ry as r e m M ist ew N r & Ch py r p a Yea H A
The General: Tony Bailey 20 Questions
Tai Chi Is The Dance Of Life Amanda Barrell
The Tai Chi Ball
Ten Character Hands
Thomas Staples & Alan Ludmer
The Female Warrior
The 12 Secret Rings of Yang Part 3:
Physical Side & Cornerstones
Editor Nasser Butt
perception realization activation action
Lift Hands The Internal Arts Magazine Volume 4 December 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: Nasser Butt Cover design © Nasser Butt, 2017 Cover Photography: Altea Alessandrini Back: Anthony Pillage - Kaizen: The Martial Arts Expo 2017. Photography & design by Nasser Butt
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I Must Breathe Dr. Gregory T. Lawton
The 12 Deadly Katas - A Brief Introduction PeterJones
Kaizen 2017 Nasser Butt
The 12 Secret Rings of the Yang Family Part Three: The Physical Side/Cornerstones Nasser Butt
The Tai Chi Ball: Training To Make Movement Work Thomas Staples & Alan Ludmer
Training Methods For Martial Arts: Wooden Man Nasser Butt
20 Questions: The General - Tony Bailey
The Female Warrior Katherine Loukopoulos
Hadjios Valley Resort T’ai Chi Ch’uan Weekend 2017 A Report Page 74 Tai Chi Is The Dance Of Life Amanda Barrell
The Song of Movement
The Art of Louiseneige Be
W editorâ€™s note
elcome to the Volume 4 of Lift Hands: The Internal Arts Magazine!
There are many highlights for the year as we stand on the cusp of 2018, however, none can top the night of the British Martial Arts Awards 2017, held in April. The night was special indeed not for my personal achievements, but for the human spirit and brotherhood which I, along with a host of others witnessed there. The story of The Sword - Keith Priestley's family heirloom - has already become the stuff of legends and if you weren't there, then ask someone who was, and see if they can tell you and keep their eyes dry at the same time. It's a story worth hearing! I have been blessed to have come across great souls like Scott Caldwell, Tony Bailey, Keith Priestley, Russell Jarmesty, Cheyne Towers and a host of others far too many here to mention. You have all been my highlights and I have none other than the wrong â€˜un Tony Pillage to thank for that! For those of you who do not know Tony Pillage - well, all I can say is that you are missing out on one of the most amazing human spirits that you'll ever come across, someone who truly embodies the warrior spirit in every sense of the word. Tony was featured in our first issue of 20 Questions. 2017 has been a wonderful year indeed for Lift Hands Magazine. Lift Hands has set the bar high in its first full year! Coming runner-up in the Magazine of the Year category at the British Martial Arts Awards was no mean feat. It showed that, as a magazine and concept, we have an appeal to the martial arts community worldwide. Lift Hands is currently being read on all the continents. Our readership is already in the thousands and is as diverse as the magazine itself! We have readers in Pakistan, Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Mexico, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Japan, China, Sudan, Indonesia, Ukraine, India, Germany, The Netherlands, Cyprus, UAE, Egypt, Algeria, Portugal, Venezuela, South Africa and the list goes on. For far too long the martial arts community has been divided into the external and the internal, the hard and the soft, and as martial arts have become big business - they have been further divided through greed and in some cases, downright dishonesty! No individual or group can change the world. The only thing we all, as people, have control over is ourselves and itâ€™s by changing ourselves that we can hope to bring about change in our own world and environments! This is true of life as it is true of the martial arts. So, it is heartening to see the variety and wealth of information we have managed to group together in these pages. Lift Hands is proud to be associated with every single person who has helped make the magazine the success it has become. I am indebted to many - from those who have contributed through articles, advice or otherwise and of course our readers - I thank you all! We are still a work in progress and in 2018, we shall continue to endeavor to bring together the best that the world of martial arts has to offer! Merry Christmas, Happy Festivities & a peaceful and blessed New Year to all.
I Must Breathe Dr Gregory T. Lawton
Waking, I find myself at play Among the Dancing breezes Of the breathing field. Come, And join me In this riotous Celebration of breath. These words Are inspired by breath. These words Are shaped from within And are released In a sinuous form. That winds And twists Around my spine, Coiling and stretching, Expanding and contracting. These words Are the conjugation Of motion and stillness And are joined In a sacred bond. Words born of breath Are the poetry Of self-expression.
It is the voice of breath That unwinds The solemn mysteries within me. Set free, This vital breath From the cage of self. Push, This fetal breath From the diaphragm of separation. Loose my bones, From their sinews And let them Fall free In a jumble At my feet, For I surrender To breath. Bend me, To the truth of myself. This out-breath Releases my Deepest secrets. This in-breath Bestows the gift Of life. I Breathe as if My life Depends upon it.
But I remember That I cannot Hold on to it... I must Let it go. I must Breathe...
Kindly reprinted with permission from: The Silence Between Words, Copyright 2016, Revised 2017 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.
The 12 Deadly Katas A Brief Introduction Peter Jones
e are going to continue with the katas number three Changing Hand and number four Throwing Hand, I
have, previously, covered the first two of the 12 Deadly Katas in the last issue of Lift Hands - Volume 3! I will be going through all 12 Katas, with two in each issue of Lift Hands. Please remember, I am only covering the katas at a basic level. If you are interested in learning these katas, then please refer to Erle Montaigue's book and DVD on the subject or go along to a class that is teaching them. Also, as I have already previously stated - like everything it takes time and effort, as do all martial arts!
Changing Hand Kata 3 The healing side of changing hands works upon the kidneys and governs the bone marrow. The time of day is between the hours of 3pm and 5pm. You can do this kata at anytime it just means that the meridian is more active at that particular time. The points you are striking in this kata are: Conceptor Vessel 22 (Cv22) Heart 5 (H5) Lung 8 (Lu8) Stomach 9 (St9) The Martial: Your partner attacks with a right hook punch. The left palm takes care of the attack as you step in with your right foot, using a right claw palm to the eyes of your partner, (Photo 1). This is followed by a right back palm to your partners face, (Photo 2), and then the fingers of the right hand strike into the pit of your partners neck, Cv22, (Photo 3). You do a change step bringing your left foot forward, as your left palm strikes into your partners neck, St 9, whilst the right hand violently takes hold of the left wrist, H5/Lu8, (Photo 4). Photo 1
Throwing Hand Kata 4 The healing side of Throwing Hand works upon the Bladder. It also governs the Bone Marrow and transforms our sexual energy for use in the healing of the body, as well as for the healing of others. Its time of day is between the hours of 5pm and 7pm. Again, you can do this kata at anytime it just means that the meridian is more active at that particular time. The Martial: As your partner throws a low right hook punch, you step in with your left foot and strike into the elbow joint with your right palm (Photo 5). Your left palm strikes your partnerâ€™s neck, St 9 (Photo 6) and then continues to wrap around his neck pulling him downwards, with your right palm cutting down across his Adam's apple (Photos 7 & 8). Photo 4
ctober 21, 2017, witnessed the
inaugural arrival of Kaizen - The Martial Arts Expo, at the Bulwell Academy in Nottingham, UK. The event gathered the cream of British martial arts in Nottingham, for a day of fun and learning. Teaching on the mats were a variety of styles from both the traditional external and internal martial arts, as well as the modern reality based systems. The event kicked of with Nottingham’s very own - the ‘Marvel-lous’ - Zara Phythian amongst packed mats, which saw Anthony Pillage, Russell Jarmesty, Scott Caldwell, Keith Priestly, Nasser Butt, David Kyriacou, Tony Bailey, Mike Knight and a host of other martial artists carry the baton throughout the day, culminating with a master class on The Approach by Eddie Quinn! What was most discernible about this event from others which I have been to in the past, was the number of people actually participating in the seminars as opposed to simply watching from the sides! I caught up with Lucci Del-Gaudio - the man behind Kaizen - to find out what led to the birth of Kaizen? NB: Hi Lucci, before we go any further, please tell our readers a little about yourself? LDG: Hi Nasser, I’m a Nottingham based martial artist. I started back in the 80s as a young boy, like most kids, I was inspired by Bruce Lee and the Karate Kid! I stayed up on a school night to watch Enter the Dragon, that’s what got me into the arts. I joined a Karate club with an old school friend, in my childhood town (Sneinton). My first teacher was Simon Oliver. However, my big brothers where already Black Belts in Ju Jitsu, under the former WJJF! They took the mick out of me for doing Karate, so in the end I started Ju Jitsu at my brothers’ club and climbed up the ranks! In the early 90s I discovered Geoff Thomson and Reality Based Self Defence. I was a bit of a naughty boy in the 90s , I was always fighting in bars and at football matches on a regular basis. So the reality based training I took to like a duck to water. I’ve explored different avenues in the martial arts including Thai Boxing, Western Boxing , Judo and JKD . However, my roots and love are for Ju Jitsu. Today, I teach Combat Ju Jitsu, a format of reality based and traditional Ju Jitsu . It’s works for me well! NB: So, October 2017 saw the inaugural Kaizen Martial Arts Expo at the Bulwell Academy in Nottingham please tell us what was your inspiration behind the event?
Russell Jarmesty - Kaizen 2017 Photography by Nasser Butt
LDG: I wanted to challenge myself and give the martial arts community something special. Originally, I wanted some sort of Expo just for Self Defence and Reality. This was because I felt it wasn’t being showcased enough at other events. Anyway, it ended up being for all arts in the end including reality! I remember the first time I went to SENI at the Birmingham NEC and seeing legends like Neil Adams, Royce Gracie. For me, my ultimate Seminar would be teaching on SENI. I was impressed with TMAX at Coventry arena, for me that was the best Expo ever and I aim for Kaizen to reach that standard! I was lucky enough to teach twice on the UK Martial arts show in Doncaster. I basically, just woke up one day and thought to myself , I’m gonna do an Expo! Not wanting to bite off more then I could chew, hence the reason why it was only a one day event with a zero budget! NB: Why did you think that the martial arts community needed another martial arts expo? LDG: The Martial arts world is big enough for another Expo! My city, Nottingham has never had one! I wanted to put Nottingham on the map and give Kaizen a permanent home. SENI has London, UKMAS has Doncaster. Kaizen has Nottingham. And on the plus side, Nottingham has some amazing talent to showcase, instructors including, Simon Oliver, Owen King, Zara Phythian and the list goes on. Kaizen is about bringing the martial arts community together. NB: How difficult was it to put together? LDG: I very nearly pulled out - It scared the crap out me! I had no money to put it together. 2017 has just been a nightmare for me, I’ve had a lot of personal issues to deal with. There was a lot of sleepless nights and worry. I was lucky enough to have some amazing friends giving awesome support. Tony Pillage called me on a regular basis to advise me and put me the right track. The Martial Arts Guardians Magazine gave me unlimited advertising and support. Without all that and the instructors who helped spread the word, I don’t think I could have done it! NB: What in your view makes Kaizen different from the host of other events currently available? LDG: What we saw at Kaizen, was not only that every seminar packed, we also saw a massive mixture of different styles! We showcased traditional to reality based arts. We had amazing vendors. People could spend their money on quality products at affordable prices. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I think people just wanted to be a part of it . The line up, in my opinion, was the strongest I’ve ever seen. People were waiting to come in from 8.30 am despite the doors opening at 9.30 am! We had the best of the best with about 500 Martial artist smiling through out the day. That’s what made Kaizen Martial Arts Expo a great event! NB: How has the martial artist community responded to Kaizen? Was the response as you envisaged? LDG: Absolutely brilliant, Nasser! It was all over social media people, wouldn’t stop talking about! Most of the stands and sponsors have already sold out for June 2018! It was needed in the Martial arts community and was well received . There were, admittedly, a few mistakes I made but, as I’ve stated, I was on a zero budget and did it all alone!
