Saturday, April 30, 2011


I Teach Chinese Internal Kung Fu (Tai Chi, XingYi, Bagua) in Boulder, CO. Gao Style Bagua, Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Gong I Teach Privately or in Small Groups.
I have been training Traditional Chinese Martial Arts since 1995 and in this system since 1999.
For more info contact me at, call 720 841 2404.


Translated by Marcus Brinkman O.M.D.

Wu Meng-xia was an adroit practitioner of original Yang family Taiji boxing. He not only studied with the Yang family for many years but also made several trips to teacher Yang Lu-chan’s home in Guangping to study with other family members and students of the late grand-teacher. Wu furthermore studied in the Chen village on several occasions so that he could further understand the original methods taught to Yang Lu-chan and how these teachings varied among the Yang family teachers. Wu was therefore a researcher and scholar who endeavored to preserve the path of our fore bearers in boxing arts.

Below are the writings of teacher Wu Meng-xia and his understanding of Chen family
Taiji and the "Cloud Hands" posture. This information is based upon part of Chen Pingshan’s book (also known as Chen Xin) published in the early 1920’s, teachings imparted to Wu while in the Chen village and teachings from the Yang family. Certainly this is a treasure to repeatedly reference.

Sha Guo-zhen
Heilongjiang, China, 1988

Notation: Wu Meng-xia’s writings are, at times, somewhat obscure. Throughout his
writings he maintained the original information taught to him but helps the reader by further explanation contained in [brackets]

Original Skill of Taiji Boxing by Wu Meng-xia

Practicing boxing resides in the opening posture. As soon as there is rising [hands or the body], there is the birth of posture.

As in “Upward Single Whip” when an adversary approaches from the right side you must initially use your hand to guide it [the adversary’s striking hand]. This guidance by the right hand means you must quickly and first unload its responsibility {burden} onto the right shoulder. To unload onto the right shoulder means that you must first lead upward using the left hand. The hand commands the jing. As the left hand leads upwards the left shoulder relaxes and drops downwardly.The chest moves forward slightly and gathers together to xi xiong {inhale the breath while drawing the chest inwardly}. Move downwardly to the jing of the crotch. The left foot becomes full while the right foot becomes empty.

The shenfa [body method] and shoufa [hand method] move as one [together]. Following this you must first move the right hand to naturally attain the process of the technique. Upon attaining the posture, [the true pulse shall arrive. Without an adversary present the hands move emptily [the hands move empty, that is, not having grasped an adversary]. You should feel that the successive attainment of the process of the technique [posture] [the mechanism of movement] is ongoing. That is, once your hands move you must sense the successive continuation of achieving the posture. The process of arriving at the technique [posture] and once the posture has been attained the sensation of nimbleness should be sensed. Therefore, I say every posture is complete within itself [is all-together and all within the initial rising action]. With the connecting of the bones one must liken this to the joints of bamboo.

Why is it that other postures drop downwardly while this posture tends to float upwardly? To understand this you must very astutely study this concept and process of arriving at the technique [posture]. And,everything [within the body] is in an instant dropping completely, so you must contemplate this before you can achieve [reach] it [the process of movement] without lacking anything. To drop completely from Upward Cloud Hands is called Lower Cloud Hands. When the spirit and qi are full this posture [Cloud Hands]) seems as if it could stop and yet, the process of movement of the lower posture has already moved. Though it,[the process] wants to halt, yet it does not attain halting. So, its wanting to halt is in itself the process of halting. It is also named the “Arising of the Lower Posture” (Raising the Lower Posture). As for not halting the process of movement, the spirit is as if it has not been. Not halted, and yet halted. As for that which has halted, only a single line in the lower posture is to arise. Those in Taiji will understand this concept.

Furthermore, the right forearm is naturally straight, not bent as most assume [an apparent mistake to be avoided, though most do not]. The posture must not be straightened further. Therefore, as the left hand leads upwards the right shoulder relinquishes its burden. The right hand naturally by means of pulling inwardly [leading inwardly], leads the jing [which leads inwardly] while the arms collect [by means of pulling inwardly (leading inwardly) the jing]. Therefore, that which is not bent cannot be straightened. Alas, that which is not straight cannot be bent. These are natural principles and common knowledge. The difficulty is completely in the practice and application of silk cacoon-ing jing. Leading the jing progressively inward and outward, although the left hand rises [leads] upwardly while the right hand leads progressively and gathers inwardly, is the difficulty. The process of movement is also complete within the chest, which faces forward and gathers [links] all together. The jing of the waist moves downwardly while the jing of the crotch [groin area] maintains roundness and openness. The left-foot can now step fully; the right foot raises insubstantially, and the backside of the upper body feels as if it is nimble [alive]. Those who study these teachings to progress in skill should reflect upon these methods.

