Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wu Style Tai Chi Founder Wu Quanyou

Information taken from an article in Wudang Magazine 2000.6 #118

By Xin Xilan and Gu Ziyuan

Translated by: Joseph Crandall (Found: HERE)

Wu Style Taijiquan founder, Quan You (1834-1902) was from an aristocratic Manchu family that was famous for its martial skills. Quan You Gong was a military officer in a banner camp in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty.  At that time, Yang Luchan Gong (1799-1872) was the martial arts instructor in the banner camp, teaching Taijiquan.  In the camp, there were many officers studying with Yang Luchan, but only three men, Wan Chun, Ling Shan and Quan You studied diligently and trained hard enough at Taijiquan and to deeply get what Yang Luchan had to teach.  They got his true transmission.  However, they declined to be listed as Mr. Yang Luchan’s students, and asked to be enrolled as students of his son Yang Banhou (1837-1892).  The original reason is given below:

Mr Yang Luchan, also known as Fukui, was from Yongnian Hebei.  He studied Taijiquan in Chenjiakou, Wen County, Henan from Chen Changxing (1771-1853).  He studied with Changxing for 20 years and received the true teachings.  When Yang returned home, he began to teach the local people there.  Then the founder of Wu Style Taijiquan, Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880), started studying with him. Mr Wu did not study with Yang for long and only knew the rough outline of Taiji.  Wu’s brother, Wu Chengqing, was the county administrator of Jiuyang County in Henan. He knew that there was a Taiji teacher in Zhaobao Village named Chen Qingping.  They had supressed a rebellion in the area together. Mr Chen was very grateful.  Therefore when Wu Yuxiang went to Zhaobao village to seek instruction. He received the true teaching and martial principles of Chen Qingping’s Taijiquan.  Later he became the founder of Wu Style Taijiquan, which he transmitted to Li Yiyu (1832-1890).  At the same time, Yang Luchan’s son, Yang Panhou also studied with Mr Wu.  Therefore Yang Banhou received the true teachings from both his father, Yang Luchan, and from Wu Yuxiang.

At that time, Wu Yuxiang’s brother, Wu Ruqing (Wu had two brothers, Wu Chengqing and Wu Ruqing) was a successful candidate for the highest imperial office. In the capitol, he served the Lang.  There were comparatively many princes and ministers coming and going.  He heard that they were looking for a martial arts teacher and invited Yang Luchan to come to the palace. There Yang taught Taijiquan to Shi Shaonan. He had another student, General Yue Guichen. He was a military man of good family and had heard of Yang.  When Yang arrived at the palace to teach Taijiquan, these two men officially asked Yang Luchan to teach them.  At this time, there were many princes who came to learn Taijiquan but most did not have perseverance and they did not officially ask to be students.  Also, Wang Lanting, a resident of the Lei Palace studied Taijiquan with Yang Gong. At that time Wan Chun, Ling Shan and Quan You were middle grade officers in the Banner camp. Because of  their rank, they could not be seen as fellow classmates with nobility.  On Yang Luchan’s orders, Quan You is listed as studying under Yang Banhou for three years.  Therefore these three men not only got Yang Luchan’s true teachings, but also got Yang Banhou’s true teachings. Thus they also got knowledge of the essence of Wu Style Taijiquan.

General Yue Guichen later died fighting in battle.  He never had any students.  Shi Shaonan’s achievements in Taijiquan were great and Yang Luchan loved him very much.  Unfortunately he developed smallpox at 41 years old and because of his old age returned to Yongnian to take care of his health. Mr. Luchan was broken hearted. 

When Quan You retired from the military, he set up a school in Beijing. It had a good reputation. People called him Quan Sanye (3rd Uncle). Ling Shan wrote down a history.  And Wan Chun was never known to have had students.  The frame that Quan You was teaching at this time, is known as Wú Style Fast Frame.  When training, there is fast and there is slow. There is issuing energy.  There is jumping and leaping.  The so-called agility has 4 interdependencies:  The mutual interplay of hard and soft.  Pauses and transitions are mutually interspersed. Fast and slow are mutually together.  Front and back are mutually connected.  The whole frame is performed in 6 to 8 minutes.  Wú style Fast Frame is the frame that Yang Luchan taught. After Yang Luchan got Taijiquan from Chen Changxing, he designed the Taijiquan skill frame according to his own experience.  And at the same time Wu Yuxiang was getting Taijiquan from Chen Qingping of Zhaobao village and creating the Wu Style Taijiquan skill frame.  Yang Luchan taught his skill frame to his sons, Banhou and Jianhou (1839-1917), Shi Shaonan, Yue Guichen, Quan You, Wan Chun, Ling Shan, Wang Lanting etc.  Then Jianhou’s sons, Shaohou (1862 – 1930) and Chengfu (1883 – 1936) and Quan You’s son Jianquan. (1870 – 1942) each practiced this fist frame. 

Mr. Yang Chengfu changed the Yang Style Taijiquan skill frame according to his own body type and nature. This was called the new frame or big frame and the original skill frame was called the old frame, small frame, or quick frame.  After Yang Chengfu created his own fist frame, he no longer practiced or taught the small frame. But his 21 year older brother Shaohou, only practiced small frame, or quick frame until the time he died. He never practiced Chengfu’s frame.  (Shaohou mainly studied with his uncle Banhou.  When Chengfu was born, his grandfather Luchan had already been dead 11 years.  When Banhou died Chengfu was 9 years old.  When he was 34, his father Jianhou died. Therefore Chengfu mainly studied with his father and his training was different than Shaohou’s.)

To whom did Quan Sanfu teach Taijiquan?  There were many who studied with him.  His disciples were: Guo Songting, Wang Maozhai, Xia Gongfu, Chang Yuanting, Xia Kuixun, Liu Caichen.  Mr. Quan You’s skills in Taijiquan were trained to a very high level.  Not long after he left the military, there was one time when Yang Luchan had  Quan You do push hands with Yang Banhou in order to see Quan You’s skill.  Quan You could not decline.  He could only follows orders.  Each of Banhou’s attacks were neutralized, but Quan You did not issue either.  For this reason, at the end  of the match, Yang Luchan thought a great deal about the older student’s  situation.

One day Mr. Quan You was walking down a road.  He suddenly saw about one to two hundred people chasing three men of the Hui nationality.  These three men were already wounded.  The three men became surrounded. They put their backs together to defend themselves against the mob. They were finding it difficult to save their lives.  Mr. Quan You was filled with righteous indignation.  He shouted, “You are taking advantage of your numbers.  This is grossly unfair!” Then he grabbed a pole and started striking into the crowd, left and right, front and back and dispersing them.  Now the leader of the mob at this time was under the direction of the Yin Court Eunuch.  This Eunuch found out that it was Quan You who was opposing him. Since Quan You loved pigeons, he was lured to go and admire some pigeons. As Quan You walked into the courtyard gate threshold, some men above the gate called out, “Quan You”.  Quan You raised his head and a barrel of lime powder fell on his head.  Quan You was blinded.  He used his hands to protect his head.  He used qi to move his body.  Ten men came out to ambush him and strike him with iron staves.  When he was rescued, and they removed the barrel from his head, there was not an unbroken bone in his body.  Mr. Bai Huzi commented on how Quan You was a man of iron. He never uttered a sound.  Thereupon he gave Quan You three pills and set his bones. Quan You also relied on his qigong.  He stayed bed-ridden for one month.  After that he walked over to the Yin Palace Gate.  When the Yin Court Eunuch got wind of this, he was very afraid.  He never expected Quan You to be able to walk again.  He also learned that Quan You was a teacher of  governor Hui Xinwu. Thereupon he set about making amends with Quan You..

Quan You had two daughters and one son. His son was originally named Ai

Translated by: Joseph Crandall (Found: HERE)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chin Na/ Qin Na Kung Fu (Joint Locking Kung Fu ) - Tim Cartmell - Practical Chin Na Video - Online!

