Why Goju? Gavin Mulholland
The 12 Deadly Katas Peter Jones
The 12 Secret Rings of Yang Part 2 Nasser Butt
Enter The Devil - 20 Questions with Scott Caldwell
Grandmaster R i c h a r d
Bustillo 1942-2017 The Passing Of A Martial Arts Legend
Editor Nasser Butt
perception realization activation action
Lift Hands The Internal Arts Magazine Volume 3 September 2017
Published by L’orso Solitario Books, Leicester, United Kingdom Lift Hands The Internal Arts Magazine Editor Nasser Butt Copyright © by Nasser Butt, 2017 & Fa-jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools Nasser Butt asserts the moral right to be identified as the editor & owner of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the editor. Waiver of Liability: The publisher assumes no liability for the use or misuse of information contained within this book. By purchasing or electronically downloading this publication, the reader hereby, waives any and all claims he or she may have now or in the future against Nasser Butt and Fa-Jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools or its affiliates.
The points of view represented here are solely those of the authors’ concerned. You do not have to subscribe to them if you do not wish. Nor is their inclusion here necessarily an endorsement by Fa-jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing School or its affiliates. Cover photo: Richard Bustillo Cover design © Nasser Butt, 2017 Cover Photography: Appears courtesy of Danny Bigley Back: Photograph appears courtesy of Scott Caldwell, design by Nasser Butt
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The 12 Deadly Katas - A Brief Introduction Peter Jones
Grandmaster Richard Bustillo - The Passing of a Martial Arts Legend Anthony Pillage
Seeds of An Unknown Flower Dr Gregory T. Lawton
The 12 Secret Rings of the Yang Family Part Two: Striking Hands/Sōng Nasser Butt
Why Goju? Gavin Mulholland
Training Methods For Martial Arts: Eagle Vision Training Nasser Butt
20 Questions: Enter The Devil - Scott Caldwell
The Footwork of Taijiquan and Martial Arts Nasser Butt
Hadjios Valley Resort T’ai Chi Ch’uan Weekend 2017 Booking Details Page 82 “What Comes Round Goes Round!” Paula Reed
The Weekend I Met Erle… Allan Williams
The Art of Louiseneige Be
elcome to the third issue of Lift Hands: The Internal Arts Magazine!
This issue has been long in the making and much has happened in the past few months, mostly good and a little bad.
First and foremost the good news! In April of this year, I was invited to the British Martial Arts Awards, held at the Lilleshall National Sports and Conferencing Centre and hosted by the wonderful soul that is Anthony Pillage. I simply headed out expecting to catch up with some amazing friends and to enjoy the company of the Woof. So, imagine my surprise when I heard my name being called out as one of the nominees in the Martial Arts Man of the Year category! I sat there, gob-smacked! I had no idea that I had been nominated and when I heard the other names, I was even more in disbelief! I ended up being the runner up to the ‘mean street’ legend of Russell Jarmesty - something I’m still processing! Shock two… Lift Hands Magazine - although in its infancy won Runner Up Magazine of the Year 2017! It was an emotional night! I really want to thank everyone who has helped me get this project off the ground. I’m still in shock but I never had doubt regarding the aim and content of the magazine. The bar was set high! It is a work in progress and we shall continue providing quality factual information for students of martial arts from all sources. This past year has been tough, both emotionally and physically. In June I was involved in a car accident which left me in considerable pain, but thankfully it could have been a lot worse. My recovery and rehabilitation are still continuing as I’ve been told it’ll take somewhere between six months to a year to make full recovery. This means that I have been considerably restricted in my activities but I strive on. Thank you to all who have supported me and stood by me throughout my ongoing journey especially in the last year - family, friends and students… you are all a part of this success. However, the person most responsible for giving me my knowledge, skill and the belief that I had what it took is no other than my ‘father,’ my guide and friend Erle Montaigue! Hearing Erle’s name mentioned at a major British Martial Arts gathering, as I was introduced onto the stage as His student, and the ensuing applause made my eyes fill up one of the most humbling experiences of my life! I have had some wonderful contributions for this issue. Sadly, as you can see from the cover, it includes an ‘obituary’ for one of the greats of the past century - the legendary student of Bruce Lee, Grandmaster Richard Bustillo, who sadly passed away from cancer earlier in the year. I want to thank both Gavin Mulholland and Scott Caldwell, for taking time out from their busy schedules and contribute in their own unique ways to this issue. Both these guys have immense skill and knowledge, which I deeply respect. Finally, a massive thank you to Peter Jones - one of Erle’s closest friends and oldest and most experienced students in the world. A treasure trove of information and someone I’m proud to call a brother and friend! The journey continues….
The 12 Deadly Katas A Brief Introduction Peter Jones
hen we first start to look at the 12 Deadly Katas, we must learn and develop them at a basic level.
Just because you can ‘do’ the Taiji form, doesn’t mean that you can do everything! We still need to learn and understand what we are doing in these katas. What is great with the 12 Katas is that, there is, both, a healing and a martial side associated with them. Over the next few issues of this magazine, we shall endeavor to delve into these katas, at a very basic level.
Snake Hands Kata 1 The first of the kata's we'll kick off with is Snake Hands. It does take time to learn these and it’s not just a case of doing it once and you've done it, and that goes for them all! If we think back to the days of Chang San-Feng, when each kata took a year to learn, there was a good reason for that. Many people these days just want a quick fix and don't wish to spend time on them. As we look at each kata carefully, we’ll discover what they have to offer in terms of their healing and martial aspects. We’ll learn about acupuncture points and how they work from a healing and martial perspective, along with our body mechanics. I will not be going over each point or strike in depth, as that would take far too long and far too many pages, I just wish to put this great system out there and in time you, too, will have the “good oil," as a good friend and teacher used to say. Also, it is not possible to learn all the intricate and transitional movements from an article or a book for that you must seek out a competent instructor! The points you are striking in this kata are: Governor Vessel 26 (Gv26) Stomach 9 (St9) Stomach 15 & 16 (St15 & 16) Gall Bladder 24 (Gb24) The first of the katas is associated with the Heart and it works upon the heart and blood vessels. Its element is fire, and its healing time is between the hours of 11am and 1pm, when the heart meridian is at its most active. But that doesn't mean that it won't work at any other time! It’s just more active at the time given, and that goes for all 12 katas. The Martial: The martial applications of these katas are some of the most dangerous I have seen! They deal with striking the acupuncture meridians and that is what makes them so effective. So, if you are going to learn these 12 Deadly Katas then, as I have already mentioned above, seek out a qualified Instructor in the Art. The katas presented here are for informational purposes only. With the two person set, you get your partner to throw a right strike to your face.
You re-attack by attacking your partners right arm with your left hand striking his arm at Pc6 (Pericardium), and using a tiger paw fist, strike to Gv26 with the right fist, just under the nose, shown in (Photo 1) and then immediately reattack your partnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neck at St9, with your right fist, (Photo 2). By punching through the neck, your right palm moves counterclockwise and re-attacks your partnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chest at St15 & St16, while your left palm strikes straight into the side of body, to Gb24, (Photo 3).
Straight Hands Kata 2 The second kata, known as Straight Hands, can be used as a qigong to help balance the internal and external stability of the human body. The kata can also be used to help calm down an agitated state, or a stressful situation like going for an interview. This qigong is an attacking qigong, It work with the mind and body energy, and gives you the confidence you need for the job in hand. In martial terms, even at its basic level, this attacking qi will be used against an attacker. However, the qi is used in the same way, regardless of whether you are dealing with an interview or a physical attack. The points you are striking in this kata are :Stomach 9 (St9) Gall Bladder 24 (Gb24) Gall Bladder 3 (Gb3) Conceptor Vessel 24 (Cv24) This kata works upon the small intestine as well as the blood vessels, and its element is also fire. Its time of day is between the hours of 1 pm and 3 pm. The Martial: Your partner throws a right strike to your face. You re-attack using the fingers of your left hand striking St9 point, while your right palm strikes Gb24 point on the body, (Photo 4). Your right fist rolls into a penetration punch striking Gb3 on the side of the head (temple), (Photo 5), and then continues to roll into a back fist striking your partner’s chin at Cv24, (Photo 6), whilst you do a change step - bringing your right foot forward and your left foot back. After the strike to the chin, the right hand opens into a palm strike to your partner’s neurological shutdown point No.3. The right palm is placed so that the longest finger lies just below the side of the chin bone, (Photo 7). I have only given out the basics on the 12 Deadly Katas. Just remember, they take time to learn, and to always enjoy your training - there is no need to rush. If you wish to find out more about the Katas, Erle’s book - Dim-Mak’s 12 Most Deadly Katas: Points of No Return - published by Paladin Press is available to buy online. Photo 4
We shall continue with Kata Nos. 3 & 4 in the next issue of Lift Hands.
About The Author: Peter Jones is the Chief Instructor for Taiji Pa-Kua Internal Fighting Arts and teaches in Ammanford, Wales UK. Peter is one of Erle Montaigueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest friends and confidant, and has been training in and teaching Erleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s system now for the past 30 years. During this time, Peter was honoured many times by Erle, himself. His awards include: WTBA Senior Instructor 5th Degree. (2003) Chief of Training Basics UK. (2003) Fourth Lifetime Member of WTBA. (1998) The Erle Montaigue System Of Internal Gung-Fu 3rd Degree (1998) Dedication Award (1996) - For his hard work in promoting and representing the WTBA in Wales. All photographs appear courtesy of Peter Jones. Photo 7
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have seen very talented martial artists who have a piss poor attitude. They think that they are the master and everybody else should bow before them, or they insult others integrity. It is easy to acquire skills. However, it is difficult to recognize ones own enduring attitude.â&#x20AC;?
Photo Credit: Andy Gibney
Grandmaster R i c h a r d
Bustillo 1942-2017 The Passing Of A Martial Arts Legend
he Martial Arts World was stunned on March 30
2017 when it was announced that Grandmaster Richard Bustillo had died aged 75. Apparently he had an undiagnosed liver cancer and passed in his sleep surrounded by his deeply beloved family and friends. Over the next week or so, many of my fellow IMB Academy members and coaches were talking on the phone or social media at this most shocking of news. In truth none of us could really believe that a man who had figured so prominently in our lives was no longer going to be sharing his wit and wisdom with the world and us. I looked at the many pictures of Richard’s Funeral and was heartened to see what a wonderful send off he was given. The place was packed with, I would guess, a thousand people who had turned up to pay their respects and was awash with martial arts “Royalty”. I believe Guru Dan Inosanto’s speech was absolutely beyond amazing. In the period between his passing and burial, I noticed something very wonderful taking place. When people wrote about him they nearly always referred to him firstly as my friend or even my closest friend and in my opinion this is where his greatness really lay. When you were with him he always made you feel as if you were the only person that
mattered at that particular moment of time. He was truly the most loved and cherished man wherever he travelled in the world. This man was genuinely a legend, both as a martial artist and as a man and I for one will never forget his two parting messages to me. One was last year at his seminar where we spent some wonderful time together and he hugged me when I left and told me some incredible insights into friendship. The second was the week before he died when unexpectedly an envelope from Los Angeles landed on the doormat addressed to me. It was from the desk of Richard S. Bustillo and in it he had sent a cheque for $500 for my own cancer fighting fund. He wrote a letter full of insight and hope and signed it “A hui hou kākou” or Until we meet again. I wonder did he know what was ahead of him, we will never know. All I can say is it was an absolute honour and privilege to spend time with you and you were amongst the most amazing of human beings I have ever met. Aloha King Richard Richard told me this was the best interview piece he had ever done. I’m sure he told that to many...it was his way of making you feel special. Photo Credit: Andy Gibney
Grandmaster Richard Bustillo
Interview with Anthony Pillage The Way of the Spiritual Warrior has a reputation for bringing some of the world’s greatest martial artists to its Honbu Dojo in Coventry. No bigger name has graced its mat than Bruce Lee’s direct student Grandmaster Richard Bustillo. It was with some trepidation that I set off to Heathrow on a cold Friday morning to pick up the legend himself. I had met Richard at the SENI Show in 2008 and had popped over to a seminar that Andy Gibney had put on in Wellingborough with him. I also was fortunate enough to be invited to his centre in Los Angeles for the IMB instructor’s conference. I was immediately struck by his humble and gentle manner, as well as a sense of humour bordering on the outrageous. Just ask my wife Sarah about rattlesnakes! However, it was not until the seminar was over and I had a chance to chat with the attendees that I truly realised just what a profound effect Richard has had upon us. The training itself was of course first class. The very persona of the man leaves a beautiful calm upon the soul that has lasted for weeks afterwards. Richard Bustillo is a master of his craft. In today’s throw away, black belt in a box type martial artist he is a true beacon of what I believe is good and true in the martial arts world. I see people in magazines being called Master this and Master that who have only just been awarded their black belt all for the lure of the filthy buck. To be in the presence of a true Grandmaster was a privilege that I will hold dear for many years to come. At the IMB in America, Sifu Richard had assembled a who’s who of American based martial arts superstars for us to train with. The conference was kicked off with the redoubtable SGM Cacoy Canete who was celebrating his 90th birthday, ably assisted by world escrima champion Anthony Kleeman. The legendary Dan Inosanto gave an amazing two hour Kali class, Gokor Chivichyan, who has coached Bas Rutten and Randy Couture led us through leg locks, Kelly Woorden on Arnis and Renegade JKD and of course Richard himself. What was apparent even over the incredible martial arts shared, was the love and respect that these world-class athletes had for Richard. The man has a magic around him that makes it impossible not to be moved and empowered by his very presence. Grandmaster or Sigung Bustillo has spent over 45 years studying, re-evaluating and rewriting the development of world martial arts from his base in Los Angeles, the IMB (International Martial Arts and Boxing). His credits are almost too numerous to mention. Internationally recognized as an expert in the martial arts, Richard Bustillo is frequently sought after to conduct seminars throughout the world. Drawing from over 45 years of experience, Bustillo possesses a wealth of knowledge and a very unique and motivating teaching style. With a long list of accomplishments and credentials, Bustillo is a member of Black Belt’s 1989 Hall of Fame – Co-Instructor of the Year, an inductee to the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, 2001 Hall of Fame, and United States Martial Arts 2002 Hall of Fame. Richard Bustillo is a certified law enforcement defensive tactics instructor and a member of the American Society of Law Enforcement trainers. He is also certified with the Olympic Training Center as a coach and official with USA Boxing and a Kru in Muay Thai. Credited as being one of the major contributors to revive the Filipino Martial art of Kali/Eskrima/Arnis, Bustillo is recognized by the Council of Grandmasters of the Philippines as Tenth degree Black Belt (Grandmaster) in Cacoy Doce Pares Eskrima. However, he is best known for his training under Bruce Lee and Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do. Although Richard has a busy schedule with 300 students at his LA Centre, he travels extensively throughout the world, bringing his form of reality self defence called Simultaneous Response, Reaction and Reflex to hundreds of knowledge hungry students. His courses also include Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, Kali/Eskrima, Ju-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Although now in his late sixties, he has the energy and drive of a man half his age. At the very core of Bustillo’s teachings are the skills of what he calls Range Fighting. This is the ability for the exponent to deliver the most efficient skill set depending on what distance he has to work within to deal with his/her attacker. For close encounters, the arts of Brazilian Ju Jitsu (he has trained extensively with the Machado brothers after being introduce to BBJ by the Gracie’s) are the best suited with their extensive groundwork and finishing skills.
For mid range, the destructive and explosive Muay Thai and Western Boxing which teach the development of a person’s individual weapons, emphasizing feet, elbows, fists and knee strikes and the ability to develop evasive body movement. For long range, he employs self-defence from the Filipino Arts, using Cacoy Doce Pares stick fighting and knife defence. Richard said “Lee taught us techniques where you are striking at the same time as you are blocking. He used to say “let your opponent feel it before he sees it” to emphasize speed by non-telegraphing a strike. The Filipino arts are the same. So I combined these two philosophies and began to teach my students ways of self defence and opponent control that really work”. For me though, his “Self Discovery Range” in which the student taps into his own personal Jeet Kune Do is perhaps the most interesting. This area is based upon the student’s philosophy, body type, fitness and skill level making the student in fact his Photo Credit: Anthony Pillage
own personal master. This form of JKD no doubt increases an individual’s awareness through the understanding of his own personal abilities and limitations. This I believe is what Lee’s philosophy to training was all about, making the student in fact the shaper of their own martial arts destiny. His comment of the most important martial arts award you will ever receive is your own birth certificate struck a huge chord with both my students and myself. One is proud of his birth name and one should never ever embarrass his/her family name.
I was fortunate to spend a lot of free time in Richard’s company and was enthralled by his tales about his life and of course his years of training with Bruce Lee. It struck me just how much Richard’s life has been shaped by his relationship with him and the genuine love and respect he still has for his old mentor and friend. AP: Richard you have been practicing martial arts nearly your entire life. How did you get initially involved? RB: I grew up in Hawaii and when I was eight my Japanese friend Jeff Tanaka used to go to a Japanese Language School. My friends and I would walk him there every day and wait for 45 minutes for him to leave. His school was next door to a Judo Dojo and so we used to watch the guys in there practicing. Though we wanted to join in we had no money to pay for the classes. One day the sensei came out and gave us a Judo Gi. He said, “Wash your feet and you can come in”. In Hawaii we ran around bare footed, and I trained there for a year or so until my family relocated to another town. Where we settled was a boxing school where most of my new friends went, so I joined them. Although many kids give up martial arts in their teens, I kept on because of my environment. I grew up in the housing projects with a brother and 4 sisters. There are so many people living in the projects where problems of fisticuffs occur. One had to learn how to handle oneself. My Dad wanted me to learn how to protect myself so that’s what I did. This training and its teachings have stayed with me until today. AP: After Hawaii you moved to the mainland and met Bruce Lee for the first time. RB: When I first met him he was living in Oakland. Then when he moved to LA a year or two later, he sent me a letter telling me that he was opening his Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in downtown Chinatown of Los Angeles. This was in September 1967. I was twenty-four years old. I of course literally ran down to the orientation meeting wearing my gi pants, sweatshirt and took off my shoes when I got there. He looked at me and said, “This is the modern times, 1967. We wear shoes on a daily basis. We wear jeans. This is how we should be training-not with comfortable sweatpants and no shoes. Sometimes we are going to wear dress shoes and dress trousers, just so we can feel the limitations of the various types of clothing that we wear. In reality, that’s how we are going to be defending ourselves, so in reality is how we will train”.