Cloud Hands, here, is an example of how to attain skill through the process of movement and cacoon-ing of jing common to all postures and movements. Each posture and movement has its neijing (internal jing). That [the neijing] of the “Cloud Hands” action is as follows:
The qi of the dantian is found at 1.5 fen (inches) below the navel. Fen and parts are interchanged, yet are separate in meaning. As the dantian becomes full the qi can reach everywhere. Upwardly and downwardly must not be inverted. The xinqi (heart qi)guides [leads and raises] the dantian 6 parts to the heart. That is, as soon as the heart’s qi draws upwardly it raises the dantian 6 parts to arrive at the heart. Again, one part and two puffs (2 inhalations and 2 exhalations [the two puffs are exhalations] move the qi into position.
Now, three fen (parts) move upward to the right shoulder. All is from within the shoulder bone and penetrates (transverses) to the left and right fingers. The shoulder bone is that which adheres to the white pillar [spinal column] that which is shenzhu [Body Column] (GV-12] . When it is within the bone it is called the Zhongqi (Central Qi). It forms within the sinew and skin [flesh] and is named Chansijin (Silk Caccoon-ing Jin).
The additional four parts each contain two breaths. Hence, two parts move to the left buttocks, while 2 parts move to the right buttocks.
To explain and clarify the neijin of Cloud Hands is important. So, I offer this further clarification of the section above. Fen related to the dantian is measurement of 1.5 fen below the navel. However fen also refers to the term “parts”. That is, the dantian is divided into ten parts:
6 parts rise upward to the heart, when it divides from the heart-
3 parts to the right shoulder, 3 parts to the left shoulder. And, 2 parts descend to the left buttock and 2 parts to the right buttock.
Parts refer to the qi contained in the dantian. The concept of parts and the separation of parts is a rare treasure seldom discussed and seldom known. In each posture the concept of fen and parts is applied. In Cloud Hands, for example, you are at the very edge of moving, yet have not begun moving this action.
This is still the preparation of Cloud Hands. Chen village speaks of 60% qi upward; 40% qi in the lower region. This 60:40 does not concern weight distribution of which the Yang family speaks. Such difference must be realized.
To continue from 4 parts separated and divided equally to the right and left buttocks.
Everything [qi and process] is within the bones and thereby penetrates to the toes. The heel [the area on the backside of the foot] first drops [touches] upon the ground, while the front of the palm of the foot must feel nimble and alive. When the toes touch the ground they touch downward as if upon a dot [a single point]. You must use gongli (strength),but nimbly. This is not brutish force that most will use. When they, [the toes, heel, palm of the foot] must move, then they shall move. The toes, the shin [bone] and the calf all must use this refined measurement of gongli.
The left and right “cloud hands” all move it [qi] by means of correct direction of flow.
Firstly, move upwards (guide upwardly) the left hand. Second, lower (drop) the right
hand. Then, the right hand from the lower right collects (gathers) to the front of the chest.
The left hand from above moves backward twisting a half turn. As the right hand [coming from the chest] moves upwardly and turns toward the rightward direction, the left hand moves downwardly and collects (gathers) to the chest’s front. The left and right hands do
not halt. As one [hand] goes, the other comes. The left and right continually circle (orbit)and pass from one to the other. Likened to the movement of the sun and the moon. As the sun goes [sets/lowers] the moon comes [rises/ascends]. As the moon goes [sets/ lowers] the sun comes [rises/ascends]. Hence, one hand only manages half of the body. The left hand moves to the left, the left foot in accordance with the left hand (steps) to the left, the left foot in accordance with the left hand [steps] to the left. The left steps slightly larger (than a normal step), purely using a horizontal movement forwardly. That is to say, advance forward by using a purely horizontal movement. Large, whether hand or foot
action, does not attain largeness of the rotating (pivoting) of the right hand by hand movement alone. “Large” means slightly larger than a normal stepping action or hand movement.
Large stepping [elongated] is only different than that of foot walking (stepping). The right hand moves toward the right; the right foot also (from the left) steps to the right. We have now changed directions in cloud hands.
The body moves (advances) to the left along the lateral (horizontally). The right footsteps (though not small in portion) gradually availing itself of moving [advancing] forwards.
[Meaning: move left bit by bit] Therefore, rightward stepping must comply [be
respectful] to leftward stepping. [Meaning: literally one foot must yield to the other; one is lesser, and one is greater] The small [of stepping or of hand gestures] does not attain (reach) smallness. [Meaning: Small is not compressed; large is not expansive].
Cloud hands has no fixed number (repetitions) Because of the land nowadays we must
halt at one point. [Meaning: Land is now sectioned off and we must limit the number of movements in a single direction] Generally one would not surpass a distance of stepping to the left or right beyond 3 or 4 steps.

Friday, April 29, 2011


The movement style of Taiji is relaxed soft smooth and harmonious.The actions are round and full, while the mind is stable. It requires that you nourish your spirit and energy (shen qi) internally, while externally to use every joint in the body to create spiral silk reeling movement. The result is elegant, natural beauty.

The context for learning Taiji is different now compared to the context in which it originated. People's motivations are no longer always martial, these days you can also practice for health, sport or simply as a leisure activity.

Before it became widely known as Taijiquan, it used to be called soft fist, long fist, thirteen postures and soft hand.

There are a lot of rumors and stories about the origin of Taiji. Most of them come from the Tang dynasty Shi Shuenping, Song dynasty Chang Sanfeng, Ming Dynasty Chang Sanfeng (same pronunciation different words), Ching Dynasty Chen Wangting and Wang Tsungyueh.

Everyone agrees that the the Ming Dynasty CSF, and WTY wrote classic discourses on Taiji. However most Taiji practitioners believe that all Taiji derives from Chen style Taiji. Chenjiagou martial arts originated with Chen Wangting towards the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Ching (16C-1680) in Wen county, Henan province. Within the Chen family it was passed down from father to son, but not to daughters, so it was difficult for outsiders to see the art and even harder to grasp its essence. This was so until Chen Chang Hsin 1771-1853 taught a man called Hebei Yang Luchan 1799-1872, and it was from this time that Taiji could begin to spread.

Taiji comes from the boxing of General Chi Chi Guan, combined with Daoyin, breathing exercises, Chinese medical theory while Bagua and five element theory became Taiji's philosophical foundation.

Taijiquan uses peng, lu, ji, an, tzai, li, jou, kao to match the bagua idea of four directions and four corners. It uses forwards backwards, left, right and central equilibrium to match five element theory. Combined these make thirteen postures which are an important practice method.

When you practice Taiji you need to calm your thinking and use your intention to guide your movement, to let your breath and movement combine, so that mind, breath and movement are all in harmony.

The movement needs to be soft, smooth, continuous centered and upright,. The whole thing needs to be harmonized so that it is natural. At the same time the breath needs to be smooth, stable, deep, soft and light.

Taiji movement uses circles in a sophisticated way. The circles are smooth, alive and originate from the waist so that the upper and lower body act as a unified system.

The outside looks soft, but the inside has power. When you use techniques hard and soft support/complement each other. Fajing must concentrate the entire body’s power.

The function of push hands practice to increase and update skill in the application of techniques.

When you practice use stillness to control the opponents movement. Avoid solid and hit empty. Use their power, combine it with your own to send it back on them.

The entire body, mind and hands must be sensitive to gauge the strength direction and origin of opponents power, to follow their movement in time and to react appropriately.

Taijiquan has spread to become many systems; In China these are separated into 5 big groups, Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun. Every school has a unique approach to training but also common content.

Good Taiji fighters have all studied:

1. Theory

2. Zhan zhuang

3. Form exercise (big, middle, small size, fast and slow), sometimes stick, saber, sword, spear as well.

4. Push hands, single hand vertical, horizontal, diagonal. 2 hand fixed and stepping, Ta lu and zhannien sanshou.

5. Single posture practice (basically 13 postures) to be familiar with the smooth use of the technique, timing and power. The body needs to learn to dodge, leap, gallop and wiggle/adjust. This allows to grasp, hold, strike and throw.

Re-blogged from Luo Dexiu's website

Thursday, April 28, 2011



Translated by Marcus Brinkman O.M.D.

Born in 1904 in eastern Shantung province, China, Sha became an enthusiastic devotee of Chinese boxing arts. Even at a young age he had studied a variety of Shaolin arts that encompass both empty hand fighting arts and weaponry. His early studies of Liuhe Chiang (Six Harmony Spear) formed Sha's continued love for spear practice throughout his life. In Bagua, Sha’s ability in spear and sword were equaled only to the famed Li Ziming.

In 1920, Sha began learning Baguazhang from Wang Chechen. Wang was a student of Dung Haichuan’s student Wang Lide. From Wang he learned Lion style Bagua which was patterned after a lion roaring, clawing, stalking his prey, and opening its massive mouth to devour its capture. Wang Chechen also taught Sha a sword art that Wang Lide learned from Dung. This sword art was named Baxian Jian (8 immortal Sword) and was supposedly taught to Dung by a Daoist monk who learned a circular boxing style near the Wudang mountainous region. In addition to Sword, Sha taught numerous weapons contained in Bagua and Xingyi arsenals.

