Page 1

& Oriental Arts

Tai Chi Chuan No 30

Mario Napoli

ÂŁ3.50

Wu Fast Form

Li Lian

Bruce K. Frantzis

Spring 2009

BCCMA Events

Zhan Zhuang

TCUGB Events

Tai Chi Hand Form

Practical tai chi training advice, scientific research reviews, latest books, CDs & DVDs. Spring 2009 1 www.taichiunion.com


TAI CHI

4

Mario Napoli

European Master Interview

- Ronnie Robinson

and

ORIENTAL ARTS for Body, Mind & Spirit

10

Wu Style Fast Form Wu Shi Kuai Quan

- Michael Acton

EDITOR Ronnie Robinson EDITORIAL BOARD Linda Chase Broda Ian Cameron Peter Newton

LAYOUT Chiron

The Journal of the TAI CHI UNION for GREAT BRITAIN

CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS:

14

Li Lian Interview Wu Tunan’s tai chi

24

Zhan Zhuang

Standing Pole Exercises

- Richard Watson

- Jian Xiong

28

Tai Chi Hand Form

www.taichiunion.com

Considering its purpose

in cooperation with The British Council for Chinese Martial Arts

- James Connachan

www.bccma.com

31 - 33 DVD & Book Reviews - Chen Xin - part 2, Arieh Breslaw, Tai Chi Nation, Tao of Teaching Tai Chi & Sleep CD

CHAIRMAN Dan Docherty SECRETARY Peter Ballam EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE David Hackett Karen Limb Mark Peters Marnix Wells Gary Wragg Faye Li Yip MAGAZINE ADDRESS 1 Littlemill Drive Crookston Glasgow G53 7GF T: 0044 141 810 3482 M: 0044 7774 985411 E: promo@taichiunion.com W: www.taichiunion.com

2

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

22

Training Courses, Events & Competitions

17

5 Faces of Tai Chi

Part 1 - Bruce Kumar Frantzis

34 - 37

Event Reviews - TCUGB Festival of Chinese Internal Arts, British Open Tai Chi Championships, Push Hands Meeting,

38

Climate Control

Practical Training Advice

- Neil Rosiak

43 21

Tai Chi Research

Spirit Within Tai Chi

44

Internal Aspects

Meet the Instructors

-Ian Cameron

Richard Small & Steffi Sachsenmaier Spring 2009

3


My first encounter with Mario Napoli was

On meeting Stanley Israel his main teacher

around 6 years ago when I attended his workshop at Recontres Jasnieres. For something clicks which changes your perception on what you’ve been doing up to that point in time. Although I didn’t have the time or physical requirements to devote to his ongoing training regime his teachings led me on a totally different path. (Although I’ve never told him until now.) Since then I’ve spent many pleasant hours in Mr Napoli’s presence, enjoying his unique brand of story-telling in a number of European locations, usually in the company of a good wine or quality malted whisky. At the recent Push-Hands meeting in Hannover, Germany I suddenly realised (yes I am a little slow sometimes to mix business with pleasure) that he would make an interesting interview subject. After a few emails back and forth I feel we’ve achieved a little taste of the man, his skills, and his unique approach to the arts. This being the case it is by no means a substitute for being with the man in person.

Cheng Man Ching & Swami Bua

A young Mario with Stan Israel

Stan in action

Ed Young & Herman Kauz

an interview with

MARIO NAPOLI by Ronnie Robinson

Tell me about your background in martial arts and tai chi in particular detailing what attracted you to the respective arts and why you chose your particular direction.

Like many people of my age I was initially stimulated by the proliferation of kung fu movies, predominantly featuring Bruce Lee. I started karate lessons with Leonard Antonucci, who was a student of Cheng Man Ching, and of Hatha yoga. I began by learning karate, tai chi and yoga. This eventually led me to work with Stanley Israel who became my principle teacher. I’m now embarrassed to say that the main thing that attracted me to tai chi then was my laziness.   After watching the slow motion form I thought cool no work! Later when I met Stan Israel  I realised just how wrong my original

4

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

thoughts on tai chi were! Could you clarify how you divided your time between these various pursuits and how you managed to practice these disciplines, which had differing principles, at the same time (if this was so)? Could you also give an outline about what it was that stimulated you to continue training in the respective arts?

I eventually, stopped doing karate, after starting tai chi chuan - a decision which didn’t exactly put a smile on Lenny’s face. I remember hearing him, muttering under his breath or maybe out loud, I can’t remember now... that I was going to be the last guy that he was going to teach tai chi chuan to, before they make their karate black belt. Eventually Lenny made a deal with me, to

keep me training in karate. The deal was that he would continue teaching me tai chi chuan but I must work on getting my black belt - thinking back I must have driven that man crazy…. Also at the same time, I started doing Hatha yoga. In its practicality, Hatha yoga is simply the best body and mind training around.  - The deep stretching, opening of the joints, working on the soft tissues, fascia,   massaging of the internal organs, lengthening muscle fibres, proper body alignment plus Pranayama (breathing pressurework) are the best to be found anywhere. Hatha yoga, does what tai chi chuan promises to do. In other words when we hear about tai chi for health, what they are saying is to train on what I ‘ve just said above. Done correctly, tai chi chuan is Hatha yoga without the punching and kicking. 

Which teachers have inspired you and why?

Quite a few really: Firstly my Hatha Yoga teacher, Swami Bua. Hatha Yoga is a great experiential science. If the truth be told, if it wasn’t for my need to grapple and such, I would have been very happy just doing Hatha yoga! Then Stanley Israel, my tai chi chuan teacher and friend - what can I say about him - he taught me tai chi chuan! Before him I was in no man’s land concerning this art. I just could not get it! I was lost, demoralised and had quit tai chi chuan... I only went back to it because I heard how good he was, particularly from his friend Lenny Antonucci. I heard that he just started teaching again so I  figured I’d give tai chi chuan one last try. We just hit it off instantly. After just touching him I knew he was the one who was going to teach me. He made

it sound, look and feel so easy. It was very refreshing and I felt as if I understood everything he said explained and showed! - He made it fun for me to go to class. The work was hard but I just took to it like fish to water. The best way I can explain Stan and his teaching is with these three examples: We had many, many debates and Stan would always say to me, “Why? Why are you so confused?” It began soon after a pushing lesson when he said  to me “Mario, just push” and I would say, “What do you mean just push? I mean I can push this way or that way.” Then he would repeat  “Just push” and I would again say, “But what do you mean just push? I may just end up shoving? With your “Just push.” And shoving is wrong, right?” “He would say, “Right! Shoving

is not good but “Just push.”” I would reply with. “As you can see I can’t push correctly,  it’s not my fault, I’m doing my best, people are telling me this and that or  I’m doing it all wrong.  ... understand???”  Then he would  once again repeat “Just push!,” and I would say, “Are you telling me, it’s OK to be wrong?” Then he said, “All I’m telling you to do is just push!” After many months of this, back and forth of what I call our Abbott and Costello routine, of me coming up with all types of scenario, where I could not understand this “just push” idea, of his….. We  ended up striking a bargain and the bargain was: I would do whatever I thought he meant, to the best of my ability, and if I was wrong he shouldn’t take it as a  lack of trust on my part, or that I didn’t listen or didn’t care. And

Spring 2009

5

All B&W images kindly supplied by Ken van Sickle

“I went to his school and everybody was busy doing what they were doing and Stan was sitting at a table reading a book. I was really, really, really, really interested in finding out………… I wanted to push with him. I said to myself I really want to push with him, I don’t care how it is, if it feels weird, I’m outta here, because I’m not here to join anything, I want tai chi. I remember going there, I sat next to the table…. It took me a while to pick up the courage… a guy you don’t know…. He’s some sort of special guy… bla, bla, bla. So I remember standing up, sitting down, standing up sitting down…., going to the window… until eventually I got enough courage, about 15-20 minutes later I got enough courage. So he’s sitting across from me, he had his reading glasses on and I said to Stan, “Stan, hi. I didn’t mean to disturb you (and I remember him looking up at me from the glasses) If you don’t mind, if you have a chance, if you want to, if you like, maybe later on when you’re free, after you’ve finished the book…. Do you want to push a little? He looked me up again, over the glasses and said, “Sure, no problem, do you want to do it now?” – “Yeah! Okay! Good! Fantastic!” So I remember as I was walking to the place do do the push hands I remember saying to myself, “If you push him just once, if you move him just once, get outta there.” Where we were to push was right next to a door and I thought to myself, If I push him once I’m just gonna say thank you and I’m outta there. So I remember, my back is to the wall and we did one round of the push hands form and I remember that the first time we did the round we want back and forth, like we always did and I thought to myself, no, no no I can’t do this, I’m being lulled into doing nothing, I’ve got to do something. So when it was his turn to come around to push me I decided to myself, this time I’m going to stop him and if I stop him, it’s time to go. He comes towards me and I did everything I could to stop him. I braced myself and he just kept coming. I had this posture, as such, and I noticed.. it wasn’t that it was an immoveable that was coming towards me and it didn’t seem to be breaking me, but it was breaking my joints. It was folding my joints and after my joints were folded and his hands were on my body it was just Boom! And he slammed me on the wall! Still not convinced I thought, okay he slammed me but now I’m going to push him and if I move him this is my excuse to get outta tai chi forever, once again. I’ve seen them all now. Then it was my turn to push him and I thought, I’m going to push this man. As I put my hands on him to push he moved in such a way that I was not able to maintain my centre and I fell to the side, losing my balance. Then it was his turn again to push me and this time I knew that he was strong and I’m really, really bracing myself and the same thing happened. My joints folded and again I hit the wall. Now I was gonna push him again and I knew that maybe he was going to take me off to the side and I thought I can’t go to the side so I got really close to him and when he started going to the side I grabbed him and I pushed him. He went down, he disappeared and I went up. That’s when I decided (you know I was a kid) that I found my teacher. This is the guy that’s going to teach me tai chi. I knew that beyond any shadow of a doubt. Being that I’d seen other people, and I met some good people, two of them in particular, but I just didn’t get it. But something happened when I put my hands on this guy. He could stop me at will and he stopped me at will. He was able to move me at will and I could do nothing to him. It makes sense. So the next day I was a student, literally the next day. I went to class four times a week for the next two years and we pushed every night. I would just go, forget about the class, just go straight to Stan and say, “Let’s go push.” He never said no.”

me it was one of these moments when


“It was the first time that I realised what his idea of hard work meant. After I began to do OK, with this push hands thing, he used to make me do free-style push hands with a row of people. My job was to stay in the ring and play with as many people as possible. One day I did the whole row, without losing once! There were about 15 people.” that it was his responsibility and his alone, to correct me and not assume the worst.  Because I was to abandon all thoughts I had of what was right or wrong and “just push” and do whatever it meant to me that day! He said “OK, you push and I will do my job to correct you as you progress along and I won’t assume that when you are doing it wrong, it’s because  that you do not listen or cannot learn or are not paying attention. So we shook hands and that was it - I no longer held any baggage of what pushing the tai chi chuan way meant and it was his job to correct.... The other example was the hard work part.  It was the first time that I realised what his idea of hard work meant. After I began to do OK, with this push hands thing, he  used to make me do free-style push hands with a row of people. My job was to stay in the ring and play with as many people as possible. One day I did the whole row, without losing once! There were about 15 people. So what did I do when that happened? I sat down naturally! I was satisfied that I’d beat them all without losing. He  walked over to me and said, “What are you doing?” So self-satisfied  I said to him. “I did them all  Stan, so now I’m just chilling.” He said, “Did you lose?” I said “Hell no! I wouldn’t b e

sitting if that happened!!! - I beat them all”, and then jokingly I said “I’m the king of the hill!!!” He said, “okay kid, do it again, and see how long you last this time around.” So  I went back and did  some more pushing ...after I lost, once I’d beat maybe 7or 8 people, I sat down again and was now really tired. Stan once again came over and said, “Well?”  So this time I said, “Wow you are really a good teacher, now I understand what you wanted me to do. I mean beat them all and was ready to relax but no!! - You being smarter then made me do a bit more. Wow, you’re a really good teacher I replied! He then answered with “Should you not try and finish the line?” I said, “I don’t think I can I’m really tired!” He said “Try.” So I did. (Somewhat reluctantly I may add.) Eventually I did the whole line again and this time I was really tired! So I stopped! He came over to me again. This time i was ready for him and said, “OK, OK, you’re smart. You pushed me to do what I alone could not do. Okay I was wrong and quite some way before I should have been.” All he said was, “Did you do the whole line again?” I said yeah, I didn’t cheat! So again he said, “Do it again!!!” I  looked  at  him,  as  if to say,  “Are you CRAZY??!?! But I listened and went back again. This time after 3 or 4 guys I  almost vomited. I was dead. I stopped. Yet again, but just to relax,  I mean I had plans to go back later and do more, but not now. I remember he just gave me a look! I quickly said, “Stan not my fault I almost vomited!” He said “So did you vomit?”I said, “No but almost!” He told me, “ S e e that garbage pail, w h e n , and if, y o u gotta vo m i t do it there! NOW do more!!!” So I did, and yes this time I did vomit. So after vomiting I sat, again, and yes he came over again, and said “Did you vomit?” I satisfyingly said, “Yes, Stan I did and yes you are the smartest guy around because without you I would have quit long ago, and you made me go so much farther than I would have done alone.  So now I’m going to enjoy this well deserved break.” All he said was, “Did you vomit? Good! Go over and do

6

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

the line again!!!!” That was when I realised that this guy was a bit of a nut!!!!!! But I did listen and did some more. - Don’t ask I really don’t remember what happened….. All I remember was that I was way beyond exhaustion! When I started to develop some ability Stan, would make me do, just  one exercise, be it a particular push or a throw, or a sweep or just entering, fitting in whatever the technique was, I would just train it,  with no variations, all day long. It’s not easy I tell you, I mean just one thing for about 2 hours, your brain just starts to scream! As for his ability, he could stand there like a mountain and I was never able to move him over. Believe me I tried and tried.  He was also able to not be there, as if he was like a cloud and I could never reach him nor find him. I also worked with Herman Kauz, William Chen, and Zhang Lu Ping. Can you give an overview about what these various teachers offered you and what it was that you really got from Stanley that made everything about it so special?

After Lenny moved away I took the ‘B’ train straight to Manhattan, met and  studied with some of Cheng Man-Ching’s students which eventually led me to William CC Chen and Herman Kauz. However, these two teachers were different, (from the rest of the CMC crowd I was studying  with in those days) Herman and Chen taught, moved and  acted differently, and that confused me a bit  so I  left them, thinking that they were not doing CMC, or good tai chi chuan, but rather some variant form of it. Herman Kauz was a CMC senior student who was  also a Hawaiian national judo champion, as well as being a karate champion. From what I hear the karate teachers he studied with changed some of the ways they did things, precisely because of Herman, they simply could not stop him. So they had to adjust. He was a serious all round, martial arts man. What I remember about Herman was how easily he could disturb your balance. He had incredible timing and uprooting ability.

a gifted martial artist a “hitter”! The funny thing was initially I didn’t get his TCC either. However this time it took me just 2 weeks to realize that he was somebody to study with.   Now while I was never a student of his, for some reason he liked me, and would always show me things when I would saw him. Zhang Lu-ping was skilled (he has since passed away) in many form of Chinese martial arts, including many styles of tai chi chuan. His forte was his ability to strike, punch, kick etc., like no other I have met. His timing was also superb.  People talk about spiralling and three dimensional movements - well Zhang was the man where you could see  all these things at work. Since Stan and Zhang passed away William CC Chen is the person whom I closely observe/study to help my tai chi move along.    What have been your personal professional successes in this work?

and

Personally I’ve had a few goals  that did not mature, (One too many accidents) so it cut short my training. But as a teacher I have done OK with a few  students in helping them get somewhat strong and healthy.  

But you did go to China and win a competition at Chen village (Chenjiagou) beating the locally trained champions. How did that come about and what kind of training did you do to prepare?

It all came about rather innocently. I initially saw a video of the competition in Chenjiagou and I said

to myself, I can take these guys. Soon after, some folks came to our club, to hang out and play with us. They had just come from this tournament, and talked about how hard it was, how good the Chinese were, and then they added that they and their teacher did only the B level division,  and that their teacher won. Around the same time I read on the  internet about the champion at that competition and his  teacher’s sons who could flip anyone here, in the United States, like pancakes - quicker then we can say pass the syrup. Then someone called Mike Sigman, who’s a self-proclaimed tai chi  expert, actually dared me to go and find out for myself how great these Chen folks were!  (Actually Mike, was  telling everybody that he was going to go and give it a try himself,   but backed out at the last minute. ) So I guess he thought people would be as afraid of this tournament as he was....So, what can I say, I went on his request! If the truth be told I never trained specifically for the Chen competition. We always trained hard on our own, it was our way. We had a small but dedicated group and many people would come  around  to practice with us; wrestlers, judo players, TCC teachers and such. Our game was simple - we did free-style push hands, in a  circle. The  rules were simple -throw the guy down or out of the circle and you’ve won.....that it! Pulls, trips, throws, body shots and such were allowed. Punches and kicks were not allowed we added those when we did san shou training. So if you won, you’d stay on the mat, for as long as you won. Lose and you’re off the mat - that was it!!!  We would train 3 times  a week for about 3 hours a session. Also, around that

time, I had fixed my knee, which had been badly injured, so I would go to judo as well – that’s why I didn’t need to practice for anything in particular or do extra special training for the competition. We were already doing a lot of regular serious training. As for the tournament itself.... while I did enjoy it... and it was head and shoulders above  any other tournament that I’d previously seen, it was still nothing special, as tournaments go - regional green belt to brown belt level players. Now I’m not being cocky or anything, but when a guy with only one good knee, suffering from dysentery and not eating any  food for 4 days, wins the whole thing... well it should tell you something...and that is that tai chi push hands is China is nothing special. Over the course of the bouts I beat a tall Chinese fellow and a big Russian guy. Then I beat a  Beijing shau jiao, tai chi champion. I’m sorry I can’t remember his name, but I do remember he was the personification of the gentle giant, truly a nice man, he even raised my hands after our fight and rooted for me to win in the final bout, then hung out with me for a while afterwards. I also beat the two sons of Wang Xi’an; Wang Zhan-jun and Wang Zhanhai who were All-China National Push Hands champions. I beat the first one  in the finals the other one forfeited the match, saying that he was in no shape to play me. In the main I was treated well afterwards, with most of the people there seeming to like the fact that I won. They all treated me well. However, it was all made clear when the Chen officials went out of their way to put me down.  Instead of being

Demonstrating throws

I remember that when I told Herman that I was leaving him, he did all he could to make me change my mind and stay and have faith in his method,  but (dumb as I was) I left him and for weaker teachers. Well that’s what I thought then – at least until I met and became a  student of Stan Israel. With Stan it was love at first touch...his teaching, eventually made me understand  that both Herman Kauz and William CC Chen were  doing CMC Style tai chi chuan and  that they were both exceptionally gifted practitioners and teachers. That is why I continue to champion both of these teachers whenever I get the chance - it’s kind of my way of saying sorry to them, for not having faith in them back then.   As for  Lu-Ping - I met him, while studying with Stan. What I can say about Lu-Ping is that he was

Spring 2009

7


Mario teaching Hatha Yoga

“I think the problem is that there is too much information

out

there

and people are getting confused.” smart and saying yes, see anybody can enter our competition, and everybody has a chance of winning. Instead choose the lower road, the road of denial. I guess they felt really bad that a foreigner, sick and all, showed them how it should be done.  

