The Complete Guide To The Internal Martial & Healing Arts
e u s s I is h T e Insid Death Of The Sifu Whatâ€™s Next? The Self Tuning Body A Qigong Exercise For All Reasons WTBA News And much more... the world taiji boxing association
Combat and Healing Volume 65 September 2012 Editor
ÂŠSeptember2012NasserButt/Combat&Healing. All Rights Reserved.
The points of view represented here are solely those of the authorsâ€™ concerned. You do not have to subscribe to them if you do not wish. Nor is their inclusion here necessarily an endorsement by the WTBA or the Erle Montaigue System.
Photography Nasser Butt ÂŠ 2008
EDITOR Nasser Butt Email: CombatandHealing@gmail.com Tel: +44(0)7792242150 +44(0)1162708730 83 The Fairway, Oadby, Leicester LE2 2HP England, UK http://www.fajing-chuan.co.uk
COPYRIGHT All articles, images & logos appearing in this publication are protected under international copyright law. Please do not copy, reproduce or redistribute without prior written consent of the copyright owners. All photography by Nasser Butt, unless stated otherwise.
Death Of The Sifu Dr. Gregory T. Lawton
Erle’s Tree - An Update Nasser Butt
The Self Tuning Body Colin Power
A Qigong Exercise For All Reasons Erle Montaigue
Connecting The Dots Ramakrishna Chedumbarum Pillay
WTBA Gradings - Why Some Qualify Before Others? Eli Montaigue
Camp USA 2012 Nasser Butt
The Dragon Turtle Kurt Levins Snr.
What’s Next? Nasser Butt
WTBA Summer Camp UK Eli Montaigue
The Use Of Tension Gord Hill
New Guidelines For WTBA Instructors & WTBA News Eli Montaigue
2012.... What a year it has been! I started preparing this edition of the magazine way back in August, after all the main camps had ended. However, due to a lack of articles initially, followed by a series of family emergencies and work in general, time appeared to fly by. I finally managed to start work again on this issue at the beginning of December after receiving sufficient articles to go ahead with the publication. I want to thank everybody who kindly wrote for this issue, especially my dear friend Dr. Gregory Lawton, who’s work and opinion I highly respect, for sending me his most excellent article ‘Death of the Sifu’. It is an article I highly recommend to everyone, irrespective of your style and system. There are many truths in there, which we can all associate with if we care to remove our own blinkered half-truths.
EDITOR’S NOTE Nasser Butt
The year has had many highlights for myself. Especially, the trip across the pond to visit our WTBA family in the USA. It was another magnificent camp organized by Al Krych, Chief WTBA Instructor USA, and I had a great time there with Eli and the rest of the gang. The enthusiasm in the USA grows each year and it is so great to see friends developing and moving forwards with their training.
To train correctly and not to rush from one thing to the next, and fail to understand the very essence of the system that we hold dear!
Systems stand and fall by the abilities of their current practitioners and one cannot just rely on the glories of their past. That is why they became reputed styles in the first place, The summer camp in the UK, although a low key affair because of the practice and dedication of their founders and the compared to our previous events, was a highly emotive one for next generation. Yet, with the passing of each generation, myself. Bloody Eli Montaigue made me blub in public but I complacency appears to set in until all that is remembered is the that once glorious past! still love him nonetheless! Titles... What do they mean? I don’t care other than knowing It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, dedication and hours that I have a long way to go down this road yet and much more upon hours of training to ensure the survival of any system. That much ought to be clear to a student of any art but the to learn and understand! internal arts in particular. It’s a slow cook. You’re learning for And that’s what most of 2012 has been about for me. life not just for your arrogant youth. We have been warned: Reminding myself and others how crucial our foundations are.
“Slow yielding to fast. Have-force beating lack-force and Hands-slow yielding to hands-fast Is all from innate, natural ability, Not brought about through learning. Refer to the phrase: "Four ounces deflect a thousand pounds" This is clearly not force’s victory. Regard the image of the old man able to hold off a Multitude - How could this be by speed accomplished?” Great Pole Boxing: The Theory So, pay heed. Don’t fall by the wayside. It took Erle many years of practice, research and hard work in order to discover the information which he so selflessly shared with the world. Treasure it but, more importantly, learn from it as you were meant to. That, too, has been made abundantly clear by Erle, himself! Once again, I must appeal for articles. Please share your thoughts with your fellow practitioners. I have only a few left, not enough for a whole issue and I’m sure you don’t want to hear me rant alone! It’ll be Erle’s second anniversary soon and anyone who wishes to submit their thoughts can email me on the address at the back of this issue. I’d also be grateful if anyone wishes to forward reports on their local workshops with Eli. It’s always good to know how everyone is doing. Finally, all that is left for me to say is that I hope that you have all had a wonderful 2012 and that 2013 brings you many hours of joyous training and happiness. As Erle used to often say... “Taiji is for fun, there are far more important things in life - like family, music and friends!” And... It is in honour of that friend and guide and all that he taught me and continues to teach me that I use the honour bestowed upon me by Eli, just this once: Happy New Year Nasser Butt (Master Degree, Llangadog Wales).
Death of the Sifu Dr. Gregory T. Lawton The origin of the traditional martial arts is shrouded in mystery and myth. At the fountainhead of the history of martial arts, and in the majority of martial art systems, is the story of a great teacher. This great teacher, or sifu, is the martial arts warrior, or sage, who is credited with creating the body of knowledge that late, becomes a martial art system to be passed down through oral tradition and rigorous training to successive generations of students.. Occasionally, written materials such as a master training manual were also passed down through traditional lineages. In addition, when the lineages were broken, the knowledge of that martial art system was lost. For individual martial art students, the sifu likely served as a father, teacher, trainer, priest, and role model. This article investigates the traditional lineage system for the transmission of martial arts knowledge through the sifu, and addresses the question of whether or not the role played by the traditional sifu still serves the needs of individuals who are training in contemporary martial arts. Every nation and cultural group in history has had their heroes and all cultures have romanticized and exaggerated the abilities and exploits of these heroes. From the heroic stories of Greek mythology, we have heroes like Hercules, Achilles, Jason, Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus, and the Amazons. In the recorded chronicles of their lives and exploits, there is found a history of civilization, war, love, philosophy, myth, whether fact or fiction, interwoven within the fabric of a single story. In more contemporary times, we have grown up with stories about heroes like Robin Hood, Davy Crockett, and Daniel Boone. In Asian historical literature, we find a similar blending of fact and fiction, perhaps to an even greater degree. Western readers usually expect that the books they read are classified as either fiction or non-fiction. In Asian literature; however, this distinction is usually not made, especially in works of ancient and modern literature that pertains to the martial arts. Just as Western historians blended fact with fiction in the stories of great civilizations and heroes, Asian historians and writers have done similarly throughout recorded history and, in particular, over the past two or three centuries.
Before the Tang dynasty (617-907) the Chinese literary tradition made no clear distinction between the modern categories of fiction and non-fiction, although elements of what we would call fiction were present.(1) To say that the traditional martial arts were confused by the merging of fact and fiction would be an understatement as the written manuscripts and oral traditions led to major disagreements among the martial artists. To understand the scope of the problem, different people reading the same material would draw different conclusions depending on whether they felt the information was fact or fiction. The combining of fact, myth, and superstition within the martial art literature was further confounded by the general lack of written historical information. Detailed information about key historical figures in the Asian martial arts was missing, which led some historians to “fill in the blanks” on their own. Many of the “historians” of the martial arts were also martial artists, studying with a “sifu” and this makes their accounts and conclusions less objective. Their research was likely biased and frequently lacking in scientific rigor. In addition, poor verbal and written Asian language skills, a lack of knowledge about Asian history, and a lack of awareness about the cultural and social milieu of Asian nations, especially the caste system, were complicating factors. Another major issue that plagued the validity of the existing body of knowledge and prevailing opinions derived from the Asian martial art literature was the falsification of records, and the premeditated destruction of the historical records for political and financial gain. Noted contemporary martial artist and author Harvey Kurland commented that: The senior students of Yang Shao-Hou, who did not become disciples of (Yang) Cheng-Fu, were written out of the Yang family lineage after the death of (Yang) Shao-Hou and for that reason are not as well known.(2) So far, the discussion has been focused on the issue of an overall unreliability of the Asian martial arts historical literature. Since much of the contemporary Asian martial arts literature is based on historical accounts, both written and oral, its reliability is equally suspect. Numerous examples from modern martial arts literature illustrate how the same fiction and mythologies are passed along from earlier historical accounts.
From a practical point of view, one might ask how the continued transmission of fiction and myth adversely affects training in the martial arts? If a student begins studying the martial arts as a purely recreational or leisure activity, without intending to use its martial applications, one could argue that it is unimportant that the student is learning baseless skills and information. In fact, some students seem to relish this kind of knowledge and practice. If, however, other students are soldiers or law enforcement professionals who might need to apply their skills in defense of their life or the lives of others, then what they learn and how they apply that knowledge becomes crucial for the protection and preservation of life. At the center of all martial arts learning and for the continued transmission of knowledge, is the sifu, who is usually the primary source of information and training. Because of the nature of the student/teacher relationship, students trust that the information they receive is true and effective. In the traditional Asian martial arts; however, this may not be the case. Although the purpose of this article is not to disparage any teacher or system of martial arts, the facts reveal several common failures of the traditional sifu system of training: 1. The “curriculum” of traditional Asian martial arts is based on fiction, myth, and superstition and the sifu often perpetuates this false information and training. 2. A sifu’s claim to rank and lineage is often fraudulent, or misrepresents the sifu’s training and ability. 3. Some sifu’s attempt to inculcate a relationship of dependency and control over the lives and affairs of their students. 4. The traditional Asian martial arts are composed of many different systems of martial arts that have different techniques and training methods. No universally agreed upon standardized training technique or method of practice exists to ensure the safety of students. Thus, students are at increased and unnecessary risk of injury due to poor or improper training methods. Some sifu’s make greatly exaggerated claims about their abilities and promote psychic and metaphysical beliefs to impress and manipulate their students. As a result, a sifu may achieve personal recognition and fame and benefit financially. Due to modern information sharing, that is both rapid and transparent, the credentials and claims of some ranking martial artists have been shown to be fraudulent. Such fraudulent claims commonly include false claims about studying with
noted teachers, claiming to have an unearned rank or lineage, and exaggerations about the number of years studying with a particular teacher, or within a system or style of martial arts. Some of the fantastic and exaggerated claims made by martial arts teachers have included: the ability to render opponents unconscious without physically touching them; the ability to psychically transport a body from one location to another; the ability to levitate; and the ability to dodge bullets or to become impervious to gun fire. Numerous examples of these claims have been produced by past and current martial artists. Indeed, many modern students of the martial arts believe that a goal of their training is to be able to perform these supernatural feats. (3) From the perspective of diagnostic psychology and psychiatry, individual martial artists who have made such exaggerated claims would appear to be suffering from various forms and degrees of narcissism, paranoia, and delusion. In the article, “Dangers of self-proclaimed masters,” martial artist and author Don Cunningham, a debunker of supernatural, fraudulent, and delusional claims made by martial artists, refers to the psychiatrist Dr. Mariam Cohen who stated: “It’s possible they feel powerless, weak and frightened in most other areas of their lives, and therefore are attracted to the image of power.” Dr. Cohen further states: “There is also the image of the ‘master’ who is capable of defeating all enemies and has incredible wisdom. If you’re struggling with ‘inner demons’ and fears of your own weakness, this is an incredible image to connect to, to hope to be perhaps.”(4) Within the lineage system, myth, superstition, metaphysical and occult practices are inculcated and transmitted via an unhealthy system of dogmatic “blind faith”. After all, the lineage student is charged with retaining the system’s “knowledge” intact from the masters who preceded him. Certainly, if the body of knowledge is based on scientific principles of training and conditioning, and proven methods of combat, then retaining this knowledge is valuable, but if the system is permeated with superstition, metaphysical beliefs, and occult practices, the system will be without merit. A cult of personality is defined as extreme devotion to an individual person, and while similar to general “hero worship,” this extreme form of devotion is the adulation of a specific personage. Margaret T. Singer. Ph.D., former Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley stated: “Historically, the power of certain persons to dramatically influence others was considered supernatural, i.e., the influencer was a magician or witch with secret potions and arcane knowledge, or had godlike qualities. Some people have attained compliance from and influence over others through coercion, brutality, or the wielding of religious, political, or
financial powers.(5) The martial arts community has always had numerous examples of individuals or lineage students who contribute to the creation or maintenance of a cult of personality around a living or deceased “grandmaster”. In a number of ways, the promoters of a cult of personality gain from this activity. In the martial arts community, knowledge is equated to power and money. Any claims to a direct lineage, or to exclusive secrets and superior abilities and styles are the “keys to the kingdom” for recognition and reward.
