Kung Fu in Thailand: Back to Centre

It’s Saturday, my last rest day at Nam Yang this trip as I depart for Chiang Mai on Wednesday for a few days R & R before returning to Canada. Life is good here. I’ve made gains in strength, flexibility and sleeping patterns, learning so many new martial arts principles and practices of Shaolin Kung Fu while generally centring myself. I’d like to devote this entry mainly to the theme of centring, which relates directly to my back injury and overall goal for coming here.

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I had concluded my previous entry with a discussion of how the intensive training, about 8 hours a day, had re-stimulated my back injury. A disc herniation on the right hand side of my lower lumbar spine was exasperated by the large number of flexion activities performed many times a day, often held for periods of a time. I was trying to be positive about it but feeling pretty down. I got up the next day at about 5:30 am and went down for our morning Chi Kung session at 6. I’d not woken up with that much back pain in years. By the time we got into the Chi Kung practice I was in a downward spiral and going through a lot emotions. As we moved into the stepping meditation I began to calm my mind and bring focus to the practice. Master Iain passed by and reminded me to drop my tailbone; this helps root one’s stance and sink the Chi, accompanied by engaging muscles around the lower Dantien. Doing this automatically brings me back to centre, of which a major benefit seemed to be an immediate relieving of pressure on my back.

I practiced this process of dropping the tailbone, grounding the stance and coming back to my centre many times. I did this not just in our Kung Fu practice but continuously throughout the day. Not only was it improving my Kung Fu stance and helping relieve back pain, it brought a general awareness to my posture and state of mind. This process of coming back to my centre has become a mindfulness practice for me and is something I shall carry forward into my life. I used to do a lot of this at one time. In my twenties I became certified as a fitness instructor integrating Yoga and meditation with some Chi Kung into what I called the “Whole Fitness Workout”, which I taught into my thirties. I often used to tuck under my tailbone and pull in my lower Dantien. It developed a keen awareness of my physical movement centre building good muscle tone in my lower abdomen. I pretty much let that go after injuring my back; it was all I could do just to keep standing and walking for a couple years. Going through this back injury re-stimulation and healing process at Nam Yang I’ve become aware of some unhealthy postural habits on which I will have to work. I think I unconsciously started getting more of a curve back in my lumbar spine to protect my back against flexion, which seems to have been accompanied by a loosening of the musculature and loss of tone in my lower abdomen. I had started noticing this recently at the gym (too much mirror gazing?) when checking form and was wondering about it; with my centring mindfulness practice the awareness has come together. It took years to create this situation but hopefully not so long to correct and maintain it. Even sitting here now I must be reminding myself self to lower the tailbone and maintain my centre.

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Me doing a slash and block with my favorite Tan Tao (broadsword) flanked by the two great Nagas (Dragons) in front of Nam Yang’s Buddha House.

Maintaining one’s centre, like many of the principle lessons in our Kung Fu practice has numerous applications for life. Indeed, coming into and maintaining my centre was an overarching goal I had shared with Sifu Iain in my initial contact email inquiring about the possibility of training at Nam Yang. “As a goal at Nam Yang I would love to leave with a set of basic fundamentals to carry forward in my personal practice…(and) am especially interested in cultivating a state of mind conducive to maintaining my centre and living graciously amidst the challenges of this beautiful, troubled world.” It’s amazing how things can come together and somewhat blows my mind just reading this. I think the trick for me will be to keep up with this mindfulness practice even when I’m not in pain. I recall Master Iain’s teaching that with this work you can change your life, “You can change who you are.” The word “Kung Fu” is made up of two characters. I understand that the first character for “Kung” means something like “hard work” or “skillful training”; the second character for “Fu” refers to “time spent”. So “Kung Fu” might be translated as “time spent in hard work or skillful training”. Master Iain often quotes his Sifu, Master Tan. One of his most repeated aphorisms is that the secret to learning Kung Fu involves two things: first start, then don’t stop.

