Archive for Tai Chi

Can Modern Students Rise To The Challenge?

Posted in Taijiquan, Training with tags , , , , , , , on March 14, 2014 by Combative Corner

David Gaffney SingaporeI saw the new year in in Singapore, a place with a great martial arts vibe. Whenever I’m there I usually take the chance to drop into the Tong Lian martial arts book and equipment store in Bras Basah. While browsing through some of the books in the store I came across the following quotation from the famous Taiwanese internal martial artist Wang Shujin: “Follow the rules honestly: do not doubt, do not cheat. All these rules come from our ancestors. I did not invent them; I am simply transmitting them”. It made me think of Ma Hong, a well-known student of Chen Zhaokui, who passed away earlier this month. He kept copious notes of his years training with Chen Zhaokui, which he documented in a number of books. These were a great reference tool that we turned to in writing our own books. Like Wang Shujin, Ma was adamant that his role was to pass on the knowledge that had been passed down to him.

In the last few years we have lost some of the greatest of the older generation of Taijiquan masters – Feng Zhiqiang, Wang Peisheng, Ma Yeuhliang, Yang Wenhu to name a few. These teachers all learned first hand from an older generation in the slow, painstaking way that characterises traditional Taijiquan.

Can we say that Taijiquan is in such good hands today? How many teachers stress the realities of real Taijiquan and how many students are prepared to  go down the traditional route. Traditional Taijiquan has many sayings that point to this complexity:  “Don’t go outside the gate for ten years”….”Three years small success, five years medium success, ten years great success”…..”One days practice, one days skill”…..”Treat 10 years as if it were one day” etc etc…

David Gaffney ChinaI was in Tiantan park in 1998 killing a few days before we traveled to Henan. We walked through the park in the early morning looking at the different Taijiquan and Qigong players. What I was looking for really was any interesting Chen Taijiquan, but what arrested my attention was an old Wu style practitioner. At that time there were lots of groups, some being quite large. Zhang Baosheng was training with one student. As we watched it was immediately obvious that this was high quality Taijiquan. When he finished his routine he came over to chat and we arranged to do some training with him over the next few days.

Zhang was a student of the aforementioned Wang Peisheng, who he described as simply the “best Taijiquan teacher in the world”! Zhang believed that there was too much emphasis upon different styles of Taijiquan. To him what was important was understanding the correct method and then being able to apply it practically. For example talking of the merits of different styles pushing hands he simply concluded that “It doesn’t matter who is doing what style, the one who is still standing up at the end is doing it correctly”. Zhang described the tortuous early years of training fundamentals with his own teacher – everyday for the first few years having to do several hours standing before beginning any form training. At seventy-three years old he was still very strong doing one legged squats while holding the other leg above his head – as a warm up.

Close to Zhang’s patch in the park a large group trained in one of the modern simplified forms of Taijiquan. With accompanying music and many of the students chatting casually to each other as the leader set the pace, it was little more than a nice social way to begin the day. His one student, on the other hand was serious and disciplined. When we commented on this Zhang said that unfortunately that was the way it was now – “young people in China are not interested in the old ways”. While he felt an obligation to pass on what he himself had been taught, he sadly concluded that the authentic Taijiquan was in real danger of becoming extinct. When we we visited him again in 2005 or 2006 he was in the same place – still training and still looking great. Now in his eighties, and now alone – Zhang’s sole student had left to find work.
Contrast the above approach with Jet Li’s new Taiji Zen project, a high-profile modern example of Taijiquan in the “internet age”. Prospective learners are wooed with the possibility of achieving a 9th Duan grade in as little as 3 years. And to validate their “achievement” at each level they receive a certificate signed by Jet Li himself! Forget the fact that Jet Li is a wushu guy who did a little Taiji on the side, the difference in approach could hardly be more striking. But sadly it seems that this is what people want today. I’ve touched on this phenomena in previous blogs with the explosion of short and simplified Taijiquan forms and fast track instructor courses. If that’s what people want that’s what they want, but don’t anyone kid themselves that they will get any of the often mentioned benefits of Taijiquan. The traditional art is a lifetime process of constant introspective refinement. Traditional skills are hard earned. An individual is said to have “good gongfu”, whether it be in Taijiquan or any other pursuit, when it is clear to a skilled observer that they have put three elements into their discipline: The first is that they have studied for an extended period of time; the second is that they have worked very hard or “eaten bitter”; and the third is that they have exhibited yongxin – literally “using their heart” – more than just working hard, they have given it their full, deep and unwavering concentration.
Wang ShujinI’ll leave the last word on whether this fast track type of Taijiquan can give results anything like the old ways to Wang Shujin. Talking about the merits of slowly and meticulously training the fundamentals of Taijiquan (in this case the likelihood of gaining high skills without seriously training standing): “You must practice Post Standing (Zhan Zhuang). No matter which Chinese martial art you study, Post Standing is considered fundamental practice. In ancient times, students had to practice standing for one or two years before they were allowed to learn any forms. That is why each generation produced outstanding martial artists. Society and people’s way of thinking have changed, making adapting to these requirements difficult…If you skip the fundamentals, your form will remain undeveloped and you will be ridiculed by experts”.
David Gaffney
Talking Chen with David Gaffney
Originally titled: “Can Modern Students Cope with Traditional Methods?”
Reposted with Permission.
Original posting Jan. 6, 2014