AP: His training was obviously quite radical, what other techniques did he use? RB: His lessons were mostly based around sparring and fighting, so we could really test our new learnt skills. Bruce Lee wanted his students to experience what it was like to be punched or kick from full contact sparring. He wanted 110% from his students kicking or hand strikes. Training above and beyond our physical limits was Bruce Lee’s goal as a teaching. AP: After he died you developed your own system and signature style of training. How did you decide on what was the right path to take? With Bruce’s demise in 1973 wouldn’t it been easier to quit? RB: Both myself and friend Dan Inosanto were devastated by the news of Bruce’s death, Inosanto in fact wanted to quit martial arts completely. I told him that if he quit I would quit also. Dan was a very close friend and teacher at that time.
During this period we had a core group of students that were training in Dan’s backyard. After a couple of months Dan called me up and said, “Let’s open a school together. There are a lot of people who want to learn Bruce Lee’s method”. We both felt it was up to us to keep his legacy alive so we became partners and opened the Filipino Kali Academy in Torrance in 1974. We had two reasons for opening the Filipino Kali Academy, one was to share our Bruce Lee experiences and two was to revive and promote the Filipino Martial Arts of KaliEskrima-Arnis. AP: You and Dan were in fact instrumental in the development of the Filipino Arts in America and the world, how did that develop? RB: It was through out curriculum that made the Filipino Arts popular. The Filipino Arts were a new discipline that wasn’t exposed to other martial artist. Our seminar circuit and tours expose others to the FMA. Bruce Lee always taught that an individual should be well rounded in all martial arts ranges, not just the kicking, not just the hands, not just the grappling and not just the weaponry. As I developed I chose the Filipino Arts as my weapon for long range for defense. In addition Muay Thai & Boxing for my striking middle range, and my Wrestling and Jujitsu for my grappling close range training. This allowed me to integrate all ranges for my self defence system. With an around fighting using sticks I could test myself during the sparring sessions using sticks, striking, kicking and grappling. AP: When you trained in the Philippines in a more rigid system, how did that differ from Lee’s methodology?
RB: In the beginning it was completely different, as they had to teach us the formal ways of striking. For example, the majority of the Filipino Martial Art systems are designed around twelve lines or twelve angles of attack. They all have a counter defence to match. Once you understand the concepts and philosophy of the FMA, you can develop your own creation. It’s like dancing; once you can do the foxtrot or waltz and their movement and rhythms then perhaps you can create your own dance. Bruce Lee once said, “Everyone has two arms and two legs. In martial arts fighting there is no different”. The difference in the FMA and Bruce Lee’s JKD is for each individual. The individual is more important than any style or system. AP: I love that analogy; it makes a lot of sense. In the UK there has been a trend over the past few years towards reality based self-defence training, something you are noted for. How did this develop for you? RB: Throughout many years of intensive training with some incredible instructors – the Filipino arts teaches you that you can’t do a passive block or you’ll get hurt because the combination of strikes that will follow. We have learned that blocks need to become strikes. I feel that it is necessary in today’s world to teach weapons as part of the development to become an overall martial artist. I teach at my seminars that if someone comes at you with a blade and you try and block it you will be cut. But, if you block the weapon and strike simultaneously then you have a chance to survive. You have to face the fact that you may well get cut, but one cut is better than multiply cuts to survive. One needs to think he is fighting against a blade weapon in training and train offensively with violence. One needs to treat violence with violence in training and self defence. AP: So that’s the basis of you simultaneous defence and offence you talk about? RB: Yes of course. We study reaction. One needs to learn to react from an act simultaneously. From reaction training we know how a person is going to strike – you can see it coming. From this, you can attack
simultaneously. You can cover yourself and attack at the same time. That’s the theory behind my reality self defense. Your defense is simultaneously your offense.
AP: Richard I have to say that your seminar with us was a superb event from start to finish. My students and myself loved every minute of it. As soon as people knew you were coming we sold out within hours, but how does your seminar training differ from what you teach at the IMB? RB: Bless you. I’ve got a word for efforts like yours – THANKS. It may be a small word, but it carries a ton of gratitude for your support and contribution to my Seminar .The nice thing about events like this is seeing old valued friends and meeting new ones. The event may be temporary, but the friendships are lasting. Your students
Photo Credit: Amanda Wilding
and the seminar participants are the best. They are a reflection of their instructor – You. Now your juice bar with that pretty bar-tender Zeta is absolutely beautiful!
At the IMB Academy I of course have much more time. I have the time to do repetition. The students have time to memorize the muscle movement of the techniques. At seminars like yours we can only show techniques and then explain how to correct it because of time element. We covered ten hours this weekend, which is a typical weekend seminar time slot. As you know, in a 10 hour seminar which is not really enough time, we covered the weapons range, striking range and the grappling range as well as some of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do training methods and his philosophies and concepts as well. AP: Without hinting, do you often promote seminar students to instructor level? RB: We do. Some people in fact follow my seminar circuit throughout America. For people attending several events I can see their progress. Once they know all the ranges, they get to spar. So when this level is reached they may be ready for certification. They start off as an apprentice instructor, which is learning to teach under a Full Instructor’s supervision. With this I give them permission to teach as I always find that students really do learn quicker when they are teaching. At this level they work normally in small groups. When they satisfactorily complete this level, they become an associate instructor where they don’t need supervision. AP: You see all the time in the UK people breaking away from their instructors and opening up schools themselves, has this happened to you?
RB: It’s not only in the UK that disrespectful students leave their school to open their own. All martial art schools have this same dilemma. Only a few times in my 35 years of teaching have some of my champions gone on their own without our blessings. For those who ask our blessings by saying they would like to open a school then of course we give them full support. For those who believe they do not need any more training, when in reality they do, and go off and open up a centre within a five-mile radius of the IMB Academy, I pray they don’t get their students hurt. These types of disrespectful students show no respect or loyalty to their teacher and school. They are flying their true colors, which I wouldn’t want in my school anyway. AP: The budo code is important to you, can you explain a little more about this? From our conversations I am intrigued by your thoughts on martial arts being more than kicking and punching perhaps you could elaborate on this as I think it fits in with your thought on Budo itself. RB: My goal in IMB is to preserve and perpetuate Bruce Lee’s martial art and to share my experiences in the IMB combative martial arts trilogy. I believe that martial art is an empty box. It remains empty unless we put in more than we take out. The martial arts are based on much more than punching, kicking and grappling just as the tallest buildings are based on much more than walls, floors and windows. Both stand the test of time only when built on a strong foundation.
That strong foundation in martial arts is called the Budo Code – the moral, social and ethical standards followed by the world’s most-enlightened level of martial-arts teachers and practitioners. The Budo Code, which has stood the test of centuries, is about respect for one’s teacher and school, for one’s elders, and for one another; for the perseverance toward worthy goals; loyalty to school or team; self-confidence without arrogance; honoring one’s responsibilities; and truthfulness. For the past 35 years, I have followed the powerful and uncompromising Budo Code. In accordance with the Code, I have been teaching one of the highest skills of humankind: How to gain self-confidence and increased self-respect. What’s more, the Budo Code of loyalty and respect has meant the very survival of my IMB Academy and of my role as academy director and head instructor. I believe that this academy is here today because of our adherence to the Budo Code of honesty, responsibility, respect, loyalty and perseverance.
Now certainly in over 45 years of studying and teaching, I have seen people break the Budo Code. In such cases, I believe sincere attempts should be made to guide and to mend the faltering individual. I have seen firsthand how every negative incident can have a profound effect on a person’s mental or physical comfort. Ask a competitive martial artist about being psyched out by his/her opponent. When you’re susceptible to external, negative forces, you allow weaknesses or openings to exist in your defences. The martial artist shouldn’t allow outside negative influences to rule emotions and distract from achieving goals. In such a negative state, martial artists have given up control of the present challenge and their future circumstances. They have relinquished the responsibility for their actions to someone or something outside of them. As an instructor, I have these same emotions of negative, external distraction when a student breaks the traditional Budo Code. And my response must be action. The problem does not disappear by itself. On the contrary, a student, associate, colleague or even acquaintance that has acted with dishonesty, disloyalty and disrespect communicates the bad news to everyone.
I have been sincere in my efforts to counsel those who have lied, cheated or stolen. In some cases, I was able to guide the person back to the Code; but, unfortunately, in other cases, the individual gave no acknowledgement, showed no regret nor offered any restitution for the immoral behavior. In these latter cases, I believe the Budo Code requires of me the ethical duty to protect our martial-arts community by speaking out. While I cannot undo that which has taken place, I do believe that, “Forewarned is forearmed.”
Yes, one can forgive. But one never forgets. I hope my above experiences turn out to be an investment in knowledge that pays high dividends. Remember, knowledge alone is not power. Applied knowledge is power. We need to protect each other from the disrespectful, the thieves, and the undesirables. The good times will become good memories; the bad times can become good lessons. I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life. Likewise, I look to the Budo Code to protect the future of our martial arts. AP: A question regarding training that I believe came from yourself although I was first exposed to it by one of your instructors Mo Teague. Please could you explain your colour coding system for danger?
RB: When teaching self-defence I first get the students to be aware of where they are in their daily chores. That to me is the number one most important subject in the whole of martial art reality based training. Then I’ll teach them about the parameter system. We describe this by explaining that if you are in the “white light” you are calm and know that nothing is going to happen. If there’s some loud talking or shouting around you then your overall awareness must be alerted accordingly and one must begin to watch their back. This is what we call the “yellow light” situation.
Then there is the “orange light”. This is where things start to get heated up and you must be ready either to fight or flight. Finally “red light” is when an attack is happening to you. You are in a fight to win at all costs. After this is primary understanding. I will instruct the students on drills that teach them how to naturally react in a very exact manner. For example, when a right punch is coming towards you, you see it and block with your left hand while you simultaneously strike back using your right hand or a kick.
I’ll also teach seminar students how to block and punch simultaneously with perseverance. In addition I’ll be teaching drills where the student will learn how to react to an act. What this means is that they will learn to react to different attacks by coordinating a kick, a punch, or to a throw and so on.
AP: If there is one thing you could pass on to our readers what would it be?
RB : Attitude! Attitude is clearly number one. I have seen very talented martial artists who have a piss poor attitude. They think that they are the master and everybody else should bow before them, or they insult others integrity. It is easy to acquire skills. However, it is difficult to recognize ones own enduring attitude. I believe respect is earned. The more you give, the more you get back. One should develop an attitude of gratitude. One should give thanks for everything that happened to oneself, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving somethings something bigger and better than before. Or someone else with a lesser ability will be taking his or her place.
Photo Credit: IMBA
Seeds Of An Unknown Flower Dr Gregory T. Lawton
Who knows what we are to be? Like the seeds of unknown flowers we do not know what will bloom from us, what words will take hold of our heart and transform us, what change today will produce tomorrow, or tomorrow, or tomorrow. The gnarled hands of the wizened Gardener have pushed seeds deep within the fertile soil of your soul and there shrouded in the earthiness of your being they wait to bloom in resplendent beauty. More powerful than the splitting of an atom is the change of a human heart. I think that the greatest changes in my life resulted from a word, a gesture, a single deed, the silent passing of a gift from one hand to another, so gently and generously given that, at that moment, I did not recognize the blessing. Are you seeking the expression of the trueness of your spirit or have you allowed seeds to lay dormant within you? Awaken while there is still yet time and bless mankind with the beauty of your flowering soul. Sun is a word that cannot measure the splendor of the Sun, as your value cannot be measured by words. Live then so that like the seeds of an unknown flower your beauty will bloom, petal by glorious petal.
Kindly reprinted with permission from: Scent of a Forgotten Flower, Copyright 2010 Dr. Gregory T. Lawton 6757 Cascade Road, SE Suite 172 Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546 616-464-0892
About the authorDr. Gregory T. Lawton began his martial art training as a child. He has trained in western boxing, wrestling, and Asian martial arts such as Aikido, Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Tai Chi Chuan. He is an 8th degree black belt in Kosho Ryu Kenpo Jujitsu and holds the title of Yudansha Taigu. Dr. Lawton’s main and most noted Tai Chi Chuan instructor was Professor Chi-Kwang Huo. Professor Huo, the renowned Chinese scholar, artist and calligrapher who served as Taiwan's ambassador to France and who was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso, was a master martial artist and was a student of Yang Shao Hou of the Yang Family. Dr. Lawton is a health science writer and the author of over two hundred books, manuals and educational products ranging from massage therapy and martial arts, to health promotion, and from alternative medicine to conventional medicine. He is a Vietnam era veteran and was honorably discharged from the US Army with the rank of Sergeant E-5.
Striking/Joining/Playing Hands The Third Ring (House) of Yang Introduction and History
Dǎ Shou Gē Striking/Playing/Joining Hands Song
Author Unknown Ward-off (P’eng), Rollback (Lu), Squeeze (Ji), and Press (Arn) must be taken seriously. Above and below coordinate, it is difficult for the opponent to find a way in. Let him attack me with as much power as he likes, for I will tug on his movement with four ounces of force moving his of a thousand pounds. Guiding him in to land on nothing, I then close on him and send him away. I stick to him and go along with his movement instead of coming away or crashing in. The Taiji Classics
ǎ Shou Gē is all we have in The Taiji Classics pertaining to the subject of what is commonly known as
‘Push Hands’! These are the earliest and only lines on the subject - six to be precise - author unknown! Everything else we possess is either a commentary or an exposition on the subject matter by the Masters of old. Before we proceed any further, however, we first need to first clarify what exactly does Dǎ Shou Gē mean?
打 - Dǎ = to beat / to strike / to hit / to break / to mix up / to build / to fight / to fetch / to make / to tie up / to issue / to shoot / to calculate / to play (a game)
⼿ - Shou = Hand 歌 - Gē = Song/to sing One thing should immediately become clear from the above - we are talking about a martial art! Dǎ appears to be a very versatile verb indeed and no matter how we look at it, it does not mean ‘to push’ - that much should be obvious to any reader! The term ‘Push Hands’ is modern, just like the name Taijiquan (T’ai Chi Ch’uan). It was certainly not used in Yang Lu-Ch’an’s time and all the evidence simply points to this training method being referred to as Dǎ Shou (Note: Dǎ Shou also translates as ‘hired thug’ - although the words are spelt similarly there is a tonal difference and the two should not be confused!) - commonly translated as ‘Playing Hands’ or as it has more recently become known as ‘Joining Hands’, from the meaning ‘to tie up’! Whilst the terms ‘Playing Hands’ and ‘Joining Hands’ are two of several interpretations of Dǎ Shou - I believe that the correct term should be ‘Striking/Fighting Hand’ to emphasize the real nature of this very important training method! I’ll explain below as this is critical to understanding the nature of the Third Ring or House of Yang! According to the “Preface” of Chu Minyi found in Wu Tu-nan’s (a disciple of Yang Shao Hou and a historian of Taijiquan) book - A More Scientific Martial Art: Taiji Boxing, published in 1931: “Taiji Boxing is a boxing art of the internal school. “ Furthermore, Wu himself adds: “Wang Yuyang said: 'Of the boxing arts, Shaolin is the external school and Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang is the internal school.’ After Zhang Sanfeng, there was Wang Zongyue of Xi’an. Having obtained Zhang’s true teachings, he then became famous for producing many writings in which he thoroughly explains Taiji Boxing’s profound principles.” Again, Chen Pan-ling, another student of Yang Shao Hou and a historian, in the “Introduction” to his book Chen Pan-ling’s Original Tai Chi Chuan Textbook, states: “Tai Chi Chuan belongs to Wutang school” And finally, Yang Cheng-fu and Dong Yingjie in their book Methods Of Applying Taiji Boxing (Taijiquan Shiyong Fa) state in their “General Remarks” section: “Taiji Boxing is fundamentally related to Wudang’s boxing of internal skill.” All of the above confirm the Wudang Connection!