Master Iain mentioned at tea that while many other martial arts teach mechanics and techniques, Shaolin Kung Fu teaches principles. The lesson of maintaining my centre fits very well with this philosophy. Like with any other Kung Fu skill, I know mastering the lesson of maintaining my centre will take time and effort to change my life, but it will be time well spent. I’m already feeling the benefits, both in terms of my Kung Fu and my back. Of course along with maintaining my centre I have been modifying activities that involve flexion; yet I have been able to perform most of the others with vigour. It’s been two days since the flare up of my herniated disc and I’m feeling so much better; in the past that much pain would have taken a lot longer to settle down. Another factor to which I attribute this quick turn around is the strength and flexibility I have built up from the waist down since starting the training. These are also principles and practices that I will take with me.

the other is doing the broadsword salute with Moon behind.
Doing the broadsword salute with Moon behind.

I had checked the weather for Canmore back home and was -30; meanwhile I’ve training here in +35. A 65 degree difference, wow! I got a ride into town on one of the scooters which is the standard means of transport and finally got to amble down “Walking Street” on my own in Pai. Walking Street is a Thai phenomenon and a must see for tourists. Starting around 6 p.m. the street is lit up and packed with a cacophony of street vendors and performers, bars and taverns, discos, restaurants, tea shops and a myriad of nightlife in a carnivalesque atmosphere, replete with red light district in some of the larger cities. This happens pretty much every night, but one of the most famous is the Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai. I was there but couldn’t get up the juice to go when I first arrived. The one in Pai is no where near as big, but wonderful, even magical. There are so many brilliant artists and artisans selling their wares it can be a little overwhelming: a genius every block. Moreover, the Thai people are so wonderful, beautiful and patient, it really is very touching, and oh boy can they cook! I must have had fresh banana or banana-coconut shake at every vendor. Another special aspect in Pai is its proximity to the local hill tribes. You see a lot of tribal culture and crafts for different peoples like the Karen, Lahu, Lisu and Hmong, each with a distinct language and culture, many of whom are fleeing violence and persecution in the surrounding region. They are agriculturalists and hunters; I was hunting for gifts to bring home and scored big time! I won’t go into the details and spoil a surprise but I did pick up a gorgeous Hmong shoulder bag for 250 Baht, which is about 8 and a half dollars Canadian. It was made from the recycled clothes of a high ranking family, the likes of which are not being made so much anymore.

Anyhow, we train early in the morning and I shall have to try and sleep through the throbbing music echoing off the hills. I have three days of training left and really want to make the most of it! More to say, but for now it’s good night.

Much Love and warmth from Thailand!

by David Lertzman

David Lertzman Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development PI: Energy Indigenous Environment Interface Research Program, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary.

This blog entry is part of a series of blogs David Lertzman wrote for StudyMartialArts.Org detailing his experiences training at Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat. If you’re interested in visiting this school book your place here and get an exclusive discount  Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat.

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Things Chinese People Say

Once you arrive in China and meet a few locals it won’t be long before this clip from TMD Shanghai make all too much sense. It’s a light hearted look at some of things I guarantee you who find yourself hearing when you visit the Middle Kingdom. During my 6 years in China I’ve heard and witnessed a lot. Here are some of my favorite questions I’ve been asked during that time. Where are you from?Ài’ěrlán. Ah, Yīngguó! Do you know how to use chopsticks? What’s your favorite color? Do you like Chinese food? How much do they pay you?

“When in China the Chinese inquisition will get you and won’t give up.”

Do you play tai chi? Do you like KTV? Why you not married? Do you like Chinese girl? Whatever you do embrace the inquisitiveness and have fun.

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This is a fun post inspired by TMD Shanghai and onlinethatsmag.com by David Kelly CEO and Director of www.StudyMartialArts.Org – An adventure travel company specializing in Martial Arts.

Kung Fu in Thailand Days 6-7: Breakdown

Greetings,

Well if my last entry was about breakthrough, this was one would have to be about breakdown, but I’ll come to that later. Yesterday was Saturday, a rest day. I had Thai Massage in the morning, not excruciating for the most part this time, but she did discover an area in my shoulder which was pretty crazy to have worked on. I felt great afterwards and went down to the training area for some solo work, practiced staff form then sword, the Tan Dao, Chinese Sabre or Broadsword. After using the stick I got permission to practice with a real sword. I wound up selecting the real, real sword. Let me explain. They have practice swords which are real swords, but with a blunt steel blade and considerably lighter. The real, real sword has an edge which could cut: it isn’t particularly sharp not having been honed for a while but is a serviceable blade. The main thing is the weight; it’s much heavier than the practice sword I’d previously used. Using the real sword is almost as much difference from the practice sword as is the practice sword from the stick; using it very much ground-truthed the whole experience. This applies not just to the matter of strength conditioning but in being able to perform properly the form.