Tai Chi Will Make You Soft

Posted in Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Taijiquan, Training with tags , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by chencenter

Michael Joyce Tai Chi TaijiThe title is a bit provocative, and carries with it a double meaning. One being the ‘softness’ that is implied when someone normally speaks about Tai Chi (i.e. yin).  The other (viewpoint) being ‘softness’ as it is implied by many non-taijiers – especially those practitioners that put emphasis on physical strength.

What may infuriate many taiji players is that, in my opinion, both are true.

What many teachers will have you believe is that internal energy will improve internal health and thus, foster physical (external) strength.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve noticed tremendous gains (over the past year) in fluidity, balance, coordination and power when supplementing my taiji training with jiu-jitsu, inversions (yoga), and various body-weight exercise (movnat).  These supplemental methods of exercise provided me with a mirror that showed several imperfections, the two most notable being; strength and control.  With these reflections, it allowed me to see that my so-called “perfect practice” was quite “less-than perfect.”

The late Grandmaster Feng said:

“If you are physically strong but can also work on internal strength, then that is the real strength.”

(Tai Chi Magazine, vol. 25, no.5)

Michael Joyce tai chi 2If you exercise using the tai chi forms, a strong standing practice and occasionally engage in pushing hands – how can you develop sufficient strength?  Why wouldn’t tai chi practitioners supplement their training with other methods if by doing so it: enhances your feeling of progress, improves confidence and body image, keeps the mind engaged & growing with new skills and movement patterns, aids in the management of pain and in the reduction of common injuries?

[We welcome your comments! Please let us know what you think.]

Focus

Many practitioners refuse to change focus, adhering to the classic myth of “A Jack of all trades, a master of none.”   Many studies have shown this to not be true.  On the contrary, those that dabble in different activities show more creativity, broaden their field of understanding and are generally less likely to become bored and/or unhappy with their life/practice.  Doesn’t this play into what GM Feng meant by “striving to reach the Big Tao?”

Tradition

Many choose not to supplement their art because they fear it will ruin the ‘purity’ of their practice.  If the masters of the past reached their level of skill because they did the form “X”-number of times, then surely I too will excel – right?  Well, we know this is not true either!  Taijiquan masters like Feng Zhiqiang and Hong Junsheng (teachers of Chen Zhonghua) are just a couple who have gained this ‘high skill.’  They had the genetics, strength and psychology to excel.  If you are missing just one thing, you are a thousands miles off course.  Could you practice and reach their level?  Would that be a futile chase?  Would you even want to try?  Not to be pessimistic, only realistic.  Remember though, it’s choice that pulls us through.  If we convince ourselves that ‘mastery’ is bleak, it’s easily done.  But if we take it as a challenge and proceed to take the strides with the pitfalls, and continue to progress towards our personal goals we are 100% assured of success. Agreed?

Another teacher of mine, Master Yang Yang said this at our Blowing Rock, North Carolina workshop (2004):

(Ultimately) Find what works for you & change… adapt.  Only stay true to the principles (of Taijiquan) while doing so.

