order to create whole body power in the Ba Gua Zhang format, as well as to facilitate the agile and evasive footwork utilized in the Art, all styles of Ba Gua Zhang emphasize complete physical relaxation, correct skeletal alignment, natural movements which are in harmony with the body's inborn reflexes and inherent design and that all movements are directed by the intent.
It is the fighting strategy of Ba Gua Zhang which most sets it apart from all other styles of martial art. Dong Hai Quan's unique background and combat experience, combined with his talent, resulted in a strategy of personal combat that had remained undiscovered in the preceding millennia of martial development in China. Basically, Ba Gua Zhang fighting theory advocates the complete avoidance of opposing power with power and adopts a kind of guerilla warfare mentality. The Ba Gua Zhang fighter continuously seeks to avoid the apex of the opponent's force and attacks or counterattacks from the opponent's weak angles. By circling around and circumventing incoming force and resistance, the Ba Gua Zhang fighter applies his own whole body power from a position of superiority This strategy allows the smaller and weaker fighter to apply maximum force from an angle at which the larger and stronger opponent cannot resist, effectively making the weaker fighter more powerful at that moment (for example, I have 10 units of total strength and my opponent has 20. I attack with my full 10 units of strength at an angle at which my opponent is only able to use 5 units of his total strength. I am, at that moment, literally twice as strong as my opponent).
In order to obtain a superior position, the Ba Gua Zhang fighter applies the basic strategies trained in the solo forms' practice, that is, circling around the opponent or rotating the opponent around oneself. The result is the same in both cases. The Ba Gua Zhang fighter avoids a head to head confrontation with the opponent's power and obtains a superior position from which to attack. Along the way, the opponent often becomes entangled in the Ba Gua Zhang fighter's limbs and loses control of his center of balance (correctly applied momentum overcomes brute strength every time). This loss of balance causes a commensurate loss of power and further weakens the opponent, leaving him vulnerable to the Ba Gun Zhang fighter's attack. Finally, the relaxed physical and mental state of the Ba Gua Zhang fighter makes it possible for him to change and adapt as the situation demands. His movements are spontaneous and difficult to predict. Fighters of all disciplines agree that the unpredictable fighter is the hardest to beat (especially when he circles behind you!). FOUND HERE

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Chang Family Boxing

Chang Family Boxing


Xiao Luohan, Qinglong Chuhai Quan, and Xiao Hong Quan by Master Gao Siji



Chang Family Boxing, Cannon Fist


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Zǐwǔ Sword (子午劍), by Huáng Hànxūn (黃漢勛) Translation by Scott M. Rodell



最高原理則變化無窮,忽開忽合,收閉如意,瞻前顧後,左右相盼,高來低挑,低來高點,無踪可追,無跡可尋,天地國親師五行並濟,若太極之包羅,如六合之放縱,劍不過腦,自古已然,毋以劍作刀致貽方家之笑,後之學者其勉之哉。
Zuìgāo yuánlǐ zé biànhuà wúqióng, hū kāi hū hé, shōu bì rúyì, zhānqiángùhòu, zuǒyòu xiāng pàn, gāo lái dī tiāo, dī lái gāo diǎn, wú zōng kě zhuī, wú jì kě xún, tiāndì guó qīn shī wǔháng bìng jì, ruò tàijí zhī bāoluó, rú liùhé zhī fàngzòng, jiàn bùguò nǎo, zìgǔ yǐrán, wú yǐ jiàn zuò dāo zhì yí fāng jiā zhī xiào, hòu zhī xuézhě qí miǎn zhī zāi.
The highest principle is limitless variation. Suddenly opening, suddenly closing, sealing closed as one likes. Attentive forward and back, left and right. (Attacked) high, (respond with) spring cut from below. (Attacked) low, (respond with) pointing cut from above. (Leave) no track that can be chased, no trace to be sought. Heaven and earth, country, family, and teacher (representing the five elements), work together, as the taiji principle embraces everything, is as the six directions are unrestrained. The jian does not pass over the head. Since ancient times, this was already so. Using the jiàn like a saber will cause learned men to laugh, students are encouraged to study properly.
Quoted from the Zǐwǔ Sword (子午劍), by Huáng Hànxūn (黃漢勛), 1958
Trans.- Scott M. Rodell
Notes and Commentary-
In the first line, biànhuà wúqióng is translated as limitless variation. A more common and literal translation might be transform or change endlessly. Given that an essential element of jiànfǎ is versatility, especially the ability to adapt effortlessly to changing conditions, applying a wide variety of techniques and strategies, limitless variation fits the context. The lines that provide responses to receiving blows from above and below, mention two basic cuts common to different systems of jiànfǎ. When receiving a high line cut, the text gives tiāo as the response, and provides diǎn as an answer to a low line attack. Given that are other possible responses to both actions from one’s duìfāng, the author likely chose these examples to stress one common strategy in jiànfǎ. That strategy is to open a door, i.e. invite an attack, then allowing the duìfāng to make his or her intention clear, intercept that action with a cut to the sword arm. Zhuāngzi describes, "The art of the jiàn 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 jiàn strikes first,” (夫為劍者,示之以虛,開之以利,後之以發,先之以至). Concerning leaving no track or trace for your duìfāng to follow, if one gives up oneself and follows others, there is no track for the duifang to find and follow.
More than one classic of jiànfǎ ends with a line mentioning that wielding the sword like a saber would cause laughter amongst the immortals or learned men. Two examples are the Tàijí Jiàn Gē (太極劍歌) and the Hòu Jiàn Jué (後劍訣). By mimicking these classics, Huáng Hànxūn, author of the Zǐwǔ Sword, is demonstrating his knowledge of these earlier works.
The name of this sword system is an interesting choice. Zǐ and wǔ refer to two of the twelve times of the day, namely midnight and noon, and imply an ebb and flow between yin and yang. This idea fits nicely with the manner in which the jiàn is wielded. Zǐwǔxiàn (子午線) also refers to the central line of the body which the swordsman looks to control with the way he or she deflects and cuts.

FOUND HERE

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Art of the Jian - Trans. Scott M. 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
Found HERE