What are the core aspects of your teaching and practice and how have they changed over the years.

I believe in creating a solid foundation, the body needs to be strong, healthy and flexible, first. My training regime for regular tai chi practitioners, consists of learning and practising standing postures, which helps to build a strong body  whilst teaching them to relax   (sung and sink). Then  we learn  and practice what I call the moving postures; learning to separate yin and yang in these postures. This provides good training for the legs whilst loosening the waist and gathering strength from the ground. Form work and push hands are where I emphasise neutralizing, exercising the leg and waist and training rooting ability.   For younger players, who like to train hard, I add free push hands play and all that comes with it. (pulling, throwing sweeping etc.) They also practice san shou and full contact with a resistant opponent. - I’m not into the  Chinese  pyjamas and sipping tea scene.... all my students (young and old) work. I’m a let’s take this body out for a ride kind of guy. The younger crowd they gotta work hard, no excuses. They gotta build a strong foundation to create a strong body. -   Not too many last unfortunately.    How do you feel about all the various approaches to the Cheng Man Ching tradition?

I don’t think the question is correct. What I think is that not all tai chi chuan, ( no matter the style) is taught with a martial mind, and I guess I can live with that, but I do believe that the martial side of TCC is too small and not given enough consideration and is in danger of dying off.   

I agree other styles have various ways in which they are practiced but don’t you agree that the CMC tradition, at least in the earlier stages, was practised mainly by people who had little or no knowledge

8

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

or interest of martial arts and, as such, it became tarred with the ‘soft’ approach system?

How, in your opinion did they do that? – Please expand a little more.

Well those were the times we lived in. You know peace signs, flower power and all that. So yes many of them did go to Professor Cheng for lessons and got out of it just want they wanted. I remember Stan Israel commenting once that he saw folk there who would practice standing on their head, but Stan also said that If Cheng saw that you practiced, listened, practiced and used your grey matter he would always show you more and more stuff. It was up to the individual, I guess he treated people like adults. So I don’t believe that all who went to Cheng were solely into the hippy scene.

Well many things started to happen back then:

So there were a number of serious martial artists working with Cheng, who obviously did so because they got results?

My understanding, from talking to folks, and knowing some of them personally, is that Cheng had quite a few students with Karate, judo and jiu jitsu, backgrounds. Three of his senior students had black belts in judo and jujitsu (Mort Raphael, Stan and Lou Kleinsmith. Herman Kauz was also a very experienced martial artist who had  also quite a few Goju Ru and Shotokan black belts. Lenny, my first teacher also was a karate black belt which he gained  from the craziest Korean in New York at that time. This guy used to beat up his students when they fought full-contact. I remember talking about him to Stan, who knew him well and Stan told me that the guy was crazy. He eventually went back to Korea - you guessed it, no more students!

What are your views on the various events staged around Europe, the standard of teaching and the development of students ?

While I have been out of the scene for over 10 years but what I remember was, that is was not good, quite poor actually. Tournaments were mainly in the hands of people who didn’t have the necessary the experience to run them. Yes, they meant well but that is not enough. In the United States the same people who started these taichi chuan tournaments also ended up killing them.

The players started to get better than the officials (because they played!!!). We must remember that the officials were teachers as well, so their egos got hurt. As the game improved and got friskier, the officials didn’t so they were unable to adapt. So their solution was do all they could to stifle the game: They changed the rules and made the sport sillier and sillier - stuff for 10 year olds. I used to wonder if they wanted to be kindergarten teachers. But nobody agreed with me back then! (Laughs). In the end it became a game of rules rather than a game to be played. When a 3 minute match  lasts  for  7 minutes or more, five of which involves judges discussing if it was a point or not, while the player stands there doing nothing! And we are not talking about moving push hands here! That they simply were too ignorant to even do, let alone officiate. It truly became a dog a pony show. And the lastly, this being America, some law suites scared the organizers and the end was near. Even now players are complaining. So much so, that some player’s have even done a video (on YouTube) discussing the stupidity of some calls, rules and such. I guess the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks hold true here. Chinese and Taiwanese tournaments fared a little better, but not by much. They also  have a long way to go. I have always felt that TCC tournaments and players should be, and can be, as good as Judo players and their tournaments. The last time I looked we were not even close. I have come to the opinion that maybe the interest and/or experience is not there. Yes, some folk want to make this side grow and yes, some folks give some lip service to the martial side but in the end not much is happening. Maybe it has to be this way. I mean the young folks do have things like Judo, Thai boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu to keep them happy. It’s just that I wish some of those guys would come to us - that’s all. I believe there are some good tai chi chuan teachers out there who are waiting to teach the sport fighting side. All they need is a chance and

some free advertising, from you guys producing magazines. All we seem to get is health, spirituality and how this or that can somehow be a self defence technique. The sporting side has to be promoted heavily I believe. What you think should be done, or what, in your ideal scenario would you like to see in terms of tournaments?

Hard to do here and now but I think the Chen tournament is moving in the right direction and I hope it grows. The mistake people make, the mistake that all tai chi tournaments make, is that the people running the show usually have little to no experience.  They think that a push hands tournament should be like this or that, based on whatever book they have read that week... or what their teacher said. It should grow naturally, and it’s the players that help this process along. As they get better they will do new things. Most of the time it’s not about how it should look, but rather how it actually is, when you are under pressure by an opponent. Only experienced folk understand this.    Do you think all the essential elements are available to all practitioners these days or do you think there are missing links?

I think the problem is that there is too much information out there and people are getting confused. I remember an incident when I was training with Stan when he showed me a new move. After working on it for some time, I remember complaining to him but he immediately told me to relax and do the move a few thousand times first. Then if I still had problem with it ask him for some help.  For the most part that’s what’s missing is the work. There is too much thinking, talking and philosophising and too little physical work!   What then would be the profile of your ideal student?

It varies, depending of age and ability and interest, to me, my ideal student is the one who has come to work out!   Do you have any ambitions left?

Yes, getting back in shape (from my injuries) and an opportunity to find a few motivated young folks to train.....  

Mario Napoli is currently based in Spain and working in various European locations. You can find out more by visiting his website at: www.laspeziataijiclub.it You can also see a brief video of Mario discussing his teacher’s abilities by visiting: www.martialartsview.com/index-86.html

Spring 2009

9


Wu Shi Kuai Quan - The Wu Style Fast Boxing

Wu Style Taijiquan Anybody doing a search for the Wu Style of Taiji quan on the web would quickly find clips of Wu Ying Hua (daughter of modern Wu Style founder Wu Jian Quan) demonstrating the slow hand form (Da Man Quan) and also her husband Ma Yueh Liang ( Senior disciple of Wu Jian Quan ) demonstrating another hand form known simply as Kuai Quan or Fast Boxing. It is easy to see that the two forms are recognisably related and follow the same sequence though the Kuai Quan also includes additional movements that are not in the slow form and is distinctly martial in character.. Wu Ying Hua & Ma Yeuh Liang To my knowledge there is no footage of Wu Ying Hua demonstrating the Kuai Quan and I have seen none of Ma Yueh Liang demonstrating the slow form. Indeed the Kuai Quan has become so synonomous with Ma Yueh Liang that it is sometimes referred to in China as “Ma’s form”. This does not however mean that Ma invented it but that he was the inheritor and the custodian of this form since the death in 1942 of his master Wu Jian Quan. Ma himself told me in 1992 when my teacher Li Liqun, one of Ma’s senior disciples formally introduced me to Ma and his wife Wu Ying Hua, that the form was the original form passed down from Yang Luchan to Quan You and then to Wu Jian Quan and finally to Ma himself. In the Shanghai circle of Wu practitioners it is understood that the Kuai Quan was the original form from which the Slow form was developed by Wu Jian Quan around the time that Yang Cheng Fu was also simplifying the Yang family form for public teaching. Wu and Ma were the figureheads of Wu Jian Quan’s legacy in China, taking over the Jian

10

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Quan Taiji Boxing Association in Shanghai which had been established in 1932 by Wu Jian Quan. Shanghai is considered to be the ‘old’ home (Lao Jia) of the Traditional Wu Style of Taiji quan . Ma and Wu together became famous for their Taiji skills and as upholders and representatives of the original teachings of Wu Jian Quan and as practitioners and authorities of the traditional methods of Taiji quan.Their integrity as recipients of the Wu Jian Quan legacy has never been in question. Their teachings are kept alive in Shanghai by their disciples and family as well as disciples and enthusiasts in Europe, New Zealand, USA and UK. Chen - Yang - Wu Style Taiji Quan went public in Beijing around 1912, to meet the new challenges of a changing society. The original forms and methods practised by the Yang family patriach Yang Lu Chan, which had originating in Chen village from Chen Chang Xing were modified for public teaching. The older forms however were retained and passed on through family and disciples, (primarily Ban Hou, Chien Hou and Quan You) The roots of the tree were preserved whilst the public face of Taiji was launched. The forms that we now know as the Yang and Wu forms were modified versions of those earlier forms. The modifications were made by Yang Cheng Fu and Wu Jian Quan, perhaps co-operatively. but it is worth remembering that the forms that many of us practise are just the tip of a iceberg, most of which is under the surface. Martial Forms It is not possible to know exactly what was passed on by Yang Lu Chan but it is known that Yang Ban Hou and then Yang Shao Hou practised three hand forms that were very similar in form but different in characteristics.

by Michael W. Acton

The first was a simplified form (Taiji Zheng Lu) the second, a family hand form (Taiji Jia Shou) and finally a smaller (Taiji Xiao She) more martial form that incorporated changes in speed and exhibited martial power. The existence of overtly martial forms which preceded the large slow form would of course make sense since Taiji was a martial art derived mainly from the Chen family martial root. It is also hard to imagine the Imperial Guards of the Ching Dynasty who were taught by Yang Lu Chan and his son Yang Ban Hou doing the slow form and expecting it to work on the battle field! The forms were evidently more martial than today”s and would need to provide a full martial vocabulary and the means of training all the skills and methods necessary for the life and death struggles of a Ching Dynasty Imperial Guard. The existence of fast and martially explicit forms seems obvious. Yang Fast Form The Yang form as adjusted by Yang Cheng Fu and Wu Jian Quan are very similar and follow the same sequence. It is common knowledge that the more overt martial aspects of the forms were removed and modified for public teaching. Both families shared the same knowledge and the similarity of the Yang Cheng Fu form and the Wu Jian Quan Form indicate that the predecessor form was the same. The Kuai Quan of the Wu lineage shares the same form sequence as both the modified Yang and Wu forms though its appearance is significantly different owing to its more martial emphasis in the same way that the old Yang forms passed on by Yang Shao Hou are similar but express different characteristics. Ma Yueh Liang has said that he had seen Yang Cheng Fu practicing the Kuai Quan form. Ma learned this form directly from Wu Jian Quan. It was, to my knowledge, never taught

by Yang Cheng Fu though I have heard it said that some of Yang Cheng Fu’s disciples did practice a fast form though I have never seen it and do not know if such a form still exists. My understanding is that the older Yang Family forms were passed on primarily via Yang Shao Hou. Yang Shao Hou had few disciples since his teaching methods, like Yang Ban Hou were said to be more extreme and harsh. Jumping Kicks & Stamps Anybody who practices or who has seen the Wu Kuai Quan and is familiar with the Traditional Yang Style will immediately recognise their similarity though their linking and expression is quite different. It is also overtly martial and contains high and jumping kicks, stamping, changes in speed and explosive power. They are the very characteristics that Wu and Yang are said to have removed from the original form so that it could be taught publicly with an emphasis on the civil rather than the martial. The manner then of the Kuai Quan indicates that it came from a much older source. That it was the precursor to the Slow Form. That it also shares some of the Chen family characteristics makes alot of sense considering the source of Yang Lu Chan’s martial knowledge. Hidden Forms The Kuai Quan along with the Yang family fighting forms and methods would have remained hidden or obscure being passed on to very few individuals. The Kuai Quan has only been disclosed relatively recently, although I am told by my Shanghai sources that Wu Jian Quan first introduced it to the public in 1936 in Beijing (I have not as yet seen the book that this is purported to come from). In 1987 a book on the Fast Form was published in China written by Ma Yueh Liang, Wu Ying Hua and their disciple and adopted daughter Shi Mei Lin. It showed many line

drawings of the form and set out the principles of practice. However, it did not identify its origination. I believe there may have been an earlier edition published in 1982. Around this time there was a swing in government policy towards the preservation and promotion of the Traditional martial arts of China and it was shortly after that the Jian Quan Taiji Boxing Association in Shanghai under the leadership of Wu Ying Hua and Ma Yueh Liang disclosed the Kuai Quan. To my knowledge Shi Mei Lin demonstrated it publicly as early as 1983 as did my teacher Master Li Li Qun who became the Secretary of the Association for many years. In 1991 it was demonstrated at Yong Nian in front of a panel of masters such as Fu Zhong Wen and several Yang family representative including Yang Zhen Duo as well as Chen Village representatives and was accepted as part of the Wu/Yang tradition. It has also been shown on China television and Master Li has written about it in magazines and more recently a book which has as yet not been translated. I think it is safe to say that amongst the officianados in China and family style leaders the Kuai Quan is considerd to be authentic and probably one of the precursors to the Wu and Yang slow forms. It perfectly reflects their martial origin as well as being the natural link to the original root forms of the Yang family passed down from Yang Lu Chan. Even so, its provenance is still disputed, not least within the ‘Wu Family’ Taiji system which has grown out of the teachings of Wu Gong Yi ( son of Wu Jian Quan who moved to Hong Kong in 1948 to establish teaching centres). The “Wu Family” Taiji system as taught outside of China appears distinctly different from the Wu family transmission in Shanghai even though the hand forms follow the same sequence. I believe they place the origin of the Kuai Quan with Master Ma even though Master Ma has stated clearly that it

came from Wu Jian Quan. There is no easy explanation here so I will leave this thorny issue to future historians. I personally doubt if there will ever be any definitive proof as to its origins and now that Ma and Wu have passed away we only have their disciples and family to consult. Perhaps it does not really matter but for those who believe in the integrity of Master Ma and Wu Jian Quan”s daughter, Wu Ying Hua, the origination of the Kuai Quan should be undisputed. A brief comparison with the current traditional Wu Style Slow form as taught in Shanghai will clarify the essential differences and similarities. The Kuai Quan combines and expresses the hard (Gan) and Soft (Rou) movements and energies. This both expresses the laws of changeability as expressed in the theory of Yang and Yin and comprises the Taiji arsenal and martial strategies as well as the theoretical and philosophical foundation. The Kuai Quan combines slow and fast changes whereas the Big Slow Form is practiced at a slow and continuous speed. It is possible to practice the slow form at speed and even exhibit martial jin as in the Chen forms but this still leaves out some of the more complex martial vocabulary that is included in the Kuai Quan. The Kuai Quan still retains jumping, stamping, explosive striking and high kicks as well as postural changes from high to low whereas the slow form is generally taught with the head kept at a constant height and with no jumps, stamps or high or explosive kicking or striking (Fa Jin)

Spring 2009

11


Finally, the Kuai Quan alternates and combines a big frame and small frame movements whilst the Traditional Wu Style at least is primarilly only a medium to small frame form. Close Yang/Wu Link There are additional differences which to me are also important. The Kuai Quan has very accelerated turns, long and deep rapid skip step advancing and rapid changes in the stepping strategy; non of which appear in the slow form. There is an equal emphasis on striking as well as throws and uprooting techniques. The postures are slightly more stretched and generally lower. The sequence of the Kuai Quan and Slow Form are the same but the Kuai Quan has additional movements, most notable 4 variations on Brush Knee and Twist Step and additional and more complex variations of Cloud Hands, Tiger and Leopard Leap to the Mountain and several other much more martial variations. However, there are also striking similarites in some of the movements, notably on the Brush Knees, Single Whip and Turn and Chop with Yang Chen Fu’s form which indicates the close and mutual Yang/Wu link. All of the above martial characteristics that are built into the Kuai Quan and which are not in the Slow Form would need to be studied and trained separately if the slow form or indeed Tui Shou are the main training vehicle in developing a boxing vocabulary and fighting skill. Master Ma Yueh Liang, disciple of Wu Jian Quan and inheritor, along with Wu Jian Quan’s daughter Wu Ying Hua of Wu Jian Quan’s teachings in Shanghai spoke of a 5 character maxim for the practice of both the Long Slow Form and the Kuai Quan. They are Stillness (Jing), Lightness (Qing),Slowness (Man), Exactness (Que Qie) and Perseverence (Heng) and for most practitioners their meaning will be understood at least to some degree. However with the fast and more dynamic forms, especially the Kuai Quan, the category of Slowness is replaced by Agility (Ling). Achieving Agility The achievement of Agility means to understand stillness within movement. retain central equilibrium (Zhong Ding) at all times and also understand the transitions and changes where the body must change stepping or direction. It also means to balance and distinguish the hard martial energy (Ganjin) of attack with the soft energy (Roujin) of defence and to retain the continuous fluidity within the stretching out and pulling/drawing in. Finally blending the fast and slow, beginning and finishing and how both are mutually dependent and harmonised gives the form a particular characteristic not seen in external forms. Spiralling The Fast Form combines both circular, corkscrew and spiralling shapes . Its characteristic movements and shapes give a

12

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

strong feeling and appearance of the body’s rotational force rarther like a centrifuge, where force is generated by rotation at the centre and expressed at the outer edge of your frame. There is also the opposite effect where there is a spiralling and pulling inwards towards the centre.These are key martial strategy in the Kuai Quan. Striking and kicking however are direct and may resemble more conventional external systems though the manner of training and generating power as well as the ability to hide it in softness during the defensive phase is special to the internal methods. Explosive Force In all cases martial power (jin) is stored in the spine and supported by the qi of the whole frame and internal structure and directed by intention. The explosive force of Taiji emerges rapidly and on demand from the supple structure of the trained body; Yang emerging from Yin. The directed force flows easily through the bodies architecture along lines of least resistance trained through form and various other methods.. It can be likened to energy generated by a whip and moving like a wave to the end point or like the power of water, both penetrating and crushing. Central equilibrium and natural comfort in the postures and transitions are critical to successfully achieving the qualities required in the form especially the Fa Jin. Regulating the breath is also one of the major challenges of the Fast form since inhalation and exhalation must be comfortable and yet be able to both sustain and power the changes in speed, stretching, jumping, stamping and explosive kicks and strikes. If you end up thoroughly breatheless then you are doing something wrong. Between start to finish the breathing should remain even and calm as well as deep and sustaining. It is one of the great tests of the more demanding internal routines. Missing Link I first studied the Kuai Quan under my master Li Liqun ( a fourth generation Wu master and a senior disciple of Master Ma Yueh Liang) in 1992 in Shanghai. For me, the Kuai Quan was the missing link filling in many gaps about Taijiquan. It forced me to address everything I thought I knew about Taiji and it totally changed my understanding of the Slow Form and the martial strategies. In addition it demanded a higher level of physical and mental integration than was necessary in the Slow Form. It also opened a window onto the old roots of Taiji quan and offered a comparison and a credible explanation for the evolution of the Slow Form. The Kuai Quan is a difficult and demanding form and as such it remains, at least in the Shanghai Wu Style the last form to learn, studied only by the most dedicated of students. It is the Jewel in the Crown of Wu Jian Quan’s legacy.