traditional martial arts also taught varying degrees of Asian philosophy and religion. Some contemporary Western students of Asian martial arts have personally adopted Asian philosophies and religions, blending them into their study and application of the traditional martial arts. The adoption of Asian philosophy and religion by traditional martial artists, in combination with the acceptance of aspects of ancestor worship and filial piety, contributes to the manifestation of a cult of personality within the traditional martial arts.
The traditional martial arts are in an area of human knowledge where knowledge of the past is felt to be more important that modern discovery or innovation. At the beginning of the 20th century, martial art reformers, such as Chen Pan Ling, attempted to “modernize” the Chinese martial arts. Chen Pan Ling, in the preface of his original book (Tai Chi Chuan Chiao Tsai), states: “If we can but standardize nomenclature, theory, postures, and movements, our martial arts will rapidly increase in popularity, not solely in China, but throughout the world.”(6) Chen Pan Ling was only marginally successful in attracting the martial arts communities to his call for reform. In all fairness, Chen Pan Ling was attempting to reform not only the martial arts, but the stubbornly inculcated religious beliefs that were based on concepts like “ancestor worship” and “filial piety”. Richard C. Bush, author and historian of ancestor worship, wrote:
The hierarchy of the lineage system in the Asian martial arts raises several additional questions:
The veneration of ancestors by royal families and common people alike reveals several reasons for ancestor worship. People wanted their ancestors to be able to live beyond the grave in a manner similar to their life-style on earth; hence the living attempted to provide whatever would be necessary. A secondary motive lurks in the background: if not provided with the food and weapons and utensils needed to survive in the life beyond, those ancestors might return as ghosts and cause trouble for the living.(7) Another concept commonly seen in Asian culture is filial piety, which is the devotion and obedience by younger members of a family to their elders. Although this concept existed in Asian cultures, prior to Confucius, it is often identified with his teachings, and in The Analects, Confucius said, "A young man should be a good son at home and an obedient young man abroad...” In The Classic of Filial Piety, we find, "The services of love and reverence to parents when alive, and those of grief and sorrow to them when dead – these completely discharge the fundamental duty of living men."(8) Within the lineage descendents of teachers of the traditional martial arts, we still see evidence of behaviors and beliefs associated with “ancestor worship” and “filial piety”. These behaviors and beliefs exist because the teachers of the
1. Is the lineage student the best of the master’s, or the best student in the system? The history of certain martial arts suggests that this was not the case. 2. Is the “master” of a system (the person from where the lineage originated) necessarily the best practitioner or teacher of that system? 3. Are all of the great martial artists known? 4. Were some martial artists unconcerned about being famous? 5. Did some great martial artists choose not to teach or publish their work and thus remain unknown? 6. Is the lineage system the best method for transmitting knowledge to future martial artists? Chinese martial artist Tang Hao (1897-1959) addressed some of these questions and called for reform. From his published opinions he was attacked for his ‘heresy’ and several attempts were made to arrest and imprison him.(9) Many familial and societal pressures were placed on students of the martial arts that restrained them from being free of dogma and superstition. Even among the few who broke from the dogmatic traditions of the prevailing martial arts and created new and innovative approaches, some created new “lineages” or mythologies to explain the origins of their knowledge and abilities. For example, in the martial art baqua, its founder Dong Hai Chuan is claimed to have related the origin of this martial art to a mythical Taoist immortal. Every style of martial arts has its fountainhead and some claim that their martial art began with a mystical figure or perhaps a Taoist immortal in the Wudang Mountains. In an essay by Gu Lieu Xing (In Memory of Tang Hao), Gu states, “In the 1930’s, people in the martial art circles of our nation clung too much to the idea and the importance of lineage, and this caused major disputes...” Rigorous research by scholars and historians, such as Tang Hao, have shown that at the fountainhead of every martial art is a common man who, through hard work and effort
(kung fu), and by building on the work of predecessors, he was able to achieve innovation, and contribute to the evolution of knowledge and advancement of the martial arts.
exaggerated or were moved into the realm of the supernatural. As a consequence, these kinds of beliefs make it impossible for living breathing men and women to live up to the fiction.
In 1844, the invention of the telegraph by Samuel Morse brought the arrival of a new era in global human communication, and along with it came the death of the sifu. The first message sent via telegraph was, “What hath God wrought?” Indeed, over the course of several centuries, the sifu had been the singular source of knowledge for the marital arts. With modern communications and the multitude of communication devices which have appeared in the last 150 years, historical records and documents, copies of original manuscripts, translated words of the founders of martial arts systems, are available through rapid large-scale global data searches. With the introduction of film, video, digital media, and other online media techniques, most forms and systems of martial arts are available to students of the martial arts in an unprecedented abundance in the new era of information access.
Another evolutionary step occurring in the martial arts is taking place in two areas. First, the emerging and developing mixed martial arts are quickly adapting modern scientific methods of human performance conditioning, as derived from exercise physiology, biomechanics, and sports science. Second, knowledge and skills are expanding in relation to the combat martial arts. Because of the high degree of athleticism and risk involved, these areas rely on no nonsense pragmatic approaches in the martial training and fighting applications. Of course, some limitations are used in the rules of engagement for sports martial arts, in comparison to combat martial arts, where the objective is to maim or kill an enemy, but today’s mixed martial artist is generally a well-conditioned, multi-skilled athlete.(11)
Knowledge is essential for so many human activities and values, including freedom, the exercise of political power, and economic, social and personal development.(10) Was the role of the traditional sifu supplanted by the availability of information in the age of technology and communication? Certainly the technological advances have enhanced the ability of martial arts students to access information and to communicate directly with teachers and other students online. Web and video conferencing can even allow students and teachers to communicate verbally and visually through webcams, so that training sessions can be conducted online. Moreover, this high level of access and communication has facilitated the investigation of teacher claims about their work, publications, rank, lineage, and history, etc. If we strip away the esoteric, psychic, metaphysical, occult, superstitious, and fictitious elements of the traditional Asian martial arts, what is left? In most cases, the central theory, which allows for advancement and the evolution of a particular martial arts system, is the remaining element. In baqua, for example, the central idea was to use continually changing postures and positions, accompanied with moving behind the opponent, which led to the system’s fighting concept as seen today. Why are the contemporary innovators and creators in the martial arts community denigrated and criticized? The answer seems to stem from the ignorance about the unsubstantiated, conflicted, and shaky history of the martial arts. Over time, falsities and facts have become blurred in the minds of the ignorant or gullible. The abilities of teachers became
Mixed martial art trainers are often athletic coaches and seasoned fighters, with backgrounds in boxing, wrestling, and the Asian fighting arts. The fighters are commonly trained by “teams” comprised of athletic coaches and martial artists. Trainers often have credentials in one or more of the following areas: coaching, sports science, sports medicine, human performance testing, personal training, and exercise physiology. The traditional martial arts use of rank and lineage, while possessed by some fighters, may be of little importance in the new system. In the ring, on the platform, or in the cage, when combatants are on equal footing, and in one-on-one combat, spectators pay little attention to the color of a belt or the lineage of a fighter, but tend to focus only on the substance and ability of the martial artist. The modern fighting arts are now evolving into the kind of scientific martial art that was envisioned by Tang Hao in the 1930’s. Nevertheless, continuing to promote false information and superstition in the martial arts community and especially among martial arts teachers is counter-productive to the advancement of the marital arts. About the author: Dr. Gregory T. Lawton is a health science writer with over 100 publications to this credit. Dr. Lawton has enjoyed a lifetime of training in the martial arts, including boxing, wrestling, kenpo, and the Chinese internal martial arts. He served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1968. In the mid-1970’s, his instructor in Yang Tai Chi Chuan was the highly regarded Professor Huo Chi Kwang. Dr. Gregory Lawton is a licensed chiropractor, naprapath, and a certified acupuncturist.
Definitions of terms: Baqua (Pakua): is considered one of the three great internal martial art systems of China along with Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing Yi. Baqua incorporates principles of continuous movement, and the changing of postures and hand positions along with the intent of moving into the weakest areas of an opponentâ€™s defense, including to the rear of the opponent. The baqua are also the eight trigrams described in the I Ching; the combinations of whole and broken lines represent the ever-fluctuating elemental forces of the universe. Mixed Martial Arts: are a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques, from a mixture of martial arts traditions, to be used in competitions. The rules allow for striking and grappling techniques, both while standing and on the ground.
Modern Martial Arts: are those which have been largely developed over the last 100 years and include combat and tactical fighting arts, as well as contemporary sports martial arts such as mixed martial arts. Traditional Martial Arts: are those having both an internal and an external system, that date back to the earliest history of martial arts, or martial arts that reflect the same formal structure of master and lineage transmission, but may only be two or three centuries old. Examples include Chinese Kempo, Tai Chi Chuan, and baqua.
