We will 'scan' the crystal-clear paper edition of my published article for free access as usual. The point is for everyone to make use of all good quality translations for personal development, understanding and growth! Of course, this is a multi-dimensional experience involving the mind and body. That is psychological and physical growth within the context of understanding 'existential' reality and the making sense of the 'ageing' process. When young, it is the 'existential' reality that appears to be eternal and go on forever! Those who are older understanding that this 'existential' reality changes in both quality and meaning as the chronological age increases! All of this experience is held together with 'awareness' or what is today often termed 'consciousness' studies. Whatever we like to call 'being alive' (religious people call it by all different names), we must develop the conscious awareness functionality so that it profoundly 'penetrates' the very essence of material reality! This ability (and experience) can only 'deepen' with age and cannot do anything else! This is the basis of 'Mastery' which has nothing to do with the vigour of youth - which must be fully enjoyed, understood and explored, before the next and far more profound stage of development occurs when older age sets in! Getting old is 'good' and essential for the wisdom-essence of all genuine Chinese martial arts practice! All young people will get old and it is advisable that they prepare for this experience by studying all the Classical Texts that have been written by older people for the youth to benefit from!
The search for 'truth' is like looking continuously for an non-existent abstract concept! Everyone seems to be saying it is 'here' - but very few people actually possess anything like a working definition of reality! Why is this? It is because reality cannot be 'seized', 'controlled', 'possessed' or 'limited' to human perception! The capacity to be 'aware' is very much concerned with the concept of 'time served'. This is to say that the older we get - the longer we have been 'looking' at reality! We 'look' - but we must also 'penetrate' the fabric of reality (which seems to confront humanity like an unclimbable wall)! The martial arts forms we practice are part of the reality our minds come into contact with every day. The external fowns are desiged to exist 'this side' of the wall - whilst the 'internal' forms exist 'that side'! Yes - this is because human perception must be 'first 'stilled' - and then 'expanded' so that the entirety of reality is both penetrated and enbraced! The Taijiquan Classic facilitates this entire process!
As I get older, physical training seems to be spilling over into a continuous psychological or conscious manifestation that is circular and spiralling in manifestation and ethereal in nature! Yes - training must be rooted in the material realm - but once properly rooted, that is, once all the appropriate martial skills have been learned, practiced, perfected and applied, something happens with this experience which is like an echo broadcasting out into the wilderness, except, of course, it is none of these things, even though it shares certain characteristics with these things. It is like thunder and lightning appearing as two different aspects - even though both are intimately related. Sometimes, when sat meditating, I experience all the gongfu forms being practiced simultaneously as if I am sat in a central nexus surrounded by light! When I re-emerge, the material world appears just the same and I get on with life. In fact, when I perform the gongfu movements again, there is often a new freedom dependent entirely upon the meditative experience.
Teaching ‘at a distance’ is different to teaching ‘face-to-face'. For over thirty years of ‘face-to-face' teaching I have conveyed the physical forms, body-conditioning and body-building techniques to hundreds of different students. The ‘face-to-face' aspect is primary as we directly communicate through verbal instruction and physical demonstration. The emphasis is on generating a useful level of physical and psychological fitness that will be useful for any theoretical self-defence situation. This is the foundational first three-months of training – which once consolidated – leads into ‘specialisations’ of various kinds – depending upon the natural ability of the student and what motivates them as a person to train, etc. Every person who has walked into our Training Hall possesses some type of ‘above average’ technique – be it a side-kick, right-jab, groin-kick or under-cut, so on and so forth. Occasionally, the lead-attribute might a natural level of fitness, strength, endurance, or the maintaining of a happy disposition when training is severe!
Regardless of gender, age or ability, everyone who enters our Training Hall is given an ‘equal’ chance to prove themselves in the tough atmosphere of a military-style discipline which is common within proper Training Halls in China today. This is the traditional approach of ‘testing’ a student’s resolves to ascertain whether it is worth the bother of the instructor to invest time in a student’s psychological and physical development. The onus is to allow the student ‘quit’ in the quickest and easiest manner possible and go elsewhere for training. This removes them as a problem from our Training Hall – and confirms that they are noy suitable. This is the process of what I call ‘self-selection’. A student can continue to stay and train or remove themselves in defeat – the choice is only ever theirs. If a student survives the furnace of the initial ‘firing’ process, then they fall into line (literally) and become part of the school. This is where the training of the ‘mind’ begins – a process which continues as an under-current of continuous influences even outside of the Training Hall – and when the teacher and the student are no longer physically in close proximity.