NB: It was great seeing some of the major UK talent teaching on the mats at Kaizen 2017, such as Eddie Quinn, Russell Jarmesty, Scott Caldwell, Tony Pillage and Zara Phythian amongst a host of others - what plans do you have for Kaizen 2018? What can people expect? LDG: What I noticed at Kaizen 2017 was that I definitely chose the correct line up! I took full responsibility for the line up and took all the criticism on the chin. I gave a platform to both, the UK’s top players and the up and coming! Kaizen 2018 will be a summer event, the UK’s first Outdoor event with world class instructors! We will have a Karate Zone, an area dedicated to Karate - with instructors like Terry O’Neill, Simon Oliver, Kevin Mills and more. And, you can expect the very best once again, instructors like Russ Jarmesty, Tony Pillage, James Simpson, Cane Masters - who are all back by popular demand! Another top class line up! NB: What have you learned about yourself whilst putting together Kaizen? Have you learned something new. LDG: I definitely learned who my real friends are! But the biggest thing was, if you can imagine it, you can achieve it! Hard work always pays off. NB: Is Kaizen here to stay? LDG: I won’t stop Nasser, until Kaizen is the Glastonbury of Martial events! A few years away, however, this is definitely where my martial arts career is heading - for now anyway! NB: When do tickets go on sale for 2018 and how can people find out further information regarding stalls , etc.? LDG: Tickets are now on sale - club instructors and students can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Stalls are almost gone due to the huge success of Kaizen 2017. Please like our Facebook page Kaizen Martial Arts Expo for all updates, etc. NB: Thank you for your time Lucci... any last words for our readers? LDG: #bekaizen people! Keep focusing on what you are good at. OSU ! On the following pages are a few of the highlights from Kaizen 2017.
Left to right: Scott Caldwell, Russell Jarmesty, Lucci Del-Gaudio & Nasser Butt
Zara Phythian - Kaizen 2017
Tony Bailey - Kaizen 2017
Tony Pillage - Kaizen 2017
Nasser Butt - Kaizen 2017
Eddie Quinn- Kaizen 2017
Mick Tully - Kaizen 2017
David ‘Hydra’ Kyriacou - Kaizen 2017
Nasser Butt - Kaizen 2017
Scott Caldwell - Kaizen 2017
Keith Priestley- Kaizen 2017
Simon Oliver - Kaizen 2017
Russell Jarmesty- Kaizen 2017
Eddie Quinn- Kaizen 2017
CYC: I was much younger than Yang Shou-hou and thought that I was strong and like a young stallion but when I arrived at my Cousin's school I was forced to fight with him.
The Physical Side The Fifth Ring (House) of Yang
H: You had to fight with Yang Shou-hou! CYC: Yes, before this he was just cousin Yang but now he was no longer my cousin, he was someone that I had to fight. H: What happened? CYC: I thought that I could surprise him with a technique we used to call ‘The Tiger Is Cornered’ and this is when we use many attacking techniques to get us out of a corner. When I attacked Yang, I thought at first that he had disappeared but later I believed that he just moved so quickly and at the same time that I moved that he was right in front of me before I could do anything. My strikes were aimed at a greater distance than Yang actually was and I found myself hitting the floor unconscious. Interview with Chang Yiu-chun, China Wushu Magazine
‘Yang Shaohou’s boxing set was small and hard, the movements fast and heavy. He always used the stiffening and severing energies, and those who fought with him always came away from it with their skin and muscles in pain. 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.’ The Skills & Essentials of Yang Style Taiji Boxing and Martial Arts Discussions by Huang Wenshu (Yuanxiu) - 1936
“Sparring” [san shou – “random techniques”] is the same as “free-fighting” [san da – “random strikes”] in Shaolin. Taiji is very rarely practiced to the level that it can be used to defend against opponents. This is because there is so much focus on softness and never any examination of the hardness within softness. However, such hardness does not come entirely from doing the boxing set, and so you have to supplement it by also practicing foundational training [examples of which are in the following chapter]. Practicing the sparring will then be effective. But if you do not add in the best of the exercises of both the internal and external schools, and simply hope to gain victory only through using pushing hands, there is no way you will be able to win. Therefore in our school’s Original Version teaching, we do applications training in order to win. As these techniques are from both the internal and external schools, it is a surer way of dealing with an opponent. You must not be confined to only progressing by way of pushing hands softness, for then you would not really obtain Taiji’s striking methods. Hunan Martial Arts Training Institute’s “Small Collection of Martial Arts Books” – The Taiji Manual of Wan Laisheng,’ - 1932
he Physical Side, or the Fifth Ring (House) of Yang, should come as no surprise to any serious practitioner
of the martial arts! You cannot proclaim to be studying a martial art if you have no physical side to your development and training period! For far too long in the Internal Arts, practitioners and present day masters have literally got away with ‘murder’ when it comes to training the physical combative elements of their martial art! This is far more true of Taijiquan, and to a lesser extent Baguazhang and Xingyiquan! However, in an era where the so-called ‘reality arts’ (as if to say that the Classical Arts were not based in the reality of combat and warfare), are in the ascendency and their popularity has reached stellar heights, martial arts ‘masters’ of Taiji, and other ‘soft’ arts, are fast unravelling when faced with these young upstarts! One does not have to venture far into the world of YouTube or other social media where match-ups are being arranged and the predictable results being posted online as proof of the ineffectiveness of particular arts! When reading the customary macho comments below such media, it is incredibly apparent that most are of a derogatory nature and virtually all are directed at the art itself - never the practitioner or their lack of understanding! What’s more, the same commentators who so confidently comment upon the ineffectiveness of the ‘other’ art can, upon questioning, demonstrably be shown to know even less about their own chosen art, yet here they are, presuming to know to be able to comment on another art altogether! But as I’ve already said, the main fault for this lies with the modern practitioners of the Internal Arts themselves! We do not have to delve that far or deep in history to realise that what most people today refer to as Taijiquan or T’ai Chi Ch’uan, is actually a modified modern art based upon the fighting art of old with its focus almost exclusively upon health! I have already written on the subject matter extensively and not only that, there is ample evidence from a host of traditions to prove this to be the case! I refer to the reader to Huang’s statement above regarding Yang Shou-hou. Only a fool and his or her followers would deny this basic premise! I will simply refer to some examples below: According to Xu Long-hou, 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 Yu-Sheng - ’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.
Interestingly enough, 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)! Back to Xu, however, he continues: “Yang Cheng-fu also learned the 73-posture form from his father... They regarded this particular form as a true representation of boxing methods contained in the Yang clan... Cheng-fu taught the 73-posture form to some students who had the physical endurance and desire to study for a number of years.”
And further, “Cheng-fu found that such rigorous methods were very difficult for the common person so he created numerous small sets to practice, then consolidated these sets into three longer sets, and then consolidated these three sets into a single form composed of 115 movements... Cheng-fu later took out several complicated movements and the jump kicks giving the form the auspicious number of 108 movements. The 108-posture form thereby became the newly established public style because of its ease to learn and practice at any age.” Here we have first hand evidenced from a senior student of Yang Cheng-fu confirming that he changed the form for ease of learning for the masses and that this form would go on to become the norm. When did these changes occur? Again, we are not given a time frame for these changes but it would be fair to say that they would have occurred over a period of time - perhaps even several years? Xu’s book first appeared in 1921, however, due to poor sales it was republished in 1927 with further commentaries and explanations before, finally, it was republished once again in 1934 with Cheng-fu’s consent and an official portrait of him. Going by this information we can safely assume that some of the changes must have occurred prior to 1921. This would be in agreement with the information provided by Chang Yiu-chun, the teacher of Erle Montaigue, who claimed in an interview in the mid-70’s with China Wushu Magazine, that: “Yeung Cheng-po did the original Yeung style of his grandfather before about 1915, then he changed it.” So, now we have a time frame within which these initial changes may have occurred, which was somewhere between 1915-1921. The final piece of the puzzle, which confirms this time frame, is the fact that Cheng-fu was invited to teach Taijiquan to the general public by the Beijing Physical Culture Research Institute from 1914 till 1928, where he “soon felt cramped and confined, so that results were somewhat limited.” We are provided with this information, allegedly, by Yang himself in ‘his’ Preface and Introduction found in ‘Taijiquan tiyong quanshu Essence and Applications of Taijiquan’ - Originally published in 1934! So, for 14 years Cheng-fu would have taught and focused his Taiji as a health art. In 1928 he would move to Shanghai to teach at the request of his student Chen Wei-ming at his school, which he had already established there since 1925. The year of 1928 is a pivotal year in Cheng-fu’s career. Although it appears that he had already started to tamper or alter his form during the Beijing period, it was the move south that would finally seal it as we know it today! According to the historian Gu Liuxin in his, An Introduction to Yang Style Taijiquan, found in Fu Zhongwen. Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan (Yang Shih T’ai Chi Ch’uan): “Cheng-fu’s boxing style during his middle years was bold and vigorous, powerful and strong, imposing with his leaps. After Yang Cheng-fu went to the South, he began to explicitly emphasize the use of Taijiquan in treating illness and protecting health. For example, when Cheng-fu first performed his art in Shanghai, the movements of Separating Feet and Kick with Heel still retained the training methods of rapid kicks having the sound of the wind. Later, however, he changed to slow, gradual kicks, with the placement of fajin (issuing energy) in the kicks being concealed within. Other boxing powers and methods were also transformed to a continuous pace with no breaking of the cadence and from a hurried to an even pace.” This is confirmed by Douglas Wiles in his book, T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmission: “Not until late in Ch’eng-fu’s career did retentions of the Ch’en style jumps, flying kicks, stamps, changes of pace, and shouts finally disappear from his form.”
