Far Vel Scott ‘The Devil’
Caldwell 1973-2018 Inside Trapping Hands Nihontō Old Yang Posture Names Great Pole Boxing: The Theory Shihan Keith Priestley: 20 Questions
Editor Nasser Butt
perception realization activation action
The Internal Arts Magazine Volume 5 March 2018
Published by L’orso Solitario Books, Leicester, United Kingdom Lift Hands The Internal Arts Magazine Editor Nasser Butt Copyright © by Nasser Butt, 2018 & 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: Scott Caldwell Cover design © Nasser Butt, 2018 Cover Photography: Nasser Butt Back: Scott Caldwell - Kaizen: The Martial Arts Expo 2017. Photography & Design by Nasser Butt
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Far Vel Scott Caldwell Nasser Butt
The River Finds Its Way Dr. Gregory T. Lawton
Bridging The Gap - The Kua Krish Pillay
The 12 Deadly Katas Peter Jones
The 12 Secret Rings of the Yang Family Part Four: The Root Methods/Qigong Nasser Butt
Nihontō Jamie Seal
Training Methods For Martial Arts: Yòubǔ Shŏu - Trapping Hands Peter Jones
20 Questions: Shihan Keith Priestley
Old Yang Posture Names Nasser Butt
Hadjios Valley T’ai Chi Ch’uan Weekend Camp 2018 Cyprus Booking Details
Ciao Corbetta - Italy Workshop 2017 - A Report Nasser Butt
Great Pole Boxing: The Theory with Commentary & Note by Erle Montaigue
The Art of Louiseneige Be
hen I began work upon this issue at the turn of the year, little did I know then
that it would become in part a tribute to the life of my dear friend and ‘brother’ - Scott Caldwell!
Scott’s sudden passing on February 5, in his hometown of Douglas on the Isle of Man, came as a shock not only to his family and friends, but it also shook the entire martial arts community. Scott’s meteoric rise in the martial arts world wasn’t based on hype… he, along with a few others, literally took the establishment by the scruff of the neck and dared to challenge the status quo and put the martial back into the arts! He spoke with a raw honesty backed up with a very sharp intelligence and wit, that was his trademark - that was Scott! Martial arts aside, Scott was a very loyal friend to many and worked tirelessly to help others who were less fortunate. He never let a person’s background, colour or creed come into his thought process, he dealt with all equally, he was colour blind! Scott’s presence will be missed sorely but his legacy will live on through those whose lives he had touched - even if it were only briefly. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Scott’s family - especially his beautiful wife Victoria and all the children. My friend… I already miss your laughter. I would like to thank everyone who has helped with the making of this issue. As ever, it would be an impossible task without those who have contributed with their articles and time, and advice. Lift Hands is fast gaining a following and I have even begun to receive requests about topics and subjects that readers would like to see in its pages. I shall endeavour to do my best to get articles written upon these requests and it fills me with pride that martial artists from all backgrounds are reading and supporting this venture. I thank you all. Finally, I had always intended this to be a free non-profit magazine for those interested in a more deeper insight into their respective martial arts. However, I was recently informed by issuu, who have been hosting my works for several years now that they are moving a lot of what was free over onto their Premium Plan and limiting the size of uploads on the Free Plan. I have contemplated several options and the simplest one really is to upgrade to the Premium Plan. This will mean an annual charge of several hundred dollars per annum for myself in order to continue publishing the magazine and I will off-set that by placing a small charge for the magazine. In return, those who pay the charge will be able to download a pdf version of the magazine. I hope that the readers will appreciate this and continue to support the magazine as they have been doing previously. I shall announce the charge in due course on our facebook pages and in the next issue. Wishing everybody all the best for the upcoming Spring Festivals around the world! Stay safe, train hard and true.
had gone through the day with an uneasy feeling in my gut... little did I know that come evening on Monday
5 February, I’d be getting a call from my dear friend Anthony Pillage and be receiving news of the passing of someone whom I dearly loved and called brother - Scott Caldwell! I remember being at a loss for words and unable to process the news - I still am - I felt like it was one of Scott's pranks! Although Scott and I had only known each other for a year yet - in that short space of time - he had become someone whom I genuinely held close to my heart. His honesty was a breath of fresh air and when he spoke, he spoke his mind without mincing words. Below is what I wrote about Scott after meeting him for the first time last year. At this time these words stand even more true for me: 'I first had the pleasure of meeting Scott during the‘Pissing On Polpot’ Seminar, held at The Way of the Warrior Martial Arts Centre, in Coventry, on the weekend of 25/26 March 2017, in aid of our mutually wonderful friend Anthony Pillage! We were both scheduled to teach over the weekend with a host of other amazing martial artists which included the wonderful Guru Eddie Quinn and the majestic Russell Jarmesty as well as the intensity of Gavin Mulholland! As I walked out of the main dojo, I was greeted with an outstretched hand and a warm smile, and a booming: “Nasser Butt, pleased to meet you, I’m Scott Caldwell. Heard great things about you!” As I shook Scott’s hand, there was something about his energy with which I immediately connected. It was an honest and raw energy! Scott proceeded to introduce me to his lovely wife Victoria - a fabulously talented artist and graphic designer, as I would go onto discover. I must confess, up until that moment, I had only known of Scott through Tony and from reading some of his comments and banter on FaceBook under Tony’s posts - which alone suggested an intelligent, sharp and clever wit - but I did not know much more than that! For the next hour or so after we first shook hands, I laughed so much that I genuinely ended up with a stitch! Tony had spent most of the afternoon defacing Danny Bigley’s copy of Martial Arts Masters Volume One and had drawn graffiti over all the images in the book, including those of Scott - I won’t go into the details but Scott was such a sport and laughed wholeheartedly at Tony’s handiwork (As memories go, I believe that this will be my most enduring and endearing memory of Scott... our first meeting and the raucous laughter which ensued -this is what good friendships are all about)! Sadly, I could not stay for the whole day - as it was my son’s birthday and we were going out for a meal later in the evening - so, I wasn’t able to participate in Scott’s session. A couple of months later, having squeezed the British Martial Arts Awards 2017 in between, Scott was scheduled to give a seminar on my home turf of Leicestershire, organized by Rob Phelps - the head coach of Leicester Ju Jitsu. Scott invited me to come see him and I didn't need asking twice to catch up with my friend and finally get to see him at work. Whilst waiting for the weekend to arrive, I chanced upon some of the promotional work for Scott's seminars. They all appeared to point towards a checkered past... being from the Isle of Man, I just assumed he had had something to do with the annual TT race events which are held there (Ok, ok... I lie - he’s from Clydebank, I just couldn’t resist that)! But seriously, Scott's martial ideology is called REAL Fighting - the REAL being an acronym for Realization, Evaluation, Annihilation, Leave! Or, as Scott likes to say: "REAL Fighting is the true art of Thug-Jitsu!” So, what makes Scott’s art REAL? Well, we can certainly say that he is a product of his past and Scott doesn’t hold back when he tells us that:
"My years on this planet have been littered with violence in all its ugly forms! I have been beaten, raped, stabbed, shot at, sliced, diced, spiked, bottled, barred, glassed, chaired, butted, stamped on, set on, shat on, spat on, chased, maced, blasted, mauled, brawled, fucked and ran out of luck." Scott doesn’t make the above statement in order to glorify violence or his past but, to simply: “... qualify my experience and standpoint on what I believe to be a very important subject. I make no excuses or apologies for my past existence but can say, without hesitation, I have gone to great lengths to reset the balance.” Alice Morse Earle wrote: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” I care not much about the past. It is just that - the past. Nor do I hold judgement on that which I do not know or was not part of. I care about the man that stands before me now - in the present! Well, in the present, as I walk into the dojo of Leicester Ju Jitsu armed with giant mudpie cookies, I see my friend prowling amongst a group of eager students, as his beautiful wife Victoria looks on from the sidelines. It takes him but a few seconds to realise that I am there watching and he rushes over with a big smile and an even bigger hug - and goes back to work. I sit next to Vik, camera in hand, intently listening to what he has to say. In the Classical Arts, watching and listening are just as important as doing! Have I already said that Scott prowls? Yes, he prowls - like an animal as he demonstrates, corrects and elaborates. The entire length and breadth of the dojo, every nook and cranny are his terrain! His language is simple. Nothing complex, yet it exudes intelligence and knowledge as if he is reciting the very Classics themselves! In my 30 plus years of studying the martial arts, I have come across many martial artists who can quote the Classics but very few who can demonstrate them. Scott not only demonstrates them but, you can see that his understanding doesn’t come from an intellectual perspective alone, but far more importantly from a perspective soaked in the brutality of his existence! I sit next to Vik, camera in hand, intently listening to what he has to say. In the Classical Arts, watching and listening are just as important as doing! Have I already said that Scott prowls? Yes, he prowls - like an animal as he demonstrates, corrects and elaborates. The entire length and breadth of the dojo, every nook and cranny are his terrain! His language is simple. Nothing complex, yet it exudes intelligence and knowledge as if he is reciting the very Classics themselves!
In my 30 plus years of studying the martial arts, I have come across many martial artists who can quote the Classics but very few who can demonstrate them. Scott not only demonstrates them but, you can see that his understanding doesn’t come from an intellectual perspective alone, but far more importantly from a perspective soaked in the brutality of his existence! From covering distance, to timing, from entry to exit, to the shear aggression of the attack - each point is covered and explained in detail. Best of all... Scott doesn’t boast about all the fights he has won - no! He tells you what he has learned from those that went wrong and that’s what makes him the complete teacher! I have heard many folk say in reviews that if they were ever in trouble, they’d want Scott watching their back - I disagree. Why would you wish such a loyal and honest energy by your side only during a moment of strife? I’d wish such a friend to share in my laughter. Mark Twain once said that: “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I do not profess to know Scott Caldwell... in a lifetime it's hard enough to know and be true to ones self, let alone claim to know or understand another human being! But, I do believe that Scott may have discovered the “why?" of Twain!' Scott meant many things to many people... he was a brother, a son, a husband, a soul-mate, a father, an instructor, a teacher, a martial artist, a philosopher, even an adversary to some and of course a friend - but whichever role Scott appeared in, he was always himself - Scott! He never deviated from being true to his nature, that was perhaps one of his most absolute demands and endearing qualities! So, as we gathered in Douglas - Isle of Man - on Friday 23 February to bid farewell to Scott, there were many poignant moments throughout the day itself and beyond. Carrying Scott into the church, alongside 5 amazing souls - Anthony Sean Pillage, Russell Jarmesty, Keith Priestley, David Kyriacou and Stewart McGill - was an honour that shall remain with me till my dying days! Right from the start the theme was set - the focus was not on the passing of Scott, but rather, on how he had lived and in only 44 short years had managed to cram so much into his life! Hearing Tony Pillage read the words of ‘Invictus’ lifted the spirit, whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow martial artists as Keith Priestly led the bow, filled us with pride & honour, and listening to Victoria Caldwell’s letter to Scott reminded one of what love truly means! As the day went on and we sat in The Cat With No Tail... each of us with our own memories of Scott, many of us shared moments of our own truths! In brief moments we let our hearts run free and speak to those who were around us, to say what they meant to us and the difference they had brought into our own lives! Tony Pillage - I need never have to say how dear you are to me. I believe you already know! Keith Priestly - you are literally the salt of the earth and I thank the Gods for you! Russell Jarmesty - I bow to all that you stand for! David Kyriacou - we are bound by much and on ‘Christmas Day’ brother know that I shall always be thinking of you as well! Victoria Caldwell - your dignity, strength and love are nothing less than inspirational. You shall always have family in me. Along with the sorrow and hurt there was also much laughter and smiles. A reminder that ultimately that’s what Scott would’ve wanted - folk to celebrate his life! It was in these moments that I remembered something I had read in a book many years ago: ‘The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do
With Anthony Pillage at Kaizen 2017
Image appears courtesy of Keith Priestley
members of one family grow up under the same roof.’ As, I look back and reflect - with eyes burning from a lack of sleep - I realised that in those few days I had been with my family... and this family had suddenly grown - Cathy, Michael, David, Neil, Steve, Robert, Kimberley, Ben et.al - and that we are not separated by ‘six degrees’ but rather united by one - Scott Caldwell! Scott… you are a highlight of my life and it has been an honour to have spent even the briefest of times with you in this life. Journey well my brother and raise hell in Valhalla... your laughter shall always dwell within me! Until we meet again - Far vel.
Far vel Scott - Douglas, Isle of Man
THE RIVER FINDS ITS WAY Dr Gregory T. Lawton
The river finds its way, not upon a path of least resistance but upon a path ordained, the river finds its way. The river is a living thing, and where the river flows it bestows its goodly gifts, the river finds its way. Where the river flows it does its work with a soulful harmony, the river finds its way, and at the ocean’s shore it finds its end - the river found its way. Of self-expression.
