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.
Contribution & Translation Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles
Beginners learn Taijiquan by replicating the "fist frame" (拳架-Quan Jia) - or the ‘physical structure’ of the Taijiquan style as taught by their teacher. The teacher uses the ancient method of teaching one step and one sequence at a time, so that each student can learn each step and each sequence before moving on to the next section. The teacher ‘expresses’ each movement one by one, whilst the practitioner imitates these movements ‘one by one’ until they become natural. This process is termed the "leading frame" (领架 - Ling Jia). Although the “fist frame” defines the physical appearance of the Taijiquan style, the essential and underlying reality of these movements contains an extremely rich content. It not only contains its extensive martial application, but this body of knowledge is closely connected to the internal strength-building (内功 - neigong) exercises. Authentic Taijiquan is passed on from one generation to the next through its readily recognisable ‘fist frame’ or stylised form. It is only through the correct preservation of the “fist frame” that all the other ‘hidden’ techniques are preserved and passed-on.
To effectively learn a style of Taijiquan, you must first seek out the correct “enduring image” (形象 - Xing Xiang), as taught by a reliable teacher. Logically follow the rules, be meticulous, and replicate each movement one by one and step by step. First learn the correct orientation of the body (that is, the correct alignment of the head, torso, arms, legs, hands and feet, etc), next perfect the hand positions and the techniques through which these positions are used, then perfect the footwork – learning ‘how’ and ‘when’ to step and stand-still, learn all the movement routes – that is how to step, when to stop stepping and how to piece each movement together into a smooth sequence of events, and through doing all this probably, mastery the ‘outer’ style of each style. The ‘outer’ methods are mastered first – then followed by a deepening of understanding and awareness whereby the ‘inner’ methods become apparent and are in-turn mastered. This creates a unified process which sees a relaxed mind, body and environment ‘merge’ into one complete reality of ‘awareness’ and all-embracing ‘presence’.
According to whatever the style of Taijiquan being studied, ensure that the ‘chin is placed-forward (and slightly down) so that the vertebrae of the neck are gently but firmly ‘extended’ and the head correctly ‘lifted’ and placed with a ‘rooting’ strength upon the shoulders. The head and neck – in relation to the shoulders – becomes both ‘buoyant’ and yet ‘heavy’ whilst being perfectly aligned between all its constituent factors. This alignment of the vertebrae extends down from the neck into the chest and lower back area (simultaneously confirming the ‘concave’ and convex’ anatomical structures), with each placed exactly where it should be above and below all other contributing structures. The shoulders are ‘rounded’ as they surround the ‘rounded’ chest-cavity and there is no contradiction in the head-to-toe alignment of the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. The chested is rounded as it fills and empties with ‘air’ and ‘qi’ (氣). Therefore, the concave and ‘empty’ chest (together with the relaxed and strengthened abdominal muscles) joins the neck and head in being both ‘robust’, incredibly ‘strong’ through ‘alignment’ and yet ‘flexible’ like the wind. The pelvic-girdle is correctly aligned with the vertebrae that emerge from it. The pelvic-girdle form a ‘bowl-like’ structure into which the mass of the digestive organs sits, manoeuvre and function, etc. From the pelvic-girdle the upper body is structured and lower body touches the earth. The pelvic-girdle connects to the ground through the bone, joint and muscle structures of the legs, which always includes the connecting tendons and ligaments all over the human body! The pelvic-girdle must be rounded and concave so that it aligns with the knees, and the ankles, whilst the knees remain ‘rounded so that the bodyweight can ‘drop’ and ‘rise’ through the area unhindered. The descending bodyweight drops into the ground through the centre of the anatomical foot-structure (which varies in exact location depending upon the technique being used). When all this is ‘corrected’, then it becomes obvious that the shoulders and hips, elbows and knees, wrist and ankles and hands a feet become permanently ‘unified’ and ‘aligned’ in their physical activity and non-activity (I.e., ‘standing still’, etc). As ‘awareness’ increases, the shape of the hand and the ‘exact’ placement of