Someone has uploaded Tim Cartmell's - Practical Chin Na/ Qin Na instructional video. Watch the first two videos for some good theory and conceptual ideas about joint locking. The rest of the series (both volumes are here)  are an excellent introduction to the "how to and when" of Chinese Joint Locking. (Found: HERE)

Learn Chin Na/ Qin Na - Internal Kung Fu - in Boulder, Colorado Check: HERE

Friday, December 27, 2013

Internal Kung Fu - Gao Style Bagua Zhang - Gao's Teacher (Peerless Palm) Zhou Yuxiang

Zhou Yu Xiang
Oral Accounts: Zhang Zhenzhi and Hou Jinlong
Recorded by: Li Jishan
Edited by: Qiao Han
Translated by: Joseph Crandall (Found: HERE)
Printed In: Wudang Magazine 2012.8
(Note: Gao Yi Sheng (founder of Gao Style Bagua) was a student of Cheng Ting Hua but learned most of his skills from another Cheng Ting Hua student, Zhou Yuxiang.)
Mr. Zhou Xiang was also known as Zhou Yuxiang. He was from Tianjin Wuqing Wafang Village. He was born in 1861, the first year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi. He was a famous Baguazhang master. He was our grand teacher. Our teacher was called Xue Zhaoji. He was a student of Mr. Yuxiang. Mr. Yuxiang was originally a student of Baguazhang Grandmaster Cheng Tinghua. Around the time that the Eight Nations Allied Armies entered Beijing, Mr. Cheng was killed by the German forces near the Hade Gate. Then Mr. Yuxiang became a student of Liu Fengchun. Mr. Yuxiang was obsessed with the art. He practiced diligently and was an expert. He was braver and stronger than most men. Because his skills in Baguazhang were so deep, that Mr. Yuxiang had a special introduction in The Register of Famous Martial Artists. In Tianjin there was a famous Baguazhang master of the previous generation named Mr. Zhang Zhankui. At first, Mr. Yuxiang also studied with him. Mr. Zhang Zhankui had a job in Tianjin catching criminals. Every time he had a tough case he would ask Mr. Yuxiang to help him out. So one can see that Mr. Zhang Zhankui was completely confident in Mr. Yuxiang’s martial skills.
Extremely Skillful in Martial Arts
Mr. Yuxiang deeply got the true transmission of Baguazhang from Masters Cheng and Liu. He also received instruction in Xingyi Quan from the great master, Li Cunyi. He was also a very good friend with the great Taijiquan master, Li Ruidong. They would often have mutual exchanges. They learned each other’s strong points to offset their weaknesses. In addition to his native great strength, his martial arts skills were very high, particularly his palm skills were deep and vast. Teacher Zhaoji often quoted Great Master Li Cunyi as saying, "Zhou Mazi’s (Mr. Yuxiang’s nickname) palm skills are not less than Cuihua Liu’s" (That is Liu Fengchun’s nickname.) Mr. Li Ziyang often spoke to us in regard to this evaluation. Still more Mr. Li Ziyang often related to us that because of Mr. Yuxiang’s great palm skills, each time Mr. Yuxiang and Mr. Zhang Zhankui had their mutual exchanges, Mr. Zhang Zhankui did not dare to join hands. He had to resort to using evasion to respond to him. It was that difficult to get the upper hand. Teacher Zhaoji said, "Mr. Yuxiang talked about how meeting others throughout his life, very few impressed him. He only admired and respected Guo Yunshen, Cheng Tinghua, Li Cunyi, Liu Fengchun, Sun Lutang as great masters and none others." In addition, he also had positive feelings for the skills of Li Ruidong and Shang Yunsheng. With other people, he often acted as if they were beneath his notice. In those days, Mr. Yuxiang would cross hands with practitioners of all the famous styles. In The Register of Famous Martial Artists, it says that Mr. Yuxiang in his younger years won fights in famous palaces, one after another defeated two top teachers of the sixth son and ninth son of the prince.
Mr Li Ziyang spoke about time when Mr. Yuxiang and Xingyi Quan master, Mr. Ma Yaonan, got together. Mr. Ma Yaonan was a student of the great Xingyi Quan master Mr. Guo Yunshen. His skills, for the most part, came from Master Guo. His Xingyi Quan skills were very deep. During the early years of the Republic he came to Tianjin and often competed with people from other styles. He rarely had an equal. Mr. Liu Yunji (a student of Li Cunyi) praised Mr. Ma Yaonan’s high skill in front of Mr. Yuxiang. In fact he was thinking of urging Mr. Yuxiang and Mr. Ma Yaonan to have a competition. At last, the two men met at the Wu Shi Hui. Both men were eager to get to work. Therefore it was not long before they started sparring. They fought about ten bouts, but neither could beat the other. Mr. Li Cunyi urged them to take a break. Mr. Li Cunyi said, "You two performed like Zhang Fei fighting Ma Chao!" This was his way of saying that both men had great skills.
Mr. Zhang Jinhe told us how Mr. Yuxiang’s art was equal to the great Ziran master, Du Xinwu. In 1925, Mr. Yuxiang and his classmate Han Muxia went to Bejing to take care of some business and get together with their old friends, Mr. Heng Shoushan and Mr. Zhao Xinzhou. Mr. Heng Shoushan gave a banquet at "The Clay Pot House". Mr. Zhao Xinzhou’s friend, Mr. Du Xinwu, also came. During the feast, Mr. Zhao Xinzhou praised Mr. Du Xinwu’s Ziran skills rather highly. When Mr. Du Xinwu introduced the Ziran skills and he talked a bit about the wonderful skills of his teacher Mr. Xu. Mr. Yuxiang, was never lightly convinced by what people said. Therefore he rose up and requested that he and Mr. Du Xinwu learn from each other by comparing skills in martial arts. Mr. Heng Shoushan immediately suggested that they use chopsticks to compare skills, to stop being touched by the point. Mr. Yuxiang and Mr. Du Xinwu faced each other across a table. Almost simultaneously they started to move. Both men’s body methods were extremely fast. After about ten exchanges each returned to their original places. Mr. Du Xinwu saluted to show his respect. Everyone could see that Mr. Du Xinwu’s chopstick was in Mr. Yuxiang’s hand. Many people invariably highly praised Mr. Yuxiang’s body method as being extremely fast and his hand method as being ingenious. But Mr Zhang Jinhe said, "In fact, Mr. Du Xinwu’s martial skills were extremely good. And when he compared styles with people, he rarely lost."
One time Mr. Yuxiang was in his hometown. And Taiji master Mr. Li Ruidong was hanging out with him. Mr. Hao Ming told us about how at this time Mr. Yuxiang did his best to destroy the Tongbei master, Mr. Zhang Ce. Mr. Zhang Ce was called the "Arm Saint". He was skilled in both Taiji and Tongbei, and well as with the saber. During the Republic era, there was one year that Mr. Zhang Ce returned to the village. He heard that Mr. Yuxiang was with his family and asked if he could come visit. At that time it happened that Mr. Hao Ming’s teacher Mr. Li Zilian was also staying at Mr. Yuxiang’s place. Because Mr. Li Zilian mentioned that Mr. Zhang Ce, in his early years, once crossed hands with Mr. Xiang Runtian and was defeated. This was done to provoke Mr. Zhang Ce, and he was not happy about it. He suggested that he cross hands with Mr. Li Zilian. Because Mr. Li and Mr. Zhang are both guests, Mr. Yuxiang at once encouraged them together. Mr. Yuxiang was not good with words, and his urging didn’t have the result he wanted. Instead it causes Mr. Zhang Ce vent his anger on Mr. Yuxiang. Mr. Yuxiang had no alternative; thereupon he crossed hands with Mr. Zhang Ce. In the first bout, Mr. Yuxiang issued into Mr. Zhang Ce. Mr. Zhang Ce ended up with his head buried in the courtyard’s haystack.
Mr. Zhang Ce got up and immediately left.
The Hero Battles Bandits
At the beginning of the Republic there was tangled warfare among the Warlords. Tianjin and Northern China were places of strategic importance. Many changes were happening. Stragglers and disbanded soldiers became bandits. The bodyguards in Tianjin were concerned about the bandits.
One time in Tianjin, they were guarding a nobleman’s family home at night to protect it against thieves. The nobleman’s family home was not far from the inside of the north gate. A mixture of people would come and go through the gate. The road was clear and it was convenient for bandits to flee this way. After a case was reported to the authorities, Mr. Yuxiang took over this case. Mr. Yuxiang and other comrades seeking business analyzed the details of the case. They firmly believed that the bandits would return in the near future and that they could take advantage of that. Thereupon they planned to capture the bandits.
He took advantage of the fact the there would soon be a celebration of the 55th birthday of nobleman’s uncle. Therefore the idea was to make a big deal of the event. He would be disguised as a family member bringing gifts. Mr. Yuxiang then dressed up as accomplished servant went to nobleman’s family home.
Not far from the nobleman’s family home was the Liu Family Inn. Because Liu Jitai (Mr. Old Two) was also there seeking to do business, they decided that the others would then in turn hide at the Liu Family Inn. They agreed that when they heard Mr. Yuxiang blow a whistle, then everybody would quickly come to assist him.
Three days later, before dawn, some men called outside the gate of the nobleman’s family home. Mr. Yuxiang was hidden and not moving. Not far away, a man leaped up onto the wall and jumped down to open the gate. Four men came inside. They all had rifles. They ran straight to the front of the main hall. Mr. Yuxiang suddenly appeared from behind them and gave a great shout. He struck at them suddenly with a python whip. In the blink of an eye the lash fell on two men. At this time there was a man on top of the roof with a mauser pistol who started to shoot down at him. Mr. Yuxiang narrowly escaped the bullets. He immediately flipped and rolled. Following this he lifted the whip again and lashed and flipped one of the men. Simultaneously, he quickly advanced and struck the man down with his palm. He then leaped to the space below the edge of the roof.
He suddenly leaped up onto the roof and applied his whip. The men were frightened and they got up and fled. He turned around, stretched out his hands and continuously struck at the rifles. Among them one rifle rubbed through the skin and flesh of Mr. Yuxiang’s left shoulder. Blood flowed straight away. When the men jumped down from the roof, they saw that Mr. Yuxiang was already standing in front of them. He struck one man straight on the head and he fell down unconscious. At this time, outside the gate there was a carriage pulled by two bandits ready to come to their aid. They heard the commotion inside and decided to flee instead.
Eventually his colleagues hidden at the Liu Family Inn arrived. They saw five men lying in the courtyard, four rifles and the Mauser pistol all gathered by Mr. Yuxiang’s side. Thereupon they put the bandits under guard and closed the case. When everyone asked why Mr. Yuxiang didn’t blow the whistle during the fierce fight with the bandits, Mr. Yuxiang said, "The situation was urgent. I completely forgot to blow the whistle."
During the interrogation afterwards, they realized that this group of bandits all were disbanded soldiers from the Northeastern Army. Since these bandits really had come from the military, to avoid military retaliation in the days to come, they decided to lock up the people and the affair was never made public.