The changes would include weighted pivots or turns. This is confirmed by Fu Shengyuan, the son of Fu Zhongwen, in his English book - Authentic Yang Family Tai Chi: Step by Step Instruction - that his father would pivot with the weight being held on the pivoting leg. This was of great importance, the reason being: “Rocking the weight back and turning with the empty leg will not develop the strength of the legs to the same degree as pivoting with the weight in the solid leg.” Therefore, “if the original meaning of Tai Chi as a martial art is to be restored, then you must pivot on the heel with the weight still in the solid leg.” So, Cheng-fu, in an attempt to reach the masses heavily diluted his family Form and removed a whole lot of difficult movements in or around 1928 to finally arrive at a form he was happy with. These changes would have been in addition to the changes he made between 1915-1921, with which he had had little success! Surprising though for a man who was emphasizing health as the reason for ‘his’ Taiji, that in the later years he was an “imposing figure of 300 pounds!” Or could it be that the final changes to his form were forced upon him by his own weight? This is an interesting question and could be the possible answer to the final alterations to the Form. We know as Cheng-fu’s fame spread far and wide he was continuously being feted by the rich and famous, attending banquets in his honour. Images of Cheng-fu as a young man certainly show a lean figure compared to the images with which most of us are familiar. Could the years of teaching the general public for health only in Beijing have removed his focus from his martial training, thus having an effect on his physical appearance, further compounded by his continuous banqueting? Certainly, if we compare his image to his brother, Shou-hou - we see a lean fit man in Shouhou even in his old age! However, we are not only looking at the history of the Form. Once the Form, the backbone of the system, became diluted, it would be only be a matter of time before the physical training methods associated with Yang family boxing would themselves disappear from mainstream Taiji teachings! This is confirmed to us by Huang Yuanxiu - who trained with the Yangs themselves, regarding the Eight Kicking Skills of Yang Taiji Boxing (see images overleaf) - who speaking in 1936, tells us that only four of the basic kicks are now be practiced and that regarding the missing four kicking skills: “These four kicks are truly not easy to practice, nor are they easy to apply. You must work at each of them over a long period as a supplementary practice, otherwise you will not be able to apply them smoothly. I suppose that when ordinary Taiji Boxing instructors found themselves incapable of getting everyone to learn these extra kicking techniques, being especially difficult for the old and weak to practice, they were eliminated from the training. However, due to their practical ingenuity, they have to be included for your kicking art to be complete.” Huang’s words are clear and unmistakable! There is no ambiguity here whatsoever and if he is lamenting this in 1936, using only the kicking skills as an example, then how many more skills and training methods have been lost since then? It is no wonder that today, a hundred or so years later, most people are no longer familiar with martial Taijiquan and those that do attempt it, do so without any recourse to the Physical House and end up with a beating! So, what did the Physical House consist of? According to Erle, whilst he was teaching the Physical Side during his invitation only Instructor Sessions: “This was the first time he was presenting Yang’s 5th House, the little known physical side of the Yang Style, no BS, no mystical garbage, just excellent and practical physical stuff on gaining great power for multiple strike kill methods to all parts of the body. The Yang Shou-hou side of the Yang Family was quite hard and often, blood would be left on the floor. Gaining the power from short distances was the key to this type of training. Speed was useless unless extreme power was also present. So this training would give you that ultimate power. You would gain the confidence knowing that you can take anyone out no matter how large or powerful he is with one or two strikes. It’s no use learning all of the forms etc, and not knowing how to punch! And it has been our experience that not many people actually know how to punch. Sure, many can line themselves up and break boards, but in the street they cannot gain the necessary power from only centimetres away to take someone out instantly with one punch.”
Now compare this with the statements of Chang, Huang and Wan at the beginning of this article - is this not exactly what we are being told? The Physical Side didn’t only include training methods which would transform our Forms into practical fighting methods, but also included the testing grounds of our skills with a good chance that, “blood would be left on the floor!” However, I need to emphasize a point here, Erle mentions above that this was the first time he was teaching the Physical Side… that may be so as far as the House is concerned, but he lay the foundations to that many years ago during his Sydney classes between 1984-1990! He would later publish this information under 35 Weeks In The Erle Montaigue Training System, whereas initially it was referred to as Basic Training Methods Inner Circle Club: Australian Taiji Boxing Association! I will quote Erle here regarding this: “The following, I thought would be of interest to those who are studying my system. This is how I used to train my students when I had my own school in Sydney City. Nowadays, I am a little gentler. When some of my older students come to visit and tell stories of how we used to train in the old days, my current students are amazed at some of the stories. Here is a 35-week training session that I found to be the best way to train people in the use of Taijiquan as a fighting art…
Practicing Ti Jiao - kicking with the foot from lead leg - one of the Eight Kicking skills & essentials of Yang Taiji Boxing
The following methods are of course in addition to the normal Taijiquan and Baguazhang form training. Some of the below, you would have to be there to appreciate it, however, I have left all of it as it was written down for my personal students back then.” Note, even way back then, Erle was differentiating between his “personal students” and referring to his “Inner Circle Club,” and the fact that nowadays he was a “little gentler”! I had come across these documents way back in 1999 and had read them intently. I even started my own training programme based upon these. There was a lot which I didn’t understand in the early days, as I had no reference point and my own training was not advanced enough to make sense of everything. By 2004 all that would change - Erle had moved to Wales and I had also progressed, and had a great training partner in Elliot Morris, and one of the first things I did was to ask Erle how I could follow his ‘diary’ in earnest? Erle laughed, I remember him saying that he had forgotten that he had actually uploaded that to his site and that he, himself, hadn’t trained a lot of these methods in years! I persisted - insisting that this training was a key part of his own development and as such should be a part of everyone’s training! Erle finally relented - impressed - his words still ring clearly in my ears:
“I think you are the only f*cking student of mine who is looking into this old stuff!” Erle started clarifying a lot of the training methods for me, these form parts of my notes, including those on the basics of grappling and throwing (Shuaijiao), two of the critical components of Taijiquan! Later, he’d send me another document, ’35 Weeks - The Additional Training Methods’ which he also posted online - these clarified the earlier training methods and advanced upon them, as well as giving further training methods for advanced
Practicing a ‘Sheathing’ Kick - one of the Eight Kicking skills & essentials of Yang Taiji Boxing
students and how and when to teach them! Thus, the foundations began to be laid down, ultimately culminating in the Fifth Ring - for myself at least! Over the years, I would continue to refer to these training methods and as we began the Fifth Ring, much of the work already felt familiar - not only that - the body was ready to do what was required of it! In 2013, two years after Erle’s passing, I took a group of my own students through the 35 Weeks Training. Although a number of them had already been training for some time, this training took them by surprise and it made concepts and ideas far more clearer, yet better still - it made them all realise how far they still had to go in their respective journeys! Erle was right, to date, I am the only one of his students to have carried out and completed his 35 Weeks training and the Additions, since he himself, taught it in Sydney! The Physical Side is vast! There is no way to list or go through the entirety of the training methods involved, one may as well ask the proverbial, “How long is a piece of string?” However, its importance cannot be over emphasized. It is in the Physical Side of our training where we begin to understand if we have developed the correct timing skills, have understood distance, rooting, power and the release of fa-jing! It is here, where our structure is put to the test. Are we adhering to the Classics? Are we crashing in, collapsing, coming away or have resistance?
Above; Practicing a ‘rare’ training method testing rooting, structure & fa-jing, whilst someone hangs from your waist! Below: Practicing the ‘referee’s hold’. This is a most excellent training method to help us develop our weighting, weighing & yielding skills, as well as giving us a complete body work out!
Have we understood yielding, and not to meet power on power, as well as connectivity, sticking, adhering and following? The list is endless! The Physical Side is also where we literally develop our physical skills, like our pad and bag work. It’s where we develop our skills to strike heavy and explosively with any part of our body, without causing damage to the striking part. It is here where we test our weighting and weighing skills - the size of the opponent should not matter, for if one
has trained correctly, then you should be able to deal with an opponent of any size!
So, where are we heading to with all this physical stuff? Again, Erle provides the answer: “These… are to teach about reflexive self defence. We do not learn about sparring or even fighting, just real self defence from a sub-conscious level. Sparring in fact is the worst thing that one can do if you wish to learn about self defence as it causes you to learn about sparring! And "Sparring" does not happen in the street, nor does tournament "fighting". Sure, if you wish to do a sport then do your tournament sparring but do not expect it to save you in a real fight! In fact, many have discovered that it is almost impossible to learn real self defence methods when they have learned and practiced tournament sparring for many years or even become World Champions etc. First real fight in the street and they go down. This is because they have never worked upon reflexive actions, they have in fact tried to use their kata as self defence! And Kata and Form are NOT for self defence, they were only ever meant to teach us how to move, well "Form" was for that, as most karate schools teach that kata is for fighting! So from now onward, this is where we take what we have already learnt in these classes and put it into the real world. The punching mitts and shields are now replaced by your body! We will be doing what we in the internal call; "attack/defence". This is where one person will gear up in protective stuff and try to knock his partner's head off! And his partner has to react reflexively and register a solid and telling blow onto the attacker's body. Of course, this will move along very slowly as another damaging area for real self defence is going into it too soon or simply having to fight someone when you aren't ready.” Now let us compare this with what Huang Yuanxiu has to say regarding Yang Boxing: ‘Competition within the training is called “sparring”, whereas within a contest it is indeed called “competing”, and within actual conflict is called “fighting”. Their names are different, but their function is the same: a struggle to determine winner or loser. We all have the same five senses and four limbs, and although we have different natural gifts, we have the same innate intelligence as well. I am able to see the opponent and he is also able to see me. I am able to strike the opponent and he is also able to strike me. Therefore ability to succeed lies in both method and skill. If I have method but no skill, it amounts to having nothing at all. If I rely solely on skill but have no method, this is like “the blind cultivating blindness” and would be a futile effort. There are three key components to method & skill: determination, quickness, and precision. 1. With determination, I can seize the offensive. I will be able to get my hands to where I send them, be able to express with all of my power, and be able to defeat the opponent. If on the other hand I am timid of mind, whatever I do would easily be rendered useless. 2. Quickness has to do with when we both issue at the same time. As soon as he issues, I issue sooner. If he issues short, I issue long. If he issues soft, I issue hard. If he issues vaguely, I issue with determination. And thus I am victorious.
3. Precision is the most important. If I send out a leg or hand technique without precision, then even if I am determined and quick, it would be of no use.’ Although the wording may appear different - Huang, nonetheless is again talking about training our skills to a reflexive level and putting these skills to the test! So, ultimately, the test of one’s skills lay in the ability to be able to fight - the physical side developed that and the Yangs and their students - at least from Shou-hou’s line, had to fight! Note, both Erle and Huang refer to this. In fact, Erle, himself, clearly stated that when he was in China, he was “tested” by his peers! Chang, himself, makes it abundantly clear that he had to “fight" Yang Shou-hou, and Wan Laisheng in his training methods, mentioned above, concurs that without “foundational training,” Taiji cannot be elevated to fighting! Yang Lu-ch’an was NOT a self-appointed master! I recently read a claim in an article, which I can only describes as the worst orgy of egocentrical juvenile drivel, that I’ve ever had the misfortune to read that, Yang Lu-ch’an was a self-appointed master! This absurd claim is made in order to justify one’s own delusion of grandeur - a self-appointed mastership, no less!
It is no wonder that the martial arts world is in the state that it is in when you have such fools spouting nonsense to further their own egos! Furthermore, the same self-proclaimed 'master' justifies this ludicrous claim by essentially stating that, there is no one anywhere in China practicing these arts to be able to grade him, nor anyone left alive! Now, this is pertinent to the Fifth Ring of the Physical House and I shall explain why?