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On our day-off we go into the town of Pai for supper (amazing Thai food!!) and eat ourselves silly. Before going down I had a chat with Eddie about teaching and learning dynamics. He shared that he gets concerned when a master doesn’t correct him. “A master won’t correct you for two reasons”, he commented. One is because he doesn’t think it’s worthwhile and the other is because you’ve got it so perfect you don’t need it, “and I know that’s not the case”. So when the Master corrects it’s because he cares, and even more importantly, he thinks you care. This means that you’ve taken the corrections and applied them, so it’s worth correcting again and again, going deeper into whatever you’re learning. There is also the matter of attitude. Some people don’t take well to corrections, or shall I say, the act of being corrected. The process of being corrected is something I’ve experienced many times with Native elders. When they are correcting you, they are doing it because they care and it is a sign that they see you as trainable. Another thing Eddie mentioned was quite interesting to me. He said that, from his perspective, when one comes to Nam Yang you don’t pay for the teaching and the training; you pay for the accommodations, the food and services. The training is always there, it’s part of a way life and it is up to the student to enter in and make the most of it for themselves. The the more you try and the harder you train the more will be given to you and the more you will gain. The onus is on you.

Today was a great day; it was the best day yet! In fact, things just keep getting better here every day. I’ve still got 8 days left and already I’m feeling somewhat apprehensive about leaving. We worked in the group and I worked alone on sword and staff adding to the sequence of moves in my forms. We worked some very cool activities for strengthening and technique development in partners I can’t wait to bring home for Julian and Sarah. We got into practicing the most intense combat moves yet, so much fun!! I love this stuff and always feel especially honoured when Master Iain picks me to demonstrate the move: block me, lock me, throw me to the floor. I was especially honoured today when he cracked me on the nose. It wasn’t really that hard but it was a good square shot which elicited an audible pop. He felt so badly about. We were demonstrating a move which required me to come in with a grapple; Sifu seemed to want me to come in with some energy so I did. Either I came in too hard or he misjudged the distance or perhaps a bit of both but I think he felt worse than I did. I told him it was easy to misjudge the distance of such a target given my nose is probably a little closer than most others, I mean hey, that’s what makes me handsome in Thailand! Sifu asked several times throughout the session if I was ok. I glowed a little like Rudolph for a while but it doesn’t hurt at all anymore. Whenever we sit down for mid-session tea, Sifu pours the tea and asks, “Now, are there any questions about Kung Fu”. It’s really a special time of day. Today our youngest in the group asked about Nam Yang’s code of conduct, or Ethos. It’s a fantastic document and communicates very effectively the principles of loyalty, respect, equality, responsibility, brother/sisterhood, family, diligence and selflessness which distinguish Nam Yang, its Masters and Instructors. Here’s an excerpt, “Joining Nam Yang Pugilistic Association means becoming part of an ancient tradition dating back to Tat Moh (Bodhidharma), the Shaolin Founder, about 1500 years ago.” This brings me to the breakdown I had mentioned at the outset.

