Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lei Tai competitions – Kung Fu fighting in the good old days - NY

In October 1928 three Chinese generals, Zhang Zhi Jiang (张之江), Li Lie Jun (李烈鈞) and Li Jing Lin (李景林) organized the first public full contact competition in China. The purpose of the competition was to select qualified teachers for the newly founded Central Kuoshu Institute (中南國術館),
Of course, many traditional masters did not compete because they believed their skills could only be proven in serious duels and not “sporting” contests. However, the event attracted hundreds of the best Chinese martial artists who participated in three separate divisions; (1) “boxing”, (2) weapons sparring ad (3) wrestling (aka Shuai Jiao).
In the “boxing” division, competition was suspended after a few days due to the injuries. The event was held with very few rules, but more importantly without any gloves or protective gear. Like the early UFC’s many fighters injured their hands and legs, unaccustomed to actually striking the elbows and knees used to block. The last 12 contestants were not permitted to continue, the public excuse being the “fear of killing off some of the greatest masters of the time”. The overall winner was voted on by a jury of his peers!
The next year a similar event was held in Hangzhou, China. This event was also organized by Li Jinglin, then acting as vice-dean of the Central Martial Arts Academy. This time there were 125 entrants for the “boxing” or “free fighting” (San Shou) competition which was held November 21-27. The event was very popular, the audiences every day numbered in the tens of thousands.
The tournament had few rules, they were not allowed to attack the eyes, throat or groin – anyone breaching these rules was disqualified. However, the event also had a flaw in the rules, in the event of a draw BOTH contestants advanced to the next round. By the end of the first day, more than half the contests had ended in draws! The rules were quickly changed so that in the event of a draw both contestants were eliminated.
With this, the competitors didn’t hold back and many people were hurt, mostly with head injuries. The judges’ committee instituted a new rule in response, stating that contestants were not allowed to continually attack the head! The history of Chinese martial arts fighting competitions is full of instances of poor organization, irrational rules, random rule changes and rules which defy logic and reality of combat.
Zhao Daoxin was a disciple of Zhang Zhaodong and was famous in Tianjin’s martial arts community. Zhao was only 20 at the time and at the beginning of his martial arts career, yet managed to achieve 13th place. His notes on the competition included these observations;
“Those ‘orthodox inheritors’ of traditional martial arts, regardless of whether they were lofty monks or local grandmasters, were either knocked out or scared out of the competition”
Zhao also noted;
“Even though, at registration, every competitor identified themselves as belonging to a traditional style, every one of them engaged in secret auxiliary combat training”
By the 1920’s both Western boxing and Japanese Judo had found there way to China and had made a huge impact on many martial artists. However, due to nationalistic and style pride, many did not openly admit to it!
Other examples of denial of reality manifested themselves at the event. The 2nd place winner, Chu Kao-Lou, openly admitted he also trained in Western boxing. One Taiji master complained that Chu’s fighting style was not using Chinese Martial Arts, to which Chu’s brother, Chu Kao-Chen, challenged the Taiji master. In respond, the Taiji master didn’t dare to accept that challenge.
Other quotes regarding the event
– 这次比赛没有看到高深的内功,没有发人于丈外的场面
You don’t see high level internal power, and Faijin that send people flying 10 feet away in this tournament.
– 太极打法毫无建树,四量难拨千斤
The Taiji principle didn’t work well. 4 oz could not defeat 1000 lb.
– 也就是说号称以巧取胜的中国功夫 实际上也是在跟人拚勇力比高大
The taller, heavier, stronger guys won in that tournament.
– 要学打擂台的拳术
After this tournament, people wanted to learn the style that can be used on the Leitai.

Lei Tai competitions – Kung Fu fighting in the good old days

Friday, March 15, 2019

Rare Chinese martial arts demo

Rare Chinese martial arts demonstration of various forms of traditional Chinese martial arts from wrestling to weaponry. Recorded in 1930.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

"The sword’s qì is as a rainbow" - trans by Scott Rodell


Jiàn qì rú hóng jiàn xíng shì lóng
jiàn shén hé yī xuánmiào wúqióng
Guǎng Píng Yáng Chéngfǔ tí

The sword’s qì is as a rainbow, the sword moves like a dragon.
Sword and spirit meet as one, its profundity is boundless.

Yang Chengfu of Guangping
translation by Scott Rodell

Friday, February 22, 2019

INTERNAL VS. EXTERNAL What Sets Them Apart? By Tim Cartmell

Introduction  There has been a great deal of discussion over whether a martial art is internal or external, and the differences between the two. Most people familiar with Chinese martial art probably associate the internal with exercises for health, softness and "chi," and associate the external with strength, hardness and fighting. We should start by defining the criteria which qualify an art as internal or external. It is very popular today to talk about internal martial arts as being methods of cultivating the chi (intrinsic energy), whereas external martial arts favor building physical strength.
 The first question is, "What exactly is chi?" And once we have come to what we believe is an adequate definition, the next question should deal with the relationship chi has to martial ability. Finally, we come back to the question of why internal martial arts would cultivate chi in some way that external martial arts do not. The point is, both internal and external martial arts talk about chi development; saying a martial art is internal because it "has chi" is not valid. The difficulty in defining chi has led some martial artists to conclude that chi doesn't exist at all, therefore there is no difference between internal and external martial arts. But there definitely is a difference, and it does not depend on whether or not one believes in chi.
Let's put aside the whole question of chi and talk about similarities and differences among the three orthodox internal styles (as representatives of internal styles in general) and external martial arts from a more tangible point of view. Let's compare and contrast the martial arts from the standpoint of body mechanics, mindset, and application. The real difference between the internal and external martial arts is not chi, softness/hardness, or which is better for health; rather, it boils down to how specific movements are done in a particular mindset, and how these apply to real fights.