5. Singer, M. T. (1987). Group psychodynamics. In: R. Berkow (Ed.), Merck Manual, 15th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck, Sharp, & Dohme. 6. Chen, Pan-Ling. Chen Pan-Lingâ€™s Original Tai Chi Chuan Textbook (Tai Chi Chuan Chiao Tsai). (1998). Transliterated by Y.W. Chang, Translated by Ann Carruthers, Ed.D. Page xxiii, Blitz Design, New Orleans, LA. 7. Bush, Richard C. (1977). The Story of Religion in China, p. 2. Argus Communications, Niles, IL. 8. Mueller, Max, ed., (1879-1910) Vol. III, p. 448. Sacred Books of the East, Krishna Press (50 Volumes), London, England. 9. Kennedy, Brian and Elizabeth Guo. (2005). Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals, a Historical Survey. pp. 39-53, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. 10. A2K (Access to Knowledge) Treaty, Consumer Project on Technology. (May 9 2005), Available online at: http:// www.cptech.org/a2k/ 11. Rooney, Martin. (2008). Training for Warriors, The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout. pp. 7-17, HarperCollins Books, New York, NY.
References: 1. Holcombe, Charles. (1990). Theater of combat: A critical look at the Chinese martial arts. Vol. 52 May 3. pp. 411-431. Michigan State University Press. 2. Kurland, Harvey. (1998). Article. May T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Wellness Newsletter. 3. Friedman, Harris. (2005). Problems of Romanticism in Transpersonal Psychology: A Case Study of Aikido. The Humanistic Psychologist, Vol. 33 No. 1. pp. 3-24. 4. Cunningham, Don. (2002). Dangers of self-proclaimed masters. Furyu: The Budo Journal of Classical Japanese Martial Arts and Culture. Vol. 10 No. 7 (Summer- Fall).
Erle’s Tree - An Update Nasser Butt
Erle’s tree is growing beautifully despite the drought and rain! Yes, you heard right - drought!!! Britain was officially in a
drought at the beginning of the year and then the rains came and 2012 has been the wettest year since records began t h a t ’s o ff i c i a l n o w ! However, Erle’s Red Oak has taken a lead from the man himself and has continued to grow beautifully. We visit it regularly, especially if we have time after workshops and i t ’s g r e a t t o s e e i t blossoming over the seasons and finally turn red in the autumn.
Top left: Tony, Faith & Krish blowing bubbles. Top right: Kathleen trying to sleep in the shade! Middle: Lady bugs & buds. Bottom left & right: Lars-Erik & I on a frosty morning.
Autumn red 17
The Self Tuning Body Colin Power
Our bodies are in constant need of fine tuning to make them run smoothly. All they need is a few minutes here and there, not much to ask really is it. The modern hectic pace of life seems to make these maintenance sessions of secondary importance, we fall behind and the troubles begin. We soldier on through injury and poor work environments until we are finally brought to a standstill. We do more timely maintenance on our cars and houses than we do on our bodies. Imagine if we drove our car faster and faster each day, never taking it to the mechanic for a service or a new set of tyres. Would it last the distance? Most likely one day it would just refuse to start and you would rant and rave about how useless the manufacturer was...it could not be your fault. We treat our body with the same disrespect, and may even blame the manufacturer...or “Old Age.” We start to say we can’t do this, we can’t do that...we start to compensate...it influences everything. We change the way we get in and out of the car, play with the kids, work and play... even do Taiji. Should we give in or fight back?
Could our everyday Postures help us with our Taiji postures as well as our Taiji postures help us with our everyday postures??? This question lead me to the work of Osteopath and Acupuncture practitioner Phillip Beach and his book “Muscles and Meridians- the manipulation of shape.” The book can be a little hard going at times and full of assumptions, although his discussion on human “Archetypal posture of repose” or in other words our original ways of laying about has some interest to us all. He states that “archetypal postures, and the effort to erect oneself from the floor to standing are a way of fine tuning the many muscles we use in life.” These postures include lying on one’s back, lying on the front, sitting cross legged, knelling Japanese style, squatting and all there variations. It seems we have to reclaim the floor to fine tune our muscles... Assuming that you have general good health without limitations brought about by joint replacements we will find that we all have little imbalances regardless of how well we perform our Taiji form. You will need to experiment with all the archetypal postures to find your main imbalance. Some people will be able to squat easily whilst have trouble sitting cross legged. Time to work on our “Archetypal” postures so that we can improve our Taiji postures. Taking these postures in isolation we can gradually improve them or work up to the correct posture the same way we work up to “correct” taiji. We need to reclaim a f e w postures from our not so distant past to help us with our t a i j i . We have to
My current job as Podiatrist and Taiji instructor for a Community Health Provider has given me great insight into the battle we can wage to fight back against the aging process and poor body maintenance. First and foremost we don’t want to add to the long list of “Things” that need doing in our modern life...we will just do some of these “Things” a little differently. First let us think over a few thoughts... Our environment has changed faster than our bodies can adapt. What we surround ourselves with has a profound effect...especially the chair we sit in. The voluminous recliner chair that seems to suck you down and support your body without any postural effort of our own is a monster that has only been around for a brief time in our evolutionary history...they are thieves in the night.
Full squat - side view.
acknowledge that the fighting arts did not evolve from a plush leather armchair set in front of the TV...more like it evolved from squatting around an open fire seeking to survive another day. It is time we reclaimed the ability to transition from the floor to standing without grunting and groaning.
The full squat has been identified as an essential part of our evolutionary history. Look how a young infant squats down to play with or pick something up...in total balance. A posture that has helped define us... should not be taken for granted or neglected.
To start with just work on being able to attain a full squat with relaxed balance then work on transitioning from the full squat to standing with that same relaxed balance. In
The ideal squat has the feet parallel, the heels on the ground, and the knees over the second toes with no inward collapse of the arch of the feet. If you have difficulty attaining this alignment it means there is a need to tune the muscles from front and rear compartments of the lower legs. To improve
Transitional squat with heels raised.
transition to standing work towards the point that you can raise straight up without the need to swing your arms or lean
Full squat front view. - knee over second toe.
the alignment you can tackle this in stages, moving gradually o the ideal squat. You may need the support of a wall to guide you on the way down or start with a slightly wider posture than ideal, or let the heels raise to achieve a full squat. You can bringing it gradually to ideal after a little practice. When we are in the need for a complete overhaul it is better to achieve a lesser posture without stress and strain, then aim for gradual improvement. The Taiji form is the ideal self tuning system for the body if the postures are correctly performed. Qigong could be described as the best rehabilitation self tuning systems again if correctly performed, yet the modern western body could be so far out of tune we need to resort to the archetypal or “Primordial” postures of our ancestors before we can move on to correctly perform our Taiji or Qigong.
Assisted full squat - support to assist decent/raise.
forward. Work on slowing down the decent as well as the transition to standing...you are in control. In the next articles we will look at the other archetypal postures, then we will tie them into our Taiji and Qigong practice. Until then “Remember nothing changes until we do something different.” 19
A Qigong Exercise For All Reasons Erle Montaigue (Originally published October 1999)
When I began teaching the Qigong exercise back in the early 70's, I was probably one of the only Westerners to be teaching this wonderful healing art. Since then a plethora of different so-called Qigong exercise methods have come mainly out of China claiming all kinds of miraculous healing benefits. However, many are no more than a simple exercise, which in itself will do anyone who is totally unfit and unhealthy a lot of good. So it is most cases not the new Qigong exercise that is doing the trick but rather the simple fact that the patient is at last getting some much needed exercise, albeit very little exercise at that! However, the same cannot be said of the original 'Post' standing Qigong exercise methods as these have stood the test of time and have had done on them much scientific research always with positive results. Having said that, it is most important that the patient learns these standing Qigong exercise methods absolutely correctly as damage can be done to the internal energy (Qi) system of the body resulting in some instances, brain and mind problems, mental problems and immune system imbalances! Which is why in particular my video tapes that teach Qigong exercises are always so comprehensive where only the most basic of patients could possibly get it wrong. People still get it wrong of course and they also teach incorrect Qigong exercise methods to others. The reason is that they simply have not had the training necessary to be up on the dangers and dangerous ways of performing Qigong exercises. For instance certain stances in Qigong may seem to have tremendous power due to an upsurge of 'rising Qi' from the point called the 'Bubbling Well Point' or Kidney point No. 1. This gives an immediate 'hit' of well being and power in much the same way that coffee and its associated caffeine gives an immediate hit to the brain causing the neuro-inhibitors to be retarded this causing the brain waves to speed up dramatically. However, the brain waves must at some stage slow back down again and then people do into deep depression etc.! So they have to take more caffeine and
so the cycle continues until usually a complete breakdown occurs! And it is the same with Qigong done incorrectly for the sake of an instant 'hit' of power. At some time, that power must dissipate giving the opposite feeling of no so well-being and weakness! This is because so much yang Qi is built up during incorrect Qigong practice that at some time, it must burst through the incorrect tensions caused through incorrect stances and reach the brain all at once! This is incorrect of course as the brain along with the rest of the body must receive a constant and balanced flow of Qi from the ground via the K1 points. The Classic Qigong Exercise Methods You cannot go past the original classic Qigong exercise stances and there are many different stances for many different reasons, some of which I will show in this article. In my some 30 years of practicing and teaching Qigong exercises I have experimented with myself and my own students with the various postures and what they are supposed to do. I have given up teaching some Qigong methods and have kept only the ones that I have found to be of real help. Method No. 1 For general good health and as a beginner's Qigong exercise we always start with the 3 Circle Standing Qigong. This is the 'Mother' of all Qigong methods and you cannot go past this for good health and an overall balancing method. It balances the amount of Qi out in the upper and lower body by supplying 60% to the lower part and 40% to the upper which is natural. See Photo No. 1 & 1A for the posture.
Photo No. 1
Photo No. 1A
The feet are parallel and shoulder width apart when measured on the outside of the feet. The 'parallel' bit should be measured on the inside of the feet which causes the outsides to be only marginally un-parallel. The knees are bent so that if a straight and vertical line were drawn from your knees to the ground, it would touch the tip of the big toe. The back is vertical and as straight as possible given that the back is never fully straight! You must sink straight down and not bend the back backwards at all. This is one big mistake that most people make. In fact I would say that I would correct 99% of all students on this. And I keep on correcting them year after year! So if you are standing up straight and were to place a string onto the roof with a small weight on the end of it which was located over your crown, that weight would still be in that position once you bent your knees. The chin is held pulled in slightly but not forced and the tongue is placed up onto the hard palate like saying the letter 'L'. The eyes are not closed nor are they fully open (staring). They will look to the ground about 20 feet away. The shoulders are dropped naturally and the arms are held such that you are sort of hugging a tree with the elbows dropped below the wrists and shoulders. The palms are turned out slightly so that they are at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground with a straight line of skin but not stretched between thumb and forefinger. The palms are held in the typical "Tile Palm Hand" where each finger is kind of layered over the next like the tiles on a roof. The fingers of each palm are held about three inches apart. And as a beginner the upper side of the forefingers should be in line with the under side of your nose.