Kindly reprinted with permission from: Translated From A Foreign Tongue, Copyright 2013, 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.
Bridging The Gap The Kua Krish Pillay
et me start with a question. What do all martial arts have in common regarding movement? There are a few,
but the one I am going to focus on is; ‘Borrow the energy of the earth in all movement. Muscles alone cannot bring longevity to your art.’ (or something along those lines.) It harkens to the legendary scene of the little old man who, as if by magic, defeats a multitude. Now while some might think this is an exaggeration, all stories are based in truth. How indeed can an old man who's muscles have weakened with the passing of time possibly use his art anymore to defeat even one young man? Surely to defeat a multitude he must be using more than his muscles. In Tai Chi our ‘kua’ are the space at the top of the inner thighs (the lower kua), and the space made by the armpits, (the upper kua). What I primarily want to focus on is the lower kua since if you can't stand up, you can't fight (I know this isn't taking into account the ground based arts.) Be aware that I am going to take a very roundabout route to explaining, so I hope you have a little patience. When we think about movement we either think about walking or running. Let's analyse the action for a moment, since to throw a basic punch you need to learn how to step and put your weight into the movement. From standing still when you start to walk you swing one foot and then as the foot starts to hit the ground, you use your standing foot to shift your center of gravity forward beyond the for you swinging leg catches you (see figure 1). So when we are just walking around, going about our business, we are essentially falling and catching ourselves continually, and the same applies to running.
In a fighting context this gives us a good basis in terms of using a forward or advancing step to generate momentum in any strike, be it a punch or a kick. After all when you get angry at someone, it’s hard to resist the urge to charge into them and gore them to the ground like a charging bull. However there are disadvantages to this mode of movement. The first most obvious one is throwing a punch in front of you while moving backwards, it never will pack that punch (excuse the pun) that using your forward momentum will develop. So what is the solution to this? Well, it’s one of the first things we learn in traditional martial arts, the stance. Note the use of the word traditional martial arts, as I will come back to it later. Whether it’s a traditional kung fu horse stance, traditional karate bow stance or silat stance (I know there are many style of the arts I have mentioned) they are share common things. These are the bent and relaxed knees with the heels flat on the floor.
What does this give us? The bending of the knees give us the ability to transfer our power from foot to foot through the heels, via the ground, whilst using the waist to direct the hands (see figure 2). The real advantage lies in combination of the bent knees and the heels connection to the ground. The bent knees act as a damper allowing the force of each leg to be transferred smoothly and efficiently. The heels connection to the ground is where the real magic happens as it allows any force you emit with one leg to instantly (provided the knees are soft) to be transferred straight into the front leg with much more control than 'falling' from one leg to another by pushing through the heels. When we 'fall' from leg to leg, there is a 'dead zone' where, you are not in control of your weight. Where you center of gravity is falling between the back toe and the front heel (see figure 1). If you are struck in this transition, you can be easily pushed aside or over i.e. easily controlled by the enemy. Now I bet some people will say,’ weight on the Figure 2 heels? You have to be light and mobile, push off the balls into the floor.’ Referring to figures 2 and figure 3 I’m going to use a bit of physics here, namely Newtons first law, ‘every action creates an equal and opposite reaction.’ When our heels are up, figure 3, when we press into the floor, the main pushing force is provided by the calf (and the arch of the foot). Any force you exert will force the heel of the foot into the floor, with the calf trying to combat this motion to provide the push off the back leg, so the majority of the force is carried in the muscles of the leg. Now going back to figure 2, we see that having the heel on the floor promotes better power transfer between feet and floor as any force your legs generate causes an equal and opposite reaction on the ground via the heel. The force is transferred straight through to the knees (via the ankle) but again that’s a joint not a muscle, so there is no slack in the system, thus better power transfer, better control and less of a ‘dead zone’ of transition between steps. But there is one more thing to add to the mix of and this is where I will refer to Tai Chi specifically and this is the kua, as the title of this article suggests. ‘Kua’ can be translated as ‘bridge’. What does the bow stance and the kua have in common? The clue is in the name, when we think of a bow we think of knocking an arrow and drawing the bow, storing all that energy in the wood as it strains against us. Going back to figure xxx we can see the bow stance and the our kua between the inner thighs. If we now think of a bridge (just like or feet have made with the earth) we can see how it is a structure that allows the passage of things across it, in our case power from foot to foot. What's the most important point of a bridge? It's the keystone, the middle, the past which stops the bridge from falling down, and what is in the middle of our bow stance? The inner thighs! Figure 3
In Tai Chi told to have our knees over our big toe by feeling as if we are using our center to twist the knees out. Why is this so important? We know, either by inspection or by injury that the knee is only meant to swing in one plane of motion. Now look at the structure of the thigh (see figure 4), most of the muscles are round the front and back to work the knee, but we also have muscles that wind round the sides to keep the knee stable. Its well known that many people (myself included) have issues with the knees falling in our out and breaking the knee over toe relationship. This is because the stabilising muscles either side of the thigh (for men usually the inner thigh) are not balanced. So by using the center to twist and ground into the foot we activate both of the muscles either side of the thigh to make sure that the knee moves forward and back only. In this way instead of wasting energy going into the sides of the knee we allow the bow to be drawn for optimal power transfer. Hence the importance of the bow stance!
But it's all got quite technical and hasn't it? Well, luckily for us, the whole of this concept is inerrant in the tai chi form! Knees over toes and move from the center gives this to us anyway. Draw the ‘bow’ stance and keep good posture as you move. But isn't this inerrant in all martial arts? Of course it is! Which is why the forms are so important, because they use simple rules to unlock the most efficient ways of moving in combat. Even when I was practicing tae kwon do, it was always about keeping the knee in line with the toe and generating power from the hips. So while I've been singing the praises of the bow stance, many people will now be pointing out, you have no agility in these low deep stances! What’s the point of power if you can’t get away when someone is twatting you in the face? Well, they are absolutely 100% correct, in these low stances, there is no agility and are useless in a fighting context at face value. So what was the point of me harping on about the stuff I have been for the last couple of hundred words?
(photo from: http://humananatomylibrary.com/anatomy-of-aleg/anatomy-of-a-leg-back-pain-down-leg-diagram-showingthe-muscles-which-make-up-the/)
Well, when we look at any master of his or her art sparring or demonstrating two person drills at speed, does their stance look the same as if performing kata? No, it doesn't, the stance is naturally smaller to allow for quicker movement. But the quality of their movement will be the same as if they were performing kata. The same grounded-ness, same timing, the same unhurried quality that come worth thousands of repetitions. They have just made the same stance smaller. But the difference between a beginner and the master is vast, as the master has programmed their muscles to understand power in the large frame, working the muscles that are not normally used in ways they are not normally used, only then can they carry the same power into the small frame.
The low stances of traditional martial arts act as a teaching tool ONLY. To teach your body to move efficiently, once it is learned it can be discarded. Again the picture of the little old man with small steps and a lively spirit comes to mind. This is just a small reason why traditional arts have an advantage over, more modern styles which don't develop the body before the technique. Besides,these traditional arts have been developed over hundreds of years, having been tested in life and death battles over and over, have been added to by masters of each successive generation. The only reason these art have survived is because they were worth preserving. Now if that isn't the definition of absorb what is useful discard what is useless, I don't know what else is. I hope this has convinced someone that there is more to the traditional arts than meets the eye. I do acknowledge there are people who by a stroke of luck or endless repetition or lots of actual fighting who will go straight into a small stance and will be able to engage their kua and move with the smallest transitions but they are few and far between. Do you want to leave things up to chance and risk never developing and unlocking your maximum potential? Or do you want to improve your chances with a structured way of gaining the more advanced way of developing power, speed, accuracy and timing? Why would you leave that to chance? I am going to end the article by linking the concepts above to the classics of tai chi. The one that applies is; ‘Stand like a level balance.’ What does a balance, a pair of scales do? Whenever weight is places on one of the plates, the plates instantly adjust to match. Even a feather will upset the balance of the best of scales. We only want out legs to be the best of scales, why settle for less?
The 12 Deadly Katas A Brief Introduction Peter Jones
e are going to continue with the katas number five Waving Hands and number six Breaking Hands.
If you are going to attempt doing these katas PLEASE be careful as they can be dangerous! I am showing these katas, here, for informational purposes only, so they can help with your understanding in this art. I have already stressed previouslyâ&#x20AC;Ś please seek a competent instructor who is qualified to teach you these in person.
Waving Hand Kata 5 This kata works upon the the Pericardium, the sack that protects the heart, also associated with the blood vessels. Its element is fire, and its time of day between the hours of 7pm and 9pm. But, as I have said already - you can do them at any time. Its effect just happens to be greater at the time given, when the chi (qi) is more active. The points you are striking in this kata are: Conceptor Vessel 22 (Cv 22) Gall Bladder 14 (Gb 14) Gall Bladder 24 (Gb 24) Pericardium 6 (Pc 6) Mind point on the jaw line The Martial: Your partner throws a straight right fist to your face, your left palm will strike his right arm, (Pc 6) and with your right palm strike to his eyes using your fingers, and then you turn your right fist over, strike using a tiger paw fist into the neck (Cv 22), (Photos 1 & 2). Then you do a change step, left leg in the front, now you strike using your right palm to your partners forehead (Gb 14), this is done in a downward direction (Photo 3). Your partner now throws a left strike towards your face, you grab his left arm and strike his mind point on the side of the jaw with your left palm (Photo 4), and with your right elbow you strike straight into his Gb 24 point, about 2 inches below the nipple (Photo 5).
Breaking Hands Kata 6 This kata builds up the fire in the tantien. It provides us with more qi to be able to work with in the martial side. On a day to day level this qigong will help in stressful situations, such as dealing with your boss, or going to a job interview. This kata work upon Triple Warmer meridian, basically it works on the whole body. We have three heating spaces in our body, the lower heater, the middle heater and upper heater. The lower heater deals with elimination, the middle heater deals with digestion, the upper heater deals with the brain. This kataâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time of day is between 9pm and 11pm. The part of the body it controls is the blood vessels, its Chinese element is fire. The points you are striking in this kata are: Stomach 9 (St 9) Concepttor Vessel 22 (Cv 22) Lung 8 (Lu 8) Heart 5 (Ht 5) Small intestine 16, (Si 16) Photo 9
Your partner throws roundhouse punch to your face, blocking his attack with your left palm, your right fingers strike into his eyes (Photo 6). Then your partner throws a left punch to your face, you grab his left wrist with your right palm and jerk it, and do an open palm strike to your partners neck (Photo 7). Thrust your thumb into to the pit of your partners neck (Photo 8), then as your right palm goes around the back of your partners neck, your left palm strikes his forehead (Photo 9).
Root Methods The Seventh Ring (House) of Yang
‘Taiji Boxing’s subtleties are profound. If you force your way along with an incomplete understanding, you will constantly be led astray from the right path.’
Pan Shouren Preface Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing Dong Huling, 1956
‘The Old Yang Form was also called the ‘Six Routines’ and the ’13 Postures’. Six Routines because the long form was broken into six separate routines and practiced as such until the skill attainment and endurance of the students reached a point that they could link all six together into one long routine and practice it as a whole.’
‘Yang Shao Hou was also invited by Chen Wei Ming to Shanghai to teach at his Zhi Rou Association. Yang Shao Hou taught the large frame during public classes and his large frame was the same as that of his younger brother Yang Cheng Fu. Later, he began to teach privately in the homes of students who have already learnt the large frame or Wu Chien Chuan’s small frame. In these private advanced classes he would teach an advanced combat set which was later to be referred to as Yang Shao Hou’s Small Frame. He began to teach and practice this set exclusively.’