Michael W Acton UK Wu Shi Taiji Quan & Qi Gong Association www.wutaijiandqigong.co.uk Eternal Spring - Taiji quan, Qi Gong and the Cultivation of Health, Happiness and Longevity is published by Jessica Kingsley Publisher and is available on their Singing Dragon Imprint.

Spring 2009

13


An interview with

Li Lian Tai Chi Master - an ‘amatuer’

The Masters of Tai

Chi Chuan

Wu Tu Nan, Yang Shao Huo & Wu Jian Qian

by Jian Xiong

Introduction

Li Lian (1952 - ) was a student of the late Grandmaster Wu Tu-nan (1884 – 1989), the legendary longevity star of the Tai Chi world who inherited the essences of both Wu Style Tai Chi from Wu Jian-quan and Yang Style Tai Chi from Yang Shao Hou, one of the grandsons of Yang Lu Chan, the forefather of Yang style Tai Chi. Master Li Lian started his Tai Chi training at the age of 16 when he met grandmaster Wu Tu-nan and studied under him as his adopted grandson until Wu’s death in 1989 at the age of 105. Due to the huge age gap between Li Lian and his master, Mr. Wu Tu Nan never officially initiated Li Lian into his discipleship and instructed one of his three indoor disciples, Mr. Ma You Qing to teach Li Lian some techniques that he himself was unable to perform due to his advanced age. Li Lian is one of the few students who inherited the true essences of Wu Tu Nan’s Tai Chi practice directly from Wu himself. These once jealouslyguarded secrets of Tai Chi include Yang Shao Hou’s Tai Chi Application Form (杨少侯太极用 架), a fast form rarely known in the west; Tai Chi Kung (太极功)- Tai Chi Internal Techniques and Relaxation Techniques (太极松功). The Tai Chi regime passed on by Wu Tu Nan was a very scientific, systematic and comprehensive one. To take form learning as an example, students have to learn 定式– the holding form first, holding each posture from 3 – 6 breaths. To learn all the 300 more movements (83 postures) well will take an industrious student a minimum of 6 months. Only then he’s allowed to progress into the next stage – learning Lian Shi (连式) the Flowing Form before he is finally taught the Yong Jia, Application Form or the fast form. Interspersed between all three stages of training are about a dozen different Song Kung, relaxation techniques and 3 different stages of Tai Chi Kung – a series of rather harsh standing and squatting postures where students are required to hold for a minimum of 6 breaths to build up the inner Chi flow. In the author’s opinion, Li Lian is a ‘knowing’ rather than ‘known’ Tai Chi master, though he himself is so modest as to keep calling himself a Tai Chi ‘amateur’ (he is a well-trained doctor of traditional Chinese medicine). During the past years, Li Lian has passed on the unique teaching of Grandmaster Wu Tu Nan to hundreds of students both at home and abroad, specifically in Japan. In his opinion, such a beautiful art belongs to the whole world. The author was lucky enough to start training under Master Li during a visit to Beijing earlier this year. It was such a big bonus that Mr. Li kindly agreed to an interview which turned out to be a rather lengthy one. During the interview, Mr. Li talks about his training experiences with Grandmaster Wu Tu Nan; his in-depth understanding of Tai Chi in theory and practice, his views on Tai Chi practice in the world today and his hopes for the future of Tai Chi.

14

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

How did you came to learn Tai Chi from the late Grandmaster Wu Tu Nan?

I started Tai Chi with the late Mr. Wu Tu Nan during the Cultural Revolution. I was 16 then and all the schools were closed down due to the political upheavals. It happened that my school was right next door to the venue where Mr. Wu Tu Nang was teaching Tai Chi. I came to hear about Mr. Wu purely by coincidence, what we Chinese call Yuan Fen (karmic connection). I chanced to spot him one day walking on the street, a very distinct-looking elderly gentleman, wearing a large loose mandarin suit and a very smart pair of sun-glasses, carrying a walking stick on one elbow. His steps were so spruce and light, completely without the clumsiness of the average elderly person. What a spruce old man, I remarked to my classmate who was walking with me. My classmate told me that the elderly gentleman was a martial artist and the Chairman of the Beijing Martial Art Association. I asked my friend if he would introduce me to him. He said ‘Oh no. He teaches adults only, not kids’. I later found out where the elderly gentleman was teaching and went to watch him teaching every day. I simply assumed that there wouldn’t be any chance of getting him to teach me so I satisfied myself with watching him teaching. This went on for about 3 months until one day he suddenly addressed me from the other side of the railing. ‘Come over here, kid’, he said, ‘What are you watching’. I told him that I was watching him teaching Tai Chi. He then said ‘Why don’t you climb over and join us.’ Since then I started learning Tai Chi from Mr. Wu Tu Nan. I was taught Ding Shi, holding postures first, which took me over six months to learn. Then he started to teach me Lian Shi, the moving set or flowing form. Then it was the fast form. Then came the time when I was sent to the rural area for re-education. Mr. Wu told me that there was a broadsword form which he wanted to teach me when I come back. I was away for about 18 months and when I returned I resumed my training with Mr. Wu who started teaching me Song Kung, relaxation drills or techniques. In Tai Chi practice, the most important part is not the Chuan, the boxing bit, but the Kung, the internal techniques. During the process, Mr. Wu passed a great deal of knowledge on to me. As I only just finished primary school and didn’t get any secondary school education, my level of education was poor. Luckily I got the chance to spend a lot of time with Mr. Wu Tu Nan. Most mornings over a two years period, when I was 16 to 18 since we happened to live not far from each other, only a couple of streets down. I used to wait for him under the Old City Gate and then

we would walk together to the Planetarium for training. On the way Mr. Wu would start to talk to me about Confucianism and Taoism, with tips on writing, which benefited me a great deal in addition to his Tai Chi teaching.

wished me to learn from Mr. Ma You-qing, one of his indoor disciples. The third issue involved his personal possessions as he was a collector of antiques. Soon after this, Grandmaster Wu Tu Nan passed away in January, 1989.

When I came back from my re-education in the rural area, I started working in a bank and also began learning Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from my father who was a disciple of Shi Jin Me, one of the four most prominent Chinese doctors in Beijing. My father brought back textbooks from the Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine where he was teaching, to help me with my training. So parallel to my Tai Chi training and my work, I was learning TCM. It was during this period that Mr. Wu Tu Nan started teaching me some of his knowledge of Tai Chi Kung.

How old were you when you first met Mr. Wu?

By tradition, he was not supposed to teach Kung to anyone apart from those who have been initiated into discipleship. But he decided to teach me on account of our closeness. Due to the big age gap between us, he thought it appropriate for me to acknowledge a student of his, Mr. Ma You-qing as my master. I was too young to understand why I could not be Mr. Wu’s disciple since I was already training under him right from the beginning. So I postponed the Bai Shi (worshiping as teacher) ceremony with Mr. Ma. This went on for nearly twenty years and then Mr. Wu Tu Nan started teaching me Xin Fa 心法, mind disciplines for Tai Chi. He was getting too old to perform many of the Tai Chi postures, and he felt the lack in what he was teaching me. He was living with his wife but they had no children. So my wife and I visited him at home very regularly, about twice a week. If I missed a visit, he would call me to urge me to go. It was during those visits that he started to talk to me about some essentials and knacks of Tai Chi practice. But he was getting too old to teach me some of the postures. I remained in his company until his last moment. Just before he passed away, Wu Tu Nan gave me three tasks to complete. In the past I had always called him Grandpa Wu; but then about a couple of years before his death he said I should start calling him Grandpa instead of Grandpa Wu. That brought us even closer and I became like his adopted grandson. He knew he was dying and so he set three tasks for me to accomplish. No. 1 he wished to have a research association established under his name. Secondly, he wanted me to carry on practicing Tai Chi even after his death. He feared that I would stop when he dies. Those things he failed to teach me, he said, he

I was 16. That was 1968. So after his death, I was initiated into the discipleship of Mr. Ma Youqing because there remained a few advanced Tai Chi Kung postures that Grandmaster Wu didn’t teach me due to his advanced age though he passed me all the Xin Fa (Mind Techniques) of Tai Chi. That’s how I came to learn the rest of Tai Chi techniques from Mr. Ma who shared with me his personal experiences of Tai Chi training. You see, though Mr. Wu had many students, he only accepted two of them as his indoor disciples, Mr. Ma You-qing and Mr. Shen Bao He. Though I was not considered a disciple of Mr. Wu due to the age gap, I did learn all the techniques directly from him as his adopted grandson. For that reason, Mrs. Wu proposed to have a tomb tablet made and set up in memory of Mr. Wu under the names of the three of us (the two indoor disciples and me). So when Mr. Shen Bao-He came down to Beijing, we went ahead to have the tablet set up. Can you be more specific about the Tai Chi techniques you learned from Grandmaster Wu?

The techniques I learned directly from Mr. Wu Tu Nan include Tai Chi sword and broad sword, Tai Chi Ding Shi (holding form) and Lian Shi (flowing form) as well as Tai Chi relaxation techniques (Song Kung) and most of the Tai Chi Kung (internal techniques). What I picked up from Mr. Ma You-qing are the advanced Tai Chi Kung and his understanding of Tai Chi as learned from Mr. Wu. Mr. Shen Bao He, the other disciple of Wu also joined us for some training sessions and we remain on good terms. A non-official organisation called Research Association on the Thoughts of Mr. Wu Tu Nan was established in Beijing under the proposal of Mr. Yang Jia Cang, another student of Mr. Wu. Mr. Wu taught the Tai Chi Kung only to his disciples. So those who were not taught Tai Chi Kung are not considered to be his disciples. Mr. Wu always took great care to watch his students during training sessions and so did Mr. Ma You-qing. One of the advanced Kung techniques, according to Mr. Wu Tu Nan, was rather risky to practice. Part of Mr. Wu’s Kung was also inherited from his family. You see, his grandfather served as a guard at the royal court.

Spring 2009

15


FIVE FACES OF TAI CHI

As Wu was a sickly child when he was small, his grandfather asked him to learn internal Kung内 功from his dad. Later he started Tai Chi training with Mr. Wu Jian Qian, the forefather of Wu-style Tai Chi. The Tai Chi form we are using now is the same form that Mr. Wu Jian Quan was doing in his early years and it was practiced as a holding form and flowing form at separate stages. For some reason, Mr. Wu Tu Nan turned to Mr. Yang Shao Hou for his Tai Chi training after 8 years’ of training under Wu Jian Quan. Wu Tu Nan’s grandfather and father asked Yang to come and teach Wu Tu Nan in their house. Apart from the Yang fast form, Yang Shao Hou also taught Wu Tai Chi Kung. He taught Wu how to cultivate and issue different powers such as bounce power ( 弹抖劲) and stick and adhere power(粘粘劲) and some Qi Kung (气功energy work) as well as some standing postures 桩功 and relaxation techniques松功. In the circle of Tai Chi, anyone who’s learned within a lineage should also have been taught Kung. To practice Tai Chi without practicing the Kung is a waste of time - even if you practice all your life, as the saying goes. But only a handful few came to learn about the set of Kung techniques passed on by Yang Shao Hou. Apart from learning the Kung from Mr. Yang Shao Hou, Wu Tu Nan in his early years of Tai Chi training also went to Mr. Song Shu Ming who was in possession of a copy of a rare ancient Tai Chi treatise. Now it happened that a friend of Wu Tu Nan came across a copy of this treatise on a second-hand book stall. He bought it but found it of no use to himself. So he handed it over to Wu Tu Nan thinking it might be useful to him. That’s how Wu came to know of this Tai Chi treatise by Song Yuan Qiao. So Wu went to see Song Shu Ming, a descendent of Song Yuan Qiao with a copy of the treatise. The two of them compared their copies of the Tai Chi treatise and found they were the same apart from a few words. Song Shu Ming was so overjoyed to discover that Wu Tu Nan was also practicing Tai Chi Kung that he started to reveal some of his Tai Chi Kung secretes to Wu. So, the techniques of Wu Tu Nan were a result of integrating the techniques from both the Yang lineage and the Song lineage into a complex whole. Wu Tu Nan’s Tai Chi system comes with 4 different components: Jin Kung (Power Technique), Zhao Kung (Applications), Song Kung (Relaxation Technique) and Chi Kung (Chi Building Technique). So Tai Chi Kung consists of these 4 parts of techniques.

That’s right. Tai Chi forms including the fast form and push hand training all come under the category of Applications. Wu Tu Nan hand copied 6 copies of the Tai Chi Treatise and gave a copy to six of his Tai Chi seniors. After coming to hear about Song Shu Ming from Wu, they all went to meet with Song to discuss and practice together and found that Song’s techniques were superior to theirs’. So they all started to study Tai Chi Kung with Song. Some of this Song lineage Tai Chi Kung was later carried to Hong Kong. Mr. Wu Tu Nan was careful to pass on Tai Chi teaching in its original form. I’ve asked him about the many repetitions contained within the Tai Chi form he was teaching. He replied that these repetitions were there to highlight the most essential principles of Tai Chi Chuan. This was also echoed in the way he taught. He would always start people off with Ding Shi, the holding

16

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Wu Tu-nan in his 90’s

By Taoist Lineage Master Bruce Frantzis Bruce Frantzis, Ph.D., is a Lineage holder in Taoist energy arts and is believed to be the first Westerner to hold authentic lineages in ba gua, tai chi and hsing-i. He is the author of seven books including The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi, commonly referred to as the martial arts bible; Tai Chi: Health for Life; two TAO meditation books and Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body. He has studied healing, martial arts and meditation since 1961 including 16 year training full-time with renowned chi masters in China, Japan and India. Since 1987, Bruce has taught over 15,000 students and certified over 300 instructors worldwide. For over twenty years Bruce has continuously taught a wide variety of courses in America and Europe on the aspects of of the five faces of tai chi.

Li Lian with Wu Tu-nan

form. You see during the Cultural Revolution Wu and his wife were living in poverty having barely enough to eat. But when he taught Tai Chi, he would never chase his students for payments. He simply left the choice to his students whether to pay him or not. See, many students found the holding form hard work. To make it worse, they didn’t get many instructions or explanations from their teacher Wu Tu Nan. As a result, a lot of them simply left after 2 or 3 months of training. So I suggested to Mr. Wu that he should adapt his way of teaching to suit the needs of the students more. But he replied that he will never change his way of teaching because that was the way his master taught him. This means he would stick to the Tai Chi taught by his master Wu Jian Quan without borrowing anything from Song Shu Ming. This is because when he started to write books on Tai Chi, it was Wu Jian Quan’s Tai Chi form he based his writing on. To be continued

The Interviewer Jian Xiong who conducted this interview is a close student of Li Lian. She is based in Cambridgeshire and you can visit her website at: www.freetao.co.uk or contact her directly at: jianxiong@hotmail.co.uk.

When people only know of or focus on one aspect of a system, they commonly mistakenly think they are able to discern all there is to it. Tai chi chuan and the related art of ba gua chang are many things under one roof. Traditionally both have five faces, some of which are more popular, well-known and more widely available than others. Each layer or face takes you closer toward the internal martial art’s deeper possibilities and full potential. In my own journey studying internal martial arts and eventually becoming a lineage holder in ba gua, tai chi and hsing-I, culminated in 11 years in China where I came to understand the five faces of tai chi as follows: 1. Sophisticated physical movement forms to promote and maintain health and wellness. 2. Paths to developing the full range of Taoist energy techniques called the 16 nei gung. 3. Comprehensive fighting systems. 4. Chi gung systems for using chi to heal a wide range of specific diseases in patients. 5. Spiritual paths within Taoism.

Mastery of Tai Chi Is Similar to Mastering Any Subject University students can’t reasonably expect all their teachers or teaching assistants to have a Ph.D. much less five different Ph.D.s in specific related areas within one field (say history, chemistry or tai chi). As in any field, unless you are an absolute specialist in tai chi, you may only focus on one small area or face of the art—unaware, uninterested or not accomplished in its other aspects. Therefore it is common that most people who practice tai chi are neither fully skilled nor equally specialized and trained in all of tai chi’s five faces. Likewise in terms of learning, teaching, and levels of achievement, people have varying degrees of natural talent and capacities: ranging from low to ordinary, to exceptionally high or even those we call “masters.” In the mid-1960’s, after several years of doing Japanese martial arts, shiatsu and Zen meditation in New York, I got turned on to tai chi by Cheng Man Ching—so much so that over time I became determined to answer a complex question: “What is the full possibility of this marvelous art and cultural gem called tai chi?” This personal odyssey from 1968 to 1987 required that I become fluent in Chinese

and spend more than a decade of my life, fulltime, completely immersed in the study of the five faces of tai chi chuan, ba gua chang and related fields. Since returning to the West in 1987, I have taught the five aspects of tai chi to over 15,000 students in the United States and Europe, certified over 300 instructors and written seven books in the hope of sharing and spreading the wonderful knowledge I was fortunate enough to encounter. Parts of my two books Tai Chi Health for Life and the newly revised and expanded edition of The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi further explore and fill in the blanks regarding this most interesting question. My other two chi gung books1 and two books on Taoist meditation explore the context and technical how-to sides of tai chi, chi gung and Taoist meditation2. Face 1: The Appearance of Outer Physical Movements It moves! Without understanding the background and context of anything, the first impression you can get from watching tai chi ranges from accurate, to partially misleading or even downright deceiving. Beyond personal opinion about the look of the aesthetic physical form, the movements of tai chi were originally designed to perform specific functions. They

Spring 2009

17


The ancient idea of chi..... is that it enables everything to move and function.