The New Year

Michael Joyce tai chi 2

To start of the New Year, I would like to urge everyone, especially those people who diligently plug away at one style; internal or external, to add movement, more movement, different movement.  I know it’s cliché, but Life is about balance.  If you consistently practice tai chi form (without any supplemental strength training), I can guarantee that your overall fitness will diminish.  If you train in gymnastics, weight-lifting, wresting, parkour / freerunning, etc, you will likely wear your body down and thus, be more prone to illness and/or injury.  My advice to them would be to adopt a supplemental program that deals with internal development, i.e. yoga, qigong, transcendental meditation… maybe even some taijiquan.

I end with Chen Xin’s Song of Meaning:

With your entire being, develop your Life.

Health & Happiness Everyone!

Coach Michael Joyce

RELATED ARTICLE: BRING MOVEMENT INTO THE NEW YEAR

Martial Art Practice Through The Winter

Posted in Internal Development, Kungfu, Martial Arts, Taijiquan, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2013 by Combative Corner

winter-forest_photoAs the cold season comes on strong, the urge is to be indoors, warm and comfortable. Of course this urge is a survival instinct, because where we are located without the SUV’s, mechanical heating and other benefits of modern technology, it would be quite easy to die outside when the really cold weather comes on.

However, in Chen Taijiquan gongfu practice we want to at least challenge some of those natural comfortable patterns of behavior and use practice as a way of bringing the body ‘in tune’ with natural seasonal changes. Outdoor practice is really best for cultivation and martial arts. On the cultivation side, while naturally we may feel the aversion to the cold and desolate season, over years long practice in the outdoors we can learn to use each seasonal energy to our advantage.

In winter, if we dress appropriately and practice with spirit outdoors, we will build a sweat and cultivate heat inside while cycling the cold winter air from the outside. Upon starting we may need gloves and hats and scarves etc, but for a fairly experienced practitioner we can build a sustainable heat such that the hats, gloves and scarves may come off. The more of ourselves we can expose to the winter energy while maintaining a sustainable heat inside, the more attuned to the season we can become. This is not meant to be so deeply metaphysical, but in a common sense way, when one can practice successfully like this, one feels like a warrior, full of vigor. Afterwards the results persist, making tolerating winter weather and bitter cold much more comfortable.

Although winter is commonly seen as a season of natural death, and an uninhabitable situation, this is more of a relative psychology. Just as the Taiji concept holds that within every extreme is kernel of its opposite, winter (in most places) while extreme, is in fact not dead, but extremely YIN, cultivating the kernel of it’s YANG opposite towards rebirth. Winter here is full of life action, although a quieter, or often just less seen action. Through proper practice we can cycle winter’s strongly YIN energy from the outdoors into the strongly YANG energy we create with heating practice internally, to holistically balance our being, physically and energetically with the season at hand; essentially adjusting our thermostat and perception of tolerance and comfort.

For more on Mr. Spivack and the Chen Zhaokui Association of North America, please visit his website at MoLingTaiji.Com.

Marin “Mo Ling” Spivack

Chen Zhaokui Taijiquan Association, North America.

Disciple of Chen Yu. Teaches in Massachusetts.

*Originally published 12/31/2012.  Reposted w/ permission.

Twitter Link CC bFB Facebook Link CC b

10 Questions with David-Dorian Ross

Posted in 10 Questions, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by Combative Corner


The Combative Corner is pleased to present to you a man that shouldn’t need any introduction. If you’re a martial artist, you’ve certainly seen his dvd (likely alongside the yoga videos of Rodney Yee).  Truth be told, he’s been spreading the joy of tai chi for many years and nowadays, thanks to the many social media platforms, his wisdom, positive energy and wonderful tai chi can be seen and felt the world over. 

For more information on Mr. Ross, please visit his website by clicking the image above.  For the answers to the much-anticipated questions, please continue to read.  Enjoy!