The Origins And History Of Taijiquan The Old yang Form Peter Lim Tian Tek
Those who expect too much will certainly not succeed. On the other hand, those of us who start with the basics and then build on that foundation will certainly not fail. First seek to make your energy and blood abundant, then you will be able to make your spirit full and your body strong. Make sure that your postures are correct and your movements are appropriate. Make the exercise beneficial rather than harmful. Train in the proper sequence and progress gradually. It is not a matter of forcing the pace, but of how diligent you are at learning and how safe your method is. Yang Shaohou’s boxing set was small and hard, the movements fast and heavy. 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 Art Discussions Huang Wenshu (Yuanxiu), 1936 ‘Heaviness is produced by practicing liveliness of the joints. A person stands straight, arms hanging, and I use my hand to prop up his arm. If I feel his arm is heavy and yet is not the weight of his whole arm, it is because his mind is unconsciously influencing his arm and lightening it for me. If I pick up the arm of a person who is sound asleep, I will of course find it to be much heavier. This is because there is no unconscious influence upon the arm and the joints are naturally relaxed. If I then use a hand to prop up the arm of a martial arts expert, I will indeed feel it to be about the same kind of heaviness as that of the sleeping person.’ Genuine Explanations For Authentic Taiji Wu Zhiqing, 1943
he Root Methods - the Seventh Ring/House of Yang - were officially referred to as ‘The Flowering
Methods’ - to help develop your understanding of the Form to ‘bloom’! The Taiji Form is multi-layered. Everything we learn, can and does, have multiple meanings. As a beginner, the initial martial applications we learn are simply there to help us place our hands and feet in the correct position in order to understand the underlying dynamic involved, as well as movement for a particular ‘posture’. These are, sometimes, also referred to as ‘Applications for Children’. However, on an internal level, the same movements teach the beginner how to move or direct energy (Qi) along the correct pathways (meridians) in order to do work! Physics, of course, tells us that there is a strong connection between work and energy and that it can be both positive and negative. In order to do work, we are told that Qi (energy) must move between two or more points. For example, if you pick up a book off the floor and put it on a table then in terms of physics you are carrying out ‘positive’ work since you have provided an upward force and the book went up in the direction of the supplied force. However, in terms of Taiji and Qi, it is simply the case that the correct energy is being supplied to the hand and the body in the correct direction, via the meridians, for us to make all the right movements to allow us to achieve our goal - to pick the book off the floor and place it on the table! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other works tell us that, “Wherever the blood flows, the Qi follows," so - “If then we have a way of directing sub-consciously the Qi through EVERY meridian by doing certain movements that mean some kind of work, we have indeed a potent healing exercise. This is what Tai Chi is!” Furthermore: “The old masters made up a set of movements that directed the Qi through each meridian and thus through each major organ in turn to cause healing and rejuvenation of those organs. The old masters in China all knew martial arts for self defence, so their way of making a healing set of movements was also based upon their inherited martial systems.” And: “Being people of great genius and also having great knowledge of the human body and the Qi or energy system, they invented a set of self defence movements that would not only cause one to be able to defend against physical external attack, they also invented a set of movements that would send the energy around each meridian or rather ‘activate’ it in each organ.” The above is what Erle told us - his advanced students and instructors during our Instructors Only Sessions held in Wales. Now, compare this to the quote of Huang Wenshu provided above and you will find that Huang, also, is telling us exactly the same thing! So, just like we have a sub-conscious way of moving energy around the body in order to do work, likewise the postures also teach us how to ‘fight’ sub-consciously. Once we have learnt ‘all’ the basic postures, we are then told to imagine that we are fighting someone whilst doing these particular martial movements during our Form. This is where the basic or ‘children’s applications’ come into play. However, we are given rules - we must imagine that we are fighting an opponent identical to ourselves, so our movements are relative to our own body. This is critical and takes us into the realm of ‘Mapping’ - a very important concept which I will be introducing soon! The subject of Mapping requires an entire detailed article in its own right - suffice to say, for now, that it allows a practitioner to become aware of measurements of the self and the space that he or she occupy in time! The Taiji Classics tell us: “Men don’t know me, I alone know men.” In other words, before I can ‘measure’ another human being, I must know myself and if I know myself, then engaging with another will no longer present any problems. For example, if during the execution of a Taiji
posture we are told to raise our hands as high as our face or head… then it should become self-evident that I’m ‘mapping’ or ‘measuring’ the position of my own head! Therefore, if I stand at 5’ 8 (172.7 cm) and am fighting an opponent who is 6’ 4 (193 cm) or even 5’ 4 (162.6 cm) and they both strike to my head - their height is irrelevant, as what matters is my 5’ 8 since one will have to strike down to that height and the other up! So, so long as I know where 5’ 8 is, I’ll be able to deal with the matter without overextending or falling short! So, by repeating the postures on a daily basis we start to ‘teach’ our body how to fight on a sub-conscious level through principles linked with the posture and demonstrated through a basic application. The human subconscious does not know the difference between the real or the imagined - hence why some dreams feel so vivid and real and we can almost become convinced that they really happened - so in essence every time that we do our form for 20 or 40 minutes or however long, we are telling our brain that we are fighting! Once that association is established, even if you no longer think of the martial application consciously, your subconscious mind sees and ‘hears’ it every time and prepares the body for the ‘work’! Even more importantly is the pace of our Form. Unlike modern Taiji practitioners, who simply do their entire form at an even pace, in the Old Yang and certainly ALL the Taiji practiced prior to 1930 involved pace changes and fa-jing. These pace changes play a significant role in both the internal and external understanding of our Taiji in not only in the cultivation, balance and release of energy but, also, literally on how to pace a fight! Simply put… Taiji’s way of teaching is another or alternative explanation of ‘The art of fighting without fighting’! For those who had risen to a high level and gone beyond the subconscious fight through years of foundational practice - Yang Lu-ch’an, the founder of the Yang Style, developed another set of shorter movements based upon the main ‘postures’ of the Taiji Form - The Flowering or Root Methods! These Root Methods were short sets of movements which covered the advanced fighting methods of Taijiquan’s Form based upon Dim-mak and Fa-jing - giving us small and hard, and fast and heavy movements! According to Erle: “These short sets were based upon Tai Chi at a much higher level called 'Small Frame’ and were only meant for the advanced student who had come to this 'small frame’ level. These sets or ‘Root Methods’ were inspired and when one learnt them, it sort of puts a key into the lock and opens the final door into the very advanced methods of Tai Chi.” Note what Erle is telling us, that these methods… “were only meant for the advanced student who had come to this ‘small frame’ level.” I have already written extensively about the Small Frame in Volume 2 (February 2017) of this magazine - Part One of The Rings. I shall refer the reader to that. However, I will make a significant point though here, as I know of many who are already practicing ‘small frame’ Taiji! These deluded fools have not “come to this ‘small frame’ level” as Erle puts it - they have simply picked up a DVD and mimicked Erle’s movements and are ‘aping’ a man who was still learning and developing after 40 plus years and not only this, but also that they do not understand what they are doing is abundantly clear from the pronouncements they make regularly! Small Frame Taiji takes years to acquire. It requires a great separation of Yin Yang (according to Erle, himself), which can only be attained through diligent practice of the Foundations at the Three Frame Levels amongst many other things, and I can personally state that NONE of these so-called ‘masters’ have even achieved the Mid-Frame level - let alone practiced the Low frame! According to Huang, above, Yang Shou-hou’s “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.” So, if those learning this from Shou-hou himself - students who lived and breathed Taiji and were known to be fighters of the highest calibre in an era where you had to fight for your life, literally - were struggling then, that ought to put into perspective those claiming small frame after only a few years of study, having skipped virtually most of the foundational training methods themselves!
Cross Step Lu with Fa-jing - From the Root Method ‘Seize The Sparrow By The Tail’
Despite the explosive pace at which the Root Methods are performed, we must still absolutely adhere to the concepts and principles we have developed over the years! Energy now moves around the body at a reflexive level, allowing us to "brace in all directions" in an instant and deal with any situation without thought. What we end up with is the ability to respond instantly from any given position, subconsciously placing the body in the most advantageous position through which it can achieve maximum power for the least expended energy - In other words we have vastly improved the efficiency and work rate of our engine, and the ‘Postures’ and Dynamics have, themselves, internalized! It is no longer about techniques or applications but rather complete body movement and identification of energies. This is exactly what Yang Cheng-fu meant when asked by his student Chen Weiming, for his book if adding applications, to all Taiji ‘techniques’ would make it more complete? He said: “Taiji Boxing techniques are responses according to situations and are without a fixed pattern. If you know how to listen to energy, then hearing one thing lets you know a hundred, and if you don’t know listening energy, then even if you know many techniques, you will not be able to apply them well anyway.” Taiji Da Wen Answering Questions About Taiji Chen Weiming, 1929
The Root Methods vary in length. Some are short whilst others are longer and in some instances, just as in the main Taiji Form, they combine with other ‘postures' to teach us how we flow from one movement to the next. We now begin to see martial applications at a far higher level then those we were familiar with at the base level. Not only that, we now begin to see the postures being used in a way where they bear little resemblance to how we understand them in the abstract sense whilst practicing the Form! This can be daunting for the student at first, but once the concepts and ideas begin to be explained and realised the students can then see how they work, leading them to the many ‘hidden' applications. The Root Methods are each named after one of the major postures from within the form. For instance the first six Root Methods are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Seize the Sparrow By The Tail Fishes in Eight Single Whip Pierce to Rear & Double Dragon Hands Raise Hands Shoulder Stroke
Below is a brief description for the first Root Method. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail: 1. Stand in a reverse bow stance with your right foot forward and your hands in the Raise Hands position. 2. Arn Left - Turn slightly right as you load your right palm. Bring your fingers across to attack eyes. Re-load slightly and then slam down into Lung (Lu) 5 point on the right forearm with the back of your right wrist. 3. P'eng and Double P’eng - This is followed by two explosive back palms into Stomach (St) 5 and St 9 points. 4. Take a half step forward as you ‘fold and attack with your right elbow to Conceptor Vessel (CV) 22. 5. Roll Back - Wrap your right palm around the neck in a clockwise circle, and raise your left palm. Do a Plumb Blossoms leap along with "Pigeon Flies" as you break the neck. Your left hand ends up in front and you are now facing south with your left foot forward (see images on previous page). Now do a conventional Roll Back to the right. 6. Chee - Step to the left slightly as you attack with Chee into the neck or blocking an attack. Follow this with an elbow to the side of neck. 7. Arn: Circle right palm around the neck clockwise, and turn back to the North, as you take a step forward into a reverse bow stance with your right foot. Lock the neck and swing your left foot around in an arc to the rear keeping the torque with the right foot (see main photo at beginning of article). Then release that torque with a slap step to the North as both hands spear forward and into Arn. You finish in a reverse bow stance.
There is ample history that the Yang family broke longer forms into smaller bite-size or more manageable segments. This allowed the student to focus and develop their skill ensuring progressional advancement rather than learning for the sake of learning! Yang Shou-hou was known for teaching the practical aspects of the Form, i.e., combat, based upon his small frame which according to Wu Tu Nan was the "usage frame,” itself based upon the teachings of his grandfather Yang Lu-ch’an: "It has elements of both the Old Yang Form and the Small Frame taught by Yang Lu Chan and Yang Pan Hou. Consisting of 73 postures which totals over 200 movements, the form is done very quickly, striving to do the entire set within 2-3 minutes. Even at this great speed the fundamental principles of proper alignment, rootedness, relaxation, continuity of movement, calmness and coordination are not lost. This set can only be properly learnt after mastery of the large frame and its principles.” The Root Methods themselves can be connected to form one long, flowing set much like the Linear Form of Baguazhang - explosive in nature and perhaps even longer! This can give us a very dynamic cardio workout and produce "heaviness" in our strikes - a key component developed through “liveliness of the joints”. This is the basis of Yang Shou-hou’s Taiji. It is beyond the scope of this article nor the intent here to actually teach the Root Methods. Our sole purpose here is to show their significance as a part of the Yang Houses. They can only be taught in situ with all the subtle movements explained by a competent teacher with understanding and knowledge as to how they work. Whilst it’s ok for an intermediate student to dabble with these under instruction, one should not take this as sign that, ’small frame’ has been achieved! Erle and I often spoke about these. He would opine that perhaps these methods should be given to the student before the Taiji Long Boxing Form itself, as a short physical routine - one at a time - with the intricacies and subtleties removed in order to help the student develop a strong body more prepped for combat, as well as it being a physical way to develop the base concepts and combative elements of the Thirteen Dynamics. However, despite his leanings, he only ever taught them in the traditional manner!