Tai Chi contains a repertoire of martial arts movement techniques & principles the level of physical movements alone, many experienced tai chi practitioners who have done only one style, might not “get” what’s happening in another style. This is either because they scoff that it’s “not my style” or they lack a broader tai chi education. provide valuable benefits, especially in terms of fostering general health, healing and stress relief—the primary reason why 95% or more people practice the art of tai chi today. When most people first see someone do a slow motion tai chi form, regardless of style, what do they see? They tend to classify any martial form that even remotely looks like tai chi as being one and the same. “I mean, it’s all just tai chi, right?” I’m asked. Most Westerners think of it as some Oriental movement, slowmotion karate or dance fad where people move in slow motion. Yeah, right! They see people moving in a choreographed way, sometimes with funny looking weapons primarily moving in slow motion and sometimes too quickly to discern. Maybe some of them have even seen two people touching without breaking contact, moving either fast or slow, doing something called “push hands.” Others might have witnessed martial artists sparring with each other to which the response is typically, “This is for health? Uh, grasshopper, how can this all be the same thing—this tai chi thing?” What Is the Purpose of the Physical Movements? To see the potential of tai chi’s physical movements requires peeling away the tai chi onion, step by step, from its surface down to its core. These include: • Providing the body the necessary exercise it needs to stay healthy and mobile. Most importantly, tai chi is practiced in a way so gentle, it can be adapted by virtually anyone regardless of advancing age, low natural

18

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

level of coordination or degree of chronic injuries yet it still maintains many powerful benefits. This is not the case with most sports or martial arts. • Creating and maintaining a high level of general, physical wellness through several basic mechanisms such as training the body so it neither dissipates nor blocks its fundamental chi flows, creating better movement of all the body’s fluids, continuous compressions and releases, and chi flow within and between all your internal organs. • Physical education containing sound principles for teaching the bio-mechanics of beneficial, whole-body movement. Tai chi’s principles and techniques can be creatively adapted to achieving higher performance in a wide variety of sports and physical activities. At the very least, tai chi can increase the joy of doing any form of physical movement. This quality often prompts those who don’t know the inner workings of tai chi to give what they perceive to be a great compliment “Oh, tai chi is such a beautiful dance and you do it so gracefully.” • Healing the body of a wide variety of specific diseases. The movements of tai chi were designed to implement the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Even tai chi done poorly—without regard to implementing the dictums of tai chi’s primary theoretical text Tai Chi Classics— will work reasonably well. Likewise the extent to which these principles and tai chi’s internal chi techniques are adhered and implemented, the physical healing potential of tai chi becomes more of a reality.

• Enhancing the longevity potential of the human lifespan. In China, half of the people who do tai chi begin after age 50. The two classic stereotypes of Chinese tai chi practitioners in China are that they are compromised of the sick wishing to get well and seniors wishing to rejuvenate their body and diminish the degenerative effects of aging. In the West doctors are more commonly recommending tai chi to their patients for the same reasons, especially with an increasing number of scientific studies showing its clear and potent benefits for overall health and wellbeing. For example, tai chi is used as a low impact exercise method for reducing blood pressure, mitigating arthritis, and increasing balance and thereby preventing falls and broken hips by the elderly. • A repertoire of martial arts movement techniques and principles. Although not obvious to the non-specialist, all the movements in tai chi forms, such as the kata of karate, contain the various potential ways punches, kicks, hand strikes, joint locks and throws as well as a wide variety of weapons techniques can be performed. • An efficient container for the most valuable internal content of the second, third, forth and fifth faces of tai chi. Tai Chi Styles At another basic level the specific qualities of the physical movements identifies which particular tai chi style, or subgroup within it, is practiced. Most who are unfamiliar to tai chi don’t know there are different styles, much less the subdivisions that exist within the individual styles themselves. When looking at

Some might notice one form is done standing higher, knees less bent, with tighter less obviously extended arm movements—mostly the Wu, Sun or Hao styles—the “smaller frame” styles. While others may notice that some forms are done with lower stances and more obviously extended arm movements— Yang and Chen styles—the “larger frame” styles. This said, approximately 85% of all tai chi practitioners do the Yang and Wu styles, which are basically variations of each other, while 15% do the original Chen, Hao and or one of the ten or so more common combination styles such as the Sun style.3 The serious practitioner will want to be well-versed in as many styles as possible. Without going into the history of it, the Wu and Yang styles are actually quite similar— with the Yang styles typically having bigger movements and the Wu style typically having smaller more condensed movements which perform the same function. I personally teach the Wu style—although I did teach the Yang style for many years in the 1970’s—because of its connection to meditation. When I teach, especially in my Instructor trainings, I find that serious students are looking for insights as to how the forms, which are essentially the same, differ. Face 2: Activating Chi and the Normally Invisible Anatomical Structures Whereas the overt physical movements of tai chi are gross, its subtle component involves chi flow. How to develop, balance and increase your personal chi and the ways it translates in real time is not just philosophical, emotional and mental but within the practical functioning

of the physical body. This necessitates you to simultaneously and consciously activating the invisible anatomical structures deep inside the body: internal organs, joints, fluids, etc. Affecting these visually invisible processes with tai chi happens through its chi work and a conscious melding of the mind’s intent with precise adjustments of the form’s outer movements. Chi development is central to the higher levels of the art. This aspect of tai chi is usually less available due to a general lack of sufficiently trained and knowledgeable teachers. Individuals with sufficient generosity and skill need to be both willing and able to share their knowledge and make it comprehensible without all the mumbo jumbo. Generally the best scenario is to find an instructor who can effectively combine sound physical-body and chi principles when teaching how the movements are done. However, this is often not the case. The ancient idea of chi—subtle invisible energy, your life force—is that it enables everything to move and function. This belief permeated the cultures of tai chi in ancient China. Chi methods and specific techniques within tai chi and related arts are composed of 16 large areas, called in Chinese the 16 nei gung components. In the late 1990’s I first introduced these ideas in the original edition of the Power of Internal Martial Arts.4 The 16 Components of the Nei Gung System The Taoist science of how energy flows in humans is derived from the following components of nei gung: 1. Breathing methods from the simple to the complex. 2. Moving chi along the various ascending, descending and lateral connecting channels within the body. 3. Adjusting body alignments that prevent

the flow of chi. 4. Dissolving, releasing and resolving all chi blockages. 5. Moving chi through all the acupuncture channels, energy gates and points. 6. Bending and stretching soft tissues from the inside out and from the outside in, along the yin and yang acupuncture channels. 7. Openings and closings (pulsing). 8. Working with the energies of your aura or etheric body. 9. Generating circles and spirals of energy inside your body. 10. Absorbing and projecting chi and moving it to any part of your body at will. 11. Awakening and controlling all the energies of your spine. 12. Awakening and using your left and right energy channels. 13. Awakening and using your central energy channel. 14. Developing and using your lower tantien. 15. Developing and using your middle and upper tantien. 16. Integrating and connecting each of the previous 15 components into one unified process. Nei-gung has two salient qualities: • If sensitive enough you can both consciously feel chi and directly move and activate the chi inside your body in the ways described in the previous list, using each of the 16 nei gung components. • Regardless of whether or not you can initially feel chi, over time working with the 16 nei gung components will enable you to consciously feel and activate the anatomy inside your body to move in specific, prescribed ways. Two examples are: 1) Most people cannot feel blood moving deep inside their internal organs although it is happening anyway. Likewise, whether you can feel it or not, using nei gung you can consciously boost the ability of all your body parts, including your brain and internal organs, to

Spring 2009

19


SPIRIT

activate and perform optimally. 2) Although many cannot normally feel chi moving in their acupuncture meridians, when a good acupuncturist puts needles in you, it becomes possible to viscerally feel the chi moving through your meridians. In the same way, while many can’t feel the cause, chi, they can feel and consciously control its physical effects in conjunction with tai chi’s physical movements. These include the ability to change internal pressures within the body, and feel physical fluids moving in the body in specific ways, such as within your blood vessels, joints, around your spine and brain, and between your internal organs. While doing tai chi you may experience subtle or easily felt waves moving through the body Even if initially you are insufficiently sensitive to directly feel chi, it is quite possible to consciously smooth the pounding in your heart or lower your pulse rate. Within the movements of tai chi are methods for feeling and controlling the ever more subtle forms of emotional, mental, psychic and karmic chi and even the chi of the very essence of ourselves, our souls. Some say chi is only a belief, that it doesn’t exist as it can’t be seen and most especially “I” can’t personally feel it. In many ways this is a similar debate that raged in the 1950’s as to whether or not the quantum field existed. As the argument went, it was only a mathematical speculation without physical proof. Breathing techniques are essential. However they are not all or even most of the ball game with regard to developing chi. After all, although breathing is the first component of nei gung, let’s not forget the remaining fifteen! Even more important is the invisible way through which the mind’s intent tells the body what to do and thereby creates a physical structure of precise outer movements. This is a structure that the mind can piggyback onto, and thereby go inside the body so it can motivate and activate the invisible anatomical structures deep within, for example to open and close tissues and anatomical parts deep inside your joints, abdomen, spine and brain. Then you can direct your chi to wherever you want it to go, to create hundreds of both general and highly specific effects. The way I have taught the 16 nei gung for the last 20 years is through a chi gung program consisting of six core courses.5 I’ve found this is the easiest, most accessible and valuable method for teaching beginning and intermediate students all the parts of the nei gung. Face 3: Martial Arts and Self-Defense The general public and many hard core external martial artists do not tend to associate fighting skill with tai chi. Most practitioners clearly do not use it as a combat martial form and perform only the physical movements and

20

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

within

TAI CHI CHUAN

by Ian Cameron

rarely if ever even do the lightest of pushing hands. If any martial art is to be “martial” people must do some sort of active sparring, with punches, kicks, throws, joint locks and preferably also some weapons training. Tai chi and ba gua have several distinct levels of selfdefense or martial arts applications. At each level of depth, there are progressively fewer practitioners. The progression is as follows: * Simplistic understanding of how the form movements can be used for self-defense and thereby bringing the form alive and making the moves easier to remember. * Tai chi martial arts “lite” for those who primarily practice pushing hands or its variations only as a recreational activity. * Slightly more severe martial arts medium with competitive pushing hands and various kinds of lighter recreational sparring, the play aspect of self-defense training, with or without gloves, joint locks and throws. * Martial arts heavy, ranging from those interested in more realistic and free form unrehearsed fighting applications, the ability to take blows unharmed and training for full contact competitions. * Martial arts severe all the way into the heaviest realms of tai chi for practical use in life and death situations, such for bodyguards, police work and the military. The martial arts face of tai chi is mostly practiced by young men. When discussed tai chi as a martial art tends to suck all the oxygen out of any room, mostly due to the extreme passion and commitment of those into it, especially in tai chi or martial art magazines and books. However it is useful to consider that for tai chi to translate into actual self-defense requires the practitioner to put in a lot of time and effort to recognize and deconstruct the techniques themselves.

Endless hours of solo and sparring training are required to translate the possibility of any martial art technique into the actuality of real-life applications, whether using it in a playful way or under progressively heavier situations. To achieve this, knowledge of only the techniques themselves is insufficient; hard work and progressive, time-consuming, solid training programs are required. My most in-depth training was in the Yang and Wu styles and I teach the martial arts applications with an emphasis on the fighting techniques rather than only push hands, which I view as only a training exercise. My teachings emphasized the fighting aspect of external and internal martial arts for forty years, but during the past five years I have been shifting my teachings from primarily focusing on fighting to meditation since I see that it’s more valuable for most Westerners. Notes: 1 See the revised and expanded edition of Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body and the newly released Dragon and Tiger Medical Chi Gung Instruction Manual. 2 Relaxing Into Your Being and The Great Stillness (German translations available). 3 Appendix A of the newly released, revised edition of The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi explains how the genesis of tai chi styles came about. 4 See the author’s newly revised edition of The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi, which includes a new chapter on “The TAO of Spiritual Martial Arts.” 5 To learn more about the author’s teaching system visit EnergyArts.com.

www.energyarts.com. October 13-14: Bruce will be giving a workshop, “Tao Meditation” in Copenhagen.

Some time ago, a student asked me “When do you get good at this?” This was someone with quite a bit of experience. My answer was, “Practising is more important than being good at it”. Everyone, obviously does their best when practising, becoming proficient comes with the practice, to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the person.You do not have to be “good” at it to have the right spirit. We always seem to equate the physical side of Tai Chi Chuan with being good or not. But, the spirit of Tai Chi Chuan isn’t exclusive to those that are physically more gifted. It is the forging of the spirit, that is to my way of thinking much more important, this is the beauty of Tai Chi Chuan. If done with the right spirit then everyone can benefit from it. I remember two of our class members, sadly no longer with us, but what courage they showed. Both were very ill but still came to class and gave everything they could. We can all learn so much from these great demonstrations of spirit. This also showed me another side of having a firm internal core. Take any aspect of Tai Chi Chuan, although quite differerent, they all in the end, come down to training the mind and spirit. With time, we will all know our way through the various forms. There must however come a point where Tai Chi Chuan feels comfortable, in other words, it fits. Where the gap between the doer and the thing done disappears. At this point, you have stillness in movement. You know where the form is going, well, allow the form to go there. This allows for the free flowing movement of the forms, it is not so much a technical exercise, more a feeling process. It is very important to feel your form. Cheng Tin Hung always said that it was about feeling. Intuition plays an important role in this respect. I do think that Tai Chi Chuan should be learned from the ground up, and not from the head down. Intelectual understanding is not the experience itself. The direct experience of physically doing Tai Chi Chuan is where the learning is. Understanding, comes through the physicality of practice. If it is always of a technical nature the spontaeneous aspect will never show through. Get yourself out of the way and become one with the flow of Tai Chi Chuan. Spontaneity means that there is no outside influence. To practice until you can be spontaneous, does not mean that you do anything you like. It takes discipline. It must mean that thought and action are one, with no concetpual thought to interfere. To constantly practice is a way of emptying out, letting go, not holding on to anything, so that there is no division between you and what you are doing. Absorbing the principle of Tai Chi until it is very much a part of you. I don’t mean this in any psuedo mystical way, it is after all just

practice. Saying that, why you practice/teach, influences how you practice/teach. To maintain stillness of mind, does not mean in any sense, a type of rigidity where you hold your mind in a state of constant tension. It means that the mind is flowing with whatever you are doing and, not getting caught up with what is past or what is to come. It is simply reflecting the moment, just as the Tai Chi Chuan forms express the moment. There is no dwelling on anything during the form, it is a constant flow. This flowing mind must be maintained when faced with an adversary, (or any situation for that matter). Not allowing the mind to be caught up with what the

“True spirit is not for show, it is impersonal, it lies within.” opponent might do, but as a reflection of what the opponent does, maintaining all the time, a clear and flowing mind. There should be no break in continuity between dealing with one opponent, and the next. Any break would suggest a space where you leave yourself open to attack. Any expression of Tai Chi Chuan must as far as possible be devoid of ego (Who can you impress in your back garden?) Genuine expression comes from within, from a realization that anything done for show, in reality means nothing at all, it is here that you have the separation between the doer and the thing done. Spirit is not concerned with this in the least. Pure action is the thing that I am interested in. This I believe comes from having nothing attached to the practice other, than the art itself. Whatever the reason for practising Tai Chi, it still remains a thing of beauty. A thing of beauty for the person practising. Never for the watcher, they have nothing to do with it. It is not for the outer appearance that you practice, by that I mean that there should be no decoration added to the forms to please anyone. Everything lies within the practitioner, if you just have the spirit to quietly persevere.

We are thinking beings, and will always have thoughts. It is no use trying to eradicate thoughts, this won’t happen. It is the attachment to thoughts that create distractions. That is why, as with any discipline, it is the focus on the activity or “one point” that allows thoughts to pass by, and not get caught up in a train of thought. Let them come and let them go. Thoughts are like tools, pick them up when you need them. It is the small mind that gets in the way, that clutters up and distracts you from the going deeper into self examination. It is easier to be “out there” showing, teaching, and getting a reputation than it is to face yourself. What we are expressing is a motiveless universal principle, which will always be greater than the performance of it. Being a beginner in what you are already doing, is a way of furthering your practice. The thing that is farthest away always seems more atractive. The classics constantly warn against this way of thinking. The oft quoted classic “The longest journey starts with a small step” is so true it has become a cliche. To my way of thinking, it means, that this small step, is every step you take. The Chinese arts are very attractive, where the choice can appear limitless. If you are practising a comprehensive system, it too is limitless. There is of course nothing wrong with gaining experience, but you must have a core practice. Being a beginner means that what you already have is always fresh. “Will to one thing” (Erich Fromm, The Art of Being) This is an important principle to keep in mind. As you get older, and we all do, your Tai Chi Chuan becomes a very great friend, something you can practice, and take with you anywhere. The spirit to carry on, no matter what, gives you a vitality for life, a resilience,and a life long interest. Being “tough” isn’t always what it seems. Toughness, is doing a practice all of your life, no matter what that practice might be. True spirit is not for show, it is impersonal, it lies within. When, through time our physical abilities diminish, it is the mind that is important. To still practice in old age is a priceless gift. It mentions in the Classics, about an old man defending himself against many attackers. My way of interpreting this is, that it is pointing to the mind/spirit. Through training over time, it is use of the mind/spirit that overcomes an opponent, and not just physical ability. To develop and train the mind until it becomes a clear mirror, reflecting and not grasping, is the way of Tai Chi Chuan. www.five-winds.co.uk

Spring 2009

21


The British Council for Chinese Martial Arts The British Council for Chinese Martial Arts

Here is a list of events where members can hone their martial skills

(BCCMA) is running a range of professional

and then put them to the test.

training courses throughout 2009.

- TRAINING COURSES Coaching

- WORKSHOPS & COMPETITIONS -

Nutrition

Saturday 23 May & Saturday 3 October Level 2 Coaching Course: St Barnabus Church Hall, Perth Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 6PP Contact: Chris Ellerker Email: chris.ellerker@bccma.com

Saturday 20 June Level 3 Nutrition Course: St Barnabus Church Hall, Perth Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 6PP Contact: Chris Ellerker Email: chris.ellerker@bccma.com

Psychology

Fitness

Come and see!

Top Quality!

Sunday 3 May National Wushu & Traditional Championships Moorways Sports Complex, Derby DE24 9HY Spectators: Adults £10 Children £5 Events include: Southern & Northern Hands & Weapon Routines, Internal/Exterrnal, Freehand & Weapon Sparring Forms

Stunning Performances! Saturday 28 November Level 3 Psychology Course: St Barnabus Church Hall, Perth Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 6PP Contact: Chris Ellerker Email: chris.ellerker@bccma.com

Saturday 8 August Level 3 Fitness Course: St Barnabus Church Hall, Perth Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 6PP Contact: Chris Ellerker Email: chris.ellerker@bccma.com

All courses start at 10am and finish around 5pm; the level 2 courses cost £40.00 and the level 3 courses cost £50.00 per attendee. Please confirm your attendance at least two weeks prior to the commencement of the course.

22

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Book Now!

Sunday 20 September National Sparring Championships Moorways Sports Complex, Derby DE24 9HY Contact: Bob Weatherall Spectators: Adults £10 Children £5 Events include: Semi Contact (Qingda), Veteran Semi-contact, Pushing Hands & Shuai Chiao.

Monday 4 May Traditional Kung Fu Superseminar Walthamstow venue. - £25 Contact Iain Armstrong: 07771 627292 iain.armstrong@bccma.com This is the first event to be organised by the BCCMA’s traditional group. It involves some of the UK’s most respected kung fu teachers getting together and teaching under the same roof. There will be four teaching sessions of one and a quarter hours each and participants will be able to choose which teacher they train with each session. There will be 6-8 teachers, to be confirmed soon.