Processed with Rookie

I got up extra early this morning and went to meditate in the Buddha House. It was locked so I set up under the stars between the two Nagas (Dragons) out front (see picture attached). Afterwards I went down to where we begin our day’s activities in the open training area under the stars. We went through all the various Chi Kung exercises and moved into the stepping meditation. Afterwards we entered the Shuan Yang Sun Frost White Crane soft martial art form. I started sinking in to the movements, but of course was making mistakes, and Sifu came to correct me. Each move, of which I believe there are 66 though they all flow together, has a name. To help me understand the move he was correcting Sifu shared its name, “Goddess Pan Gu Opens Heaven: the Beginning of Heaven and Earth”. As I moved into the form it hit me how deep and vast is this tradition; there’s so much here and I’ll never even come close to learning it: 1,500 years of perfecting practice handed down from master to student, layer upon layer upon layer of art and science, technique and form. One must start young to really learn this and practice all your life; here I am almost 53 years old and just beginning with a two week intensive surrounded by these young fellows signed up for weeks and months at a time. What have I been doing with myself all these years? Goddess Pan Gu opened Heaven and I cracked open: I felt like I was falling, being swallowed into an abyss knowledge, wisdom, diligence and subtlety. Under northern Thailand’s pre-dawn light tears streaming down my face, pulling my elbows together, rolling back the shoulders, stretching out my hands until the wrists stabbed with pain, sinking down in the stance, rooting into the earth, drawing up Chi I cracked open, grieved for all the things I’d never know or learn, all the lost opportunity, and opened deeper to the form.

Time for sleep and I wish you all the best,

by David Lertzman

David Lertzman Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development PI: Energy Indigenous Environment Interface Research Program, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary.

This blog entry is part of a series of blogs David Lertzman wrote for StudyMartialArts.Org detailing his experiences training at Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat. If you’re interested in visiting this school book your place here and get an exclusive discount  Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat.

 

Kung Fu in Thailand Day One: Arrival

Steve-Website-Photo1I have arrived in Pai, Mae Hong Son Province for two weeks of traditional Shaolin Kung Fu training in northern Thailand. After a flight delayed by fog we flew a short but spectacular journey over forested mountains and I’m now at Nam Yang Mountain Retreat, International Martial Arts Kung Fu and Meditation Training Centre. Although my work contract allows for 6 weeks of holiday, this is the first real vacation I’ve had since our honeymoon 8 years ago. I really need it.

It is very special here. Nam Yang was created by Sifu Iain Armstrong and his wonderful Thai wife under the guidance of Grandmaster Tan Soh Tin with whom he has studied 30 years. Grandmaster Tan’s master brought southern Shaolin (Tigre-Crane) Kung Fu out of China after Mao’s ascendancy when the Shaolin martial artists were being executed. Nam Yang is near the town of Pai in northern Thailand about 30 km from the Burmese border. They grow most of their own food, including the rice, pineapples and bananas. The architecture is beautiful in the local traditional style giving the whole place a Shaolin Temple like quality. It is an extraordinary achievement! They have a large kitchen and open eating area, an office, Buddha House for meditation with two great Nagas (Dragons) descending the stairs, two training octagons, one which is covered and one open-area, plus the living quarters. Accommodations are simple, almost spartan, but we have what we need to get by and it is lovely!

I had a great sit with Sifu Iain over a special tea to review my training goals surrounded by the beautiful landscape and sprawling grounds of Nam Yang Retreat Centre. Afterwards I joined in the evening’s training. We did about 1.5 hours stretching and prep before doing push-hands and some basic drills. Sifu Iain is so authentic. You can tell a lot about Sifu by how his chief students treat him; that says it all. There are several people training, all male from young to old. Two other Canadians, a Dutch fellow, a Belgian and a Brit. The Belgian and Brit are senior students. One is already a teacher and the other well on his way, lovely dedicated young men. We went to Pai for supper tonight as one is leaving tomorrow after having been here some months. The other pretty much lives here training every day all day and sometimes teaching. Tomorrow we start at 6:00 am with Chi Kung for the sunrise. Wednesday is a rest day and we will go to town of Mae Hong Son on the Burmese border visiting remote hill tribes with whom Sifu is connected.

Kap Kuhn Kap (Thank you in Thai),
David

David Lertzman Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development PI: Energy Indigenous Environment Interface Research Program, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary.

This blog entry is part of a series of blogs David Lertzman wrote for StudyMartialArts.Org detailing his experiences training at Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat. If you’re interested in visiting this school book your place here and get an exclusive discount  Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat.

Kung Fu & Dreams

Master Lu

An opportunity for those that are daring enough to make the leap and change there lives!

I’m flying to Beijing on Jan the 15th for intensive martial arts studies.