First and foremost, the Yang Shou-hou line of Taijiquan is alive and well in many parts of the world, including China! To think that China, with a population of almost 1.4 billion people would be devoid of this is beyond ridiculous or to think that there was no one alive to carry out a ‘grading’ anywhere in the world, would be equally so! This is narcissism at its best or worst - depending on ones point of view! I will expand upon this. First, Wu Tu-nan - a renowned Taiji Master, scholar and historian - the most famous disciple of Yang Shou-hou, was alive and well in the 80’s! In fact, Wu died around 1989, having been born in 1885 - putting him beyond the age of 100! It is from Wu’s historical researches that we have much of what we call Yang Taiji history, not only that, it was Wu who first told the world of Yang Shou-hou’s ‘secret’ Small Frame ‘usage’ form - essentially a fighting form done at high speed, with over 200 movements! Both, Professor Douglas Wile and Peter Lim Tian Tek, in their respective historical researches confirm this! Not only that but Wu Tu-nan’s status is undeniable as a legitimate and authentic student of Yang Shou-hou! Overleaf are two images of Wu Tu-nan with his disciple Chen Jingying appearing in The Essence of Taijiquan, a book
dedicated to Wu’s teachings, published in China in 2013! This book is only available in Mandarin and I managed to procure a copy a few years ago from China and am in the process of slowly having it translated by a Chinese student of mine from the mainland! The top photo on the left is a rare image of Wu teaching Chen the broadsword in 1972. The image below is that of Chen and Wu in 1985 at the Spring Festival in Gongzhong! So, Wu Tu-nan, a student of Yang Shou-hou was alive and well teaching in China in the 80’s at the same time as Erle was visiting the country on his own journey! Not only that, Wu had students to whom he transmitted his knowledge directly and, as we sit on the cusp of 2018, a book of his teachings was published only 5 years ago by his students! And yet, we are to believed by this self-proclaimed master that there’s no one left in China teaching Shou-hou’s Taiji!
The top photo is a rare image of Wu teaching Chen the broadsword in 1972. The image below is that of Chen and Wu in 1985 at the Spring Festival in Gongzhong!
Secondly, and even more importantly, Yang Luch’an didn’t ‘grade’ himself or declare himself a master - he was given those titles by his contemporaries and his peers! We have firm historical evidence confirming that Yang was involved in many challenges, including ones which lead to the demise of his opponents! He wasn't just handed the titles of Yang The Invincible, Yang The Unbeatable or Eight Lords, they were earned through testing - that is how the old masters were 'graded' not through selfproclamation! According to Peter Lim Tian Tek in his, The Origins and History of Taijiquan: ‘Yang returned to Yung Nien where he taught martial arts for a living. So great was his skill that he was never defeated… Years later, when Yang was in his middle age, he was recommended to teach in the Imperial Court by one of his students, Wu Yu Xiang (who later founded the Wu Yu Xiang form of Taiji Quan). In the Imperial Court he was tested many times but never defeated, earning the prestigious title ‘Yang the Invincible’. He was the martial arts instructor for the Shen Ji Battalion and also taught in Royal Households. So sought after was he that he was also called ‘Ba Yeh’ (Eight Lords) because eight princes studied under him.’ Can we seriously imagine Yang Lu-ch'an (and subsequently his son Yang Ban-hou) being appointed combat instructors to the Imperial Guard or to the Manchurian princes and Lords based upon a self-proclamation? Further, Yang wasn't just tested from within his own ranks or from within his own system, or his minions. In the Imperial courts he took on challenges from all comers earning Taiji its name:
‘When Yang Lu Chan first taught the art in Yung Nien, his art was referred to as 'Mien Quan' or (Cotton Fist) or 'Hua Quan' (Neutralizing Fist), it was not yet called Taijiquan. Whilst teaching at the Imperial Court, Yang met many challenges, some friendly some not. But he invariably won and in so convincingly using his soft techniques that he gained a great reputation… The scholar Ong Tong, he was present and was so impressed by the way Yang moved and executed his techniques and felt that his movements and techniques expressed the physical manifestation of the principles of Taiji (the philosophy) wrote for him a matching verse: 'Hands Holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heros.' Thereafter, his art was referred to as Taijiquan and the styles that sprang from his teaching and by association with him was called Taijiquan.’ The Origins and History of Taijiquan - Peter Lim Tian Tek So, the training of the Physical House lead to testing and by that we should understand - a test of combat! This is confirmed by Xu Yu-sheng, whom we have already quoted above, writing in 1921 when Yang Shou was still alive: “Confucius discussed education along these lines: if it is always based in talented instruction, then each student will benefit from it. Although boxing arts are a lesser skill, it takes applying it upon opponents to say you have mastered it, which no one has ever been able to do quickly…” By testing and combat one should not immediately think of competition fighting or push hands competitions, we are talking about genuine combat - that’s why Shou-hou’s students were few, because he pulled no punches and blood was left on the floor! However, this does not also mean a ‘slugfest’ either! Cai Yi-zhong reminds us: “People who use excessive effort are often considered “risk takers” due to their use of struggling strength. In Taiji Boxing, excessive effort is forbidden…” In other words, we still fully adhere to Taiji’s principles!
In Conclusion The masters of old were first and foremost fighters! They were not scholars or philosophers or health freaks. They were primarily uneducated peasants who trained to fight to survive! This was the basic demand of their existence at a time when China was caught up in the turmoil of war and banditry! The Physical Ring is a testimony to these masters, who deservedly earned their titles by putting their lives and skills to the test! Yang Lu-ch’an’s training regime was so severe that his sons attempted suicide and ran away from home to avoid it! There is ample historical evidence and testimony to confirm this and only a fool would refute this! The physical training methods of the Yang family not only exist but can be found relatively easy for the serious student of the arts. Again, it was not something that Erle invented nor is it exclusive to Erle! What Erle did was to open up this ‘locked’ secret to the martial arts community at a time when Taiji was bogged down in the quagmire of the hippy movement of the 70’s - when peace, love and harmony were all the rage! Not only that, he openly challenged the knowledge of the ‘masters’ who had grown fat from either their family names, or had claimed dubious credentials or knowledge! Taijiquan - ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist’ is a lofty title and aptly reflects the reflexive violence that the Yangs of old were renowned for. Perhaps when the next time a Taiji ‘master is dropped on the seats of his pants by an average fighter, they may do well to remember that and as for the self-proclaimed ‘masters’ - I will borrow Huang’s words; They are simply the blind cultivating blindness! There are many people alive, with the knowledge and skill, who can ‘grade’ and test the ‘mastery’ or rather the mockery of these keyboard warriors, and prove them to be the charlatans they are!
Cornerstones The Sixth Ring (House) of Yang
have already written extensively about the Cornerstones in Volume One of Lift Hands. The Cornerstones are a
major component of Taijiquan and are found in every facet of the art. No exceptions! They cannot be separated from the Thirteen Dynamics or any of the other major principles! Here, I have simply reproduced part of the earlier article for convenience. If the Thirteen Dynamics are the foundations of Taijiquan, then the Four Cornerstones are what you must build your house upon. From a “Primary Text” attributed to Zhang Sanfeng, bearing Yang Lu-chan’s commentary according to Dong: “Once there is any movement, the entire body should be nimble and alert. There especially needs to be connection from movement to movement. The energy should be roused and the spirit should be collected within. Do not allow there to be cracks or gaps anywhere, pits or protrusions anywhere, breaks in the flow anywhere. Starting from the foot, issue through the leg, directing it at the waist, and expressing it at the fingers. From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and whether advancing or retreating….” The first Cornerstone (and the most significant) is the position of the head. We are often told about the head being ‘suspended from above’ as if attached to a silk thread in order to rouse the energy up the back. But what does that actually mean? Surely the energy must be rooted into the ground? The real meaning of this and the position of the head is to determine where your weight is placed on your body, which makes you feel like as if energy is being raised up your back. This is why the position of the head is critical as it will place your weight on exactly the right spot on your foot - just in front of the heel - or the talus to be precise (the role of the talus is critically important in the evolution of human movement and as such requires a whole article dedicated to the subject matter in its own right). It is only when the weight is placed on the correct spot that the energy flows - both internal and external - will happen. Not only this but, the correct positioning of the weight will also ensure the activation of energy through the ‘extra’ meridians of the body. It is in this area where we gain the ’energy’ for healing, fighting or whatever else it is that you may wish to do, and is sometimes refereed to as the ‘special’ flow of energy. This ‘special’ flow of energy occurs throughout the Taiji form, but is only felt at the highest levels of the form after many, many years of training. The eight extra meridians are not meridians in their own right per se and would require an explanation far beyond the scope of this article. However, we can simply put them as points which borrow energy from the ten main meridians (the flow of energy up the back and down the front is really a part of the eight meridians - hence ten and not twelve main meridians). There are many special movements during your Taiji form, which occur at specific intervals. Not all of the Taiji postures have these special movements - they simply rely upon the normal flow of energy through the body - and neither do these energies necessarily occur within the main postures! In fact, some of the ‘lesser' or transitional movements or postures are where the really important emanation or generation of energy happen! However, these energies, as already stated, will only be felt when the weight is placed correctly upon the foot and they are responsible for ultimately changing how your body will ‘do your Taiji’.