This means that a ‘Disciple’ within the Ch’an Dao School is someone who has trained for years and passed many and varied tests – some obvious – others not so obvious. Yes – this approach does stem from a Confucian attitude of ‘respect’ and ‘social order’ premised upon the use of ‘wisdom’ and ‘compassion’ - and that is exactly the ideology within which ALL Chinese martial arts styles have developed. As a consequence, as we spar with no padding, and given that under the Law of China – if someone ‘dies’ in a sparring match they have consented to – then it is their own fault and no crime has been committed. When we are visiting China – this is the type of fighting we always participate in – and prevail through. We have never lost a bout yet. In the West, we make our sparring and training as authentic as possible whilst keeping within the boundaries of UK. The Law exists to protect us all and the Law must be respected for it to be effective. As a consequence, we do not participate in ‘sport’ or ‘pretend’ fighting of any kind. Neither do we participate in the boosting of the ego through pointless verbal abuse and physical violence. We remain quiet, peaceful and disciplined until it is time to move – then we move with the speed of lightning and the weight of a mountain!
Teaching at a distance, for me at least, evolves from teaching ‘face-to-face'. One facet of interaction supports the other facet and all is well. I have never participated in teaching only ‘at a distance’ (through video-link) as it seems to me to be a product egoism and superficiality. Of course, I might be wrong, but I think that I am correct within the context of our Hakka Chinese martial arts style. How are we to assess the quality of the character of each student? How do we know if the student in question possesses the integrity to benefit from the teaching and to benefit the style? As I do not teach for monetary profit, ‘gain’ is no motivator for me. A student can say anything ‘at a distance’ just to access the style whilst making no effort or sacrifice on their part. For this type of student – this entire process is an out-dated game which they play to pass the time. And yet this type of ‘untested’ person does not even know what a ‘squat-kick’ is, and probably could not do ‘ten’ let alone the ‘fifty’ required by every beginner! If you want to learn superficial movement without making any sacrifices – then pick-up a book and copy the pictures. This is all that is happening with martial arts conveyed via the internet as a means to generate an income – if there is no meaningful face-to-face' contact.
Years of training in ideal circumstances - should prepare a practitioner to defend themselves in the most uncomfortable of circumstances! Real combat is certainly nothing like the Movies - where the lead-actors move with perfectly time 'Form' movemets that strike-home with bewildering precision and devstating effectiveness! After-all, the perpetuation of this mythology is exactly WHY we spend our hard-earned money to go to the cinema in the first-place! Here, a Chinese man in his fifties is attacked in his property by a much younger and masked man using a club or stick. The criminal himself seems trained in martial arts - but his criminality is not the subject of this post. No. I would like you to understand and appreciate how the victim of the attack managed to psychologically and physically come to terms with the intrusion, threat and attck and 'equal' the attacker who definitely possessed the advantage at the beginning - but gradually lost the element of suprise as the resistance continued and and generated the moral 'rightness' that over-turned the entire surprise of the situation! The older man is said to be a Master of Northern Praying Mantis. Today, his gongfu style saved his life!
A very interesting (internal) Longfist Form! Master Zhao Ming Wang forwarded this video of a Qianfeng Disciple. This is a traditional mode of practice just like our own in the Ch’an Dao School. Of course, what follows is not a discussion on the movements perse, but rather the manner in which these movements are performed. Developed insight and seasoned will-power is a matter of a good and fully-rounded ‘intent’. This is the exact opposite to what is expected in the training and technique designed found in the ‘audience-pleasing’ practicing for sport. For sporting purposes - the movements are speeded-up for dramatic effect.
This changes the leg use, balance and coordination. Sporting forms are practiced 'top down' which is good for audience entertainment but sacrifices a good and effective 'root'. Proper (traditional) form training for fighting is practiced 'ground up' (like the building of a hexagram in the Book of Changes) and unfolds like an arrow fired from a bow (or a bamboo stick stuck firmly in the ground - which is pulled back and suddenly 'released'). Sporting forms push the generated power downwards whilst simultaneously denying any strong or stable leg structure for 'rooting' - so that its is wasted and dissipates into the air without effect. Traditional forms - such as seen here - generate the power from a firm and stable base and then radiate that power upwards and outwards in all directions.
The 'shape' or 'technique' chosen or assumed (such as a lead straight punch front and back - or a front-kick and a palm-block, etc) - harness and directs this generated power, into a focused emission suitable for a particular self-defence requirement (expressing 'stopping-power'). Although practicing forms at lightning speed is good every now and again (whilst retaining the 'root'), it is better to practice like the practitioner in this video so as to continuously perfect the 'foundation' - as each repetition removes a layer of doubt in one's ability (from the mind and body). As the body ages, this type of 'internal' exercise ensures a constant standard of practice as the physical processes and psychological perception both mature.
Notice how the drop-down stances are not as deep as those found in Taijiquan to facilitate a smooth interaction of the movements. These Longfist forms possess drop-down stances that can be performed ‘deep’, ‘moderate’ (as seen here), or ‘high’ for various adaptions of training. Each type of low-stance must be perfected by the Longfist practitioner as a preparation for the different requirements of all-round self-defence. It is best to master the low-stances when young so that this ability can be retained and applied to the body as it ages.
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.