Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chinese Swordsmanship - Kunwu Sword Manual 李凌霄 by Li Lingxiao -trans. Scott M. Rodell

The image above is of Zhang Liao (張遼), a general who served under Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty. Zhang was considered one of the Five Elite Generals of his time. For more information about him, please see:


Xīn, yǎn, shēn, shǒu, bù, běn shǔ liánhé dòngzuò. Gèzhǒng quán jì, mòbù jiǎngjiù. Jiànshù yì rán. Xuézhě bùkě hū yě.

Mind, eye, body, hand, steps, are all united in action. Of all types of boxing arts none doesn’t pay attention to this. The sword art is also this way. Practitioners must not neglect this.

Kunwu Sword Manual
by Li Lingxiao [published Feb, 1935]
-trans. Scott M. Rodell

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Taiji Sword (太極劍) by Wu Tunan (吳圖南) - Translation: Scott M. Rodell

From the introduction to Taiji Sword (太極劍) by Wu Tunan (吳圖南) -

夫劍法無運用不能因敵致勝,微變化焉能出入神奇。是以初學劍術者,或姿勢不正確,或動作不自然,或應用不純熟,或轉換不玲琍。是皆由於不知運用之變化使然也。蓋用劍之法,紐勁為上,靈捷為先。目宜速,身不可滯。手宜敏,步不可遲。 久之,自然動作儒雅,舉止大方。其形勢似飛鳳。其勁力透中鋒。使用腰力,運動全身。故發勁用勢,非僅徒用手指着力而已耳。

Those practicing sword who do not practice applications can not achieve victory over different types of enemies,*(*There are different types of swordsmen and one must practice applications to deal with them in different ways analysis each, then taking advantage of their weakness.) (without practicing applications) if the enemy makes little changes you can not move the sword in and out with miraculous skill.
Therefore, when first studying the sword art, maybe the postures are not correct, maybe the movements are not natural, maybe the applications not skillful, maybe the changes are not nimble. This is all due to not knowing the changes in applications. Concerning the application of sword techniques, the higher skill is turning power, being spirited and quick is also a priority. The eyes must be fast, the body cannot be sluggish. The hands must be agile, the steps cannot be late. After a long time, your movements naturally become refined, with a graceful bearing. Your postures resemble a flying phoenix. Your power passes through your center. Use the power of the waist, move the entire body. Therefore, when releasing power in a movement, do not merely use the power of the hand.

Translation: Scott M. Rodell

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Bagua Zhang - Circle Walking Practice

Bagua Zhang - Circle Walking Practice

Circle Walking Variations

As discussed above, there are many benefits the Ba Gua Zhang practitioner can gain from the circle walk practice. The circle walking method employed will depend upon the result desired. Below I will discuss several of the most common circle walking methods employed by Ba Gua practitioners. I have divided this section into stepping methods, body methods, and mental methods (use of intention).

The Step

While there are literally dozens of different stepping methods Ba Gua practitioners will employ while walking the circle, there are three main methods which are practiced by most all schools. Each school may have their own special names for these steps, however, these three methods are most commonly known as the mud walking step (or snake step), rolling step (or lion step), and the crane step. Below I will outline the characteristics of these steps as practiced by several different schools of Ba Gua.
The Mud Walking Step: The "mud walking" step ( - tang ni bu), also commonly known as the "dragon step," the "gliding step," or the "snake step," is one of the most common Ba Gua stepping techniques. This step is not a method that is used very often in combat, however, it is an excellent training step and thus it is practiced by beginners in many schools. This step trains balance and stability in motion, thrusting or shoveling power in the legs and encourages an increased energy flow to the legs and feet. 
Read the rest HERE

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thich Nhat Hanh "15 Practical Ways To Find Your Zen At Work",

15 practical steps Thay says we can take to bring mindfulness to our work:
1. Start your day with 10 minutes of sitting in meditation.

2. Take the time to sit down and enjoy eating breakfast at home.

3. Remind yourself every day of your gratitude for being alive and having 24 brand-new hours to live.

4. Try not to divide your time into "my time" and "work." All time can be your own time if you stay in the present moment and keep in touch with what’s happening in your body and mind. There’s no reason why your time at work should be any less pleasant than your time anywhere else.

5. Resist the urge to make calls on your cell phone while on your way to and from work, or on your way to appointments. Allow yourself this time to just be with yourself, with nature and with the world around you.

6. Arrange a breathing area at work where you can go to calm down, stop and have a rest. Take regular breathing breaks to come back to your body and to bring your thoughts back to the present.