Joining Hands, Playing Hands, or ‘Push’ Hands has never been practiced in the Wudang - at least there in no direct evidence corroborating this, but we do have evidence that there were other two-person training methods which taught you the same skills! According to Erle Montaigue, while he was training in the Wudang under the instructorship of Liang Shih-kan, the then Keeper of the Wudang Boxing System, he was taught The Twelve Wudang Hand Weapons. These, he was told by Liang, were the precursors to Joining Hands! The Twelve Hand Weapons consisted of: 1. Hammer: This two person set makes use of the closed fist using the base of the fist as a hammer. It also uses the back of the forearms to mimic the handle of the hammer to devastating effect, producing powerful blows along vulnerable points of the body. 2. Spear: This method is dangerous and caution must be taken when training as the eyes are involved. The hand mimics the head of a spear as the fingers cut and scrape the eyes as well as soft hollows of the neck. Again, like the hammer, the forearms mimc the pole of the spear. 3. Sword: Again, the forearms and the edge of the hands mimc the weapon by hacking and cutting the neck, whilst the palm is used to attack the hollows like the temple. 4. Plough: This develops reflexive actions to perfection as the hands learn to roll and mimic the soil-turning movements of the implement, cutting ‘furrows’ through your opponents defences! 5. Axe: This teaches us chopping movements in all directions. 6. Nun: This is a three-section implement for thrashing wheat or rice. The arm is bent at the wrist and elbow thereby producing three segments used to attack, trap and roll around your opponents arms, as the fingers attack the throat. 7. Combination: This one combines many aspects of the first six methods and teaches us about instant attack and defence in any given situation. 8. Dart: This method teaches us about the use of very quick hands in continuous striking with different methods. One hand strikes as the other one controls or seizes as the hands dart rapidly in and out of attacks! 9. Drill: Self-explanatory - This method teaches us about one of the most important methods of attack using drilling methods. 10. Shovel/Spade: This method makes use of the flats of the palms for attack and defence as you would if you were using a shovel! It also teaches you to ricochet off your opponents limbs to attack using a single motion. 11. Double Blades: This method uses the palms as if they were two circular blades/saws in attack and defence. 12. Stump Puller: This method has a lot of pushing (jerking) and pulling movements, including locks, which work upon joints to dislocate them and also to loosen and shaken your opponents grounding or root! According to Liang, students were given one weapon per year to develop and master before they could go on to the next one. In essence, twelve years of training after which the student had developed a devastating reflexive fighting method to counter any attack. Inherent within the Hand Weapons was the deadly art of Dim-Mak! All twelve of the Hand Weapons contain the essential Thirteen Dynamics (Please refer to the article “Moving With Awareness - The 13 Dynamics, The Cornerstones And Their Significance," which appeared in Volume One of Lift Hands Magazine in November 2016, for a detailed explanation) - the foundations of Taijiquan’s fighting methodology and the basis of Dǎ Shou! From inherited oral tradition, Liang further told Erle that when Yang Lu-Ch’an came to the Wudang to finish off his training after his sojourn in the Chen Village, he trained in the Twelve Wudang Hand Weapons as well as the Twelve Qi Disruptive Forms - The original forms of Wudang Boxing upon which the Internal Arts of Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan are based! Yang found these Hand Weapons very brutal and injuries were common in training amongst students, so he set about developing a training method which would teach the essence of the principles involved without hurting or damaging the student. Once students had mastered the base ideas, the original forms could then be taught without danger of injury or worse - Joining Hands/Playing Hands were born! Later, as more and more people started practicing Taiji as a health art and the martial art became more diluted, Joining Hands turned into Push Hands based upon incomplete transmissions of knowledge (deliberate and otherwise) and misunderstandings of training ideas to the point of Pushing Hands competitions being developed! So, is there any evidence for the oral traditions mentioned above which corroborate Liang’s story as told to Erle and in turn passed onto his students - myself included? Or, is this simply another made up fantasy from the mind
of Erle Montaigue - as he is often accused by his many detractors? In his major work, Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions - compiled and translated by Professor Douglas Wile - we are told the following on page vii ‘Translator’s Note’: “Ch’ang-hsing gave him the transmissions of Chang Sang-feng, Chiang Fa and Wang Tsung-yueh, and Lu-ch’an, realizing the Taoist origins of the art, journeyed to the Wu-tang Mountains in search of a master. It was here that he studied Taoist yoga and the soft aspect of martial arts and invented push hands. Returning to the world as a consummate martial artist, he was introduced by Wu Yu-hsiang in Peking.” Wile, in his ‘Notes’ sources this information to Sung Fu-t’ing, Sung Chih-chien. 1966. “T’ai-chi ch’uan Yang tsushih Lu-ch’an chuan”(Biography of Yang Lu-ch’an). In T’ai-chi ch’uan yen-chiu chuan-chi 22,pp.19-21. If the above is an accurate account of Yang Lu-ch’an’s travels and most historians agree that he did head to the Wudang, then we have a good reason to believe the oral tradition told by Liang to Erle to be true! If he, indeed, invented Push Hands at the Wudang then he must have had a source from which to develop them and the Wudang Hand Weapons would certainly be a prime candidate. However, before we make a definitive decision is there any further evidence? According to Xu Long-hou (Xu Yu-sheng), a disciple of Yang Jian-hou, who also trained under Yang Cheng-fu and briefly with Yang Shao-hou himself:
“Shao-hou taught according to the studies learned from his uncle, Yang Ban-Hou (1837-1892), which included bone twisting methods, techniques to injure the adversary’s muscles, grasping veins and tendons as in Shou Wei Pi-Pa (Hands Play the Lute), fast hands combined with explosive kicking methods, joint locking, and methods to affect qi and blood through striking vital points.” Xu Long-Hou’s Taijiquan Shi, Taiji Boxing Power (Developing Power in Taiji Movement) Published in 1921. Translated & Annotated by Bradford Tyrey, Bradford Tyrey, North China Publications, USA, 2006. Translator’s Preface, pp.4.
And furthermore, Chen Wei-Ming (1881-1958), the famous disciple of Yang Cheng-fu, also alludes to this in his book T’ai Chi Ch’uan Ta Wen, when asked, what other fighting techniques does T’ai Chi use? “Other methods I have heard about (but for which I do not know the use) are grabbing the ligaments, attacking pressure points, and special techniques of seizing and controlling.” Note the glaring admission being made here by one of Yang Cheng-fu’s foremost disciples in the brackets above (emphasis mine)! Finally, in the Taiji manual of Gu Ruzhang, circa 1936, we are told: “They are also six kinds of drills that are to be merged together into a single flowing method: 1. Expanding and contracting, come and go. 2. Concentrate your spirit to intimidate the opponent. 3. Sink, roll, rub, and twist. 4. Connect, cover, push, and lift. 5. Chop, drag, shovel, and carry. 6. Draw him in to land on nothing.” If we look at these training methods of Shou-hou and then read the descriptions of Gu’s drills and compare them to the Wudang Hand Weapons above, the similarities are far too close to be discarded! Not only that but we are being very clearly told that these techniques were not shared with everybody nor explained in detail! It would appear that Shou-hou’s art is closer to the original as opposed to Yang Cheng-fu’s and far more brutal in both practice and execution! Again, the description in Liang’s oral narrative is uncanny regarding the fact that Luch’an found these methods far too brutal and injurious for the student (and Shou-hou was known to injure and brutalize his students and opponents in training) - not that they shouldn’t be taught, but that another way should be found to teach the necessary skills and then the ‘raw’ training methods could be given to the ‘deserving’ students more safely! That the training methods of the Wudang are directly connected to or are at least the inspiration behind what we today call ‘Push Hands’ should no longer be in doubt. Although Gu speaks about “six kinds of drills,” it is numbers 3, 4 and 5 - each containing four of the ideas found in the Wudang Hand weapons that are the real clue. The counting of six is merely how that information has been transmitted to him. Indeed, when Erle taught these, he
taught them as a pair of six - just as he had been taught them himself! It is my belief in the light of the information above that Dǎ Shou, should correctly be termed as Striking or Fighting Hands in their original sense! These names aptly describe, both, the Wudang Hand Weapons and Shouhou's training methods to the letter! Push Hands is most definitely a misnomer based upon a misunderstanding which I will explain below.
Dǎ Shou Dǎ Shou, at its highest level is a combat training method. It is not a competition nor was it ever meant to be practiced as such! It is the second most important part of one’s training after the form. The method is perhaps as equally misunderstood and has just as many variations as the form itself! Most students usually spend an inadequate time in the developing of Dǎ Shou, especially Single Dǎ Shou, as it is not deemed as ‘sexy’ or exciting as the double version. This usually leads to a failure in understanding at best or a severe beating in the street, or worse! My time training with Erle and my questions to him on the subject are pretty clear and vast - my notes heavily underlined as to what Erle deemed important in his own training - and I have based my entire training upon his methodology, albeit to work for my body type. ALL the elements of Dǎ Shou MUST be developed in the SINGLE hand training methods. If you fail to understand them here then you are wasting your time moving on to double hands. Remember... ALL so-called 'secrets' are given at the beginning of one's training NOT at the end - they have no worth there! Erle tells us in no uncertain terms in his Power T’ai Chi Ch’uan Book Two - Push Hands: “You must start with the ORIGINAL push hands and not something that some ‘modern Master’ has dreamt up. If you start with the basic style, then after a while you begin to "work it out" for yourself and then you are able to find new directions and new techniques. But this will only happen if the very basic and Original is learnt first of all.” And: “During push hands one learns about energy and its use. You learn to distinguish between different energies and when and where to use them. As the external body becomes more and more sensitive, so too does the mind and internal workings.” Furthermore: “ …single push hands is the whole basis of T'ai Chi as a martial as well as a healing art. By joining hands with a partner you not only Learn the 'feel' of another person, you learn to listen by touch. You learn to feel another's centre and exactly where their centre is and whether it is Yin or Yang. With single push hands we learn to connect the whole body together as a string of pearls. When you push you must feel a spiral of energy coming from the rear foot and up to the waist and then spiraling out along the pushing arm, you must feel as if the rear foot IS the pushing hand and imagine your whole body weight being in the one palm. When you pull down, think of a spiral of energy coming from your palm down your arm and into the back leg as you ‘suck' the opponent in.” Finally, a warning: “There have been a few 'Masters' who have decided to change the Original push hands as there have been some who would change the Original Form. These new forms have always failed. I have studied all of the main deviations and as yet have not found one that could withstand a full powered Ch'i push. The only push hands that REALLY work is the Original… “ So, where and how do we begin the practice of Dǎ Shou? Again, Erle provides us with a clear answer:
“…in a bow stance.”
Gōng Bù -
⼸步 - Bow Stance
⼸- Gōng = a bow (weapon) / CL: 張｜张 / to bend / to arch (one's back etc) 步 - Bù = a step / a pace / walk / march / stages in a process / situation According to Cai Yizhong’s Taiji Boxing Illustrated, published in 1931:
Figure 1. Left Bow Stance (Gōng Bù) - Front & Side View
“This is like a stance for drawing a bow, one leg forward, the other behind. With the left leg forward, it is a “left bow stance”. With the right leg forward, it is a “right bow stance”. When in a left bow stance, your left leg is bent and the weight of your body sits on your left leg. The size of the step is not set in stone. It depends on what is right for the individual and for one’s legs. The main criterion is ability to easily withdraw. Physiologically speaking, a woman’s step will typically be shorter than a man’s.”
The Bow Stance is the foundational ‘stance’ of Taijiquan. It is the stance in which we learn and train the majority of our skills. All other ‘stances’ emerge from understanding this one stance through either a contraction or an expansion, or both. If the skill of knowing yourself comes from the solo practice of the Thirteen Dynamics in Long Boxing, then the skill of knowing your opponent comes from the practice and understanding of the same Dynamics in Dǎ Shou! Both, have Gōng Bù at its root. There are NO exceptions! Just like we do not begin our Taiji Long Boxing training in the small frame, then logic should dictate that the same should apply to the practice of Dǎ Shou as well - both of these practices are inextricably linked, in fact we can confidently state that Taijiquan cannot exist or be understood without one or the other! Yang Cheng-fu, when asked by students about the importance of the height and the length of the ‘stances’ during practice - as reported in Taiji Da Wen (Answering Questions About Taiji) by Chen Weiming - replies: “…when you begin training… your step must be stretched out. This is because the standard for the legs is that one be straight while the other is bent, for instance if your left leg is straight, your right leg is bent. For the bent leg, the standard is that the knee makes a vertical line with the toes, and then your waist can loosen downward and turn forward and back. If your step is too small, the turning of your waist will also be small, and if the opponent’s attack is fierce, you will not have any extra room to neutralize and have no choice but to retreat. If you find yourself on a narrowing path with nowhere you can retreat, what alternative do you have? [These words are surely garbled and the meaning ought to be: If you find yourself on a narrowing path, you can go nowhere else except backwards.] Whereas if your step is large enough for you to turn your waist, then you can neutralize the opponent’s power and counterattack.” Furthermore: “A Taiji Boxing essay [Understanding How to Practice] says: ‘First strive to open up, then strive to close up.' Once you are very skillful, then your stepping and hand techniques can all be shrunken in, for they are now fully understood by your mind and are a part of your body. Therefore, when it is done small it has developed from doing it big, when it is done high it has developed from doing it low, when it is done tight it has developed from doing it loose, and when it is staccato it has developed from doing it flowingly. If so, then whether small or high or tight or staccato, you will be confident. If not, then I fear that when you encounter an emergency, you will still be unable to respond according to the situation, your steps will be in disarray, and you will be in dire straits.” This is further elaborated upon In The Taiji Boxing Manual of Gu Ruzhang, (already mentioned above): “Regardless of practicing the solo set or the pushing hands, in either case first strive to open up, which gets your hips to be always moving when there is even the slightest action. Once you have become skillful, strive to close up, big circles turning into small circles turning into no circles, as it is said [preface to “Zhong Yong”]: “Sent out, it fills the world. Shrunk back, it hides in subtlety.” Gu continues: “Pushing hands did not originally have fixed postures. It came from the techniques of ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, and bump, constantly transforming, going round and round without end like a limitless circle. While it is not like other kinds of boxing arts, it is comparable in that it has fixed methods. During the beginning of learning pushing hands, the methods in this book should be complied with, practicing according to the sequence. On no account are steps to be skipped, and then in the course of time, skill will naturally develop. … It is not appropriate to be just willfully issuing power… Therefore when practicing pushing hands, the parameters of Taiji Boxing’s theory must be complied with, and students are not to just do whatever they feel like, which would create bad habits.” It should be abundantly clear to the reader the emphasis and importance placed upon the Bow stance and why we must begin with a ‘large’ structure - it is the structure in which we must learn and develop all our pre-requisite skills to fighting, including our isometric exercise in which we build up the appropriate muscles, tendons and sinews.
In 1985, Erle produced his first video (MTG5) in which he lay the foundations of learning the Thirteen Dynamics in ‘Push’ Hands. Five years later, in 1990, he produced his second video explaining more ‘advanced’ ideas in ‘Push’ Hands. It would be a further three years until the next installment would be produced in 1993. During these eight years Erle taught the entire foundations in the Bow Stance - he NEVER deviated from this once! It was in only in 1993 that Erle began to teach the concepts and ideas of how to ‘make the circle smaller’ and showing how to adjust the footwork accordingly, gradually progressing until he arrived at teaching the highest level in 2005 - the Ring! It took twenty years of progressions to arrive at this point - it is NOT the point at which Erle started!
Adjusting The Gōng Bù Footwork -
The Principle of Reducing Measurements
If we begin large and understand the gross movements then it is far easier to divide into smaller movements, and if any an error were to occur, it would not be so profound! If, on the other hand, we were to begin with small movements and were to work our way up then we would be multiplying - therefore, any errors or mistakes now arising would be magnified by multiples and “Miss by inch” would turn into "Lose by a mile!" The above is exactly how Erle explained it to me, as written in my notes, on why we must start big and how we adjust our Gōng Bù footwork in learning the correct sequence of developing our skills in Dǎ Shou! So, did Erle makes this up? Was it his ‘best practice’ methods or is this what the Yang family taught? Again, we’ll find very quickly - Erle was teaching exactly to the Classics and the way of Yang family traditions: “Work first at training gross movements, then finer details. When the gross movements are obtained, then the finer movements can be talked of. When the finer movements are obtained, then measures of a foot and below can be talked of. When your skill has progressed to the level of a foot, then you can progress to the level of an inch, then to a tenth of an inch, then to the width of a hair. This is what is meant by the principle of reducing measurements. A foot has ten “inches”. An inch has ten-tenths. A tenth has ten hairs. These are the measurements. It was long ago said, “Fighting is a matter of measuring.” Understanding the measurements, you can achieve the reducing of measurements. But if you want to understand measuring, it must be meticulously taught, and then you will be able to measure down to a tenth and down to a hair. Herein lies the skill of attacking acupoints.” Yang Cheng-fu leaves us in no doubt above! So, how do we begin to reduce the Gōng Bù Footwork? “Wrap your crotch and cover your genitals as you step with the five elements.” “To 'wrap your crotch’ means the toes of your front foot are slightly turned inward. Your knees have an intention of slightly joining together, thereby “covering” your genitals. The “five elements” means the five kinds of steps: advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center. These are the fundamental stepping methods in the Taiji boxing art. In the center you are stable. Your left foot and right foot can alternate steps. Advance and retreat smoothly.” Read the above words of Dong Huling, the son of Dong Yingjie, (Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing, 1956) carefully and ponder for a moment. Now take a look overleaf at the photo of Erle Montaigue, in which he is showing me ‘his’ Gōng Bù Stance! This image was taken by myself and is one of a collection of over 20,000 images which I was allowed to take over the many years I trained with him. It was taken a few months before he passed. The image is the epitome of Dong’s words above! Erle didn’t make these things up, nor was he changing the form! This shows a clear lack of understanding on behalf of those who state this - he was simply progressing and showing the progressions at the appropriate times. Remember the Classic above:
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wrap your crotch and cover your genitals as you s t e p w i t h t h e fi v e elements.â&#x20AC;? Dong Huling Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing, 1956
“First strive to open up, then strive to close up…” In this instance, we begin by personalizing the Gōng Bù stance. The toes of the front foot are not just randomly turned slightly inwards - they are specifically turned inwards by the width of the practitioners own big toe, thus giving us added root and stability. By reducing the width of our stance by the width of our own foot, we can extend a bit further. This concept is taught in the form through the posture known as ‘Single Whip,' which is the origins of the Corner Gōng Bù or Diagonal Gōng Bù stance - usually the third stance taught in the Solo Form (Figures 2 & 3 below).
Figure 2. Corner Gōng Bù Stance being shown in beginning of second third of Old Yang Form.
Figure 3. Origins of the Corner Gōng Bù Stance Single Whip.
In the conventional Gōng Bù stance, as already noted above, the front foot is held ‘straight’ whilst the rear foot is held at an angle of 45 degrees. If, however, we pivot upon the heel of the front foot through 90 degrees, not only do we reduce the length of our stance but we also end up with a Reverse Gōng Bù Stance (Figure 4) with the front heel in line with the toes of the rear foot. This is a critical stance in developing understanding at the higher levels of Dǎ Shou and serves a specific purpose - how to hold the centre - which will be explained later. The Reverse Gōng Bù Stance is also, sometimes, generally referred to as a ‘Power Stance’ and it is this name which has caused confusion amongst those who have not began their Dǎ Shou training with the conventional Gōng Bù Stance!This is NOT the stance with which we begin our Dǎ Shou training - period! Anyone who advocates this is simply showing their ignorance of Taiji’s footwork and how it is deployed to teach us specific skill sets. Not only that, but starting your training in the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance would be akin to a beginner trying to learn their solo form at the Small Frame Level - and there are many fools attempting to do just that! It is for this exact reason that folk cannot deal with a larger or more powerful force and rather than look for the error in their own understanding or training - they will go about attempting to change the training method or the form! As I've already mentioned above, developing the Thirteen Dynamics in the Solo Form is directly linked to developing the same mechanics in Dǎ Shou (this does not mean that we can supplant the two-person training with the solo - far from it) albeit now we are working with the energy of an opponent. In the Solo Form the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance is the second stance taught to the beginner after the conventional Gōng Bù Stance!
a Figure 4. Reverse Gōng Bù Stance front and side views.