Each movement, no matter how slight or how large, must bring about a weight change. This is what the Taiji classics tell us to do. We must never be double-weighted: “We often see one who has practiced hard for many years yet is unable to perform any neutralizations and is generally under the opponent’s control, and the issue here is that this error of double pressure has not yet been understood.” Footwork is given a very high place amongst ones 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? Although we are taught footwork whilst learning forms as beginners, as you progress, you’ll realise that there is no footwork per se! 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! This brings us to the second Cornerstone - the feet/legs (as a general rule, the Chinese language does not distinguish between the foot and leg, it looks at the limb as a whole and uses the term jiǎo [ ] - which could denote either or both). It is the waist which ‘kicks’ the foot/leg forward - like swinging a pendulum - making you step “like a cat”. As the heel leaves the ground, the foot is in a yang state. Whilst the foot is stepping, i.e. in its ‘empty stage' it turns concave, as the heel is placed down, the foot returns back to its yang state as you finally roll the weight forward onto the talus. There must be an energy transfer between the issuing (yang) and receiving (yin) legs. For example, when stepping into ‘ward-off’, it is the rear leg which issues the energy and the front leg which receives the energy as it ‘fills’ and turns yang - however, it is the receiving leg (yin) which controls the rate at which the issuing leg releases its energy! This is, of course, also true for when moving in reverse. Wu Yuxiang states: “From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and whether advancing or retreating… Empty and full must be distinguished clearly. In each part there is a part that is empty and a part that is full… Throughout your body, as the movement goes from one section to another there has to be connection. Do not allow the slightest break in the connection.” This brings us on to the third Cornerstone - the waist. The waist must “move like a wheel," in connection with the hips, with the sacrum relaxed and centered. Sometimes the two move together and at other times they move in the opposing directions, but they must always work in harmony with one another and in a complete state of sung (pronounced soong). At the end of every posture, the waist and hips move in opposing directions - the source of fa-jing! It is the waist which directs the energy or in the words of the Classics… “the centre moves the peripherals”! The analogy between the wheel and the waist occur throughout the Classics, in fact to be more exact. “the energy is like a wheel and the waist is like an axle”. According to Chen Yanlin: “Your waist is your body’s pivot point. When your waist moves, innate energy turns like a wheel, reaching everywhere in your body and not getting stuck anywhere. There is no part that does not go along with the movements and turns of your waist.” The importance of the waist is continuously stressed throughout the Classics. It is deemed the ‘ruler’ or the ‘commander’ with the peripherals acting as the ‘foot-soldiers’. The relationship between “Waist and head top are to be exhaustively studied for your whole life.” That is what we are told clearly by Yang Ban-hou and that; “Neglecting either, all your work would be in vain.” We finally arrive at the fourth cornerstone - the hands. The hands are the manifestation of all this energy which begins its journey in the foot and finally culminates in the fingers. The hands must be in a state of sung but this cannot be achieved until all the other building blocks have been ‘mastered’! There must be a yin yang state change within the wrists with every movement, otherwise we are simply moving with ‘dead' hands and no internal. The concept of double-weightedness, expressed above, is also true of the hands themselves. The release of energy through the hands must be constant throughout the whole of the movement. It is here where we begin to link the external movements with our internal energy and this energy will vary according to the time of day and how we are feeling at that particular time, thus making no two practices the same! It is only when all of the above foundations have been 'mastered' that one begins to understand power and the martial, and the beginnings of the small frame. However, these concepts should not be forced but allowed to
happen naturally over a period of many, many years. Most, sadly, rush through these without paying heed to or spending enough time understanding the Classics and transferring that understanding into practice. This usually leads to misinterpretations or erroneous understandings of how Taiji develops - often leading to practitioners changing or altering the form due to their own inadequacies in understanding and/or skill! The ‘Masters’ of old have left us with a clear blueprint with which we can develop our Taiji and ourselves. There is no ambiguity in their instruction. We must understand the Thirteen Dynamics - of these the four primary energies of P’eng, Lu, Ji and Arn must first be thoroughly understood. After we have understood the four primary energies, we then must develop and realise the four secondary energies - Tsai, Lieh, Chou and K’ao - in context of the four primary energies. Then comes the Long Boxing or form, followed by the two-person training methods of joining hands - in order to understand the Five Directions and learning how to brace in all directions! “Starting with the basics, work your way through the solo set… larger gross movements at first, then focusing on the finer details until the skill of extending and contracting is fluent, and you will have ascended through the midway of attainment, and then will continue to the top. …After practicing over a long period of time, you will naturally have a breakthrough and attain everything you have been working toward, and nothing will be strong enough to stand up against you.” “Once you are identifying your own energies, you will be working your way toward something miraculous. Succeed at the civil aspect and then delve into the martial. There are at all times in the body seventy-two channels for passive energy [as well as seventy-two channels for active energy]. When the active aspect is balanced by the passive, water and fire are in a state of mutual benefit, skyness and groundness are at peace with each other, and the genuineness of one’s life essence is preserved.” Attributed to Yang Ban-hou “There are four things called the Taiji Cornerstones… you put your huge cornerstones upon which you can build your house. So, it is important to have the Cornerstones and know exactly what they are about! I feel, I’m getting to the point now where I can actually feel something happening through most of the ‘special’ points!” Erle Montaigue 2008, Rostock, Germany. (Author’s note:Erle had been training for approximately forty years when he made this statement!)
Inside The Next Issue
The Tai Chi Ball Training To Make Movements Work The real value of the ball is that its weight and shape help teach proper movement. by
Thomas Staples & Alan Ludmer
hen the great Tai Chi masters taught the secrets of their art, each stressed specific internal principles.
They knew that when their students understood these principles, they would understand Tai Chi. Different masters stressed various aspects based upon their own level of understanding and education. However, no matter what they choose to teach, they all concurred on certain basics. These were: • Sinking/Relaxation • Correct Posture • Circularity of movement/Non-opposition Tai Chi students have found these principles easy to articulate, but difficult to execute. Why? Because although it is easy to say, “Relax, keep your spine straight, make circular movements,” the exact movement and feeling is not easy to understand. This is especially true when movement is practiced against push hands or free sparring opposition. Sifu Tuey Staple’s Tai Chi Ch’uan class is taught with a traditional internal martial arts orientation. The Tai Chi movements must be martially functional to help students learn the internal balancing necessary for mastery. The teaching philosophy is that Tai Chi is boxing primarily for physical and mental health; selfdefense is secondary. However, the martial aspects must be understood and mastered before one can truly box for health. To facilitate learning, the class has developed certain methods and techniques. These techniques help students learn Tai Chi principles by physically experiencing them. In this article we will discuss a training tool which helps students make Tai Chi movements work. The Problem of Learning
There are two major teaching problems that every Tai Chi teacher faces: â€˘ How to teach the basic principles of sinking, correct posture and circular movements; â€˘ How can students correctly practice these principles, especially in the acid test of physical opposition? There is a world of difference between relaxing while doing a form, and relaxing while doing free sparring or push hands.
Practicing the Lotus kick. Singular movement with the ball!
Faced with these two problems, Staples developed a s special Tai Chi training tool: a large, heavy fiberglass ball. The ball, which is suspended from the ceiling, uses its weight and shape to teach sinking, proper posture, and circular movement. It provides physical opposition without the problems posed by a human opponent. The Ball The idea of the ball came about in response to problems teaching fixed step with two-handed push hands. Students tended to wrestle with each other and force steps. Many students, especially those with considerable external boxing backgrounds, complained that their partners were too hard and were grabbing. They tended to “run into” rather than move around their opponents. The end result was wrestling, unsuccessful steps and violation of the cardinal principle of non-opposition.
Building A Tai Chi Ball
A search of historical Tai Chi training techniques showed that various training tools have been used to illustrate principles. Several old masters tell of using large balls to help practice forms. The balls were held in the hands during form practice to promote circular movement. Lee Ying-arng (Tai Chi for Health, Unicorn Press 1968) credits Chu Man-yi with developing a Tai Chi ball and Tai Chi stick sometime in the 1920s. Chu wanted to utilize scientific methods to teach Tai Chi Chuan. The ball itself is an embodiment of Tai Chi principles. It acts only when acted upon. It does not oppose. All its moves are balanced and circular. The Tai Chi symbol of Yin/Yang is based upon a complete circle, which of course, is a ball. Accordingly, the concept of a ball as a conceptual and physical training tool has a historical and physiological basis. Staples simply applied a slightly different application and modern building materials. The ball is 30 inches in diameter, hollow and constructed of fiberglass. The bottom has a removable panel, allowing the addition of sand or sawdust. The overall weight can be adjusted from 60 pounds when empty to 500 pounds when full.
The ball is attached to the ceiling with a swivel joint, so it can rotate freely when touched. A pulley enables the ball to be set at various heights. This allows students to find tension at all levels and to practice accordingly. Training Techniques The real value of the ball is that its weight and shape help teach proper movement. A student can’t kick or punch it; its surface is too hard. It won’t grapple or wrestle because it can’t grab your limbs. Students can’t complain that it is too tense or it is leaning on them. The ball is always perfect in posture.
The ball’s shape will automatically confirm if movements are circular. It will roll effortlessly around the body. Students can instantly tell if their steps are not correct because they will wobble and lose balance. Staples feels that proper use of the ball can significantly reduce the Tai Chi learning curve. Many students have confirmed its value as an excellent training aid. Following are five basic exercises to help develop correct movement. • Holding Posture
In this first exercise, students practice the standing meditation position while holding the ball. The physical holding helps students confirm proper posture. The touch must be light and the ball must stay perpendicular. Swaying indicates leaning. When students can hold this posture for at least ten minutes, then they can begin to practice basic standing meditation postures without the ball. • Stepping Forward
Practicing Paqua. The ball should revolve around you like water.
Searching for tension in Paqua steps.
This exercise teaches students how to properly step forward. The begin by trying to walk through the ball. They should line up with the ball directly in front and attempt to walk to a point immediately beyond. As with all Tai Chi moves, the eyes direct the movement. Stepping should be empty, then full. Steps must be straight. Walking around the ball defeats the exercise’s intent. Touch the ball lightly with the mid-section, and while stepping lightly, turn the waist. Don’t turn the shoulders because it will affect the balance and leave an opening for a counter. Students should be able to do this exercise without stops. Keep attention focused on the legs and the waist.
• Stepping Backward Stepping backward is similar to stepping forward, only the direction is changed. Many students find this exercise difficult because they are uncertain about moving where they can’t see. The same principles apply to this as stepping forward. The focus is on the legs and the waist. Don’t stop or oppose the ball. If done correctly, the ball will gently roll around the body. • Turning Left This exercise stresses both the circularity in movement and proper balance. Much too often Tai Chi moves are envisioned in an external mode. They are seen as straight-line blows to one’s centerline. Of course this is a violation of non-opposition. In free sparring, this makes movement external and sparring turns into a slug fest. This exercise shows students that moves are designed to spin opponents. The principles always stress moving around an object rather than trough it. For example, using a right brush knee, a student would spin the ball to the left. The ball should turn lightly. Inappropriate movement will cause the ball to swing back into the student.
• Turning Right Turning right is the same exercise as turning left, only the direction has changed. Again, the intent is to spin the ball, not to crush it. •Next Steps Although only five exercises are discussed, there are over 100 separate movements which can be practiced with the ball. Almost any movement can be taken out of the form and practiced singularly. The ball allows one to practice against a perfect opponent. It acts perfectly when the movements are correct. For beginning students, the ball is especially Two-person drill stressing receiving energy.
useful in reinforcing movement basics. After the five basic exercises are mastered, students should use the ball to practice singular movements. A drill involving two persons has students pushing the ball to each other. The ball’s weight and mass encourage receiving energy and appropriate movement. The ball is too heavy to be blocked, or counterpunched. Students must learn to receive its energy, or at a minimum learn to get out of the way. It is paramount that when students are introduced to push hands free sparring, the instructor continually stresses a visualization of the ball. Students should not get caught up in the perception of fighting another person. If they can retain the ball visualization, they will focus less on trying to improperly defend themselves and much more on spinning moving. They will move and attach lightly, without the fear that a human opponent sometimes generates. With any of these exercises, students should strive for the following: • The ball should always feel light. If it is heavy, one is leaning or pushing against it. Check posture to ensure that the spine is straight. Check the direction of the movement. Are you following the shape of the ball? Are you staying within your own shape by maintaining correct posture. • The ball should revolve around you or you should revolve around the ball. You are the centre of the circle or the ball is the centre. It works either way. • The ball should roll around you like water around a rock. If the ball stops or has abrupt movements, this indicates opposition. Always follow the ball’s shape. Conclusion The road to mastery of any art is difficult. The Classics continually stress the importance of tenacity and constant effort. However, the understanding in constant effort is that one must correctly practice. To practice a movement incorrectly ten thousand times is not helpful. Tai Chi, and other internal arts, are especially difficult to learn because movements are wrapped in enigmatic teachings and abstract concept. It is critical to feel a correct movement. Just as a good baseball bat swing or a tennis stroke feels right, internal students need to learn what steps or moves feel right. The ball is one method to help develop that feeling.