7. At lunchtime, eat only your food and not your fears or worries. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Change environments. Go for a walk.

8. Make a ritual out of drinking your tea. Stop work and look deeply into your tea to see everything that went into making it: the clouds and the rain, the tea plantations and the workers harvesting the tea.

9. Before going to a meeting, visualize someone very peaceful, mindful and skillful being with you. Take refuge in this person to help stay calm and peaceful.

10. If you feel anger or irritation, refrain from saying or doing anything straight away. Come back to your breathing and follow your in- and out-breath until you’ve calmed down.

11. Practice looking at your boss, your superiors, your colleagues or your subordinates as your allies and not as your enemies. Recognize that working collaboratively brings more satisfaction and joy than working alone. Know that the success and happiness of everyone is your own success.

12. Express your gratitude and appreciation to your colleagues regularly for their positive qualities. This will transform the whole work environment, making it much more harmonious and pleasant for everyone.

13. Try to relax and restore yourself before going home so you don’t bring accumulated negative energy or frustration home with you.

14. Take some time to relax and come back to yourself when you get home before starting on household chores. Recognize that multitasking means you’re never fully present for any one thing. Do one thing at a time and give it your full attention.

15. At the end of the day, keep a journal of all the good things that happened in your day. Water your seeds of joy and gratitude regularly so they can grow.

- Thich Nhat Hanh "15 Practical Ways To Find Your Zen At Work", 
Jo Confino - The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bagua Zhang - "The life of Dong Haichuan" by Yin Fu

When Dong Haichuan, the founder of Baguazhang, died in winter 1882, Yinfu with other disciples buried him in a cemetery based at the south of Xiao Niu Fang village, beside the Red Bridge ouside Dong Zhi Men in Beijing. On his burial site were written all the major facts of his life. However as time passed, the burial site suffered progressively from wind and rain erosion first and more recently heavily damaged during the Cultural Revolution, the epitaph becoming barely readable.
In 1981 under the authority of the Third Generation Baguazhang Great master Li Ziming, a group of practitioners decided to move Dong Haichuan tomb and its four steles to the west of Beijing in Wan’an Public Cemetery, in order to preserve for the posterity the invaluable information written on these steles.

I The first stele (1883):  "The life of Dong Haichuan" by Yin Fu and by Li Zhiming (1981)

Front side of  first stele (Fig.1)

On the front side of this stele is written “For the following generations”. The epitaph was written with cursive characters.

Here is the translation of the epitaph:
“His family name Dong and his given name was Haichuan, originated from the village of South Niujiawu in Wen An county. When he was young he was not inclined to do countryside works, but rather to help the poor and defend the weak against robbers and injustice. He was very fond of hunting and used to pass all the day long in the forest. He was very fond of travelling which brought him to visit many places around China but especially Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces, crossing mountains and rivers to enlarge his vision of the world and meet more adventures. Later he met a Taoist who taught him a very special style of martial art which he will confer him invincibility in combat. Unexpectedly reaching middle age, he will be forced to follow the unorthodox way of Si Maqian (famous Chinese historian and poet who was submitted to castration), to serve as an eunuch servant inside a palace. Facing injustice as his main enemy, he had no choice but hide his skills and patriotic beliefs while serving obediently in the Prince Su palace. Reaching an advanced age and requesting further care, decided to move in one of his disciples house. This time he can spend all his time to teach his large number of disciples, around several thousands… among them were some illustrious and influential officials but also scholars and merchants, personalizing his teaching to each of them.He demonstrated once his talents on the Great Wall surrounded by numerous opponents all armed with weapons and trying to pierce or hit him. Stirring in all directions, Dong was counterattacking in all angles, rotating rapidly like a hurricane, to the stupefaction of all spectators, all recognizing the phenomenal level which Dong Haichuan has reached in martial arts.
Before dying, many followers came to touch his hands and feet, he stayed three days sitting before joining the immortals. The day of his funerals all his disciples with several hundreds of people all dressed in white, followed the funeral cortege bringing Dong to his grave site several miles away from Beijing’s Dong Zhimen Gate. He will leave to everyone a deep sorrow. In order to commemorate him this stele was erected to preserve his memory for the coming generations.

Stele was erected in February 1883.” (Fig. 1).

On the rear of the first stele was written the following epitaph.

On its top: “To be preserved for the coming generations”.

The main text: “He was a very loyal man and who can bear comparison to his life’s dedication?
Coming from poverty then joining the army with his sword skills, how can we really know what was his real task? Suffering from his most intimate part of the body, loosing his male organs, how can he continue to serve with the wall of the city? He is the symbol of all those who endure private mutilation and continue to serve a secret cause.”