Figure 5. Reverse Gōng Bù Stance ‘Fishes in Eight’ & ‘Reverse Dragon Palms’ from Old Yang Style.
Figure 6. ‘Hands Playing Pipa’.
After learning ‘Grasping Sparrow’s Tail’ in the Gōng Bù Stance, the next posture - ‘Fishes in Eight’ introduces the beginner immediately to the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance (Figure 5) with its mirror image appearing a few steps later in the posture ‘Reverse Dragon Palms’! In the reducing of measurements, the next ‘key’ stance to be aware of is ‘Hands Playing Pipa’ or ‘Lift Hands’ half the width of the shoulder stance (Figure 6). This not only develops our root but also helps us distinguish clearly between the concepts of ‘Full’ and ‘Empty’ and how to stand like a ‘Post’. Whilst this plays a critical role in all our Dǎ Shou training - it is in the practice of Moving Step Dǎ Shou and Da Lu that it will show if we have understood its concepts fully! Standing with our feet together, with no gap in-between and turning the root foot out by forty-five degrees and slipping the other foot forward, so that the ‘ball’ of the foot is lightly touching the ground with no weight upon it whatsoever - as in the posture of ‘Crane Opens Its Wings’ - gives us the narrowest of our footwork (Figure 7) and once again is intimately linked to Moving Step Dǎ Shou, Dǎ Lu and ‘Pushing Feet’ - where we learn how to
defend using our legs and feet. Finally, in the reducing of measurements, we have the posture of the ‘River Character’ Stance,' or ‘Three-line Posture’ (Figure 8.), with one line representing each foot and the line between them! This would be considered standing in a natural stance. No fancy postures are now necessary, our years of training have now brought us to a stance from which we can move fluidly and with nimbleness in any direction whilst holding our root and stability - braced in all directions, heaven and earth united!
Figure 7. Crane Opens Its Wings
川 Figure 8. River Character Stance
Whilst there is much more footwork, it all forms part of the training methods and cannot be described here fully. It is something which is shown. More so, the term ‘footwork’ here should be taken very loosely - there is no footwork in the martial arts! What we term footwork is in reality the actions of the waist/centre being reflected by the feet - the body connected from head to foot as a single organism - obeying the Classic of the ‘centre moving the peripherals’! There are seven “clever ways of transforming” and moving, these form the ‘Seven Ingenuities’. According to Gu Ruzhang, these are: “1. Transform at your waist, 2. Transform at your wrist, 3. Transform at your elbow, 4. Transform at your shoulder, 5. Transform with your torso, 6. Transform at your hip, 7. Transform with your step. The term is also applied to seven ways of moving: 1. Advancing, 2. Retreating, 3. Side-stepping, 4. Continuous-stepping, 5. Zigzagging, 6. Spinning around, 7. Shaking.” Again, we are being provided with a connection to the Wu-dang. Those who are familiar with and have trained in the Wu-dang Stepping Methods will instantly see them being reflected in the Seven Ingenuities as well as advanced concepts and ideas of the ‘Folding Principle’ , and of course Yin/Yang in our whole body, so that we avoid the error of ‘dead’ hands (Sǐ Shǒu) and ‘dead’ movements, critical for our martial art training and in understanding Dǎ Shou at a combative level. The images on the following page show a small sample of transformations mentioned above.
Single Hand Dǎ Shou
(Identifying & Developing Energies)
終 終放 特終 “First strive to open up, then strive to close up, and from there you will be able to attain a refined subtlety.” According to Huang Wenshu (Yuanxiu), in his book The Skills & Essentials of Yang Style Taiji Boxing and Martial Discussions, published in 1936, when beginning the skill of Dǎ Shou: “When two partners link hands, they must drill the five aspects of hand, eye, body, technique, and step, and train the energies of palm, fist, elbow, wrist, shoulder, waist, hip, knee, and foot, as well as the Thirteen Dynamics: ward-off, rollback, press, push, pluck, rend, elbow, bump, advance, retreat, go to the left, go to the right, and stay in the center. Right from the start, this is the goal and basic task of pushing hands, but we typically find that students are not practicing according to this list. It is as though they are just “grinding beans to make tofu," and although they may repeat the same actions thousands of times, they get very little benefit.”
Figure 9. The traditional opening of Dǎ Shou! Both, A and B step forward and attack (join) with ‘Hands Playing Pipa’.
And further: “Pushing hands is the testing ground of Taiji Boxing. This has already been explained, but here are three further things to pay attention to in the course of it: 1. 2. 3.
“You must not be competitive… You must not be reckless… You must not seek to embarrass others…”
Finally: "As for the general plan, pushing hands practice begins with ward-off, rollback, press, and push, commencing with two people cooperating to perform five kinds of large circles, which are considered the basic methods: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Level Circle Vertical Circle Diagonal Circle Back-and-Forth Circle Natural Circle
Start by drilling these until you are skillful at them, then you may switch to other kinds of circling to enhance the effect. However, these five circles have to be taught personally, for the movements are too hard to explain in words. Start with a large circle to get the idea, then shrink the circle to make it livelier. Then shrink it further so that it is inside but no longer outside, a circling intent with no longer a circling shape. Within such a moment, issuing is wonderfully subtle. At this level, you will be operating on intuition rather than instruction. No one really comprehends such subtlety, yet it is a subtlety which will arise naturally. But without hard work over a very long period, you will not be able to achieve it.” Anyone familiar with Erle’s teachings, will immediately recognize that this was precisely the progressive way in which he, himself, taught the skill of Dǎ Shou! The purpose of starting to learn with the Large Circle was simply to develop Balance, Co-ordination and Timing, as well as strengthening and developing the correct muscles, tendons, sinews, and blood flow. In other words, this formed a major part of our isometric training! These are the pre-requisites of any fighting art. They are not to to be mistaken for fighting or self-defence. At this stage of our development we are not yet learning to “identify energies," we are still developing the gross movements - in other words we are striving to "open up” before we strive to "close up”! In training the gross movements of Dǎ Shou, we understand and develop the martial concept of the Six Unions - these consist of three Internal Unions and three External Unions: The mind is united with the intention, the intention united with the energy and the energy united with power. These make up the Three Internal Unions. The Three External Unions are made up by the hand united with the foot, the elbow united with the knee and the shoulder united with the hip. There are Thirteen Dynamics in Taiji Boxing. Eight Energies and Five Elements! Both, the Eight Energies and the Five Elements have an internal and external meaning (See Diagram 1). The Eight Energies are internally represented as: P’eng, Lü, Ji, Arn, Cǎi, Lieh, Zhǒu and K’ao; whilst externally, they are the four cardinal directions and the four corner directions. The Five Elements are: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth and are internally represented as: Sticking, Connecting, Adhering, Following, and neither Coming Away nor Crashing In; Externally, they are advancing, retreating, observation, decision, and stability or moving with awareness, whilst protecting your head, protecting your elbows, protecting your center, protecting your kidneys and protecting your knees. In Dǎ Shou , they are expressed outwardly as postures, but dwell within as energies. When applying power, it “starts from your foot, issues through your leg, gets directed at your waist, and is expressed at your fingers.” It is by practicing the solo set that we train the energies, and by practicing Dǎ Shou that we learn to identify them!
S P’eng (‘Ward Off’)
NE Zhǒu (‘Elbow’)
Yang (THE ACTIVE)
Yin (THE PASSIVE)
SW K’ao (‘Shoulder Strike’)
SE Lieh (‘Split’ or ‘Rend’)
NW Cǎi (‘Inch Energy’ or ‘To Pluck’/‘To Pick’)
Water Arn (‘Press’)
N Diagram 1. The Thirteen Dynamics: Moving With Awareness The Eight Gates & the Five Directions of Long Boxing, Dǎ Shou & Da Lu (Large Roll Back) Copyright©Nasser Butt 2016FJCICBS
Taking all of the above into account the first thing we must develop in Dǎ Shou is the 'square' or the cardinal directions of P’eng, Lü, Ji, Arn (represented by the red square in Diagram 1 above) in a ‘Fixed Step’. These are our primary energies and as the Song tells us - "they must be taken seriously”! The importance of the cardinal directions is akin to the five vowels a, e, i, o, u in Western languages, without which words cannot be pronounced and thus not understood or like the notes of the tonal scale - Do, Re Mi..etc. in understanding music and song! When we begin to learn the ideas and concepts behind Dǎ Shou, it is not enough to just 'do'! We must initially clarify its contents. What is P'eng? How many different ways can the idea or concept of P'eng be expressed? Is it a Yang Attack or a Yin Defence? What is Lü? How is it to be used? What is Ji? What is Arn? How do we overcome or neutralize such attacks? We must understand what it means to store power and how to issue it? Equally, we must understand what is meant by full and empty, expansion and contraction? The concept of folding must be understood in the back and forth of the arms. We must develop heaviness with agility and liveliness. All in all, every single parameter of Taiji Boxing’s Theory must be complied with! We are still learning or developing the gross body mechanics ensuring that there is co-ordination between above and below - meaning that power goes from my heel, through my leg, to my waist, then from my shoulder to my hand to my fingertips, going upward from below in a single unbroken flow, regardless of the hand technique, body movement, or footwork - in other words we are developing the essential concepts of what is meant by Sticking, Adhering, Connecting, and Following, and what is meant by Crashing In, Collapsing, Coming Away, and Resisting. The Taiji Boxing Classic says: “Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.” Chen Yanlin in his manual ‘Taiji Compiled: The Boxing, Saber, Sword, Pole and Sparring’, published in 1943, tells us: “Those who wish to be able to analyze each of these eight terms in complete detail and clarity are actually as rarely encountered as phoenix feathers and unicorn horns. But if you do not understand these eight terms, you will not be able to identify energies, and if you are not identifying energies, then your pushing hands will be ineffective… Sticking means to lift up high. Adhering means to stay and be attached. Connecting means to let go of yourself and not separate from the opponent. Following means to follow him wherever he goes. These four terms are the fundamental principles in Taiji Boxing. If they are not fully understood, strive to realize them, and then you will be able to identify energies. Therefore if you wish to identify energies, you must give extra attention to these four terms… Crashing in means sticking your head out. Collapsing means not enough pressure. Coming away means separating. Resisting means too much pressure. These four terms are contrary to sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, because by way of crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resisting, you will not be able to stick, adhere, connect, and follow. On the other hand, if you are able to stick, adhere, connect, and follow, you will surely be without the errors of crashing in, collapsing, coming away, and resisting. When beginning to learn pushing hands, it is often easy to make these four errors. If you want to guard against them, you must carefully detect them while pushing hands, and at all times take corrections from your instructor. Once you have been corrected to perfection, then you will be able to perceive keenly while sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, and thereby achieve the condition of identifying energies.” Chen continues: “Strive to distinguish clearly between emptiness and fullness, passive and active. Make your energy smooth and the opponent’s coarse, and never depart from sticking, adhering, connecting, and following… Once you have practiced fixed-step pushing hands to the point that you can stick, adhere, connect, and follow all the way into your waist and legs, your body movement and stances are smooth and natural, you are responding according to the situation, and you are without the slightest bit of clumsy effort, then you may advance to practicing movingstep pushing hands…” After thousands and thousands of permutations over weeks, months and years your waist loosens, energy naturally sinks, and “then your feet will have strength and your stance will be stable” [Yang Cheng-fu]. When the transition between empty and full in your limbs is not working, it entirely depends on the turning and appropriate sinking of your waist in order to remedy the situation. Furthermore, sometimes despite your waist being completely loosened, it still may not feel quite right when turning, and thus it will not work without the
simultaneous loosening of your hips to assist. This is why the Gōng Bù (Bow Stance) is critical to the beginner - it not only assists in the loosening of the waist and strengthening of the feet and legs, the thighs in particular, but also helps to loosen the hips which cannot be achieved in the ‘smaller’ stances! This is considered ‘normal’ or basic Dǎ Shou. At this stage, ‘pushes’ and ‘pulls’ are allowed to check the stability, balance, structure and timing of the practitioner. This is where the silly notion of ‘Pushing Hands’ arises from - a misunderstanding of a basic test for beginners (a similar testing exists in the Small San-sau, which has been erroneously turned into a nonexistent ‘B-Side’ - which will lead students down a path of confusion and error)! However, this does not mean that we are competing - we are merely testing! Gu ruzhang is very clear on this: “Beginners must endure being thrown, which will keep them from being fearful and hesitant to go forward, and this is the whole point of the widespread practice of martial arts.” Furthermore, it is important to realise that at this level, when we are moving to and fro, we are actually moving
Figure 10. Right Bow Stance (Gōng Bù) as demonstrated by Erle’s senior students and instructors Peter Jones & Elliot Morris - Single Dǎ Shou Side View
Figure 11. Left Bow Stance (Gōng Bù) - P’eng with Left Leg “full”.
diagonally and distinguishing between “empty and full”! This is of prime importance and teaches us how to move the ‘Yin’ leg with nimbleness when dealing with a large force. By “empty and full” it is meant that: If the weight is on your right leg, your right leg is full (Yang) and your left leg is empty (Yin). If the weight is on your left leg, your left leg is full (Yang) and your right leg is empty (Yin). If you can distinguish empty and full from each other, then your movements will be light and nimble, and effortless with no strains. If they cannot be distinguished, your steps will be heavy and sluggish, your stance will be unstable, and it will be easy for an opponent to pull you off-balance. ‘Fixed Step’ Dǎ Shou must be practiced in Four Ways and at the Three Frame Level - High, Middle and Low. The Four Ways of practice are:
Right Foot, Right Hand; Right Foot, Left Hand; Left Foot, Right Hand; Left Foot, Left Hand. Also, the practitioners must practice with both Opposite Step and Same Step - i.e., if Person A has their right foot forward, then Person B has their right foot forward (Same Step) and if Person A has their right foot forward, then Person B has their left foot forward (Opposite Step). By training in the Four ways and Opposite/Same Step, it does not matter which side your opponent is leading with in combat - the practitioner is totally prepared for any eventuality! Once we have acquired the gross movements of the Four Primary energies in 'Fixed-Step' Dǎ Shou, we begin to develop our ‘Moving Step’ skills. We start with a basic step forward and step backwards. The steps are initially small ‘half-steps’ as we learn to move our whole body in unison. After this, Advancing and Retreating can be done in multiple steps of 2,4 or 6 for example. However, it is always essential to use your hips as the center of movement. Even when stepping, you should clearly distinguish which leg is empty and which is full. During Moving Step Dǎ Shou, beyond advancing and retreating, going to the left and right, merging intention and energy, and focusing your gaze, you especially must give added attention to “staying in the center," otherwise you will be unable to neutralize your opponent and issue against him, causing you to lose your own balance. But we will talk in more detail about ‘staying in the centre’ later. This also divides into the three versions of High, Middle, Low. First, practice in a high stance, then at a middle height, then low. Once you have gone through these three stages, you must then practice all three versions together. All the rules of ‘Fixed Step' Dǎ Shou apply. In other words: In Moving Step Dǎ Shou, apart from keeping your body balanced upright, forcelessly raise the crown of your head, concaving the chest slightly, and rounding your back, sinking your shoulders and dropping your elbows, sinking energy to your Tan Tien, tucking in your tailbone, loosening your waist and hips, and getting your whole body to work in unison. Then once you reach an adequate level, breathing should also be given attention. In the beginning of practicing it, you should only seek to breathe naturally, and you do not need to give it any thought until your external posture has become skillful. Moving Step Dǎ Shou, as well as training your waist and legs, hands and feet, upper body and lower body to work in unison, it can also get your breath to lengthen, increase your endurance in mind and body, and can compensate for the drawbacks of fixed-step pushing hands. The next principles to develop are the Four Secondary Energies or the corners/diagonals - Cǎi, Lieh, Zhǒu and K’ao (represented by the blue ‘diamond’ in Diagram 1 above). This is also commonly known as The Large Rollback or Dǎ Lu - The Great Repulse! These four secondary techniques are for compensating for any lacking in the four primary techniques. Once more, we turn to Chen Yanlin: “Students generally only know about the roundness of Taiji Boxing’s circling and do not understand how it is related to squareness. It is said [in Explaining Taiji Principles, section 21]: “Taiji is round, never abandoning its roundness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. And Taiji is square, never abandoning its squareness whether going in or out, up or down, left or right. As you roundly exit and enter, or squarely advance and retreat, follow squareness with roundness [and vice versa]. Squareness has to do with expanding, roundness with contracting.” … in the beginning of learning the four primary techniques, you will often make mistakes of lightness, heaviness, floating, and sinking, such as “one side under- heavy and one side overheavy” [example 3a in Explaining Taiji Principles, section 22], etc. Thus if you wish to remedy these mistakes, you will not be able to without the four secondary techniques, meaning the large rollback exercise. Therefore once you are skillful at the fixed-step and moving-step pushing hands, you must then practice large rollback. When you are able to understand large rollback, then at the extreme of squareness there will be roundness and at the extreme of roundness there will be squareness, always the principle of passive and active transforming over and over, both aspects able to be thoroughly realized.” The stepping in large rollback is larger and faster, and if you do not have strength in your legs, you will not be able to change nimbly. It is also sometimes referred to as the 'Emergency Footwork' for if your Four Primary ‘techniques' fail! If the practitioner is regularly using the concepts learned from the Large Rollback to get themselves out of trouble then it is a sure sign that the Four Primary concepts have failed to be understood correctly!
For the Large Rollback we must understand the Corner Gōng Bù Stance - essentially the ‘stance’ of Single Whip, which we use at the beginning of the second and third parts of the form. The Corner Gōng Bù Stance allows us to step a little bit deeper whilst holding an east/west or north/south straight line between the heel of the front foot and the toes of the back foot (see Figures 2 & 3 above). Again, Erle would regularly tell us that: “When we can turn the square into a circle and the circle back into a square, then we have the beginnings of understanding Taiji!”