So you can see Mr. Yuxiang had quite a bit of martial bravery.
Translated by: Joseph Crandall (Found: HERE)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Shaolin Kung Fu - Chin Na / Qin Na - Full Video!

A very nice copy of YMAA - Yang Jwing Ming's: Shaolin Chin Na/ Qin Na (found: HERE).  Chin Na/ Qin Na means to "seize, hold" and refers to joint locking, choking and submission holds. It  is one of the four basic areas of training found in all complete traditional Kung Fu systems; the others being Throwing (includes Sweeping/Tripping/ Takedown-Knockdowns), Kicking, Hitting.

Learn Chin Na/ Qin Na - Internal Kung Fu - in Boulder, Colorado Check: HERE

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Colorado Kung Fu - Bagua Zhang - Pa Kua Chang Classes - Boulder, CO

Beginning and Ongoing classes in Internal Kung Fu (Pakua/ Bagua Zhang) here in Boulder, Colorado.

Focusing on methods for building self awareness, lasting health and personal transformation through movement and martial contact.

  • First Class Free!
  • Increase Muscle Strength
  • Learn Self Defense
  • Regain Stability & Balance
  • Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning

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

    WEBSITE             FACEBOOK

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

    Colorado Gao Bagua Zhang - Gao Yi Sheng Quote - Internal Kung Fu

    Move and walk like a dragon, the palms like the wind.

    When acting, one cannot retain any kind emotions.

    If the heart is compassionate and the face soft, in the end there is no victory.

    Black hands and a ruthless heart makes men fear.
    From Gao Yi Sheng’s (Founder of Gao Style Bagua) “old” Bagua manual

    Learn Gao Style Bagua - Internal Kung Fu - in Boulder, Colorado Check: HERE

    Friday, December 20, 2013

    Colorado Kung Fu - Xingyi Quan - Hsing I Chuan Classes - Boulder, CO

    Boulder Internal Arts offers a complete system of traditional Chinese Internal Kung Fu training.  Xingyi Quan (Hsing I Chuan) classes give you a method for building self awareness, lasting health, and personal transformation through movement and martial contact in Boulder, Colorado
  • First Class Free
  • Learn Self Defense
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Regain Stability & Balance
  • Reclaim Aerobic Conditioning

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

    WEBSITE             FACEBOOK

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    Bagua Zhang - Traditional Kung Fu Style Demonstrated in the 1980's

    A nice demonstration of the traditional Kung Fu style, Bagua Zhang from the 1980's; Yin Fu Bagua Zhang, Cheng Ting Hua Bagua Zhang as well as Hou Tien or Post Heaven - Straight Line Bagua Zhang.
     Learn Bagua: HERE

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Li Laonong - Father of Modern Xingyi Quan

    by Wu Dianke and Cheng Suren  (Translated By Joseph Crandall - Found: HERE)

     Part I
    Li Laonong, also called Li Nengran, was born in 1807 and died in 1888 at the age of 81. He was born in Shen County in the province of Hebei. As a young man he was naturally good at martial arts. He excelled in the arts of Tongbei and Gongli Quan. He grew to be big and strong because of his constant practice. He was an honest, sincere man and never spoke ill of anyone. In 1845, when he was 38 years old, he sold his land, divided up his family property, and moved to Qi County in Shansi province. He arrived at the Xiao Han village with the purpose of finding a new martial arts teacher.

    Why would Li Laonong travel so far just to learn martial arts? In the Xiao Han village there was a family that made its living as bodyguards for the rich and influential. The heads of the household were Dai Wenxiong and his son Erlu. They were the successors of Dai Longbang, the founder of Hebei Style Xingyiquan.

    At that time in Qi County, around the area of Taigu, the people were very prosperous. Many rich people moved to the area and the bodyguard business was doing well. Because of his great skill in the martial arts, Dai Erlu became a bodyguard and escort. Soon his reputation spread far and wide.

    One time, Dai Erlu passed through the Cang Prefecture. He wanted to test the top martial arts master there. This master was so famous and feared that escorts wouldn't announce themselves publicly as they passed through for fear of being challenged and beaten. However, Dai Erlu intentionally broke all custom and paraded through the Cang Prefecture with his banners out and his servants loudly calling out his name. Sure enough, the martial arts master was soon there to block Dai Erlu's way. They fought at three different times and in three different places. Each was so impressed with the skills of the other that they became friends. After this Dai Earl’s reputation was greatly increased. The reason Li Loaning traveled so far was to study with the famous Dai Erlu.

    Li Loaning arrived at the Xiao Han village and he repeatedly requested to be taken on as a student, but each time he was told, "Dai Style Xinyi is not taught to outsiders". However, Li could not return home and had nowhere else to go. He kept asking. He begged with all his heart and even offered to pay 100 double silver pieces, but still he could not get in. Finally, needing food and shelter, he offered to manage a radish field that lay outside the village walls. He stayed there for one year and everyday he could be seen selling radishes from a cart provided by the Dai family. Wind and rain didn't hinder him and the villagers began to see his honesty and tolerance. Out of respect they began to call him “Laonong” which means “Old Farmer”.