From 1933-39, Sha moved to Tianjin where he continued to teach, research and study Bagua. He had made friends with practitioners in the Cheng Tinghua branch in that city and acquired deep knowledge of Bagua in these styles. Sha often took the train to Beijing during those years and learned many of Sun Lutang’s Bagua and Xingyi methods. He learned many Xingyi spear routines taught to him by a senior student of Sun who ran a body guard company service for dignitaries. In later years he only taught the Bagua and Xingyi he learned in Tianjin and Beijing if specifically requested, preferring to teach the Lion style method from Wang.

In 1926 or 27, Sha became a disciple of the renowned master of Bagua, Xingyi and Taiji, Jiang Rongjiao (1890-1971) Sha specialized in these areas and additionally
learned Mitsung (Micung) boxing and weaponry. He continued to deepen his studies with Jiang for decades, often traveling hundreds of miles to meet his teacher every few months. Jiang was also trained by the most famous swordsman of China, during the last century, Li Qing-lin. Jiang helped to widely disseminate Cheng Tinghua style Bagua, as well as Bagua spear and sword arts. Sha often spoke about Jiang as a father figure and master-scholar whom he patterned the majority of his Bagua and Xingyi .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


What is Qi Gong?

Practitioners of Qi Gong refer to Qi as “Internal Qi” (Nei Qi), “Innate Qi” (Yuan Qi), or “True Qi” (Zhen Qi). All these names already differ from the simple meaning “Breathing”.

Chinese people believe, that the Qi inside a human’s body, is the driving force for life. Therefore, the work with “Qi” as in “Qi Gong”, means to work with the "Nei Qi", "Yuan Qi", or "Zhen Qi".

“Gong” means “work” or “effort”. Chinese people often use the expression: “Xia Gongfu” (Put in time and energy). In Qi Gong practice, one uses his awareness in combination with physical movements and mental exercises. This kind of practice is not only of practical help for refining ones personality, self awareness and self control, but also helps get rid of ails and to maintain good health. Qi Gong is a science of health and long life. It is the work with “Innate Energy”, putting in time and effort to strengthen ones physical qualities.

To practice Qi Gong means to nourish your Innate Qi (YuanQi), and to use your intent to move it. The intent leads the Qi and helps it circulate within the meridians. This will stimulate and strengthen the rise and purification of the mind as well as of the internal organs. Through the proper circulation of Qi, one will nourish ones innate Qi, with the goal to heal the body from its ails and to maintain a vital state of mind.

Qi Gong is the work with human body’s Innate Qi (Yuan Qi). The Qi of the human body expresses itself in many different manifestations, but the most fundamental/primal Qi, is the so called Yuan Qi (Innate Qi) or Jing Qi (Essential Qi).

The Zhen Qi consists of two different kinds of Qi: The Qi that was given to us before we were born (Pre-natal Qi), and the Qi that we accumulate after birth and throughout our life (Post-natal Qi).

Xiantian Qi: Is the indicator of life’s starting point. It strengthens its functional power. It is the fundamental energy for all human activity (Preheaven’s original spirit).
Houtian Qi: the breath of inhalation and exhalation, Qi accumulated through food and through breathing. It is constantly accumulated and consumed in order to preserve life.

When practicing Qi Gong one must harmonize body, mind, and breath, in order to enter a certain condition. This condition is called Qi Gong Tai (Qi Gong Spirit). In our school we call it Ru Jing (enter stillness). After entering this level, the aim of practicing Qi Gong (Lian Gong), to supply the Zhen Qi (True Qi) or to support the Yuan Qi (Innate Qi) can be achieved.

This means:

* Entering a state of harmonizing the body
* Entering a state of harmonizing the breath
* Entering a state of harmonizing the mind

In actual practice it is most important to adjust spirit and breathing. Especially the adjustment of the spirit is from utmost importance, since both (adjusting the body and adjusting the Breath) depend on the spirit to manifest. At the same time, all three of them are interrelated and dependent on each other.

The Principles of the Three Adjustments:

* a. The Principle of Adjusting the Body --- Relaxation
No matter which kind of exercise, all have their set requests concerning their physical posture. “Relaxation” of the body describes a natural way of relaxation. The idea is to be relaxed without loosing your internal structure, to let go without being lax, and to be solid without getting stiff.

* b. The Principle of Adjusting the Breath --- Balance
“Breath” describes the process of breathing in and out. While practicing breathing we seek for balance. Out of this natural balance, the breath should become deep, long, gentle (fine), and even.

* c. Adjusting the Spirit
Adjusting the “spirit” (Tiao Shen), or “Adjusting the mind”, describes methods to nourish and purify spirit, consciousness, and thought. The adjustment of body and breath both rely on the foundation of the spirit. To “focus” is an important method. It describes the process of moderating one”s attention. Attention is used to “enter stillness”. When the spirit is pure, the breath balanced, and the mind tranquil and peaceful, all internal organs become settled and work together in harmony.

The process of adjusting the spirit has to major procedures. First, one must focus. Second, one must “enter stillness”.
From within one’s practice, when one’s mental state is adjusted and one’s physiological state is adjusted, then the state of the vital spirit will adjust.

“Entering Stillness”

Entering Stillness means to minimize mental activity, to reduce the respond of the mind to outside stimulations. Getting rid of disturbing influences and distracting thoughts.

The level of “Stillness”, depends on the “depth” of ones gongfu.

In the beginning level one starts with soothing ones mind and regulating the breath. When the emotions become settled, and the spirit gets more and more focused, distracting thoughts can eventually be eliminated.

On a more advanced level, a purification of thought can be achieved. Mind and breath will be harmonized and the intent properly aligned.

On the deeper levels of “entering stillness” one will become aware of true stillness and emptiness. It will be as if entering into a state of emptiness, with oneself floating through a selfless realm.


The term “intent” in QiGong practice describes the human subjective consciousness. In the process of practicing Gongfu, one will focus ones intent on certain things, or on certain parts of the body as well as on pressure points.

Through the continuous elimination of distracting thought, one will deepen the level of “stillness”. Through a more quiet level of practice, one will experience different physical sensations. Like the effect of the “Qi Gan” (the awareness of energy in ones body), or the reactions of the body to internal Qi movement. Resulting from that, and through further adjustment, one will deepen the level of quietness, and gather and nourish ones True Qi (Zhen Qi). (“Entering stillness” and “focus of intent” are interdependent processes. One is required in order to bring out the other.)

Depending on the intensity of physical movement, Qi Gong practice can be separated into JingGong (Motionless Practice), and DongGong (Practice in Motion).

Depending on the method of practice, the exercises can be done walking, sitting, lying or standing.

During the practice we need to gather and use human body’s internal elements Jing (Essence), Qi (Internal Energy) and Shen (Spirit).

What is “Jing”?

“Jing” is the basis in the creation of human life and activity. It is the most essential and important factor in the growth and development of the human body.

In a broader meaning, "Jing" consists of "pre-natal jing" (the essence that was given us from our parents), and of "post-natal jing" (the energy that we gain from nutrition). The "jing" of the internal organs (hormons) and the "jing" of the kidneys (breeding system), having the use of reproduction.