one bone to another becomes possible and is a skill repeated all-over the body including throughout the structures of the feet. In other words, the ability to ‘align’ and correctly ‘arrange’ the entire body in general – becomes a highly efficient ‘localised’ skill applied to the smallest area of the body itself. This is how tremendous power can be generated throughout the ‘frame’ and correctly emitted through with a ‘fist’ or the open ‘palm’. Conversely, huge amounts of power can be ‘absorbed’ through an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ hand, distributed throughout the Taijiquan ‘frame’ and harmlessly neutralised into the environment. This is how the ‘mind’ first ‘expands’ its awareness’ throughout a ‘unified’ body-structure (or Taijiquan ‘physical ‘frame’) before ‘expanding’ beyond the physical ‘frame’ and becoming ‘all-embracing’ and ‘all-inclusive’ of ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ in the physical environment! This is the process of how a material ‘form’ (形象 - Xian Xiang) become an immaterial, ‘mind’ or spirit-driven ‘form’ (神象 - Shen Xiang). If ‘physical’ Taijiquan practice does not evolve into a ‘spiritual’ Taijiquan practice, then a life of practice, determination and sacrifice has been entirely wasted! The teacher provides the ‘fist form’ - but you must practice ‘beyond the ‘fist’ and firmly cultivate the ‘mind’. Without this transformation, nothing substantial can be fulfilled. The ‘spiritual essence’ is contained within the ‘form’ and the ‘frame’ - but is dependent upon neither and must emerge from both. However, due to the nature of the complexity of Taijiquan design and practice, it is inevitable that some will encounter problems with their practice. Beginners are often prone to rigidity of mind and body and are unable to properly ‘adapt. The most common errors involve ‘stiffness’ (僵 - Jiang), ‘scattered’ awareness (散 - San), ‘discontinuous’ awareness (断 - Duan), ‘non-alignment’ (歪 - Wai), ‘non-rootedness’ (浮 - Fu) and other problems.
A) ‘Stiffness’ (僵 - Jiang) - involves ‘tension’ being hidden throughout the mind and body of the practitioner. It is a product of ‘habit’ that must be undone and countered through the practice of psychological and physical relaxation. Habits of thought that generate psychological tension must be ‘dissolved’. Simultaneously, the tension that abides within the muscle-fibres must also be ‘released’ through deep breathing and the focus of the mind’s attention upon the area. Eventually All mind-body tension (which is merely ‘blocked’ qi energy flow), must be a) ‘released’ and b) ‘reabsorbed’ into the entire mind-body system.
B) ‘Scattered’ awareness (散 - San) consists of a mind that is not yet ‘unified’ into a spiritual-whole so that the physical body is also affected by this ‘disunity’. A scattered mind inevitably manifests as a scattered body in the physical realm, whereas a unified mind which is all embracive of the physical body (and environment) inevitably provides the foundation for a fully united Taijiquan form. The ‘awareness’ must be ‘united’ by focusing the mind and disciplining its functionality. Once the psychological processes are ‘united’ - then the physical body (and its actions) will be permeated by this ‘unified’ awareness.
C) ‘Discontinuous’ awareness (断 - Duan), between the upper and lower body, means that there is no connection between the mind, body and environment. In other words, no ‘rootedness’ as the practitioners ‘awareness’ capacity is both incomplete and discontinuous. The upper and lowe body cannot interact in a fluid and smooth fashion. Q energy flow is ‘broken’ at crucial points (effecting ‘jing’ [精] and ‘shen’ [神] circulation, generation and transformation). As the top half of the body is ‘disconnected’ from the bottom half of the body – there is no transference of ‘awareness’, ‘energy’ or ‘ability’ through the pelvic-girdle. Beginners must observe and understand flowing water, reeling silk and clouds floating across the sky and how nature achieves these feats of action with no apparent effort at all. Human-awareness must extend fully in the ten-directions and not stop short at nine-directions! The practitioner must master the connection between ‘awareness’ and ‘movement’ - when such an awareness is ‘lacking’, then there is a ‘discontinuous’ awareness, or ‘break’ between areas of psychological and physical control. This problem can be resolved through practicing ‘deep’ relaxation of mind and body, as well as focusing the mind to ‘lead’ and ‘guide’ (引 - Yin) the awareness evenly through the physical structures of the body, so that ‘awareness’ always precedes and initiates all movement so that there is never a ‘break’ between ‘intention’ and ‘actuality’.