    The steward for the Dai family was a man named Guo Weihan. Each month he came out to the fields and checked the accounts. Li always ready with the money he had collected and turned it over to Guo on time. At the end of the year, Guo, feeling that Li Laonong had worked very hard, invited him to a party. There, over a cup of wine, Guo tried to give Li his wages for his year’s work in the radish fields. However, Li firmly declined to accept the money, saying instead that he only wanted to learn fighting. At this impasse, Guo went to Dai Erlu's mother. Mother Dai soon knew all the facts of the case and felt moved. She ordered Li to return in exactly one month, when her son was due back from a job. Then they would see what could be done. Li was very happy. In one month there was a large ceremony at the village gate. Mother Dai ordered Erlu to teach Li Laonong, and as Erlu was a dutiful son, he could not refuse. However, he only agreed to pass on a few skills and to be a teacher in name only. What he taught Li was dun dantian (collecting qi into the dantian), she dantian (shooting qi from the dantian), pi quan, and beng quan. Li returned to the fields and practiced daily. He hung a ball from a tree to practice his striking and spent much of his time developing his skills in issuing power and cultivating true qi in his dantian. In one year, because of his severe discipline in training, he achieved a profound understanding of his art.

    Part II

    Time passed quickly, and two years were gone in a flash. During this time, Dai Erlu was mostly away from home on his escort business. On those when he was at home, he was, kept busy with odd jobs. Because of this Li Laonong never had the opportunity to get instruction on the finer points of his art.

    Mother Dai's 80th birthday was coming. Two weeks beforehand, Li arrived at the family house to help out with preparations for the event. He worked very hard day and night. Mother Dai saw that he was hardworking, diligent, and sincere. She decided to reward him with a new suit of clothes. On the day of Mother Dai's birthday all the students gathered to demonstrate their skills. Their shouts were like thunder, each one flaunting his power and prestige. They were like tigers coming down from the mountains, fighting hand-to-hand and with spears and sabers. Each was trying to win Mother Dai's smile as a blessing. Dai Erlu sat near Mother Dai nodding his head in approval at his students' efforts. Li Laonong was in the back of the courtyard. He was worried because the senior students feared that he was not good enough and refused to let him onto the training ground. However, he knew that he was missing an opportunity that might not present itself for another two or three years. He was feeling confused and unsure of what to do. Finally he stepped out into the lineup and knelt down in his place.

    Dai Erlu was taken aback as he recognized Li. He was not pleased and signaled to his students to have Li Laonong removed. Mother Dai noticed that Li was being passed over and ordered Li into the practice yard. Dai Erlu didn't dare offend his mother and gave the orders for Li to step out and demonstrate.

    Li Laonong stepped to the middle of the practice yard. He was wearing Mother Dai's gift of new clothes: a black suit with a white overcoat, a special broad sash of red silk to denote martial skill wrapped around his waist, and new shoes. He stood there in the center of the practice yard, towering like a small mountain. He started first collecting qi in his dantian and then shooting it out. Everyone saw, as his upper garment, at first hanging straight, began to tremble. The trembling was the result of the gathering and issuing of qi from his dantian, which is the standing internal power practice in Xingyiquan. This form is like a crouching monkey watching the sea. Both hands are placed evenly on the thighs, both eyes slightly closed. Practiced a long time, the hands and feet give off heat, and the qi descends to the ground creating a root. Li Laonong arduously practiced this skill. The qi from his dantian was in his feet and he could issue qi from his dantian and extend it throughout his body. The intensity of this caused his clothes to tremble. Not many men ever achieve this and Dai Erlu was surprised. Li was no longer afraid. Slowly he stepped up and did beng quan. He did many lines of beng quan, inwardly calling up skill from his dantian and issuing power from his four limbs. Everyone saw the fists going out and heard the penetrating crack as his sleeves cut through the air. As his feet dropped to the floor, the bricks cracked and split. The students were awed by the power and spirit Li displayed and Dai Erlu had to admit to himself that Li Laonong was really good.

    When Li finished his demonstration, he knelt down and requested that Dai Erlu point out his mistakes so that they could be corrected. Dai Erlu was greatly pleased. He stepped out into the practice yard and helped Li to stand up. First, he had Li describe his practice methods to the assembled group, then he called on all of his students to emulate Li Laonong. Mother Dai then stood up and called for a halt of the demonstration and Dai Erlu agreed with pleasure. After this, Dai Erlu invited Li to move into his house to live. There Li Laonong trained his martial skills day and night. He was even more diligent in his training and his skills advanced even more.

    Part III

    One time, years later, when Li Laonong was about 43 years old, an important event occurred. Dai Erlu had an old rival on Taixing Mountain in the Niu Family village. Dai Erlu was passing through the area and stopped at an inn outside the village walls. It was the middle of the hot season and Dai Erlu became ill. While Dai Erlu was sick, the village leader came and stole Dai's escort wagon. Dai Erlu could do nothing and he had to suffer this man's schemes. Thinking of what this would do to the heroic reputation he had earned, he was both saddened and infuriated. The Niu Family village is in the south pass of Taixing Mountain, the north face overlooks the Fen River in a remote part of Shansi. The village had high walls with four gateways; each gateway guarded by a tower. The terrain around the village was perilous and steep. Also there were four martial experts, one to guard each gate. Dai Erlu's escort troops attacked the village many times but were not successful in retrieving the wagon. The local authorities were all taking Niu Family bribes and paid no heed to Dai Erlu's entreaties for aid. The Niu Family village leader was full of arrogance and not only threatened to discontinue the bribe money but threatened the authorities physically with his favorite weapon, a flying bullet which he could throw from his hand with devastating effect.

    Before long, Li Laonong arrived on the scene. He had come to handle Dai Erlu's affairs and make arrangements for Dai to return home. As soon as he knew of the situation he took his Double-hand Snowflake Saber, grabbed a handful of throwing knives from a nearby table and ran at top speed for the Niu Family village. Just by chance, the Niu Family village leader and his four martial experts were in one of the towers drinking wine and celebrating their victory. Suddenly, they saw a large man coming from afar. Li came as fast as a horse; his feet were flying. He jumped across the village moat, raised his hand and drove a throwing knife into the wall. Li made a ladder out of his knives and climbed over the wall. The four martial experts rushed out to answer the challenge. In a few moments, one after another suffered defeat at Li's hands. The village leader saw his predicament and shot out a bullet at Li Laonong, but Li reached out his hand, caught the bullet, and sent it back where it came from. The bullet hit the village leader's left ear and knocked him down. As blood poured from his ear, the village leader begged for mercy and that his life be spared. Li Laonong ordered him to go to the inn, kneel down and ask Dai Erlu to forgive his crime. If he did that, Li would release him. After this event Li followed his teacher in his travels to protect the escort wagon.

    In 1855, because he was getting old, Dai Erlu formally made Li Laonong his successor. Li traveled everywhere north and south of the Long River, beyond the Great Wall, and to the high plateaus. Because of his fame many students came to learn his skills. In 1856, when Li was living in Qi County near Taigu, he accepted his first disciple, Che Yonghong. Then came Song Shirong, Song Shide, Li Guangxiang, and He Yunheng. In Hebei, his students were Guo Yunshen, Liu Qilan, Zhang Shude, Liu Xiaolan, Li Jingzhai, and Liu Yuanheng. In Jiangsu, there was Bai Xiyuan and in Yunnan, there was Meng Laorong. The Xingyi style was not limited to just one location. Schools sprung up like bamboo shoots, each one striving for excellence, until Xingyi had spread everywhere, with each school developing its own characteristics.

    Part IV

    Li Laonong worked to develop and improve Xingyiquan. He was innovative and made many major contributions to the art. The original name was Xinyi (Xin means heart and Yi means will). Li said, "The heart and will are at the center, the limbs and body form the exterior. The form (xing) is determined by the will (yi)". He changed the name of the art to Xingyi or 'Form of the will boxing'. He encouraged dun dantian and she dantian practice. He improved the Santi form, adding it to the beginning and end of each boxing routine. He advocated the exercise of standing on stakes to increase the functional value of the forms. He added the “Coiling root stepping method' and improved the practice of the Unicorn knives, the Phoenix Wing striker and other peculiar weapons. He also influenced his students to continue to be innovative and raise the excellence of the art. Che Yonghong's work on the double set "An Shen Pao" is the heart of Che Style Xingyiquan. Song Shirong and Song Shide's forms had a skillful use of qi development that caused them to vibrate and shake as they issued power. This is the hallmark of Song Family Xingyiquan. Guo Yunshen, already an expert of Shaolin quan, added a smooth grace, like floating on the wind, combined with rigorous short quick movements. These helped to shape the Hebei and Shansi styles of Xingyi Quan.