The internal myth
The orthodox internal martial arts, namely Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang , have all incorporated Taoist techniques of breathing, meditation and medical theory into their methods of power, development (nei kung) and fighting movements. Although the resultant arts are superior as systems of health cultivation and physical development, health was not the primary concern of the developers of these styles. The primary focus of any martial art is, by definition, martial. The wedding of Taoist practices and martial technique came about because the masters felt movement in accordance with natural principles performed in a meditative state of mind was the quickest way of realizing the goal of absolute potential as a martial artist (fighter).
 For centuries, China has had a great variety of therapeutic chi kung and related health systems that are equally as effective as the internal martial arts for restoring, maintaining and improving one's health, and are far simpler to learn and practice than the internal styles. There was no need to invent complex and often extremely physically demanding martial arts to fulfill the same purpose. Although the internal martial arts may be practiced solely as exercises for physical fitness, they were not created with this goal in mind. The internal martial arts were developed for fighting, with their health benefits more or less side effects of training for martial ability.

Body mechanics: An overview
The most basic and important difference between internal and external martial arts is the method of generating power or "jing" (manifest energy). At the root fundamental level, the most important factor which qualifies an art as internal is the use of what the Chinese call "complete," "unified" or "whole body" power (jengjing). This means the entire body is used as a singular unit with the muscles of the body in proper tone according to their function (relaxed, meaning neither too tense nor too slack). Power is generated with the body as a singular unit, and the various types of energies (jing) used are all generated from this unified power source.
The external martial arts, although engaging the body as a whole in generating power sequentially, do not use the body in a complete unit as do the internal martial arts. The external styles primarily use "sectional power" (ju bu li), which is a primary reason they are classified apart from the internal arts. A variation of this sectional power in the external arts is the special development of one part of the body as a weapon (iron palm, iron broom, etc.). The internal tends to forego these methods in favor of even development of the whole body, which m turn is used as a coherent unit.
 Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang all have unified body motion as their root; hence, they are internal styles. However, since each of these styles emphasizes different expressions of this unified power, they are not the same style.

Xing Yi Chuan
  Xing Yi Chuan provides perhaps the easiest example of the principle of unified movement in action, as motion is stripped to its bare efficient essentials. Traditional five-element based Xing Yi Quan was created on static posture training (Zhan Zhuang). The primary purpose of these postures is to train the feeling of connectedness into the brain and nervous system, as it is easier to cultivate this feeling standing still than moving. One stands until whole body unity becomes the natural state. Only after this has been achieved does the student slowly begin to move while paying attention to maintaining this unity in motion. Typically, a single move such as splitting (Pi Quan) will be practiced exclusively and repeatedly for several months until the student understands bow to move the body without losing its dynamic unity. Once the student "gets the feeling" with a single form, other forms can more quickly be mastered.
Because the ancient Xing Yi Quan masters knew that using the body in a unified manner produced the greatest amount of power, they developed five basic movements (the five elements) which allow one to issue power (fa jing) in a unified manner. These movements are splitting (issuing power downward), crushing (issuing power straight forward), drilling (issuing power upward), pounding (issuing power outward) and crossing (issuing power inward). The developers of  Xing Yi Quan saw these five basic variations of unified power as covering the range of motions useful to fighting. Hie 12 animal forms of the style are further elaborations and variations of the five original "themes". The simple beauty and profundity of the art of Xing Yi Quan as an internal boxing style is in its logical development from a single principle, using the body in a unit, to the basic energies that can be generated from this unit, the five elements, to the further elaboration of these five basic energies into the 12 animal forms.

Tai Ji Quan
In the first passage of the Tai Ji  Classics, Jang San Peng (the legendary founder of Tai Ji Quan) states that the body must be light and agile, and that it must be connected throughout (gwan chwan). This is the basis of Tai Ji Quan as a martial art. The most basic energy of this art is the ward off energy (peng jing). Ills energy is the same as using the body as a unit. As the masters say, "No peng jing, no martial art." The reference here is not to the actual technique of ward off from the forms, but rather to the ward off energy that must permeate the whole body connecting it with unified power, from which all subsequent variations in power are based.
The basic postural requirements for Tai Ji Quan practice (head floating up, shoulders sunk, chest lifted) are the physical prerequisites of unified body power. As in the other internal styles, the student begins by standing in static postures for a considerable length of time to cultivate the body's peng jing body before singular postures are practiced and mastered one at a time. Single technique practice (dan ba lian) and issuing power (fa Jing) are practiced until all the various postures of Tai Ji Quan can be executed with whole body power. Finally, the student is taught to link the postures into a continuous sequence that trains sensitivity to postural changes (listening energy or tingjing) and the ability to flow from one technique to the next without disconnecting the body. One of the fundamental reasons most Tai Ji Quan forms are practiced slowly is 'so the student can constantly adjust and monitor the body to make sure it is always moving in a unit. This is much easier to feel moving slowly than quickly.
Eventually, the student develops the body into a strong, supple unit which allows the frame to act as a spring against the ground (jyc di jr Ii), enabling the boxer to absorb incoming energy and rebound it into the opponent This type of power is impossible unless the body is always maintained in a unit, just as a spring is one continuous thread of steel