Therefore it is a factor that was there before the creation of the human body, wish is nourished later by food and nutritional factors. Through the process of physical life, the amount of “jing” inside ones body will continuously be consumed and therefore needs continuous supplement and nourishment.

What is Qi?

In China, the term “Qi” is used in many variations. For example in the meaning of “weather” (TianQi). Or in the meaning of factors that cause illness (XieQi). Also the human body’s innate energy, with the ability create life and to resist diseases (Yuan Qi). The Energy that is derived from digested food is called (ShiQi)

In general, we can divide Qi into “Pre- natal Qi” and “Post- natal Qi”. As said before, this is called Yuan Qi (Innate Qi). It is given us through our parents, and describes the driving force for development and growth of the human body, as well as the fundamental energy for all internal processes.

The so called “Post- natal Qi” is the Qi that is gathered through breathing and the digestion of food. “YingQi” is the energy gained by nutrition, it follows the circle of blood and liquids through the body. Its function is to stimulate the blood flow and to nourish the whole body.

The so called “WeiQi” helps to nourish and warm inner and outer body parts, and not only protects muscle and skin, but also has the function of resisting bad outer influences.

In practice we say “through the harmonization of yin and yang, is the manifestation of Qi”. So what is the meaning of yin and yang? There are two different meanings:

* 1. (Qi is) The resonance that is created through a certain state of balance between sympathetic nerve system (yang) and parasympathetic nerve system (yin).
* 2. Qi is created trough a certain balance between nerve system and blood system. Most of the times, Qi Gong is confused with Breathing, or the state of mind reaching a certain level where it can stimulate a certain kind of physiological potential. This state is called “Ru Jing”. But just through a further deepening and preservation one will enter the state of Jing Ding (maintaining stillness) and receive the full benefits of practice.

What is “shen”?

All aspects of human life can be grouped under the name “shen”. It includes spirit, thought, feelings, attention and awareness. “Shen” is created by Pre- natal Jing. With the creation of the embryo, “shen” develops.

“Shen” is created before birth, but it relies on nourishment and supplementation in life. Only if the internal organs work properly, a lively “shen” can be achieved.

“Shen” in QiGong Practice means a humans spiritual awareness, and the manifestation of internal “jing” on the outside.

Some important factors for the practice of Qi Gong:

* One should prepare himself for practice
* One should stay focused during practice
* One should end the practice properly, collecting and gathering Qi inside ones body.

re-blogged from Luo Deixu's website

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kung Fu Bad Ass - Zhang Rong Jiao


Translated by Marcus Brinkman O.M.D.

Zhang Rong-jiao (Jiang Rong-qiao) was born in 1890. He became a top student of two of China’s most famous boxing masters, Zhang Zhao-dong and Li Cun-yi. Though Jiang claimed that Zhang Zhao-dong taught him the majority of movements and training methods of his Bagua and Xingyi practice, it was in fact, Li that influenced him most deeply in regard to the Neijia principles of Xing-yi. Both Zhang and Li’s teachings honed Zhang into one of the nation’s top teachers and experts in sanda (free fighting) and weapons. It should also be noted that Li Cun-yi was a teacher of the famed Sun Lutang.

In 1955, Jiang suffered an accident that injured his optical nerve. This damage became progressively worse and could not be stopped by any medical treatment offered at that time. When Jiang, finally lost his site, his adopted daughter, Zou Shou-xian, helped him conduct classes and write the well known book “ Baguazhang Practice Methods”.

Students of Baguazhang in China continue to admire Jiang for writing this book, because it was the first Bagua text published for the public following the 1949 Nationalist and Communist war. Such a publication took courage from Jiang, in that Maoist at that time denounced such texts and boxing masters. Through the years Jiang lectured and taught at numerous institutions of higher learning so that Bagua and Xingyi would retain notoriety as national treasures. Jiang’s blindness did not detour his personal excellence in performing boxing. In fact, he was known for walking a circle more perfect that those with sight. Sadly in 1974, at the age of 84, Jiang passed away. His following of students is among the most concentrated numbers in China to this day. Perhaps his most famous student was the late Sha Guo-zhen; who promoted Jiang’s teachings to there fullest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Xingyi Quan - Luo Dexiu

Xingyiquan honors Yuefei as the founder of its school, its origin can be traced to Ji Jike of Shanxi in the early Qing dynansty. It is said that Ji Jike created Xinyiba and was also proficient in the Liuhe Spear method. Later, he also obtained the posthumous martial-arts chronicle of Yuefei, wherein he employed the execution of the Big Spear, as fist methods and united it with his original study of Xinyiba to create this martial art.

The descendants of Ji Jike are divided into various systems of Henan, Shanxi, Hebei etc, and are differentiated under various different lineages and names, including Xinyiliuhe, Xinyiquan, Xingyiquan etc. The current, popular style of Xingyiquan is developed from Shanxi, Dai clan Xinyiquan, as modified by Li Luoneng of Shenzou, Hebei.

Li Luoneng considered the essence of Xinyiquan to manifest in the mutual interchange of "External Structure" and "Internal Awareness". Having "form" and "manifestation of awareness", it was initially named, "Shape Awareness Boxing".

Xingyiquan employs the Five Element Fist (Pi chopping, Zuan drilling, Beng crushing, Pao cannon pounding, Heng crossing) and Twelve Shape Fist as its basic fist methods. In standing, it utilizes the Three Bodies Posture, santishi as its basis.

Single and repetitive drill practice, as well as standing cultivation practices were transmitted by Li Luoneng to both Hebei Xingyiquan and Shanxi Xingyiquan.
Xingyiquan's special characteristics:

* Xingyiquan’s movements are concise, straight in and straight out. It utilizes calm and steady power, whereby awareness and qi are obtained.

* Emphasis is upon employing a foundation of single drills as fundamental fist methods and as a means of execution.

* Explosive strength is employed as the core of issuing power.

* Hard first and then soft is employed, the mutual interchange of hard and soft is thus its refinement process.

In regard to "whole body", it refers to proper structure, its movement is round and full, it has a distinct rhythm. Practice until there is coordination of awareness and power and coordination of the hands and feet.

Use the cultivation of the internal jing, qi, shen, yi and jin (essence, qi, spirit, awareness and power) as the principle of developing fighting skill. As there is mutual interchange between hard and soft, internal and external are mutually cultivated. Let the internal awareness, internal qi and internal power mutually unite with external shape, external qi and external strength, for cultivation and function.

In usage, one should at all times maintain the image of Chicken leg, Dragon body, Bear shoulders, Monkey spirit, Eagle seizing and Tiger springing.

There are three kinds of practice methods which belong to the execution and process of Xingyiquan:

* Obvious Power (ming jin), transforming bone is the first step of developing skill

* Hidden Power (an jin), transforming tendon is the second step of developing skill

* Transforming Power (huajin), transforming marrow is the third step of developing skill

Principles of practical application

Take the initiative, when crossing hands with the opponent, be the first to take control.

