Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual - Book Review

The Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual: Gao Yisheng's Bagua Twisting-Body Connected Palm Paperback by Gao Yisheng  (Author), Liu Fengcai (Editor), John Groschwitz (Translator)

The Chinese internal martial art of Bagua Zhang, the eight change of the palm, is an art with similarities to Tai Chi Chuan. The author of the book, Gao Yi Sheng, was a student of one the all-time greats of Bagua Zhang, Ching Ting Hua. Gao’s innovation to and standardization of the Cheng Bagua curriculum, as well as his well know fighting ability, earned him a branch of the Cheng school.

The recounting of Gao’s life is almost worth the price of the book. These types of martial histories, while not always accurate, give us insight into the developmental process Gao went through and how he innovated on what he learned. They may not be a way to explore motive but expand our thinking about the influences he was exposed to in the creation of the straight line sets. Also included is the life history of his nephew and student Liu Feng Cai and many of the students in his lineage.

This book is not a teaching book, it was written as a resource for the “in door” students and never meant to be published. If you had access to the book you were a long term, in door student who was already familiar with the basics postures, stances, and movements. This is why the book is heavy on theory, basic rules of the system, etc., and not a posture by posture teaching book. 

Also, you cannot learn a martial art as complex as Bagua Zhang (or Taiji Quan or Xingyi Quan for that matter) from a book. It is not possible unless you have years of experience with basic stancing, body mechanics, had position, application, etc. Learning these arts is time consuming and arduous. Even with a good, open teacher and a willing student it is difficult to learn and will take years of dedication and training.

This book is the official standard for the curriculum of the Gao lineage. Its contents are a must for all practitioner of Bagua Zhang in the Gao system or the Cheng Bagua school. 

I am a 20 year practitioner and teacher of Xingyi Quan, Gao Bagua Zhang and Tai Chi Quan

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fundamentals of the Wudang Sword Method - a Manual of Chinese Swordsmanship Translation by Scott M. Rodell

This book is a must have for any practitioner of the Chinese sword arts. Scott Rodell is one of the foremost experts of the Chinese Jian and has 40+ years of experience he brings to the table in his commentary and translation. 
The layout of the book is useful as well, he leaves the classical Chinese, the pinyin and the English translation on the page together. I like that because it gives me the opportunity to see the character (I don’t speak Chinese) and look at the tone in Pinyin as well as see the translated meaning in English.
This is not a book for a novice, although it can benefit someone who has no experience, this book is really for the person who has some background in Chinese swordsmanship. The insight and depth of the commentary helps to elucidate some of the finer points of theory and usage. 
I believe the introduction about Li Jinlin the “Sword Saint”, the history of Wu Dang Sword and Chinese history lesson alone is worth the $6 price tag. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

JUNPO DENIS KELLY - An Awakened Mind

"An Awakened Mind—one abiding in Clear Deep Heart–Mind—experiences anger not as a violent reaction but as intense clarity of mind and deep concern.
An Awakened Mind experiences shame as a false belief that I am inadequate, worthless and invalid. An awakened mind hears and differentiates shame and healthy guilt. Guilt is experienced as a wake-up call, an integrity check, exposing something I have done that I will take responsibility for.
An Awakened Mind experiences dissociation for what it is - a missed opportunity to respond, connect, to communicate, or resolve a situation. An Awakened Mind experiences fear not as a reaction but as excitement and opportunity. In an Awakened Mind, intelligence, interest and compassion override, transform and replace the voices of all negative reactive emotions."