Ba Gua Zhang
Although there are much older versions of Ba Gua Zhang, most of the variations of the art found today can be traced back to Dong Hai Chuan, who taught during the last years of the Ching dynasty. Dong Hai Chuan already was an accomplished martial artist before he learned the Ba Gua circling method of the Taoist  school. As with the other internal styles, Ba Gua Zhang training begins with singular movements which develop unified power. Next, the student progresses to holding various postures while walking in a circle, Here again, the primary purpose of these exercises is to train the body to maintain a balanced unity in motion. Once the basic movements have been mastered and the student can walk the circle to complete the eight basic palm changes with unified body power, the necessary groundwork has been laid for martial application.
 Just as the Xing Yi Quan masters developed the five elements to represent the basic ways power may be produced and applied from the foundation of unified motion, the Ba Gua Zhang masters created the single palm change. The single palm change includes all the basic energies and footwork used in Ba Gua Zhang as a martial art. The single palm change, double palm change and eight mother palm changes are not fighting techniques in themselves, but rather methods of developing whole body power to be used in separate fighting techniques created around these basic types of power.
 Although the three orthodox internal styles have very different movements, they all developed from the same fundamental principle of using the body in a unit. This is why, from a body mechanics point of view, these arts are classified as internal.

External martial arts
Although body mechanics and movements of external martial arts may vary greatly from style to style, the major difference between these and the internal styles is that external styles, while generating power through the coordination of the body as a whole, lack unity of motion in the internal arts sense. For example, many external martial arts strike using the power of the waist and upper body from the base of a stable stance, the blow would be relaxed during delivery, then tightened for an instant at impact This type of strike is capable of generating a great amount of power, with the force being produced mainly by the waist and striking limb. This whipping of a limb and tensing at impact is referred to as "sectional power" ju bu li) and differs from the whole body power of internal martial arts.
 The sequence of training in external martial arts also differs in purpose. In the early stages of training, external martial arts place greater emphasis on increasing strength and endurance as the "raw material" to be refined later into precise technique. Whereas the goal of internal style stance training is to train the nervous system into the feeling of a unified body, the external martial artist stands to increase the strength, endurance and flexibility. As a consequence, external stance training is usually lower and wider than that of the internal. Although an oversimplification, it may be said that the internal martial artist stands to cultivate feeling, while the external martial artist stands to develop strength.
External martial artists often spend considerable time conditioning specific areas of the body, either to withstand impact or to increase sectional power. An external martial artist may especially condition the head, fists, elbows, shoulders, fingers, or emphasize a specific movement, resulting in the development of a specialized weapon. This is another example of the development of sectional power in the external martial arts. Once the martial artist has a strong foundation, form and technique training begins. Once again, the forms and techniques emphasized in external styles are designed around the sectional power developed through basic training. 

Mindset of the martial arts
 Another major difference between internal and external martial arts is in the approach they take to training the mind. The internal places great emphasis on mind/body unity. The Taoists realized that a relaxed body controlled by a quiet mind produced a holistic entity, capable of fulfilling its potential. At the outset of training, the internal arts place the greatest emphasis on refining and training the nervous system to control the body. In contrast, most external styles emphasize increasing strength and endurance (external power) as the base upon which martial technique will be built. Students of the internal, through mind/body unity, seek to balance the nervous and hormonal systems, thereby producing a power from within the body (nei jing or internal power). The unified power is completely dependent upon fine neuromuscular control, which is completely mentally directed. The internal martial arts also talk at great length about practicing with a quiet mind. It is often quoted that, "There should be stillness in movement," and internal martial artists seek to remain calm in spirit as they move. One of the primary reasons internal martial arts are good for health is that one may simultaneously exercise the body and rest the mind.
 Turning to external martial arts, much less emphasis is placed on a quiet mindset. In many external styles, cultivation of a state the Chinese call the "killing air" (sha qi) is preferred. The spirit is raised and directed outwardly toward the opponent, rather than inwardly, much like athletes "psyching up" before an event. An externally observable manifestation of the different mindsets is apparent in the facial expressions of the individual practitioner: the external martial artist often shouts and grimaces fiercely, while the internal boxer looks calm and may even be faintly smiling during a fight.

In application
The third major difference between the internal and external martial arts is in how they are applied to a live opponent, as well as the various methods of training martial application. The students of both schools first develop their power, balance, feeling and body mechanics from solo training. The next step is to bridge the gap between form and function. This type of training will be determined mainly by a particular school's theories of combat. The internal schools stress sticking to, following and going with the opponent's power, borrowing energy, the avoidance of force against force directly, and the issuing of power only after one has "the right opportunity and advantageous position." External styles vary greatly in theory (some following principles almost identical to the internal), but in general, whereas an external stylist may punch through his opponent's defenses, the internal stylist never fully issues his power until he has the opponent in an unbalanced position either physically or spatially.
Most internal styles also have some variation of "push hands" practice. The primary purpose of pushing bands is to develop "listening energy" (ting jing) or become sensitive to outside pressure from the opponent in relation to one's own balance. Finally, both internal and external martial artists practice footwork drills, repeated single-technique practice, issuing power on a live opponent, and eventually free sparring to develop practical fighting skill. 