    When Li Laonong was 79 years old, he returned to Taigu in Shansi to see his students' major achievements in Xingyiquan. He was pleased at what he saw and told them, "Good! You must persevere. Then I will be able to set my mind at ease about the future of Xingyiquan." Then he said, "There is to be one firm rule: You must break down the differences that are forming between you. Martial virtue must come before all." Li then encouraged the students to mutually exchange their knowledge and skills. The great teachers of Xingyi Guo Yunshen, Liu Qilan, Li Cunyi, and Sun Lutang all went to Shansi and the Shansi students went to Hebei to visit. They would question and trade back and forth. Because of this interchange, the double styles of Hebei and Shansi expanded, grew, and built a solid foundation.

    A story was told by Li Laonong's students, of his meeting with Dong Haiquan and Yang Luchan. Dong Haiquan was the founder of Baguazhang and Yang Luchan was a great master of Taijiquan. Li Laonong visited the capitol and became friends with the two men. One day, Li arrived at Dong's house. Dong offered Li a cup of tea, but as Li reached out to receive the cup Dong refused to let go. Li realized that Dong wanted to test his skill and strength, and therefore he took the teacup and pushed it back toward Dong. The two men laughed together and compared their strength. At that moment Yang Luchan arrived. He also reached out his hand to push the teacup. The three men were each using their skill, internal wer, and their palm strength. Their hands were moving together and the cup started to rotate like a ball. When they finished, not one drop of tea had been spilled from the cup. The three men admired and respected each other and had succeeded in achieving the ideal goal of "three combining to become one'. Afterwards, the three men frequently met to exchange views. Thus the three arts: Xingyi, Taiji, and Bagua were joined and the principles and foundations for the goal of "three fists becoming one" were laid down.

    Li Laonong eventually returned to Taigu in Shansi, satisfied that he had worked hard to sow the seeds of Xingyiquan. The art was full of vitality, growing, and would be handed down from generation to generation.

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

    Tim Cartmell - Brazillian Jiu Jitsu Belt Promotion

    Congratulations to Tim Cartmell on his recent promotion to 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Cleber Luciano.

    I post articles and videos from Tim Cartmell here because he is an amazing martial artist and (in addition to being a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3rd Black) also a lineage holder and my senior in the Yi Zong Chinese Internal Martial Arts system that I teach here at Boulder Internal Arts.

    Found Here

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Understanding Your Fascia - Injury Treatment and Prevention

    Fascia may be the missing piece for your lingering injury
    By Julia Lucas   Published June 10, 2011 (Found:Here - Thanks Randall)
    You've got this injury you just can't shake. You take time off. You ice and stretch and do all the right things but you're still limping home. You spend too much time trying to articulate your particular brand of hurt to those loved ones who still put up with you. You follow referrals to physical therapists and massage therapists and you'd go to an aromatherapist if it'd help you run again, but nothing does. You diagnose yourself on WebMD: You're a structurally flawed human being for whom recovery is impossible.


    The answer may be right under your fingertips. About 2mm under your fingertips, to be precise. Under your skin, encasing your body and webbing its way through your insides like spider webs, is fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that create a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Every bit of you is encased in it. You're protected by fascia, connected by fascia and kept in taut human shape by fascia.

    Why didn't anyone mention fascia earlier? Because not many people know that much about it. Fascia's messy stuff. It's hard to study. It's so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up and named for textbook illustrations. Besides that, its function is tricky, more subtle than that of the other systems. For the majority of medical history it's been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging.

    In fact, the convention in med-school dissections has been to remove as much of the fascia as possible in order to see what was underneath, the important stuff. That framed Illustration hanging in your doctor's office of the red-muscled, wide-eyed human body is a body with its fascia cut away; it's not what you look like inside, but it's a lot neater and easier to study and it's the way doctors have long been taught to look at you. Until recently, that is.

    In 2007 the first international Fascia Research Congress, held at Harvard Medical School, brought about a new demand for attention to the fascial system. Since then fascia has been repeatedly referred to as the "Cinderella Story" of the anatomy world, speaking both to its intrigue and the geekiness of those who study it. While you may not share the medical and bodywork communities' excitement over mechanotransduction and the contractile properties of myofibroblasts, think of it this way: Fascia is a major player in every movement you make and every injury you've ever had, but until five years ago nobody paid it any attention. And now they're making up for lost time.


    What exactly does it do? It wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It's strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it's stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other. It structures your insides in a feat of engineering, balancing stressors and counter-stressors to create a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. It generally keeps you from being a big, bone-filled blob.

    "Fascia is the missing element in the movement/stability equation," says Tom Myers, author of the acclaimed book Anatomy Trains. Myers was among the first medical professionals to challenge the field's ignorance of fascia in the human body. He has long argued for a more holistic treatment, with a focus on the fascia as an unappreciated overseer. "While every anatomy lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into six hundred pockets of the fascial webbing. The 'illusion' of separate muscles is created by the anatomist's scalpel, dividing tissues along the planes of fascia. This reductive process should not blind us to the reality of the unifying whole."


    What rocked the medical community's world was this: Fascia isn't just plastic wrap. Fascia can contract and feel and impact the way you move. It's our richest sense organ, it possess the ability to contract independently of the muscles it surrounds and it responds to stress without your conscious command. That's a big deal. It means that fascia is impacting your movements, for better or worse. It means that this stuff massage therapists and physical therapists and orthopedists have right at their fingertips is the missing variable, the one they've been looking for.


    Grab hold of the collar of your shirt and give it a little tug. Your whole shirt responds, right? Your collar pulls into the back of your neck. The tail of your shirt inches up the small of your back. Your sleeves move up your forearms. Then it falls back into place. That's a bit like fascia. It fits like a giant, body-hugging T-shirt over your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and crisscrossing back and forth and through and back again. You can't move just one piece of it, and you can't make a move without bringing it along.

    Now, pull the collar of your shirt again, only this time, hold onto it for eight hours. That's about the time you spend leaning forward over a desk or computer or steering wheel, right? Now, pull it 2,500 times. That's about how many steps you'd take on a half-hour run. Your shirt probably isn't looking too good at this point.

    Fortunately, your fascia is tougher than your shirt is, and it has infinitely more self-healing properties. In its healthy state it's smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing you to move and stretch to your full length in any direction, always returning back to its normal state. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they've formed they're hard to get rid of.

    And, remember, it's everywhere. This webbing is so continuous that If your doctor's office were to add a poster of your true human anatomy, including its fascia, fascia is all you'd see. Thick and white in places like your IT band and plantar fascia, less than 1mm and nearly transparent on your eyelids. And within all that fascia you have adhesions and areas of rigidity. You likely have lots of them.

    But, this isn't bad news. Every bit of the damage you've caused your fascia is reversible, and every one of the problems it's caused you were avoidable. You take care of your muscles with stretching and foam rolling and massage. You take care of your bones with diet and restraint. You never knew that you needed to take care of your fascia, but now you do. You may just shake that nagging injury after all.

    How to Care for Your Fascia

    MOVE IT OR LOSE IT: Sticky adhesions form between fascial surfaces that aren't regularly moved, and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to roll around in bed and really stretch out, head to toe, just like a cat after a nap.

    STAY LUBRICATED: Just like every other tissue in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it's wet. So, drink!

    STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES: When your muscles are chronically tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.

    STRETCH YOUR FASCIA: Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn't want to let go. Because the fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you're not going to force your way through, so stretch gently. Fascia also works in slower cycles than muscles do, both contracting and stretching more slowly. To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes, relaxing into a hold.

    RELAX! If you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, ice baths may not be the best thing for you. Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.