D) ‘Learning to lead’ (引 - Yin), or direct a strengthened, concentrated and united mind so that its ‘intention’ continuously precedes all movement both ‘within’ and ‘without’ the physical body. In this regard, conscious awareness must automatically permeate the ten directions and everything within those ten directions – including the individual mind and body. This is a continuous pulsation that exists during sleep and awake times and which is fundamental and underlying in nature. Guiding the awareness, however, ss subtly different as it is a ‘refined’ awareness operating within this meta-awareness. Whereas the meta-awareness permeates the cellular structure of the mind and body – this ‘leading’ awareness penetrates the cellular wall and permeates into the subatomic structures. It has within it a compelling and attracting force which can also be ‘reversed’ into a repelling force (like releasing the built-up energy in a drawn-bow). At other times, it directs awareness and ‘pulls’ the physical body into the various directions of movement required. It is nothing short than the evolutionary mind-body nexus. ‘Thought’ within this context, although appearing ‘spiritual’ and ‘other-worldly’ is in fact a very subtle form of substrative material reality.
E) ‘Non-alignment’ (歪 - Wai), refers to a disjointed and misplaced Taijiquan ‘frame’ (positioning) and ‘sequencing’ (form) so that the entire manifestation departs from the ‘law’ of the style, the philosophy of the tradition and the instruction of the teacher. Another description is that of a ‘crooked’ mind and body which mislead the practitioner and the world of taking the wrong direction. The body leans when it should be straight, or is straight when it should be leaning! The body remains ‘unrooted’ when it should be firmly affixed to the ground. The mind has no unified presence and is unable to penetrate and guide the the physical structures of the body. As there is no penetrative insight, the movements are ridiculous and disconnected. There is no awe-inspiring presence and no real Taijiquan practice taking place!
F) ‘Non-rootedness’ (浮 - Fu) can also be translated as ‘floating’ and refers to the non-dropping of the ‘qi’ (and ‘bodyweight’) down into the dantian (丹田) situated two-inches below the naval and through the centre of the bones (stimulating the bone-marrow) in the case of the bodyweight proper. Pockets of psychological and physical tension can prevent the qi-energy flowing properly through the eight special channels (and the numerous other major and minor qi-energy flow channels), as well as the bodyweight ‘dropping’ effectively through the centre of the bones down into the floor through the soles of the feet, etc. Eventually, the dropping of the bodyweight results in a ‘rebounding’ force which bounces the qi-energy back up the body through the centre of the bone marrow – a gravity related processes which eventually integrates with the qi-energy flow through the qi-energy channels. If an underlying psychological awareness of the deep structures of the body is not present, then neither qi-energy flow nor bodyweight movement will be understood or even known to exist! Instead, the external body will be separated into essentially top-heavy and insular compartments of disjointed and non-rooted entities! All is disconnected from the ground and from the awareness of the mind. Drop the awareness into the ground to rescue the mind and body from this hellish existence!
This is why the ‘fist frame’ is the mother of the Taijiquan system of advanced Chinese martial arts (as it conveys the ‘secret’ of how to ‘punch’ with extreme power! Each individual part of the body must be thoroughly penetrated and minutely understood with a fully develop and directed conscious mind – before each part of te body is ‘integrated’ (through accumulated ‘insight) into a ‘unified’ whole. Although a ‘form’ of Taijiquan made well hold continuous physical characteristics that continuously broadcast a well-known' style – it is the mastery of the ever-change ‘frame’ of the Taijiquan form that is vital for martial arts dominance and success in the physical world. Of course, the ‘form’ and ‘frame’ obviously over-lap and coincide but they are not identical. Whereas a ‘style’ of Taijiquan may well utilise a continuous ‘form’ or philosophical-physical approach – whilst a continuously changing, altering and adjusting ‘frame’ may be manifested by an expert practitioner. Whilst being firmly ‘rooted’ to the nourishing ground, an expert practitioner of Taijiquan is continuously manifesting the ‘root’ principles of the style, whilst also adjusting that particular ‘form’ (physical superstructure) to the conditions prevailing in the external world. A ‘fist frame’ facilitates ‘punching’ (or ‘open and closed hand techniques’ in general), whilst a ‘kicking frame’ opens the hip-area allowing for an array of ‘lifting’ or ‘floating’ leg techniques which uses the foot, knee or side of the leg-structure to ‘strike’ or ‘block’ whist standing still, or moving forward, back or side to side (although some of this activity might fall under the designation of a ‘stepping frame’ adjustment). An advanced ‘iron-vest’ frame allows for the bone structure to be utilised in a manner that deflects, absorbs or re-directs incoming energy, etc. There is even the case that suggests that the ‘frame’ of a Taijiquan style should be further adjusted as the age of the practitioner increases to counter the effects of ageing. With regards to self-defence, the body-shape, experience and motivation of an opponent will call upon the defending Taijiquan to adjust the type of ‘frame’ they manifest during hostilities. A Taijiquan ‘form’ that does not adjust its ‘frame’ (or the distance between the feet and between the hands), is then ‘stuck’ in manifesting just one particular ‘frame’. This is a common mistake today developed from a lack of properly qualified teachers.