 This article has shown the similarities and differences among the three orthodox internal styles of Chinese martial art and external styles in general. It's clear that external and internal styles are indeed different, in theory, practice and application, and the factors that classify an art as either internal of external are clear-cut and concrete. This classification of an art as either internal or external is based solely on adherence in practice and use to a specific set of principles, and not on particular forms or posturing. It is important to remember that all arts, both internal and external, were originally intended for fighting. Finally, no judgment as to the superiority of one art over another is intended. After all, any martial art is only theory until a human being moves, and the value of any art lies ultimately in the skill and understanding of the individual artist.

Found HERE 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sun Lu-T’ang Style pt 2 by Bradford Tyrey

Part 2 of 3: Further Aspects Taught Within Traditional Sun Lu-T’ang Style According to Master Sun Lu-T’ang and Madam Sun Jian-Yun.
One morning in 1984 Madam Sun told me that instead of having class we were to go visit someone. When we arrived I was introduced to Master Wang Xi-Kui who was perhaps Sun Lu-T’ang’s last surviving indoor disciple. He often went to Shanghai to be with family but would frequently return to Beijing to be with friends and his students. Master Wang was a very gentle soul who was a wealth of information, someone who absolutely loved the opportunity to sit and tell old stories about training with Sun Lu-T’ang and travels with him. I treasured every minute of it. He also loved spontaneously jumping up from his old bamboo chair and would demonstrate a plethora of bagua, xingyi and taiji that Master Sun had taught him. I found that in 1984 many Chinese were looking toward the future and doing away with the old, including old teachers of Chinese boxing. Master Wang therefore had very few people wanting to visit him, and even fewer ever spent more than an afternoon with him. He heard from Madam Sun that I would be delighted beyond words if he would be willing to tell me stories about those days. Master Wang was quite happy to speak with me and did not mind that another student from Madam Sun’s class come along to help translate. We all got along so well that he began teaching us the methods that he learned from Master Sun.
While Master Wang was showing a bagua knife form that he was taught by Master Sun he began explaining about the 三勁 sanjin that Master Sun emphasized. I was completely lost during the discussion so my translator thankfully took notes and carefully explained them later. Over the months I came to understand the terminology and meanings that Sun Lu-T’ang taught his students and hopefully I can explain these adequately for all of you. I will do my best, but forgive me for any failings.
First, let me explain the meaning of the term 三勁 sanjin as I learned it. The character 三 san simply means ‘three,’ nothing more than this, no hidden Taoist meaning this time. However, the character 勁 jin presents a challenge. It does not mean one thing but rather several things merging into one. Master Wang said that 勁 jin represents a special strength that can only be produced when one’s spirit becomes involved. He added that in times when you are part of a life and death situation your spirit will give you extraordinary focus and strength that can be expressed outward; this merging of strength and spirit which is expressed outwards is 勁 jin. So, we could translate 三勁 sanjin, in the most general way, as ‘the issuance [expression] of one’s spirit and strength’ which can be used to produce remarkable force and unique skills. An example that Master Wang showed was he stood up and asked me to hit him in his stomach. He was a thin man who was around 82 at the time and I had no desire to hit him, even though I had little hitting ability I still did not want to. But Master Wang insisted, so I hit him lightly. Then he said it must be harder, then again harder, until I hit him with my full body weight behind the hit into his abdomen which caused injury, not to him but to my wrist. He said that this was an example of 内勁力 Nei Jinli (internal expression [issuance] of force) in which he did not yield to the force of a hit but rather transformed the force to become part of his 内力neili (internal force). Neither my classmate nor myself fully understood what we just witnessed but it did show a skill rare to find. My classmate did ask Master Wang an interesting question, could he do the same if hit in the head with an iron bar? Master Wang said that he would likely die and please do not try, that so far he could only apply this skill to a few regions of the body and that for all parts it might take another 20 or 30 years. My classmate, realizing the mistake that he had just made, sincerely apologized for implying that he wanted to test Master Wang’s head against a piece of iron. Master Wang, ever so gracious, began laughing and said that he knew he was not serious because there was no iron bar in his home to use.
As Master Wang continued he told us about the 三勁 sanjin that Master Sun spoke about quite often so that students would attend to these three important points. Below are the 三勁 sanjin as we were taught:
1. 勁化 Jinhua (to become stiff or tight). 勁化 Jinhua is a term that refers to one’s strength and spirit changing from one of naturalness to one that is unnatural. Master Wang explained that the body naturally possesses 柔軟 rouruan (supple flexibility [softness]), but through incorrect practice one’s movement and body transforms from 柔軟 rouruan to 剛度 gangdu (stiffness). In particular, Master Sun warned students not to practice xingyiquan with 剛度 gangdu (stiffness) else ill effects would injure one’s qi, organs, and overall health. He emphasized to students the importance of acquiring 柔軟剛 rouruangang (supple firmness) in both movement and spirit. In movement, Master Wang said that beginning with one’s fingertips you must sense extending, but without forced tightness. Just relax and with one’s 意 yi (mind-intent) lead qi to the very tips of each finger for just a moment and then lead the qi beyond each finger an inch or more, no more than that distance. In this way, qi can accumulate and strengthen beyond the boundary of the hand(s). Once accumulated one to two inches at first beyond the hand(s) it can then be directed by one’s 意 yi (mind-intent) into any object touched. With practice this accumulation of qi can become significant.