The Eighth Ring (House) of Yang
u wrote that he had learned the original
practices and fast moving sets of the Yang family from Yang Jian-Hou, and from Yang Shao-Hou he had acquired soft-boxing application skills. Under Yang Cheng-Fu, Xu said he became skilled at embracing largeness within smallness [referring to the practice of expansive postures while adhering to unification within]. While with Yang ChengFu in Beijing, Xu also closely practiced with two of Yang’s senior disciples, Chen WeiMing and Tung Ying-Jie, both of whom shared with Xu further instruction into sword and the qigong practices that had been passed on to them.’ Translator’s Preface Bradford Tyrey Taijiquan Shi Author: Xu Yu-Sheng (1879-1945) First Published in China in 1921
‘Your head is like a centered pole, as in “your head-top is suspended”, and with your hands making the trays to each side, your waist being the platform base, you are “standing like a scale”. Whether you receive the slightest bit of lightness or heaviness, floating or sinking, the tipping of the trays to either side will reveal all to you. With your head-top suspended and waist rooted below, you are connected from tailbone to skullbone.’ Taiji Fa Shuo Explaining Taiji Principles Attributed To Yang Ban-hou Circa 1875
‘Energy should be roused and 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 your foot, issue through your leg, directing it at your waist, and expressing it at your fingers.’ An Outline Of Taiji Theory Chen Yanlin, 1943
‘Extend your neck and draw up your head-top, your arms both loosening. Strongly bind energy downward, bracing it upward at your crotch. Sound it from your gut when you express power, beating with your fists. While your toes grip the ground, your upper body bends like a bow.’ Seven Songs From An Old Handwritten Copy Of Taiji Boxing Classics From During The Reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1796) An Outline Of Taiji Theory Chen Yanlin, 1943
Taijiquan is a moving Qigong (pronounced chee kung), literally meaning internal work, designed to perform natural flowing movements to enhance the natural flow of the internal Qi. By daily practice, the flow of Qi through all the acupuncture meridians can be increased, improving poor health and increasing strength, whilst inducing a state of calm. However, Tai Chi is not Qigong at its beginning levels or even its intermediate levels. Tai Chi is only Qigong at its highest level! Qi (pronounced chee), is our vital life force energy: It can be considered as a bioelectrical force holding us together from conception, the flow of which, if impeded, can lead to sickness or death. It, therefore, stands to reason that in order to remain healthy we need to cultivate this vital life force. The human body contains twelve main and eight extra acupuncture meridians. These meridians can be looked upon as the body’s network of roads along which the Qi must travel, whilst bathing and nourishing all our internal organs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and ancient Daoist texts tell us that the internal flow of Qi is an emulation of the external movements of the human body. In other words, if our external movements are unnatural, then, the internal flow of Qi is also unnatural and hindered. There are literally hundreds of different types of Qigongs, both static and moving, and each one claiming to be better then the rest! Whilst static Qigongs can be looked upon as harnessing prenatal energy, it is the moving Qigongs that distribute this energy all across the body. Moving Qigongs, such as the Taiji form, are quite difficult to perform. Trying to relax whilst remembering whole sequences of movements, technical details, proper breathing, yin/yang, opening/closing, balancing of pairs , etc., can be an utter nightmare, even for the most competent of beginners. Static Qigongs can clear up most of this clutter and help the beginner gain correct posture and Sung (pronounced soong). They are also a way to get “good things” out of your practice before the form itself, eventually, takes over! Sung – a very important concept in Taiji - has been translated, slightly incorrectly, as to relax. However, a more accurate description would be to move without feeling or being aware of the movement itself! This meaning becomes more evident as we progress with our training. Suffice to say for now that if we were to totally relax our body whilst doing our Taiji, or any other exercise, we would simply collapse! Qigongs can be split into essentially 3 categories: those, for self-healing, martial arts and medical use. It is the first two, which primarily concern Taijiquan practitioners, whereas the last is for medical practitioners. The ideal times of practice for Qigong are outside at dusk or dawn. Four breathing techniques are essentially used during practice, depending on one’s experience and level of study and the type of Qigong being performed. These are: Normal Breath – where the abdomen expands whilst inhaling and contracts whilst exhaling. Reverse Breath – where the reverse of the normal breath occurs. Pre-natal Breath – where a rolling of the abdomen occurs. Tortoise Breath – An advanced form of the pre-natal, where we hold our breath for 7 seconds allowing our inner and outer energies to mix. Qigong must begin with the classic Three Circle Standing Qigong. This is considered the ‘Mother’ of all Qigongs and its stances have a direct parallel in our Taiji practice - be it for health or martial arts! You cannot go past this for overall balance and health and it is critical if we wish our ‘Energy should be roused and spirit
should be collected within,' as per the Taiji Classics! We perform this Qigong by standing with bent knees holding our palms up in front of us for a period of time. The arms become heavy and the body begins to shake and when we first begin this Qigong, the arms and shoulders get a complete muscular workout so that the next day, we feel sore. Science tells us that when a biological system is placed under conditions which are not ideal - or adversity, such as a drought or starvation, then it moves into an emergency survival mode - producing changes within the body to actually help prolong life and increase energy. This is part of the reason why fasting is used by several philosophies and cultures as a way to enhance the body and mind as well as remove unwanted impurities from the system. When we prune plants and trees we follow the same principle to allow them to be more healthy and fruitful. However, we must prune the right amount as over pruning can damage the plant irreversibly and kill it outright, and likewise, we must know how to apply the right amount of adversity to the human system too without causing injury or harm. Holding the arms in an almost static position for long periods of time will also cause this phenomenon, especially combined with the isometric exercise of bending the knees and moving very slowly as we should do in the upper levels of Tai Chi practice. The Three Circle Standing Qigong balances the amount of Qi out in the upper and lower body by supplying 60% to the lower part and 40% to the upper which is natural. It is most imperative that students learns these standing Qigong exercise methods absolutely correctly as damage can be done to the internal energy (Qi) system of the body resulting in some instances, brain and mind problems, as well as mental problems and immune system imbalances! Photo 1
In structure we must obey the Taiji Classics absolutely (See photos 1&2): The crown of the head must be held as if ‘suspended from up above’. The feet are parallel and shoulder width apart when measured on the outside of the feet. The 'parallel' bit should be measured on the inside of the feet which causes the outsides to be only marginally un-parallel. The back is vertical and as straight as possible given that the back is never fully straight! You must sink straight down and not bend the back backwards at all. This is achieved through the relaxing of the sacrum and letting it simply ‘hang’! This is a common error during practice and one which needs constant correcting in beginners! The chin is held pulled in slightly but not forced and the tongue is placed up onto the hard palate like saying the letter 'L'. In fact, we do not physically pull the chin in at all - this happens through the action of lifting the crown of the head! The eyes are not closed nor are they fully open (staring). They will look to the ground about 20 feet away. The shoulders hang naturally and the arms are held such as if you were hugging a tree with the elbows dropped below the wrists and shoulders.
The palms are turned out slightly so that they are at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground with a straight line of skin but not stretched between thumb and forefinger (Colon(Co) 4). This is also, sometimes, referred to as ‘Opening the dragon’s mouth.’
The palms are held in the typical "Tile Palm Hand" or â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Beautiful Palmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; - where each finger is kind of layered over the next like the tiles on a roof. The fingers of each palm are held approximately three inches apart. And as a beginner the upper side of the forefingers should be in line with the under side of your nose or top lip. The buttocks are held slightly under naturally as this is the natural position for the lower back when the knees are bent. Do not force your bum under as this is just as bad as sticking it out - it will cause tension. The toes are held slightly concave - but not as much as to turn your toes white. Like as if they are gripping the ground (see Chen Yanlinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quote above). This is to bring Yin and Yang into the base of the foot so that the Yang Qi will be drawn down to the 'Bubbling Well' point (Kidney 1) to be re-routed all over the body. The breathing should be deep but relaxed and not forced. In the beginning you should always use a natural breathing pattern where the abdomen expands upon inhalation and contracts upon exhalation. You breathe with your diaphragm and not your neck! So do not tense up your neck, just treat it as a straw through which the diaphragm pulls air into your lungs. Just breathe naturally allowing the natural rhythm to take over. Your chest should be slightly concave and there should be no movement of the chest whilst breathing naturally as this indicates shallow breathing and incorrect use of the diaphragm to draw breath. Beginners should hold this posture for at least 15 minutes. This is difficult. You will begin to shake, not violently but a vibration will take over your whole body and you will begin to perspire from your palms and fingertips. After some minutes, check your posture again to make sure that you haven't slowly crept up and your knees are still bent. To finish, slowly lower your palms towards your lower abdomen - just below the navel and hold that position for a few minutes (Photo 2). After you have become adept at holding this position, you then do the first two-thirds of the total time with your palms in the upper position and then the last third of the total time with your palms in the lower position. To close, slowly raise both palms out to your sides and up to shoulder height inhaling as you do this, then bring both palms to chest height and press downward from chest to lower abdomen as you exhale and straighten your legs slowly. Do not make any sudden movements nor in particular have anything cold to drink for at least five minutes, just walk around slowly. A note here: The time factors given here are only meant as a guide and sometimes the student can place too much emphasis on these! It is not fifteen minutes or thirty, or even forty that matter - these are mere guidelines that in some instances a student may have to stand for that long for something to happen! The actual point where we achieve Sung and free flow of energy is achieved around the system may only actually be a minute or two, but it may require several minutes of standing before you get anywhere. I have often seen students glancing at the clocks and or setting timers during their qigong practice - this is wrong and if you are glancing at the clock or otherwise than you are NOT doing qigong! The non-thought process plays a critical role in qigong! This is far too complex a subject to deal with here. Beginners are often told that they should think upon nothing at all - no conscious thought whatsoever - this is difficult and the real secret to qigong and eventually Taiji form practice too! However, there is a small trick that a beginner can use to help achieve this. Beginners are often told to focus on the breath when they are practicing their qigong. It is far easier to focus on one thing then trying to eliminate all the clutter from your mind. As we have already said that this is difficult! So, whenever a stray thought or thoughts enter your conscious then instantly focus the mind onto the breath and this will help you eliminate clutter. However, what does focusing the mind on the breath actually mean? This is a very specific action and nothing random.
What we are being told here is to bring the mind or focus to the Governor Vessel (GV) 26 point at the junction of the upper and lower point of the philtrum between the nasal septum and the upper lip! It is here, when we inhale that the breath ‘splits’ and enters each nostril separately and then sinks inline with the Tan Tien below! Not only will this help with focus, as later it will be far easier to relinquish a singular thought than a whole clutter, but it will also help with the ‘sinking’ process and help us to ground! Just as in the Taiji Form, the Six Balanced Body Pairs must also be apparent during qigong (See Lift Hands Volume 2 - The Secret Rings Part One for details). Once we have become proficient with the basics of our ‘Mother’ qigong we can now consider static martial qigongs such as ‘Holding The Baby’ (see main picture at the head of this article). It sends 60% Qi into the hands and only 40% into the legs. It should be obvious that you should not ONLY train in this one Qigong, you should always perform the basic Three Circle Standing Qigong exercise as mentioned above. As already mentioned, there are many qigongs and once the static postures have been mastered and then advanced and refined we can move onto our moving qigongs. Again, the purpose of this article is not to teach the many qigongs which are out there, but to show its relevance to our Taiji training. Qigong training is usually one of the first ‘secrets’ imparted to new students and most discard this as it is not deemed ‘sexy’ like the form or other training methods. Of course, it is only later, when the students fail to advance or develop do some realise their error! In traditional training methods it was often that the student was made to stand in the individual Taiji postures as a static qigong and only when Sung had been achieved and the student could now ‘stand’ without excessive tension in his or her system were they allowed to link the postures and start moving! The basic qigong training should not be confused with the higher Neigong training which was given to the advanced students or disciples - this comes much later and is essentially the polish which places the final shine on your training! Finally, a point I would like to raise is some of the claims made by so-called practitioners of Qigong, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous! Many tricks are used to dupe people into believing that somehow through the practice of Qigong, they will attain supernatural powers or heal un-curable diseases! Whilst we acknowledge that very little is currently understood about the human brain and its ability to certainly influence our body in what may appear to be a ‘miraculous’ way, most of these claims can be easily explained through the science of physics or in some cases as outright cons! Many renowned ‘Masters’ claim they can attack and disable an opponent without even laying their hands on them through the use of their Qi! Many tests have been conducted and filmed where these ‘Masters’ have failed to achieve their claims on any person other then their own students! The social network site YouTube is full of such videos, which have debunked these theories yet, still, these Masters are paraded and allowed to earn substantial sums from their absurd claims! Circus tricks, such as, the bending of spears on the throat, the breaking of stones using bare hands, lifting heavy weights attached to the genitals , etc., are all offered as proof of Qi and Qigong. Some self-styled ‘esoteric warriors’ even claim of inanimate objects, such as daggers moving of their own accord, and levitation! Daoist breathing techniques and related exercises have been used for many a millennia by both martial artists and non-martial artists alike. Using the breath to cultivate energy and strengthen the body can be found amongst the indigenous peoples of almost every land on this globe we call earth. What we need to do is to strip away the crazy notions and see and practice Qigongs for what they are… essentially a beautiful way to unify mind, body and spirit. Leading us to calmer, healthier lives and an inner strength, which can be called upon in the time of battle – whether that battle may be against a disease, a physical confrontation, a mental or emotional challenge, or maybe even a spiritual quest! The Eighth Ring of Yang is perhaps the most critical step in our Taijiquan journey, it is where we begin and what we learn here forms the foundations of our martial and health art. It gives us the heaviness, the no-mind, the root and the ability to move our intent and energy unhindered and unbroken as per the Taiji Classics!