Guard the center and use the center, strengthen the center and break the center, enter and dodge, dodge and enter, there is no need for distance.

Head, Shoulder, Elbow, Hand, Hips, Knee and Foot all seven methods are employed, they can issue at any location, "in distance increase the use of hands, up close increase the use of elbows, at a distance use the foot to kick, up close increase the use of knees."

Empty and full unite, hard and soft mutually interchange, hand and feet arrive together.
Xingyiquan Forms:

* Five Element Mother Fist
* Five Element Mutual Creation Fist
* Entering and Retreating Linking Fist
* Twelve Shape Fist
* Eight Stance Fist
* Twelve Phoenix Fist
* Miscellaneous Fist

Two Person practice includes: Five Pattern Cannon, Mutual Creation and Destruction, Secure Body Striking.

Chopping Fist, belongs to Five Element’s metal and cultivates the lung, its qi rises and falls, its force is smooth, then the lung qi is harmonized, its priority is qi, when the qi is harmonized the body is strong and healthy.

Drilling Fist belongs to the Five Element’s water and can tonify the kidneys. The movement of its qi is curvaceous and flowing, there is no place it is not present. When the qi is harmonized, the clear qi rises and the turbid qi sinks.

Crushing Fist belongs to the Five Element’s Wood and can soothe the Liver. Its qi extends and contracts. (When) Its fist is smooth then the liver is balanced and long spirit, it strengthens the bones and tendons and boosts the brain power.

Cannon Pounding Fist belongs to the Five Element’s Fire, it cultivates the heart, its qi opens and closes, like the cracking of an explosion, when its qi is harmonized, then the ethereal spirit courses freely through the body.

Crossing fist belongs to the Five element’s Earth, and can nourish the spleen and stomach. Its qi gathers together. Its shape is round. Its character is full, its qi is smooth. When the Five Phases are harmonious then hundreds of variations will be generated.

Xingyiquan Twelve Shape Fist

From Xingyi’s mother fist, “Five Element Fist” evolves. Five Element Fist requires the Six harmonies to become one. From six yin and six yang it originates, borrow its form then one can employ every skill upon heaven and earth.

That is, mimic the special characteristics of the movements of the twelve kinds of animals, Creating attacking methods, composing fist forms, to extrapolate the special characteristics possessed by the twelve animals in self defense and as predators. Resemble it shape, take its consciousness, form follows consciousness, consciousness creates form, to take the special skills and turn them into human ability.
Intent of the Twelve Shapes:

* Dragon possesses the ability to contract the skeleton.
* Tiger possesses the ability to spring upon its prey.
* Monkey possesses the ability to climb mountains.
* Horse possesses (churning) fast hooves.
* Alligator can (float) swim skillfully in the water.
* Rooster is born with a competitive fighting nature.
* Sparrow hawk possesses the form for piercing through heaven.
* Swallow possesses the ability to skim over the water.
* Snake possesses the skill to move grass aside.
* Eagle possesses the skill of seizing.
* Bear possesses the skill of shaking and pulling out.
* Vulture (Tai Bird) contains striking and ramming movements.

re-blogged from Luo Dexiu's website

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kung Fu Bad Ass - Yang Lu Chan founder of Yang Style Tai Ji Quan


Translated by Marcus Brinkman O.M.D.

During the 1930’s and 1940’s, numerous booklets and short documentaries sponsored by boxing associations, primarily in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai, were privately published. In Beijing, Square Handkerchief Alley housed many eating stalls, printing press operations and boxing associations. One such booklet entitled, “The Long Lance Art of Yang Lu-chan” was authored by Wu Meng-xia. It is a story that was told to Wu about his grand teacher by a student of Yang Ban-hou. A copy of this booklet was held by Master Sha Guo-zhen, who read the story to his students. Sha had met Wu at national gatherings of Taiji and Bagua and regarded him as a person of rare knowledge, passed onto him by the Yang’s in Taiji and his Bagua by Han Mu-xia and Gao Yi-sheng, among others. Below is a translation of what Sha Guo-zhen’s had read to students in his classes in the 1980’s.

The first Yang family member to have learned the unique art of Taiji in the Chen village was Yang Lu-chan. When others spoke of him they commented that he was unwearying in practice, kind to all those who met him, and possessed a stout-heartedness in facing life and its challenges. For many years teacher Yang worked for the Chen family and studied their remarkable art and while living there, led a life of hardship and meagerness. He worked from before sunrise until the sun lowered. In summers his skin was dark from the toil of outside house repairs, farming duties and tending to general livestock.

Indoors he was also a servant who dealt with the cleaning of vegetables, cooking rice in large pots,serving food, and was given certain duties in the Chen clan businesses, in their village and nearby townships. As a servant Yang had a small room to sleep within. Inside he had a small bed, a little table for his rice bowl and drinking cup, and a dirt floor. It was a dirt floor that sunk deep into the earth, as it was worn away from him secretly practicing the Chen family boxing art every night. Though he partook of only servant food, he nevertheless maintained his physical stamina. In winters, teacher Yang had no hearth for fire. His warmth came from within. Though his life as a poor servant was difficult he never detoured from training. As the seasons changed so did his skill in Chen family boxing.

After many years, teacher Yang departed the Chen village to return home to impart his knowledge to others. His art was firstly known as Guangping Chuan because of its locale in Guangping. Though teacher Yang Lu-chan was often penniless, he would always find a way to give money to friends who desperately needed funds for family support. One day his friend asked to borrow one hundred dollars that would be returned to teacher Yang within one year. This was quite a large sum of money but teacher Yang had saved nearly this amount for an emergency. He told his friend that he would lend him the money only after he complete done minor feat. The feat was to hold a long pole with both hands, run and vault atop a nearby roof. Upon landing on the roof he must remain stable and upright. His friend reluctantly agreed. Teacher Yang’s friend ran after much hesitation, vaulted and plummeted onto the wooden planks of the roof. He instantly became pale and was so filled with fear that he became as stiff as a piece of wood, unable to move even slightly.The crowd that had gathered made this man even more nervous. It was at that point that teacher Yang took a long pole in both hands, equal to more than three times his own height, and placed the other end on his friend’s stomach. He then miraculously lifted him from the roof onto the ground. Teacher Yang’s effortlessness and stalwart skill of adhering and yielding astonished onlookers by this feat alone. This no doubt was verification that teacher Yang was adept in qing gong (the ability to make one’s self or another lighter in weight). After several minutes, the man was still partially in shock and teacher Yang could not help but to laugh. Yang explained that he was merely jesting with his friend and gladly gave him the one hundred dollars. His friend thereby came out of his shock and cheerfully accepted the money.

This story was told not to boast of teacher Yang’s skill in long lance (pole), but rather to comment upon his jovial character, which he nurtured and held fast to, even while poverty befell him. Though teacher Yang was a demanding teacher he was a true teacher of an authentic art. Kindness and cheerfulness must never be robbed from one’s breast. Teacher Yang’s example remains as an example for us to follow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Ground Never Misses: Random Friday

Really great post by Jake Burroughs
The Ground Never Misses: Random Friday: "Shaking the hazy hangover from everyones favorite holiday, I am rallying the motivation to hit the weights today and roll tonight.  I have n..."