About The Authors: Thomas ‘Tuey’ Staples has studied the martial arts for over 50 years. He began his martial art training in Judo and Karate, advancing to 4th Degree Belt in Kyokushin Karate. In the late 60’s, through Alan Ludmer’s introduction, Tuey studied with Grandmaster Huo Chi Kwang, creator of Chen Tzu Taichi and became Grandmaster Huo’s disciple. He has achieved Grandmaster level in Yang, Chen Tsu, Wu Tai Chi Forms, and Baguazhang. He has authored a number of articles for both Inside Kung Fu and Tai Chi magazines. Tuey currently teaches Tai Chi and other Internal Arts in St. Louis Missouri. In 2007, Tuey Staples was inducted as a Grandmaster by United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He has authored a number of articles for both Inside Kung Fu and Tai Chi magazines. Alan Ludmer is originally from Chicago but has lived in St. Louis since 1975. Alan’s early training was in western boxing and then karate. He studied Shotokan for a number of years and finished with a Ni Dan rank. In 1969, he began to study Tai Chi Chuan with Professor Huo Chi Kwang - a student of Yang Shou-hou. He was a private student and primarily studied the Yang Family Form with him through 1978. After moving to St. Louis, Alan started studying with Master Tuey Staples. He has been with Tuey for almost 35 years, studying Tai Chi Chuan (Yang Personal Family and Chen Tzu Forms) and Ba Gua Chuan, and is one of his senior students. Alan has authored and co-authored a number of articles on Tai Chi Chuan for a variety of martial arts magazines. In his own words, Alan tells us: "The internal has been very good to me. It has kept me physically strong; and it has helped me to maintain the emotional/mental balance necessary for a successful family, business, and personal life. The art has helped me become a warrior, not just in physical sense, but someone capable of being a strong and compassionate father, grandfather, husband, friend, boss, and person."
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Inside Kung Fu, January 1990/Vol 17, No.1. It was kindly sent to me by Alan Ludmer for reprinting in Lift Hands, after an introduction by our mutual friend Dr Greg Lawton - a fellow practitioner of the Internal Arts. Sadly, the original photographs accompanying the article no longer exist, so we had to make do with photocopies of the images as they appeared in Inside Kung Fu. Although the images are not of the highest quality, they are still discernible and get their point across along with the text.
training methods for martial arts The most well known ‘Wooden Man’ -
- in martial arts is, of course, that belonging to the art of Wing Chun. However, unbeknown to many, there are other martial arts which also utilize the ‘Wooden Man’ as a part of their training programme. Both, Taiji and Baguazhang have their own version of this excellent training tool. The main purpose of the ‘Wooden Man,’ is of course, to allow a student to train when they don’t have access to a training partner. However, the ‘Wooden Man’ can also be used to test power and angle of strikes, as well as develop conditioning in the limbs and hands.
WOODEN Man Nasser Butt
Here, we will be providing simple instructions on how to build your own ‘Wooden Man’ with minimal fuss and cost. The basic instructions are taken from the ‘Hunan Martial Arts Training Institute’s “Small Collection of Martial Arts Books” – The Taiji Manual of Wan Laisheng,’ published in 1932, with a simple modification to further secure the base! That Taijiquan should deploy such a tool in its training should not come as a surprise… after all Taiji is a martial art steeped in the traditions of antiquity, just like all other Chinese martial arts!
What the existence of this training tool clearly denotes is that there were associated with Taijiquan, physical training methods through which one developed one’s skills. The date of this manual is important - 1932, the year after the publication of ‘Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing,’ by Yang Chengfu and Dong Yingjie! In other words, this type of training existed and was practiced within the lifetime of Yang Cheng-fu, himself and no doubt went much further back in Taiji’s history! Wan, himself, tells us in the introduction that: “There are many practitioners of the Taiji boxing art nowadays, but few who are practicing an authentic version. They are not aware that their knowledge is shallow and their skills sparse, and they so end up coming to hasty conclusions about it.” Over the years, as the practice of Taijiquan has shifted its focus more towards the health aspects, students are understanding the martial art less and less - and that includes the teachers themselves! Here, we are simply providing the instructions on how to build the ‘Wooden Man,’ as already stated above, however, future issues will feature some of the training methods themselves! How To Construct and Use The Wooden Man: 1. Use a pole half a foot thick and eight feet long, three feet of which are buried in the ground. Concrete can be poured around the base to secure it further. 2. A foot below the topmost point, make a hole an inch and three quarters wide. 3. Put a smaller piece of wood through it, two and a half feet long and an inch and a half wide, though the far end should be slightly thicker to keep it from slipping out as you practice pulling and striking. 4. You may use inserting strikes, weaving kicks, and various other attacks, everything being permissible. 5. The upper section of the dummy represents the whole torso area, the lower section the legs. 6. Wrap both sections in cotton cloth and practice with gentle enough strikes that you are not causing yourself pain. (This practice trains the hands to have power Wan Laisheng demonstrating on Taiji’s in the skill of rending and pulling.) Wooden Man
T B 20 ony
ony Bailey and I first met during the
“Pissing On Polpot” Seminar, held at The Way of the Warrior Martial Arts Centre, in Coventry, in March 2017, in aid of our mutually wonderful friend - Tony Pillage! Reverend Pillage, I guess, is responsible for bringing a lot of great souls into my life of late and Tony Bailey is most certainly one of them. Softly spoken, with a keen wit and sharp intelligence, Tony exudes the kind of presence which demands respect. A multi-talented and a multifaceted person… I have often wondered in the short space of time that I have known him, if there is anything Tony is not capable of doing? I have had the honour of sharing the mats with Tony on a few occasions now and his Photo Credit: Nasser Butt©2017. professionalism, knowledge and skill never cease to amaze me! What we both have in common, apart from the love for the wrong ‘un in our life, is the fact that we are both Classicists when it comes to our martial arts and yet, we both bring them to the contemporary setting of modern reality! In an era, where the rise in popularity of the non-classical reality based arts such as MMA etc. is at an all time high, it is great to find a fellow martial artist versed in the ‘Old School’ traditional arts - who is still teaching their relevance today! Tony has been studying Martial Arts, mainly Japanese Arts for 41 years so far. He diversified with a little Chinese Kung Fu for a couple of years, but has mainly stuck to the Japanese arts, as they were his earliest experiences and suited him, as he tells me. He has Black Belts in several systems and teaching grades in a few, but he mainly sticks to teaching the Ju Jutsu syllabus he founded in 1994 called Mizu Ryu Ju Jitsu! It’s not just the martial arts in which Tony has classical training! He is also a professional Classical and Flamenco guitar performer and teacher! Having learned from the age of eight, from some of the best teachers in the world, he had his professional debut concert at age 16 and went on to found the Flamenco troupe, Luna Flamenca and then an experimental guitar duo with a rock guitarist called Kokoro (Japanese. Heart, spirit, mind, feelings). Did I mention already that Tony is multifaceted? Well, to be fair, it’ll be far easier for you all to read Tony’s list of achievements (which appear at the end of the 20 Questions), then for me to go on about them. Playing at Basingstoke Live
But, before we continue to the questions, there
Photo Credit: Nasser ButtÂŠ2017.
Photo Credit: Nasser ButtÂŠ2017.
are a couple of things I must add. First and foremost, Tony is a complete martial artist. Not only is he thoroughly versed in the combative arts - he is also highly skilled in the healing arts, holding a Master & Teachers Degree in Usui Reiki! He is also a Coach Ambassador for Fighting For Autism - something very close to his heart. Tony is often referred to as ‘The General’! I had wondered how he had come about this title, so I took the opportunity to ask him and I quote: “The General - my idea that submission doesn't come just from joint manipulation, you can get a submission and win by applying general pain. So the name stuck. Then I created The General's 9 Rules of Giving…." 1.You don’t have to be scared to feel pain. 2. You don’t have to feel pain to be sent to sleep. 3. Once you’re asleep, you can’t feel how many bones I’m breaking. 4. When you wake up, take a minute to fully appreciate all that I’ve done for you! 5. Through the medium of pain, I can help you identify places you never knew existed. 6. I can take you places you’ve never been to before and won’t want to go back to. 7. Once seen, never forgotten, once felt, forever changed. 8. I aim to please, myself, by hitting the right spot, first time, every time! 9. I aim to deliver the gift of pain in timely manner. Pain, the gift that keeps on giving.
So, there we have itâ€Ś without further ado, Lift Hands presents 20 Questions with The General and, by the way, he does have a soft side!
Photo Credit: Nasser ButtÂŠ2017.
LH: If you had to leave earth on a spaceship and take 4 people with you, who would they be? TB: My good friend Mr Pillage, Fuk Mi & Fuk Yu (from Austin Powers) and Vladimir Ashkenazey LH: If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be? TB: 30, for a time there I had equilibrium between all aspects of Martial Study. LH: What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? TB: Ouch, I hurt! LH: What is your greatest strength or weakness?
Photo Credit: Nasser ButtÂŠ2017.
TB: I care about others (delete as appropriate) LH: Do you trust anyone with your life? TB: Yes, but very, very few! LH: What bloopers would be on the gag reel of your life? TB: The test they used to do to babies to determine your dominant hand. The Doc gives you 1 ball, then a 2nd, now with 1 in each hand they offer a 3rd to see which hand you empty to take it. I refused to put one down and opened my mouth instead! LH: What have you always wanted? Did you ever get it?
TB: My new wife (Picture a Zweihander sword)! LH: Do you know your heritage? TB: Yes, half Jamaican (with a little Chinese somewhere far back) 1/4 English, 1/4 Scottish. LH: Are you still learning who you are? TB: I know who I am, but I'm still learning to be the best version of me. LH:What, if anything, are you afraid of and why? TB: Nope, you're not getting that info! LH: What is the most memorable class you have ever taken? TB: Teaching my Black Belt Juniors, for a laugh I blindfolded one at a time, put them in the middle and told them to defend the punches from those in the circle around them one at a time. Most managed 1, but 1 young girl surprised me when by accident, 5 of the others attacked from different directions simultaneously and she turned and blocked every single one of them.
Shodan Grade Award 2016 New Year
LH:Whatâ€™s your favourite book? TB: The Art of War! LH: What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing? TB: Nothing! But I did once successfully convince an adult student that I had my ears surgically removed and reattached with medical velcro so they couldn't be used against me and pulled in a fight. LH: Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? SC: For me, the Holy Trinity: My Dad, My Sensei & Paco Pena!