Figure 12. Opposite Foot Bow Stance (Gōng Bù) - ‘Large Rollback’
Fa-jing - 發勁 Qi is only of value when it is converted into Jìn/ Jìng -
勁- Power! This, however, should not be confused with
精 - Jīng - meaning ‘essence’. In Dǎ Shou, one of the primary skills we learn is how to convert qi into jing.
There are many different types of jing developed and used in Dǎ Shou, what differentiates between them is our intent. The most powerful jing which we develop is Fa-jin/Fa-jing - the ability to issue or discharge power explosively! Just as we have physical methods with which to develop our Qi, we equally have physical means by which we can attain and develop the use of fa-jing. In Dǎ Shou, we train in particular methods of attack and defence which help us to understand how to use fa-jing! Fa-jing cannot be understood or developed without first understanding the gross movements of Dǎ Shou! We must learn to ‘give ourselves up' in a split second to our automatic animal mind, and nervous system. It cannot be intellectualized - for the moment between life and death can be over in the blink of an eye.
The whole body and breath must co-ordinate and respond as a single organism in one complete movement in both attack and defence. We never use just one part of our body. Every cell must ‘move’ in perfect timing and coordination with every other cell generating a spiral from the Tantien towards the part of the body which will actually do the explosive strike - the entire body’s power concentrated into one area! Fa-jing is the ‘motor’ or ‘engine’ of Taijiquan. Fa-jing training develops specific muscle groups in the body which are perfectly balanced to deliver great surges of power over very short distances. These muscle groups primarily sit down the centre of the body and can only be developed through specific training methods - Dǎ Shou being the most important of these training methods. This is one of the reasons why the Internal Arts emphasize so heavily on training methods. However, one must take care not to attempt fa-jing too early as this can lead to skeletal damage, especially if the student is not used to rigorous movements. This is the reason why learning Dǎ Shou correctly is of the utmost importance! Fa-jing requires grounding and Sōng (see House Four) and can only be executed over a very short distance. You cannot execute fa-jing if you are off-balance or not grounded and leaping in the air, or if you are sick and have no jin/jing! According to Erle: “Breathe from the kidney area (Tan Tien) on the in breathe down to the Yang foot. On the out breath, send the breath, Ch’i back up the leg and out along the attacking palm(s). The energy must be sunk quickly just before it changes from Yin to Yang and then it explodes up like a bomb in attack… This is Fa Jing.” Fa-jing can be separated into five main areas of attack: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Wave Attack (Diagram 2) Spiral Attack Bow and Arrow Attack (Diagram 3) Squeeze Attack Cannon Attack (Diagram 4)
Diagram 2. Wave Attack
Diagram 3. Bow & Arrow Attack
Diagram 4. Cannon Attack
The above three hand drawn diagrams were sent to me by Erle, when I questioned him about the importance of the Gōng Bù (Bow) Stance in the practice of Dǎ Shou and in developing Fa-jing, and now form a part of my notes (At the time I was unaware that they were taken from his only copy of Power T’ai Chi Ch’uan Book Two. This was later republished by Colin Power on his Tai Chi Renegade site)! What’s important here is to note that all the match-stick figures are in a classical Gōng Bù (Bow) Stance. This skill cannot be taught correctly in a Reverse Gōng Bù Stance. The reason, as already clarified above, being that it isolates the waist and thus will prevent the beginner from fully understanding the difference between ‘full’ and ‘empty,’ yin, yang and issuing and receiving whilst developing the correct muscle groups, connecting the legs, hips and waist, and elasticity in the knees, and the role of the k’ua! Erle was very clear on the matter regarding this and totally in keeping with the Yang family traditions: “Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow... Power comes from your spine… move energy as if drawing silk... Revolving like a flywheel, if something is thrown against it, it will be cast off at a great
distance” - these are Yang family maxims, which Erle regularly used in his teachings! The first four of these jings are based on the power coming from the rear foot, whereas in the last - the cannon jing - the power is derived from the front foot! This is a critical energy to understand as it will help us to develop the concepts of ‘recoil’ - the basis of the Canon Fist! What’s more, all five of the above attacks, including the relevant footwork, appear in the original ‘grasping the sparrow by the tail’ opening of the form, further confirming that Dǎ Shou and the Long Boxing Form as well as the Thirteen Dynamics are all inextricably linked! Listening, Neutralizing, Seizing, and Issuing - ‘Within curving, seek to be straightening’ The practice of the Solo Long Boxing set pertains to working with an imaginary opponent - the opponent in this case being the self and the practice becoming a 'mapping' of the self - however, this makes the study of energies rather vague. So, whilst we develop the concepts of the Thirteen Dynamics within the Form, its four most difficult skills, Listening, Neutralizing, Seizing, and Issuing are developed within Dǎ Shou! Listening is when I connect to the opponent with my hand, wrist, or body, so that I will instantly be aware of his changes of movement. Neutralizing (the sum of Taiji’s Sticking and Yielding energy) is when I evade his attack. It should be rounded and has no limit for a curve can go on curving forever. Seizing is when I take control of his technique. Issuing is when I attack his weakest point. It should be straight and thus can be infinite! Simply put, we are laying the sensory foundations upon which we will build the reality of combat. The specific details of the above four parts of a principle occur in a singular moment of attack and it is for this reason that they are incredibly difficult and even after a lifetime of practice there will be no end to them! The key to it all is the Circle - all four occur within a circle as do the Eight Energies of P’eng, Lü, Ji, Arn, Cǎi, Lieh, Zhǒu and K’ao! The Sensory Foundations, attributed to Yang Ban-hou in his Explaining Taiji Principles, circa 1875 are as follows: “… through observing: there is looking forward, looking behind, looking left, looking right. Be aware through listening: there is rising, falling, quickness, leisure. Be aware through feeling: there is evading, countering, inciting, concluding. Be aware through acting: there is turning, switching, advancing, retreating. In this way, your identifying of energies will be genuine. You will then be able to reach the level of the miraculous, and this is because there is a foundation, the foundation being the identifying of energies. The subtleties of bending, extending, movement, and stillness are automatically built upon that foundation. Then spreading, merging, ascending, and descending are in turn built upon bending, extending, movement, and stillness. By way of bending and extending, movement and stillness, spread his attack aside when you see him enter, then merge with him as he tries to exit. Descend when you see his attack come in, then ascend as he withdraws. Once your genuineness in identifying energies reaches all the way to the point of the miraculous, at such a level you will thereafter be mindful in every activity – whether it be walking, sitting, lying down, running, eating, drinking, or even going to the bathroom. By this means, your achievement will go from middling to great.” However, in order to achieve any of the above we must understand and know the Active and Passive Principle, the base foundations of Taiji. The position of the Eight Energies are based upon the concept of the active and passive aspects inverting each other. The theory in ancient China was that everything corresponds analogously to passive and active, “and therefore passive and active themselves do not have fixed roles. “ According to both Ban-hou and Xu: “All of these correspondences, regardless of how one thing changes into another, are each contained within a circle. Therefore when movement and stillness become distinct, passive and active then do not occupy the same place and taiji is everywhere.” Some examples of active and passive correspondences in Taiji are:
Hands Going Out
Hands Drawing In
‘Four Ounces of Force Moving His of a Thousand Pounds’ - The Skill of Reducing the Circle and Maintaining The Centre Ground in Fighting The Song of Holding The Centre in Self-Defence Training: When standing centered, the feet should be rooted. Start by understanding the four core techniques, then advancing and retreating. The four techniques are ward-off, rollback, press, and push. You have to do a lot of work to get them to be real. For the body’s posture, the waist and head-top should both be correct. When sticking, adhering, connecting, and following, the intention and energy are to be uniform throughout. Movement and awareness answer each other. Mind is sovereign and body is subject. When you get the degree just right, you will naturally have both the civil and martial. [i.e. If the “degree” is not right, there is “overcooking” or “undercooking”, in which case too civil would be undercooked and too martial would be overcooked.] The Song of Taiji’s Circling: Circling while retreating is easy, but circling while advancing is difficult, so do not get sloppy with your waist and head-top when going forward or back. It is hard to stay in the central position, so the ease of retreat and difficulty of advance are to be carefully studied. As this is a matter of movement rather than stance, stay close to the opponent while advancing or retreating. It can be like a watermill as it speeds up or slows down, or like the dragon-like clouds or tiger-like winds winding all around. If you use the example of the sky to help you seek this, after a long time it will be natural. In the practice of Dǎ Shou, attention should be paid to the Three Centres: 1. Each person has a centre of balance. 2. When they ‘join’ their hands together, they naturally create another centre the point of contact. 3. The third centre comes from the vying between the two. If you gain this centre, you will win. If you lose this centre, you will lose! The principle is fixed! Holding the centre in Taiji is one of the most difficult things to achieve. According to Yang Ban-hou: "If you strive for the reducing of measurements before identifying energies, yours will amount to a small achievement and be but a smattering of martial skill. You will not be able to estimate the opponent even at the level of a foot before you are identifying energies. After you have achieved identifying energies, you will have a miraculous understanding, and you will automatically have the ability to reduce measurements. From there you will then be able to control, seize, capture, and seal. " Having practiced the ‘gross movements’ and learned how to identify energies, we finally begin to reduce measurements. This is where the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance comes into play. The Reverse Gōng Bù Stance automatically reduces the distance between the two persons and isolates the waist to help develop great power there - moving “like a wheel” - (hence the name ‘power stance’). Here, we establish a ‘centre’ approximately the width of ones own foot between the two feet around which we will oscillate like a pendulum from side to side, with only a slight to and fro motion (see Figure 4a above). The importance of this concept is critical in the understanding of ‘holding the centre,’ which we have already mentioned above and is explained very clearly by Chen Yanlin: “Ward-off, rollback, press, push, and neutralize have already been divided into advance, retreat, going to the left, going to the right, and what remains to be explained is staying in the center. The average practitioner has no understanding of this, but as the true purpose of this book is promote martial arts, no details will be omitted, and therefore things that are otherwise hidden will be explained. So what is meant by “staying in the center”? Beyond the idea of your body being balanced upright while advancing, retreating, moving to the left, or moving
to the right, there is also the moment when internal power is about to issue but is not yet issuing. First center your posture, then issue. It will resemble the swinging of a pendulum. Neutralizing is the pendulum swinging off to the side. The moment neutralizing switches to issuing is like the pendulum settling in the center. Once you have stabilized, issue. Your issuing will thus succeed without any leaning or disconnecting. Therefore staying centered is extremely important in pushing hands.” Here we have the ‘Ring’ or ‘House’ finally being explained! Note what Chen tells us… “things that are otherwise hidden will be explained.” This is exactly what Erle taught when he first demonstrated this ‘Ring’ way back in 2005 - the movement of the centre from side to side (Elliot Morris and I were the first students to whom Erle taught this personally)! Whilst Chen explains what this means in terms of “staying in the centre” - Erle demonstrated how this is achieved! However, we are not done yet. There are three other factors which we must look at to complete the ‘Ring’. To fully understand the ‘Ring’ we must understand the concept of: 1. ‘Four ounces of force moving his of a thousand pounds.’ 2. ‘Lean on the fence and talk to your neighbour.’ 3. Rolling (‘Rolling Thunder’) To understand the full meaning behind ‘Four ounces of force moving his of a thousand pounds,’ we must first refer back to the Taiji Classic - Great-Pole Boxing: The Theory by WangT’sung-yeuh: “The Great Polarity without poles is born: Of negative and positive it is the mother - In motion it divides, In stillness, it unites.” Or alternatively put: “Taiji (‘great polarity’) is born of Wuji (‘non-polarity’), and is the mother of yin (the passive aspect) and yang (the active aspect). When there is movement, they (the passive and active) become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.” Xu Yu-sheng - The direct disciple of Yang Jian-hou (the father of Yang Shao-hou and Yang Cheng-fu), already mentioned above, writing in 1921 at a time when Yang Shou-hou was still alive and heading the Yang family, tells us: “With movement there is division [into the vectors of the initial force and the diverting force (often called “a thousand pounds” and “four ounces”)]. With stillness there is merging [into the net force of both]. Movement means change. When there is movement, there is differentiation of passive and active, and the two polarities are established. When there is stillness, there is nothing disturbed and nothing that gives anything away, though the principle of passive and active is complete within it. When practicing the Taiji boxing art, in each of its postures, movement and stillness alternate with each other. This boxing art’s movements go forward or back, left or right, up or down, but in all cases there is passive and active, empty and full, to be abided by. Therefore it is said that in movement they become distinguishable. In postures of stillness, although there is no trace of anything that can be specifically pointed out, passive and active, empty and full, are all already within. Therefore it is said that in stillness they become indistinguishable. If we break down the exercise, then Taiji’s active aspect transforms and its passive aspect merges, which with an air of physics or mechanics represent the principles of the “dividing force” [components of force] and “merging force” [resultant/net force]. In the Taiji boxing art, when I encounter an opponent and he wants to control me, I then right away [take his attack] to the side, dividing his power into two paths [i.e. the components of force], causing his power to be unable to directly reach my body (coarsening his energy). This is what is meant by ‘With movement there is division’.” - simply put, Neutralizing through Sticking and Yielding! However, a cautionary note must be added here for the size of the deflecting force and the direction of the deflection has to be determined by the extent of the incoming force, which cannot be treated as if it is a thousand pounds every time! By using force which is either excessive or insufficient, or by moving in a direction which is too straight or too slanted, you will make the error of either ‘Coming Away’ or ‘Crashing In’ and fail! This may sound easy or obvious but in reality it is very difficult to do, until you can weigh and begin to identify energies!
To ‘Lean on the fence and talk to your neighbour’ is an advanced idea of neutralizing, where we ‘suck’ or pull in at the waist and roll over the top of the 'fence' - the point at which we are attached with our partner - in this case the wrist of our P'eng arm (see Figure 13). This brings the heads closer together and one must be aware of transforming leading to a head-butt! It is also a representation of the ‘C’ back and the storing of Bow energy to be loosened like an arrow as per the Classics: “Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue. Power comes from the spine. Step according to the body’s changes. To gather is to release and to release is to gather. Disconnect but stay connected.” And… “Extend your neck and draw up your head-top, your arms both loosening. Strongly bind energy downward, bracing it upward at your crotch. Sound it from your gut when you express power, beating with your fists. While your toes grip the ground, your upper body bends like a bow.” The principle is confirmed by Tan Mengxian, a student of Yang Shou-hou, in his Preface to Huang Yuanxiu’s book - The
Figure 13. Erle teaching Nasser Small Frame Push Hands and how to ‘Lean on the fence and talk to your neighbour’, during a private session in Germany 2007.
land on nothing”. ‘
Skills & Essentials of Yang Style Taiji Boxing and Martial Discussions - already mentioned above: ‘When first learning neutralizing, the direction should be at an angle, but at a high level of skill, you will be able to neutralize toward your own body, as in “guiding him in to
This leads us directly onto the concepts of Rolling and ‘Rolling Thunder’ - The Second Ring (already discussed in Lift Hands Volume 2). It was this which distinguished Chang Yiu-chun’s ‘Push Hands’ from what Erle had already learned previously, as he would tell him in 1978 as recorded by Erle in his own Notes - Conversations With Chang Yiu-chun : Chang: “It is one of the Houses of Yang where we learn about the Thunder. When you use the backs of your arms, it will make the whole body aligned and balanced and also give one much great power in attack, it is like something rolling over and over until the fighting is finished. When the arms roll over, it makes the body as the Universe which is constantly changing and moving forward. This was the 2nd House.” Erle: Your way of doing pushing hands is the same as the ‘Rolling Thunder’ isn’t it, I have only just now realised this. In what ‘house’ do you learn this way of Joining Hands? Chang: This is the number three house. ‘Rolling Thunder’ is an advancement upon the Silk Reeling Form. It is also the bridge to understanding the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Ring of Yang. The natural result of the spiral movements of energy cause the arms to roll over even more so, so that we end up using the backs of the arms, producing powerful attacks whilst utilizing the whole body! The attacks roll endlessly, the body “moving like the great river” - like waves crashing onto the rocks. In this manner, the energy is continuously recycled without having to load and reload allowing a person to ‘pour’ all over their opponent and
not tire in the process, or lose power in their attacks. As the body expands and contracts and rolls, the sinews, the muscles and the tendons as well as the blood are strengthened for both health and combat. Again, we have corroborating evidence already provided in the previous Volume by Gu Ruzhang’s ‘Checklist’ : “Are you rotating like reeling silk? / Or are your hands moving straight and not attacking with rotations?” The Ring brings us into the true martial aspects of Dǎ Shou. This is the area of self-defence. The foundational training in the larger stances of Dǎ Shou are the pre-requisites to bring us to the point where we no longer have to worry about our ‘stance’ - in fact, we can now stand in our natural stance, upright as if “walking down a street”. Reducing the circle in the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance is not the end… the circle has to be made smaller
Figure 14. Erle teaching Nasser the finer points of rolling and bumping in Germany 2007.
still as we now "Stand like a scale, move like a wheel. ” in the ‘River’ character (See Figure 8 above) just as the Classics say and Gu Ruzhang leaves us in no doubt: "In working toward identifying energies, you must stand like a scale. When awaiting the opponent, your body appears as a flat scale. Your head is like the uppermost point above the hinge, your hands making the trays to each side, your arms bound to each other to make the horizontal balance beam, your waist the platform base, and going down through the base to your tailbone, there is the supporting post holding everything up. Your tailbone is centered and spirit penetrates to your head-top, making a single line up and down. Equipped will all these things, you can then weigh the size of the opponent’s energies. Whether there is the slightest bit of lightness or heaviness, floating or sinking, they will all be revealed with precision." This is what Dǎ Shou and Taijiquan Long Boxing is all about - knowing how to weigh and measure your opponents attack and respond! As the Circles continue to get smaller they simply shrink down to the Circle of Intent! At this point Erle tells us that: “It [Push Hands] becomes a very dynamic training aid. We’re now looking at how to fight and defend ourselves… The movements of Joining Hands become so small that there is hardly any movement there… people will wonder if you are doing Taiji at all!” Gu tells us the same thing: “Once you have become skillful, strive to close up, big circles turning into small circles turning into no circles…” I have already quoted this above and refer the reader to the images on the next page - Figure 15. Note the proximity of mine and Erle’s bodies as we join in Small Frame Dǎ Shou - the basis of Small Frame Fa-jing and ‘The Secret of the Free Circle’ (see next page), as recorded by Wu Meng-hsia in his ‘Nine Secret Transmissions on T’ai-chi ch’uan’, received from Niu Lien-Yuan, who received them from Yang Ban-hou. At this level, the hands are no longer needed, the whole body is connected “as a string of pearls” or, as Cheng Manch’ing perfectly states in his ‘Song of Form and Function’:
“The whole body is a hand and the hand is not the hand. But the mind must stay in the place it should be.”