Kung Fu Bad Ass - Wu Meng Xia

Wu Mengxia 吳孟俠 1905-1979 was a legendary martial arts master from whom the ZeZong branch of Gao Baguazhang descends. He studied with many masters including Gao YiSheng, Han Muxia and others. He knelt to Gao Yisheng when he lost a challenge to Gao Yisheng (who was 64 at the time). He was a grandstudent of Yang Banhou as well as being Gao's senior student in the Tienjin period. After the Revolution he founded the Guang Hua Ze Zong Tong Yi She in Tianjin. His accomplishments include being Director of Publications at the National Guoshu Institute during World War Two. His book "Annotations on Taijiquan's Nine Songs and Eighty-One Postures" is one of the classic published works on Taijiquan.

Re-blogged from

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Key Concepts of Baguazhang" by Luo Dexiu

The movement in Xian Tien Bagua is principally soft and fluid, but still contains a firmness that is less visible. It is important that high, low, interior and exterior become 'one' a single strength, the power of which should not be shown externally, but kept fluid inside. You need to find balance in instability, the body becomes flexible and skillful/nimble.

The post heaven palms work mostly on hardness, but remain fluid inside. The outside is square but the inside is round. They allow you to train specific combat techniques. During practice it is important to work on the extension of the body, the force and the mind.

The four combat strategies of Bagua:
-The opponent advances and I absorb
-The opponent retreats and I pursue (striking at weak points)
-The opponent does not move (he has a good defense) and I disturb his emotions/composure
-The opponent reacts, and I dismantle his structure

If the opponent moves I move more than him, if his mind is calm, I am calmer than him, if he uses hardness I use softness, if he panics I am relaxed, if he wants to enter I suck him in even further, as he attacks I defend and counterattack simultaneously, I turn his own techniques back on him, if he stops I continue to control the situation and make him follow me.

If the opponent and I am engaged and there is a pause, the mind/yi doesn’t break, this gives rise to the concept if the opponent is still, I am still too, but my mind is present and alert. If he tries to move in a small area I use a big circle to control his angles, if he uses a lot of space I use a small circle to destroy his center. Big and small circles are interchangeable, and the power is like a drill that pierces.

Several ideas that are very important in the practice of Bagua:

- Seek unity, be whole and full before seeking to practice angles, individual parts or specific techniques.

- Qi and Zheng: It is necessary to use concepts that are direct or devious.
Zheng is the direct aspect « I am stronger than you » because my body is unified and coordinated while that of the other is not. Therefore I have an advantage in using techniques over my opponent because my skill defeats his inertia. I can be faster than him because I know how to move easily.
Qi is the devious aspect. I can make the opponent weaker than me because I can divide his strength. I can weaken his techniques because I use the nine joints of my entire body while he only uses a single part.

- High level practice: Practice more, practice well and practice specific means. The more you practice, the better you perform and the more fluid you become. If you become fluid you acquire skill and eventually ingenuity.

Bagua has its principle expression in walking and turning. At the same time as walking and turning you can use techniques. Through moving I can reach better situations, and penalize the opponent.

If you want to win you need to manage the situation from beginning to end without ever suffering/giving it up. You need to do more than turn and change, to control the situation you also need to cultivate and protect the initiative. If the situation does not allow you to be active you must borrow and take over the opponent's techniques.

re-blogged fromLuo Dexiu's web site

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kung Fu Bad Ass - Yang Ban Hou

Translated by Marcus Brinkman OMD

Yang Ban-hou, also named Yang Wu-di, was born in 1837, as the second son of the famed founder of the Yang family Taiji, Yang Lu-chan. Ban-hou was an aggressive child who studied martial practices with great enthusiasm. His temper aggravated at an early age, by whippings from his father, interfered with his Taiji practice. He also received strict punishment after having run away from home many times, further exacerbating Ban-hou’s growing temper.

As the years passed he grew into a young man with two distinct skills: 1) His Taiji ability in combat was among the best in the Yang clan, and his temper was so quick that he scared challengers. Ban-hou had a rather colorful life as a bodyguard and teacher to the royal Manchu court. As he was Chinese and not Manchu, he did not want to teach the Manchu any of the Yang family boxing secrets. He therefore simplified movements and made them soft, lacking issuance of jin (fa-jin). This style was later termed as Peiping (Beijing) style Taiji.

Ban-hou’s temper was said to be as great as his Taiji boxing skills. For this reason he had but a few students, though all became famous for outstanding Taiji abilities. He demanded excellence, and his students were said to be highly disciplined in attaining excellence in stretching, fajin, and precision in movement. In 1890 (at the age of 53), Ban-hou passed away, leaving a legacy of the hardships one must overcome to become a Taiji master. He left behind a son, Yang Jou-peng, who taught only small groups of students the methods left behind by his father. Today, we can still find direct lineage students in China of both Yang Ban-hou and Jou-ping.

Bagua Tactics and Strategy

“Xian Tian is Strategy, Hou Tian is Tactics.” – Luo Dexiu

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gao Yi Sheng's Three Types of People not to be Taught

It is said that Dong Haichuan often told his pupils, "This art should be taught to trustworthy, upstanding people of virtue, and should not be taught to rude, petty people who have not a sense of right and wrong. You must exercise discretion in teaching the art."

Gao Yisheng maintained that teachers should be generous and humane in their treatment of students, and students must follow the rules, and be virtuous and upstanding in deed. Teachers should share their knowledge and be patient; students ought to be humble and perseverant. Teachers should often demonstrate and explain; students ought to practice frequently and ask for guidance. Teachers should explain the concepts, and then be clear in example; students ought to first understand the principles, and then be unstinting in practice.

There are three sorts of people not to teach, and three sorts of people not to make friends with for those who practice Baguazhang. The people not to be taught are the unrighteous, the wild and egotistic, and criminals. Those without a sense of what is right are ungrateful, and will disappoint a teacher and violate friendships. They are out for their own gain and are small, petty people. The wild and egotistic overestimate themselves, and as soon as they have a little skill bully the weak and challenge the strong. They are a cause of trouble and scandal. They disobey the teacher, belittle other people's skill, and exaggerate their own. This kind of person will eventually bring shame not only to himself, but also to his teacher and friends. Criminals are lascivious, greedy and larcenous. These three kinds of people should not be taught.

The three things to avoid in practicing Baguazhang are brute force, constricted breath, and sticking out the chest and abdomen which prevents the qi from sinking to the dantian and the feet from being rooted.

Gao Yisheng's Ten Rules for Practicing Baguazhang

Ba Gua Zhang masters of the past put much emphasis on martial virtue. Gao Yi Sheng's "Ten Rules for Practicing Ba Gua Zhang" focuses on the goal of "in practicing the arts, virtue comes first" and practitioners should know and follow this:

1. Be filial toward your parents. Your parents gave you life, how could we exist without our parents? The un-filial are lower than common beasts and therefore may not be taught nor made friends with. Even less may be allowed into a system of Ba Gua Zhang.