    USE A FOAM ROLLER: Like stretching, using a foam roller on your fascia is different than on your muscles. Be gentle and slow in your movements, and when you find an area of tension hold sustained pressure for three to five minutes. You may practice self-massage with the same rules.

    RESPECT YOUR BODY: If you're attempting to run through an injury, or returning from one with a limp, beware: Your fascia will respond to your new mechanics and, eventually, even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That's a recipe for an injury cycle. It's better to take some extra time than to set yourself up for long-term trouble.

    SEE A FASCIAL SPECIALIST: If you have a nagging injury, or just don't feel right lately, see if your area has a fascial or myofascial therapy specialist. There are different philosophies and methods, ranging from Rolfing, which is very aggressive, to fascial unwinding, which is very gentle. Some methods are similar to massage, while others concentrate on long assisted stretches. Talk to the therapist to see what you need and want. Some osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists are beginning to embrace fascial therapies, so ask around.

    SEE A MOVEMENT EDUCATION THERAPIST: The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method are the two best known of this sort of therapy, long embraced by dancers and gymnasts. They use verbal cues, light touch and simple exercises to lessen unconscious destructive movement patterns that may be irritating your fascia.

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual - New!

    The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual:
    Gao Yisheng's Bagua Twisting-Body Connected Palm
    "In its first English-language edition, this detailed training manual is a complete guide to Gao baguazhang, as preserved through the lineage of Liu Fengcai. The youngest of the major bagua lineages, Gao bagua shows the influence of taiji quan, xingyi quan, and shuai jiao. It incorporates traditional bagua weapons, pre-heaven palms, and animal forms in addition to sixty-four individual post-heaven palms and their accompanying two-person forms. A unique synthesis of health-building techniques, Daoist theory, and practical fighting applications, Gao-style bagua is an example of the finest internal-arts traditions.

    The original manuscript for The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual was completed by the art's founder, Gao Yisheng, in 1936. It was not published at the time, but handed down to his student Liu Fengcai, who edited and published the first Chinese edition in 1991 with the help of his own student Liu Shuhang. In 2005, Liu Shuhang published a revised and expanded version, and this was again expanded and reissued in a third edition in 2010. Now, the manual has been translated and fully updated for its first English-language edition. Including over 400 photos showing step-by-step techniques and forms, the manual documents the fundamentals of the art as well as detailed descriptions of techniques and empty-hand forms, laying the groundwork for advanced training. This edition includes rare photos of important masters in the Gao lineage, lineage charts, biographies, and other updates, making it the essential companion for anyone studying Gao style and a useful guide for any practitioner of baguazhang or other Chinese martial arts."
    Found on Amazon:HERE

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Yang Style Tai Chi Spear

    Fu Zhong Wen, (student of Yang Chen Fu) in 1987, at age 85, performing Yang Family Tai Chi Spear with Fa Jin movements.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Bagua Zhang Master - Sun Xi Kun on Daoism

    Sun Xi Kun on Daoism: Authentic Cultivation of Daoism

    In addition to his expertise in Chinese martial arts, Sun Xi Kun was also a practitioner of Daoism and Daoist meditation practices. This article, the “Authentic Cultivation of Daoism,” is excerpted from The True Transmission of Ba Gua Zhang 八卦拳真传 Ba Gua Zhang Zhen Chuan by Sun Xi Kun 孙锡 堃.

    The essence of cultivation is to understand the methods for realizing (enlightening) the heart-mind and one’s essential nature. Empty prattle about cultivating the Way (Dao) will not lead to real awakening to truth. Buddhism’s empty, obstinate sitting cultivates Xing, but does not cultivate Ming. In Daoism, both Xing and Ming are cultivated. [1] But, few people can get authentic instruction. I have heard that the path to immortality has no fixed methods and no fixed phases (time period). Careless sitting can easily cause illness. If attachment to the bonds of the world is unfinished, one cannot research deeply. Those who study the Dao are as numerous as hairs on an ox, but those who reach attainment are as rare as a Qilin. [2] Those who believe and practice sincerely and painstakingly are few, and those who boast and seek fame are numerous. Coming in through the side door, one can go astray.

    Of course in cultivating the Dao, there are those who cultivate movement (Dong) and those who cultivate stillness (Jing). For those who cultivate Daoism from motion, it is first necessary to strengthen Wai Dan (external elixir) [3] by first refining grain into essence (Jing) and cultivating a Pine Resin (Song Jiao) body, [4[ and then training Nei Dan (internal elixir). [5] For those who cultivate tranquility, one must first realize one’s inner nature and then cultivate Nei Dan. The training methods are different, but the achievements are same. The real principle is to first nourish Post-Heaven (Hou Tian) and then return to Pre-Heaven (Xian Tian). Without the strong body of an Arhat [6] how can there possibly be an immortal baby Buddha that is vigorous and perceptive?
    People today fail to understand and cultivate the Dao. Three Key Points must be understood: longevity (Shou), achievement (Gong) and Dao (the Way). These three are interrelated. The first stage of cultivation is to prevent disease and prolong life. The second stage in cultivating the Tai Gong (great achievement) is to lay a foundation by collecting the medicines [7] that forge Dan (elixir) so as to consolidate the San Bao (Three Treasures). [8] Then one can begin to talk about the Dao. In human life the bones and sinews change after sixty years. At that point the functioning of the internal organs has decayed. Even if one is able to prolong life, one is already half-dead. The ancients say that once a sixty-year cycle has passed, one has passed over the gate of hell. Therefore, people should accelerate their cultivation before becoming old and weak and maintain the health of their bodies.

    Although there are three thousand and six hundred side doors and seventy-two heterodox paths. [9] they are nothing more than just refining grain to transform into Jing (essence), cultivating and transforming essence into Qi, cultivating and transforming Qi into Shen (spirit) and then refining spirit so it can return to emptiness. One who cultivates only their nature does not cultivate life. Even if they see through the vanity of human affairs and discipline their temperament, sitting still, worshipping Buddha and chanting scriptures – they are cultivating Xing, but not Ming. [10] Obstinate empty sitting only dries up the cooking pot in an attempt to eliminate illness and prolong life. All of these methods deviate from the  true instruction that is passed down. If the true doctrine of the Great Dao is sought, one must return  to true awakening. Xing and Ming must be cultivated simultaneously. Because the root of the heart is the spirit, and the spirit resides in the heart and life. Ming [resides] in the kidney, essence (Jing) is Yuan Qi. Refined essence is transformed into Qi and refined. Qi is transformed into spirit and refined spirit returns to emptiness. Nourishing Pre-Heaven is based upon this. Therefore Xing is cultivated in death and Ming cultivates life. After Xing Gong is realized there are no distracted thoughts in the heart. Then one can begin to cultivate Ming Gong. [11] Nevertheless, Xing Gong and Ming Gong progress together simultaneously. This is exactly what simultaneous cultivation of Nature and Life means.