Generally I do not like to write about the following events for many reasons. But during my years in China I witnessed many fascinating occurrences particularly concerning Chinese boxing and Chinese medical treatment. So I want to tell of one event that I have never written about before primarily to protect the privacy of Master Wang Xi-Kui and his family. However, I think there is no issue at this time.
One afternoon Master Wang asked if I would stand and assume a fighting position. I did so and after 30 seconds of him also standing Master Wang very lightly hit me between my liver and kidney using xingyiquan’s 鑽拳 Zuanquan (Drilling Fist). I did not move and felt nothing more than a light hit that would not be of use in an actual fight. Then he asked my classmate to stand up in a guard position, and likewise he was lightly hit in the same region on his body. Neither of us thought this was impressive, but we said nothing, not wanting to offend this old master. As we sat down Master Wang took out a small piece of paper and wrote something on it and then placed the paper in his old desk. He continued explaining about what Master Sun Lu-T’ang taught in classes, and then approximately 40 minutes or so later both I and my classmate began to feel tightness and a very uneasy feeling building in the right sides of our bodies where we had been lightly hit. In fact, I came close to vomiting because nausea was setting in. Neither of us had anything to eat or drink at Master Wang’s that day, and neither of had eaten together that day at a restaurant. So, we knew that food or drink was not the cause. The sensation of tightness began to grow within both of us, somewhat like a ball expanding and placing pressure on other organs until we both asked Master Wang if he had caused this with his hit. Before answering he reached into his desk drawer and showed the paper that he had written upon. The paper read ‘Less than 1 hour.’ He said that this meant the effects of his hit would occur in less than 1 hour. I was in growing panic that something more was about to happen to me during that hour and began to sweat from fear. Master Wang calmed me and assured me that the worst had happened and for me not to be afraid. My panicked face I’m sure began to alarm him. He said that his sudden release of qi into us at a special place and time caused the sensation of swelling. Master Wang grabbed my wrist and pressed upon two points using his middle finger and thumb like a ring shape for about 2 minutes until I said that no pressure remained inside of me. He then attended to my classmate. Both of us stopped sweating from fear soon after and felt relatively comfortable. Every ten minutes for the next hour he would stop the conversation and ask if we both still felt comfortable. I recall thinking that he is a very caring individual other than the fact that he almost sent us to the hospital. Master Wang said that we would sleep very deeply that night but we would awaken feeling quite well in the morning. That night I felt not only very exhausted, but heavy, as if I weighed 30 pounds more. As Master Wang said I did awaken the next morning feeling quite robust. My classmate had much the same experience with heaviness and a restful sleep. Neither of us wanted to repeat the experience and we were cautious thereafter anytime Master Wang said to stand in front of him in a fighting position.
A couple of months later when I began initial studies in Chinese medicine in Beijing I found that the points he pressed upon my wrist were: 內關 Nei Guan (Inner Pass) being Pericardium 6 in acupuncture located three finger breadths below the wrist crease on the inner forearm in between the two tendons, and 外關 Wai Guan (Outer Pass) being Triple Warmer 5 in acupuncture located on the dorsal aspect of the forearm, on the line connecting SJ 4 and the tip of the elbow, 2 cun (Chinese inches) above the transverse crease of the wrist between the ulna and radius.
There is a famous story about Master Sun and one of his students who challenged him involving a similar incident of feeling ill after being hit that Madam Sun and Master Wang elaborated on. This event has been written about in many books and journals but I will add more according to details I was given along with that student’s photo. I will write about this event very soon in an upcoming article for all of you.
Madam Sun said that Master Wang was known for several skills that he acquired through practices with her father. He did not demonstrate these skills often and kept such things behind closed doors but because he knew that he was in his final years of teaching he wanted to impress upon others that such skills exist and are not secrets, but skills to pass on and explore. Master Wang added that the old boxing masters from many lineages had skills that are rarely found these days and he wanted to pass such knowledge to his students, not to injure others, but as a means to understand how to help those afflicted with pain and ailments.
2. 加勁 Jiajin (to increase or bolster one’s efforts). 加勁 Jiajin is a term that means when you are doing something and have reached a level of adequacy you should then apply yourself even further, adding to your effort in order to attain excellence. Master Wang told us that when Master Sun taught students many became discontented with their own sense of progress because they would compare themselves with senior students and feel ashamed at what little skill they possessed in comparison. Master Sun’s classes were often demanding and precise movement was constantly encouraged therefore each student had to daily enhance personal 意識 yishi (awareness/consciousness) of movement and their spirit so that mind and body could harmonize. Master Sun often reminded students of the characters 意志 yizhi (the intent to aspire/determination) during practice. However, he warned students that ‘to aspire’ did not mean to compare yourself with others and try to become as good or better than others but rather 意志 yizhi refers to one’s intent to excel in taijiquan and other boxing methods so as to harmonize with the Cosmos. Master Wang added ‘What greater aspiration could there be than this?’ This is the true meaning and significance of 意志 yizhi within Sun style practices.