The breathing should be deep but relaxed and not forced. In the beginning you should always use a natural breathing pattern where the abdomen expands upon inhalation and contracts upon exhalation. You breathe with your diaphragm and not your neck! So do not tense up your neck, just treat it as a straw through which the diaphragm pulls air into your lungs. Just breathe naturally allowing the natural rhythm to take over. You should in the beginning hold this posture for at least 15 minutes. This is difficult, however, it will be worth it. You will begin to shake, not violently but a vibration will take over your whole body and you will begin to perspire from your palms and fingertips. After some minutes, check your posture again to make sure that you haven't slowly crept up and your knees are still bent. To finish, slowly lower your palms to a lower position to near your lower abdomen and hold that position for a few minutes. Photo No. 2. After you are adept at holding this position, you can do the first two thirds of the total time with your palms in the upper position and then the last third of the total time with your palms in the lower position. When you have had enough, slowly raise both palms out to your sides and up to shoulder height inhaling as you do this, then bring both palms to chest height and press downward from chest to lower abdomen as you exhale and straighten your legs slowly. Do not make any sudden movements nor in particular have anything cold to drink for at least five minutes, just walk around slowly. The non-thought process would take up a whole book so it is sufficient to say that you should simply but with much difficulty, think upon nothing at all! Just do nothing, no conscious thought at all! This is the secret to good Qigong.
The buttocks are held slightly under naturally as this is the natural position for the lower back when the knees are bent. Do not force the bum under as this is just as bad as sticking it out. The Toes are held slightly but not as much as to turn your toes white, concave. Like as if they are gripping the ground. This is to bring yin and yang into the base of the foot so that the Yang Qi will be drawn down to the 'Bubbling Well' point (KD 1) to be re-routed all over the body.
Photo No. 2
Method No.2 (Holding the Baby).
Photo No. 3
This is the one we use in the martial arts. It sends 60% Qi into the hands and only 40% into the legs. So it is obvious that you should not ONLY train in this one Qigong, you should always perform the basic 3 Circle Qigong exercise as mentioned above. Then, if you wish, do these next few Qigong exercise methods at other times or substitute one of them at a time in conjunction with your Basic Qigong exercise.
The 'Six Balanced Pairs" must also be apparent in Qigong as it is for Taijiquan. So if you look at the above basic Qigong method you will notice in particular that the elbows and knees are aligned. It is the same for this Qigong exercise method. The Six Balanced Body Pairs:
allow your knee to deviate from this position, otherwise you could do your knee some damage from incorrect alignment. Many people perform the posture of "Stork Spreads Wings" absolutely incorrectly by allowing their knee to angle inwards so that the vertical line would be somewhat to the left of their right knee. This will cause all kinds of bone and ligament problems later in life. Place your left foot's heel so that it touches your right heel and the foot is pointing to an angle of 45 degrees to that right foot. Now, move your left foot in a straight line to where it is pointing, out to where it is almost straight but not quite. Turn your hips so that your upper body is now pointing to where your left foot is pointing. This is the danger time as far as knee alignment is concerned. By turning your waist and hips, you could move your knee away from that alignment. You should at this stage be able to lift your left foot off the ground without moving any weight onto the right foot. All of your weight is now placed onto your right foot. Raise your palms so that they are in accordance with your feet. The left palm will be forward of the right. The palms however, are NOT situated over each foot but rather more to the centre of your feet. The Fingers of your right palm will point to a position that is about one inch towards the left palm end over the centre of your forearm. (7 tsune or cun: Both spellings are pronounced as the first spelling).
Hands and Feet corresponding to Stomach and Spleen. Knees and Elbows corresponding to Kidneys and Bladder. CV1 (Point) and The Crown (GV20) corresponding to the Pericardium meridian and the Triple Heater Meridian. Buttocks and Axilla (Armpits) corresponding to the Gallbladder and Liver. Coccyx and Back of the head at GB19 point corresponding to the Heart and Small Intestine. Shoulders and Hips corresponding to the Lungs and Colon. Turn your right foot (to begin with) out by 45 degrees and lower your weight onto that foot with the centre of gravity being just forward of where your leg joins your foot. In other words, just forward of the front of your heel pad. The right knee is bent so that the tip of the knee is in a vertical line with the tip of your big toe. It is more important during this Qigong to adhere to this rule as you will have all of your weight placed onto only one leg placing more physical pressure onto that leg. It is very important that you do not
Both Palms are facing slightly upward and if you were to draw a line flat on the palms that line would meet the ground at an angle of about 45 degrees. The Top of your left finger should be in a line that is under your nose. The fingers are again held in the "Time Palm Hand" position with a straight piece of skin between thumb and forefinger. Breathing, Tongue and lower abdomen is the same for the basic Qigong exercise. You should hold this position for only 3 minutes at the most in the beginning as it will place some strain onto your legs. Then you should go on to the left side and hold that side for 3 minutes. You will however, find that at each change of leg, you can hold the position for a little longer as the Qi is now beginning to assist the muscles. The Three Signs There are three things to look for especially when using the above Qigong. And this is very important to avoid any 22
4th Method: Qigong exercise to Enhance Your Qi Transference Ability
No. 1: You will feel a burning piercing pain in the centre of your thigh like a red-hot needle is piercing your leg. No. 2: After some more time, this piercing pain will dissipate into a warm all over glow around your thigh. No. 3: You will begin to shake. The shaking is a sign that you should not change legs. Allow the shaking to continue for about 20 seconds before changing legs. You will discover that you will be able to hold the position for slightly longer each time you change legs. You must of course spend the same amount of time standing on each leg. The time you spend is up to you. 3rd Method: Qigong exercise for the Brain/Mind This method is the same as for the basic 3 circle standing Qigong however, your palms will be placed above your head with the PC 8 (Lau-gung) pointing down to the middle of your crown. Lau-gung is an important Qi emission point on the palm located where your longest finger points to when you hold a tight fist. The important points of this Qigong are: make sure that your shoulders do not lift up as this is usually Photo No.4 what happens when you raise your arms up so high. A little trick used to cause you to know when you have them raised is to physically raise the shoulders while in this position as high as you are able. Then relax them so that they will drop down to the correct position. You should hold this position for at least ten minutes. It will be difficult but the rewards are great. This is the one that Aldus Huxley advocated while experimenting with drugs! I do not advocate experimenting with drugs of course as we now know better. However, the mind enhancement that he received was not from the drugs but rather from the Qigong! This one is good if you have to take an exam etc.
Stand as for the No. 2 method with one foot forward of the other. Hold your palms as in the photo facing downward to the ground, the left one (if your left foot is forward) will be forward of the right. And again, the elbows are over each knee. Yo u w i l l h a v e t o imagine and 'feel' the Lau-gung point in the centre of your palms Photo No.5 as this is the point that we use to enhance the Qi giving ability. As you breathe in for the first time deeply, imagine that the breath is coming into your body from the ground into your rear heel. (The Qi is actually coming in through the Qi input point of K 1 (Kidney Point No. 1) on the base of your foot. However, it is the heel just forward of it, that is the 'activation' point for this point.) Now take that breath up and over you head via your backbone, down the front of your face and out along the top of your left arm down to the ground again via that Lau-gung point. If you are doing this correctly that point will buzz and will turn slightly red. On your next inhalation, this time drag the breath up through the right Lau-gung point in your right palm. Up the inside of your right forearm, through your armpit over your head. Then down the front of your face again and out via the left Lau-gung point again to earth. Continue this for at least 5 minutes then change legs and sides and repeat on the other side. 5th Method: To Build Upon Your Post-Natal Qi This method can be used with the basic 3 circle standing Qigong position as it is a breathing technique and not a specific physical stance. As you inhale, drag the 'breath' up from the ground via your right heel (for a male) or left heel (for a female). I will give the more common 'male' way of doing it here as the female way is to simply reverse everything! You must completely relax your anus sphincter when inhaling, this is the whole crux of this exercise. The breath (Qi) will then be routed over 23
your head, down the front of your face, down the front of your body to the tantien point near CV 4 about 3 inches below your navel. When the Qi gets to the middle of your forehead to the 'third-eye point', this is when you begin to exhale. As you exhale, you must now tighten slightly the anus sphincter, thus locking and packing in the Earth Qi. Do not squeeze the sphincter too tightly as it only needs a tweak! Continue in this way for the whole time of standing.
As you can see, all of the above methods are based upon basic standing Qigong exercises. If you never learn another Qigong exercise in your life, you will not lose out on anything as you have all there is in the above for Qi enhancement and therefore Body and Mind enhancement.
Connecting the dots The first thing I have to confess is that my ego has taken a battering, and it all started at summer camp 2011. It was my first, after a couple of months of hard training and realizing that this was real martial arts, I was just determined to go there and have some fun. This was the first time I would be instructed by Eli so I was eager to see how he was. So there we were on the first day doing some of the Bagua power sets, with Eli pulling them off seamlessly, and as you would expect I as well as many others were all over the place. Things went on as usual we were all enjoying ourselves the weather was beautiful and were all just one big family, but at the end of the camp my mind inevitably stumbled upon one of the most dangerous feelings, can anyone guess what it was? Comparison. Upon seeing a man who was only a couple of years older than me but decades ahead of me in something I truly love, was a shock. I was in a sort of deadlock, how would I ever be that good? Would I ever be able to get to that level? Now I am embarrassed writing these words but they were my honest thoughts at that time. It was like my mind was an endless maze of self doubt, bouncing between the walls of a path that went round in loops. I had some searching to do, I had to confront these thoughts. For a while I just pushed it away but each and every time I trained there it was again. I confessed this to one person who went through the same problem as me and they said, look at your life what else has it ever been about but comparison? Can you blame yourself for the way you feel? This was the trigger I needed. Every single day of my life has been about comparison, from the time I attended school we were divided up into groups, which in itself is fine, not everyone is the same. When we played sports naturally the people who were better were picked first, and the people who were not so good tried as desperately as they could not to show up or found something which they were good at, but this is fine, not everyone is the same. My most recent example was job interviews, you are chosen on the basis of
how another set of people judge your abilities, and this is what r e a l l y hammered things home for me. I’m sure that
By Ramakrishna Chedumbarum Pillay everyone at some point in their lives has experienced that sinking feeling after they have been told by someone else that they just are not good enough. Unfortunately today this is what a lot of modern society is all about comparison and judgement, compartmentalizing an organic living breathing individual into something as impersonal as a set of abilities, endless competition. For me things really didn’t settle down for my tai chi until a good friend saw a video of me practicing a drill, the first thing they said was, “I am actually worried for you, it looks like when you do fajing your going to rip yourself apart from tension.” The reason this made an impact was that for months after the camp I had spent all my time trying to get power from my strikes, trying to do fajing, and pulling a lot of muscles in the process, so when I was told this I thought to myself what am I doing? So I proceeded to do just that, I stated only doing qigong, the Yang Lu Chan form without the fajing movements, the post everything else was done slowly, including the wudang hammer, just keeping the wrist in the center and moving the body as one unit. Now things really started happening, and I realized that over time I just had to stop fighting with my biggest enemy, myself. All the time it was me stopping my training progressing, I was allowing my ego to compare myself, I was looking down on myself from the perfection I wanted to
achieve. I remember reading Erle’s articles about how chi is like a shy girl peeking at you from behind a tree, you try to catch a glimpse and you never can but when your stop trying to look, there it is, in other words when you seek power it will never come to you only when you accept yourself and live in the moment and just do it, without thinking does the power over yourself come, accepting your weaknesses and your strengths and all those minute little things that come together uniquely to create you. The ability to accept yourself as you are is real power, as I mentioned not everyone one is the same, everyone is beautifully unique. And the best thing is that even though we have weaknesses, we also have to realise that the world does not revolve ourselves. The one thing that has helped me on this journey so far are my friends who point out my mistakes, in this way the people we know make up for our weaknesses, wouldn’t perfection be a lonely place? Tai chi has taught me so much already, because I have had to confront myself over something that means so much to me, and I have started to discover that life is not about competition, with other people or with yourself. The trick is to let yourself be, it reminds me of another of Erle's sayings, when you do Tai Chi it eventually becomes your art and yours alone because everyone is different, Tai Chi is a true art as its expression is totally unique to every person. Go and make it your own.