Spectators Welcome! Spring 2009

23


The British Council for Chinese Martial Arts

Aspects of Training - by Richard Watson Longfei Taijiquan Assoc.

Zhan Zhuang - Pole Stance In this new ‘Aspects of Training’ section we will invite knowledgeable practitioners of Chinese Martial Arts to provide an overview of how various systems are trained and practiced. It is our hope that over time you will increase your knowledge and understanding of the methodologies of some of the many approaches to Chinese Martial Arts. For this first article we have invited Richard Watson, Chairman of the Longfei Association, to offer his views on the practice of Zhan Zhuang - Standing Pole Exercises. Zhanzhuang is first and foremost a form of Qigong, unlike other forms of moving Qigong Zhanzhuang or ”Standing Pole Exercise” as the translation suggests, is an entirely stationary exercise. There are variations on both the position of the arms, feet and trunk but once the Zhanzhuang posture is adopted its static nature is the feature to be nurtured. 24

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

correct but serves little purpose as it represents just a tiny overview of the semantics that can be employed. Perhaps the best approach is through the more reliable source books on Traditional Chinese Medicine and avoid the avenues of mysticism. Chinese medicine emphasises the relationships between human beings and their environment. Chinese doctors considered the Qi of humanity to be an end result of the interaction of the Qi of heaven and earth. It’s interesting to note that the characters that indicate Qi are at the same time material and non-material; the two characters indicate vapour and rice. Commentators suggest this implies that which cannot be grasped (vapour, immaterial) and that which can be grasped (rice, material). In 1991 Master Lam Kam Chuen published a very good book on the subject, ”The Way Of Energy”, this was followed by his equally good TV series ”Stand Still to Get Fit” in 1995, subtitled Standing Like a Tree. It presented five basic postures of this system and the programme introduced warming up and cooling down exercises. Although Lam’s presentation did not include the martial aspect, he is a Taijiquan master of note. However his Zhan Zhuang deals specifically with fitness and health promotion. The TV series is probably available on video and can be recommended for its content, philosophy and presentation. The prerequisite of all Daoyin, Qigong or Yangsheng Gong in all of the varieties is the cultivation and the art of nourishing life, in traditional Chinese medicine the ”Three Gems” (San Bao). These represent the three forces of nature inherent in human beings, essence (Jing), vital breath (Qi), spirit (Shen). These terms are difficult to define in as much as the different Chinese traditions have arrived at separate conclusions. One common thread running through most systems is the use of respiratory disciplines referred to as ”Tuna” (taking in and pushing out) or ”Xing-Qi” (moving the breath). One quote by Tao Hongjing exemplifies the importance played to Tuna and Xing-Qi: ”If one is tired and listless then practice Daoyin exercises and close up the breathing to attack the illness.” At some time in Qigong training it must be necessary to take a view on a practical and pragmatic approach to the work. If you ask the average Chinese on the street about Qi, he or she will quite likely wave an arm indicating the air and the ozone. This observation is of course

This does help to understand the Chinese approach to calisthenics having the dual purpose of working on the material of the body and at the same time guiding Qi and nourishing Shen (hence, Daoyin and Qigong). The uniqueness of this self cultivation approach is self evident when students without a clue of the foregoing comment on how good they feel after training, in a relaxed mood and spirit lifted. My introduction to Zhanzhuang came from master Chu King Hung of the International Tai Chi Chuan Association many years before Master Lam’s TV programme and book. In this issue I present some elements of my own training with the help of a few line drawings. Wuji Posture The Lower Limbs Taiji and Wuji are terms that have roots in Chinese Cosmogony. Taiji is itself rooted in Taoist concepts that signify the origin of the duality of existence as manifested from the void (Wuji). Taiji is the mother of Yin and Yang. This whole concept is a clue to the posture to be adopted; to be formless with absolutely nothing happening, physically, mentally, emotionally with a quiet spirit. The foundation is in the lower limbs, the feet should be parallel, shoulder width and support the ankle. In turn the ankles will rest directly under the tibia and fibula which in turn support the knee and femur. The knees should be gently pushed out as if a large balloon was being supported and at the same time being inflated. The feet however should be equally weighed from heels to toes and from inside to outside edges. At the same time do not lose sight of the concept of nothing happening.

The Torso The trunk should be upright. When dealing with the body one should also address the head. The head should be lifted from the crown (acupoint Baihui), the feeling should be as if a balloon filled with air was lightly drawing the crown up. At the same time one can visualise a weight is lightly drawing down the base of the spine. So the feeling visualised is an opening of the vertebrae of the backbone. In the Wuji posture because the arms are by the sides it can help to relax the shoulders which is important for eradicating discomfort in the shoulder and upper back. The defining line of the trunk would be plumb from Baihui (DU20) and Huiyin (REN1). It is important to give attention to the relaxation of the abdomen, the inguinal joints, hip joints and the sacro illiac area. This will help to sink the Qi to Dantian. Visualisation can be applied to the relaxation of the internal organs. The overall aim should be calm and loose without collapsing. Upper Limbs The arm and hand directives in this posture can be simple. They should hang loosely by the sides with a feeling that a pair of rolled socks were being held in the armpits. The hands and fingers should be relaxed and loose, the hand is slightly dish shaped with the fingers pointed to the ground and at the root of each finger a gap the size of a garden pea. Head The head position is important and we have already commented on the raising of Baihui. The tongue rests on the roof of the mouth connecting the two governing vessels, Du and Ren.

The eyes must remain relaxed and look directly ahead; alternatively they can be averted down. When the eyes are averted take care that the head remains lifted. This care with the head should also apply when we lift the crown point. It’s a common fault with beginners, that when instructed to lift the crown they also lift the chin. This will be counter productive to the relaxation of the neck, when lifting the crown one must also tuck the chin. As in all meditation techniques all students are confronted with their endless discursive mind. Whatever problems this may present are best discussed with an experienced instructor. With more practice the chattering mind can lose some impetus and the student will adapt his or her approach over a suitable period of time. Remember the instruction to do nothing can be applied on all levels of being.

Breathing Breathing should be performed quietly through the nose keeping it simple, warm and friendly. The accent is on being natural and treating yourself gently. The respiration should be deep and slow but this should arrive naturally and never forcefully. Remember that any mental effort to govern the breath will be counter productive to some overall relaxation. It is permissable and practical to be attentive to the flow of breath even to count them as an aid to meditation. General guides to good practice It is better not to push yourself too hard; we are looking for nourishment not punishment. Perseverance and patience and a little training daily will bring its own rewards eventually. When practice is established non-practice can result in withdrawal symptoms. The exercise we are discussing is not directed to martial arts training. Standing still has been found to be very beneficial for a variety of health problems but one can only gain experience for oneself. So the aim is to build strength and improve general health. When I was training with Master Chu, when the legs become tired I was urged to use a technique of rocking backward and forward and from side to side. This served two purposes: the first is quite obvious, when rocking to either direction there is alternating relief for the legs; the second, and not so obvious purpose, is finding a position where the legs experience

Spring 2009

25


The British Council for Chinese Martial Arts

Figure A

the least strain. When the legs experience the least amount of strain it allows the upper body to relax more. When rocking forward or backward one feels the greater pressure on the legs that arises to stop us from falling over. With experience this will enable us to find a resting posture with just sufficient leg strength to keep us upright. In the work of Yiquan this is known as stablising one’s posture and allowing the mobilising muscles to be passive. I have discussed Zhan Zhuang with Professor Li. He feels that there is insufficient knowledge about the beginning of this form of exercise to place dates on its arrival in Chinese history. In the programme ”Stand Still to Get Fit” Lam Kam Chuen’s teacher, professor Yu, remarks that this form of exercise dates back 2,700 years to the times of Lao Tzu and was one of the most ancient forms of oriental exercise. There is a tendency in Chinese health arts to assume that locating the beginnings in antiquity will somehow bring greater credibility. However a great deal of the current popularity of stationary postures can be attributed to the work of professor Yu’s teacher, Wang Xiangzhai (1885-1963). Master Wang was among the most famous Chinese martial artists of the twentieth century. Wang developed the art of Yiquan from his previous martial arts experience which was heavily influenced by his Xingyiquan training. Yiquan fundamental training is based in stillness unlike many other martial arts with the basics concentrated in forms. Wang was considered a formidable fighter and built a considerable reputation but when the communists came to power in 1949 he abandoned his Yiquan Club in Beijing, apparently discouraged from teaching the Yiquan as a martial art by the authorities. He was subsequently invited to teach the standing meditation at the Hebei Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine. This prohibition would have continued through the cultural revolution and until the passing of Mao Zedong some twelve years after Wang’s own death. This sequence of events goes some way to explain why Zhan Zhuang became more popular during the second half of the twentieth century. Its spread to the West has been a slow process since China opened up after President Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972. I have no personal reference to any teacher presenting standing ex-

26

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Figure B

ercise before Master Chu King Hung brought it to London in 1976. Chu stressed both the benefits to health and its application to martial arts practice. More about this aspect later. Figure B Most of the general observations for Figure A, apply equally to Figures B and C. It’s obvious from the illustrations that the knees are bent, the bending of the knees is not excessive and a good guideline is not to allow the knee to move forward beyond the toe. Care must be taken not to lean back or to incline the body forward. A third point to note is that the bottom must not stick out. The sitting must be just that, as if we were sitting on a bar stool. This is by no means an easy posture to adopt for a novice and supervision is advised with regular checks on attaining the correct posture. Each one of us can bring a variety of problems to the training, these can be from a lifetime of bad postures or inherited traits and also from accumulated psychological tension. The position of the arms is very comfortable, it allows the shoulders to relax, sink and sit comfortably. The elbows must also sink and relax. The fingers are open as in Figure A, the tips are apart with a gap approximately the width of the head. The feeling is not as if holding and clutching something heavy to the body; on the contrary it’s as if the arms were floating or being supported by a balloon, with the muscles and tendons relaxed and the ligaments open. Cultivating the correct feeling is of prime importance. Remember in Figure A, the knees are relaxed but not bent in Figure B they are bent using the guidelines above. Figure C The obvious change here is the lowering of the arms, the arm formation is with the palms facing up as if supporting the abdomen and the feeling as if sinking the energy to Dan Tien. All the general observations for postures in Figures A and B apply equally to Figure C. Before starting practice one should do some gentle warming up exercises, stretching and loosening the body in preparation for sitting. It’s also advisable to cool down with some breathing exercise. The continual process of practising Zhan Zhuang is self-learning and self cultivation, correction to postural defects, arranging the skeletal structure as if we were erecting a building so that we have a good foundation, a sound structure allowing our internal organs to breathe

Figure C

and our metabolism to function at its optimum. In the West the work of the Alexander technique and the Feldenkrais system have brought awareness to the problems of habitual postural abuse and its effect on function. In Chinese medicine the simple view that senility begins from the ground up (not confined to the brain) explains the position of Zhan Zhuang’s approach to strengthen the legs. In recent years we are constantly being reminded of the need to use exercise to strengthen our leg bones and muscles to counter the onset of osteoporosis. Perhaps the gentle work of Zhan Zhuang ideally fits the bill. It’s certain that osteoporosis sufferers need to be very selective about their exercise to avoid the onset of stress fractures. Longfei has been working with the North London Osteoporosis Society for some years. When the body’s framework is arranged correctly with the muscles relaxed and using only enough strength to maintain equilibrium we can experience the unobstructed circulation of the blood (and Qi). While this form of exercise will bring a slight rise in the heart rate it certainly avoids the excessive rise in metabolic rates induced in more vigorous forms of activity. This will facilitate the possibility of taking the exercise into our most advanced years. In general practitioners should proceed at their preferred rate. However one should persevere in a disciplined fashion, it’s very easy to shorten or retreat from regular and correct training. A good plan would be to make a start with five minutes twice a day with posture A progressing to fifteen minutes and then experiment with postures B and C. Practice can be taken indoors or in the open, the air outside is considered beneficial in most of the Chinese methods of exercise. The aim of Zhan Zhuang is to bring a greater awareness of the body and its functions, to improve overall health and to improve one’s energy quotient strengthening both body and resolve. In our next issue we will take a look at the more martial postures the training and the function.

You can find out more about Richard and his son Simon Watson and their Longfei Taijiquan Association by visiting: www.longfei-taiji.co.uk

Spring 2009

27


Tai Chi Hand Form

the whole body, in other words from the inside out not the outside in. This means that it is not totally muscle orientated. The starting point is not learning kicks, punches or applications but the hand form. Theoretically there is a great deal to learn in order to make yourself more familiar with what is involved within the practice. Terminology in Tai Chi Chuan takes time to digest in an understandable way becoming a part of everyday life.

Five Directions & Eight Powers The hand forms of Tai Chi Chuan come from martial applications and contain kicks, punches, open hand moves, locks, throws and sweeps. It would therefore be understandable that, to the inexperienced eye, these soft slow movements were in fact the equivalent to Katas. When practising the form, the student is learning the use of the five directions and the eight powers which are employed in a connected manner from the feet to the hands, in other words a whole body movement. The movements in the form, if used as per the form in an application, would in general have disastrous consequences. In the past these forms were a great way for the Sifus to hide applications from their rivals whilst at the same time remembering them. Anyone being sent into their classes from another school to learn the applications from the form would find this almost impossible to do.

Relaxed, Soft & Pliable Unlike the external arts, the muscles have to be relaxed, soft and pliable allowing the internal energy, or Chi, to permeate through

Healthy Mind & Healthy Body The person reputed to be the founder of Tai Chi Chuan, Chang Sang Feng, said you must first have a healthy mind in a healthy

28

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

by James Connachan

heel. Moving up the legs, the knees should be gently pushed outwards just enough to feel the outside edge of the foot. This will align knees and ankles which allows upper the body weight to pass freely to the feet then upward to the coccyx which should be gently pushed forward. This movement is very small and aligns the base of the spine with the top of the spine. To finish, the head should be upright with the chin lightly tucked in. This completes the alignment from the bottom of the spine to the top.

Square and Round Forms In the style I teach there are two hand forms: the square form and the round form. The square form allows the student the opportunity to learn how to put the theory into practice. It also allows the student to see the beginning and end to each posture how it’s made up, as well as the name. On completing the square form, the student then moves on to learning the round form, a free flowing version of the square form enabling the student to progress to movement in a nonstop manner. Health, stamina and ability are increased by this practice. Starting with Karate What is the purpose of the hand forms? This is a question I have often asked myself over the years and I now feel I can answer that question in an understandable way. I started my martial practice in Wado Ryu karate, one of the many external arts. The training was demanding but, if you wanted to learn the art in its traditional form, you had to be prepared to make the effort and become self disciplined. I spent many hours over several years learning the punches, kicks and katas within the art. All the external arts that I had encountered were the same in that you would learn the hand and foot techniques then employ and apply them in varying combinations of attack and defence known as Katas. These of course progressed in difficulty as you became more adept in the art, demanding more stamina combined with good technique. With regards to the internal arts, in this case Tai Chi Chuan, this is not so.

- considering the purpose

body before you can do anything. In order to do this the hand form was developed. In traditional schools, there are often many exercises that are taught, even before the hand form, in order to build up the strength of both mind and body in preparation for the practice of the form. In practising the hand forms it can be seen how the theory and health benefits are interrelated. Although there is not any one part of the theory more important than another, it is a matter of bringing all the relevant parts together to make the whole, making a complete body movement from foot to hand. For me, there has to be a starting point. Starting with the Feet Correct posture starts in the feet, which are the first contact with Mother Earth. On standing upright, feet should be shoulder width apart and facing straight ahead. There are nine points on the foot which help to develop awareness. These are: the pads of all five toes, relaxed and in contact with the ground; the ball of the foot at the large toe and the small ball of the foot at the small toe; the outside edge of the foot and the centre of the

Relaxed Nervous System In doing this, the central nervous system is more relaxed which enhances the body’s general health. Head being up and chin lightly tucked in will open the airways, give the optimum balance and encourage the flow of blood across the top of the head. With correct posture should be correct breathing. Mouth closed but not tight, teeth together but not tight, tongue touching the roof of the mouth or the gum just behind the top teeth. Closing the mouth helps to retain Chi whilst the tongue touching the roof of the mouth keeps the mouth moist. Breathing in and out to the Dantien, a point 1.5 - 2 inches below the navel. When breathing in the stomach muscles move outward, on breathing out the stomach muscles move inward. Over a period of time the full potential of the lungs will come into practice. This way of breathing creates an internal massaging effect which, when combined with correct posture, helps to strengthen all the internal organs. On birth every child breathes this way, often referred to as postnatal breathing. Enhanced Circulation Correct posture and breathing can be practised all day every day and at the same time why not try to relax as much as possible. In doing this the student has a starting point for their practice of Tai Chi Chuan. When practising the hand form the weight is continually being supported by one leg or the other and at the same time the whole body is expanding and contracting. This causes the muscles, which are soft and pliable, to squeeze the arteries and veins enhancing the circulation of blood through the whole body. As the body is meant to be upright, correct

posture ensures the internal organs are free to perform properly which in turn helps to strengthen all the organs and promote good circulation. Breathing correctly means the blood is highly oxygenated. This combined with good circulation means greater energy levels. The immune system gets stronger, high or low blood pressure is helped. Any heart condition is helped by the freedom of blood flow which means the heart is pumping freely and under no pressure. The tongue touching the roof of the mouth causes the mouth to salivate and the saliva, when swallowed, regulates the acid in the stomach helping to alleviate ulcers, excess acid and heartburn. Veins and arteries, due to enhanced circulation, expand which helps prevent hardening and furring. These are just some of the health benefits to be gained from the practice of the hand forms. Moving Chi Kung The hand forms are also often referred to as moving Chi Kung. Chi passes through the body within what are known as Meridian lines. There are twelve major meridian lines most of which start and finish in the

feet. Branches from these major Meridian lines then permeate throughout the rest of the body with often more than one coming to the surface of the skin. These points are known as acupuncture points and there are numerous ways of stimulating the Chi energy by using the acupuncture points. When practising the hand forms there is a light pressure within the soles of the feet which stimulates the flow of energy through the acupuncture points on the soles of the feet. Chi energy is also taken in with the air that we breathe. Movements throughout the form cause contraction and expansion within the body which in turn stimulates the flow of Chi from feet to hands. Because the body moves as one from feet to hands, the Chi is drawn from and returned to the Dantien ensuring only the Chi that is required for the movement is used. Postnatal Chi is the Chi used in every day life for example talking, everything physical whether manual or office related, school, college, or university studies. Prenatal Chi is the Chi we inherit from our parents on conception therefore, by learning through the practice of the hand forms how to conserve our postnatal Chi, our prenatal Chi is kept strong enhancing life itself. Fondation for Practice To put in a written format all that can be gained from the practice of the hand forms would in itself be a lengthy job as the foundations for the practice of Tai Chi Chuan are contained within the hand forms. It is my conclusion that the hand form is therefore the starting point for everyone whether for health or as a martial art and that the instructor should have the necessary experience and ability to guide the student down the right road.