I’m looking for 2 people to join me on this journey, if your interested read on…

I will be training with Master Lu Sheng li who is the author of quite a few martial arts books in Chinese, English and Spanish. He is one of Wang Pei Shengs (WPS) top students and was selected by WPS to travel around America to help him conduct seminars while he was alive.

Grand master WPS was considered one of the greatest Taichi masters of his time and was the last master of the last martial arts golden age. He was a master in many Chinese internal and external systems such as Bagua, Xingyi, Tongbei, Tantui and Baji. WPS comes from very impressive lineages of great masters, who passed on their skills to WPS intensely over many years from a young age.

Master WPS also wrote what is said to be one of the best books on Taichi out there. You can read about who WPS was, his life and his achievements here in this Article Titled Remembering WPS. It’s a great read for any one who loves martial arts, culture or just the back ground story of a highly accomplished individual…

http://ycgf.org/WPS_Eulogy/WPS_Eulogy.html

The training we will under go will be under the Yin Chen Gong Fa association training methods, styles and principles. The best information available I can find in English about this group and what they train can be found on this site (ycgf.org) read the opening page, click English and scroll down, the information is quite informative and vast and will give you an idea of what you could expect if you join us and train.

The base of the training will be in Taichi but the training will be customized to each individual’s personal level to insure a proper foundation is built and a higher potential or mastery is reached in your time.

The training period is 100 days and is “everyday” for a minimum of 6 hours a day. (Ill be training a minimum 10 hours a day including Chinese language learning and theory) Master Lu’s students are movie stars, CEO’s of large companies, like the CEO of Intel and Lenova. He charges in some cases $450 an hour. Master Lu has earned a great reputation among masters with in the Beijing martial arts community and worldwide.

The 100 days of training for those who qualify to join me will be at a location Master Lu has rented in Beijing.

This is not an opportunity I would normally make public but the chosen 2 people who were aiming to come with me, now can’t make it, due to changing circumstances in there life. Everything happens for a reason, so now there is a chance for 2 lucky individuals to join us.

This will be a very transformational journey for who ever is up for the challenge.

This could also be an amazing start for a martial artist or a great way for a former martial artist to deepen their skills in real internal training and practices.

It’s short notice but I feel it’s important to put this opportunity out there. Maybe it’s a possibility for one of my friends here to join us. When I started my martial arts journey a chance like this would have been something I would have only dreamed of finding!

Master Lu has set aside this time to be committed purely to transmitting his kungfu skills and knowledge by setting up the ideal environment for us to grow and train. He has cancelled all of his commitments in this period to train other students and will be focusing purely on my self and the other students who join the group. He has rented a house that we will all live in, including master Lu for the 100-day period.

This really is a lucky opportunity and is not something you would find advertised publicly. The reason I am looking for other students to join is as follows.

1. Two spots are now available and since master Lu has put on hold all his training and teaching commitments to his other students over the 100 day period, I want to insure master Lu regains his cost for the commitment he is making, renting a house, providing food and training etc. Since the other 2 guys can’t make it there is an opportunity for 2 other students to join.

2. Although one on one is great with a master, for long term training it’s better to have others students to train with on the journey, so we can push each other, practice techniques 1000 of times to refine our skill level and discus the principles and ideas to gain a more broader perspective.

That’s my main two reasons. The last one is simply having another person in the world who gets affected by the attributes of internal martial arts training I believe sincerely and firmly, is a huge benefit to his/her family and friends and the world in general.

To qualify for this opportunity will come down to work ethic, and good character/personality. If you’re interested, send me a PM or comment below and Ill get in contact with you to arrange a call. You may also add me on Skype just msg me for my details.

I will be helping those who come advance out side in personal training time to insure we all grow together. Master Lu will be with us 6 hours a day daily and is Renowned for his attention to detail and his focus on transmitting skills to his students.

Since the date of commencement is literally right around the corner, those who can make it for a minimum of 1 week and up to 3 months may apply. Although preference will be given to those who wish to train more long term, as well as those who express a keen interest in training hard and pushing them selves to create a positive training environment. So from Jan the 15th through to April the 25th there is a chance to live and train with a world class Kungfu master.