When Taijiquan was ‘liberated’ from the limitations of feudalism in 1949 – there was not readily available a suitable cadre of instructors to carry-out this advanced ‘liberating’ policy. To remedy this, it was decided that initially it was enough for the ‘copying’ of the superficial movements (I.e., ‘form’) to take place throughout China, and that over-time, as this new approach of ‘openness’ settled in (with a limited single ‘frame’), the number of qualified teachers would increase. Today, this transitional stage Is still in operation, with practitioners seeking an ever-greater depth of understanding, although association with legitimate lineage masters that are coming to light. This is a slow but inevitable process. Taijiquan – the most advanced martial art ever constructed by the human mind – has been ‘freed’ from the few exclusive lineages that once controlled its dissemination. Although lineages till exist and their practice is disciplined, the knowledge they possess in now viewed as belonging to humanity.
Chinese Language Reference:
As human beings we exist (and have evolved within) a gravitational field. Most traverse their entire lives unaware of this fact in its practical and/or theoretical basis. External martial arts are the product of young people using their will-power to move their torso and limbs through this gravitational field in an inefficient but useful manner which sees the generation of a great force (only at the highest levels) which is far beyond the level of energy expenditure used to manufacture it. To achieve this the cardiovascular system must be made efficient (through running), whilst the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons must be 'toughened' through regular usage. The mind is strengthened and focuses through repeated arduous training and familiarisation with the corresponding (physical) pain. The mind learns to use the body very much like a 'slamming door' with no regard to the state of the inner body or the health of the inner organs. At the external level (which must be mastered), the physical body is 'forced' through the gravitation field and it is the resulting 'resistance' which can generate substantial force. This type of power is entirely dependent upon the body being at a continuous peak of physical fitness - which is a state very difficult to maintain without the body structures being allowed regular periods of complete rest (so as to recover). A problem with this method involves illnesses and injuries getting in the way of achieving peak levels of fitness - and the ever-present problem of the ageing process. Within ancient China, the external training for combat could produce confident and solid soldiers in around three-months of continuous and systematic training. However, if an individual survived both the training and the combat experience on the battlefield, then what? The ancient Chinese understood that with age came both enhanced understanding of reality and a much more subtle appreciation of the human body and the environment it inhabited. This is how 'internal' training was established often hinted at by Confucian and Daoist ideology - and later Buddhist thought. This involved the mind being trained to be aware of how gravity operates through the bone-structure of the skeleton. The ancient sages realised that without any muscular effort (or corresponding psychological angst) whatsoever, gravitational 'force' effortlessly drops down through the centre of the bones (stimulating the bone marrow in the process), and enters the ground ('rooting' the practitioner) before a 'rebounding' reaction occurs which sees a corresponding 'force' travel back up through the centre of bones to the top of the skull. This process occurs simultaneously without interruption, contradiction, or paradox. It only ceases when the human body leaves its familiar gravitational field. (Chinese Cosmonauts have been experimenting in the zero gravity of space to see if a modified Taijiquan can assist in the preventing of soft bones during long space flights). The internal practitioner trains their mind to become aware of this free reservoir of energy and to propel it throughout the body, regulated by the martial techniques of Taijiquan, Baguazhsng/quan and Xingyi, etc. This means that without having to move to generate power (as in the external model) power is immediately available 'here and now' whilst standing on the spot. As virtually no undue effort is required to produce it - this power is far stronger, penetrative and destructive than its external variant. The nature of internal power