How did you initially get interested in Taijiquan?
I got into Taijiquan by accident. I was initially looking for a way to learn how to meditate, and I really sucked at traditional sitting techniques. After failing miserably at zazen and some other even more “beginner” methods, I heard about “moving meditation” and decided to give it a try. I have to confess that the idea of Taijiquan really appealed to my whole Kwai Chang Kane/Bruce Lee/Kung fu fantasy (yes I grew up in the 60’s & 70’s). I was completely unprepared for the experience. I took a class from Sifu Kuo Lien Ying, the man who brought Guang Ping taiji to the US. In my first class, I had a sudden spontaneous opening of all my meridians. It lasted probably all of 60 seconds, but it was enough to completely change my life from that moment on. The rest is history, as they say…
As a long-time teacher & promoter of Taiji, what are some of the changes you’ve seen?
The main thing, I think, is how much T’ai Chi has grown in popularity and availability. When I first started teaching T’ai Chi, it was definitely a little-known and niche exercise. I used to compete in Karate tournaments all across the country, and so over and over people would come up and ask me what I was demonstrating – because although they had heard of T’ai Chi, they had never seen it. Now it has found its way into the mainstream so much so that Jack Black raves about it on late night, and Keanu Reeves is making a movie about it. There are a lot more teachers here in the US – more Americans have access to it. And I think that’s amazing.
In playing Tai Chi for the first time, what’s most important for the student to understand?
This changes every time I teach a class. Everything is the most important thing – because T’ai Chi itself changes every time you look at it from a different angle. Years ago, I had a yoga teacher who would always introduce a position by saying, “This is the most important asana you’ll ever learn.” Then the very next position he would again say, “Now THIS is the most important asana you’ll ever learn.” Teaching taijiquan is kinda like that for me.  But if I had to pick just one thing, I think it would be this: don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun. Enjoy T’ai Chi- play it, don’t work it to death. Taijiquan is a technology for finding, restoring and maintaining balance, harmony, bliss and authenticity. Being overly serious and significant leads away from those things, not towards them. Every time I meet a taiji teacher or practitioner who has to exert how much better they are at taiji, or find fault with the way another student is doing it – I feel sad that they’ve forgotten this most important point. Lighten up, people!

Out of all the locations that you’ve performed Taijiquan, name 3 of your top spots and why (this might be a thinker!)
Top three? Hmmmm…. in reverse order: #3 is up in the mountains in Oregon, in the middle of a blizzard. I was so bundled up in snow gear that I could hardly move, and the snow was coming down so thick that I couldn’t see past my hand. But the white-out experience was so surreal that it felt like I was doing taiji in some other dimension. Far out, Man! #2 was in the Beijing Sports Arena when I competed in the 1st World Wushu Championships in 1991. A stadium filled with spectators from all over China and a panel of Taiji master judges. Wow! It was a once in a lifetime experience. (drum roll please) #1 was at Esalen, taking a T’ai Chi class from Al Huang. He is such a lighthearted spirit. We were on the pool deck, overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean, and at one point he stops and says, “You know, I have done T’ai Chi with all the luminaries (of the Human Potential movement) on this deck. Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell, Abraham Maslow – they all did taiji with me here. ” I felt like was swimming in the river of history.
Besides another martial artist, name of your biggest influences
I’d have to say that aside from my father – who introduced me to the Human Potential movement back in the early 70’s – my biggest influence is probably Joseph Campbell. Campbell, the author of The Hero’s Journey and the person who popularized the phrase “follow your bliss,” helped me understand the real power behind the study of taijiquan. We are all on a journey of life – to find our way to the Soul, or “authentic inner self.” But where do you find the map and compass for that journey? What are the rules for successfully managing the voyage? And how do you prepare for the dangers or recover from the disasters of the trip? T’ai Chi is the perfect training for our Hero’s Journey. T’ai Chi is a classic example of what Campbell would call a ritual – a formalized set of actions that immerse us in the “myth” we are living, and bring us closer to our Soul.
What is the largest obstacle for you in terms of being a successful taijiquan teacher (or promoter, if different)?
Believe it or not, the largest obstacle turns out to be the taiji community itself. Like almost any group devoted to their art, or their philosophy or their leaders – taiji people have a tendency to be iconoclastic. You know the old joke: how many taiji teachers does it take to change a light bulb? Ten – one to change the bulb, and nine to stand around a say, “Well, you COULD do it that way, but in OUR school we do it this way…” I read a lot of blog posts and FB conversations, and while I love intellectual discourse and a healthy debate, I think it is self-defeating how much wrong-making I see. Come on, people – lighten up! At the end of the day, the main effect our internal bickering has is to drive people away from getting into taiji as beginners. I think if I were a beginner these days and I started reading the FB discussion groups, I’d be thinking – “OK these guys are whacked! I’d rather do Zumba – much less violence!”
Who is your favorite martial artist (living or dead) and why?
Bruce Lee, without a doubt! Why? Because he was a total hipster. He was like the quintessential hipster. What passes for hipster-ism today – why Bruce had more soul in his one-inch punch than modern hipsters have in their whole collective body. Bruce didn’t try to be hip – he was just authentic, and that is hippest thing a cat can do.
What are some of your tips on starting & invigorating a Tai Chi Community?
I have main pieces of advice I give to teachers trying to jump-start their community. First, continually organize extra-curricular activities. Arrange trips, flash mobs, or field trips to other martial arts schools. Put on a movie night, and let the students bring their kids. The second tip I have is to bring in guest speakers and teachers on a regular basis. I know a lot of “traditional” teachers who have a cow about exposing their students to some other teacher or school.  I say, “Oh shut up.” We should be focused on the experiences that delight and benefit the students, not somehow put our own selves on a pedestal. Your students will appreciate the education, respect you more for it – and typically become even more loyal than before.