James Connachan is based in Penicuik, Scotland Telephone: 01968 674316 www.wutan-taichichuan.co.uk

Spring 2009

29


Reviews

Kai Ming Association for Taijiquan

Sleep - Audio CD - Sue Weston Available from: www.relaxingthemind.com New Book!

The Tao of Teaching Tai Chi – A Learning and Teaching Manual

When I was asked to review this CD, I anticipated that it could be a challenge but I didn’t think it would be too hard to listen to someone else tell ‘other people’ how to relax and fall into the world of dreams. As I had been experiencing problems with my sleeping patterns lately I curious enough to have a go. Just how hard could it be? But how can you give feedback on something if the bloomin’ thing makes you zonk out within the first few minutes? A dozen or so attempts later and I had to find some other way. The sound of Sue’s voice, the bells and the soft tones of the music gently wrap around you like a warmed comforter embracing you in a cocoon of safety and relaxation. I swear that the CD actually has some secret new technology allowing it to pump out a sleep drug as you play it. Failing that it comes with its own sniper with a tranquiliser gun.

- Workshops for 2009 May 10th - Tai Chi Cane June 6th - Push Hands 10am - 2pm 31st July - 2nd August - Residential Tai Chi weekend 19th September - Weapons 7th November - San Shou B - form and function. - TAI CHI MERCHANDISE DVDs on various aspects including: Cheng Man Ching Tai Chi Chuan, Tai Chi for self defence, Tai Chi broad sword and straight sword, Tai Chi staff and stick, Tai Chi Fan Book: ’A View From the Back of the Class (an anthology by students and teachers)

Sleep, for most people, comes naturally – it’s simple – clothes off, pyjamas on, head on pillow then snore. However for some it ain’t so easy. Sleep will be as elusive as the winning lottery ticket. Insomnia will plague most of us at one time or another in our lives, mostly mild phases which don’t last forever. For others chronic insomnia is a part of life and much more serious. Doctors have a variety of options but these days people are more interested in natural remedies rather than popping pills to knock us out.

www.kaiming.co.uk www.balancedapproach.co.uk - www.thepeacefulwarrior.co.uk 07831 743737 - 0121 445 0093

Stressful lives, poor diet, lack of healthy exercise and bad habits, like staying up late every night can all be primary causes of sleeplessness. Activities such as t’ai chi, yoga and meditation can do a great deal to help us to find peace of mind, allowing us to relax enough to recharge our batteries properly. But even these might not work for the hardened insomniacs. Sometimes our desperation for a magical solution can urge us to try anything just so that we are equipped to kip in peace.

Practical Tai Chi Chuan International

However, I had a review to write and what I needed now was the complete opposite. So far I hadn’t managed to hear enough to write one sentence. If I was going to have any hope of not succumbing to Sue’s velvety tones I had to embrace physical exertion and pain. With her telling me to be kind to myself and show kindness and appreciation to my tired aching limbs hefty furniture shifting was my only answer.

with Dan Docherty

Full curriculum of training in Tai Chi Chuan :

Each time she encouraged me to ‘spread peace’ to every cell of my being, I had to poke and prod it instead in case my body slipped off without me again. Despite nearly succeeding in getting me to acknowledge and let go of my aches and pains, I managed to stab them instead to keep them alive. With purple-faced exertion, beads of sweat upon my brow, I puffed my way through to the end. A completely rearranged sitting room is now a testament to how hard it was stay in the land of the living. Just goes to show how effective Sue’s recording is.

HAND & WEAPON FORMS, TUI SHUO, SAN SHOU, NEI GUNG, TAOIST BADUANJIN Training camps in: UK, IRELAND SWEDEN, FRANCE HUNGARY & GERMANY

Whatever you may think about meditation CDs, I can only say you have nothing to lose but try it out. If you can trust Sue enough to allow her to take control, she will guide you through a whole-body relaxation process allowing you to let go of your stress and anxiety. The quality of the recording and the soothing tones indicate that this is an excellent product. With her professional background in the world of film, stage and television she has certainly proved that she has the skills to create a superb product. In fact it is so good it should come with a warning.

National & International seminars & competitions. Teacher Training camps & private training sessions.

www.taichichuan.co.uk

Dan has also written two widely regarded books, an audio CD of the Tai Chi Classics and a Short Form DVD. Instant Tao

new book now out!

Complete Tai Chi Chuan

Wudang Short Form DVD

Tai Chi Classics Audio CD

 This is not cool road music – do not use in the car whilst driving.  Whilst under the influence of this (hypnotic and drug-like) guided meditation, do not operate any heavy machinery, i.e. not even anything as simple as a pen – you might stab yourself when your body plunges into slumber. (Yes this is what nearly happened to me.)

I am delighted that a new book on teaching Tai Chi has been published. There is so little written on this topic – in fact this is only the second book I have come across which deals specifically with teaching Tai Chi. Cynthia Fels has created this book out of her twin passions – Tai Chi and teaching. Drawing on her long experience as a teacher and educational consultant in the US, Cynthia explains two important areas of learning theory, and shows how they can be applied to teaching and learning Tai Chi. Both teachers and students of Tai Chi are likely to find the book both interesting and useful. Cynthia covers Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Styles model, and the work of Lozanov about overcoming barriers to learning. The advantage of Dunn and Dunn’s model is that it includes more elements than many other models. Learning styles theories have had some negative academic press in recent years. The scientific basis of learning styles theory has been challenged, and their rather dogmatic and rigid application in some settings has been challenged*. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these arguments, I agree wholeheartedly with Cynthia that looking at our classes in light of these theories helps us to create interesting and engaging classes. Lozanov’s work offers very sensible ways to create a positive atmosphere for learning, in spite of the rather the ghastly jargon he adopts - for example ‘Suggestology’ and ‘Suggestopedia’. Cynthia has done a great job of putting together this very complex theoretical material into a concise format. She gives plenty of practical links to Tai Chi teaching through anecdotes from her classes and a detailed example of a lesson planned with an eye to the theories. The way information is presented in the book also demonstrates some of the application of the theories in action. Tai Chi teachers should read this book. For information about how to get the book see www.earthwalktaichi.com *see for example Frank Coffield, David Moseley, Elaine Hall and Kathryn Ecclestone (2004) ‘Should we be using learning styles?’ Learning and Skills Research Centre www.lsneducation.org.uk/pubs Alison Smith

For the price of a bar snack this CD can be used time and again so cheaper than any drugs and if you are lucky you might even get to hear the whole thing one day to find out exactly what she says. As yet none of the people I know who have tried it so far have heard the whole thing. I am the first – will you be the second? Georgina Lester

30

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Spring 2009

31


Reviews THE ILLUSTRATED CANON OF CHEN FAMILY TAIJIQUAN BY CHEN XIN - (ADDITIONAL MATERIAL CHEN PAN-LING) First Edition published 2007 by INBI Matrix Property Ltd. Translated by Alex Golstein. ISBN 13: 978-5-98687-008-5 There is a division of the form into 13 unequal sections of techniques, each section being efficacious physically, in terms of internal alchemy or as physical metaphors for philosophical concepts. No evidence is adduced to prove said efficacity. This is all linked to Shisanshi –Thirteen Tactics/ Postures. This seems unique to the Chens.

depended on the concentration of Jing essence at the top of the head. It is hard to keep a straight face. The putative old version of ‘Kick with Heel’ is shown and explained. If your foot is caught when you kick the opponent, spin into a handstand and kick back at his hand or body. I learned a similar move on an Okinawan Goju-ryu course at Henri Plee’s Paris dojo in 1974. The less gymnastic new version is also shown.

There are 2 curious diagrams of oxers showing Wuji and Taiji respectively. The Wuji chap has a full head of hair, the Taiji chap is bald with a prominent crotch bulge. Conclusions? The final and largest part of the book is a detailed discussion of all the techniques of the form in sequence, starting with ‘Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounding Mortar’. Most TCC practitioners are unaware that this technique occurs in a Shaolin form attributed to the first Song emperor, Song Taizu, who reigned from 960-976. It amazes me that even after so much evidence has been unearthed that senior members of the Chen family continue with the party line that all they practice came from Chen family ancestors alone. The technique’s very name makes it clear it is not part of any Taoist tradition (though there is another name; ‘Fist to protect the Centre’). No fewer than 17 pieces of advice come with the diagram of the technique. We are first advised that orientation is not important, but then are told to face North as this is the location of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), ‘the source of inherent energy in the human body’. We continue on page 240 with an interesting diagram showing Qi flow through the body, which may well be based on a meditation posture of the Taoist Embrace the One meditative sect. This is followed by the usual lengthy discussions on silk-reeling and acupoints. The name of the next technique, Lan Zha Yi, which has been translated as ‘Holding One Lap pull on the Robe’(?), sounds similar to ‘Lazily tying Clothes’ from General Qi Jiguang’s Classic of Boxing and slightly less similar to TCC’s Grasping the Bird’s Tail’. Common origin? You will be relieved to know that neither the material, my valuable time nor your patience merits being troubled with a highly detailed examination of the other postures. A few points. The ‘Single Whip’ illustration looks more like Yang style than Chen; Chen Panling influence? The author(s) states that though it takes a lifetime to be successful, great progress can

32

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

be achieved after 9 years. Mastery of the mixed metaphor is evident in a poem on P312 ‘…A hedgehog contracting into a small ball, but attacking like a macaque.’ P357 gives us a diagram of Bi Shen Chui ‘Shield Body & Punch’, which sounds similar to and looks somewhat like Pie Shen Chui, Swing Fist, though there is a big Kao element similar to ‘Seize Legs’. On P369 we have Zhou Di Kan Quan similar to Zhou Di Kan Chui. Both mean Under Elbow see Fist’. Many of the postures seem contrived and even contorted, as though the internal alchemy element had been taken to an extreme. This could also be an influence from Chang Nai-zhou (1724-83?), the subject of Marnix Wells’ fascinating book ‘Scholar Boxer’. On P423 in one of the many ditties ‘we have ‘…soak, connect, adhere and chase’. In the Chinese original (itself stealing lines from the TCC Classics) we can see that the character from the original text rendered as ‘soak’ is in fact the simplified version of the character rendered as ‘adhere’. I first noted this mistake about 25 years ago. Those old boys made some howlers and the howlers, unlike the old boys, are still around. High Pat the Horse is explained as the stance resembling mounting a horse, leaning forward with a foot in a stirrup. On P465 we have the intimate snapshot entitled, ‘How the posture (‘Strike Down like Planting into the Ground’) was taught in my childhood’. In which the author (then a callow youth) reveals how, on seeing his brothers attempt the posture and tumble to the ground, he immediately realized that the entire mechanism of the technique

The author makes many classical allusions such as on P590 a reference to the Tai E sword which Mr. Golstein expands on with an apt little metaphor on the danger of surrendering one’s power by offering the sword with handle pointing to the recipient. Unfortunately on P599, Mr. Golstein gives the common ludicrous explanation for doubleweightedness as being where the weight is evenly divided between the feet. We can find some nuggets though. We are told that what is in most TCC systems a second ‘Golden Rooster on One Leg’ was formerly called ‘Raise Lamp toward Heaven’. The technique is the same on the other side. The first conclusion I came to at the end of this ‘Long March’ is probably the same as Mao and the gang came to: glad that’s over. The book is verbose. It is often contradictory (not surprising if there were three authors, illogical and as ludicrous (as for example in the absurd connections claimed between individual TCC techniques and specific Yi Jing hexagrams) as anything the Falun Gong sect came up with. Except for TCC historians, it is not essential reading. It is not original, though that is a difficult thing to be. The book does have some genuine points to make on TCC practice. It is interesting (especially in the form section) as a historical document on Chen TCC in pre-WWII years. It raises issues such as acupoints and internal alchemy which are rarely debated in a rational way by TCC practitioners. It is a valiant effort to present a huge array of difficult material, including many unusual diagrams. It does not make the Chens look bad, but they have some explaining to do. Lastly the editor gave me this book to review because he thought I was the only TCC person bloody-minded enough to get through it. It’s not true; I know at least two more bloodyminded. Unfortunately one of them is dead and I can’t remember the name of the other.

Dan Docherty

In the Garden of my Teachers - Essays and Writings 1987 - 2007 on Taijiquan Arieh Lev Breslow. Almond Blossom Press ISBN 0-9672748-2-6 www.jerusalemtaichi.com Arieh Lev Breslow is probably best known for writing, “Beyond the Closed Door”, an excellent publication which deals with the evolution of Chinese culture and the place that tai chi has held over the many years in Chinese society since its early inception. With ‘In the Garden of my Teachers’ Ariieh provides a more personal slant on his considerable experiences gained from years of training, having been a close student of both Ken Cohen & Benjamin Lo as well as working with T.T. Liang. The book covers five themes: The Role of Taiji in Human Evolution’, ‘Taiji and Sudden Enlightenment’, ‘Wuji Mind and Martial Spirit’, The Taiji Way of Giving Birth’ and ‘The Ten Principles of Falls Prevention.’ Following the introductory chapter which covers ‘The Origins of Taijiquan’, Arieh dips directly into ‘The Role of Taijiquan in Human Evolution’, which deals primarily with the role our legs play in supporting our bodies and how, through the training of taijiquan we can be educated to benefit from increased leg strength whilst remaining relaxed and well-balanced. Arieh discusses in great detail how the weight is distributed through the legs, across the foot whilst maximising the natural gravitational pull. From the legs we are then led through the waist and spine respectively with clear guidelines on the optimum usage of these critical areas. These sections also contain highly practical advice to allow the student to correct any potential imbalances. ‘Ten Push Hands Lessons from the Art of War’, looks at some classic texts in the context of push hands looking at key themes: Deception, Know Yourself and Know Your Opponent, Simplicity, Analyse Your Partner’s Vulnerbilities, Avoid Being Double-Weighted, Adaption, Attack Emptiness with Fullness, Yielding and Pushing, Save Your Energy and Beating the Opponent to the Punch. Arieh obviously believes in the crucial learning that comes from push hands training and devotes much space to dealing with a number of ideas and practical techiques for training various aspects of this art. Part Three of the book covers Meditation and provides a range of exercises and useful advise on this essential practice including: Preparation, Posture, Focus, Breath and Letting Go as well as images and text on Standing Meditation, Zhan Zhuang. Other sections include: Confucius Enlightenment & Martial Spirit and Birth, Death and Immortality which shows how taij has been useful in these areas. The book ends with ‘Falls Prevention for Seniors and the Physically Challenged,’ which is an area that Arieh has focused on for some years, creating a special programme for these needs. Again the advice is clear with line illustrations detailing basic, but useful exercises. Over the course of 260 pages In The Garden of my Teachers covers a wide range of topics for many aspects of taijiquan: health, martial and spiritual. It is easily read and provides much practical advice and exercises for the taiji players whatever their particular focus of this multi-faceted art.

Ronnie Robinson

Tai Chi - An invaluable tool for Tai Chi basics.... Qigong - A definitive and accessible DVD........ www.taichination.com

In the early days of tai chi in the UK (and beyond) it was difficult to access teaching aids other than books and trying to find teachers of depth was often equally hard. At best we may have been lucky to have access to a few good teachers who, in turn, had access to good students, who had access to video cameras and basic editing skills. Presentation usually consisted of a form demo, with minimum vocal accompaniment in a badly lit studio. For tai chi afficianados these productions were endured rather than enjoyed, because the information portrayed was an invaluable teaching aid when access to quality instruction was limited. Fast-forward 20 years or so and we’re now able to benefit from a greater knowledge pool, both in terms of the internal arts and video production. These two new releases from Devon-based Tai Chi Nation offer high quality material, clearly presented in an (as they claim) easily accessible manner. The Tai Chi DVD shows two short forms; 24 Step Compact Form & 37 Posture Cheng Man Ching (CMC) Tai Chi Form performed by Matthew Rochford and key assistants. Neatly divided into conveniently accessed chapters it begins, naturally, with a warm-up routine and basic loosening exercises which are essential components, particularly of the CMC style. We are then led through a series of ‘Fundamentals’ which covers basic stances whilst highlighting potential pitfalls. The forms are ably demonstrated in well-lit bright studios from two angles, front and side view. Whilst the commentary provided a much needed guide for beginners I personally found the continued dialogue too much after a while. This being said the DVD is not aimed primarily at long-time practitioners (although there is always something of interest) and there is always the option of turning the sound down once you are familiar with the routines. In covering these different forms it may have been interesting to explain a little of the obvious differences, particularly the shifting of the back leg, once on the empty rear of the foot and then on the empty front of the foot but I guess there’s a limit on how much to include. The DVD finishes with a very useful section on basic partner work which is a nice inclusion at this level, being an aspect often ignored in beginner’s DVDs. The Qigong DVD deals primarily with the 18 movement taiji qigong exercises and shows an attractive young woman competently performing the movements from two angles (front and side). The accompanying commentary is articulated clearly but in an unobtrusive manner which allows the user to focus gently on the exercise as they would during a class, thereby gaining some of the benefits whilst learning. Beginning with an introduction to qi energy there follows a series of gently stretching and basic self-massage techniques to warm-up before a brief introduction to key acupoints. Then we are led through the various qigong exercises in a clear easy to follow manner with both vocal and textual information on each movement which, again, is performed from 2 angles. What is very clear is that these two DVDs have been carefully produced with an eye on good, clear presentations of useful information in a manner that should make the learning experience easier and more accessible to many students, especially for those who are unable to attend regular classes and learn from repeated viewing.

Ronnie Robinson

Spring 2009

33


EVENTS

The TCUGB Festival of Chinese Internal Arts IMAGES: From top left:

The 1st weekend in April has become a significant date on the Chinese Internal Arts calendar with four major events coming together namely, The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain’s Festival of Chinese Martial Arts, their AGM, the British Tai Chi Open Championships (BTCOC) and the Festival of Chinese Martial Arts (FCMA). The TCUGB events for many years were staged on the Saturday, in London, at a central Chinese restaurant and the latter two events were staged on the Sunday, for many years at a Sports Complex in Canary Wharf. Dan Docherty, Chairman and Founder Member of the TCUGB and organser of the BTCOC & FCMA a few years ago made the sensible decision of bringing both event together at an easily accessible Sports Centre on the outskirts of Oxford. The Saturday saw the TCUGB’s events and the Sunday the competition. The folowing reports are compiled from three sources, special Dutch Guest, Cecile Kroes and TCUGB Members Marnix Wells and Nick Walser.