LH: Mountains or sea… which would you choose to be closer to? TB: Sea, I love the sound of water. LH: What was the worst thing you did as a child? TB: I killed my pet budgie using a fishing net trying to get it back in its cage. LH: Which is your favourite season and why? TB: Spring. The promise of new beginnings, a calm rebirth whilst still witnessing the power of nature. LH: If you could select one person from history and ask them one question - who would you select and what would the question be? TB: The Fat lady! Why does everything have to finish when you stop singing? LH: How would you describe your art in ten words or less? TB:Damn it, (gonna see if he notices the extra word). The Haiku of my school says :- 'Fluent as Water, forceful as the floods of Spring. Flexible response' (In best Austin Powers voice) - If you're being so slavish to the 10 word form, man, then take out 'of' and swap spring and floods around. LH: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable time with us Tony. It’s always an honour to spend time with you and I hope that our readers will get to see more of you in our future issues.
Editor’s note: All images appear courtesy of Tony Bailey unless otherwise stated.
About Tony Bailey:
* Executive Member Professional Bodyguard Association 1994 * * Member of World Board of Black Belts 2002 * * Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee 2000 & 2012 * * Masters Degree in Aikijujitsu 1997 * WUMA Master of Martial Arts Degree 2002 * Honorary Degree of BNMA 2005 * * Master & Teachers Degree in Usui Reiki 2012 * * 30 Years Award for Dedication to Martial Arts 2006 * * Several features in Fighters, Combat & Martial Arts Illustrated Magazines as well as Martial Masters Book Vol 1* * Regular writer for Martial Arts Guardian Magazine* A former British Heavyweight Champion of Combat Ju Jitsu! I also have the practical experience of 21 years as a Door Supervisor and CP Operative. Nihon Gendai Ju Jutsu - Black Belt 7th Dan (Awarded by Martial Arts Masters Association, USA 2016) Kyusho Jitsu – Black Belt 5th Dan (Awarded by OCFM/DSI 2005) Aikijujitsu – Black Belt 4th Dan (Awarded by Spirit Combat International 2001) Usui Teate / Reiki – Master Practitioner / Teacher (Awarded by Sue Norman & Reiki Evolution 2006) Combat Ju Jitsu – Black Belt 3rd Dan (Awarded by World Combat Federation 1998) Tenjin Shin’yo Ryu Ju Jutsu Shodan Kiri Menjo (Awarded by Shike Paul Masters, Menkyo Kaiden 2016) Judo – Black Belt 1st Dan (Registered with the Kodokan, Tokyo 2001) Modern Aikido – Black Belt 1st Dan (Awarded by Spirit Combat International 1996) Kickboxing – Black Belt 1st Dan (Awarded by British Kick Boxing Union 1995) Weapons – Black Belt 1st Dan (Awarded by World Combat Federation 1995) Kung Fu – Green Sash (Awarded by Sifu Tai Bai Lung - Lucky Crane)
The Female Warrior Katherine Loukopoulos 31 August 2017 Warrior Definition by Merriam Webster Dictionary: A person engaged or experienced in warfare. Broadly: A person engaged in some struggle or conflict. Synonyms: Dogface, fighter, legionary, legionnaire, man-at-arms, regular, serviceman, trooper, soldier Antonyms: Civilian First Known Use: 14th Century Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/warrior
Depending on ethnic and/or social beliefs, the term ‘warrior’ is a male attribute even though the dictionary makes no gender distinction. Documented history is painted with female heroic acts. Anthropology continues to uncover ancient matrilineal civilizations. Female queens and female pharaohs had to be warriors even if others did their bloody work. Female assassins have been used throughout the ages as they were least to raise suspicions in pursuit of killing assignments. Females have engaged in unorthodox warfare side by side with the men. The first military women were sisters, wives and daughters who followed their men into battle. Although these women were not paid and in old age did not receive pensions, in the military camps they cooked, washed clothes, mended uniforms, and attended to the sick and wounded. With a few historic exceptions, the majority of female military pioneers offered selfless service in anonymity. Of course, we are all aware of these types of ‘warriors’. However, they don’t describe most of the females on this planet! To be a ‘warrior’ means to ‘fight’, to ‘struggle’, to ‘push on’; in others words, to be a warrior is equivalent to ‘not quit’ and to ‘not give up’ regardless of how difficult the task. The greatest warrior attribute is to be able to control one’s anger. Controlling our anger helps to maintain a cool head and we can make better decisions. When we control our anger we are also able to control our tongue. To do the right thing as opposed to what would be quick and easy is also a warrior’s attribute. In the martial arts we can learn to be warriors just by making sure that we go to class early enough in order to change into our uniforms, to assist with the dojo cleaning and to adequately warm up. When we offer assistance to juniors and seniors without grumbling, that too, is a warrior’s attribute. A ‘warrior’ is not gender based. It is an attitude, a philosophy, and a way of life. As ‘warriors’ we cannot succeed in crisis if we have not learned to control our human weaknesses. It is not possible to control all of our weakness, but surely, we can become less needy people with some daily practice. If we follow the principle: “Simple is Best” we can easily get rid of unnecessary clutter which often prevents us from moving freely in our homes.
To empty our closet down to the items we actually use, besides gaining ‘space’ we also gain ‘time’ because selecting what to wear becomes that much easier. It would be dangerous to say that as ‘warriors’ we need to learn not to fear. Fear is a natural instinct placed there as our protection. Fear wakes up our ‘fight or flight’ nervous system when we face immediate danger. We just need to learn to maintain our composure in spite of our fear. Fear of taking risks is one reason why many people do not venture out of their comfort zones. Success, however, is seldom inside one’s comfort zone. Suffice to say, poor self-esteem prevents us from being our true ‘warrior’ selves; instead, we tend to create a myriad troubles for ourselves. A simple way to assist us in improving our self-esteem is to reward ourselves for every positive deed. Worse than poor self-esteem it is an exaggerated and inflated ego. This is a good way to lose opportunities, and the trust of friends. And, as we all know, once trust is lost it is difficult to be regained.
January 18, 1986 - Okinawa Demo - Kata Wankan! Living a Warrior’s Lifestyle…
Ten Steps to Becoming a Warrior 1. Be the first to wake-up in your household. Throw cold water on your face, open the windows to let in the fresh air. Take time to gaze out and to appreciate the birth of the new day. 2. Make your own bed. Don’t just throw over the cover, but do make it as if you are expecting important guests. If we had a hard day, it is always soothing to lie down on a freshly made bed. 3. Find something kind to say to people on a daily basis. 4. Say, ‘good morning’ with a smile. 5. Learn to laugh. People will think of you as good natured. 6. Finish each task that you started even if it is no longer important. Don’t pass on to others to do your own work. Assume responsibility for your own mistakes and avoid making excuses. 7. Keep your promises. Hold your word as there is no better way to gain people’s trust. 8. Be on time. Show respect for others time and avoid making them wait for you. 9. Give away your TV set and replace it with good books. 10. Every night wash the dishes. In the morning you will enjoy making breakfast in a clean kitchen.
If we exercise daily and also adhere to these simple steps our quality of life will improve. We’ll enjoy the trust of friends and colleagues. A successful female warrior is one who is held in high esteem by her family members and her peers. The bottom line is that we are all warriors; we were not meant to fight wars but to engage in healthy relationships with our fellow human beings for the little time we have been blessed to be alive on this planet. Doing our best on a daily basis is the foundation of a warrior male or female.
Afghanistan, Bagram Airfield, 2004-2005! My office was in a bunker, but we still wore metal chest protectors and helmets.
My B-Hut where females slept. I used to print out Karate pictures, color them with markers and panel my walls with them. I made my bed every ‘morning’ (actually - every night since I worked on the night shift). In the event that there was a surprise inspection, my bed was always made. Later, I learned that my ‘room’ was photographed and was used in the In Process in Houston.
HADJIOS VALLEY RESORT T’AI CHI CH’UAN WEEKEND MAZOTOS, CYPRUS November 2/6, 2017 - Report
Exploring Cyprus with student and friend Marios Eleftheriou in Lazanias.
November saw the return of the school to our second annual autumn camp based at the scenic Hadjios Valley Resort in Mazotos, Cyprus - a couple of kilometres from the pristine beaches off the Mediterranean coastline. It was great to see the return of all our students who attended last year, as well as a number of new faces, with participants from Cyprus, Italy, The Netherlands, and the UK. Th e c a m p i n c l u d e d training in: Qigong Old Yang Style T'ai Chi P r a c t i c a l Tr a i n i n g Methods For Health/ Martial Arts & SelfDefence! The focus of the camp, as always, was on understanding the fundamentals and structure according to the Classics of Taijiquan. Far too often, students rush through their training - a common and often fatal error in the
development and understanding of one’s Taijiquan! From learning how to stand correctly, each morning we focused on the concept of the ‘scales’ - learning what the Classics mean about ‘balancing the pairs’ and how we take that information into our training! After a hearty brunch of locally farmed eggs, fruit and vegetables, we continued our training at what has now become an iconic location - the S e c r e t Pa r a d i s e o f Alamitos - a beautiful strip of beach tucked away on the road to Zygi! Our afternoons consisted of training the First Third of the Old Yang form, as well as training and developing the concepts of the Five Circles in Taijiquan and how they form the basis of the Thirteen Dynamics. These ideas were then further carried forward into the dynamics of basic Dǎ Shou - Push Hands. Emphasis was paid as to why the role of Gōng Bù - the ‘Bow’ stance - is critical to our development of the internal, as well as the physical components of Taijiquan! Fro m t h e f e e d b a c k received, all students,
including the seasoned practitioners, agreed that this format of l e a r n i n g h a d re a l l y opened up their eyes to how they were supposed to develop and progress in their own Taijiquan journey, as well as a clarification of important Taiji concepts from the Classics - which are oft shrouded in mystery or ignored due to a lack of understanding by teachers and students alike! Our evenings were spent in the Mazotos Tavern, based in the centre of the village, where Bambos and his family would serve up the most delicious traditional meals, and made the whole group feel so welcome! This year, the participants got a full day to explore the island and everybody headed off into different directions in small groups. Cyprus, although small, is packed with sites to interest any taste! I, myself, along with my good friend and student, Marios, headed off to the divided city of Nicosia, where we spent the entire day split between both halves of the city . It was one of the major highlights for myself and I got to hear the voice of
an angel, singing in the Old Mosaic Bar in the Turkish half of the city for a moment I was lost, mesmerized by the sound, which had floated through the air and across the street! Our five days flew by and before we knew it , we were already packing for our return journey home! Once again, the hospitality of the resort and the locals, who are adopting the school and its students as their own, was second to none. The Cypriot weather was beautiful for the time of year, despite having a few hours of torrential rainfall, the temperatures were just right to allow us to train out in the open under blue skies! I have already been inundated with enquiries for next year… and, Godwilling, we will return and continue to build upon the success of our previous meets. Watch this space. Full details for next year’s camp will appear in the next issue of Lift Hands and if you can’t wait till then - you can follow us on Twitter, @HadjiosTaiji or like us on Facebook for quicker updates.