Inside The Next Issue
ne of the more
confusing subjects you are likely to encounter as a Japanese martial arts practitioner is the topic of Katana (Samurai Swords) and Iaito (Blunt Samurai Sword). With such a vast array of different blade types, forging processes, fittings, Tsukamaki types, Koshirae, Sageo types and then the terms for each individual part of the Katana it can quickly seem like a nightmare to understand. In this article I am going to endeavour to make understanding the world of Katana a little easier by breaking everything down into easy to understand sections. So where do you start? The first thing to point out is why we use the term Nihontō , Nihonto is a more general term for all Japanese Swords, literally Nihon (Japanese) To (Swords). The Nihonto most commonly seen used by martial arts practitioners today are the Katana (Long Sword), Wakizashi (Short Sword) and Tanto (Dagger). But, there are a huge variety of Japanese Nihonto, some that date back to the Kofun period (250 – 538 AD). The most commonly associated Nihonto are the Tachi with their distinctive curved blades which date back to the Heian period (794 – 1185, the period is named after the capital city of HeianKyo modern day Kyoto). The Katana was actually a later evolution of the Tachi although it is commonly viewed as the most iconic Nihonto of them all. Let’s take a more in depth look at all of the Nihonto variations as many of them have specific functions and battlefield applications aside from their historical significance. All Nihonto are constructed in roughly the same way, All have a Tsuka (Handle), Ken (Blade), Habaki (Ferrule) and Say (Sheath). The diagram below will help you to familiarise yourself with the specific terminology used for each part of the Nihonto.
The Koshirae are ornamental aesthetic fittings used to decorate the Nihonto and comprise of a Tsuba (Handguard), Seppa (Spacers) Fuchi (Handle Collar), Menuki (Handle Ornaments), Tsuka Ito (Handle Wrapping) and Kashira (Pommel). These were often relevant to the Bushi (Warrior) and were designed with their clans Kamon (Crest), favourite animals, Kami (Gods), Oni (Demons) and anything else that may have been relevant to that
individual. The sword was viewed of as the soul of the Samurai and as such would be presented in a way which represented this fact. It was often the single most valuable item the Samurai owned. The variety of Nihonto available are as follows:
Chokuto – A straight single edged sword most commonly found in the Kofun period prior to the Tenth Century. Chokuto were forged in a simple manner somewhat similar to a machete without differential clay tempering or folding of the steel. There is some speculation that the Chokuto is actually the precursor to the Ninjato (Ninja Sword) depicted in Ninja movies and popular culture however it is generally considered that the straight bladed Ninjato was never actually used by the Shinobi of the Sengoku Jidai period (1467-1603) who would have favoured the Shinobigatana (Shorter Ninja Katana) or standard Katana obtained from fallen opponents on the battlefield or by some other method.
Tsurugi/Ken – A straight double edged broadsword that was produced mainly prior to the Tenth Century without folding or differentially clay tempering the blades. Tsurugi are considered to be divine swords and are often used now by Shinto Priests during ceremonies. The Tsurugi is so old in fact that no techniques recorded on animal skins or bamboo slithers on its usage have survived the passage of time, however, it is still considered to be of significant importance with the Tachi and Katana as they illustrate the historical evolution of the Japanese nation.
Tachi – A large curved sword designed to be worn with the curvature (Sori) of the blade facing downwards when hanging from the Obi (Belt). The Tachi often had a longer blade with a more pronounced Sori starting at the Nakago (Tang) or the centre of the blade, This provided a far more efficient cutting edge by comparison to the earlier Chokuto and Tsurugi due to the smaller area of cutting space creating far more pounds of pressure per square inch on contact with the target, enabling the Tachi to cleave through it with far less resistance. The Tachi was mainly worn suspended from the Samurais belt (Obi) on his armour (Yoroi) and this served a very practical purpose, the plates of armour surrounding the wrist made it almost impossible to draw the Tachi in the same fashion that you see most modern Kenjutsu practitioners drawing their Katana today, with the curvature (Sori) facing upwards when worn directly through the practitioners Obi. The Tachi was mainly popular up until the 15th century when forging processes improved the need for more practical swords arose.
Uchigatana – The Uchigatana was the evolution of the Tachi in the Fifteenth Century, unlike the Tachi the Uchigatana was worn with the curvature (Sori) facing upwards. During the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) the use of the Uchigatana became widespread in Japan, although generally the Uchigatana was only used by low ranking Ashigaru. Uchigatana when translated means “Sword to strike with”. It was during the Momoyama period (1573 – 1600) that the Tachi was almost completely abandoned by the higher ranking Samurai and replaced with a set of Daisho, a set of long and short Uchigatana which became the dominant symbol of the Samurai class. The Momoyama period was during the final stages of the Sengoku Jidai (Age of warring states period) when the Tokugawa Shogunate unified Japan. No early examples of the Uchigatana have survived to this day as initially they were considered disposable and were not forged to a high standard.
Katate Uchigatana – A shorter single handed variant of the Uchigatana developed in the Sixteenth Century, The precursor to the Wakizashi. Usually called A Shoto when worn with Daito forming the Daisho two sword set of Uchigatana.
Katana – The Katana was the evolution of the Uchigatana and was the sword of the Samurai class during the Edo period (1600 – 1900). The Katana can be forged in a variety of styles with different cross sections and geometric specifications, some of which are famous historical treasures such as the Bizen Osafune and Soshu Kitae blades produced by the famous Katana Kaji (Swordsmith) Masamune. The general specifications for a Katana are a blade over the length of 60 cm with a shallower curvature (Sori) than the Tachi, however the blade length was not limited to any length in particular but it is rare to find a katana over 80 cm in length. The Katana was always worn through the Obi (Belt) with Sori facing upwards in the same way as the Uchigatana, This enabled the Katana to be drawn and a cut to be performed in one single simultaneous motion.
Wakizashi – The Wakizashi was the companion sword to the Katana in much the same way as the Katate Uchigatana / Shoto was the companion sword to the Uchigatana / Daito to form the Daisho pairing. The Wakizashi was always worn with the curvature facing upwards in the Obi and is generally between one and two Shaku in length (30 cm – 60 cm). The Wakizashi was also the only sword that was allowed to be worn by anyone other than the ruling Samurai class and was predominantly produced during the 1600s.
Kodachi – A smaller variant of the Tachi mostly found before the 13th century. It was exactly the same as the Tachi in every way just with everything scaled down, a Tachi precursor to the Katate Uchigatana and
Wakizashi. The Kodachi has the same pronounced Sori from the Nakago as the Tachi and translates as “little big sword”. • Ōdachi – A battlefield variant of the Tachi measuring at over100 cmm which translates as “Great Sword/ Big Sword," Sometimes referred to as Nodachi “Battlefield Sword” due to its intended application. The Odachi was mainly produced during the Fourteenth Century and they were used to dismount charging enemy cavalry by cutting the legs off of the horse. There are obvious practical drawbacks to the Odachi due to its length which make it near impossible for an individual swordsman to draw at any speed and very heavy to use. This meant that often Samurai would carry them tied to their backs using Tasuki (Sleeve ties) or Sageo (Saya Cord) and have the swordsman next to them draw their Odachi whilst they drew out the Odachi on their back forming a similar stance (Kamae) to a Tori Gate. Sasaki Kojirō was a master swordsman renowned for his use of the Nodachi (1585 – 1612) from Fukui prefecture. • Nagamaki – The Nagamaki (Long Wrapping) is a form of Nihonto which has an extremely long Tsuka (Handle) measuring 26.75 inches with a blade at a 24 inches making the Nagamaki 54 inches in length when mounted in full Koshirae. The blade of the Nagamaki is similar to a Tachi or Katana but with and extended Nakago (Tang) at a length of 20 inches and it was used by the Samurai class of gradual Japan. The exact origins o the Nagamaki are hard to determine but it is most likely that they were first produced during the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333) as there are no known examples before this period and then reached their peak of usage during the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573). Although the blade type was important they were somewhat interchangeable and could be forged in different Kitae (laminating methods) and blade geometries, By definition the primary aspect of the Nagamaki was the distinctive long Tsukamaki wrapped handle. Nagamaki were often used by Sohei (Warrior Monks) as well as the Samurai classes. • Naginata – The Naginata was a traditional pole-arm used by the Samurai composed of a long wooden shaft with a short sword (Wakizashi) attached to one end and is the signature weapon of the Onna-Bugeisha a form of female nobility who were warriors trained to use the Naginata. The weapon was not just exclusively used by the Onna-Bugeisha but the Samurai, Ashigaru and Sohei Warrior Monks as well. It’s important to explain that their were several variations of Naginata but most distinctively the O-Naginata used by the Samurai and Sohei and the Ko-Naginata used by the Onna-Bugeisha, This was to compensate for the difference between the Onna-Bugeisha and armour (Yoroi) wearing Samurai. The Naginata is an extremely effective weapon with exceptional cutting capability so it was often an essential part of any warrior’s arsenal. • Yari – The Yari is a traditional Japanese spear that comes in a wide variety of different blade types, The most common being the Su Yari (Straight Spear) measuring roughly one Shaku (30 cm) in length but other variations include the Jumonji Yari (Cross Spear), Sankaku Yari (Triangle Spear), Ryo-Shinogi Yari (Diamond spear), Fukuro Yari (Socket Spear), Kikuchi Yari (Single Edged Yari), Yajiri Nari Yari (Spade Spear), Jogekama Yari (Alternating Cross Spear), Karigata Yari (Downward Cross Spear), Gyaku Yari (Cross Horn Yari), Kama Yari (Sickle Spear), Kata Kama Yari (One Sided Sickle Spear), Tsuki Nari Yari (Moon Shaped Spear), Kagi Yari (Hook Spear). The list is endless. The art of spear fighting is called Sojutsu in Japan and is extremely extensive. • Tanto – A Tanto (Short Sword) is a form of Nihonto that was essential for every Samurai and date back to the Heian period. The Tanto was a single edged dagger mainly designed for slashing and stabbing with a blade ranging in length between 15 – 30 cm. The Tanto was mounted in full Koshirae and was generally used for close quarters combat or as a last resort when disarmed and are often used now to practice Tantojutsu (Knife Fighting). There are a huge variety of blade geometries available for Tanto such as Shinogi Zukiri (Common Tanto Kanmuri Otoshi Zukiri (Thin Tip Tanto), Unokubi Zukiri (Cranes Neck), Kissaki-Muroha (Double Edged). Often the two Tanto you are most likely to encounter are the Shinogi Zukiri Tanto and Shinogi Zukiri Aikuchi, The Aikuchi is simply a Tanto without a prominent Tsuba usually used to stab in between plates in Yoroi (Armour). Another important factor to consider is that traditional Japanese Nihonto production is divided into time periods: •
Jōkotō “ancient swords” around 900 AD.
Kotō ”Old Swords” 900–1596
Shintō “New Swords” 1596–1780
Shinshintō “New New Swords” 1781–1876
Gendaitō “Modern Swords” 1876–1945
Shinsakutō “Newly Made Swords” 1953–present
The second major factor to consider is the forging and laminating process used to produce your Nihonto. Contrary to popular belief owning an antique Daisho set used by a Sixteenth Century Samurai doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll own the best quality Nihonto available, in fact it’s highly unlikely unless they are historical treasures, in which case they should be on display in a museum and not used for martial arts practice. The fact is the overall quality of traditional Japanese Tamahagane (Iron Ore) isn’t great quality which necessitated the development of enhanced forging processes to create high quality Nihonto that were resilient yet flexible. This was achieved by laminating layers of steel with varying carbon purity levels into cross sections called Kitae. The varying gradient of steel meant that hard, medium and soft steels could be laminated into layers that provided the blade with the hard sharp cutting edge needed to cut efficiently while providing the softer steel needed for the blade to flex and not shatter if impacted. The diagram provided (left) demonstrates how the blades are constructed conforming to traditional laminating methods know as Kitae which form a pattern when viewing a cross section of the blade. When looking at buying Nihonto online you will often see numbers like 1045, 1065, 1095 but what does that mean exactly? These numbers are indications to the steels carbon purity levels or to put it another way how soft or hard the blades are, the general guideline is the higher the carbon purity level the stronger the steel is. This becomes more complicated when you start looking at swords forged in certain Kitae however. 1045 carbon steel 1065 carbon steel and 1095 are all Maru Kitae (Single Steel) and when you begin to progress past them you will start seeing blades forged in Kobuse Kitae (Hard Case, Soft Core) and Gomai Kitae (Hard spine, Soft Core, Hard Case) which are forged using the traditional methods used by the
Samurai themselves. Generally 1065 and 1095 Maru Kitae blades are good for martial arts provided that they aren’t being used for cutting practice (Tameshigiri) on hard targets. 1095 Carbon Steel Maru Kitae blades are perfect for cutting mats with a bamboo core. 1045 Carbon Steel is usually used in decorative display Katana and wall hangers so it’s not advisable to use a Maru Kitae blade forged from 1045 Carbon Steel as that’s not its intended purpose and it will likely bend or warp the blade. It should be mentioned that live Shinken (Sharp) Katana should never be used in the dojo in any other situation than when practicing Tameshigiri (Test cutting on mats) or Sumnogiri (Test cutting on free standing targets) and this is only ever demonstrated by experienced martial arts practitioners. Most of the time Bokken (Wooden Swords) are what yo should train with inside and outside the dojo except in the case of Iaido where Iaito (Blunt blades) are used. Accidents can and do happen when training with live bladed Shinken Nihonto so, it’s important to treat them with the respect they command.