Ian Kendall, David Hackett (co-organiser), Gary Wragg’s Sabre Session, Ceclie’s push hands, Eva Koskuba, Qigong, Ronnie Robinson, Qigong, Marnix Wells, Bagua, Gary Wragg, Sabre Techniques, Cecile Kroes, push hands, Richard Zwaart, push hands & Faye Yip’s fan workshop. PHOTOS: Ronnie Robinson & Daniel Vatier

REPORTS BY MARNIX WELLS, CECILE KROES & NICK WALSER

Parallel workshops were held all day Saturday morning and I chose to attend the four more martially oriented groups. The first was my own baguàzhâng circling and applications session where I first demonstrated the problems inherent in circle walking. A circle being a figure constructed from a centre with lines of equal length radiating from it, a person walking round it is essentially like a planet in orbit being held from spinning away by invisible lines of force drawing you in towards the central point. That central point represents the bone of contention which in combat must be attacked and controlled. This necessitates facing that centre with eyes, hands and feet, just as in xíngyì these three are aligned towards the target. Walking round the circle with any of these three aligned along the circumference, as commonly seen in bagua forms, will generate instability in relation to forces from the centre. This was demonstrated by circling and changing from anti-clockwise to clockwise with a partner as opponent in the single change form. It was then seen that the movement mirrored those that are found in tàijíquán’s dàlyû or nine palace stepping and xíngyìquán’s héng cross-fist. The second workshop on evasive movement without excessive use of force was led by Ian Kendall. Partners took turns in placing their hands lightly on each other’s heads. The object was to move the body, bending in different directions and stepping around so as to neutralise the incoming force and escape. This was followed by applying similar drills to a light lunging punch, deflecting it, stepping aside and countering it with light blows in return. Finally this exercise was expanded to sets of three people with the one in the centre facing double attacks from the two others, dodging, ducking and stepping round to evade, parry and riposte with minimum body contact. This proved to be an effective and energetic training in agility and sensitivity, raising goodly quantities of honest perspiration. After lunch Gary Wragg led a Wú Family tàijí sabre (dao) workshop. Gary demonstrated how to hold the sabre in the left hand while sinking energy (qì) with the right and transfer your blade to the right hand and instantaneously parry an attack and cut an aggressor’s arm. He then showed us how to intercept an overhead chop, sliding the top blunt edge of your sabre round your neck so as to re-emerge and strike back behind the opponent’s weapon. We then learnt how to balance on our left leg while attempting not to over-balance while following Gary in grasping our suspended right foot, without dropping our curved pieces of wooden hardware. Gary then abruptly planted his right, hopping nimbly onto his left while leaning obliquely into a diagonal cut resembling tàijíquán’s ‘wild horse parts mane’. I think he called this ‘sea dragon shakes its head’. No major injuries were reported on this occasion. Finally, as a tour de force, we were inititiated into the downward parry, penetrating to the inside with the sabre butt, sliding this to the attackers wrist to disarm and take their weapon, before spinning behind and slashing the back of the malefactor‘s right leg. Richard Zwaart, pushing hands’ champion from Holland led the workshop in ‘Shanghai Wú-style’ pushing hands according to the teachings of the eminent late Master Mâ Yuèliáng. Richard stressed that the hips should remain face-on at all times. Any turning was to be done from upper back only and never more than forty-five degrees. This appeared to be at odds with Wú teaching in Hong Kong and other far-flung outposts of the Wú empire which preach turning of the hips. Yet Richard remained adamant and had plenty of Dutch qì to back it up. First I, the attacker (gong), with weighted left-foot forward, squeeze out my fore-arms, right-hand inside my left-elbow with left-hand resting on my right elbow (jî). The defender (shôu), back with weight on their right-foot, elbows in presses down (àn) with hands on my elbows. I then drop my right hand. My opponent then advances with right-hand turned upward (pêng) as I retreat while drawing in (lyû). The sequence then repeats from the opposite side. These actions are the familiar ‘four sides’ of pushing hands, as foolows: A jî > B àn > B pêng > A lyû, better known in the order of pêng, lyû, jî, àn or ‘ward-off’ (raise), ‘pull back’, ‘press’ (squeeze) and ‘push down’ (press). All in all a most instructive and enjoyable day, a bargain at thirty quid to members. Lunch not provided! - Marnix Wells The TCUGB invited Richard Zwaart and I to give workshops on our particular approachs to push hands principles (Mao Jing Bao & William CC Chen) which I understand are greatly familiar to British practitioners. We were also invited to serve as jurors during the competition on Sunday. My workshop centred on William C.C. Chen’s idea of root with his “Three Nails’ principle which centres on sinking and turning whilst being aware of what happens in your feet and rooting in front leg while moving during the push. One hour seemed to be too short a time to really get in to this but I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and effort which the participants showed and the interest they exhibited in my explanation of this approach. It was great to work with them, even though it was such a short time. I also understand that my colleague Richard Zwaart’s Wu lineage techniques (Ma Jiangbao) very well received. - Cecile Kroes A meeting of the great, the good and the interested, that’s how I’d characterise this year’s British Open. This year I was lucky enough to participate in both days of the event, including the seminars led by various luminaries. I would say by way of encouragement that these seminars were excellent, and I would encourage all those who attend the competition to consider coming a day earlier to benefit from the training opportunities on offer. There was BaGua with veteran practitioner and scholar Marnix Wells, where Marnix showed to great effect the flexibility and adroitness of the BaGua repertoire. I enjoyed some very technical Pushing hands drills with Richard from Holland, as well as a lively sabre session with Gary Wragg, which made my own sabre form seem leaden by comparison. Finally there were some energetic martial drills with Ian Kendall, which caused a few hidden dragons to be revealed. Other seminars were conducted by Eva Koskuba, Faye Yip & Ronnie Robinson. This was followed by the AGM, and the later withdrawal of my companions and I to the picturesque streets of Oxford and their attendant public houses. The hall fairly buzzed the next morning, the prospect of competition drawing spectators and competitors alike. I was in the enviable position this year of being a sideline-general, and joined in the sport to be had there with fellow analysts and critics. This year boasted a generous roster of full-contact fighters. Those not there for the bloodsports may well have been drawn by the fantastic flair of the forms competitions, resplendent with natty costumes and hairstyles to match. What was also noticeable this year was the sheer number of cameras in evidence, ensuring that winners and losers alike would be guaranteed digital immortality at least… It is at such events that one realises that one’s usual tai chi pond is pretty small, and that the bigger lakes are alive with all sorts of strangeness and variety, proof of the vitality of the Chinese Martial Arts scene as a whole. - Nick Walser

See page 46 for details of the Tai Chi Union’s Qigong days to be staged in various UK locations.

34

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Spring Sping 2009

35


EVENTS

British Open Tai Chi Championsip - Oxford

9th Hands Meeting - Hannover, Germany With the economic climate across Europe looking somewhat grim and less money in people’s pockets it was inspiring to see that the numbers at this year’s push-hands meeting were considerably up on last year, despite the fact that the 2008 was also staged in conjunction with the TCFE (Taijiquan & Qigong Federation for Europe).

pic: Charlie Gorrie

Organised by Nils Klug at his Tai Chi Studio, which provided excellent facilities for working with an interesting array of teachers, from various European locations, the Push Hands meeting is undoubtedly the 1st must-attend event on the calendar of open-minded practitioners of the art, from many European countries.

Taiji Pushing Hands Tournament - Report by Marnix Wells

Many criticisms are heard about pushing hands competitions. These range from “taiji is not competitive”, “they’re just using force”, and “the rules are too constrictive”. Yet if tàijí is to be considered a true martial art and valid means of self-defense, once you have mastered the basic drills, what better way is there to test and hone your skills than to enter a properly supervised competition? Friendly push hands is certainly an excellent exercise, but easily becomes a stale ritual without an element of competition. Once the competitive element enters, there arises the questions of just what is allowed and who will monitor it. When pushing with a teacher or senior it is usual to defer somewhat or hold back out of politeness (kèqì) and concern for preserving face (miànz’), one’s own or that of your partner-opponent. Otherwise misunderstandings or accidents can occur. Then there will be the self-justifications: “of course in a real fight, I would have done such and such...” Problems of this nature are alleviated by properly regulated competitions. Yes, it does mean that tàijí risks becoming something of a sport, even a spectator sport, and very probably a better one than some others currently televised. After all is not the practice of sport not also primarily for health and fitness? Competition certainly increases the cardio-vascular component of exercise. This is surely more beneficial than talking-shop tàijí where the tongue gets the most work-out. Tàijí, practised solo, may be said to be non-competitive. Yet even this is not entirely true. The practise of any art implies a striving to improve and advance towards a goal, however ill-defined. This inevitably involves comparisons, with your teacher, fellow students, outsiders and above all your self as you were before. This type of competition is accentuated should one be asked to demonstrate in front of spectators, and even judges. Form competitions also produce an andrenalin rush and accelerated heart beats in those called on to perform publicly. Those who do so benefit from increased motivation in their practice and enhanced self-confidence as a result of having met the challenge, whatever the result in terms of points. Indeed martial arts would hardly qualify as martial, or even art, if it did not include competition. But then the extremist proponent of fighting skills will argue that competitions with rules are an obstacle to realistic training. This is the all or nothing argument. Yet war games are found to be a valuable training for the real thing. If real ammunition were used, it would doubtless diminish the forces one is trying to nurture, not to metion your manpower. Discipline is the key to military success and discipline means obeying rules. Rules mean control and while they impose limitations, by doing so they enable training to be concentrated on specific skills. So pushing hands, like other sports, gains rather than loses by directing the expression of power to a limited target area. This leads us to the main counter argument: “pushing hands competitions are all about using force, this is not what tàijí is meant to be.” True, a lot of pushing hands does seem to rely on force. Yet, how do you learn to deal with real force if you have never tried dealing with it? Here, thanks to the rules, referees, weight categories and mats, injuries are rare. Your opponent is trying to win as much as you are. There is little polite deference, each is trying their utmost to overcome the other in any way allowed. This is the test for true tàijí. Can I deflect and turn the opponent’s force to my own advantage? Can I control the opponent using ‘sticking and following’? Can I be grounded so I can bounce my opponent’s force upward with pêng energy? Can I resist pulls using jî power? Can I draw out a force using lyû rather than a crude pull, and depress a push by downward redirection with àn? If so I may get a medal or at any rate the satisfaction that I have finally put my practice into action under pressure.

When I heard 9 years ago that there was to be a 9 day push-hands event in Hannover, Germany, in the middle of February, I had grave doubts regarding its potential success but was nevertheless delighted to be invited as one of the teachers. 9 years on the event is a testament to Nils’ positive enthusiasm for this work and his open relaxed approach to bringing players together, from many approaches, styles and European locations.

Over many years of teaching and practice I’ve come to the understanding that the majority of people who practice tai chi don’t do it so seriously, maybe an hour a week at class and perhaps, if they’re relatively keen 10 – 20 minutes a couple of times a week in between. The majority of those who do practice tai chi concentrate primarily on hand form with perhaps a few ancillary qigong exercises thrown in. Of those who practice regularly even less play push hands and given the small proportion of students who play, even less really practice tai chi principles when doing so. This being the case it is wonderful to see people regularly attending meetings such as Nils’ event and developing as a result of their ongoing practice. I remember in the early days of attending being surprised at how few people were actually pushing as they often came from a tradition where anything other than yielding was considered to be coarse. Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly aware of the rewards gained from the ongoing education at such events. More often than not I find myself standing with someone who really wants to test, and be tested, but in a spirit of open dialogue, which is an essential element for ongoing development.

Student standards (and we’re all students) have definitely improved and the quality of instruction is becoming deeper and deeper allowing more opportunity to look at some of the many subtleties of this informative aspect of tai chi. This was my 1st visit to the Push Hands Meeting in a non-teaching capacity and taking some time out from a photographic role I attended Epi van de Pol’s workshop. I’ve known Epi for many years, from his teaching at Caledonia, in our early days, to working together in the TCFE. Not reading the publicity material I just joined in and greatly enjoyed the nature of the work, from the investigation of body structure and relaxation, to grounding and neutralising a push, with minimal effort, which, of course takes maximum work to achieve. Epi guided each participant through their own investigation, allowing them the opportunity of feeling the possibilities that can be gained through being mindful and open in the body and mind. I made the most of my free time to hang out with good friends and colleagues, in particular Mario Napoli who is always stimulating company who despite his words to the contrary, has a very deep knowledge of tai chi. The 3 hour free-pushing sessions each afternoon are really great for playing with practitioners who are really open and increasingly improving skill-wise. Aside from Recontres Jasnieres there seems to be no other place to spend so much time, so freely working on tui shou. This year’s event seemed to be one of the busiest yet and was obviously greatly enjoyed by all. In times of cheap air-travel it’s relatively cheap and easy to get around these days. It’s a shame that the UK is poorly represented in the numbers attending, I know the benefits and good-spirits are well worth the journey. www.push-hands.de Ronnie Robinson

Watching and filming much of the action on the mats at Oxford last Sunday, even participating a little myself, I was impressed by the high standard of competition. The moving step turned out to involve a considerable amount of circling, unwittingly illustrating the affinity of tàijíquán and baguàzhâng. The light-middle weight category saw some very relaxed and stylish turning throws executed during moving step bouts. Women competitors amazingly were able to show true grit and skill without ruffling some very stylish coiffeures. Surely this is how it was meant to be! On the other hand, in the medium-heavy category of moving step, a number of sustained clinches looked very much like crude force on force, resulting in an unfortunate knee injury. This was promptly and effectively dealt with by the medical team on-hand. The use of hooking the foot behind the opponent’s knee, when on the verge of being thrown so as to draw down the thrower with you and thus annul the score, is a technique that may need to be proscribed. Score posting and back-up calling from the desk from the desk might enhance the competition quality. One of the greatest features of pushing hands, which distinguishes it from judô or wrestling, is the ban on grabs and locks which must continue to be vigilantly enforced. This gives it the fluidity of ‘sticking and running’ and hence the potential to be a more dynamic form of sporting contest. In conclusion the day was a triumph of martial spirit, exciting matches and good sportsmanship. We owe a vote of thanks to the organizers.

36

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Spring 2009

37


CLIMATE CONTROL Practical advice from

- Setting the right temperature for training

Neil Rosiak - Sports Professional Maladaptive perfectionism leads to individuals becoming rarely satisfied with their training/ competing performance, leading to continual doubts regarding training. Maladaptive perfectionism leads to an inability to gain pleasure from training and training related accomplishments. Eventually this can lead to feelings of failure, pre-competitive anxiety (for tai chi fighters), anger, shame, low self-esteem and depression as well as burn-out.

Tai Chi Chuan practitioners start their training for a wide variety of reasons. Stress relief, self-defence, friendship, artistic expression, philosophy, ‘internal strength’ or fortitude, fitness and robust health are all possible and common motivations for many of the students I have spoke with over the years. Tai Chi Chuan can certainly be seen in many to promote some or several of these positive attributes. However, reaping the most benefit from practicing the art may have more to do with one’s personal motivational approach and the teachers’ approach to teaching than to necessarily be style or system dependent.

“Within

Individuals may begin tai chi chuan training being task and/or ego involved. The combination or tendency towards either the ego or task state is highly individual and is determined by the individuals personality and the context of the environment they are entering. The orientation for individuals towards either motivational style is relatively stable. The motivation dynamic of the environment they are entering (the tai chi class) will however, have a powerful impact on the goal or action

38

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

The motivational goals and dynamics of the tai chi training environment are set by the teacher. If value is placed on the achievement of victories, public recognition of abilities, interpersonal competition between students, a performance training climate (PTC) prevails. This class climate will certainly encourage ego-involved motivational patterns in students, particularly those that have an ego-oriented disposition. If the teacher encourages the learning and mastery of skills, trying hard to do one’s best and the use of private evaluation of progress and development, a mastery training climate (MTC) prevails. This climate will foster task-involved motivations amongst the students. The effects of task and ego orientation. Achievement goal theory research has produced vast amounts of evidence for the positive, beneficial functional/adaptive motivational

Chi

training

is evidenced when the student sets high goals for themselves creating a motivational effect. The opposite happens if the

The purpose of this short article is to describe the benefits and pitfalls of the two major motivational modes in (tai chi chuan) training, as well as to explore the role of the teacher in promoting a healthy training environment. that will become referenced. This means if an originally ego motivated student enters a strongly task oriented environment, there is a strong chance this (task) motivational style will be adopted, rather than the original ego oriented motivations.

Tai

context adaptive perfectionism

The training environment/climate established and promoted by the teacher, coupled with the individual’s inherent motivational goals may be a the critical factor in determining how beneficial tai chi training will be for them in the long term.

Student Motivation Achievement goal theory assumes that individuals (in certain contexts) are assumed to be motivated by a state of goal involvement or striving. Two involvement states have been identified, ego involvement and the task involvement. Task involvement is said to be in effect when the individual is concerned with mastery of the task, improvement and learning, with demonstration of the of the ability being self-referenced. An ego driven motivational state is in evidence when the demonstration of ability is not self-referenced, but with success perception evidenced by outperforming others.

a

student becomes overly critical of their efforts. “

patterns and achievement striving of task oriented individuals in training/sports environments. Evidence for the negative effects of ego-oriented motivational patterns is equally strong. Evidence from this research shows that not only does the motivational climate play a crucial role in the establishment of healthy, positive behavioural patterns within the individual, it also strongly affects the quality of friendship and cooperation between students. Tai Chi training groups that foster a performance climate, with students developing ego-oriented motivational patterns will lack the basic facets of empathy, cooperation, social responsibility and encouragement, which are essential qualities needed to develop and maintain positive relations with other students. An ego-oriented climate will produce students that believe superior individual ability is more important than a cooperative group effort. These types of students will tend to believe that training in the art should enhance one’s own sense of self-importance and community status. Strong egocentric motivation is also associated with intra-club rivalry, interpersonal conflict and

a view that others in the club are competitors to be conquered. Training groups that create a climate that is mastery focussed/task involved will create an environment of cooperation and collaboration, with healthy peer relationships and friendships formed. Students who train in this environment will associate training with an enhanced self-esteem, foster mastery of the art, social responsibility and higher quality friendships/ peer relations. Perfection Perfectionism is when an individual imposes excessively high standards on his or her performance or practice or competitive performance. Adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism are the two types to have been identified in different training environments. Within a Tai Chi training context adaptive perfectionism is evidenced when the student sets high goals for themselves creating a motivational effect. The opposite (maladaptive perfectionism) happens if the student becomes overly critical of their efforts.