    The heart belongs to the fire and resides in the south, a manifestation of the trigram Li. The kidney belongs to the water and resides in the north, a manifestation of the trigram of Kan.  In  Daoist cultivation, the principle is to use fire to boil water so that water transforms into Qi. Qi transforms spirit and spirit transforms into emptiness. The Dan (elixir) Classic says to “subdue the dragon and vanquish the tiger” [12} The dragon is Xing and the tiger is Ming. A calm heart is the dragon returning to the sea. Letting go of  emotion is the tiger hiding in the mountain. This is the cultivation of both Xing and Ming. There are three steps in Daoist cultivation: (1) prevent disease and prolong life; (2) seek immortality; (3) cultivate the Great Dao. Therefore, those who cultivate the Dao, regardless of what situations they encounter, should avoid the pull of material desires. Upon encountering things they desire, they should withdraw the heart-mind - their conscious perception (awareness). From conscious perception to no perception to true (realized) perception. This is cultivation of the Li [trigram] palace. For one who attains the true Way, yin-shen (invisible spirit) appears. Yang-shen (visible spirit) does not appear, especially a ghost being. [13]

    Both in ancient times and today, for those who cultivated the Dao, it is difficult to cut off the Licentious Root. Longevity is impossible, unless Ma Yin Zang Xiang (Penis Hidden in the Abdomen) is trained. [14] Female Daoist practitioners should first cut off the Red Dragon. [15] Male Daoist Practitioners should first subdue the White Tiger. [16] Women can cultivate the Dao faster than men, because the woman’s body is the offspring of pure yang. Only the lower private parts belong to yin. A man‘s body is the offspring of pure yin. Only the lower private parts belong to yang. The so-called Red Dragon is between the two breasts. When the breasts are trained to emptiness, the Red Dragon is cut off. Therefore, women train form and men train Qi. Ren Mai arises from Hui Yang which is located slightly in front of Huiyin (CV 1), inside the root of the kidney (external genitalia), and ends at Chengjiang (CV 24) below the lower lip. Du Mai arises from Huiyin (CV 1) and ends at Renzhong (GV 26), in the groove above the upper lip. Shenqi [17] starts here and flows between the two mai without stopping. This is the Heavenly Circle achievement (Zhou Tian Gong). [18]

    In cultivating the Dao and training Dan (the elixir), [19] it is necessary to collect the medicine to put on the stove, in order to nourish Dan to pass through the barrier, and to conceive the fetus to give birth to the spirit. [20] After that one is free and unfettered and can become a contented immortal.
    Cultivating the Dao occurs in the human body; the outside body is not the Dao. It is divided into three passes (San Guan), respectively in the front and in the back. Namely: upper Dantian, also termed Shang Huang Ting (Upper Yellow Court), i.e. the brain; the middle Dantian, also termed Zhong Huang Ting (Middle Yellow Court), i.e. the spleen, located 1.2 cun  below the umbilicus, and the Lower Dantian, Xia Huang Ting (Lower Yellow Court), i.e. the lower abdomen. The posterior three passes are the Yu Zhen (Jade Pillow), i.e. the occipital bone, Jia Ji Pass, i.e. the spine, and Wei Lu Pass, i.e. the coccyx. Those are the barriers that must be passed through in refining and transforming Qi.

    It is said in the Dan Classics that after going through the three mountains (three passes), one can attain immortal spirit. If those who cultivate the Dao want to understand the true way, they must seek out the wise.


    [1] This comparison of Xing 性: inner nature; character; disposition; property; quality and Ming 命: vital force or life, refers to two methods or “schools” of Daoist cultivation: Xing Gong and Ming Gong. Xing Gong refers to self-cultivation which employs quiet seated meditation to cultivate the mind, while Ming Gong trains the body through Qi cultivation exercises. These two methods or schools are complimentary. Xing and Ming are the Qi/Breath and the Shen (spirit). Xing relates to Earth and Ming to Heaven. Xing and Ming must circulate and unite.

    [2] The Qilin is often equated to a unicorn. However, the Qilin (Kirin, in Japanese) is a mythical animal with the head of a dragon, the horns and body of a deer , the hooves of a horse and the tail of an ox. Other descriptions depict the Qilin with the scales of a carp, the hooves of an ox, the tail of a lion, and the head of a dragon. In some depictions the Qilin has two horns and in others, only one.

    [3] Wai Dan (Outer Elixir): External exercises in which Qi  is built up externally, usually through movement, and then led internally.

    [4] This may be an oblique reference to Bigu (辟谷), which literally means avoiding grains. Bigu is a Daoist fasting technique associated with achieving transcendence or  immortality. It is sometimes understood as not eating certain foods or in other cases as not eating any foods and subsisting on the breath and various herbs, one of which is pine resin.

    [5] Nei Dan (Inner Elixir): Internal exercises, often involving stillness or tranquility, in which qi is accumulated internally and then led externally. Part of Nei Dan involves cultivating the Three Treasures (Jing, Qi/Breath and Shen) and refining and transforming them into the “internal elixir” (Nei Dan).

    [6] In Buddhism, an Arhat is a practitioner whose spiritual practice is advanced and has attained liberation.

    [7] The “medicines” or “herbs” refer to Qi and Jing (essence) which must be gathered  like herbs in order to be refined (“cooked”) internally by a process of extraction and transformation. This “cooking” of the “medicinal substances” is a metaphor for cultivation of the internal elixir – Nei Dan practice.

    [8] The San Bao 三宝 are Jing (essence), Qi (Qi-Breath) and Shen (spirit). In Nei Dan self-cultivation practices, Jing, Qi/Breath and Shen transmute and inter-transform in order to return to the Pre-Heaven state of emptiness.

    [9] In effect: many  methods and unorthodox doctrines.
    [10] see footnote #1
    [11] See footnote #1.
    [12] 降龙伏虎 Xiang Long Pu Hu. Literally: lower; descend or subdue the dragon and  hide; lie down or tame the tiger. Can also mean to overcome powerful adversaries, or in Daoism  – ”to conquer one’s passions.”
    [13] This seems to  refer to Yang Shen (yang spirit) and Yin Shen (yin spirit). These are projections of the spirit out of the body. Some Daoists say that the Yang Shen is a sign of achievement in meditation, while others posit that Yin Shen is the sign of achievement
    [14] This seems to refer to a Daoist practice in which a man’s “outside yang” (penis) shrinks so that jing (essence) is not lost and therefore qi can be refined internally.
    [15] The “red dragon” refers to menstruation. Sun Xi Kun references Daoist practices that aim to stop menstruation so that female practitioners stop the monthly loss of blood which impacts on their essence (Jing).
    [16] Subduing the White Tiger refers to techniques of sexual neigong or inner alchemy in which semen (Jing) is transmuted into Qi.
    [17] Shenqi 神气: qi and spirit ; the aspect of qi that transforms into spirit.
    [18] 小周天 Xiao Zhou Tian: “Small Heavenly Circulation” or the “Micro-cosmic Orbit.” Internal transformation of the Three Treasures practiced by Daoists and martial arts practitioners, in which qi is circulated through the Ren and Du Meridians. Part of Nei Gong practices and Daoist inner alchemy.
    [19] Lian Dan 炼丹: “Refining the elixir”; “concocting pills of immortality”. In Neidan practices this means creating a “pill” inside the body by refining Jing, Qi/Breath and Shen.
    [20] This again refers to refining Jing to Qi/Breath so that the Qi/Breath can move through the three barriers (San Guan) in the Du Mai and transmute into spirit. Then in passing through Ren Mai, spirit replenishes Jing forming a “fetus” inside the body which in turn gives birth to spirit.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    The Science of Internal Strength!

    The Science of Internal Strength by Zhang Nai Qi, Translated by Marcus Brinkman

    This is a translation of a book originally published in 1933. It is a thin but very interesting volume: essentially an essay on the practice of internal arts. Most books in the martial field are instructional but there are a few such as Adam Hsu's and Daniel Furuya's which are reflective, based on an self-awareness of the nature of practice. 
    This book is one of the best we've seen attempting to explain the rationale of standing practice, relaxation, internal studies etc. It originally garnered some ire from that other outspoken group, the Yi Quan members. But many of the ideas have been adopted since its initial publication. Still, there is much fresh and honest material here.

     Excerpt: "In fact, the so called dan tian is neither a point of concentration or a point of tension. Disciples of the Tung Shan sect, while in sitting meditation concentrate upon the area between the eyes, therefore their dan tian is between the eyes. For others who practice cultivating qi and internal strength boxers who concentrate upon the tension of the abdomen, it is therefore located below the navel...."