Figure 15. Erle teaching Nasser the finer points of Small Frame Push Hands in Germany 2007.
The Secret of the Free Circle The technique of the free circle is most difficult to master; Up, down, following and joining, it is infinitely marvelous. If we can entice the opponent into our circle, Then the technique of four ounces repelling a thousand pounds will succeed. When the maximum power of the hands and feet arrives together seeking a straight line to the side, Then our advantage from the free circle will not be wasted. If we desire to know the method of the circle, We must first find the correct point to issue from and the correct target, and then we will accomplish our task. Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions - compiled and translated by Professor Douglas Wile - Published by Sweet Ch’i Press
In Conclusion The subject of Dǎ Shou is far too vast and complex to be justified by an article or even a book. There are some things which cannot really be expressed with words but only shown or explained through touch and feel. I have omitted many, many, many of the details as well as the hundreds of training methods which are involved in the correct development of Dǎ Shou. Of course the major omission here is that of two-handed Dǎ Shou (Figure 16)! However, it should not be necessary to state that everything written here applies to that as well! The purpose of this article is two-fold: 1. To show clearly that Erle Montaigue’s teachings were fully in line with the Classics and with the teachings of the Yang family - or at least the Yang family of old. 2. To show that there is a clear line of progression and that, “On no account are steps to be skipped”! Erle, himself was adamant about that. In the first instance, Erle through his writings and instructional videos had made it absolutely clear that the ‘Rings/Houses’ were taught to him by Chang Yiu-chun - his teacher. He did not “make them up” nor were they his “best training practices” as it has been touted of late! Those who trained with him over many years and those whom he considered his personal students, and friends (and there aren’t many of these) can vouch for his words and what he taught. I hope to have demonstrated through historical research, study and from my own practice, and personal notes, as well as from my many discussions with Erle's other senior students and long term friends such as Peter Jones, Colin Power and the late Alex Krych, as well as Dr. Greg Lawton, that not only was Erle's knowledge of the highest order but that it was sourced from a direct line to the Yangs themselves! In the second instance, it should be abundantly clear to anyone with even a mediocre amount of intelligence that everything - from childhood schooling to university education and beyond - occurs in progressions! The Yang family teachings in the skill of Dǎ Shou is no exception! It follows the same principle and it is clearly stated as such! Again, Erle's teaching methodology was no different! He did NOT go about changing things! The reason folk see them as changes is due to a lack of understanding or a major lack of progressional learning! I do not ever recall, in all my years of training with him and during our many discussions on the subject matter, when Erle ever told myself or advised any of his other major instructors to start teaching Dǎ Shou/ Push Hands/Joining Hands - call it what you will - to beginners in the Reverse Gōng Bù Stance! In fact, it was to the contrary. He would often say that it was his job to show the higher levels of training and that it was the job of his instructors to teach the students the basics and fundamentals in order to prepare them for the higher transmissions - I have this on film! Whenever any beginner asked Erle about how to begin learning ‘Push’ Hands he would ALWAYS send them a copy of ‘MTG5 - Basic Push Hands Complete’ - he would NEVER send them any advanced tapes - period! When Erle said he was now teaching his ‘Push’ Hands from the ‘power stance’ he was referring to himself after 40 plus years of practice. Of course he berated and ridiculed those who advocated long, low stances as a demonstration of grounding or power, or the silly competition ‘Push Hands,’ - breaking all the rules of the Classics - being offered as a form of self-defence! This was what he was against - NOT the Gōng Bù Stance! We have to ask ourselves a simple question: If Erle was no longer advocating beginning in the Gōng Bù Stance, then why was he still selling his DVDs on the subject where he was showing you to do just that? Not only that, Erle, himself, would have no longer been following the Classics! Most people who trained with Erle began their training from wherever they joined him upon HIS arc. Very few of his students actually began with him at the beginning and even less of those that began with him in the later years actually went back and did ALL the initial training in the right order in order to progress! I can tell you of ALL of his students who did that - they can be counted on one hand and you’d be surprised at the names which would NOT appear on that list! Not only that, but folk fail to realise that Erle’s Video Production is essentially a diary of HIS TRAINING and he was constantly experimenting not only with himself but also with his students to see if he could in some way try to improve their progression rate but whatever he did, he always reminded his students that they needed to follow the order of learning!
Those who today are advocating changes in his name are doing so due to their own shortcomings and failings. “Four ounces of force moving his of a thousand pounds.” Through progressional training, you either understand that or you don’t - your opponents size or strength has nothing to do with it. This is the Taiji Way. This is the Yang Family Way. This is the Way of The Erle Montaigue System of Internal Gung-fu.
Figure 16. Double Dǎ Shou with senior student Woz Levins
鬆 Sung/Sōng The Fourth Ring (House) of Yang The word Sōng/Sung (pronounced Soong) has caused much controversy, or so it would appear, over the years when applied to Taiji. It has primarily been translated as “to relax,” leading modern practitioners to distort and do all sorts of weird and wonderful things with their bodies during practice! We are constantly reminded in the Taiji ‘canon’ that in practice and all things Taiji, the practitioner must be in a hundred percent state of Sōng, so surely this cannot mean “to relax,” otherwise you’d just fall in a heap on the floor! Whilst the Chinese dictionary does give us the meaning “to relax,” it is simply one of several interpretations of the verb and not necessarily the main one. It can alternatively be translated as: Loosen; Release; Slacken; Unclasp, Set Free; Give a free hand; Leave free to act. It would appear that each and every one of the above descriptions could at one point or another be used to describe Sōng! The way it was explained to myself and others by Erle was that it is “moving without realisation" - in other words, all the excessive tension is removed from the system, leaving only what’s required to get the job done; the rag doll boxer - with the energy sinking downwards, giving the practitioner root and heaviness, as energy moves freely from foot to leg to waist, expressing in the hands, thus creating the “Perfect body posture for fighting,” or as it was officially called, the “Bridge Body Posture” - meaning building or holding your body like a bridge so it doesn't collapse, at a subconscious level during combat! Sōng gives us heaviness in the limbs and gives us the ability to not telegraph an attack and to not think before or during the strike itself fighting subconsciously and reflexively like an animal. It must always be present in all aspects of our Taiji whether doing forms or fighting methods and of course qigong - even in our day to day existence, no matter what we are doing. This plays a critical role in Advanced Dǎ Shou Training Methods and actual self-defence. The body responds instinctively to your opponents actions, “Borrowing his force to hit him!” The attack and response occur on a sub-conscious level, as the body instantly grounds, with powerful Fa-jing attacks occurring from very small distances, attacking vital points along the targets presented. According to Dong Huling’s ‘Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing’: I seem to be relaxed but not relaxed,... In Taiji Boxing, when you send out your hand, it seems relaxed but is actually not relaxed. This saying seems simple, but is the one that is most easily misunderstood by people. Because beginners are often stiff and tense, instructors tell them to relax in order to correct it. The next day they are again stiff and tense, and then the day after they again have to focus on relaxing. The term “relax” is suggestive rather than definitive. It is like a long snake slithering with its zigzagging motions, sometimes raising its head, sometimes coiling up, and in every case can be seen the internal storing of power. This is what it means to be relaxed but not relaxed. If you completely relax, then there will be no power at all, and you would be like a snake that is instead lying dead on the ground. However, the right level of “relaxed but not relaxed” can only be achieved through experience, not through verbal explanation. If you sincerely keep this principle in mind, then after a long time you will naturally experience it.
In ‘The Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Literary Tradition’ by Lo/Inn/Amacker/Foe, Sung is described as: “To relax and sink. A distinction should be made between the relaxation of the whole body and a limp or flaccid condition of the body. When the head is picked up, the joints are thrown open and the relaxation of the whole body is uniform.” Cheng Man-ch’ing in his book, ‘Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on Tai Chi Ch’uan,’ explains: “ The one word, “relax,” is the most difficult to achieve. All the rest follows naturally. Let me explain the main idea of Master Yang’s oral instructions… Relaxation requires the release of all the sinews in the body without the slightest tension. This is what is known as making the waist so pliant that all of our movements appear boneless. To appear boneless means that there are only sinews. Sinews have the capacity to be released. When this is accomplished, is there any reason not to be relaxed? … When we are able to completely relax, this is sinking. When the sinews release, then the body which they hold together is able to sink down. Fundamentally, relaxation and sinking are the same thing. When one sinks, one will not float; floating is an error.” Yang Cheng-fu, himself, in his book ‘Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing,’ quotes from the ‘Song of The Thirteen Dynamics’: “When issuing power, you must sink and relax…Your posture must be straight and comfortable, bracing in all directions. Move energy as though through a winding-path pearl, penetrating even the smallest nook (meaning the energy is everywhere in the body). Wield power like tempered steel, so strong there is nothing tough enough to stand up against it. The shape is like a falcon capturing a rabbit. The spirit is like a cat pouncing on a mouse. In stillness, be like a mountain, and in movement, be like a river. Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow. Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue. Power comes from the spine. Step according to the body’s changes. To gather is to release. Disconnect but stay connected. In the back and forth [of the arms], there must be folding. In the advance and retreat [of the feet], there must be variation. Extreme softness begets extreme hardness. Your ability to be nimble lies in your ability to breathe. By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted. By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply. The mind makes the command, the energy is its flag, and the waist is its banner. By seeking first the gross movement and then the finer details, you will be able to attain a refined level.” And finally, Huang Wenshu in ‘The Skills & essentials of Yang Style Taiji Boxing and Martial Arts Discussions,’ gives an interesting anecdote from Yang Cheng-fu himself, regarding the difference between the large and small frames of Yang Family Boxing: “I once asked Yang Chengfu about this, and he told me: “First strive to open up, then strive to close up. In the beginning of the training, it should be the large frame, which can get your sinews and vessels stretched out, boosting the flow of blood and energy. This will put you in a position to then manifest skill. When the time comes to apply the techniques, you have to be quick and fluent, and for that you will need the small frame. The way my elder brother [Yang Shaohou] practices now [placing this exchange prior to 1930] is all about fighting methods.” His idea seems to be that if the basic skills are not yet attained but you wish to skip ahead to fighting, you would be no better than a child who is not yet able to walk and first wants to learn how to jump. Could the child do it?” I began this Ring by quoting from my notes and how Erle described Sōng to us and why it is critical to our Taiji practice. Now compare this to what we are being told by a host of Masters - including the Yangs themselves. They are ALL in perfect harmony. Sōng is the Ring or House which appears in everything - no exception! Look at the images one the following pages - the “Bridge Body Posture” is the “falcon”, the ‘C’ back is the cat! Appearing “boneless” is the ‘Rag doll Boxer!” The movements of ‘Wave hands amongst the clouds’ - the epitome of Sōng! The large frame for loosening and the small frame for fighting - the line of Yang Shou-hou, himself! So, how can it be said that Erle wasn’t formerly taught this? Or that he made this up? Or that these were his “best practices” and he gave them “exotic names” so folk would buy his DVDs? Surely it must be obvious to any serious practitioner of Taiji that such is not the case, when multiple sources report identical teachings?
Figure 17. ‘The shape is like a falcon capturing a rabbit’
Figure 18. ‘Body Bridge’ with Senior Instructor and main training partner Elliot Morris
I turn once more to Huang Wenshu: “Train in the proper sequence and progress gradually. It is not a matter of forcing the pace, but of how diligent you are at learning and how safe your method is. Yang Shaohou’s boxing set was small and hard, the movements fast and heavy… His instructions were usually about methods of application. While his skills were certainly the authentic transmission from his grandfather, unfortunately no ordinary people were able to learn from him. Frail scholarly types were not able to endure his teaching, and those who did not already have a foundation were not able to understand what he was talking about. He had a violent disposition, which he probably got from his uncle Banhou. His comrades have all heaved angst-ridden sighs over how difficult the training was. Therefore although his fame was great, his followers were few.”
Figure 19. ‘The spirit is like a cat pouncing on a mouse.’
Sōng is not something which can be overtly intellectualized in words. It is something which must be taught through visual transmission and touch. It is difficult to attain and hold in movement!
Author’s Note: I have included most references within the article. A full list of references and bibliography will appear at the end of the final House/Ring.
Inside The Next Issue
Why Goju? By Gavin Mulholland
After nearly 50 years training in the martial arts, primarily in the Okinawan Karate style of Goju Ryu, I think that I have heard, and answered, most of the questions that people tend to ask. As such, I was rather surprised, if not taken aback slightly, when someone asked me a rather straightforward, but ultimately deeply penetrating question;
All photographs appear courtesy of Gavin Mulholland.
Why Goju? It really got me thinking; how many of us actually question what we do and why we do it? In truth, it is difficult to know where to start, so I will start with a caveat that what follows is my view and not necessarily the view of the ‘Goju Community’ as a whole. Actually, that gives me the ideal place to start – the Goju Community… One of Goju’s absolute strengths (its key strength in my opinion) lies in its diversity. You can go to one Goju school and the sparring is full-contact, another where it is semi-contact, another still which rarely spars at all. You will see Black Belts who are phenomenal kickers and others who can barely get their leg above their waist. Some clubs grapple, others don’t , etc., etc. Generally, being a close-quarter system, Goju has retained its grappling and ground-fighting much better than most schools but as a general rule, you will tend to find more grappling in Okinawan variants, than you will in the Japanese. Now I know that this all sounds like a muddle but it really is our secret strength! No one has ever tried to ‘standardise’ Goju. That guy may not be able to kick, but he will take you down and choke you out on the floor.
That other guy may be no better than average on the ground but is skilled at evading take-downs and has knockout power in either hand… How you ultimately fight, is up to you and for that reason, it suits all sorts of different characters and body shapes and sizes. Unlike some systems, Goju has never been a list of techniques – 6 kicks, 5 throws, 8 strangles, 8 punches , etc. Rather it is a philosophy; a principle; a guide to training; a blueprint of how to approach the fight. As such, I have never felt limited or restricted by the system in any way. For example, if I was taught a wrist lock by a ninjitsu teacher would it be Goju? My answer is that it would be – and it would be because I would be doing it! It would be because I would be doing it (could only do it?) using the hard/soft principles of the style. Therefore it is, at that point in time, Goju. Equally if another Goju practitioner never uses it, is he lacking? No – because the system was never constructed in that way. Which leads us to a potential weakness in the system: we are something of a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ system. The system is just so BIG! We have stand-up kumite – semi to full contact; we have throws, take downs, chokes, strangles, locks and holds; we have grappling – standup and on the ground; kicks, strikes, punches, knees, elbows, bites, gouges, headbutts, kihon, kihon-ido, kata, bunkai , etc., etc. Goju practitioners compete in semi-contact WUKO style tournament, full contact tournament and the Cage (we won 16 of our first 20 professional fights in the Cage in the top Cage Fighting organizations in the UK).
What that means is that we have all the throws, but judo will probably be better at them (for every hour we spend on throws, they spend six). We have all the locks, chokes and submission work, but Ju Jitsu will probably be better at them (for every hour we spend on locks, chokes and submission work, they spend six). We have all the body evasion, footwork and power generation for punching power and accuracy, but boxing will probably be better at them (for every hour we spend on body evasion, footwork, and punching accuracy, they spend six). You get the idea I’m sure. However, Goju principle is to strategize – to be skilled in all areas of the fight so that you can take the fight to where hopefully your opponent is weakest. So take a boxer to the ground, keep a grappler on his feet , etc. Easier said than done of course, but that’s why we train, no? So if we are all so different, what makes us ‘Goju’? Apart from the hard/soft principles underlying all that we do it is of course, the Kata. Fewer than most systems (just 13) but studied in great depth. Not for us the petty arguments about which way up the hand is in the third movement – you may well see it both ways – because, it is less about the performance of the kata, and more what you can do with it. Goju is a system to teach you how to fight and its underlying principle is Goju – Go (hard) then Ju (Soft) – in that order. And this is reflected in the structure and order of the kata. Starting with Gekesai Dai Ichi (attack and smash number 1), the student is taught aggression and directness – attack straight down the pipe. Not very subtle perhaps, but effective and your quickest route to surviving a proper assault. After months of training, the student moves on to the next area of study – evasion and footwork and this is guided by the next kata, Gekisai Dai Ni (attack and smash number 2). Note that this area of study is still in brutish attack mode, but now subtleties are added, evasion, footwork positioning , etc. Next, the fight moves closer and into grabbing range – a new area of combat to study and guided by the third kata, Saifa (Tearing). This is all about tearing free from grabs and holds to get the fight back to the free flow stand up taught in the earlier kata and by now familiar and comfortable to the student. The kata itself will show a few examples of escapes but these are of course just examples, it is the spirit of the kata that must be trained and the student is expected to immerse himself in escaping from all manner of grabs, locks and holds (stand-up and on the ground) for this period of training. Once the concept of tearing and escape is understood to an acceptable degree, we move the fight even closer – grappling, and this is guided by the final kata before Black Belt, Seiunchin (Trapping Battle). Now when someone grabs you, you are no longer fighting to escape (Saifa) but happy to engage and fight close in and on the ground.