is like a spinning vortex whilst remaining free of any contrived violence. This is deployed in combat not through any form of aggression, but rather as a matter of gentile timing and positioning. Providing this skill has been thoroughly learned, then there is no need for any undue effort. At the highest levels, quite often it is the case that elements of the external and the internal are deployed simultaneously without contradiction and allows from the higher ground of the internal perspective. This is why old Masters with considerable health problems are still unbeatable in the training hall - even days or hours prior to their deaths! I wanted to make it clear that by mastering the internal method - poor health due to age, injury or genetics is transcended. Where many cannot detach themselves from their physical characteristics, the internal Master 'has already left' so-to-speak. Either way, and whatever the case, there is only love in the process with the internal giving the maximum chance for a possible recovery of poor health - even if it is unlikely. Seated meditation, by the way, is essence 'internal' and this is why the old Masters practiced it. Life can be preserved and prolonged even within illness and poor health. For some people this is needed because they have unfinished business to complete.
Hereford: Sensei Tony Smith (5th Dan) Presents Me with a 'Rare' Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do Badge! (2005)
Combative interaction can occur in a myriad of ways. It can be psychological, emotional and/or physical. Intense combat can involve all three realms of existence. This is a serious situation where the ‘immediacy’ of the threat generates the inherent danger! Relaxation, awareness and superior positioning is the way to meet these challenges in the physical world. How this unfolds is dependent entirely upon an individual’s experience and the style they have been practicing for decades. Spiritual maturity is defined as the ease with which a person occupies their mind and body, and their ability to predict aggression and quickly counter ‘shock’. This is how the Master makes what is hard for most people appear to be ‘easy’. In other words, this is unhindered ability of an individual to come to terms with ‘change’ (易 - Yi4). In other words, a traditional Chinese martial artist, regardless of style or lineage, should make a point of studying the ‘Classic of Change’ (易經 - Yi Jing). This study should be ongoing, deep and profound. Furthermore, it should be free of all profit-seeking and worldly limitations. No one can ‘tell’ you how to understand this text and you must take responsibility for your own understanding of it.
What does ‘易’ (yi4) mean? The upper particle is ‘日‘ (ri4) is the Moon that lights up the Earth through its reflection of the Sun! This probably refers to a light in the darkness or a cultivated light which dispels darkness (the exact definition of the Sanskrit term ‘Guru’). The bottom particle is ‘勿’ (wu4) which composed of the left sub-particle of ‘刀’ (dao1) or ‘blade’ and the right sub-particle of ‘𠚣’ (dao1) or ‘dripping blood’. When placed together, these two sub-particles generate ‘勿’ (wu4) which literally depicts ‘blood dripping from a blade’. As a distinct character, this ideogram appears on the Shang Oracle Bones (c. 1766 to 1122 BCE) and was used as a ‘warning’ ‘not to do something’, ‘not to carry-out a specific action’, or to ‘stop doing what has already been done’. The emphasis is from ‘movement’ to ‘stillness’. Within modern (everyday) Chinese language use, ‘勿’ (wu4) is used to refer to the word and concept that denotes ‘no’ as opposed to ‘yes’.
When combined, and taking all this data into consideration, ‘易’ (yi4) seems to imply a situation where once there was difficulty (勿 - Wu) - but this difficult situation is transformed into its opposite by the presence of ‘日‘ (ri4) - which is the Moon that lights-up the entire landscape through its glow! What was previously ‘hard’ is now made ‘easy’ by a ‘change’ of circumstance. When beneficial ‘change’ is experienced, it is generally the case that actions that were once ‘blocked’ or ‘hindered’ now become ‘open’ and ‘free-flowing’. This explanation demonstrates how the ideogram ‘易’ (yi4) can simultaneously mean both ‘easy’ and ‘change’. However, another version of this ideogram is ‘蜴’ (yi4). It is related and exists within the same series as ‘易 (yi4)’. The difference is that this version - ‘蜴’ (yi4) - has the extra left-hand particle of ‘虫’ (chong2) which refers to a dangerous, venomous snake, or a similar type of animal or insect.