What’s a funny Tai Chi experience that you’ve had? (You’ve probably had one or two from people who haven’t seen tai chi before)
I could be influenced here by my 4-year old daughter, who thinks that farting is the funniest thing EVER… but in fact one of my funniest taiji stories has to do with gas. One Sunday morning many years ago, I went up to the campus of my old university to play some taiji. An older Chinese gentleman wandered by and stopped to watch. He said, “I really like your taiji! Can I practice with you?” I said of course and he said, “Do you know the 48?” I said yes, and so we stood side by side and started the routine together. Somewhere around the 4th movement, I heard a pretty loud… musical note? I couldn’t help it- I glanced over at him.  He was just blissfully looking straight ahead, continuing with his motion as though nothing had just happened. I went back to focusing on my own moves. and then it happened again. For the next nine or ten minutes, my companion provided a real symphony of sounds to go along with our T’ai Chi. He never changed expression or missed a beat. When we were done, he simply smiled a big smile and said thanks for the T’ai Chi – and walked off into the trees…
What’s one or two of your personal goals within the next 5 years (this can be anything!)
Well, I just turned 55 and I’m ready to settle into the next phase of my career and body of work.  I’m turning my attention to doing a lot more writing. I just published my   first book on the iTunes library, using the new technology to create multi-media experiences as both learning tools and entertainment. You can expect to see me publishing at least ten new books in the next five years.  I’ve also started writing a regular advice blog on my website daviddorianross.com, using my t’ai chi/life coaching blend called Invincible Living. That’s been really exciting, and I look forward to doing a lot more with that. With regards to my T’ai Chi, I would like to contribute to making taiji more hip. I’d like to firmly implant taijiquan and taijicao into American culture, in a niche called “if you want to be hip, you’ve got to be doing T’ai Chi!” LOL – just part of my philosophy that taiji is supposed to be fun. It’s meant to be played, not worked.

10 Questions with Blue Siytangco

Posted in 10 Questions, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2012 by Combative Corner

Blue Siytangco is a 20th generation Chen Style Successor and the founder of the American Chen Style Tai Chi Association.  For more information on Master Siytangco, please visit his website by clicking the image above or by visiting him on Facebook.

How did you become interested in Taijiquan?

I was introduced to Taijiquan back in middle school when a friend invited me to an outdoor class with this older Asian instructor. He was short, very slim, and was missing an index finger on one of his hands. The only thing I remember about that class was how my thighs were sore for a week! Unfortunately due to my lack of insight I didn’t continue training Taijiquan until much later.