Again, some examples are given, but it is up to the student to explore the area defined by the kata, rather than simply the kata itself. So, the system is arranged so that by the time the student has reached Black Belt Shodan (Beginners Level) they
have a basic understanding of all the areas in which the fight can happen. Now we have a lifetime to refine, explore and study the restâ&#x20AC;Ś
I hope this gives just a little insight into the wonderful system which is Traditional Goju Ryu Karate. I am very aware that Goju is not the only way, but it is a way that I understand; a way that it is proven in virtually every area you could want to test it (sporting and otherwise), and most importantly, a way that I can replicate in my students, time and time again. For me, that is why it is the path that I have stuck with all these years. So I urge you to ask yourself the same question. Why do you train in the system that you do?
Gavin Mulholland (6th Dan) is joint Chief Instructor for Daigaku Karate Kai (Okinawan Goju Ryu) and based in Central London. DKK can be contacted, via the OMAA, or directly on email@example.com. www.goju-karate.co.uk
training methods for martial arts
The problem with current modern martial arts is
that due to the popularity of MMA and the myriad of ‘reality’ based self-defence methods on offer, many of the traditional training methods are beginning to disappear. These training methods were tried and tested over millennia and the reason why the Classical martial arts schools held on to them was simple - they worked! Whilst most modern training systems use an endless array of ‘scientific’ tools, with which they attempt to turn a fighter into a ‘super fighter’ - turning the dojo into almost a laboratory in the process - they seem to forget that the warriors of old kept it simple and learned from observing nature and than doing it themselves repeatedly until they got it right! Their training tools were simple, no complex methodology; in most cases a partner or a ‘wooden man’ would suffice. Presented here is the Eagle Vision Training from within the internal schools. No doubt, such a method would exist in the traditional external schools as well. Eagle vision training is one of the main prerequisites of any fighting art. It makes maximum use of our peripheral vision - just like animals - allowing us to see far more! On the battlefield of old, the warrior had to be alert on all sides. The attack could come from any direction at any time! Using sharp vision to focus and refocus would simply not do; you’d be dead before you saw the fatal blow! By training their peripheral vision, these fighters could hold an almost one hundred and eighty degree field of view, and see more of the opponent and their surroundings, thus making their response times to an attack far more rapid.
Eagle Vision Training Nasser Butt
In the animal kingdom both, predators and prey, make extensive use of their peripheral vision to survive and of course, the eagle is legendary with its ability to see. In our modern competition based arts, the fighter makes little use of their peripheral vision if any at all! They say they do, but in reality it’s not true! They are used to having their singular opponent come at them from an opposing corner, they do not need to worry about being attacked from right, left or behind and whilst they can deal with such attacks in a ring, or cage - on the street they can be very quickly undone! Why?
Having been raised in a night club, fights were a very common sight for myself from a very early age! It was not uncommon seeing two guys arguing and going nose to nose and finding that it was a friend of one of the guys who threw the punch from the side, catching the victim totally by surprise and usually ended in a kicking and stomping melee, as he hit the ground! Not only that, but I have also seen guys involved in a scuffle and as it inevitably ends in a rolling match on the pavement, a complete stranger run from across the road and boot one in the head at random and then continue on his merry way! Many years ago, I almost lost an eye when I was involved in a street fight, my opponent’s mate took a football kick at my head from the side, whilst I was busy breaking his buddy’s arm. It was my peripheral training which saved me! I saw the kick early enough, to be able to move my head sufficiently out of the way so that his boot didn’t end in my eye or break my face. He caught me, his boot scuffed the side of my temple and cheek giving me a gloriously painful bruise and ‘burn’ mark which lasted for several days - I put him in the hospital for his efforts! Peripheral training allows us to see the whole of our opponent from head to toe and that is a very useful skill to have in combat. The skill lies in allowing the eyes to relax so we are no longer using sharp focus but soft focus instead! In a fight you do not need to see sharp detail, you simply need to see. When birds of prey, like an eagle or a hawk, go into a dive from high above to catch their prey running in a field, they are using their peripheral vision. This is what allows them to adjust in mid flight and not crash into the ground if their prey scurries and moves rapidly from its original position. Presented below are two training methods. A solo method and a two-person training method!
Solo Method Stand with you feet shoulder width apart as in Figure 1 below. Relax your eyes and shoulders and join your palms
in front of your chest as in Figure 2. Very slowly start to separate your palms (Figure 3). Keep your eyes relaxed focus on nothing and continue to separate your palms - slowly. See how far apart you can get your palms before you lose sight of the tips of your fingers in your periphery (Figures 4, 5, 6, & 7). Now slowly return your hands back to their original position (Figures 8 & 9) and start again. By repeating this regularly you will find your field of view increasing and learn how to relax they eyes to see more!
Two-Person Method Have your partner stand to the front and side of you at an angle of forty-five degrees. Relax your shoulders and
your eyes as you look straight ahead. Using your peripheral vision - immediately raise your hand and place your index finger on the tip of your partners nose! Do not hesitate or look in the direction of your partner. The hand should be raised and the finger placed in a single, swift motion. If you have learned to relax correctly, you should be able to see the whole of your partner in your periphery. Now repeat on the opposite side.
S C 20 cott
first had the pleasure of meeting Scott during
the “Pissing On Polpot” Seminar, held at The Way of the Warrior Martial Arts Centre, in Coventry, on the weekend of 25/26 March 2017, in aid of our mutually wonderful friend - Anthony Pillage! We were both scheduled to teach over the weekend with a host of other amazing martial artists which included the wonderful Guru Eddie Quinn and the majestic Russell Jarmesty as well as the intensity of Gavin Mulholland! As I walked out of the main dojo, I was greeted with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, and a booming: “Nasser Butt, pleased to meet you, I’m Scott Caldwell. Heard great things about you!” As I shook Scott’s hand, there was something about his energy with which I immediately connected. It was an honest and raw energy! Scott proceeded to introduce me to his lovely wife Victoria - a fabulously talented artist, as I would go onto discover. I must confess, up until that moment, I had only known of Scott through Tony and from reading some of his comments and banter on FaceBook under Tony’s posts - which alone suggested an intelligent, sharp and clever wit - but I did not know much more than that! For the next hour or so after we first shook hands, I laughed so much that I genuinely ended up with a stitch! Tony had spent most of the afternoon defacing Danny Bigley’s copy of Martial Arts Masters Volume One and had drawn graffiti over all the images in the book, including those of Scott - I won’t go into the details but Scott was such a sport and laughed wholeheartedly at Tony’s handiwork! (As memories go, I believe that this will be my most enduring and endearing memory of Scott… our first meeting and the raucous laughter which ensued - this is what good friendships are all about!) Sadly, I could not stay for the whole day - as it was my son’s birthday and we were going out for a meal later in the evening - so, I wasn’t able to participate in Scott’s session. Tony and Scott alongside the now ‘infamous’ copy of Martial Arts Masters
A couple of months later, having
Photo Credits: Nasser ButtÂŠ2017.
squeezed the British Martial Arts Awards 2017 in between, Scott was scheduled to give a seminar on my home turf of Leicestershire, organized by Rob Phelps - the head coach of Leicester Ju Jitsu. Scott invited me to come see him and I didn't need asking twice to catch up with my friend and finally get to see him at work. Whilst waiting for the weekend to arrive, I chanced upon some of the promotional work for Scott's seminars. They all appeared to point towards a checkered past... being from the Isle of Man, I just assumed he had had something to do with the annual TT race events which are held there (Ok, ok… I lie - he’s from Clydebank, I just couldn’t resist that)! But seriously, Scott's martial ideology is called REAL Fighting - the REAL being an acronym for Realization, Evaluation, Annihilation, Leave! Or, as Scott likes to say: "REAL Fighting is the true art of Thug-Jitsu!” So, what makes Scott’s art REAL? Well, we can certainly say that he is a product of his past and Scott doesn’t hold back when he tells us that: "My years on this planet have been littered with violence in all its ugly forms! I have been beaten, raped, stabbed, shot at, sliced, diced, spiked, bottled, barred, glassed, chaired, butted, stamped on, set on, shat on, spat on, chased, maced, blasted, mauled, brawled, fucked and ran out of luck.” Scott doesn’t make the above statement in order to glorify violence or his past but, to simply: “… qualify my experience and standpoint on what I believe to be a very important subject. I make no excuses or apologies for my past existence but can say, without hesitation, I have gone to great lengths to reset the balance” Alice Morse Earle wrote: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” I care not much about the past. It is just that - the past. Nor do I hold judgement on that which I do not know or was not part of. I care about the man that stands before me now - in the present! Well, in the present, as I walk into the dojo of Leicester Ju Jitsu armed with giant mudpie cookies, I see my friend prowling amongst a group of eager students, as his beautiful wife Victoria looks on from the sidelines. It takes him but a few seconds to realise that I am there watching and he rushes over with a big smile and an even bigger hug - and goes back to work.
I sit next to Vik, camera in hand, intently listening to what he has to say. In the Classical Arts, watching and listening are just as important as doing! Have I already said that Scott prowls? Yes, he prowls - like an animal as he demonstrates, corrects and elaborates. The entire length and breadth of the dojo, every nook and cranny are his terrain! His language is simple. Nothing complex, yet it exudes intelligence and knowledge as if he is reciting the very Classics themselves! In my 30 plus years of studying the martial arts, I have come across many martial artists who can quote the Classics but very few who can demonstrate them. Scott not only demonstrates them but, you can see that his understanding doesn’t come from an intellectual perspective alone, but far more importantly from a perspective soaked in the brutality of his existence! From covering distance, to timing, from entry to exit, to the shear aggression of the attack - each point is covered and explained in detail. Best of all… Scott doesn’t boast about all the fights he has won - no! He tells you what he has learned from those that went wrong and that’s what makes him the complete teacher! I have heard many folk say in reviews that if they were ever in trouble, they’d want Scott watching their back - I disagree. Why would you wish such a loyal and honest energy by your side only during a moment of strife? I’d wish such a friend to share in my laughter.
Mark Twain once said that: “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I do not profess to know Scott Caldwell... in a lifetime it's hard enough to know and be true to ones self, let alone claim to know or understand another human being! But, I do believe that Scott may have discovered the “why?" of Twain!
I’d like to thank Rob Phelps for inviting me to his lovely dojo in Earl Shilton and making me feel so welcome, as well as allowing me to photograph him being mauled by Scott! And, I’d like to thank Scott for taking the time out from his busy schedule to sit and answer my questions. It’s an honour to call you a friend. So, without further ado, Lift Hands present 20 Questions with Scott Caldwell. LH: If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you want to have seen? SC: My grandfather’s demise as I have questions regarding his death never answered by Glasgow constabulary. LH: If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else, who would you pick and what would you do? SC: Salma Hayek! Slip quietly in bed next to Vik and video the results for my good friend Scott.
LH: If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be? SC: I wouldn't be anywhere else at any age. LH: What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? SC: Fuck me! What do I do with this…? LH: What is your greatest strength or weakness? SC: Loyalty (both)! LH: Do you trust anyone with your life?
SC: All within my circle have limited access. LH: Have you ever put on your dressing gown and pretended to be Hong Kong Phooey or any other superhero? SC: Have we met? I think most superheroes pretend to be me! LH: What have you always wanted? Did you ever get it? SC: Freedom of choiceâ&#x20AC;Ś Yes! LH: Do you know your heritage? SC: Yes! I'm come from Irish royalty but also a long line of thieving peasants. LH: Are you still learning who you are? SC: I pride myself on knowing me but I'm open to change so ever learning new things. LH:What, if anything, are you afraid of and why? SC: Fear crippled me many years ago and I fight to never experience that terror again. Also mediocrity frightens me.
LH: What is the most memorable class you have ever taken? SC: A music class at school many years ago. In the temporary absence of a teacher I picked on a boy who responded while I smiled at my classmates. Taught me humility, deserving shame and that I'm not infallible when he smashed me 3 times before sprinting out the classroom. LH:What’s your favourite book? SC: Sun Tzu - The Art of War! LH: Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time and do you think that it is wrong? SC: I've loved only once and so my judgement would be uneducated on others. However, love was not something I searched out or wanted but I was powerless to stop it so I'm not sure you can be judged for it. LH: Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? SC: My abuser! LH: Mountains or sea… which would you choose to be closer to? SC: Always the sea! LH: What was the worst thing you did as a child? SC: Allowed myself to be lost for a time based on the actions of others. LH: Which is your favourite season and why? SC: Summer! I need sun! LH: If you could select one person from history and ask them one question - who would you select and what would the question be? SC: My grandfather - Who murdered you? LH: How would you describe your art in ten words or less?
Scott in-between breaks with his wife Victoria Caldwell.
SC: Simplicity with ferocity! LH: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable time with us Scott. I am sure our readers will glean something about the man behind the art from your replies to our questions and we hope that you will continue to share your experiences and insights in our future issues. About Scott: Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Martial Arts Guardian, Founder REAL Fighting, Owner Scott Caldwell in Association with ARCA Securities, Co-founder ADVANCED TACTICAL COMBAT, BRITISH COMBAT ASSOCIATION Registered Instructor, 2x Senior Instructor in - ADVANCED TACTICAL COMBAT and KAPAP, Instructor in URBAN KRAV MAGA, Close Quarter Combat Specialist, Edged/Blunt Weapon Defence Specialist, 2x Black Belt in OPEN CIRCLE FIGHTING METHOD / URBAN KRAV MAGA and much more…
The Footwork of Taijiquan and Martial Arts By Nasser Butt Copyright©2017
The answer to the above question can be given in one simple sentence: There is no footwork in Taijiquan or any other martial arts for that matter! Technically speaking I can end the article here and let you go figure out what it means? It’s not rocket science and maybe therein lies the problem! We humans like to complicate and overthink things. We don’t do simple. Maybe this is the price we have had to pay for our evolution? Who knows? Nature understands simple. Even at its most complex level it actually remains simple. It remains true to its programming and in this simplicity lie the foundations of its power and grace. Footwork is given a very high place amongst one’s martial arts training. After all if you don’t know how to stand and balance and how to transmit weight and shift from one point to the next then how are you going to be able to defeat an opponent? The question is valid and a whole plethora of technical responses have been provided by ‘masters’ in a language steeped in tradition, mysticism and modern science. Whenever I hear it - I smile at the foolishness of us humans. Let me ask you some questions: As a baby who told you or showed you to keep your head upright? No one! As your genetic programming kicked in and your neck muscles started to develop you instinctively realised that they helped you control your head and its movements in various directions. Who showed you how to sit up as a baby? Again, no one really! Yes, your mum or dad may have propped you up with pillows but you were too young to understand the mechanics of sitting. Yes? No! You may have been unable to understand the science of how to sit up but you were listening to your genetic programming, it had not been corrupted yet and as your back muscles developed you instinctively learned to sit up!
Likewise, who showed you how to crawl? Stand? Balance? Squat? Take your first steps? Fall and try again? Who explained to you the concepts of gravity or Newtons laws of motion? Mechanics of movement? How to run, jump and skip? No one! Yet you did it! Why? As I’ve already said, it was all a part of your genetic programming. Pure and uncorrupted at the time of your birth and it got you to stand on your feet without you being a science wizard or a ‘Grandmaster’ in martial arts! Yet, somewhere along the line we, for some reason, stop listening to our own programming and start to turn into robots… stiff, rigid and no sense of balance! This is what I see and have seen in over 30 years of training in the martial arts and watching everyday body mechanics - we are simply no longer in tune with our natural programming! Watch any animal. Take a cheetah for example. Even when it’s running at breathtaking speeds it remains balanced, sure-footed, graceful and can turn the tightest corner at a moments notice without loosing any momentum whatsoever! How so? What martial arts school did the cheetah go to? What fancy book did it read on body mechanics and footwork? None! Nature never stops listening to its inner programming. Footwork in Taijiquan, and in martial arts in general, is merely an explanation of the fact that if you move correctly from your centre then this is where the feet should end up! That is all! No more, no less! The Classics tell us that: “The centre moves the peripherals”. There is nothing mystical here! Move from your centre and connect the body and everything arrives where it ought to be! You already knew this as a child! This is why we practice forms or katas. Whether they be slow, fast, solo or with a partner. Their function is simply to teach us how to reconnect with our natural programming and begin to move fluidly without thought or preconception, as well as to strengthen our joints and muscles whilst holding correct structure in order to prevent injuries. In combat you do not have the luxury nor the time to think what step to take. A real attack can be over in a matter of a second or two. When attacked it is not I who move but, rather, my opponent who causes my movement through their own actions. I simply arrive where I need to be. You already know how to do this. You know how to walk down a street. You know how to change direction.
You know how to move out of the way of something. You understand distance, timing. If you didn’t you'd be run over by a car while trying to cross the road! We humans have a tendency to get so deep into technicalities and intellectualization of otherwise simple concepts that we can no longer see the wood for the trees! So, let me reiterate… there is no footwork. What we call footwork is merely an understanding of how and where the feet end up if we move correctly from our centre. By corrupting and simplifying forms we have taken away the very critical concepts which were meant to keep us in tune with our natural programming and here the modern ‘masters’ and charlatans who only trained briefly or lazily are to be blamed! The original old forms of Taijiquan had weighted turns, leaps, sudden changes of direction and balance without rigidity. Essentially, all the movements you performed as a child on a school playground or a park and just as the child’s natural programming was interfered with through modern ‘schooling’ methods and life, so dubious forms and overthought have undone the modern martial artist!
Hadjios Valley Taijiquan, Cyprus
HADJIOS VALLEY RESORT T’AI CHI CH’UAN WEEKEND MAZOTOS, CYPRUS November 2/6, 2017
1 Hadjios Valley Griva Digeni 44, Mazotos, Larnaca 7577 CYPRUS
Fa-jing Ch'uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools are pleased to announce our second T'ai Chi Ch'uan Camp on the sun-drenched island of Cyprus in November 2017. Based at the scenic Hadjios Valley Resort in Mazotos - a couple of kilometres from the pristine beaches off the Mediterranean coastline this will be a great opportunity to learn one of the most ancient Chinese martial arts, renowned for its health properties, on the island of Aphrodite over 5 days. The camp will include: Qigong Old Yang Style T'ai Chi Practical Training Methods For Health/ Martial Arts Self-Defence Plus One Day for Exploring the Island Whether you are a novice or already have some experience and would simply like to brush up on the foundations, or have ever wondered how the art is used as a system of selfdefence - then this will be the perfect way to get a great insight into T'ai chi Châ&#x20AC;&#x2122;uan (Taijiquan).
