Thursday, September 27, 2007

333 For Internal Martial Arts: Three Internal Unities, Three External Unities and the Three Bows

These are some important internal martial art's principles taught to me by Sifu Mathews. I have found them to be the most valuable concepts to observe if you wish to develop a strong and graceful form.

Three Internal Unities: Xing/Yi --> Chi --> Li

Mind/Intention (Xing/Yi) moves Energy (Chi).... Chi moves the Body (Li). Each movement should start with an intention, then allow the mind to distribute the energy with maximum efficiency to accomplish the intention... then allow the body to move according to your trained skills by means of maximum energy transfer.

Three External Unities: Shoulders/Hips - Elbows/Knees - Wrists/Ankles

The shoulders and hips should traverse in the same general directions and should not oppose each other's movement. The Elbows and knees should also move in the same general direction with out opposition. And finally the wrists and ankles should be considered as to their general direction of travel. All of these principles tie together and are really the same concept of maintaining proper alignment. The first two external unities are the ones to pay most attention to.

Three Bows: Torso with Legs - Arms with Torso - Legs with Kua (Groin Area) Open

All of the postures and transitions should maintain a bowing of the torso arms and legs. A proper examination of the still Yang Cheng Fu postures would reveal this bowing. Another consideration is to make sure as you transition from one posture to another, that these bows are maintained to the best of your ability. The torso should always remain rounded with the upper/lower back straight and the pelvis tilted upward. Elbows should always stay low, but not collapsed to the body... arms are rounded with the relaxed shoulders and sunken chest. The knees should always strive to bow outwards, but do not over bow and put too much weight on the outer edge of the foot. Really watch the leg bows during transitions. Again, these principles all rely on each other for continuity. If you loose one bow, you will probably compromise another.

I welcome your responses on these important concepts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Fu Zhongwen Videos

I have just posted links to a couple of additional performances of the Fu Zhongwen Form of Yang Style Taijiquan. These are excellent sources for reference. I welcome your responses and questions.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

From Teacher to Teacher!

As I surf the web for articles, videos and other information that would add to our Kung Fu and Tai Chi interests... I find that the various forums are filled with "experts" that know a lot about various martial arts forms and teachers. Even ones they have not themselves studied.

It struck me when I came to a response that renowned instructor Doc Fai Wong had to write to defend his material and the origins of his teaching. He even went to the extreme of having to explain past nicknames that people called him... i.e. the "Five Animal Kid".

Now... I wish I had the kind of background that Doc Fai Wong has. He has studied with some very respectable teachers and has developed an amazing school of his own. I can just imagine having to explain where I learned things if I were under such scrutiny.

I have learned my forms from many different instructors. Sometimes I would start a form with one instructor and due to their moving or other reasons, I would have to find another instructor to finish the form and develop it. I also relied on books and videos to fill in gaps and maintain a standard. This is one reason that I now teach only a handful of forms, all of which are very documented and standardized.

I understand why the "expert" critics in the martial art's forums do what they do... and many times it is very helpful to view their input. However, when it comes to doubting another persons teachings, as to whether they are unchanged, etc... one has to wonder how stable even the originators of particular Kung Fu and Tai Chi forms were. After all, we see various forms of Taijiquan evolving from Chen style, etc. I wonder if Yang Lu Chan were to read a martial arts forum about the imense changes that were made as he developed the Yang Style. I can also imagine the outrage toward Yang Chen Fu as he changed from old style to new.

Martial arts are usually taught to someone by a teacher, and then become influenced by that persons' background, style, ideas and beliefs. Sometimes a martial art can pass from instructor to instructor with very little change. Other times they can undergo major modifications... for better or worse. Inevitably I believe that a student must investigate the movements they are taught and make them work... with the teachers guidance if available.

The main form that I teach is the Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form. This form has many variations and also has a few variations even among it's best known standards. I have been taught the Yang Style form, and portions of the form by quite a few different instructors with varying influences. The information I took from each instructor was of immense importance in understanding the movements. Even though there are many variations... there are standards available in books and videos that now help maintain the art more effectively.

Unfortunately for the purist, there is no way to go back to the originator of each martial art's style. As time goes on... we loose masters each year... so we must now rely on successive generations. The further in time we go from the original masters, the more difficult it is to maintain the purity of the art. Sometimes this is to the detriment of the art, and other times the art evolves into something even more effective.

Fortunately we now have documentation via books and videos that at least keep the postures and movements more standardized. Therefore, I commend instructors that take the initiative to develop such documentation, even though they open themselves to possible scrutiny from the critics.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Martial Applications of Taijiquan

I have uploaded some links to our Articles Page, that somewhat visually represent the martial applications of Taijiquan. Let me know your thoughts and questions relating to this subject. Taijiquan applications are extremely important in developing the Taiji form movements. Taijiquan applications are present, even in very small sections of each movement/transition.