WTBA Grading - Why Some Qualify Before Others? Eli Montaigue The WTBA may seem very laid back and easy going when it comes to grading instructors. But this is not the case! It seems this way, because we do not have tests and exams, like other schools do. So people see me come to a workshop, and then at the end just say, “Oh and so and so is now level 1 instructor. When I am in a workshop, or any class, I pick out those that are doing well, and I test them without them knowing throughout the whole class, or in most cases, for the whole year. So I do not give a grading based on a short grading session, I have been analyzing them over many months at least, as it is my job to make sure that if they go out and start teaching, that those students are getting the right stuff. I have never given out an instructors degree to someone who does not deserve it. I am very strict with who I award this grading too. I have been accused a few times in the past of giving out degrees, to those close to me, close friends, and girls I have been in relationships with. The classic, “oh she just got her degree because she’s sleeping with him!” This has never been the case, and I never favour anyone for any reason, you either deserve it or you don’t. I am a complete professional when it comes to the things that matter.
ELI’S ONLINE LESSONS I have started series of online lessons, so far mainly on the YLC form, but have also done the whole small San Sau, and starting on some Bagua as well. These are the most detailed and easy to learn from videos available on the basic form. Covering the basic level form as I teach it in my c l a s s e s . T h e D V D ’s o n t h e advanced form by Dad are great, but the only thing on the basic form is MTG 2, which is a good DVD, but out-dated and not very detailed. The whole form is shown in 2 hours. T h e n t h e re i s t h e corrections series, an amazing set of DVD’s, but not teaching the form as such, but just showing how is should be done and how it shouldn’t.
What I get up to in my private life is my business, but I will never let it have any effect on the business of the WTBA.
These clips, however, at 20 minutes each, have as much detail on the basic structure and flow that you could ask for! The first third is 15 lessons, about 5 hour of teaching.
People often say, “I’ve been training years more than him!” When I give out a degree. Yes this is sometimes the case, some people have been training for 5 years or more and not got their grading, then a new student comes along, and in a year they get their grading!
These clips are on Facebook http:// w w w. f a c e b o o k . c o m / elimontaigues.teachingpage as well as on youtube.
This often annoys those that have been training longer. But you have to take into account more than just the years you’ve spent training. Ben has been training more years then me, does that mean he should be head of the WTBA? No, because years don’t count for anything, it’s hours that count! Yes in some cases you might have trained hard for many hours, but maybe not every day with a teacher. Those who train daily with an advanced teacher are of course going to grade before someone that comes to weekly or monthly classes.
There are lots of free clips, first 10 lessons of YLC etc.
Then there is also the persons background, if you have done nothing before starting, you’ll take longer. If you have learnt a very stiff style before starting, you will take longer. But if you have done some form of flowing movement, dance, Yoga, etc. some thing like this will enhance your Taiji learning a great deal! I have seen some people who train with me on a weekly basic take 5 years to grade. Then others that take a year. Because of their background, how much they train at home, and the individual learning ability of each person.
If you’re learning without a teacher, then these clips will give you the best possible learning experience. Or if you do have a teacher, they are still great to help you train at home in-between classes, so that you don’t fall into bad habits.
There are some people I know that I would love to grade, due to their dedication, and just because there are such nice people. But if they are still making mistakes, then those mistakes will be passed onto anyone they teach, therefore I can not grade them.
Check out the free stuff on facebook or youtube, and if you like it then just contact me for links to the rest.
Then the cost of further lessons is very cheap, only £3 per lesson, or 10 for £20. Plus you have can them sent to you on DVD as well, for viewing offline.
It’s my responsibility to make sure that students get the right stuff. So I have to be hard on gradings.
CAMP USA 2012 Report & Photography by Nasser Butt
While the UK came to a halt at the end of May to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee celebrations, Eli and I quietly slipped out of England to make our annual trip across the pond. Once again, the setting for the camp was at the hauntingly beautiful Pocono Plateau in Pensalvaniya state and I was hoping to catch glimpse of a bear or two this time round. We were met by our dear friend, and camp organizer, Al Krych (Chief WTBA Instructor USA) at Newark Liberty airport, as per usual, and headed towards New Jersey into a warm May night. It had been a long day of traveling yet, seeing Al’s smiling face at the terminal seemed to drive all the tiredness away. It was so great to see him and catch up with his lovely family again. Al and Carol’s beautiful home has become like a second home and... this time I got to sleep in the den! 
After a well deserved lay in, followed by an exquisite omelette for lunch, we packed the car and headed for the campsite in beautiful sunshine. The Pocono lake plateau was exactly as I remembered it. Thankfully, the weather was brighter and drier than the previous year’s visit and we all looked forwards to the next three days’ training.
Training started almost immediately upon arrival once Al had sorted out all the paperwork, even though the Canadians contingent, led by the wonderful Josephine Anderson, broke down en route and arrived several hours later! The main theme this year was Dim-Mak’s 12 Deadly Katas and their corresponding qigongs alongside the Snake Qi Shaking Form. Also covered were double push hands as well as some of the bumping hands methods. Eli taught a couple of these everyday, starting with Snake Hands, covering in intricate detail the associated qigong and martial applications for each kata. Snakes were to be a huge part of this camp as we would literally discover whilst crossing the small bridge leading us to the training area by the lake! Several people sighted these oft misunderstood reptiles whilst walking past the lake, including myself and my dear friend Arlie Stroud. What we spotted on a walk one afternoon was thoroughly confusing. We thought that we had spotted two snakes sitting basking in the sun until, when startled by my camera, the snakes moved suddenly and there was only one! It baffled us both how it could be as we had both clearly seen two heads? I’ll leave that for you to decide and the locals to expand upon as I was told that such mutations were not unheard off! 
Al Krych WTBA Chief Instructor USA. With Josephine Anderson, WTBA Chief Instructor Canada
This year we had an extra days’ training, which meant that we could move at a more leisurely pace and spend more time developing and understanding each training method. Over the entire weekend, we managed to cover six of the 12 Deadly Katas in the following order: Snake Hands, Straight Hands, Changing Hand, Throwing Hand, Waving Hand and Breaking Hand (The full 12 Katas are available on Erle’s MTG62 dvd and the corresponding Meridian Healing Qigongs are available on MTG88). As we had done in the previous year, another evening of Q&A’s with Eli was scheduled. Bryan Flood kindly entertained us with some beautiful guitar solos, which were enjoyed by everyone, as Don Jennings kept the fire burning and kept us all warm until Eli arrived! The topics ranged from correct form practice, qigong, single and double push hands as well as a whole range of other training and fighting methods. Eli spent a good couple of hours dealing with each question in detail, relating the subject matters directly to his own training and development, providing invaluable insight into how a student should develop. It also allowed a lot of the students and instructors the chance to share ideas with each other from training to teaching, what works and what doesn’t.
Eli teaching the Snake Qi Shaking Form.
After the Q&A session, we spent the evening catching up with friends around a real log fire and my brother from another mother - Kurt Levins - had me in stitches most of the night with his warped humour and tales form his police days! This is probably one of my favorite things about the WTBA family, it’s warm and welcoming no matter where you are in the world and perhaps the greatest testament to Erle’s work and vision. Training continued and before we realized, the camp was already coming to end. Time just happened to fly by as we filled our days with hard work and of course some play! I had great fun shooting some hoops with my wonderful friend Joel Friedman, in between breaks as well as engaging in some great banter with Joel B. Fant.
Bryan Flood entertaining the troops.
As per custom at these camps, Eli awarded Level 1 Instructor’s certificates to Joel B. Fant and the lovely Elizabeth Fortin in recognition of their hard work, dedication and achievements. Congratulations to them both. On the final day of camp we all said our goodbyes with great emotion and hugs - lots of hugs - and the promise to meet up again next year! I have always found this difficult and it never gets any easier parting from friends. A great, special thanks to Al Krych for all his hospitality, hard work and enthusiasm that goes into making these camps the success that they are.
Early morning Qigong.
It’s not easy sorting out the logistics of getting people from across the globe together in one place yet, Al seems to manage it so easily or so he makes it appear! The trek back to New Jersey was beautiful however, upon our arrival we were greeted by a thunderstorm that brewed up from nowhere! Eli, nonetheless ran out and jumped into the pool in Al’s backyard. Nothing was going to stop him from having a swim! We had a mouthwatering supper, cooked by Al’s lovely wife Carol, in the evening before sitting down to watch a movie. Then tired,
Shooting hoops with Joel Friedman (opposite). Photos appear courtesy of Colleen Gifford.
we headed to bed to get some rest before the return journey home the following day. I must add another special thank you to Carol Krych for looking after both Eli and I and making us feel at home, for that’s how it feels being there. The morning and early afternoon was spent with Al in New York , wandering through China Town and taking in the sites before finally heading towards the airport, where we hastily said our goodbyes and parted. The journey home had begun and I suddenly realized, I had not managed to see a single bear yet again! Oh well, there’s always next year.
Eli with new WTBA Instructors Elizabeth Fortin & Joel B. Fant
Q&A with Eli.
Master Brian Alexander receiving his afternoon wake up call from Lisa Ludwig.
Master Brian Alexander receiving his afternoon wake up call from Lisa Ludwig.
Wtba camp usa 2012, pocono plateau, pensalvaniya
The dragon turtle My
Master had often told me that I Dick told me needed to find a dragon turtle because h e r e c e n t l y they bring good fortune and are "good had a run in Feng Shui." I could never figure out what w i t h a he meant. "Dragon Turtle" I had never s n a p p i n g heard of such a thing, So I looked up t u r t l e . H e Dragon Turtle and found statues and picked up a paintings of a large turtle with scalloped large one and carapace and ridges down the back like s was taking it stegosaurus. I was not familiar with any back to the such animal. house to show h i s Then many years later while reading on turtles I saw a picture of a turtle and it was a dragon turtle. It was a South American Snapping turtle. Dang, I knew snappers. They live all around me. Only my local snappers have smaller ridges down the back but the shells were rougher than the more common Painter or Boxed turtle. The edges of the shell were indeed scalloped. About two weeks ago I was hiking in the woods with my son Alex, when I saw something moving in a pond and it was big. We closed in and I saw it - a snapper. It was on the surface. You could clearly see the shell. The turtle's head was huge and the neck was thick. The turtle pulled his head back and then quickly snapped out and bit into some pond lily and ate it. The turtle did this several times. I saw the resemblance to a dragon. When that huge neck and head came out of the water it was like that famous photo of the Loch Ness monster. Alex was afraid the turtle would get him and I explained that he could certainly outrun a turtle. A few weeks later I was discussing this with my friend Dick Marcinko. Now Dick is a real world expert on reptiles and such. Not a professor, he has real world experience. He is what is known as a snake eater. This is a term used to describe SEALs and other Special Operations military units that live off the land. Dick did time deep in the Mekong delta in Viet Nam where he encountered numerous poisonous snakes such as Cobra and the Fleur De Lis.