You will receive a minimum of 5 hours of training under instruction over 4 days.
breakfast/brunch and supper. All meals are freshly prepared on site using local produce.
Date: Thursday-Monday 2/6 November 2016
Participants will be expected to arrive on site by Wednesday evening 1 November 2017 and depart Monday 6 November. All accommodation costs must be paid in full at the time of registration. (PLEASE NOTE THESE ARE NONREFUNDABLE.)
Cost of training: 200 Euros for those registering by Monday 31 July 2017. (The cost will rise to 250 Euros for those registering after this date.) Cost of Accommodation: 200 Euros/Villa based upon a minimum of 5 nights at Apollo Villas. (Each additional night is 40 Euros for those wishing to extend their stay.) We have negotiated an exclusive special rate with Apollo Villas, allowing you to spend the weekend in luxury at an incredibly low price! Each villa is selfcontained and has two bedrooms (see below) and can sleep up to 4 people sharing. All villas are fully furnished, including a functional kitchen as well as a washing machine and fridge. Full Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort at no extra cost. Cost of Meals: 50 Euros based upon two meals per day - a late
Nearest Airport: Larnaca (15 km from resort). Information for local carhire services is available upon request. Please contact Nasser Butt for further information and registration: Tel: +44(0)7792242150 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit our website for further information on what we teach: www.fajing-chuan.co.uk Website for Hadjios Valley: www.apollovillas.com/ hadjios-valley/
“What Comes Round Goes Round!” Paula Reed
y name is Paula Reed I am a complementary therapist and I have been a volunteer with the Cancer Self-
help Group Loughborough for many years. In September 2016 after the death of our Chairwoman Margaret Williams I took over the running of the group to ensure that it would carry on. The Group was started 34 years ago by Joyce Walton and Gill Hird both of whom had cancer and both of whom were given a terminal diagnosis. Joyce is now 85 has survived cancer 3 times and is still an active member of the group. Gill sadly passed away but lived a further 12 years of quality life following her terminal diagnosis. It all started in 1980 when Joyce was told she had cancer of the ovary and had a 1% chance of survival. She had her tumour removed and this was followed by radiotherapy. On the frequent trips to the hospital she spent a great deal of time talking to other patients and noticed the fear that they all shared. In those days cancer wasn’t a word that was spoken, it was thought that it would result in death and there was little or no information to be found. This made the whole procedure of being shut behind a big lead door in the bowels of the hospital for radiotherapy very frightening. The staff didn’t have the time or a room where they could talk to the patients so Joyce took it upon herself to fill this need and started the Cancer Self-Help Group in Loughborough. This group was ground breaking as it focused on things that patients could do to help themselves. Together with the co-founder Gill and with the voluntary services of Dr. Patrick Kingsley (now deceased) as medical advisor they started a group that was based on a holistic approach to healing. Joyce managed to get the room above a health shop free of charge and the group remained there until 1988 when they moved to John Storer House in Loughborough Town Centre. The Group has been here ever since. As a self-help group this was and as far as I know still is unique, so much so that when it started Joyce and Gill were asked to speak at conferences and travelled to Guernsey to talk to people who wanted to set up a Group just like the one in Loughborough. The big difference with Joyce’s group was that it not only took a holistic approach to healing and supported the cancer patients but it also provided information help and support to their families, friends and carers. In fact anyone touched by cancer was and still is welcome at the group. The group was way ahead of its time integrating complementary medicine with functional medicine and as a result thousands of people lives were enhanced extended and in some instances saved as testimonials will support. They were the first group if its kind and it was as a result of them that the Annual National Conference of Cancer Self-Help Groups came about. In addition many of the things advocated by Joyce and her co-founders all those years ago are now starting to recognize by the medical profession today and some are available on the NHS. As if it wasn’t enough for Joyce to have ovarian cancer later on she developed tongue cancer a very rare and nasty form. Her treatment involved removing three quarters of her tongue and rebuilding it with muscle from her arm. She had to learn to speak again but in order to supplement her spoken communication she quickly learned how to email, text and use Facebook in order to communicate with family and friends. She was fitted with a stomach tube as she could no longer eat normally and this meant a regime of planning and preparing 5 liquid feeds per day. Joyce being Joyce still adds supplements to her feeds and carries them in a bag that matches her outfits. She even jokes about being a cheap date as she still goes out for meals when invited even though she isn’t able to eat anything.
Not long ago she got cancer for the third time this time in her bladder. She has had to endure endless tests and procedures but never once do you hear her complain. When she was due to have an operation to refit her feeding tube it was cancelled three times and in one instance she had to wait all day for transport to take her home but as always she focused on the positive and the fact that she was much better off than many of the other patients there. To this day she is still an active member of the group she co-founded 34 years ago and it is remarkable that it is still going and has met every Monday except Bank Holidays since its inception. As I am sure you will agree Joyce is a hard act to follow. She is an inspiration and her positivity, focus and determination shows that despite a terminal diagnosis it is possible to heal, feel well and manage cancer. When I took over the group it was a big responsibility as I wanted to make sure that it was how Joyce would have carried on if she was still in the driving seat. I wanted to preserve all of the self-help techniques as well as changing and updating things in line of all the latest research. We already have an excellent nutritionist in place to advise members on nutrition and supplements, and we have volunteer complementary therapists offering a wide range of therapies like reflexology, reiki, mindfulness, visualizations, body, Indian head and foot massages as well as facials and Bowen and Emmett techniques. We have regular speakers and have had someone talk to us about yoga and someone who came to talk to us about Tai Chi. Tai Chi is excellent as it exercises the body mind and spirit, it is gentle and effective and perfect for our members especially those who are very ill. Joyce herself practices it and her son is a Tai Chi teacher but as he moved to Scotland some years ago he has been unable to help the group. It had been in my mind for some considerable time to try to find someone to come and talk to us again about Tai Chi and that someone came in the form of Nasser Butt. It all came about when I was talking to one of my friends who told me that she was going to her Tai Chi class in Leicester. She told me about Nasser, his impressive background and that he was an excellent teacher. I asked her to ask him if he would be prepared to come and give a talk to the group but to let him know that we couldn’t pay him as we are a small group self-funded and we struggle to cover our day to day expenses. I really didn’t hold out much hope so imagine my surprise when she said he would be delighted to come and this is where it all started. Nasser came and gave an excellent talk and practical session which was tailored exactly to our member’s needs. They all thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to know if I could get him to come back. Before I could ask him he told me that he would love to be involved with our group and that he would be prepared to come back on a regular basis to teach Tai Chi to our members for nothing. I couldn’t believe it! This is just what our members need as most of them would find it difficult to travel, and to afford Tai Chi lessons. Now our group truly is unique we have every aspect of the healing process covered not just the physical and mental but the spiritual too. It is so important to have all three aspects covered in order to have the very best chance of healing. Nasser comes once a month and we always have a large attendance for his classes. He has also very kindly agreed to allow us to video him so that our members can practice in between visits. As a result of meeting Nasser we came to know about Anthony “Tony” Pillage a martial arts teacher and friend of Nasser. Tony had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and he decided to research and use complementary and alternative therapies to help his body heal. When Tony was very ill he started a daily diary which he posted on Facebook. It was all about the ups and downs of his cancer journey and he got thousands of hits from people who supported him and posted good luck messages. This motivated him especially when he was having a difficult time so he made a book of his diary to motivate others. Tony named his cancer Bob and he called his book “Breaking Bob”. This is one of the best books I have ever read and I thoroughly recommend whether you have cancer or not that you buy a copy. I was so impressed with Tony and his courage and determination that I asked Nasser to invite him to come along to our group as I thought it would be so inspiring for our members. In addition I thought that meeting some of our members who have overcome really aggressive forms cancer would have a reciprocal effect and inspire Tony too. Tony was delighted as were we when it was agreed that Nasser would bring him on the night he was due to teach us Tai Chi. Unfortunately Tony wasn’t able to come as he had an appointment with his consultant but he kindly sent some signed copies of his book free of charge for our library. These books are so popular and are always out as the members find them so motivating and helpful. Those who have read the book say that it has uplifted and inspired them and has helped them such a lot on their own healing journey. So as you can see as a result of Nasser generosity in giving up his time to teach Tai Chi to our group he has introduced us to Tony and both of them both have had an impact on so many people’s lives. I believe that “what comes round goes round” and I know that Nasser and Tony will always be taken care of and given all the help and support should the need arise. Currently Tony needs some help as the supplements that are keeping him
and his medical regime are very expensive. If you would like to help him by donating you will find his Just Giving page on Facebook - https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anthony-pillage-5. For those of you who are interested or who might know others who might be interested The Cancer Self-Help Group Loughborough meets every Monday evening (except Bank Holidays) from 7.00pm until 9.00pm at John Storer House in Loughborough. Just come along and you will be made very welcome.
The Weekend I Met Erle… Allan Williams
remember the weekend I met Erle Montaigue, at a workshop in the gym I was working at in Port Macquarie
NSW. I had been doing Tai Chi for 6 months with a guy name Kim ... he was an acupuncturist, early computer boffin and didn’t really know what he had. I on the other hand was a karate nut looking for hand techniques. The only reason I had looked up Tai Chi in the 80s was because my fitness trainer had told me it was one of the deadliest of ancient martial arts. I remember all these strange guys dressed in different Gis and from different systems. Most wore a black belt, it was very intense at the start of the session. In walked this guy, bushy hair and beard, arms like tree trunks, he joked and warmed the crowd, instantly. For the next hour he showed the difference between karate and kung fu. He showed us how karate would block then how Tai Chi would block. I still remember how funny it was watching those hard fighters try to learn a delicate slap technique, and they could not help but push the punch away! For the next 4 hours we interchanged partners and mixed, all trying to punch each other extremely hard with a jab or a double punch, whilst trying to learn this new technique. I can tell you now, I remember having heart palpitations from being hit in the chest that hard! Erle just sat back and smiled as we bashed each other, he had enforced a hit the body, not the face rule, thank goodness! Saturday afternoon we all had lots of lumps and bumps to go home with. The next day Erle revisited what we had learnt the previous day, now the hard nuts were getting it - “Prawn Boxing To The Max” - techniques 1, 2 and 3. Most of the guys picked up the techniques and everybody was totally impressed with Tai Chi fighting. Late in the day Erle took me down to the back of the gym on our own. He asked me to kick him in the stomach! Now at that time I was a kick fighter - that is what I called it - we seemed to kick more than punch. I had dropped many people with kicks. I booted a lumber jack around the ring once for 3 rounds! Anyway, Erle assured me it was fine. So, first kick I was a little tentative, he took it easy on me and said, “Kick as hard as you fucking can!” I gave it to him with a rear leg front kick to the guts. My knee was instantly back at my chest , almost driven into me! Now it was on! Side kick almost dislocated my hip, skipping side kick worse, spinning back kick I was sent running off! Needless to say, I basically gave up kicking that day. Iron shirt is what Erle called it, told me it was a Yang Chi Gong - He hooked me as if catching a marlin!
We did a little Chi Gong at the workshop. Only a little slow form as everybody was from different styles of martial arts. Over a decade later I would be lucky enough to travel and experience this same scenario many times, the first lesson I ever got from Erle was the basis of all my travel teaching. This is how I got to meet guys like Peter Jones and Peter Smith. When I met these two guys, Peter Jones had the only Tai Chi martial school like Erle’s in the world. Peter Smith and I did the Pau Chui in the frost, I can still see the holes in his lawn. These guys where the only ones who even knew the Pau Chui! I still remember how amazed I was that they could do the AB and live so far away from Erle (Ask Peter Jones about the bruises and head butts). I have always told people on this side of the world these stories. I have very fond memories of the Welsh and my time in the UK. How good they treated me and how real their martial arts were. Erle Montaigue was the real deal, he was like a library, where most are only a book. I believe I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I hold the lessons and the art that I was given very close to me. I am an old man now, but I still fight for the fact that Tai Chi is a great martial art. If ever I am asked who taught you this art, my answer is Mont - Erle Montaigue. Dan Inosanto said to me that Erle was one of the greatest martial artists he had met. We all have studied from the great man, we should all learn to share and work together. It is a lonely old world out there and still to this day most believe Tai Chi is nothing but slow moves. Yin follows Yang, slow form is the bonus not the object. Keep spreading the good oil.
Allan demonstrating Advanced Push Hands with Erle in 1996
About The Author: Allan Williams is the founder and Chief Instructor of Self-Defence Australia. He was the Chief Instructor and Personal Representative of Erle Montaigue’s Internal Gung-fu System for Australia during the 90s and regularly travelled around the world giving workshops on Erle’s behalf.
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Shifu or Sea Food? 師傅
and 師⽗, are both Chinese terms referring to a ‘Master’. Although both are pronounced identically, Shifu ( sounds like ‘Sure foo’ - there is an ‘R’ sound in there not so obvious from the Mandarin romanization) the words are distinctive and different in usage, and can be broken down into the following:
師 = Teacher in both cases. 傅 = Tutor ⽗ = Father Taking the above into account we
realise that the term 師⽗ is dualistic in nature and can be more accurately described as ‘teacher father’ and/or ‘master father,' whereas
was generally used as ‘master’ referring respectfully to a general tradesman and his skill! The former, since it was also used to refer to Taoist priests, could further be loosely ascribed as ‘spiritual father/teacher’! Thus confirming a linear relationship between a student/ disciple and a teacher of religious instruction and/or martial arts! I, myself, would add here perhaps, even, the relationship between a father and son!
Whichever way we look at it, the word 'Shifu’ takes on a monumental meaning and responsibility. I have often wondered how many of those who throw this word around so cheaply, actually understand its true significance? Firstly, most martial arts schools and martial artists pronounce the word incorrectly as ‘She foo,' using the Cantonese romanization ‘Sifu’ and almost sounding like ‘sea-food’ without the ‘d’ at the end! Secondly and far more importantly, martial artists, particularly in the West, have almost totally failed to grasp its relevance spiritually and philosophically - and wear it as an egotistical title on their t-shirts and jackets just like a Premier league footballer, with an equivalent swagger! Can you imagine Yang Lu-ch’an walking down the street with “Yang the Invincible” or “Yang of the Eight Lords” written on the back of his shirt or a holy man sitting atop a mountain with the legend “Holy Man” engraved down the side of his robes? No! In my 30 plus years or so of walking the martial path, I have lost count of the endless number of ‘Sifus’ I have come across, who were not ‘Shifus’ (or Sensei) in either sense of the word! To be a ‘Teacher/Father’ was to take on a formidable task. It wasn’t a title to be worn or demanded, as is often the case today, but rather a term of genuine respect and endearment offered by a student/disciple, who saw his ‘Shifu’ as his true guide in all matters spiritual, philosophical, worldly and skill. In other words, it was no different to how a child may see his own father in terms of love, security, knowledge and guidance in at least his or her formative years! And the would-be “Shifus," when addressed as such, would also have to contemplate if they were truly deserving of that title and whether they could genuinely offer all said guidance. Yet, in the modern world, far from looking after their welfare and offering true guidance and in a lot cases even genuine skill (as the martial arts industry is littered with bogus ‘Masters’) - most said ‘Sifus’ regard heir students in monetary terms and treat them like a business plan! They only place a commercial value upon their students, such as
the fact that, they MUST and are only allowed to purchase merchandize from them, with their names engraved on their backs, becoming no more then an advertising board for the ‘master’! In some cases, as was once pointed out to me by a friend about a school in London, the ‘Master’ even forbids any social contact amongst students, themselves, and or their ‘teacher’ unless expressly invited to do so by him! According to this school, the ‘master’ is not their friend but rather a person to be revered, alongside the ‘ancestors’! This usually is a sign of weakness, of someone who has very little confidence in his system and fears that his students may leave, hence the control! Or, there are those who insist students sign up to monthly or annual standing orders for making payments to the ‘master’ who then fails to even preside over the lesson! I have had the good fortune of meeting some genuinely good teachers on my journey but can honestly say have only met one person deserving of the ‘Teacher/Father’ title in its actual sense! What’s more, I never had to call him ‘Master’ or ‘Shifu’ or had to approach him via an intermediary or had to bow to him seven times and then crawl backwards out of his presence. Nor did I have to undergo the elaborate ‘Bai shi’ or discipleship ceremony and buy him extravagant gifts. Ours was a ceremony of standing together side by side, smiling outside a loo in Germany! Yet, it was all there... A warm smile and hug upon meeting. A genuine concern for myself and the wellbeing of my family. Correspondence ending with a simple “love to all the family”. A gentle guiding hand on the shoulder in training. A complete sharing of knowledge and skill! A “We missed you” call or email, if I failed to turn up to training and not - “You‘ll still have to pay me, mister!” Yes, it was all there and I was and still am fortunate and blessed to have had such a guide for sure. But, I say to you look carefully. Certainly respect your ‘teachers’ yet ask the question when certain demands are made or if insisted that you call your teacher, “Sifu”. Respect is earned through one’s actions not demands. And no wise man will refer to himself as a “Wise Man”!
In Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, these great ‘Teachers/Fathers’ (Sufis) referred to themselves with genuine piety as “Idiots”. That is because, coincidentally, the Arabic for ‘Saint’ (Wali) has the same numerical equivalent as the word for ‘Idiot’ (balid). Here too, we see a dualism of meaning. These great non-linear thinkers or ‘Idiots’, left us an amazing amount of knowledge in the guise of stories, used as tools for teaching. I’ll recount one here entitled, ‘The Knife’: A wandering dervish ran to where a Sufi sat deep in contemplation, and said: “Quick! We must do something. A monkey has just picked up a knife.”‘Don’t worry,’ said the Sufi, ‘so long as it was not a man.’ When the dervish saw the monkey again he found, sure enough, that it had thrown the knife away. (Kardan) Taken from ‘Wisdom of the Idiots’ by Idries Shah To the student then, know what calling someone a ‘Shifu’ means. To the would-be Shifu, know what being one requires. Otherwise, you may just discover that your ‘Shifu’ is merely ‘Sea Food’!
Peter Jones -
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