Old Wu style Tai Chi video

The Tai Chi Notebook

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A video surfaced recently of an old performance of Wu style Tai Chi from a gentleman called Cheng Wing-Kwong (1903-1967), who was a disciple of the Wu Jian-Quan, the founder of Wu style Tai Chi.

The video is poor quality, but I like the performance – it’s flowing, well coordinated and done at a good pace, which makes it more interesting to watch. As Wu and Yang style continued to evolve along their separate trajectories they started to look more and more different to each other. In this older video, I think you can see that they looked closer to each other “back in the day”.

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Mixed Martial Arts in Shanghai, 1925

Kung Fu Tea

I recently had a chance to explore and organize a large database of vintage newspaper articles. This material was gathered as part of my on-going “Kung Fu Diplomacy” project. Yet every so often I ran across news items which, while not really related to that project, are still quite interesting.

We generally talk about the rise of the mixed martial arts as though it is a totally new phenomenon, but in truth it is only the latest incarnation of a very old impulse within the Asian martial arts. It is hard not to look at the specific histories of certain styles (Jingwu, Choy Li Fut and Five Ancestors all come to mind) and not notice a similar acquisitive impulse.

Still, if we fast forward to the early 20th century one can find much more direct analogues. As the forces of imperialism and globalization brought the fighting arts of East and…

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Traditional vs Brazilian Jiujitsu

The Tai Chi Notebook

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Thanks to Stephan Kesting for providing these videos comparing techniques that are common in Brazilian Jiujitsu with how they’re done in traditional Jiujitsu. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past – when you had to worry about more “battlefield” things like hidden weapons, other attackers, armour, escape routes, who needs assistance, etc.

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The Forgotten Style: Moral Art!

The Tai Chi Notebook

This is a guest post written by Justin Ford  of Cup of Kick (cupofkick.wordpress.com) a great martial arts blog you might like to check out.

pexels-photo-724184.jpegClose your eyes. Now imagine the best student ever:  They are always on time. They always take notes.

They absolutely LOVE learning. They ask really thought provoking questions that lead to even more learning. They work hard, in class and outside of class.

Just keep thinking about how amazing they are. Are you ready to teach them?

Oh, but…I forgot to mention something. They have a couple of flaws: They are arrogant and egotistical.

They are always bragging and showing off. They never show respect. Heck, are their lips staying closed together when somebody else is teaching or talking? They tell lies and are hard to trust because of it. They really couldn’t care less about anybody other than themselves.

Not so perfect now…

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Top Ten Figures Who Shaped the Asian Martial Arts – Part II

Kung Fu Tea

 

Welcome!  This is the second (and concluding) section of my list of the top ten figures who helped to shape the development and spread of the modern Asian martial arts.  Putting such a list together is easy, but once you start to explain why certain individuals made the cut, or what their contributions were, things inevitably start to run long.  If you are just joining us now, you probably want to start here, with section one.  My goal has been to select the most influential individuals from a variety of styles, professions and areas of the world so that we can better understand these global fighting systems.

The broad nature of “the Asian martial arts” probably makes this an impossible task.  Still, it is fun to speculate and I think that the experiment is a helpful one as it forces us to consider the many social functions…

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January forms challenge!

The Tai Chi Notebook

New Year, new form

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Due to a nasty training injury, I’ve had to lay off the “rough stuff” for a while, which means I’ve got more time to spend on forms practice than usual. The latest little project I’ve been amusing myself with is learning the start of a different Taiji form than the one I know.

I’ve picked Chen style, since this is the oldest style, and pretty different to my Yang style form.

It’s often hard to see the connection between Yang and Chen style since they look so different, but as I’ve discovered, if you start to learn the beginning of one after already knowing the other it’s very easy to see how they have the same root. This has already provided lots of insights into my regular form by looking at how Chen style treats familiar movements.

To be clear, I’m just learning the first few…

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Kung Fu in the Snow

Kung Fu Tea

Winter is Coming

There are many attributes that make Cornell unique among America’s top universities. One could choose to focus on its philosophy of undergraduate education, beautiful setting or its long and pioneering history of Asian studies. All of that is true and good. The library’s collections are stunning. And yet the campus has a dark side.

The first hints suggest themselves shortly after halloween when small signs begin to appear on campus staircases and walkways warning unwary travelers that these paths will not be maintained during the winter. One undertakes the journey at your own risk. At first all of this seems like the ramblings of an over enthusiastic legal team. The staircases and walkways in question are not in some deserted corner of “the plantations.” These signs dot the campus’ main quads. They are referring to the areas that one will likely traverse.