3. 勁力 Jinli (to issue force). Madam Sun said that her father explained 勁力 jinli in different ways according to what he was teaching. She added that 勁力 jinli does not mean one thing but many. However, here I am going to explain only one meaning, the most common one to which Master Sun often referred. This involves a story that Madam Sun told our class back in the 1980s.
Madam Sun said that her father, Sun Lu-T’ang, often taught classes in Nanjing for special groups, one being military officers. Nanjing had a large military garrison that invited many Chinese boxing masters to teach at on a regular basis. Madam Sun had accompanied her father there many times, assisting him in general instruction. She said that most soldiers were just young men from the countryside who had no formal education nor had ever held professional jobs. The only martial arts they had seen were street performers and gang related fist fights. These young soldiers were difficult to teach because they did not see the value in training in traditional Chinese boxing because the military taught that a gun was more effective along with basic hand-to-hand self-defense military methods. However, high military officers reminded their soldiers that there were not enough handguns or rifles for each soldier (this being the 1920s) and that using one’s knife or bare hands in combat was likely to happen. Therefore, high officers requested that Professional Teachers, a much revered title, like Sun Lu-T’ang come to not merely instruct their soldiers in fighting skills to defend the nation but to inspire soldiers to practice Chinese boxing. Madam Sun said that this was not an easy task for her father; it was a task that gave him concern. He decided that he had to demonstrate what young men would understand the easiest, that being a fighting competition. Therefore, he asked the base commander to have a wooden stage/platform built many feet off of the ground, upon which fighting matches could take place. The day after Master Sun and his daughter arrived he was to begin teaching. He went to the wooden platform and announced to several hundred soldiers who were seated surrounding the platform that he wanted the crowd to select challengers to come up and hit, kick or throw him off the platform. The crowd erupted in frenzy, exactly what Master Sun wanted, that being their immediate interest and participation. He asked that they select ten large men with muscles. One by one they came on stage. Before each soldier attacked Master Sun explained what technique he was going to use and demonstrated it solo, giving each attacker the advantage of knowing what was to happen. Madam Sun said that she nearly could not watch because she did not like seeing her father fight. However, she did watch and saw one by one these soldiers flew from the platform into the audience once hit by her father. The last three men came on stage together and attacked Master Sun. The result was the same, all three failed. Then Master Sun invited all ten men back on stage and bowed to them, showing them respect, they returned this tribute. They requested that Master Sun teach them something and this is when Master Sun explained the concept 勁力 jinli (to issue force) when using such methods as 崩拳 Bengquan (Crushing Fist) from xingyiquan (the attached photo shows Sun Lu-T’ang demonstrating 崩拳 Bengquan.
Master Sun taught these soldiers what is known as 一馬一箭 yi ma yi jian (one horse, one arrow) which means that, for example, 崩拳 Bengquan (Crushing Fist) applied in a specific manner uses a specific method to issue force. He taught when advancing with both feet using 半步 banbu (half-stepping) the feet must feel as though they are sinking into thick mud so that rootedness of the body can begin, though agility of movement must remain. Then, the 腰部 yaobu (waist) must lead the body as a general commanding his troops. Qi from the 丹田 Tan-t’ien (Cinnabar Field [the lower region of qi]) in turn 勁力 jinli (issues force) forward like a 波 bo (a wave [an ocean’s wave]) into the shoulders which 按 an (pushes) into the elbow, and in turn the elbow pushes this wave into the hands from which 崩勁力 bengjinli (the issuance of collapsing force) is manifested. After this explanation Master Sun demonstrated the xingyiquan form 雜勢捶 Za Shi Ch’ui (Mixed Posture Poundings [Hammers]) and showed many martial applications from that form to the delight of the soldiers. They began shouting that they all wanted to study such methods. The commander of the garrison thereby established weekly Chinese boxing training for his troops under the direction of Master Sun and several of his colleagues which included such masters as Chen Pan-Ling and Xu Yu-Sheng [one of my translated books ‘Taiji Power Enhancement’ was authored by Master Xu].
I would like to mention here that you can find a film on Youtube showing Master Wang Xi-Kui demonstrating the public version of Sun style taiji. Just place his name Wang Xi-Kui in Search and you will see his film. Though his movements were not as refined as he wanted, his knowledge however was quite vast. I hope that you can learn something from the film because Master Wang allowed himself to be filmed in order to help preserve and contribute to the Sun family arts of which he was a close part. Sadly Master Wang passed away in 1986, giving me two wonderful years to have known and learn from this gracious scholar. I will happily share with all of you his teachings through my future articles.
End of Part 2. Next week Part 3 will be presented.
Thank you again for taking the time to wander through this article,
Bradford Tyrey