2. Get along with your neighbors. People who get along will respect each other, defer to each other, help each other, and support each other through difficulties and sickness.

3. Respect elders and aid the weak. Elders should be respected. The weak refer to women, children, and people in difficulty. To help means to give support, to be concerned about and to care for.

4. Do not get drunk. Drink within limits. In getting drunk we can get hurt, make fools of ourselves, and also make mistakes. People who habitually get drunk should not practice Ba Gua Zhang.

5. Do not gamble or take drugs. From ancient times gambling and robbery have gone together and therefore should be strictly avoided. Drugs harm the body and the home, and so should not be touched.

6. Follow the teacher's instructions. The person who instructs is the teacher. The person who learns is the disciple. Teacher and disciple are like father and son. Instructions are the words of guidance from our teacher. To receive an art, all is dependant on the teacher to transmit it; with no teacher to transmit it, the art will be like water without the source and so we must follow our teacher's instruction.

7. Practice diligently, hard work overcomes all difficulties. It is often said: "The teacher brings one in the door, from there it is up to the individual." When the teacher shows a movement, practice it diligently. Have humility and perseverance and over time your art will mature. That is what is meant by the phrase: "Familiarity brings skill, skill leads to mastery, mastery leads to the mysterious."

8. Do not boast or be verbally offensive. To be verbally offensive is to ridicule others for their shortcomings. Practitioners should never forget that "There is no end in learning gong fu" and "there is a horizon beyond the horizon, and other people behind us."

9. Be loyal, honest and generous. Honest people will be solid and steady in their undertakings, and not fickle and frivolous.

10. Be trustworthy and have a wide range of friends. Trust is the foundation of practitioners of the arts. We should live our lives such that words lead to action and action brings results. Friendship is one of the five cardinal relations. We should have many friends but also be selective. The smart bird chooses his place in the forest to build a nest and a man of cultivation chooses well his friends.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Annotations on Taijiquan by Wu Mengxia

Translated by Dr. Marcus Brinkman

Gu Zai San Qian
(Attending to the three fronts)
Pan Zai Qi Xing
(Awareness is on the seven stars)

These are two of the Songs of Eighteen Necessities from Wu Mengxia's taiji book. These eighteen songs are followed by annotations from Wu himself. The order of the songs are as follows:

Peng-Ward Off
Lu- Roll Back
Ji- Press
An- Push
Cai- Pluck
Lie- Split
Zou- Elbow
Kao- Bumping
Jin- Advancing
Tui- Retreating
Gu- Attend
Pan- Observe
Ding- Stability
Zhong- Centrality
Shuang- Double
Xu- Empty
Shi- Full

The first song is to attend to the three fronts. The three fronts are the forward eye, forward hand and forward foot. These three points are to be taken notice of so that your power is always centralized. If the opponent takes one of these points off the centerline an opening is made. However, looking at the opponent we can use the song in an opposite way. By knowing that keeping these three points is safe for ourselves, also we want to take advantage of any weakness the opponent may show by not keeping his three fronts.

The second song is to be aware or observe of the opponents seven stars. The seven stars are the ankle, knee, hip, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and head. These are all areas that the opponent can use to attack us. On the other hand, these are places on our body that we can use to strike the opponent. Each of the seven stars should be capable of attacking and defending. So we can look at these songs from a yin/yang paradox and extract much more information.

In our school we put these ideas into our martial skill set by including one idea that integrates these two songs in a seamless way. We use another very famous internal martial arts poem, Han Xiong Ba Bei Chen Jian Zui Zou, which means seal the chest, pull up the back, sink the shoulders, and drop the elbows. By conforming our body to this mold we find that defense of the three fronts, and awareness of the seven stars is created naturally by this posture.

Some modern internal arts practitioners have mistaken parts of this song. This song is meant to describe the posture of san ti shi or the starting position for fighting(similar to a boxers starting position). However, during martial arts practice and qigong the chest is not meant to always be sealed. In Internal arts in general there should be an opening of the sternum as well as an opening of the thoracic spine. These two openings oscillate between an open and closed posture much in the same way as the lumbar spine does. If the lumbar and cervicals open and close, then the thoracic spine naturally cannot stay in a static state.

This translation shows many of the ideas that we practice in internal arts but are not often talked about. These are many chapters in this book with many songs in each one. Dr. Brinkman did a great job translating this text which helped understanding it in Chinese. For practitioners of Yi Zong internal arts or Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua in general, this is an outstanding resource.

re-blogged from Oregon Internal Martial Arts

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Xing Yi Quan is like a tank.” - Luo Dexiu

This is the basic concept of attack in Xing Yi Quan, overwhelming force. Generally, it is less refined than Ba Gua Zhang or Tai Ji Chuan in its usage, expression and generation of power. When used the mind and power come together to cut through, smash or crush the opponent using the arms like a battering ram, always aiming to break the structure. It does not matter what defense they have, you smash through. Xing yi ’s fighting philosophy is the idea of overwhelming force. It will overwhelm anything in its path. This is its strength and it’s weakness. If it encounters overwhelming odds it will be in trouble."
Luo De Xiu

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Here's the world's oldest man's secret to a long life:

I figure at 114 he must have done something right:

• Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")

• Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")

• Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")

• Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")

Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

"We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.

Source: Yahoo

Daoist Priest Hua Shan, China 1936

Pic Hedda Morrison

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fire and Water: Drawing Silk by Marcus Brinkman

This article was first published by my teacher Marcus Brinkman OMD in the Pa Kua Chang Journal.