Kurt Levins Snr.
daughter. Dick said he w a s holding it w h e n suddenly it stuck out an enormous head with a thick neck. For reference, the turtle I saw's neck was as thick as my arm at the wrist. Once the turtle had its head out and neck fully stretched, it turned the head around and came straight at him over the shell, quickly. Dick said he had never seen a turtle do such a thing.
Sifu Alex Photo©Kurt Levins Snr.
turtle sitting on top of the stump of a log, just basking in the sun. I can only imagine that they are doing Sun qi gong soaking up that qi.
As a result of these observations, I now realize how the turtle became such an auspicious animal to the Taoists. How much healthier would our lives be if we didn’t fill it with monkey chatter and monkey action. How much unnecessary actions do we bring into our lives. Then how many of us do qi gong regularly like I related to Dick that I once saw a snapper the turtle? in the back of a pickup truck. An old farmer had a stick about an inch thick and A second lesson is how Commander was teasing the turtle,"just wait and see Marcinko became a mentor and friend. what happens." The turtle then slowly sat Real simple, we met over the Internet. We back on its hind legs and then in an started talking and that is that. Dick has instant sprang maybe even jumped helped me through some truly terrible forward and grabbed the stick and times. Fortunately I was able to help him snapped it in half. It was impressive. out with some herbal treatments. This demonstrates one of the oldest Taoist I thought about this for a few days and the adages,” when the time is right, the lesson finally came to me.The turtle is the teacher appears.” Dick is one of my best perfect yin animal. Staying still and only teachers. As founder of SEAL TEAM 6, moving when necessary. The Taoist he offered me training and insight into s y m b o l o f l o n g l i f e a n d i n d e e d true combat something most martial herpetologists tell us turtles do have teachers no nothing of. Also, having been incredibly long life spans. through life as a warrior, all of his wisdom has been tempered in the fires of Yet within their stillness, the turtle combat and reality. possesses a great potential power. It can move explosively when it has to. I can Third lesson is one I’ve shared before, only compare it to the Fa Jing of internal you never know where a lesson in the Tao martial arts. will come from, so keep your eyes and mind open. I have a pond near me which I and my family pass. On every warm day there is a
What’s next? Nasser butt
What’s next? How often have I heard those words uttered by students over the years! I have always advocated that all students pay heed to the foundations of the system, as have some of the other ‘old school’ instructors, especially since Erle’s death, as well as Eli himself. The foundations are critical in the survival and understanding of any system and in the development of the student him or herself. However, over the years, I have seen many students, both my own and those of Erle and other instructors rushing towards the ‘advanced’ forms or ideas and training methods, despite being warned repeatedly against such a folly. Erle was prolific at putting out information on the internal arts so that we were all able to advance in our training. However, he was always at pains reminding everyone that just because he was showing the ‘advanced’ ideas or forms, it didn’t mean that everyone was ready to do them. Rather, it was his way of showing the diligent students of what lay ahead if they continued to train correctly. I will let you in on a ‘secret’, if you haven’t figured it out already - there are no advance forms per se! There is only the form - the one form - perfect from the start. The imperfections, however, are in us, the practitioners. The form goes to work on us right from the start, like a master craftsman, a stone mason, it slowly chips away at our imperfections if, and it’s a BIG IF, we allow it to do so, sculpting and moulding us in its own image.
(some even begin with this instead of MTG2!!!) and physically start to put the opening and closing movements into their form, as opposed to using these volumes as a guide once ‘opening and closing’ has already begun to happen naturally. This would be akin to attaching a patch made from sackcloth onto the finest silk! Instead of learning from the form, you are now trying to become its ‘teacher’, this is surely a recipe for disaster! The same is true for the ‘waving form’ and the ‘stone hands form’, and all the various other ways Erle showed the form could be done. He was simply laying down markers on a route, showing which
“You can only fight the way you practice” Miyamoto Musashi way to head once you had come upon that road and how the various energies interplayed in the ONE form.
The form is littered with ‘keys’, which when found or given, lead you to the higher levels of practice. But these ‘keys’ can only be discovered or given when the student is ready. Most students, in fact, will go through a life of training never This is what practicing the foundations is even realizing of their existence simply all about. There is no ‘opening and b e c a u s e t h e y h a v e i g n o r e d t h e closing’ form. If you practice your form foundations! correctly and pay heed to the foundational principles, you will one day arrive I have been often accused of focusing too naturally at the point where the opening much on the foundations by some of my and closing movements will begin to own students as well as others. I do not manifest themselves. Most students, apologize for that! It is my duty to ensure however, buy the “To The Max” series that the system I have inherited and had
the privilege to teach over the last 12 years or so, passes on exactly as it was taught to myself. The fact that most students fail to understand the precise nature of the foundations makes it even more imperative that we, as teachers, insist upon the mastery of them! Herein, perhaps, lay the advantages of the classical schools and their hierarchies, where students stood for hour upon hour practicing a single movement, day after day until perfection was achieved. No student would dare move from the spot where he had been asked to stand by his teacher and practice what he had been told to do, regardless of the time. Far more importantly, no student would have dared ask his teacher: “What’s next?” or “Show me the next move”! Within these hierarchical institutions the students would know their place. Their job was to do as they had been shown, until told to do so otherwise. Can you imagine a primary classroom in any school, where the student would go up to the class tutor and tell him or her what to teach them next? Or, that they were ready to take their GCSE’s or Higher Education Diplomas? No! It would be an absurdly laughable situation yet, there are students who are doing just that! I have trawled through my memory banks and spoke to several of my contemporaries as well as some of Erle’s oldest students and not one of us has any recollection of ever having gone up to Erle and asked, “What’s next?” Or, even suggest that we were ready to move onto the next level! When we were ready, we were told so by Erle himself. As all of us who knew Erle, know, he wasn’t so fond of such rigid structures and all that they entailed. Erle had spent most of his life self-learning and seeking information near and far in order to better himself, not only in the martial arts but also in life too. In a world littered with ‘secrets’, closed door students and magical and esoteric energies, he taught and showed everyone everything equally, simplifying the most difficult of concepts for the beginner, with which to learn and
You just throw your hands up in the air and say: Oi vey!!!!" Erle Montaigue
So important to have got the very basics down and you MUST have them perfectly before you can go onto anything else! And I literally see this all around the world People buy the advance tapes and 3 weeks later, they'll get in touch with me and say they've learnt the Old Yang style at small frame level, and what do I do next?
"It's so necessary to have learnt the very basic form perfectly before going on to all this stuff... the openings & closings & the small frame and everything else!
develop. Furthermore, rather than being the ‘Master’, aloof and beyond approach, he chose to be a friend to his students and stand amongst them as opposed to towering over them. Herein lay the problem, not with Erle but rather with the students themselves, they became lazy and complacent!
apply the same critique to ourselves? A person practicing a modified form with dedication and to the best of their ability, in my opinion, is far better than someone practicing poorly with an Erle Montaigue! You can never achieve real success through association alone. You WILL be found out in the end. Success comes through hard work and effort leading to Maybe, familiarity really does breed understanding. It wasn’t called Gung-Fu contempt! for no reason. One had to train hard and invest in a loss in order to achieve. Any art or system is only as good as its current practitioners and students. No point claiming to be studying the “Supreme Ultimate” or the original form Though the of Yang Lu-ch’an, when you do not metamorphoses be invest time in understanding and ten thousand, developing the foundations of that system. One principle An arrow fired from a bow will behave in pervades them. exactly the same way whether in practice or in actual combat. It remains true to its From familiarity understanding and that is exactly how the with the moves, student of any system ought to be! one gradually I often find students looking on in amazement when you show a martial or healing application and relate it to a posture in the form. Their amazement shows that the students have NOT connected the dots for themselves even at the most basic level. Equally, whilst doing the form, failure to recognize where postures are repeated in a variant or more subtle manner in the 2nd and 3rd thirds, are usually greeted with the exclamation: “Oh, I never saw that!” And yes, it will be these very students who will be rushing to buy the ‘advanced’ MTG tapes or asking to learn the next level! Here is a question. I address this to WTBA practitioners in particular: Where in the Old Yang form do we first come across the concept of the penetration punch? If you can’t answer that question in an instant, then you need to take a good hard look at your training and be honest with yourself - are you training correctly? It’s no good sitting at home, watching YouTube and criticizing how badly other schools practice their taiji or self-defence, when you don’t understand your own system! Rather, spend that time wisely, training and bettering yourself. Any fool can point a critical finger at others. How many of us would have the honesty to
awakens to understanding power. From understanding power, one by stages reaches spiritual enlightenment. Without long application of effort One cannot thoroughly penetrate it. Great-pole boxing: the theory
Erle stipulated, incessantly, that it took years of investing in “loss” in order to gain. He would, often, tell stories during class of how he would stand practicing the same movement for several hours a day in order to understand its essence. Yet, it seems, that these stories have largely fallen on deaf ears! The modern student does not understand nor wish to invest in the “loss” which Erle spoke about. I look around and see students rushing, worst still, going on to forms which they have no right to be even contemplating, let alone be doing - the ego can be a dangerous thing! Take the
Pauchui as an example. There are students, whom I know, to have been training for less then 2 years and already, they are practicing the two-person form! One would have to ask whether and if they have fully understood the small sansau at this stage? Definitely not, would be the answer! What they end up with, is a hollow form, a dance - void of power and essence. As if an affirmation of this point, I was contacted not so long ago by one of Erle’s overseas students, asking why it was going to take me a year to teach the Pauchui when it was a relatively short form? I just shook my head at my computer screen! The same goes for double push hands. So many rushing to do this and yet, I hear Erle’s words ringing in my ears as if only spoken yesterday - that it was in single push hands where we understood and developed our foundational skills. Again, how many of us actually practice hours upon hours of single push hands? I remember once being asked by a fellow practitioner at one of Erle’s sessions, how often I would practice push hands? I replied as often as I could and that for the first few years of my training I used to practice anything up to 3 hours a day, every day with various partners, in fact anyone I could get my hands on! The guy was suitably impressed. I only became aware that Erle was standing behind me when he casually leant forward and said, “Nass, you lazy bugger, I thought you trained harder than that? Try practicing 7-8 hours a day like we used to do at my old school in Sydney - then you can brag!” He wasn’t joking and I am certain that his old students from Sydney would happily confirm that! I could go on with such stories and I have no doubt that my ‘older’ and more esteemed colleagues - Wally Simpson, Peter Smith, Peter Jones, & Al Krych could tell you even more. But, enough of these. You don’t need the monkeys to tell you what the organ-grinder was saying. Pick up any publication of Erle’s and you’ll hear the man tell you himself - train hard, train diligently. Do not rush and do not omit parts of your training. The system is set and taught in a particular order for a reason. There are no short cuts. Only hard work and “loss”. And when you invest in “loss”, there is only one way your stock can go - up!
wtba Summer camp 2012, leicester uk
Photography by Nasser Butt
My thanks to Nasser Butt and some feelings and stories about my Dad by Eli Montaigue 
Early morning qigong.