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sun Lu-T’ang Style by Bradford Tyrey

Part 1: Some Aspects Taught Within Traditional Sun Lu-T’ang Style According to Master Sun Lu-T’ang and Madam Sun Jian-Yun.
Some time ago I wrote about Questions and Answers that came from our classes in Beijing over the years with Madam Sun Jian-Yun, daughter of Sun Lu-T’ang, and other family members. Originally, I had given only partial answers for many reasons, much to do with a lack of space for long answers in my books. Here, for those willing to read a longer article is further information.
Quite recently I have received a large number of emails from people who say that they are confused by the increasing number of individuals who are teaching Sun style on the internet who never studied in China with the Sun family. These people teaching are reported to be saying that they don’t believe in the existence of indoor or secret Sun style teachings within the Sun family. I have not personally read or watched such things from these individuals as I try to focus my attention to other matters. I feel that I should comment on such things. It is not necessary to have lived in China to have studied Sun style well, but as for some teachings it was important to have learned things from the Sun family directly regarding the deeper practices of Sun Lu-T’ang. Next, there have never been secret teachings. Though I may have used the word secret from time to time because many old boxing masters used this word in their writings so it was appropriate to translate it accordingly. The reality is there are no secrets. Let me explain further.
When I studied with Madam Sun and many of the old Sun clan over the years they clearly told us that there are public and indoor methods. Indoor methods does not mean secretive. Rather, public methods are easier versions for those interested in taiji, bagua and xingyi. Many of the Chinese students who were in class with me, beginning in 1984, worked full-time and had duties at home or school afterwards, so their time to practice was little. This was their life for many years. They were looking for exercise to relax the mind and body after a day of brutal stress. Also, they were searching for exercise having health benefits. Beyond the simple methods taught in class such students did not want deeper studies.
Also, many of my classmates had lived through China’s difficult Cultural Revolution and were taught that there is no such thing as 氣 qi and therefore were looking toward only the calisthenics of Sun style. Madam Sun did not object and actually accommodated these students by further simplifying forms and explanations for them. However, there were also those students who searched for the deeper practices of her father and his teachers. Madam Sun always said that these methods were not secret but did require that you have the time to study them with her and several of her father’s disciples who were still alive at that time. All were quite willing to demonstrate and share what they had learned from Master Sun Lu-T’ang and other disciples. This meant that travel was involved to Heibei Province, Tianjin, Nanjing, and Shanghai to name a few, short-term living arrangements for each visit, and many unexpectedly strange expenses, which I will describe sometime soon, things they forgot to mention in realistic travel guidebooks.
These old disciples never said that anything was secret; rather they would simply say that if you wanted to learn certain things you had to invest time or it was not taught to you. Often I was asked how long I was planning stay in China, my answer dictated their willingness or not to teach something. There were certainly times when one of Master Sun’s disciples would say it is impossible for me to understand the depth of the teachings so it would be wasting his precious time that he should spend with his family. At that time my translator indicated that this meant these teachings were private and secret, not to be shared with outsiders. Later I learned that this was not what the teacher said nor meant. He actually was embarrassed that he could not communicate directly with me at the time and so waved me off. When my Mandarin, particularly Beijing dialect, became somewhat better in a couple of years, he happily spoke with me and even shared his favorite beer. As one disciple so accurately spoke ‘there is no need for secrets or holding teachings from students as there is far too much to teach a student in a single lifetime.’ This is so very, very true.
Below are some teachings from our classes in Beijing during the 1980s that I was initially taught and want to share with all of you and hopefully can be applied to your personal practices. In the near future, I plan to share much about bagua, xingyi, taiji, qigong and weaponry that we were taught over the years.
Part 1: Some Aspects Taught Within Traditional Sun Lu-T’ang Style Boxing
Q: One of Master Sun’s foremost xingyiquan teachers was Guo Yun-Shen, known for his extraordinary skills involving 氣 qi. What was one of Master Guo’s methods that he passed on to your father?
A: Not every teacher was willing to pass on knowledge and skills to their students, but Master
Guo loved to share. My father said that Master Guo possessed so much skill that he wanted
others to experience the expanse of xingyiquan. A profound training method that Master Guo
taught was to manifest 氣 qi through the practice of 壯膽神 zhuangdan shen (to embolden the spirit).
It is essential in practice to unite one’s 氣 qi and 神 shen (spirit) with the great forces of the Earth.
Master Guo taught that one such force is a large stone [boulder], larger than a man; that has not been
disturbed from its place of rest. Partially exposed to sunlight [that being 陽 yang], partially hidden
[being 陰 yin] and embraced by the Earth. The stone, therefore, is the embodiment of the 陰 yin and
陽 yang essences.
Master Guo taught his students to stand in 三體勢 Santi-shi (Three Embodiments Posture [though
a more accurate translation is the Three Embodiments Power Enhancement]) upon a boulder or
large stone, absorbing its heavy 陰氣 yin qi into the legs and lower waist region. Care must be taken not to transform heaviness into sluggishness, which indicates heaviness has spread beyond the legs and entered into the lofty 陽氣 yang qi of the upper body. This is why one’s 心意 xin-yi (heart-mind [intent]) must direct and embrace the stone’s 氣 qi within the lower tan-t’ien, thereby developing 剛勁 gang jin (firm power [firmness]) below. Such practice was to be followed for several years until true rootedness with the Earth unites with one’s 陰 yin.
Note: I will provide an explanation of 三體勢 Santi-shi in Part 2 of this article for everyone’s reference.
My father said that Master Guo had his students collect large, heavy, flat stones that were placed in the
ground in a large circle and in a straight line. The students were instructed to practice xingyiquan upon the formations to accumulate the essence of firmness into stepping. Firmness in stepping establishes loftiness and agility of hand and foot methods. Stones are but one unique method of practice that Master Guo learned from his masters. His disciples were known to be immovable when pushed or attacked, possessing hands that issued power like a stag’s hoof, achieved through 骨肉 gurou (bone and flesh [referring to a human]) treading upon the Earth’s 陰氣 yin qi [being stones]. This is among the first hidden skills of xingyiquan that Master Guo taught, a very important one followed by all of his students.
My father also taught the 三靈 Sanling (Three Spirits) that Master Guo passed to him. These are very
special within Sun family practice. The 三靈 Sanling (Three Spirits) are also referred to as the 三珤 Sanbao (Three Jewels/Treasures). These are three principles of practice to which one must adhere. These are simple, yet simplistically difficult:

1. 靈活 linghuo (nimbleness/agility). In all movement 陽氣 yang qi must be directed and established at the point泥丸 Ni Wan (Mud Ball) which sits upon the crown of one’s head. Through qigong practice the 泥丸 Ni Wan (Mud Ball) becomes active and is then linked with its mirrored point below, that being 會陰 Hui Yin (Meeting of Yin) at the perineum below. This establishes the 陰 yin and 陽 yang duality within movement. The cohesion of these two points is accomplished through seated neigong (inner development) methods to enhance the ‘Small Heavenly Cycle.’ These methods are not exclusive to the Sun family style and are found within many Taoist boxing sects. As these upper and lower points harmonize through practice one will notice that physical movement in taijiquan becomes rooted, yet the trunk, arms and legs move with a feeling of fluid nimbleness, a sense of increasing agility and lightness; the meaning and importance of 靈活 linghuo. Such is the result of 陽氣 yang qi fusing deeply within all parts of the body and moving along with and merging with the 陽氣 yang qi of Nature.