By January the situation comes…

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Capoeira as Graceful Resistance

Kung Fu Tea

***I am happy to announce that our first substantive essay for 2018 will be a guest post by Lauren Miller Griffith.  While this is Prof. Griffith’s first appearance on Kung Fu Tea she is already  leaving her mark on the wider Martial Arts Studies community.  Her recent book, In Search of Legitimacy: How Outsiders Become Part of the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira Tradition(Berghahn Books, 2016) will be of great interest to anyone who employs ethnography, or participant observation, as a research method.  It is also a wonderful addition to the growing literature on capoeira.  Her current post tackles a critical question, namely, to what degree might participation in a martial arts community influence someone’s social and political views? How does this process typically unfold?  As a political scientist I have always found these questions to be very interesting, and I think that after reading her thought provoking essay you will as…

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Tips for practicing Yi Jin Jing

Integration of mind and body with a relaxed spirit

Yi Jin Jing is a qigong set and like most other qigong sets it should be practiced with a relaxed spirit and peaceful mind. The mind should thus follow the movements and should be coordinated with the circulation of qi with the body’s movements. Meanwhile concentration is required to accompany individual movements.

For Example:

  • The mind should concentrate on the palms during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine
  • The mind should be focused on the Mingmen point at the back of the waist while fixing the eyes on the upper palm during the routine 4 of Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster.
  • The mind should be focused on the palms during the Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws routine.

Other movements require imagination, not consciousness to accompany them. Among them are:

  • Three Plates Falling on the Floor
  • Displaying Paw Style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings
  • Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails
  • Bowing Down in Salutation

Natural Breathing

  • Breathing throughout the exercise should be relaxed and easy. This is particularly important when:
  • lifting the hands during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine
  • when expanding the arms and chest during the Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails routine,
  • and when expanding the arms and chest and relaxing the shoulders during the Nine Ghosts Drawing Swords routine.

This is because the chest cavity expands and contracts during these movements, and should be allowed to do so freely and to the full.

Free and unrestrained inhalation is particularly required when:

  • lifting the hands during the Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3 routine,
  • and when expanding the arms and chest during the Nine Ghosts Drawing the Swords routine,
  • while natural exhalation is required when relaxing the shoulders in this routine,
  • when withdrawing the arms in Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails routine,
  • and when pushing out the palms in Displaying Paw-style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings routine

The reason for this is because the chest cavity expands and contracts during these movements, and should be allowed to do so freely and to the full.

YiJinJing

Softness in toughness with the interplay of the substantial and insubstantial

“The softness and toughness of the exercise movements interchange throughout the practice. When stretched or relaxed, they display a dialectical relationship of a unity of opposites, in the same way as the reactions of Yin and Yang, the two opposing and interactive aspects of the body according to traditional Chinese medicine. Various movements require the practitioners to relax for a while after strength is applied, and suitable force is required after softness or relaxation. In this way, the movements will not be stiff and restrained or slack and fatigued.” – Chinese Health Qigong Association

Movements should be appropriately firm and gentile instead of going to extremes. Whether with too much force or with too much slackness.

Flexibility in performance and articulation of “HAI”

The range of movements and extension of postures in Yi Jin Jing are adaptable for all ages working from easier to more difficult.

When squatting and pressing the hands down during the Three Plates Falling on the Floor routine, the sound “HAI” is made. By doing this the practitioner helps move the breath and vital energy to the Dantian. It also has the advantage of avoiding restraint of the lower limbs caused by the squatting motion and upward flow of air back to the head. It also helps to strengthen the Dantian and the kidneys. The sound should be produced from the throat and concentrated at the Yinjiao point of the upper gum.

Full video teaching the Yi Jin Jing from the Chinese Health Qigong Association.

This article has been based on the information provided from the Chinese Health Qigong Association. If you would like to learn Yi Jin Jing there are a number of special qigong retreats where this is possible.

Best Kung Fu School in China for Location

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best Location

Studying Martial Arts in China is gaining in popularity as an adventure travel experience. Part of that experience along with intensive martial arts training is being able to train hard all year round in an environment that not only inspires but adds to your development. Rising Dragon Martial Arts School provides one of the best places to learn martial arts in China.

Best Kung Fu School for Location
Best Kung Fu School for Location

Located in Yong Ping county in Southern Yunnan the province is mountainous and borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, and has an average altitude of 1980m. Yong Ping has a population of around 170,000, and is roughly in between the two Cities of Dali and Bao Shan. Dali and Bao Shan are an hour away from the school.

Immediately surrounding RDS is an area steeped in history. There are numerous temples, scenic areas, mountains, lakes and even natural hot springs for attending students to visit. The School is 15 minutes away from Yong Ping town and is within a million square meter private park. This park is filled with beautiful multi-coloured plants, amazing wild-life, statues, lakes, forests of wild bamboo, as well as RDS’s own temple.

Despite being at an altitude of 1,700m there are many neighbouring mountains that tower over the school reaching altitudes of 4000+m, which make for many a challenging hike during your free time. Considering the schools remoteness it is still quite easy to get to with airports in Bao Shan, Dali City, and Lijiang International airport. The capital, Kunming, is only a 40-minute flight from Dali and Bao Shan making travel very convenient. There are many Kung Fu schools in China, but few can complete with this in terms of location, and low pollution levels.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org