Other negative (and well researched) aspects of maladaptive perfectionism include a tendency towards the betrayal of others in the group, self-criticism and feelings of a lack of recognition. Impatience, irritability, anger and competitiveness have also been reported in research, as effects of ego-involved maladaptive perfectionism. Authoritarianism, being exploitive, aggression and excessive dominance are other negative traits that have been associated with maladaptive perfectionism in the long term. The list really does goes on... Another interesting fact to note with task vs ego motivation is that those who are ego orientated will stop being motivated once they can best the efforts of those around them. Those who are task involved will continually refine their skills to the highest levels, regardless of how they compare to others. This will lead to higher levels of overall achievement being reached by the student, along with all the other benefits associated with taskinvolved motivation. Task involved goal motivation is related to adaptive perfectionism, which creates positive motivational patterns. Ego involved motivation is related to maladaptive perfectionism, which brings with it a host of negative consequences. Responsibility In a Tai Chi Chuan club the teacher is the main architect of the training environment and the resulting climate. This is beneficial because the training climate provided by the teacher is far easier to manipulate than is the individuals inherent tendency. Students will react to the climates set by the teacher with varying sensitivity. The climate set by those in authority have been shown, even at the elite athletic level, to highly influence the motivational style of the majority within the organization. The Tai Chi Chuan teacher therefore, should be focussed on creating a mastery climate that will encourage students to adopt taskinvolved motivations. Providing a supportive environment that values effort rather than

Neil Rosiak MSc. With over 20 years of training in Tai Chi Chuan, Neil holds a masters degree in Sport Science and teaches Tai Chi Chuan, as well as other physical training systems at his full time Tai Chi training centre facility in London Bridge, London. Contact him on 0751 552 2950 email: supertraining@mac.com www.londontaichiclub.co.uk

achievement, that recognizes the efforts of all rather than the accomplishments of the most genetically talented. By doing this teachers will allow students to fully explore the art, gaining a sense of accomplishment and confidence in what they train. A supportive social environment within the group will enhance the enjoyment of the training and allow the student to shift focus from goals and achievements to more task related and constructive matters. In turn this will lead to greater self-esteem within the students, enhanced friendships with other students and longer term adherence to training. A student who learns in this type of environment will have every chance of achieving all the health, fitness and self-defence benefits Tai Chi Chuan has to offer. The long term importance of the organisational culture within a School should not be underestimated as it will have profound long term effects on all those involved within it.

Spring 2009

39


May Gathering East meets West: ’Exploring the relevance of Eastern practices and concepts to our Western culture.’ 16-17th May 2009 Yi Jin Jing Health Qigong - Faye Yip 11-12 July 2009 All courses at Harborne Hall, Birmingham. Teaching Certificate Completion Course 3 - 4th October 2009

The Tai Chi and Chi Kung Forum for Health

www.tcckf.org.uk

40

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Spring 2009

41


Chinese Internal Arts Association Regular classes and individual lessons in Taijjiquan & Chinese Internal Arts in Berkshire In-depth training seminars in UK and abroad Chen style Taijiquan - Laojia Third Saturday of each month - 10:30 to 16:30 Chen style Taijiquan - Xinjia Third Saturday of each month – 14:30 – 18:30 Yiquan (Mind Boxing) Second Saturday of each month – 10:30 – 16:30 Baguazhang Weekly and monthly classes in Berkshire Qigong Practitioners’ Course Three-year course starting in March each year – no previous experience necessary – monthly or residential Taijiquan Instructors’ Training Course Three-year course starting in February each year - previous experience requiredmonthly or residential

Seminars in other Regions Basingstoke Seminar Contact: Neil Bates on 01256 840859 Edinburgh Seminars Contact: Elisabeth Duncan on 0131 332 6894 Montgomery Seminar Contact: Alan Jefries on 0783 - 652 3953 Oxford Seminar Contact: Emma Westlake on 07710 768 810 Shefford Seminar Contact: Ian Deavin on 01462 850040

Weekend Seminars Yiquan & Qigong Residential Weekend 24/25/26 July & 23/24/25 October

Yiquan is an excellent internal martial art - simple and effective. Qigong is an excellent system of energy cultivation. April residential will take place in Fawley Court, Henley on Thames, Oxon and October one in Warminster, Wilts.

looking at scientific research investigating the benefits of tai chi & qigong Qigong Improves Self-Esteem and Mood A study was carried out by the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham to evaluate the effects of tai chi and qigong practice on individuals with traumatic brain injury. 20 individuals attended a qigong session for an hour a week over the course of 8 weeks and then answered a questionnaire to measure perceived mood, self-esteem and flexibility among other aspects. Early findings showed an improvement in mood and self-esteem for those who participated in the qigong practice.

Taijiquan, Yiquan and Qigong in Winter Sun

Training retreat from 27th November in sunny Morocco. You are welcome to come for a week or more of intensive training from dawn to dusk.

Tai Chi for Everybody - a new book by Eva & Karel Koskuba - £19.99 80. This basic course starts from first principles and takes the reader step by step through a series of movements. Short exercises, which improve posture and link the body and mind, are later combined into one continuous, flowing movement called a form. Many Tai Chi movements are subtle and discreet and all are performed while standing, they can even be practised while waiting for a bus, standing in line or out shopping without drawing attention. Over 500 step-by-step photographs, all specially taken for this book, show you how to learn and progress through each movement. Special continuous-motion photography is used to show the flow of movement.

Weekend Seminars in 2009

Chen Fan form, Sabre, Pushing Hands, Joint Locks, Two Man Form (San Shou’) Chen Taijiquan at its best Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang in May/June - Laojia, Xinjia, Chan Si Gong and Yin Yang Qigong For full details of all classes and seminars contact:

KAREL &on EVA KOSKUBA 0118 979 2556

Tai Chi Improves Balance for Chronic Stroke Sufferers Research undertaken at the Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, Hong Kong Polytechnic University shows that practising a tai chi short form improves balance for stroke sufferers. Following a shorter 4 week study the researchers selected 136 subjects for a 12 week study. Patients had 1 hour tuition followed by a further 3 hours a week self-practice on a specially adapted Sun style sequence. The study concluded that regular practice of tai chi improves standing balance in people with chronic stroke and that tai chi might be applied in community programmes for patients who have suitable functions and learning ability to safely participate.

Tai Chi Good In Nursing Homes A study has been carried out in Hong Kong to assess the effects of regular tai chi practice in the health-related quality of life (HRQLO) in nursing home residents. Using 139 residents from six nursing homes the experimental groups joined a 26 week tai chi programme, while the control group continued with their normal daily routine. Their findings confirmed a statistically significant difference in the physical and mental components of HRQLO between the experimental and control groups. They showed that tai chi has unique characteristics as a health exercise that is particularly suitable for nursing home residents. The inclusion of tai chi exercise in residential care practice is now recommended.

Tai Chi Increases Immunity to Flu The University of Illinois carried out a 5 month study to ascertain whether the practice of tai chi could improve the immune response to the flu vaccine in older adults. They found a significant increase in the size and duration of the antibody response in the control group of tai chi practitioners.

Studies on Tai Chi & Weight Loss A pilot study is taking place to investigate whether tai chi could be a suitable aid in the fight for weight loss in sedentary obese women. A trial group of 21 obese women participated in a 10 week weight management programme which included a balanced diet, a weekly dietician session and either 2 hours of tai chi or a conventionally structured exercise regime. The results of this preliminary study showed an improvement in resting systolic blood pressure, and reduced percentage of fat at both week 10 and at a 6 month follow-up.

Qigong Significantly Improves Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease A recent study at the University of Bonn, Germany provided 56 Parkinson’s sufferer’s 90 minutes qigong a week over the course of one year. They then evaluated the results of both the qigong with another study group, not practising Qigong. Their findings showed a positive decrease in the incidence of several non-motor symptoms in the qigong group.

eva@golem.demon.co.uk www.ciaa.org.uk www.yiquan.org.uk 42

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Spring 2009

43


Meet the Instructors RICHARD SMALL

STEFFI SACHSENMAIER

Richard Small teaches in North Devon

Steffi Sachsenmaier teaches in London for

and can be contacted on 01271 345513

Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy and can be

or by visiting:

contacted on 07939 666 433 or by visiting:

www.taichidevon.weebly.com

www.wustyle-europe.com

The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain

has a register of over 700 fully qualified instructors, covering all regions of Great Britain and beyond,. They offer a range of approaches to the teaching of tai chi chuan and related Chinese Internal Arts. For details of instructors in your area visit

www.taichiunion.com How long have you been practicing Tai Chi? On and off I have looked at Tai Chi since about 1980, seeing several different teachers whose names I mostly cannot remember but whose skills I still admire. I started to practice regularly, what I then thought was Tai Chi, about 1996. In truth I think only now am I beginning to practice what I currently believe is real Tai Chi. So to answer the question, I could say, over twenty years – that’s for image and ego, but better to say it’s only a few months that I’ve practiced ‘real’ Tai Chi. Another question might be, ‘how long have you been learning Tai Chi?’ then the answer would be, ‘for ever’.

LONGFEI TAIJI ASSOCIATION Longfei Taiji Association was founded in 1991 and offer high quality tuition classes on all aspects of taiji throughout the UK.

www.longfei-taiji.co.uk

MARNIX WELLS

DYNAMIC TAIJI,CROYDON Marnix Wells teaches a system of the three major ‘soft’ or ‘internal martial arts’, namely Yáng Family tàijíquán together with Wáng Shùjin’s baguàzhâng and xíngyìquán. He has studied with leading masters in China and the Far East. Marnix has made his goal the recovery of martial function and self-defence in the traditional set-forms. In additional to the practice of solo stances and sequences for meditation and mind-body coordination, partner work is taught to learn applications through the arts of sticking and channelling an opponent’s force. Marnix is the author of Scholar Boxer (North Atlantic Books 2004) on Cháng Nâizhou and the martial origins and functionality of tàijíquán.

Tel: 0208-6569038; marnixwells@hotmail.com.

44

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Who or what stimulated your interest? Firstly, the TV series ‘Kung Fu’ in the 1970s, after which I sought a class and found Aikido. A growing interest in the martial arts led me to look further and notably in Tai Chi I found an experience and pleasure that interested me. What does Tai Chi mean to you? It’s inherent part of my life; it means discovery, excitement, friendship, peace; it means travel to China, culture; one foot in history the other in the future – sort of yin and yang. It leaves me in wonderment at the seemingly ‘magic’ power that senior practitioners can exhibit – a power hidden to all but the receiver. Tai Chi means association with great masters whose skills demand world recognition yet in their humility they ask for nothing. Tai Chi puts you in touch with yourself; it puts you in touch with kindness, gentleness, devastating power and an energy powered peace. Tai Chi is a journey, a journey for life, in life, and a journey to enjoy. What is the most important aspect for you? Discovery, body awareness, the chance to share – there is no one important aspect really.

Who or what inspired you? We gain inspiration from so many places, people and events. I remain grateful to all my teachers, be they Master or student. In my 20s I met a lady called Iris who was in her 60s with arthritis, but her Tai Chi was graceful, balanced and seemingly pain free, she used such wonderful expressions like, ‘Carry Tiger to the Mountain’ . Others include, my Aikido teacher, Tony Sargeant who travelled to China to further his martial arts studies, Simon Watson for his skills and excellent teaching, his father, Richard whose congenial, generous nature conceals years of extensive effort in search of perfection in the martial arts. Master Wang Yanji, Professor Li DeYin, Alan Smith, Kung Fu man that taught me lots of Tai Chi form, Mick Leslie for his kindness and generous teaching, Tary Yip of the Deyin Institute for his calm fortitude in the face of any disaster. Trees growing on mountains, elderly students that skip in to class with a smile, the list is endless. Do you have any personal goals in Tai Chi? To keep going and keep learning, to free the body and mind from tensions and find that beautiful power the masters have – and when I have I’d like to share it with others. What do you make of Tai chi’s current popularity? I wish it was actually more popular than it is; it has so many benefits to offer so many people. Many ‘popular’ exercise systems have crowded classes, yet they do not in my opinion touch the essence as Tai Chi does. If I advertised a new class where people could learn the latest fad, ‘Pilats-Chi-med’ , a rich combination of Pilates, Tai Chi and Aborigine dream time meditation, all done to new age Swaziland Bongo drums, then a million people with handfuls of money would queue for a place. Tell them

it’s an ancient well proven exercise system, virtually guaranteed to improve your life and health called Tai Chi and you’ll struggle to pay the hall fees. As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art? How can it possibly be ignored? How can it possibly be Tai Chi if we don’t recognise where it came from and why it existed? The martial aspect, even at a cursory level aids the focus of energy, creates a semblance of confidence, gives a sense of power, and creates interaction with others – real or imaginary. All have their place, surely? What are your views on competition? I know little about it, but have admiration for those who seek to test their skills after dedicated practice. No doubt competition makes for a more rounded Tai Chi student as they come closer to what there was in the origins of the art. ‘To master others is partial victory, To master self is total victory’ The competitor can do both. What direction would you like to see Tai Chi go in future? It needs a national boost in awareness, there are things going on but in a fragmented and sometimes insular way. TCUGB do an excellent job, particular credit to the magazine, and we should support them. What a shame the Chinese couldn’t persuade the Olympic committee to give Tai Chi more prominence in 2008. Tai Chi is good, it has no enemies … what it could do with is a few more friends. Sadly our material world has pushed the spiritual to the edges. I hope in some way my classes and web site site will make a difference, just like anyone could. – remember that it only takes one seemingly weightless snowflake to add to the others to break the branch … be that snowflake.

How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi? Very few years! I never like being asked this question when I teach, as I feel that if I am being honest, my skills and quality might be doubted by the students. So my answer always is: for a few years, but I have been training basically every day! I only teach beginners at this stage in our academy. What stimulated your interest in Tai Chi Chuan? When I lived in Paris a few years ago, having a bit of a difficult time, I often saw tai chi practitioners in the park nearby which I lived, the Jardin du Luxembourg. I thought, this is what I need to do! I was taken by the sense of internal connection of the movement, and was longing to be able to practice a ‘form’ as such, by myself, which I could investigate on a daily basis. I could see it was something that would give so much back. What does Tai Chi mean to you? It has become pretty much the ‘framework’ of my life, very quickly. I am discovering ‘questions’ for life in it, as well as ‘answers’. Through training I constantly discover ‘principles’ that I can apply to other parts of my life, which is a great treasure. Also in the practical sense it structures my day, as I train on a daily basis, even if I can’t get to class at my academy. No matter what else happens in life, I always feel that my tai chi progresses, so it is a very positive part of my daily life. What is the most important aspect for you? The wisdom that is in the art, which is inexhaustible.

Do you have any personal goals in Tai Chi? To practice on a daily basis with humility, for the rest of my life! Who or what inspired you? Apart from somehow just having ‘clicked’ with the art, it is my Sifu, Gary Wragg, who is my strongest inspiration. I feel through him I aspire to the highest standards, and I admire him for what he set up and makes possible. Our academy is open every day, and it has become a strong part of the lives of a large group of his students. What he seems to have achieved personally in and with tai chi chuan is inspiring, specifically in the sense of integrating it into his work as an artist. I can relate strongly to this, as I also work creatively (in the performing arts). He is an amazing teacher, and without his constant presence and invested teaching I would not have had the chance to make tai chi such a strong part of my life. What do you make of Tai Chi Chuan’s current popularity? I am supportive of a growing awareness and interest in tai chi chuan, but would want to see it happening for the right reasons. I myself have witnessed before I found our academy a way of teaching and promoting tai chi chuan that makes no sense to me anymore, for its lack of martial attention and bad teaching for money overall. As a teacher, how do you feel about the martial aspects of Tai Chi? Tai chi is a martial art! Every class I teach includes training applications, and how those relate

to the form. I am also intrigued by discovering from Sifu Gary Wragg how the martial aspect and health are always related. He keeps saying, what is good for martial is good for health! What are your views on competition? They are a great incentive to train, to achieve smaller goals, and to test yourself in a specific moment, on many levels, including skills, technique, calmness of mind, humility… Everything has to be there at a precise moment that is not of your choice. Training for such an event brings another level to your practice. It becomes about training to ‘be in the moment’. I have learned so, so much in competitions that I could not have gained from normal training. Everything becomes just a little more ‘real’ when you are doing pushing hands competitions for instance, and it is not easy to recreate this sense in a training session. The same goes for the forms. Also I find competitions important events for an exchange of knowledge and awareness of different practitioners, practicing different styles and techniques, and in this regard they are an integral part of fostering some form of a ‘tai chi community’. What direction would you like to see Tai Chi going in the future? I would like tai chi to be widely recognised for the rich internal martial art that it is. It would be amazing if it were to become an Olympic discipline, as it would give the art the status and recognition it deserves as an authentic, traditional as well as modern discipline.

The Essence of Tai Chi Chuan The Mysterious ’Spring-Like’ Internal Power of Tai Chi For demonstration visit youtube.com/liverpooltaichi

For in-depth explanation visit: liverpooltaichi.com

WUTAN TAI CHI CHUAN Hand Forms - Pushing Hands Self Defence - Nei Kung Exercises Spear - Broadsword - Straight Sword Summer Course 6th - 10th July 2009 Workshops - Seminars - Private Tuition James Connachan Tel/Fax 01968 674316 www.wutan - taichichuan.co.uk

CHEN STYLE TAI CHI Classes & Workshops in Bristol and throughout the south-west of England

Ben Milton BRISTOL SCHOOL OF TAI CHI 0117 9493955 or 0781 1566791 taichi@bristoltaichi.com www.bristoltaichi.com

Spring 2009

45


C h a i r m a n ’s A d d r e s s

Editorial

by Dan Docherty Our Chinese Liaison Officer, Faye Yip, is leading a delegation to a major international Qigong Conference in Shanghai in August (details from TCUGB Website or direct from Faye).

Ronnie Robinson

Now that we’re finally coming towards the fresher, clearer weather we can approach spring with a potential for new growth. On our continued constant quest to inspire your training this issue features a range of material from many varied sources: Mario Napoli, a man of both controversy and substance, opens with a candid interview, often looking at lessercovered aspects of the art whilst Michael Acton provides an interesting insight to the rarely-seen Wu Fast Form. Jian Xiong introduces us to the art of Wu Tunan through an interview with one of her teachers, Li Lian and tai chi vetarn Bruce Kumar Frantzis provides a comprehensive overview of training. Two of the UK’s longest established teachers, Ian Cameron & Richard Watson look at inner aspects such as spirit and zhan zhuang training. And, on a more basic level, James Connachan offers his views on the purpose of hand form and Neil Rosiak gives tips on creating a realistic training pattern.

In a follow up to this and in an attempt to stimulate the Qigong side of things, the TCUGB will sponsor a series of four Qigong Festivals in Manchester, Birmingham, London and Glasgow. A London Qigong Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct 10, 11-1700; a Birmingham Qigong Festival will be held on Sunday, October 11; a Manchester Qigong Festival will be held at Trinity Sports Centre on 28 Nov from 11-1700; a Glasgow Qigong Festival will be held on Sunday, November 29. Faye will feature as guest instructor and the festivals will include talks/ lectures, panel discussions, demonstrations, workshops etc. dealing with Qigong and related spheres such as both western and Chinese medicine, massage, meditation and internal alchemy. All TCUGB members who take part will receive a certificate of attendance. Your EC and TCUGB officers remain committed to providing the membership with quality events at a reasonable price. We are all interested in any feedback you may have. Yours in internal arts

Should you wish to develop your skills beyond your own weekly class the summer offers an incredible array of choices including: Tai Chi Caledonia, TCFE Congress/Forum in Bulgaria, Recontres Jasnieres in France, AquaVenice in Venice and Lalita in Spain. Check out both the TCUGB’s and the Taijiquan & Qigong Federation for Europe’s websites for full details! Ronnie Robinson

46

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

TCUGB QIGONG FESTIVALS        

coming soon near you....

 

        

  

        

 Spring 2009

47


48

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts

Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts  

The Journal of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain

Advertisement