Names of Dong Haiquan’s disciples written of his tomb.

Rear side of  first stele (Fig.2)
Names of Dong Haiquan’s disciples written of his tomb.

Senior disciples (56):
Yin Fu, Ma Weiqi, Shi Jidong, Cheng Tinghua, Song Changrong,
Sun Tianzhang, Liu Dengke, Jiao Yulong, Gu Yushan, Ma Chunzhi,
Zhangyun, Qin Yukuan, Liu Dianjia, Lu Chengde, An Fen,
Xia Mingde, Geng Yongshan, Wei Jixiang, Yangkun, Wang Xinsheng
Wang Huaiqing, Shen Changshou, Wang Deyi, Zhu Ziyun, Song Yongxiang,
Li Wanyou, Pan Zhiyong, Song Longhai, Wang Yongtai, Peng Liangui,
Fu Zhenhai, Wang Hongbin, Gu Buyun, Chen Chunlin, Wang Tingju,
Shuang Fu, Li Changsheng, Xu Zhaoxiang, Liu Baozhen, Liang Zhenpu,
Zhang Yingshan, Guo Yuting, Zhao Yunxiang, Zhang quankui, Jiao Chunfang
Liu Fengchun, Si Yuangong, Zhang Ze, Qing Shan, He Wu,
He Liu, Guo Tonghai, Xu Henian, Feng Guanglian, Li Chunnian, Chen Pan.

(12) Junior disciples:
Qian Benshan, Zhang Yimin, Ma Gui, Yang Junfeng, Liu Jinyin
Wen Zhi, Kui Yu, Wang Zhi, Shi Ting, Ju Qingyuan
Liu Yinzhang, Geng Yulin

Composed in Qing Dynasty 10th generation (1883) by Cen Guirong and graved by Qing
Shan from Shenyang (fig. 2).

These following disciples did not figure originally on Dong’s stele but was included by Li Zhiming after relocation of the site (1981).

(9) additional disciples:
Quan Kaiting, Ruan Zhengu, Liang Shizhen, Zhang Huaishan, Zhong Xianglin,
Wu Maoting, Li Yungui, Liu Deguan, Liang Le.


Bagua Zhang - "The life of Dong Haichuan" by Yin Fu

Friday, January 5, 2018

An old Chinese Saying - translation and commentary by ~ Scott M. Rodell

一寸長, 一寸強
一寸小, 一寸巧
Yīcùn cháng, yīcùn qiáng
yīcùn xiǎo, yīcùn qiǎo
yīcùn duǎn, yīcùn xiǎn
~Gǔrén shuō
One inch longer, one inch stronger
One inch smaller, one inch (more) skillful
One inch shorter, one inch closer
~ an old Chinese saying
This is an old martial saying that seems to originate at least in part with General Qi Jiguang who wrote, “Short weapons cannot intercept long weapons, one inch longer is one inch stronger (Duǎn bù jiē zhǎng, yīcùn cháng yīcùn qiáng, 短不接長,一寸長一寸強).” In general, the phrase addresses the difference between long weapons, such as spears, and shorter weapons, including swords.
It terms of sword work itself, this may be interpreted in another manner as~
If your sword cuts are an inch longer, they will have more power. However, if they are an inch smaller, that is more skillful. Then the distance to the duifang is an inch shorter, and you are an inch close to land a blow.
This describes the evolution every diligent swordsman moves thorough. At first, one tends to rely on power. Further training brings refinement leading to one’s movements becoming smaller, tighter, and thus quicker. Deflections are then only as big as needed and the sword isn’t swung at the duifang’s body in general, but at a small, exact target. This compacting of one’s technique changes the timing of actions so that your sword ends up moving closer to the target even as the duifang is attacking. Thus the distance to your target is shorter though the starting distance has not changed.
Note that the last word in this saying, xiǎn, is typically translated as danger in common vernacular Chinese. It can however also mean to be near as in anear miss or a close call.. The overall structure of the saying is one where a specific condition leads to a improved result. Following that structure, the distance being an inch shorter, places the swordsman in a better tactical position, one inch closer to landing his or her blow. Certainly, that is also a more dangerous position (for both swordsmen). However, if one has deflected properly, leading the duifang’s weapon into a void while maintain tip control, so that one’s sword is aligned with its target, then in this dangerous position, there is a strategic opportunity.
~ Scott M. Rodell found HERE