My third and final point to consider is the Koshirae you mount onto your Katana. When you first buy a new Nihonto its in pristine condition and then within the first few hours of trying out your new sword you will catch the Saya on something and dent it, or perhaps drop the sword itself damaging the edges of the Koshirae on the Tsuka. This is unfortunate but inevitable and one thing that surprised me when I first started building Nihonto was that people would see this as ruining their sword because they had damaged it in some way. A sword is intended to be trained with unless it is being kept as an heirloom in which case it shouldn’t be used in the first place. The Saya and Koshirae are replaceable on your Nihonto but for some reason people assume Nihonto shouldn’t be capable of incurring any form of damage and once any damage is done then the sword needs replacing entirely. This just simply isn’t the case. It was common practice, as mentioned previously, for the Samurai to customize and change their Katanas Koshirae in a way that was representative of the things they held dear. When you buy a new Nihonto the most important factor to consider is blade quality, everything else is replaceable, usually a replacement blade would be kept mounted in Shirasaya (White Scabbard) which are simple plain wooden fittings used primarily for storage over prolonged periods of time and for protection of the blade. Keeping a Nihonto mounted in Koshirae for extended periods of time is actually detrimental to the blade as it allows condensation and moisture to build up inside the Saya which over time will cause the blade to rust. Shirasaya were traditionally made from Nurizaya wood and were very simple fittings consisting of a Saya, Tsuka, Mekugi and the Nihonto itself so, when the Samurai knew his Katana would not be used for a while or needed repairing he would remove the original Koshirae and mount the blade in Shirasaya until it was needed again.
Shirasaya were never intended to be used as a standalone Nihonto in their own right but they often get mixed up with the Shikomizue (Stick Swords) commonly seen used by the Ninja. Try to view your Nihonto as something that should be built upon and personalized, it’s often difficult for any Kenjutsu (Sword Art) practitioner to buy the sword that feels right for them, that’s because often you need to strip it back to its base and build it to the specifications that suit your needs. Now, obviously that’s not quite as easy as it sounds as it takes a long time to learn and develop the skills necessary to build Nihonto, but there are a number of services available that for a reasonable fee will undertake any repairs and customize your Katana for you to your specifications. Everything is replaceable on your Katana so its easy enough to source replacement parts such as Saya, Tsuba, Fuchi, Kashira, Menuki, Habaki, Sageo, etc. Please feel free to contact us at www.ningu.co.uk You should also consider the intended use for your Nihonto. You don’t train with live bladed weapons in the Dojo, so often only high ranking martial arts practitioner invest significant sums of money into their Katana as they have the skill needed to train with an expensive blade without the fear of writing it off entirely. You should never train with Shinken Katana if you are a beginner, ever, it’s far too dangerous! Stick with Bokken until you are proficient in your art enough to train with Iaito and then finally Shinken Nihonto. In conclusion use common sense. Nihonto are extremely dangerous and expensive, treat them with respect. It’s your responsibility as the owner to conduct yourself in a safe and respectful manner or otherwise you will inevitably seriously injure yourself or somebody else. In my next article I will take an in depth look at Tsukamaki (Handle wrapping) styles for Nihonto.
Yòubǔ Shŏu - 誘捕⼿ - or Trapping Hands, is a most excellent training method for students to help develop timing, balance, coordination, reflexive violence and, of course, how to avoid being hit
What I'll be doing in this section, is to show you how to start your trapping hands training, like everything else, one step at a time. I have some great memories of myself and Erle doing trapping hands. One of the things he would say, “Don't let me hit you or I will!” and believe me I had a few, but all good fun (it’s called learning). 1.You and your partner should be standing about an arms length away from each other, (it’s like you making a fist and it’s just touching his nose, (Photo 1). 2. Your Partner throws a punch towards your nose, with your left hand you divert his punch to the left, (Photo 2). 3. Your right hand will take over and bring it across to the right (Photo 3), then your left hand taps your partners right arm,(Photo 4), and you punch your partners nose with your right fist (Photo 5). 4. Now it's your partner’s turn to punch. What you and your partner are going to do is to keep taking turns, but keep in mind you are aiming for the nose each time you and your partner are throwing the punch. You practice this on both sides.
There are a few more moves to learn in trapping hands, we'll call this Part One. I am in the middle of producing a DVD on Trapping Hands. It’s what we call the “good oil” and I teach this to all my students just as Erle used to teach this to me. We have a lot of training methods in Erle's system and Trapping Hands is just one of them. I shall be going over the remaining components of Trapping Hands in future issues of Lift Hands Magazine. This is simply an introduction to this subject.
first met Shihan Keith Priestley at the
Warriorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Assemble Fighting Spirit Awards in October 2016. Little did I know at the time that, within a space of a year, he would become someone I would proudly call a dear friend! The greatest thing about Keith (apart from the fact that he is one of the top-shelf martial artists and instructors in the land) is his humbleness and his humour - a trait of his Yorkshire roots, no doubt! There is probably no honour or championship that Keith has not already won or had bestowed upon him! Yet, none of these are of any importance to him nor does he go around listing them or displaying them like some proud peacock. He is what can only be described as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;true salt of the earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; type, who has taken his own martial arts journey to another level and now I believe, is helping others to achieve the same. As a martial artist, there is no doubt that, he is 'old school' - tough as nails and dedicated to teaching the arts realistically and traditionally. This is shown in the fact that for the past several years Keith has been leading and taking a team of his up and coming students to train, study and fight in Japan - where they themselves have achieved many honours in their own right! His dojo in Bradford, Yorkshire - Fight Club 1 - is a testimony to his
teachings by the calibre of martial artists and students it is producing.
Martial arts aside, Shihan Keith Priestley works tirelessly to raise funds for charitable causes. Whether it is to help someone in the local community or further afield - a friend or a stranger - he is always one of the first to respond to the call! I have personally had the privilege to witness perhaps one of the most selfless acts I have ever seen in my life, during the British Martial Arts Awards 2017, which involved Shihan Keith Priestley. Keith had very emotionally put up a family heirloom - an actual Japanese officer’s katana with much history - for auction to raise funds for our friend Tony Pillage’s cancer treatment. The winning bidder returned Keith’s selflessness by handing the katana back to him! I could go on and write much more about Keith but my words would be just that… words! The man stands far above words and it is always an honour to be with him and learn from his knowledge and humility. So, here we are… Lift Hands presents Shihan Keith Priestly. LH: Shihan Keith Priestly, please tell our readership a bit about yourself. KP: My journey into the arts started many, many years ago - with Judo. My teacher, Mr Rodwell, was a Judoka. I loved all the combat and throwing, and the discipline - it just suited me. Soon, by chance, I would find Karate. I joined a school - Bradford Shotokan Karate Club - run by Brian Nicholson, who had just come back from Japan, his standard was very high and demanding. I was soon into the fighting side of it, and began competing .Titles soon followed. When my instructor retired, I was gutted, but he told me I should now take over the dojo. So, I did and never looked back! After a few years of teaching, I thought I would delve into other forms of the arts. Kendo was my next venture but, after 4 years the instructor closed the club. So, I looked into another - Kickboxing. I met Bob Sykes at a local tournament, fought him, lost, but I knew thats where I was going. My club turned into a kickboxing school. We became a very successful school and toured Europe. It was in Italy, where I met Sosai Kimura, a Kyokushin instructor from Japan. He asked me if I would go to Japan to train with him? Japan was always a dream, it became a reality and now I lead the England and Euro team - I take a team every year to Japan. Things and paths have by chance led me to the best Instructors in England and further a field. I am still learning after 53 years. I do not know where my journey will take me next, but I will love the ride! LH: If you had to leave earth on a spaceship and take 4 people with you, who would they be? KP: Nasser Butt, Anthony Pillage, Peter Ustinov, Dali Lama. LH: If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be? KP: 18 years old! LH: What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? KP: Is it snowing? LH: What is your greatest strength or weakness? KP: My mind is set for strength. Weakness - I wear my heart on my sleeve . LH: Do you trust anyone with your life? KP: Yes!
With Sosai Kimura in Niigata, Japan 2012
LH: What bloopers would be on the gag reel of your life? KP: Turning up to one of my students funeral, but went to the wrong one! LH: What have you always wanted? Did you ever get it? KP: Perfection! Still working on it. LH: Do you know your heritage? KP: Yes! LH: Are you still learning who you are? KP: Yes, every day is a school day! LH:What, if anything, are you afraid of and why? KP: Losing all my friends! LH: What is the most memorable class you have ever taken? KP: Down in Cambridge at Neil Kirkland’s - I did a class with Scott Caldwell. LH:What’s your favourite book? KP: The Book of Five Rings! LH: What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing? KP: Bob Sykes - doing a tab with the SAS on the Yorkshire Moors Feb 2 night time. Nearly killed me, but I finished - only 5 out of 22! LH: Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? KP: Martial Arts. LH: Mountains or sea… which would you choose to be closer to? KP: Mountains! LH: What was the worst thing you did as a child? KP: I tipped my gran out of her wheel chair by accident! LH: If you had to change your name, what would your new name be, and why would you choose that name? KP: I would never change my name but, if I had to, Predator - my fight name - just hunting you down was my style! LH: If you could select one person from history and ask them one question - who would you select and what would the question be? KP: Vincent van Gogh - I’d ask him what tormented him so much that he would cut his ear off? LH: How would you describe your art in ten words or less? KP: Brutally enjoyable and demanding! LH: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable time with us Shihan Keith Priestly. It’s been an honour to spend time with you and I hope our readers will see more of you in our future issues.
Folk often get confused over the names of postures from Taijiquan. This is not surprising considering the variety of ‘different’ forms and family styles now available to the potential practitioners. Technically speaking, when one speaks of Taijiquan's ‘postures’, what we are really talking about are the dynamics of movement - it is not the final ‘posture' which is important but, rather, recognizing the dynamics we have used to get there! The purpose of this current effort is not to argue as to which family form is the more authentic and what postures they lack or contain. The purpose here is simply to give the posture names and their sequential order as I and others have inherited them in the ‘Old’ Yang from our traditions, tracing back to Yang Shou-hou. That the members of the Yang family taught forms with variations is an accepted fact - a fact which only a fool would deny! However, despite the variations we can find most of the postures across these forms. I would like to add a couple of caveats here… firstly, in a form based upon fluid movement, where exactly does one ‘posture’ begin and another one end, and what about the interim, more subtle, motions? The answer to this question is important and leads us directly to our own understanding of the 13 Dynamics themselves - the ‘alphabet’ of Taijiquan! Secondly, the Chinese language and its translations by even the Chinese themselves, have proven difficult due to its complex nature and the fact that we are using a terminology here which, in some instances, is unique to Taijiquan, as well as martial arts in general. So, unless one knows the ‘speak,’ there will always be debate. I must here profess that I do not speak Chinese, although I am familiar with certain specific terminology and speak and read two native Asian languages, which allows me to interpret nuance. I have many native students from the mainland, with a high degree of linguistic skills and the fact that there are far better translations appearing in the public domain of older texts on Taiji and Chinese martial arts, which are constantly helping us better our understanding. The list below should be considered as a work in progress and one should pay heed to and contemplate upon the descriptions and their frequency and variations. A more detailed exposition on the ‘Old’ Yang with reference to its postures will appear in the next issue of Lift Hands.