Fast forward to 1997. I trained in Taekwondo and Aikido previously, and for the last three years had been exploring Wing Chun Kuen with Kenneth Chung’s satellite group in Houston. Ken’s Wing Chun was phenomenal but he said that Feng Zhiqiang was a major influence in his development. He said that if I was ever interested that I should look into Chen Style Taijiquan. Needless to say I eventually found myself in a Chen school here in Houston.

Name 3 people who have truly inspired you (and why)

Kenneth Chung

Even though he’s not necessarily a Chen Taijiquan practitioner, Ken’s honest and humble dedication to his own art (Wing Chun Kuen) is an example for all of us. His skill is a testament to a deep understanding of the principles, a tremendous amount of hard work and insane talent. His understanding of energy and structure has ONLY made my Taijiquan that much better. He was also my first introduction to what Chen Style Taijiquan had to offer.

Daniel Ascarate

I met Daniel in my Wing Chun classes and found out that he also practiced Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Shuai Jiao, and Liu He Bafa among other things. He was my senior and eventually became a great mentor and teacher. Daniel helped mold my understanding that multiple arts could share the same principles even though on the outside they might seem quite different. I had trained for almost 10 years under one Taijiquan instructor here in Houston, but all that essential knowledge (aside from straight choreography and basic techniques) was eclipsed by one weekend seminar with Daniel.

The Chen Family

I cannot pick just one person from the Chen family. My gratitude for this art spans a few individuals that I have met and trained with and many more whom I have yet to meet. My thankfulness spans generations of the living and the dead. The art that this family has created throughout the decades has such an incalculable value that I am overwhelmed with its holistic richness. However those whom I have had the honor to train with are: Chen Zhenglei, Chen Bin, Chen Bing, and Chen Huixian. Not only are they skilled martial artists and teachers, they’re just awesome people.

What do you think is the most important aspect in teaching?

Patience. It is important to keep reminding myself that everyone learns at different rates and different students will have different motivations and drives for learning the arts. I love to teach the art as completely as possible, but not everyone wants to learn it all. Learning to balance the plethora of information and the categories of training among all the students is important, and requires a tremendous amount of patience.

Teaching is a two way street. I may be doling out lessons, but each individual student is also teaching me how to become a better teacher. And the only way to improve is through patience.

Name an important teaching that you feel should be taught to every student

At the very least students should learn proper body structure. This is to help minimize any injury that they may incur during training and to help insure that their training proceeds properly and within principle. For this, the practices of Zhan Zhuang and Chansigong are essential to beginners and advanced practitioners.

Now of course this has a practical value, but at the same time in practicing awareness of body structure, students are already starting to practice mindfulness, a much deeper and more important lesson that will eventually permeate all other aspects of their lives.

I always like to remind my students that it’s not about moving slowly, it’s about moving mindfully. Whether it’s fast or slow, barehanded or with weapons, in training or in combat, in the martial arts or in life (is there even a difference, LOL?) move mindfully.

We’ve seen that you’ve given the gift of Taijiquan to your family. Did that come easily?

Let’s hear a resounding “No!” Heheh, that could easily be considered the most difficult aspect of my training. I had the most demanding time trying to teach my kids an art that I was completely passionate about. I had to understand that even though I wanted to give them a family legacy, that they would not necessarily value it as much as I did. I am lucky that they value it now. I have Chen Huixian to thank for that.

I have two girls (14 and 17) and a young boy (3). The boy is still too young to learn, but the girls really needed a female role model in Taijiquan, as for the most part they are surrounded by male figures. Chen Huixian showed them (and my other students) that a woman can be a powerful force in Chen Style Taijiquan.

Is there a myth in Tai Chi that you’d like to see de-mystified?

Yeah, that Taijiquan is easy. A lot of people come to my classes expecting new age fluffiness and this is so far from the truth.

Taijiquan is a lot of hard work. Now it’s important to enjoy the training even though it can be very challenging. And in order to do so the new student has to have some idea as to what to expect (to a certain degree). For example, if you’re expecting a Yoga class, but instead you get Krav Maga, you’re not going to appreciate what you’re taught. There are way too many charlatans out there spreading wrong notions of Taijiquan.

What Taijiquan teacher out there really impresses you and why?