When expressed as ‘蜴’ (yi4) - this ideogram takes on the meaning of a ‘lizard’ which can adapt its outer skin to ‘blend-in’ with the ever-changing environment (I.e., a ‘chameleon’). This type of lizard knows how to ‘not stand out’ and how to ‘achieve things’ in an ‘effortless’ and ‘unassuming’ manner. As the external temperature changes – so does the pigmentation arrangement of the Lizard’s skin. As a means of temperature control – the lizard also manages to remain ‘unseen’ as an evolutionary by-product. An advanced practitioner of martial arts can adapt to the physical environment in a manner that preserves his or her life, and which removes greed, hatred and delusion from the mind (and body) of the opponent. When this type of change is mastered in every position, a practitioner literally seems to perceptually ‘disappear’ as they no longer react in a dualistic manner. There is no one to chase and no one to hit...
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!
ORIGINAL CHINESE LANGUAGE ARTICLE BY: QIANFENG DAOIST MASTER ZHAO MING WANG (赵明旺)
(TRANSLATED BY ADRIAN CHAN-WYLES PHD)
A few days ago, a venerable 70-year old man came to visit me in Beijing (at the Qianfeng Hermitage) from his hometown of Weihai in Shandong province! His name is ‘Jiang Daochang’ (姜道长) and he is a Disciple in the ‘Wudang’ (武当), ‘Sanfeng’ (三丰) School of internal martial arts practice and mastery! Indeed, Jiang Daochang has dedicated his life to the pursuance of Daoist gongfu (功夫)!
In his search for genuine Daoist self-cultivation knowledge and technique, he has travelled far and wide over many mountains and across numerous rivers! He is a Master of the ‘Taiji’ (太极) ‘Long-Sword’ (剑 - Jian) ‘Law’ (法 - Fa)! Eventually, he has settled in the ‘Wudang Sanfeng School’. However, he has also been aware of the Qianfeng Pre-Natal School and has attended a local study group for many years. It has been his positive experience with this group that led to him taking the decision to travel to Beijing and visit the Headquarters of the Qianfeng School.
He is a straightforward person who understands that usually a student must study with a Master for at least three-years (usually after three years of visiting other Masters) before being accepted as a ‘Disciple’ - but this situation is a little different due to Jiang Daochang already training in the Qianfeng School and the fact he is a Taiji Sword Master of many years standing! As is his right as an enquiring student – he requested that I ‘prove’ the efficacy of our School.
I first explained the ‘Essential Life Mind-Body' (性命双修 - Xing Ming Shuang Xiu) self-cultivation method as preserved within the Qianfeng School. I then assessed the health of his mind and body – and immediately ‘opened’ ALL of his energy channels throughout his body. As the transformation was ‘immediate’ - Jiang Daochang stated ‘This is the genuine Daoist self-cultivation! Without this method, the essential nature (精 - Jing) cannot transform vital force (炁 - Qi) in the mind and body!’ After experiencing this – Jiang Daochang immediately requested ‘Discipleship’ and he was formally accepted into the Qianfeng School!
Jiang Daochang is very concerned for the health of those who have practiced Taiji martial arts all their lives but who have also reached middle-age. When this stage of life is reached, it is important to replenish the ‘jing’ and ‘qi’ (精炁) so as to nourish the bones and inner organs. This is the same advice for ‘internal’ or ‘external’ martial arts practice! These activities consume a lot of ‘Jing’ (精 ) and ‘qi’ (气) - and this foundational store of energy needs to be replaced. This is a primary issue for athletes and people who like to keep-fit. Of course, this is also the same issue for everybody else – but at varying levels of use and replenishment. Many just burn themselves-out wasting their internal energy on frivolous pursuits! It is the ‘Essential Life Mind-Body' self-cultivation technique that can easily remedy this situation!
Qianfeng Pre-Natal School
Qianfeng Hermitage: Zhao Ming Wang
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2021.
Original Chinese Language Source Article: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_64e533c90102yssx.html
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.