20. Brush Knee Obstinate Step Right 21. Hands Play Pippa (Lute)
22. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right
1. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail: Arn Left (To Leave Aside or Shelve/To Control/To restrain) Block Right P’eng (Ward-off) Block Left Double P’eng Lu (Rollback Low) Ji (To Squeeze/To Press/To Cram) Reverse Lu (Rollback High) Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn (To Press)
23. Advance, Parry, Grasp, Hammer Release Qi 24. Sit Back 25. Appear To Seal & Shut (Squeeze & Sit Back) 26. Ten Character Hands Pause
Part Two 27. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step
2. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes
28. Spread The Weave
3. Fishes In Eight
29. Capture The Tiger & Send It Back To Its Mountain
4. Single Whip (Lash)
30. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Double P’eng Lu Ji Reverse Lu Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn
5. Spear Fingers Pierce To Rear 6. Double Dragon Palms 7. Reverse Dragon Hands 8. Release Qi 9. Raise The Hands; Step Forward
31. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes
10. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Double P’eng Lu
32. Fishes in Eight 33. Hide Behind The Tree (Variant Of Diagonal Single Whip)
11. Kào (Shoulder Stroke/Bump) 12. Crane Reveals Its Wings In A Brilliant Display
34. Guard Your House
13. Spread The Weave Left
35. Beware The Double Hammer Under The Elbow (Left & Right) - Release Qi
14. Spread The Weave Right
36. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Right) (Tripping)
15. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right
37. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Left) (Tripping)
16. Right Empty Left Full
38. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Right) (Tripping)
17. Hands Play Pipa (Lute)
39. Spear The Armour
18. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right
40. Snake Wraps Around The Willow Tree
19. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Left
41. Middle Winding - Release Qi 42. Wild Horse Veers Its Mane
64. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes
43. Spear Fingers Pierce To Rear
65. Fishes In Eight
44. Double Dragon Palms
66. Single Whip (Lash)
45. Reverse Dragon Hands
67. Clouding Hands (X4) - Part One
46. Release Qi
68. Single Whip (Lash)
47. Raise The Hands; Step Forward
69. Sit Back & Lift Up The Heavens
48. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Double P’eng Lu)
70. Rising Up & Reaching Out To The Horse (Rear Leg)
49. Kào 50. Crane Reveals Its Wings In A Brilliant Display (Old Style Facing North) 51. Spread The Weave Left 52. Spread The Weave Right 53. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right 54. Right Yin, Left Yang 55. Picking The Golden Needle At Sea Bottom
71. Spread The Weave - Right 72. Sitting Like Duck (Right Leg) 73. Separation Of Right Leg: (Right Kick) 74. Rising Up & Reaching Out To The Horse (Front Leg) 75. Spread the Weave - Left 76. Sitting Like Duck (Left Leg) 77. Separation of Left Leg: (Left Instep Kick) 78. Block Right
56. Fan Through The Arms
79. Turn Around & Left Heel Kick
57. Turn Around & Lock Wrist, Attack to No. 3
80. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right
58. Torso Flung Hammer
81. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Left
59. Willow Tree Sways In The Breeze (Parry, Penetration Hammer - Right)
82. Advance, Plant Hammer
60. Retreat, Willow Tree Sways In The Breeze (Parry, Penetration Hammer - Left)
83. Cutting Hands 84. Double Leaping Kick - Release Qi
61. Gathering To Release
85. Carry The Bread On Arms - Right
62. Release The Qi: Hammer
86. Subdue The Tiger, Drape The Body Left Release Qi
63. Advancing Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Calm the Spirit By Pressing the Points (Alternate Lu) Ji Reverse Lu Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn
87. Carry The Bread On Arms - Left 88. Subdue The Tiger, Drape The Body Right Release Qi 89. Block Left 90. Right Heel Kick
91. Pull Down, Double Hammers
112. Fishes in Eight
92. Double Wind Through Ears (Double Phoenix Hammers)
113. Diagonal Single Whip (Lash)
93. Spear Hands With Sit 94. Slant the Body, Stomp The Head 95. Take A Walk 96. Cross Kick 97. Knife & Spear Fingers 98. Raise Hands 1 99. Raise Hands 2 100. Rising Up & Reaching Out To The Horse (Rear Leg) 101. Advance, Willow Tree Sways In The Breeze (Parry, Penetration Hammer - Left) 102 Gathering To Release 103. Release The Qi: Hammer 104. Sit Back
114. Kào 115. Slant Flying Right 116. Kào 117. Slant Flying Left 118. Kào 119. Slant Flying Right 120. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Sit Back, Snake Hands Alternative P’eng Block Left Double P’eng Lu Kào Step Up, Barge Ji Right High Reverse Lu Advance Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn
105. Appear To Seal & Shut (Squeeze & Sit Back)
121. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes
106. Ten Character Hands
122. Fishes In Eight
123. Single Whip (Lash)
124. Ten Character Hands
107. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step 108. Spread The Weave 109. Capture The Tiger & Send It Back To Its Mountain 110. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Double P’eng Lu Ji Reverse Lu Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn 111. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes
125. Jade Maiden Threads Shuttle (North East) 126. Hammer Palm, Clouding Hands 127. Ten Character Hands 128. Wrap The Silk, Step Around, Wén Wǔ Unite 129. Flower Blooms (Back palm) 130. Spear Fingers 131. Jade Maiden Threads Shuttle (North West) 132. Hammer Palm, Clouding Hands 133. Ten Character Hands 134. Jade Maiden Threads Shuttle (South West) 135. Hammer Palm, Clouding Hands
136. Ten Character Hands
159. Release Qi
137. Wrap The Silk, Step Around, Wén Wǔ Unite
160. Raise The Hands; Step Forward
138. Flower Blooms (Back palm)
161. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Double P’eng Lu
139. Spear Fingers 140. Jade Maiden Threads Shuttle Alternate (South East) 141. Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Sit Back, Snake Hands Alternative P’eng Block Left Double P’eng Lu Kào Step Up, Barge Ji Right High Reverse Lu Advance Lower Ji - Release Qi Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn 142. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes 143. Fishes In Eight 144. Single Whip (Lash) 145. Step Behind Clouding Hands (X4) - Part Two 146. Squatting Single Whip (Snake Creeps Down) 147. Golden Rooster Stands On Right Leg 148. Advance, Golden Rooster Stands On Left Leg
149. Step Back & Repulse Monkey (Right Tripping) 150. Collapse, Repulse Monkey Right 151. Collapse, Repulse Monkey Left 152. Collapse, Repulse Monkey Right 153. Snake Wraps Around The Willow Tree 154. Middle Winding - Release Qi 155. Wild Horse Veers Its Mane 156. Spear Fingers Pierce To Rear 157. Double Dragon Palms 158. Reverse Dragon Hands
162. Kào 163. Crane Reveals Its Wings In A Brilliant Display (Old Style Facing North) 164. Spread The Weave Left 165. Spread The Weave Right 166. Brush Knee & Obstinate Step Right 167. Right Yin, Left Yang 168. Picking The Golden Needle At Sea Bottom 169. Fan Through The Arms 170. Turn Around, White Snake Flicks Its Tongue 171. Willow Tree Sways In The Breeze (Parry, Penetration Hammer - Right) 172. Advance, Willow Tree Sways In The Breeze (Parry, Penetration Hammer - Left) 173. Gathering To Release 174. Release The Qi: Hammer 175. Advancing Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Calm the Spirit By Pressing the Points (Alternate Lu) Ji Reverse Lu Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn 176. Sit Back Ready Like A Monkey Snake Fingers To the Eyes 177. Fishes In Eight 178. Single Whip (Lash) 179. Step Behind, Release Qi Clouding Hands (X4) Part Three 180. Single Whip (Lash)
181. Step Up & Lift Up The Heavens
208. Hidden Hammer (Right)
182. Rising Up & Reaching Out To The Horse (Rear Leg) Alternate Version
209. Advancing Seize The Sparrow By The Tail (Variation): Calm the Spirit By Pressing the Points (Alternate Lu) Ji Reverse Lu Lower Ji Double Spear Hands Double Elbows Arn
183. Inspect The Horse’s Mouth (West) 184. Inspect The Horse’s Mouth (North East) 185. Sweep The Enemy Left & Right 186. Crescent Kick With Spear Hands 187 Trap & Attack The Life Force
210. Squatting Single Whip (Snake Creeps Down) Variation
188. Calm The Spirit By Pressing The Points (Alternate Lu)
211. Step Forward With The Big Dipper Hammer (Seven Stars)
189. Reverse Palms Ji (Old Style)
212. Collapse, Ten Character Hands
190. Bending Backwards 1
213. Ride Tiger Back to Mountain
191. Bending Backwards 2
214. Rising Up & Reaching Out To The Horse (Rear Leg)
192. Bending Backwards 3 193. Immortal Points The Way (Attack The Vital Points) 194. Crane Reveals Its Wings In A Brilliant Display (Third Variant - Low Posture) 195. Reverse P’eng 196. Pigeon Flies To Heaven 197. Buddha Pounds The Mortar✶ 198. Qi Resting
215. Sweep The Enemy (T-Step) 216. Turn Around, Double Slap Sever The Lotus Stem 217. Vital Low Hammer; Release Qi 218. Mailed Hammer (Bending to Avoid Attack, Reattack) 219. Double Wind Through Ears (Double Phoenix Hammers) 220. Bend The Bow To Shoot the Tiger
199. Raise Hands
221. Advance, Parry, Grasp, Hammer Release Qi Softly
200. Ten Character Hands
222. Sit Back
201. Hammer High & Low
223. Appear To Seal & Shut (Squeeze & Sit Back)
202. Crane Reveals Its Wings In A Brilliant Display (Fourth Variant)
224. Ten Character Hands
203. Drop Down & Break Elbow 204. Pull Forward & Attack To Rear & Front 205. Hidden Hammer (Left) 206. Sleeves Dancing Like Plum Blossoms 207. Double Hammers
225. Merge With The Grand Polarity
HADJIOS VALLEY RESORT T’AI CHI CH’UAN WEEKEND MAZOTOS, CYPRUS November 8/13, 2018 - Camp Details
Fa-jing Ch'uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools are pleased to announce our third annual T'ai Chi Ch'uan Camp on the sun-drenched island of Cyprus in November 2018. Based at the scenic Hadjios Valley Resort in Mazotos - a couple of kilometres from the pristine beaches off the Mediterranean coastline this will be a great opportunity to learn one of the most ancient Chinese martial arts, renowned for its health properties, on the island of Aphrodite over 5 days. The camp will include: Qigong Old Yang Style T'ai Chi Practical Training Methods For Health/ Martial Arts Self-Defence Plus One Day for Exploring the Island Whether you are a novice or already have some experience and would simply like to brush up on the foundations, or have ever
wondered how the art is used as a system of selfdefence - then this will be the perfect way to get a great insight into T'ai chi Ch’uan (Taijiquan). You will receive a minimum of 5 hours of training under instruction over 4 days.
and can sleep up to 4 people sharing.
Date: Thursday-Tuesday 8/13 November 2018
Meals: This year, after careful deliberation, we have decided to offer a self-catering service allowing guests the freedom to choose what they eat as they please.
Cost of training: 225 Euros for those registering by Monday 31 August 2018. (The cost will rise to 250 Euros for those registering after this date.) Cost of Accommodation: 250 Euros/Villa based upon a minimum of 5 nights at Apollo Villas. (Each additional night is 40 Euros for those wishing to extend their stay.) We have negotiated an exclusive special rate with Apollo Villas, allowing you to spend five days in luxury at an incredibly low price!
All villas are fully furnished, including a functional kitchen as well as a washing machine and fridge. Full Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort at no extra cost.
All guests will find a basic ‘Welcome Pack’ upon arrival at their villa for making their own breakfast , etc. For lunch and supper we have negotiated a special rate at the local Mazotos Tavern - based in the centre of the village, where Bambos and his family serve up the most delicious traditional meals with a wonderful friendly service!
Please note, although partners and family are welcome, accommodation will be prioritized for those training!
Alternatively, folk are free to make their own arrangements or even cook in the villa, buying produce from the local high street, if they so wish.