A metaphor used to symbolically indicate the way in which Yi (intention) should coalesce with Jing (essence) as one attempts to begin the process of cultivating Qi goes like this. . .
. . . . If one were to attach a single strand of silk to a small pebble and then proceed to move the pebble along without breaking the delicate fiber, success would require an even and unhurried pull, like a prolonged fine breath. . . An anxious or sharp tug would easily cause the strand to snap.
In one context, these words refer to a method by which the body's hormonal system and central nervous system may be harmonized. In another, it is a way in which the mind and body may link in stillness and in motion. "Drawing Silk" (Chou Szu) is the name used to describe this process.
The words "move" and "pull" relate to the word Chou which has the meaning "to draw." This is the function of the yi. It is suggestive of the "intent" aspect of awareness, or the directing force. If the directing force of the yi is too intense the silk string (Szu) cannot endure. If the yi's force is too lax, the string cannot be grasped.
The "pebble" relates to the object that is being acted upon by the yi. In this case the pebble refers to jing. jing translated in its literal sense is "sperm essence." In the larger sense it is suggestive of the body (flesh and blood), and the energetic potentials and properties pertaining to its substance.
One’s awareness should be directed to cover and permeate the body. The yi must be directed to the body as a whole. When the mind initially begins to attempt this, there will be difficulty in maintaining the right degree of tension, However, with continual practice, as one is able to sustain the right degree of awareness for extended periods of time, a fine stream of consciousness, like a fine silk thread, linking the Mind and Body may result. The longer one is able to maintain that link, the longer the string becomes. When there is inability to carry this out, the silk string of consciousness will vanish like a thought. One may space out or be carried away by some exterior activity or concern, lost in imagination or conversely, constrict one's awareness to a part of the body, instead of the whole. When either of those conditions exist the silk string that connects the yi and jing will be lost.
The silk strand is a simile that suggests an uninterrupted flow of awareness, maintained between the mind and the body. When the yi and jing are united in this manner there is cultivation of qi. So, in other words, the silk strand is symbolic of qi.
In Taoist terms, jing, q'i, and shen are referred to as the Three Treasures. Chinese medically speaking, yi (shen) is associated with "Heart Fire," whereas jing is synonymous with "Kidney Water,"
The equilibrium that exists between Heart (Fire) and Kidney (Water) is the core concern of Chinese Life Extension practices. When there is neither excess nor deficiency occuring in regard to both Fire and Water, qi may be cultivated. However, what is sometimes evident. among martial artistS, is an overly exuberant Fire (yi) that is capable of depleting the body's Yin essence (jing).
Just as sunlight may pass through the lens of a magnifying glass and be focused to ignite fire upon the object of its intent; so may the influence of yi ignite the jing.
Practitioners of Ba Gua Zhang should therefore avoid over reliance of the "Will" to accomplish their goals. "Will power" is suggestive of a kind of energetic release that is akin to "psyching one's self up". In this way, the yi (Heart Fire) stimulates the jing above and beyond the balance that is required for dual cultivation of Fire and Water. Practically speaking, Willpower must rely on Emotion to gain its strength, when Emotion becomes over-stimulated, the jing is fueled by a blazing un-refined fire, capable of consuming one's qi instead of cultivating it.
Almost all martial artists have at one time or another experienced a situation where your opponent has gotten the better of you or vice versa. This often leads to an emotional response, which is most often out of control. The adrenline rush of anger is exhilarating, but it exhausts the Kidney Water and induces a hypertensive state.
This is comparable to fueling a steam engine with crude oil, the burn is explosive, dirty and hard to control. As such the steam that rises erupts in spurts that are capable of causing interior damage. When there is not mutual cultivation of the yi (Fire) and jing (Water) there cannot be equilibrium in regard to the other organs of the body.
If this occurs on a regular basis, one may experience swings of both mood and physical energy. Typically, one's mind may feel overly stimulated while the body feels exhausted. In more severe cases, those conditions may be constant. They are commonly referred to as feeling "wired" or "burned out."
When the practice of Drawing Silk is developed correctly the fragile silken link will eventually increase in strength and diameter. Eventually this form of practice will enable one to link the silk thread to the body as it is in motion,
Yi and shen are both terms that are designative of one's intellective processes, shen, is literally indicative of spirit. Spirit is connotative of both the Heart and Mind. Yi is designative of one's directed awareness, and is an aspect of shen. The difference lies in their contextual usage.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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

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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yi Zong Internal Martial Arts Special Charecteristics and Theory

(translated from Taiwan Wu Lin Magazine)
Yi Zong has many special characteristics, there are three that most obviously stick out, Tian Gan, San Shou, and Wei Zhao. The ten big Tian Gan are the special training methods from Wu and Zhang’s Ba Gua. Other styles have never heard of this training but they may inadvertently have similar training methods. The training purpose of Tian Gan is opening your range of motion and extending your body’s power range.
Many martial arts have different frame sizes in which they practice. However, before you want to practice small frame you must first pull open your structure and practice a large frame. The larger frame you practice, the more relaxed you want your mind and body to become. Only then will your power be able to reach an even deeper level. This is the same as when the Tai Ji classics talk of [ You first need to extend, then you can become more compact]. Ba Zi Gong is a Xing Yi set that comes from the Tian Jin area, its function is nearly the same as Tian Gan, to extend the bodies power range. After following Zhang’s training methods both his students and disciples found that their ability to use their southern shaolin skills had improved greatly.
There is another training methodology called San Shou that Yi Zong uses that is absent in other schools. This style of San Shou is distinctly different than other styles of San Shou or San Da. Yi Zong San Shou is a training method that aims at teaching neutralizing skills within the conceptual framework of sticking, adhering, and using Fa Jin. This practice helps develop lots of body methods and stepping methods while also developing realistic fighting training.
Wei Zhao: Wei =feed, Zhao= technique. This means that the teacher will do the techniques with the student in order to give them the right flavor and corrections. When people talk about transmission this is the direct way for a teacher to transfer information to the student. By doing the application continuously on the student, the teacher is showing how the energy is expressed. Sometimes painfully. Also, when the student sees the movements demonstrated over and over with concepts that help them explore the movements. They are able to understand the principles expressed in the forms.

Translated by Matt Autrey

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Li Luoneng Founder of Modern Xingyi Quan

Li Luoneng (李洛能), also known as Li Feiyu (李飞羽), Li Nengran (李能然), Li Laonong (李老农), and Li Luonong (李洛农), was referred as the founder of Xingyiquan.

Li Luoneng was born in Shenzhou City, Hebei Province in 1808; Li passed away in 1890 at the age of 81 years old.

Li Luoneng resided to Taigu County of Shanxi Province for business purposes at the age of 37 in 1845 and he began to learned Dai family version of Xinyiquan during the same year. Li started martial arts at young age and he was skilled in the art of Tongbeiquan before he learned Dai family’s boxing. Li established himself as a great martial artist in Shanxi, which also earned him the nickname of Divine-Fist-Li (神拳李), within 10 years of after he started in Dai Style Xinyi.

Li Luoneng began his teaching of his version of Xinyiquan as Xingyiquan at Taigu County in the 1856 until 1871. Che Yizhai (车毅斋, 1833 – 1915), Song Shirong (宋世荣, 1849 – 1927), Song Shide (宋世德, 1857 – 1921), Li Guangheng (李廣亨, 1859 – 1934) are some of his students during this period. This earlier version of Li’s Xingyiquan is classified as Shanxi Xingyiquan in modern days Xingyiquan circle.

Li Luoneng, at 63 years old, returned to his hometown, Shenzhou City, in 1871. Li continued to spread the art of Xingyiquan at his hometown in his later years. Guo Yunshen (郭云深, 1820 – 1901), Li Qilan (刘奇兰, 1819 – 1889), Liu Xiaolan (刘晓兰, 1819-1909), He Yunheng (贺运恒) are the students of this period. The Xingyiquan of this period is usually referred as Hebei Xingyiquan.


The Principles of Bagua Zhang Fighting (full video):

This is a great overview of Bagua Zhang Fighting Principles. My grand teacher Luo De Xiu, lineage holder and senior guy in the system made these vids in 1993 (?). I found the whole 50 min vid online. That is Tim Cartmell he is pounding on in the vid. Sorry i didn’t embed the vid, it is on an asian web site. Enjoy