    A new translation by my teacher Marcus Brinkman. Buy: HERE (scroll down to bottom)

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Philosophy of Martial Arts by Tim Cartmell

    Philosophy of Martial Arts by Tim Cartmell                 
    glen.gif (8145 bytes)Everyone possesses an inborn ability to fight; it is a natural reaction to threat or stress and requires no formal training. What, then, distinguishes these random patterns of attack and defense which arise spontaneously in the untrained from the actions and reactions of a trained martial artist? The answer to this question lies in the trained fighter's application of certain principles to the movements and strategies of unarmed combat. These principles form the basis or "essence" of martial art. It is because these principles are utilized that fighting is elevated to the level of "art." In fact, it is the understanding and application of basic natural principles, which allows mankind as a whole to continuously improve and refine capabilities in any endeavor. Such knowledge is made manifest in technique; technique, in turn, is based on the understanding of natural principles. Technical application of natural principles makes it possible for construction workers to build houses, doctors to treat diseases and the weaker to overcome the stronger in a fight.
    Without formal training, the larger and stronger naturally defeat the smaller and weaker. Therefore, a basic premise of training to fight as an "art" must be that the methods employed should make it possible for the smaller and weaker to defeat (or at least successfully defend against) the larger and stronger. As we have observed, it is not necessary to create techniques for the stronger to defeat the weaker, as this occurs without formal training. So it is logical that the basic premise of creating fighting techniques which qualify, as "art" must, at least theoretically, be designed so that a smaller and weaker combatant can apply them successfully against a larger and stronger opponent. Now that we have a definition of martial art, the next logical question to ask is what type of techniques will allow the weaker fighter to defend him or herself against the stronger.
    Which techniques will be effective against larger and stronger opponents? Common sense tells us that techniques based on brute strength will never allow the weaker to defeat the stronger (the stronger opponent by definition possesses more brute strength than the weaker, so a technique based on brute force is doomed to fail the weaker fighter because in a contest of force against force, the stronger force invariably prevails). Once techniques of brute force (that is, techniques which require the use of force against force) have been disqualified as fitting our definition of martial art, upon what shall we base our techniques? The logical answer is to base martial techniques upon principles which allow us to use our strengths against an opponent's weaknesses, thereby circumventing superior force and applying our own force where it will have the greatest effect. Another way of describing the techniques of martial art is to say such techniques are based upon maximum efficiency in obtaining the desired result. What is efficient technique? In a violent encounter there is a real possibility for injury, and the longer the fight lasts the greater the chances of you being hurt. Therefore, efficient technique should allow one to end the encounter as quickly as possible. This means that an efficient technique should either disable an opponent or afford one an opportunity to escape in the shortest possible span of time.
    Now that we have a definition of martial art (techniques of combat based upon principles which allow a fighter to use his or her strengths against an opponent's weaknesses) and have defined the parameters within which we want these techniques to operate (maximum efficiency in ending the threat to one's person in the shortest possible time), we need to discover which principles are relevant to creating efficient martial technique. A logical place to start is with ourselves. We should begin by discovering which principles of body use will allow us to use our minds and bodies most efficiently, thereby maximizing our abilities to move in a free and coordinated manner as we generate power appropriately. These principles of maximum efficient use of ourselves must be universal (as there can be only one best way to use ourselves), and will apply to movements in any physical endeavor. These are the principles that underlie all efficient motion. It is these same principles which are included and discussed in the various martial classics (ancient and modern).
    The cardinal principle of efficient movement is balance. This includes an internal balance, which unifies the mind, and body as well as the actual physical balance of the body itself. Balance is a dynamic state, one that involves constant adjustment even when standing still. When the body is in a state of true balance (that is, aligned with gravity and completely free of excess tension), it is poised to move and work (generate force) most efficiently. The mind and body have innate mechanisms that act to maintain the alignment and balance of the body, in motion and at rest. Allowing these mechanisms to function, as they should, free of subconscious bad habit as well as unnatural posturing under conscious control is the first step toward creating efficient martial techniques. In fact, all martial techniques must be structured around the innate reflexes and natural design of the body if they are to be truly efficient. In short, using the body as it was designed to be used will always prove more efficient than using it in contradiction to its natural design.
    Since balance is paramount to efficient movement in general and efficient martial technique in particular, it follows that postures and patterns of movement which interfere with the continued dynamic balance of the body should be avoided. Improper skeletal alignment and excess muscular tension are the causes of loss of true balance (although you may not fall to the ground if you have bad posture or tense muscles, you are no longer in the state of full and natural balance as dictated by the design and nature of the human body. When the physical structure is misaligned, you are not balanced in the gravitational field, and are literally forced to "hold" yourself up by expending constant effort). When true balance is maintained in stillness and motion, one is capable of utilizing and focusing his or her entire physical potential. In this state of balance, we work with the innate design of the body which allows full access to all our inherent strengths, as well as harmonizing our movements with the great natural forces to which we are subject. The force that we are capable of generating when completely relaxed and aligned with gravity I refer to as "natural power". "Natural" because it is generated without undue effort or strain, and because it is power created in harmony with the body's design. If the above holds true then the basic movements of martial technique must be based upon the principles of true balance and natural power.
    Now that we have a definition of martial art (techniques which allow us to use our strengths against an opponent's weaknesses and are designed to remove us from the threat of physical harm as quickly as possible) as well as a set of guidelines for which types of body motions will be most efficient (those based on true balance and natural power), the next task is to actually create techniques which adhere to the principles of body use and fit the definition of martial arts are must be taken to continually balance the requisites of body use with the demands of efficient technique. This means that not only should a technique be based on true balance and natural power, it must also meet the requirements of maximum efficiency in application. Within these parameters there is still room for great variety in technique. Martial techniques that are based on the correct use of the body and are designed around maximum efficiency in application, no matter how diverse, all qualify as martial art.
    The next logical question, now that we have created a system of true martial technique, should address how to practice these techniques so that the martial artist may apply them successfully in actual combat. It is obvious that an intellectual understanding of a technique is no guarantee that it will spontaneously manifest in a fight. In order for techniques to be useful, they have to be practiced until they are internalized, that is, until the practitioner applies the appropriate technique without conscious deliberation over individual movements (that is not to say one cannot consciously choose a certain technique to be applied, it means that the physical manifestation of the technique should occur with as little gap in time between the conscious decision to apply it and its actual application. Internalization of a technique also implies that the various movements and flow of the technique, once the martial artist makes the decision to use it, occur as spontaneously as a reflex). Another consideration when choosing a set of techniques to internalize deals with their universality in application. Obviously, one cannot practice and internalize a separate technique for every possible situation that may occur in a fight. It is important, therefore, to design and practice techniques that have a broad range of potential applicability. Unfortunately, there is no single technique, nor collection of a few techniques that will be sufficient to deal with the vast spectrum of randomness within which fights occur. Fortunately, it is possible to internalize a basic number of carefully chosen movement patterns and techniques (chosen for their relative universality in application) which the subconscious mind will modify and combine, providing the trained martial artist with constructive responses to practically every situation likely to occur in a fight. But the question of how to practice in order to internalize martial technique remains.
    It is a fact known to every student that the amount of information absorbed and retained through focused awareness is far greater than the amount absorbed through mindless repetition. I'm sure you have had the experience of reading a page in a book while thinking of something else, only to realize as you turned the page that you had no idea what you just read (although you read every word). No matter how many times you read the same page without focused awareness, you will still not absorb and retain the information contained therein. So it is with the practice of martial technique. Mindless repetition of technical movements may qualify as exercise, but the vast majority of time spent in practice of this type is wasted as far as internalizing useful patterns of movement is concerned. On the other hand, focused awareness on the practice at hand maximizes the time spent in practice, allowing one to internalize techniques in the shortest amount of time, as well as guarding against the negligent acquisition of unwanted habits. In short, the most efficient method of training for internalizing martial technique involves mind and body unity, with the mind (intent) actively aware of and guiding the movement of the body. The goal is to maintain conscious awareness of the thought process (the mind in the brain) as well as the kinesthetic sense (the mind in the body). The key is awareness." Focusing this awareness on what we are doing is the method of efficient practice.
    In summary, it is important to remember that an almost unlimited number of efficient martial techniques (those based on true balance and natural power, which allow us to use our strengths against an opponent's weaknesses and remove us from the threat of physical harm as quickly as possible) are created and developed from a relatively small number of basic principles of body use and technical application. It may be helpful to think of techniques (including the methods of body use as well as martial applications) as being physical manifestations of underlying principles. The principles of body use and application are the unchanging foundations of unlimited technical expression. And the focused awareness of mind and body unity in practice is the method through which martial movements and techniques become internalized, and therefore useful. These principles and their method of internalization form the essence of martial art.
    Tim Cartmell