A great camp, everyone leant a great deal of stuff, new as well as really grounding all their basics. Last years camp, I had a lot of stuff I wanted to say, but it was too soon. So below is the speech I read out at lunch time on the Sunday of camp. Monica Mitoli was also awarded level one instructors degree, a much deserved grading to a very dedicated student. If any Instructor in the WTBA has helped me to make sure that I know I'm worthy of leading the system, and taking us forward from where Dad left off, it's Nasser. Some others would have doubts in my abilities, with me being young. Of course these are only the ones who don't know me, and have not trained with me. Not that I ever had any doubts, I've always been very confident in myself to lead the system forward. Many other instructors have been very supportive as well, but Nasser knows me the best. He's seen me grow from age 17 when I was just a very basic level instructor, to what I am today. So, if he thinks I've got what it takes to lead the WTBA, then I know I'm doing pretty well. Right from day one of Dad's passing, he was the first person outside the family that I told. I called him up that night, and he was his usual jolly self, in the middle of teaching a class, I think. He said “Hey mate how is everybody?” I said, “Ummmmmm, not too good actually! I've got some bad news for you”. That was about all I could get out before bursting into tears. He, of course, then knew it was something big. I finally got out the words that he had had a heart attack, and Nasser just went into help mode, asking “Where is he now? Is everyone else ok? “ Thinking he was in hospital or something, wanting to know what he could do to help? I then said, “No.... he's gone... Dad's dead!” He didn't know what to say, as that just didn't seem like something that could happen. It was the most unexpected thing I could have said. But I could feel from his voice how much he wanted to be there, like he was reaching down the phone wanting to hug me. The first of Dad's workshops that I had to take, was the USA camp. That was very hard for me, as it had all been planned for Dad. He had already bought our flights. I've been flying all over the world teaching since I was 18, but this was different. And when I got on that plane and there was an empty seat next to me where Dad should have been, I felt lost. I kept remembering the year before when we did the trip together, he was there laughing so hard at this film we were watching, nearly hitting the seat in front of him! Every boys’ Dad is his hero. And my Dad was the epitome of that, he was always like Superman to me. From when I was a little boy and he would throw us all so high into the air to then land in the pool, or when we'd sit on the chair outside on the veranda under a blanket in a thunder storm. To our last days together, training, when I could feel and appreciate his awesome power, that I knew would never hurt me, but only protect me. His power came from his love for his family. 
Getting ready to watch a movie. Yes, we have our own mini cinema at the training studio complete with surround sound!
At that US workshop the year before, he was on top game, he'd not been over there in about 10 years, and was throwing me all over the place, showing how an old bloke could still kick some arse. I got a great beating that weekend! Everyone was so amazed at how powerful He was at 60 years old.You could never feel in danger of anything when he was around. The only thing I was ever scared of was loosing him, ‘cause I always knew that he would put himself in the way of anything that would harm his family. He really was the ultimate hero Dad. One day I was with him in Ammanford, and he was hit by a car. Properly knocked over, with a spin around and slamming onto the road. He just got straight up and was fine! The couple in the car had come back to see if he was ok, as he was about 57 years old!
Anyone for breakfast?
But he just said, “Nah I'm fine, don't worry I'm superman!” They couldn't believe it, as most people of that age would have broken a hip or something! This figure in my life will never be replaced, but the love and support from everyone helps me to find it in myself. Anyway, the US camp. Nasser had gone out of his way to make it to this one, to support me, and when I got off the plane he was there to meet me. A friendly face and a big hug made me know I'd be able to get through camp. I also had a dream on the first night, before having to teach. Dad and I were teaching a class together somewhere, having a great time messing about as usual. He was showing a set of moves from the form, and someone asked a question about it, and so he did it again explaining it. Then he looked over at me doing the same moves, and just said, “You know what, forget what I just said, look at how he's doing it, that's exactly how it should be done!” And then raised his voice to the whole class, and said “He's your leader now, follow him and trust in what he says, I've taught him everything that can be learnt.” And then he stepped back and handed the class to me, and said, “It's your turn now”.
Ben Montaigue & Sonnia Gough.
Now I know that seems like a big headed dream, but it wasn't from my mind, as I was feeling lost and insecure. I do believe it was Dad talking to me. So, knowing I had Dad there with me in spirit, as well as Nasser in person, I was then full of confidence to run the workshop. Nasser has done so much to help me in heading the WTBA, making sure that everyone else also knows that I'm the one for the job. Dad told me in his own words a year before he died, that I was a master of the arts. He said, “Be confident my sonny, you know as much as me now in what we teach.” Some people don't think that counts, they want to see paper. I don't give a shit, and nor do any of the people I care about. But even still, Nasser has made sure that anyone who makes some remark about me being too young or something - that he stops them right there, and tells them what's right. Of course it's important for instructors to be graded, for your own knowing of where you're at, but mainly for the point of others knowing what I think of you. It's a way of me showing how much I think of your Taiji, and so that others that can't train with me directly can see what I think of each instructor. 
From a combination of getting all the basics down over 7 years, then seeing Dad on a regular basis for 8 years, being completely dedicated, and it being at a time when Dad had perfected his teaching methods, Nasser to me has taken the arts to the top. Dad thought this as well, he would always make comments to me in our Llangadog classes, how Nasser was the one he didn't have to explain anything to, and how he really understood the art as we teach it. Instructors in the USA, Canada, and Australia in particular, have also done so much to help, both with their support, and setting up of workshops and camps etc. My life would be so much harder without these people. And I want to make sure that they know how much I appreciate them as well, and respect them as experts in Taiji.
Dim-Mak’s 12 Deadly Katas
The first time I saw Nasser after Dad's death, I know that I had support. Not just with the WTBA, but life in general. He's like a big brother to me. The times when I would have gone to dad for advice, I know I've got Nasser there to help me now. I still speak to Dad all the time, and nothing will ever fill the gap he's left. But it's nice knowing I've got someone in the physical form to look out for me in life. He is a lot like Dad in many ways. With regard to Dad's training, and life with the WTBA, what he would have wanted for it etc, no one knew him like I did. And in our last days together, we had all the same views and ideas. So I do this on his behalf.
Checking Sonnia & Tony’s Push Hands.
So!..... By the power given to me, by my Dad, Erle Montaigue, The Grand Master and Founder of the WTBA:
I, Eli Montaigue, world leader of the WTBA, Master Degree, and Lineage holder to the Old Yang Style and the Erle Montaigue system. As well as holding a Grandest of supremely grand master degree and doctorate in the Chinese internal martial arts. Which is a proper certificate that is officially official by order and other official stuff, due to the fact that it was signed by an actual Chinese person! (That Leigh found walking down the street in Swansea.) Awarded by my students at Wel Hung Martial Arts School in Swansea, ha ha (So I think that's all the authority I need for this!). As a way of saying thank you to Nasser, and acknowledging his dedication, support and expertise in the internal arts, I award Nasser Butt the degree of “Master”. I, also, declare Nasser Butt as WTBA Vice President of the world. I cried my way through this speech at camp, as I finished and pulled out Nasser's certificate, I looked over to Nasser, and was about to lose it, so I went over to him and gave him a big hug. We both stood there having a good strong cry, then after a while I got everyone else to join in for a big group hug around Nasser. It was very beautiful and emotional, after that we all beat shit out of the kick bags! 
Faith & Ben practicing double push hands.
Irene testing her punch on Eli.
Mark practicing qigong.
Elissa doing 3 Circles.
Eli testing Sarbâ€™s pâ€™eng.
Irene & Monica practicing double push hands.
Taiji gave me four hands, four legs & a small headlike growth on my shoulder! Elissa & Evert. Dev, Mark & Carlos.
Coops and Crompton!
Monica Mitoli receiving her Instructorâ€™s certificate. More qigong!
Remco working the bag.
Eli reading his speech.
THE USE OF TENSION
hen people talk about a “principle centered” martial arts, we often wonder what they mean. 20 years ago we simply did karate. Talking about learning a principle centered martial art verses a non-principled martial art is all a little confusing. If we described the two different approaches to Martial arts as “One is a collection of ideas, possibilities and pathways to a limitless area of knowledge and expression, the other a collection of techniques limited by memory and practice”. All you have to ask yourself is which would you prefer to learn. Sometimes when you walk into a Dojo you know you are in a special place not because of what is hanging on the wall, rather by the quality of people who are standing in the hall. You will usually find that this instructor was also blessed with an equally great instructor. This is a story of my Karate experience...
Blessings come in many shapes and sizes. Our instructor’s blessing came in the shape of... principles! He didn’t tell us that is what he was doing. Instead, he taught us methods that helped us forget about things for a moment, and let our bodies do the work. And really, that is what you want! A principle that is only in your mind is useless to you.
The one method that has had the largest impact on my life and martial arts, and in fact, is one that is easily adaptable to your study of internal martial arts, is simply called Tense-Release. We were taught to do the karate punch in an unusual way. We were told to put our punching hand at our hip in a fist, and extend our other hand in front of us. The unusual part came when we were told to squeeze our whole body as hard as we could. Then, when we released the tension, we were to punch forward. The next time we tensed our body was for the next punch, and not like most people learn, to tense at the moment of hitting the target, which karate proponents call KIME, or focus or power. Our sensei never just gave us something with no way to test to see if it worked. With the punch, we were told to do a normal punch with KIME, and pause for testing. The testing was simply to have a partner push back against the punching fist. We found that because of tension in the arm and torso from the KIME, the punch was very easy to collapse, unbalancing the puncher. This meant that if you hit someone with that punch, it would break under the pressure of the attack, and end up not being effective. By using the Tense – Release method, we found that the punch was more solid. The puncher was able to absorb a hit to the fist, which indicates that the transfer of force would be more successful. It is my belief that one of the reasons that old time karate teachers advocated the use of the makiwara. Hitting the makiwara repeatedly taught the body to relax and absorb the pressure that was exerted by the practitioner. I believe that my teacher taught us this method because most people don’t have regular access to a makiwara, and he wanted us to get similar benefits. In the 13 years I was a part of that school, I never saw him do it, but I have heard from my seniors that our teacher broke makiwara with one punch. The beauty of learning a principle is that it applies to everything you do. In this case, it works with ALL techniques! When you SET for a technique, TENSE, then relax your body fully and do the technique. It takes time to retrain your body to do this, so take your time! If this was only good for martial arts, it would be enough as it will transform a tremendous amount of stuff for a student. However, it goes deeper than just karate! When you tense, you are allowing your mind, body, and spirit to settle. Then with relaxation, you are able to respond more rapidly, allowing you to move better overall. How many of you have been stopped at a red light, and the driver next to you is inching forward? Watch for these jokers! I love watching them try to beat the light! They rarely, if ever can time it right. Why? Because they are too busy outside themselves, trying to guess a light change, that they miss how to be really fast! To worry about what THEY are doing! When these folks are beside me, I simply hold the brake and relax. This is what we could call the TENSE part (pressure on brake pedal). When the light changes, you ONLY have to worry about pressing on the gas! They timer has to now worry about NOT hitting the brake, where his foot is, and where the gas is. Because of his movement, he has actually slowed himself up. It is so humorous to be ¾ of the way down the block while they are still crossing the intersection! Ok, that I am exaggerating, but not by much! This is the story of my taiji training… In taiji, the last thing we want to do is to start tensing our muscles to do every posture, although, for an exercise, this may help a person learn about the posture. But DON’T overdo it! That said, there is a more effective way to use the tense release principle in an internal martial art, and in my experience, when you get this sort of tension correct, it literally makes the postures do themselves. 