Each villa is selfcontained and has two bedrooms (see below)
Participants will be expected to arrive on site by Thursday evening
8 November 2018 and depart Tuesday 13 November after the final training session, unless they have extended their stay in advance. All accommodation costs must be paid in full at the time of registration. (PLEASE NOTE THESE ARE NONREFUNDABLE.) Nearest Airport: Larnaca (15 km from resort). Information for local carhire services is available upon request. Please contact Nasser Butt for further information and registration: Tel: +44(0)7792242150 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit our website for further information on what we teach: www.fajing-chuan.co.uk Website for Hadjios Valley: www.apollovillas.com/ hadjios-valley/ 1 Hadjios Valley Griva Digeni 44, Mazotos, Larnaca 7577 CYPRUS
arch 2018 will be a memorable month for many reasons, but none more so then my first trip to Corbetta,
Italy. Whilst the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma dumped masses of snow upon the UK, with temperatures plummeting to as low as minus 14˚C in some parts of the country (not counting the windchill), I wondered if I’d be even making it onto the plane heading towards Milan as transport up and down the country ground to a halt! The last time we had had any snow of this significance was way back in the early nineties, and whilst I love the cold, this couldn't have arrived at a worse time. Keeping one eye on the storm and the other on flight information at Luton airport, I started the drive at 2.30 am, along with Krish Pillay and Indy Singh. Through heavy snow, we managed to arrive at the airport carpark without much incident other than the fact that in the brewing mist and fog I almost missed my exit. However, having said that, parking at our designated spot at the airport became a whole different challenge altogether! With so much snow on the ground it was impossible to see the bay markings on the ground and it appeared that people had just randomly left their cars where they thought the lines might be! Anyhow, Indy got out of the car and started kicking the snow around to see if we could work out where the bay was… I was concerned if we didn’t park the car legally, whether my car insurance would be valid if another driver skidded into the parked vehicle. Anyhow, Indy estimated that we were in the right spot. The airport was surprisingly busy for the time of the morning and especially under the circumstances, as flights were being cancelled across the board. We headed towards airport security, I, myself, kept my distance from both Indy and Krish with their dodgy beards - the last thing I wanted on this cold morning was someone's gloved hand up my bottom especially after Indy had informed me that he had been probed going through security several times already whilst departing from various destinations! Thankfully, I breezed through without incident, as did the other two. Indy went off to seek some Dutch courage, whilst Krish and
With Pipo… Erle Montaigue’s Representative for Italy
I sat near a coffee bar waiting for the gate to be announced. To our surprise, boarding began promptly and we were soon seated and… we sat, and sat and sat! The plane had to be defrosted as did the runway, following which we had to wait for a safety team to arrive to give us the all clear! After sitting on the plane for almost two hours, we finally took off - Indy’s Dutch courage having already worn off, around the time we should have been landing in Milan! An hour and a half later, we were already descending into Milan, which was also under a cover of snow. After a long wait at the immigration desk we finally stepped out into Milan’s arrivals hall and before I could even spot Pipo in the crowd, Monica Mitoli - my oldest Italian student and dearest of friends - pounced upon me out of nowhere with a gigantic hug and kiss! With time at a premium, we rushed to the car and were soon on our way to Corbetta, a small town approximately a 40 minute drive from Milan. After a quick pitstop at the B&B where we were spending the night and an even quicker bite to eat, we were soon standing in the courtyard of La Favorita, a quaint school with an almost Chinese temple-like appearance! Very soon the participants started to arrive and with my non-existent Italian and a few hand gestures we greeted one another as Pipo carried out the introductions and Monica acted as interpreter. With the introductions done, we were ready to begin.
Taiji is an art based upon movement. However, it is not simply moving for the sake of moving but, rather, ‘Moving With Awareness’ according to no less an authority than Yang Ban-hou - the only other Yang to inherit the title ‘Invincible’ after Yang Lu-ch’an himself! The term ‘moving with awareness' breaks down into four components as expounded by Yang Ban-hou and is critical in our understanding of Taiji's 13 Dynamics and our training of them as a part of our innate nature: "The eight trigrams and five elements are innate within us. You must first understand that they are based in these four terms: perception, realization, activation, action. [These four terms amount to “moving with awareness”… To break movement and awareness into their component parts results in: moving = the activation of movement + the act of moving, and awareness = the perception that something is + the realization of what it is. In short, moving with awareness. Once you have achieved moving with awareness, then you will be able to identify energies. Once you can identify energies, then you will be able to be miraculous. But in the beginning of training, you should understand moving with awareness. Although it is innate, it is nevertheless hard to achieve within oneself." Taiji Fa Shuo Explaining Taiji Principles Attributed to Yang Ban-hou Circa 1875 So, the words of Yang Ban-hou set the theme of our training for the weekend incorporating the first third of the Old Yang form, the Small San-sau and the basic circles of Dǎ Shou - Striking/Joining Hands! We began with footwork, understanding why the bow stance (Gōng Bù) is the basis of everything we do in Taiji and that all other ‘stances’ emerge from understanding this one stance through either a contraction or an expansion, or both. Using the bow stance as a baseline, we went on to correctly establish the parameters for the single whip footwork, followed by the heel and toe ‘stances', the reverse bow stance and their function. It is imperative that the foundations of any system are taught correctly and progressively! Far too often socalled masters try to bamboozle students with ‘advanced' forms. This, sadly, is nothing more than an act of chicanery with which to impress and the practitioners can soon be found out! We have clearly been warned in the most important Taiji Classic - Great Pole Boxing: The Theory - by no less an authority than Wang Zongyue himself: “Many mistakenly discard the near and seek afar. This is known as being out by a hair’s breadth And going wrong by a thousand miles. Students cannot but carefully distinguish.” It is simply not enough to do a movement! We must study the form and all the associated training methods in order to understand the underlying principles of each and every dynamic. From footwork, as the afternoon progressed, we moved onto a brief explanation of the Eight Gates and Five Directions of Taijiquan, commonly referred to as the Thirteen Dynamics. These make up the alphabet of Taiji,
without which we cannot understand nor speak the language of the art! We ended the day with Wu Yu-hsiang, who in his ‘Expositions of Insights into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures’, tells us to: “Be as still as a mountain, move like a great river.” The students were shown how we practice our Taijiquan at three different paces and the reason behind them, as well as the pace changes within the form itself. After a long day and having not slept for almost 48 hours, I was relieved as the session came to a close. Alas, though we were still not done. We briefly returned to our B&B to freshen up and get ready for the evening meal at a local restaurant. What I love about Italians, apart from having wonderful food, is how they sit together and have a meal like a giant family gathering and make you feel a part of that family. Coming from an Eastern culture and an extended family myself, Pipo and his students made us all feel like we were a part of their family and it was truly humbling. By 10.30pm, my body had started to give up and my eyes were beginning to close as we sat at the table... Pipo sensing this finally called it a night and we headed back to our rooms for some well deserved rest and sleep! I have no idea when I fell asleep upon arrival in my room - I just remember seeing the bed! Day two began nice and early! After a quick breakfast we were back in the training hall warming up with a drill from Baguazhang called 'The hawk captures the fowl'. This is a wonderful drill which develops forward intent and Yang energy, as well as developing our distancing and timing skills along with peripheral vision. We continued with further drills from Taijiquan, as well as the Erle Montaigue System. This was not a case of doing drills for the sake of doing drills but rather to help students understand and develop their foundations, so they are able to develop the body mechanics with which they can begin to identify energies within themselves, leading them to eventually identify energies in their opponents. This lead us nicely onto the subject of Dǎ Shou and how its ‘circles’ are taught to beginners so that they can see what it is that they are trying to achieve through this practice! From starting with the correct Gōng Bù stance and from there how, as ones training progresses over the years, we arrive at understanding the ‘reduction in measurements’ - a vital component of Yang Taiji! After a brief interlude for lunch at a local eatery, where they served delicious home cooked meals, we returned back for our final session of training - the Small San-sau. The Small San-sau is another one of those ‘magical’ training methods which give the student so much, yet it is highly misunderstood and often taught as a ‘fighting method’. Based on the form of Yang Cheng-fu as opposed to the Old Yang, it is a treasure trove of body mechanics, which help us to understand the Thirteen Dynamics on a reflexive subconscious level, as well as the deadly art of Dim-mak. Students were shown how to ‘map’ this training method before trying to do it at pace and with power both, as a solo exercise, as well as the opening salvos of the two-person method. The critical and important role of the ‘wooden man’ was defined and stressed along with the fact that there is no “B-side” to this drill! Each movement was linked to the relevant part of the form and the dynamic explained clearly ensuring that the students knew how to continue to study the form as we are meant to. The Small San-sau was an entry test to the Erle Montaigue System and very few have achieved or understood its true nature! We paused for a few minutes of tomfoolery. The tricks which ‘masters' use to dupe folk to believe in the power of their qi. These are no more than simple deceptions based upon physics and physiology, however they can prove to be a useful tool to explain the role of antagonistic muscles and how they affect structure and power in the human body. Before the end, we returned back to the Form itself and practiced it at its foundational level to ensure that every-
one had understood the pace changes of the form, before concluding the weekend with a Q&A session. It is imperative for students of all martial arts, no matter the style, that they must study their chosen art as you would any other subject. Equally so, it is also important that teachers should teach correctly and not try to ‘con’ their students with insufficient knowledge or a lack of understanding. There are far too many charlatans out there hiding behind fancy titles and or lineages - as if these are somehow enough to qualify them as an expert on subjects which they have barely scratched the surface of themselves! I really wish to thank Pipo - Erle’s representative for Italy - for having given me the opportunity to come and teach in Corbetta. It was my first trip to Italy and I was made to feel like a part of the family. I first met Pipo many years ago in Llangadog, when Erle appointed him his Italian representative, and have held him in high regard ever since. He is a genuine teacher - concerned for the welfare of his students - experienced and a wonderful human being. Also, a heartfelt thank you to all of Pipo’s students who participated in the weekend. Your warmth and welcoming hearts really won me over and I hope that we can all meet up to train again soon. Finally, a massive thank you to Monica Mitoli for acting as my interpreter during our stay. It is wonderful for any instructor to see his students bloom and Monica is certainly finding her own feet in the world of Taiji in the south of Italy. It fills me with pride. And last, but by no means least, a huge thank you to Krish Pillay for allowing me to maul him over the weekend and Indy Singh for keeping us smiling and for his help with the photography. After saying our goodbyes, we rushed to the train station in Magenta for our onward journey to Rome via Milan, but that’s a story for another time!
The following is all that we have from the original classics of Taijiquan or H'ao Ch'uan. Many have tried to translate them and have not done these classics service nor their writer! To write about this particular classic, one must be well versed in the advanced areas of the art. You cannot lay this classic over basic form! It was meant as a guide for those just beginning to understand the more advanced principles of Taijiquan boxing. If you look deeply into what is said (the fine print), you will uncover many great ideas not only about boxing but also about life in general. Like the fact that most beginners never see the woods for the trees, always searching for something better on the other side! Or thinking that they know it all because they have been practicing for fifteen years, when at that small amount of time really know nothing! Take great notice of what Wang has to say as it is his legacy to us all. But do not take it lightly or think that you understand it, you will forever in your own training return to these words and find more and more hidden within them. I will place numbers next to certain pertinent phrases and leave a commentary at the end as to my own interpretation.
Commentary 1. This means that we do not practice Taijiquan (H'ao Ch'uan) for the sake of doing Taijiquan! It is only a tool that we use to gain other areas of learning, like spiritual awakening and the ability to heal others. The fighting art is only an interim tool that we use to gain the upper levels of Taijiquan. 2. This means that you as the Taijiquan practitioner are always in control of the situation whether it is a physical confrontation or a mind confrontation. You are grounded causing all bad Qi to be drawn into the ground and not into yourself. But first of all, to know others you must know yourself! 3.
Here he is talking about the other schools of martial arts that have come out of Taijiquan, most have only ever taken the shell and not the internal part! In other words, they only exist for the fighting!
4. He talks about double weighted movements. But not only does he mean that we should not stand with the weight placed evenly upon both feet, but also that we should not have equal Qi in the hands, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees. This can be taken even further to each of the six organ pairs where we should also not have double weightedness. It goes even deeper into that the sub-conscious and the conscious should also not be double weighted! 5. We move in accordance with how the inner mind wants us to move and not because we have trained to move a certain way. In other words we move because the 'attacker' is moving and in compete accordance with that movement. 6. Unfortunately, many students are always searching for something better. And even though they might have found the very best that there is, they still look and search, missing out on what is in front of their noses!
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野⾺分鬃 Yě Mǎ Fēn Zōng
Wild Horse Veers Its Mane ‘Wild Horse Veers Its Mane’ is
commonly known as ‘Parting The Wild Horse’s Mane’ - when it is transliterated into English, - and often confused with the posture called ‘Slant Flying’ - they are not one and the same! First and foremost, the name itself needs redressing! ‘Parting The Wild Horse’s Mane’ suggests that it is another who is ‘parting the mane’ how can this be so? We are talking about a wild horse! When one begins to understand the dynamics of the posture and the martial application, then one can give a more nuanced meaning to the name. The posture involves a sudden change in direction leading to an arm break, followed by a strike to the ‘power band,' by the forearm, across the chest and the hand finishing with an attack to Stomach 9 (St9), culminating in a throw over the left leg - the Shuaijiao of Taijiquan. The martial application demonstrates the spirit and essence of the wild horse completely and forces us to reevaluate the subtlety of meaning: It is the wild horse, itself, which is veering and ‘parting’ its own mane due to its sudden change of direction! Finally, better translations of older texts, are beginning to grasp these subtle concepts, allowing modern practitioners a more insightful meaning.
The two images above show the martial concept behind â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Wild Horse Veers Its Maneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (Main Picture). For safety reasons, in the second image (below) I have had to make adjustments in order to control my partner as well as my own movements to prevent him from falling and injuring himself - by holding him looser and slightly further away from my own body! In reality, this would be a very violent movement (fajin) with the bodies in a far closer proximity as seen in the top image.
Peter Jones -
Editor: Nasser Butt Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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