2. 靈感 linggan (inspiration/insightfulness). In practice we must never fall prey to mere physical movement that possesses no essence, no spirit behind an action. To simply move about in xingyi and bagua, flailing one’s arms and legs without 意 yi (intent) beckons no lasting results. One must look into the meaning of each posture with a conviction of insightfulness to look beyond the physical surface. It is easy to understand the many applications of any posture, none are secrets, but to be inspired to pursue deeper skills within each posture is very important toward acquiring greater levels of competency. There are many explanations of 靈感 linggan which we touch upon each day in practice. As we practice taijiquan, for example, suddenly you understand how to do something that you have struggled with, and it is this realization and understanding that is the foundation to follow further interest into that realization of a posture or action which produces 靈感 linggan (inspiration/ insightfulness) from which to find further explanation. My father taught that 靈感 linggan is what separates a good student from those who excel. It is something he emphasized that his students nurture throughout all aspects of their boxing practices.

3. 靈驗 lingyan (to be efficacious/accurate). In the boxing arts it is easy to move about and appear knowledgeable and skillful to a novice. But to someone who has trained most properly in traditional methods it is important to examine each posture in terms of use as to health, martial application, and spiritual wellbeing. Therefore, each action must be thoroughly examined from many perspectives. In fighting application it is important to that each movement be very accurate without the slightest embellishment which would lead to inefficaciousness. In pursuing health through qigong and taiji the pathways of qi throughout one’s body must be carefully enhanced through the expansion and contraction of movements entwined with Taoist breathing methods to further bolster qi. This is not difficult nor complicated but requires that you 驗 yan (examine) all aspects of a posture and technique so that a high level of 靈驗 lingyan (accuracy) can be attained. Again, this is not secret to any boxing art but is an important principle that is often overlooked.
The 三靈 Sanling (Three Spirits), referred to as the 三珤 Sanbao (Three Jewels/Treasures), are
therefore: 靈活 linghuo (nimbleness/agility), 靈感 linggan (inspiration/insightfulness), and 靈驗 lingyan
(to be efficacious/accurate). These three, with time and practice, merge and transform to affect one’s
靈魂 linghun (soul). Master Sun remarked that ‘it is one’s靈魂 linghun (soul) that dictates the profound
aspects of study.’ My translation of the 三珤 Sanbao (Three Jewels/Treasures) are rudimentary at best as
each of their true meanings can only fully be understood through experiences and examples pointed out
each time by one of our teachers. But my translation will hopefully serve as a foundation.
Madam Sun added that when her father taught military officers in Nanjing they were very concerned with
the soul of each soldier in respect to creating 大膽 dadan (big courage [fearlessness]). Therefore, Master
Sun taught qigong exercises to officers and soldiers to enhance the 膽 dan (gall bladder). This method is
called 壯膽功 zhuangdan gong which means ‘to achieve [to develop] in strengthening the gall bladder,’
in turn meaning ‘to strengthen courage.’ Master Sun consequently taught the 二十四站走步樁 ershisi
zhan zoubu zhuang (24 standing and walking posts [stumps]) that he learned from his bagua
master, Cheng T’ing-Hua. These methods were openly taught to all of his students, both public and indoor, and were never kept secret as they were to serve as givers of health for one’s 精神 jingshen (essence and spirit [vitality]) rather than to do harm martially. Each of the 24 methods, practiced while standing or while walking a circle, taught and enhanced 24 specific principles and skills. Once
these 24 were learned then the final 12 were added which were concerned with 12 animals to total 36 methods. These methods were openly taught but many students, many of my classmates, simply felt the number were so many that they gave up after a dozen or so. Generally, 3 methods were taught each month, so time was required. Over the years, when I revisited my classmates, most had forgotten the majority of these postures and only practiced those that came to mind. However, there were some who
continued to reverently practice these methods and passed them on to their students exactly how they
were taught to us in class in Beijing. Today, I am happy to openly teach the entire 36 methods to those interested as they are not secret, but simply somewhat rare to come across in their entirety. I still fondly remember classes when I would see many senior classmates in class performing all 36 post/stump methods, openly sharing them their apprentices. It was a very rich environment in which to learn that I know all of you would have loved. Hopefully, I can bring much of this to you through my writings. More about this in Part 2 of this article.

Thank you very kindly for taking the time to read my articles and supporting my efforts to share with each
one of you,

Bradford Tyrey

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

流体太極拳 Fluid body Taichi - Su Dong Chen

流体太極拳 Fluid body Taichi - Su Dong Chen

"Fluid body Taichi (Mind and body awareness): Movement starts on the foundation of a posture, by the direction, are set to motion and expresses movement. Imitation of posture and repetition of motion are the means for memorizing "posture and motion." If "posture" and "motion" are memorized, the elucidation of the basis and practice of a principle are required. "Duplication of posture" and "repetition of motion" are blind obedience of school form. Studying the posture performed itself, a basis of operation, and a principle leads to consciousness of mind and body.   Reference"