Tai Chi is The Dance of Life Amanda Barrell
hen I first began to learn this wonderful ‘study of life through movement’ back in 1993, my teacher
always talked about the meaning or possible meaning of the movements. I loved this symbolism and the allegorical journey helped me to remember the sequence. If you had difficulty with a particular move, he would always know what was going on in your life! There were some parts that everybody had problems with and some unique to you, which changed on a daily basis, just like your moods perhaps. By mastering the move, you moved on with your life. Michael’s teacher Ursula Smilde, learned with Gerda Geddes and she would go on to write her lovely book ‘Looking for the Golden Needle’ which explores the aspects of human nature and all the things we all have to master during our life if we are to survive. She was a dancer and also studied phycology; and so the way we move, our body-language, is how we manage interaction with others and it works both ways. For example: if you can learn to move in a more fluid way and be more aware of others and your surroundings, you will start to think in a different way. Ursula has recently written a book called ‘The Tigers Mouth’ and this book goes much more into specifics on each move of the Yang Style Long Form. Both authors emphasize that the interpretations are their own and that it is the idea to get you thinking about your own life and experiences that is important. The practice of Tai Chi then becomes a sort of life-coaching and a sort of psychotherapy. All these skills help with survival. Plus it’s nice after a hard day’s work to play with the Tiger or to Paint a Rainbow here and there! Here follows my own interpretation of Part One of the Form, which I wrote a few years ago now. I may well change some of it if I was to write it again now, but the basics are still good! Just like life, everything changes; and we have to change too if we are to remain in a good place. Have a look at ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ on Youtube to see which one you are!
The Symbolism of Part One -Yang Style Long Form (According to Amanda March 2009) This initial stage corresponds to the awakening to the outer world and to life. Each new born baby on earth, as he opens his eyes to the world around him, goes through a series of sudden and very quick changes. The new born child has no choice but to move forward into the future, since, having just been born, he cannot go back. The opening sequence of ‘Paint-on Paint-off’ represents this emerging from ‘Wu Chi’- the first breath; the initial movements outside the womb. We subconsciously respond to and are drawn to outside stimuli. Soon comes the movement of the whole body as we turn to and are drawn towards the rising Sun; just as any living thing would do. We take our first steps and begin to explore. We have to learn how to coordinate and to get the required task underway, for in earlier times, we would have to find food and shelter and to run away from predators. We are, from the moment we are born, in training for being independent from our parents. During the second stage, of our awakening, we experiment with our senses. This experience generates our discovery of the basics: What feels and tastes good or bad, what is pleasant and unpleasant and, from guidance and discipline from our parents, what is right and wrong. It is by learning from our senses that the child gains a model of the outside world and develops certain feelings and impressions about it. It is only through having grasped a physical understanding of our immediate
environment by learning to handle and play with certain objects, we discover a new tool - the mind. Play, and the pronounced taste that children have for all kinds of games, can be thought of as a kind of learning process which a child instinctively chooses for himself. By the acting out of games, playing with his toys, pretending and mimicking his parents, much is practiced for later life. Learning to share and mix with others, and accepting various rules and viewpoints is an essential tool for progressing through life. We learn to find a way to get the job done by planning our moves, behaviour and utilizing our capabilities. We must grasp and understand. Our actions become the result of our thoughts and our ideas. All our basic skills are learned in early childhood, which we will always use during our life. ‘Grasping the Swallow’s Tail’ another name for ‘Ward-off, Press & Push’ and contains all the basic applications and skills of Tai Chi. Throughout the entire Form we always return to the basics that we learned at the beginning to constantly draw on this and improve our technique. Just like life and the actual process the brain goes through to engrave a memory into the ‘hardware’. As we turn to the West for the ‘Single Whip (Birds Beak) stance’, we take our skills and venture into the unknown. We are still ‘open’ yet vulnerable in this wide stance as we have little control over the sequence of events but, we are noticing how the world appears and how other things happen around us. We see other people and animals: We differentiate between day and night, pleasure and pain; that we are hungry, happy or sad and what is socially acceptable behaviour. The next stance is in the form of the Magic Bird, or Phoenix, or Golden Cockerel. These are universal symbols representing the heralding of a new phase. A new day, or a re-birth when we realise we do have some control over our destiny. We can learn and progress or we can get stuck in a frustrating situation. This is represented by the Snake and Crane sequence: The need to experience, grasp and understand but to move on by taking action and realizing worn out patterns of behaviour (some steps forward and some back). Things need to follow the laws of life and the cycles of nature to make progress. New methods are needed to be effective. It is easy to get stuck in a rut or drift along with the tides. When you realise this is happening, it takes a little while to break away or to find a better approach. ‘Going with the flow’ does not mean mindlessly and unquestionably getting carried along by the currents of life; but taking action when the time is right. The endless battle of the Snake and the Crane locked in an eternal battle fighting over a morsel of food is said to have been the initial inspiration for Tai Chi. Both these creatures are good at what they do, and so only when the Tiger comes along to take control of the situation can it be changed. The Tiger represents our Ego and the need to be confident. To take action without over inflated ideas of one’s own importance. The forming of the fist and the punch represents the tiger pouncing or us taking action to break free from a sequence of events. When you realise that the whole world doesn’t revolve around you then you can start to work with others and begin trust them. So, by observing nature, other people and playing games, we learn that it is not all physical, but there is another part to life - Our Mind and our Personality. We ‘Carry Tiger & Return to Mountain’ to contemplate our actions and make a transition into the next stage: That of adolescence and early adulthood - Part Two.
ight Paces (1) from the Mountain I stand (2) Moving without feeling (3)
Fourteen (4) emerge to greet me Five (5) step forward Who know Torn in two Body divorced from mind (6) “To enter is to be born While to retreat is to die” (7) Break Let the heel rise first Let the heel fall first Break backward Like a monkey in retreat Rolling Step up Hit the tiger and Inspect the horse’s mouth If one is impeded Whilst weighted Rolling is yet to be understood Rising The Golden Cock Awakens the world Strengthening the upper P’eng jing Sinking I collect the needle The lotus stem erect Lower P’eng jing engaged Withdrawing From inside to out Circling clockwise With great power to the left I ride the tiger Gathering Outside to in
Commentary Hands and legs Lu jing
1. The Eight Stepping Methods of the Wudang! These
are the precursors of all the stepping methods of the
Toe first heel last Wave hands like clouds
internal arts - Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. 2. Standing is a critical component which most students neglect at their own peril. If you do not know how to
‘stand’ than all else is an exercise in futility!
Move to the four corners Let fly Horse riding With a single whip Sunk But not so much to the rear Double P’eng jing appears Pushing and pulling Like a fair lady working Fishing From left to right
4. There are 14 specific types of ‘steps’ in Taijiquan. These ‘steps’ are critical in understanding the issuing and receiving of qi for both the martial and health components of Taijiquan. 5. The Five Directions - Move Forward, Move Backward, look Right, Gaze Left and Central Equilibrium. They form a part of the original 13 postures of Taijiquan. Far more importantly, the 14 Steps are divided up into the 5 Directions and are used in both Dǎ Shou and form training.
Clockwise, counter clockwise
6. The purpose of the 8 Stepping Methods is to teach us
Wave hands like clouds
to ‘divorce’ our body and mind so that the two are
Fairy steps Raise the upper Then sink Insubstantial touch the ground Turning the body over The hammer falls downwards
free to work independently of one another. They help develop visualization and intent as well as distinguish between the physical and mental. 7. An old Taiji proverb meaning that we never retreat. It is our understanding of these stepping methods that allow us to be evasive without moving backwards. 8. 8 Fa-jing
Chopping hand strikes the points Right to left to right (8) Drawing the silk inwards and out
9. Visualization and intent! The mind sees a line of attack and the body is already there dealing with it.
The lotus stem erect Push The rear following the front I turn I am already there (9) Inside the temple All energies bound in One (10)
10. Although each step is separated into a category of energy, all the steps contain a measure of ALL the energies! 11. There are NO steps in the martial arts. Ultimately, our body moves in accordance to our attacker and the feet follow effortlessly, without thought and with perfect timing. In other words we have understood about
The Wudang is my home
lightness, heaviness and central equilibrium. At this
I have walked here
level there’ll be no incorrect steps. This is why we
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Ten Character Hands/ Cross Hands Shízì Shǒu appears in many guises throughout the Taiji Long Form. It is in 'Apparent Close-up,’ 'Spear Hands With Sit,’ ‘Fair Lady works Shuttles’ and a host of other postures in different guises! It is not an 'X' block or anything silly like that... it is a devastating attack to the neck as a break, severe compression or lock. It can also be used to strike and fold the neck leading to excruciating pain and compliance! Of course, the concepts involved are not limited to the neck and can be equally applied to the limbs and joints as well! Think about sleeper holds, face locks and the ideas behind the seizing art of Qin Na and you’ll begin to get the idea. The name originates from the crossing of the wrists so they appear to form the shape of the Chinese character ten - . ‘Ten Character Hands’ teaches the practitioner how to link two or more components so that they move together. It is the understanding of this posture which allows us to smoothly transit from one posture to another.
It is important to observe the weight in the legs during this posture and all postures which are derived from this. The weight is usually uneven, i.e. there is more weight on one leg than the other and never doubleweighted, even though it may appear to be so. The body must not sway, nor lean in any direction whilst doing the movements of these postures in the Form or else, it shall move as if being controlled by a ‘wooden collar’! The martial concept or idea is based on a Cangue - a device that was used for public humiliation, punishment and torture until the early years of the twentieth century in China and other parts of Asia. Cangue is a French word based upon the Portuguese word Canga or Yoke - is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. The Chinese called this Mù jiā (Wood Flails) or Jiāsuǒ (Shackles). A typical cangue would consist of a large, heavy flat board with a hole in the center large enough for a person's neck. The board consisted of two pieces. These pieces were closed around a prisoner's neck, and then fastened shut along the edges by locks or hinges. The prisoner was confined in the cangue for a period of time as a punishment. The size and especially weight were varied as a measure of severity of the punishment. The Great Ming Legal Code ) published in 1397 specified that a cangue should be made from seasoned wood and weigh 25, 20 or 15 jin (roughly 20–33 lb or 9–15 kg) depending on the nature of the crime involved. So, the next time you're doing your form and you come across these postures pay attention to the weight and how the wrists or limbs connect and advance you from one posture to the next... from there you'll also understand the concept of how to join two separate components together! This is not just restricted to Taiji... the concepts are found in other arts too! So, whatever art you practice whenever your wrists cross, think of a cangue and think of the position of your head - in the Neijia, the first error of combat is ‘crashing’ or ‘bowing’ of the head. And if ever someone shows you an 'X' block as a means of self-defence... smile and walk out of that class!
A man in a cangue (Mù jiā) in Shanghai. Photography by John Thompson c.1870
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Lift Hands - Voted Runner Up Magazine of the Year 2017 by The British Martial Arts Awards 2017. When one really thinks about Lift Hands, you...
Published on Dec 31, 2017
Lift Hands - Voted Runner Up Magazine of the Year 2017 by The British Martial Arts Awards 2017. When one really thinks about Lift Hands, you...