The most popular sequence in taiji is Grasp Swallows Tail. I will use the movement Rollback to Chee, well, both of them in the Old Yang style form as it repeats a similar movement twice and doing one Chee is found in all Yang taiji styles.
When you watch this movement done by many people, you start to notice that they want to rush the change over from Lu to Chee. I know, because I was guilty of this for a long time! When we learn this movement properly, we learn that the movement called Lu, or Rollback, is done so that the hands point almost to the North. That means that the torso twists 90 degrees from East to North. This is the same in the movements preceding Chee and Lower Chee in the Old Yang style. When you watch the Old Yang style performed, we noticed that this rollback movement is shortened a great deal. I am not sure exactly why that is, but if I take me as an example, I thought I could be Erle Montaigue! I saw that that was how he did it when he did his form in the advanced way, so it must be the correct way! And to be truthful, that IS correct for him! But for the person who isn’t at that level, the basic way of moving to 90 degrees is a much better deal. Here’s why.
This question was posted in our facebook group.
By twisting the body to the north, while keeping the lower body and hips mostly to the east, we store tension in our waist. As we release this tension to the east, all we then have to do is raise our hands slightly into position and the posture that is expressed is Chee. The movement becomes a simple raising of the arms with the release of the twisting tension in the waist.
Wally: How much Mucus? Is your Stool formed? Are there visible food particles other than seeds in your stool? How is you appetite, do you eat because you are hungry or because it is meal time? How are your energy levels? Do you wake up feeling good or does it take a little while to get moving in the mornings? If damp in the body is a problem then you could try the following. Do stork spreads wings and wave hands like clouds as a Qigong to tonify the Spleen Qi.
PM: I have a health problem. Since childhood I have had mucus appear in my stools. I’m a bit underweight, over thinking not on taiji but other stuff in life, though otherwise healthy. no weakness in constitution, eating good foods... this has been with me a long time and I want to get over it.
It is even more important in the next group to Lower Chee! For some reason, I find that the twist is even greater in this posture!
Ginger both dried and fresh helps eliminate damp rice - barley - yellow vegetables & fruit as long as they are warmed can be helpful.
So, in taiji, we aren’t tightening up our body, but we ARE twisting our body on the Yin phase (yes, I am aware that the above is not that way, but I am simplifying here), the Yang phase just happens with the release of that tension.
PM: Mucus not much but still quite visible and distinguishable.Yes, my stool is formed it used to be loose but now its becoming, I think, as it should be. No, none visible food particle. I eat because I’m hungry, energy levels seem a bit down it can be improved upon because I have had days where I’m more energetic than usual. It takes a while to get moving in morning (its quite disturbing as I’m only 23!)....how long for stork spreads its wing on each side and wave hands?
When I practice my forms, I am always looking for these built in tension spots. That way, I don’t have to think about the postures, I just worry about getting the twists correct. I hope you play around with this idea. It is something that can literally make the art simple (but not easy!) I thank you for taking the time.
Wally: Try for 3 minutes per side and do 9 repeats of both sides. Make sure you are breathing into your Dan tien. Don’t try to do reverse breathing. Just as you breathing in, the lower abdomen goes out and as you are breathing out the lower abdomen goes in. Keep it simple and try to empty your mind - this is where healing begins in a no mind state. Same as Wave Hands like clouds do it as a series of static Qigongs holding each pose for 3 breaths before moving to the next pose. Health and happiness.
New guidelines for WTBA
Instructors Due to recent happenings in the WTBA,
Maybe you do other styles as well, you’re welcome to incorporate other things I am going to be putting down new you’ve learnt into your classes, so long as guidelines for WTBA instructors. you tell your students what they are learning. I get many complaints from students around the world, who have been learning All the main Taiji and Bagua forms from one of our instructors somewhere, should be taught as I teach them, you can by where they have put a lot of time and do them how you like. But when you effort into learning a form, then to find t e a c h a beginner, out from me or the DVD’s, that their they are teacher was teaching them the form wrong. This is for two reasons.
WTBA NEWS & EVENTS
1, people get their level 1 instructors degree, and then think they can go and start teaching and not come to classes anymore. And then over time, fall into bad habits. There is no excuse for this, as all you have to do is check up on the DVD’s, or come to a class every now and expecting then. I travel to most places, so there to learn from s o m e o n e really is no excuse for most people to not representing me, and therefore, the way I come to a class once a year to be checked would teach. out. Of course you can put in your own ways Some of our most advanced instructors of getting the information across etc, still come to camps to check they are teach how you want. But what I mean is, doing things right, so if they feel it’s if I say you should be doing the strike needed, then all level 1’s should be seen along the circumference of the circle, and on a regular basis. you’re teaching your students to strike into the centre, that’s wrong! 2, people think they know better, and start doing it their own way. I recommend to all instructors, but in particular those of Level 1 to 3, to get my I f y o u t h i n k y o u h a v e a b e t t e r new online lessons on the YLC form, and understanding of the Internal arts than Small San Sau. I will also be doing the Erle Montaigue, then start up your own same thing with the Bagua forms. school! But don’t claim to teach for the These will teach you everything you need WTBA if you’re teaching your own thing. to know about how you should be This is simply confusing for students, if teaching these forms. you are teaching for the WTBA, a student is expecting to learn what I teach, the way The New Guidelines. I teach it. Very simple, come to a class once a year. I don’t mean this to the effect of running your classes exactly like I do, you can do It’s really not much to ask, come on guys, it how you like. But with regard to a form, show some support to the school you’re or a specific training drill like Push hands meant to be teaching for. I simply cannot etc, these things should be taught the have people out there teaching stuff same by all instructors. wrong. It’s my job to make sure that students are getting good quality teaches.
And I can’t do that if I don’t see you. So come to a class, or set up a workshop for your own club and I’ll come down there. There is really no excuse, like family commitments, or lack of money etc. It’s one day out of 365, and £30 for a day workshop, that’s less than 9 pence per day. And if you really really just can’t make it, well then film your form and send it to me. But it will still cost you £30. Of course this does not apply to everyone, people in places that I do not visit, like India, and south America etc. And some of our instructors that have been with us for decades, and are of a higher level, and have already done so much to support the WTBA. Of course I would still love to see you as well, but if you have settled down and spending time with your grandchildren etc, I don’t expect people to keep coming for the rest of their lives. And I trust that you have been doing it long enough to keep doing it right anyway. This message is more so aimed at those basic instructors and Level 1’s. I will contact those in question personally. But you know who you are, you slackers! Come on down to a class, we miss you!
OTHER DATES FOR YOUR DIARY IN 2013 Norway March 3/4th 2013 Goirle holland March 9/10th 2013 Usa may 2013 Dates tba France, Montaigu June 15/16th 2013
UK summer camp 2013 July 26-28 (Friday-Sunday) Venue: Unit 36 Second Floor, Faircharm Trading Estate, Evelyn Drive, Leicester LE3 2BU. Cost:
£150 training only
All participants must secure their own food & accommodation arrangements this year. There are several local B&Bs as well as a premier inn nearby to meet everyones needs. Food can be purchased conveniently and can be consumed at the school. Please contact Nasser if you need any further local details. Camp this year will be shorter to allow for more flexibility and budgetary controls in order to help everyone tailor it for their own needs. Please forward all your deposits (£75, non-refundable) to Eli by no later than 30th June 2013 to register for the camp. This camp we will be covering a very special and interesting subject, the 12 Qi Development Tools Medical Applications. Anyone who has already learnt these tools will know what powerful qigong's they are. For myself personally they did more for my internal training than anything else. After learning these, my form jumped several steps forward. I finally started to feel what I had seen in Dad all these years. So I am very excited about teaching their medical applications (meaning doing it to someone else as a treatment). Helping others is our primary goal in the WTBA, so these will give you that ability. And will enhance any other treatment work that you might already be practicing. Dad was very excited about finally teaching these to the world, but sadly never got the chance. So I will now do that for him and take you through these amazing healing methods at the 2013 UK summer camp.
Canada september 2013 Dates tba
We will, also, be going through YLC's form, working on one third each day.
More to come. Check taiji world For updates!
To get the most of of any camp, you should look at what will be taught, and learnt it before you come. That way you can actually learn something at camp, rather than just trying to remember moves.
It is hoped that most people will have learnt the basic shell of the form by now, so I do not have to teach it right from scratch. This way we can get through more. Plus Push Hands and other training methods of course.
See you there!
I took this picture when I went to see Sandy & the kids on Erle’s passing. He was asleep on his blanket next to Erle’s chair.
Passed away a few weeks ago to once again go walking with his master.
Erle’s beloved dog, Blue...
USEFUL CONTACTS Erle Montaigue www.taichiworld.com Moontagu Books & Video Ltd PO Box 35 Gwynfe, Llangadog SA19 9SY Wales UK. +44 (0) 1550 740136: Ph: 07868361519 MOB
Eli Montaigue Head of WTBA & Chief Instructor WTBA email@example.com
WTBA Vice-President & Senior Instructor Editor Combat & Healing http://www.fajing-chuan.co.uk CombatandHealing@gmail.com firstname.lastname@example.org 07792242150
Peter Smith Senior Instructor WTBA Representative for the United Kingdom Email C/O Georgina Smith: email@example.com
Al Krych Chief Instructor USA firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (908)303-2941.
COMBAT&HEALING 83, THE FAIRWAY OADBY LEICESTER LE2 2HP ENGLAND UK.
MOONTAGU BOOKS & VIDEO WALES, UK
the longest running & largest series of the highest quality content on the internal fighting/healing systems of china by
erle montaigue (master degree, china)
PO Box 35 Gwynfe, Llangadog SA19 9WR Wales UK www.taijiworld.com