There are many instructors who impress me. What I worry about is if I can impress them, LOL!

There are many powerful practitioners out there like Chen Yu, Chen Ziqiang and Chen Bing, but I am definitely impressed with Chen Huixian. Her teaching is clear and precise. And her manner is very down to earth and grounded.

She was approached at one point to take sides on a political issue and speak ill of someone else (and we all know that the martial arts world is filled with this) but she refused to be coerced. She brushed the other guy off (even though he was her senior) and said that she would decide for herself.

This strength of character and high level of integrity impresses me. I count her and her husband, Michael Chritton, as close friends.

What does your own personal training consist of?

Really, all aspects of the Chen curriculum are important, but Lao Jia Yi Lu and Er Lu are the core of my own training. These forms are my bible. I also like conditioning the body with the Kwan Dao and the Long Pole. I like to practice them on the left and right sides, you know, mirror images. So that the body develops evenly.

Do you stress the importance of martial application in your personal teaching?

Martial applications rock! This is our art after all. If someone doesn’t like the applications then they should be doing Yoga. Well, let me take that back a little. You can train the forms for exercise, but without understanding the applications you will never really understand the forms.

I like to emphasize the combat elements of Ti (kicking), Da (striking), Shuai (grappling, wrestling, and throwing), and Na (controlling), and how they relate to different ranges (kicking, striking, trapping, grappling, and ground work). All the while I like to show how ALL techniques can be found within Chen Style Taijiquan. I like to take different techniques and drills from different styles like Wing Chun Kuen, Silat, Kali, etc., and express the Taiji principles within them. You know how physicists are looking for a unifying theory? I believe I have found that within Chen Style Taijiquan. It has given me a foundation to appreciate all other styles.

What is just one of your personal goals within the next 5 years (this can be anything!)

To ride the Camino de Santiago by bicycle and perform Lao Jia Yi Lu 10X at each rest stop, video it, and post it on YouTube…

But that’s just fun, lol!  Overall I’d like to teach more, learn more, and and love more. Basically, just become a better version of myself.

Farewell, Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang [1928-2012]

Posted in Miscellaneous, News, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Combative Corner

The legendary tai chi teacher and founder of the Hunyuan Taijiquan system, Feng Zhiqiang, died peacefully on Saturday, May 5th, 2012 in Beijing.

Chen Shi Xin Yi Hunyuan Taijiquan

He is the originator of Chen Shi Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan, a distinct training system that is mainly the combination of what he learned from Grandmasters Chen Fake and Hu Yaozhen.

In Hunyuan taijiquan, every movement contains Yin/Yang, movement & stillness.  Hunyuan taijiquan put virtue & morality at the foreground.  As GM Feng often said,

The essence of Hun Yuan is ‘Xiu Xin’ (correcting the heart) and ‘Wu De’ (martial virtue).  When there is no virtue a high level of gongfu can not be accomplished

Feng Zhiqiang is a grandmaster of the 18th generation of Chen Style Taijiquan and is considered the top student of 17th generation masters, Chen Fa-ke (Taijiquan) and Xinyi Grandmaster Hu Yuezhen.

Over the years, Hunyuan taijiquan would become one of the vehicles for students all over the world to reach what GM Feng called, “The Big Tao”… reaching beyond just taiji boxing… nurturing qi and expanding spirit.

Read GM Feng’s Poem, “Taiji is Like…”

RELATED ARTICLES

FENG & HUNYUAN HISTORY : CHEN ZHONGHUA

INTERVIEW (2000) WITH DISCIPLE YANG YANG

WAY OF HUNYUAN (QIGONG) : CHEN ZHONGHUA

HAS THE DRAGON REALLY LEFT? : VIOLET LI

You will truly be missed! But your teachings will live on!

We, at the CombativeCorner welcome any and all comments/stories that you have for our readers. 

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Silk-Reeling by Hong Junsheng

Posted in EXCERPT, Miscellaneous, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by chencenter

SILK-REELING

On the theory of Chan Si

Nothing is too detailed

Inside and outside spirals

Are controlled by shun and ni

Shun opens while ni closes

Hard and soft

Compliment each other.

*Translation by Master Chen Zhonghua. Winter 2002

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