Included in the cost is nourishing food, which is designed for the hard training and long days, accommodation and personal instruction from a world-class internal martial artist.

Below is photo of master Lu and some of my students and friends that joined me in Beijing late last year on a StudyMartialArt.Org tour.

I’m holding his recently publicised book on Wu style Taichi. (Currently in Chinese Only)

Over the 100 days there will be a focus on Wu style Taichi but also students may start to practice, Xing Yi, Bagua, Tong Bei, Baji, Qigong or Tantui depending on master Lu’s development plan. What ever the path is we will be heavily involved in the principles and philosophy, which lead to high-level practice.

This opportunity is not for the light hearted but beginners are welcome to apply. Personally I would rather people more experienced to push my self but that’s just my personal preference, Ill be pushing my self on my own to new heights with who ever joins me and I expect the same of them.

Other then the benefits of self defense, confidence, knowing one self and the spiritual attributes that arise from this style of training, that make you relaxed and cheerful. The health and longevity benefits are of the hook and have been well proven by the masters before us and explored and backed by scientific research.

Master Lu is 62 or 63 in this photo his movements are graceful, powerful and very precise in there attention to detail!

If any one would like me to elaborate in more detail about the lineage, the training, Wu style Taichi, WPS or master Lu please feel free to ask. I certainly don’t have all the answers, many I will discover on the path for my self but I have been studying all the above a couple of hours a day, most days over the past 3 months and have lived in China for many years, training martial arts full time. Since I’m investing allot of time and money I wanted to insure everything was what I truly wanted. I looked at it objectivity and tried to find faults to make sure I made the right decision. It passed my test and I’m sincerely looking forward to 100 days of intensive training with Master Lu Sheng li and training in the Yin Chen Gong Fa family!

The food, training, accommodation and the personal instruction 6 hours a day from master Lu will cost 100 USD per day which when you look at the time you get with a great master alone, it’s a pretty small asking price since we will be living with him also. This is something I did well to negotiate.

Master Lu is sincere in seeing that the Internal arts of China get passed on to dedicated practitioners, in the Yin Cheng Gong Fa association founded by WPS. They hold nothing back, there interested in the true and proper passing on of the skills and training methods as the generations have before them so the arts stay alive in full expression.

Other systems and masters do hold things back unfortunately this is why Chinese kungfu is dying or in some aspects have been lost and only held by a few, its different with the YCGF family.

Thank you for your time and tuning in!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

I will have my personal Site/Blog up very soon which Ill be writing in and giving updates to my progress over the 100 days training and living in Beijing.

When I return I will teach a one-week intensive seminar and open my first official martial arts school in Australia!

Best wishes for the New Year everyone and if your interested in this opportunity dive in, make it happen for your self and don’t waste time, it may never happen again!

You can read about Master Lu on this links

http://ycgf.org/Articles/Lu16/arti_Lu16.htm

and here is one of his books on amazon. Note most of his books are in Chinese.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=dkPTM3IzeawC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Wang+Pei+Sheng+taichi+book&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MyvOUpmpNo7QkQXuuoHYAQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Wang%20Pei%20Sheng%20taichi%20book&f=false

You can check out Grand Master WPS book here which is considered one of the best books on Taichihttp://www.plumpub.com/sales/taichi/collbk_wuTC1.htm
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You can read about Wu style taichi in this book also,
note that master WPS was the successor of the Northen Wu style Taichi group passed down from the founder Quan you. This book was written by WPS younger Kungfu brothers female disciple, who is a champion in her field. It gives a great introduction to the lineage, the style, the founder etc as well as other famous masters. This will give some idea on what Wu Style Taichi is about and an idea of some of the training.

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=nu3jRBsgv6gC&pg=PA21&dq=Northern++wu+style+Taichi+beijing&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nirOUunTOoiXkwXyg4GwDA&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Northern%20%20wu%20style%20Taichi%20beijing&f=false

Please feel free to share this if you think there is someone in your network that would be interested in joining me for this amazing training experience. Maybe you yourself are interested? if so email me at Rhynsma@gmail.com to find out more.

Kind regards

Rhyn

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Rhyn Nasser is a partner in StudyMartialArts.Org and has been traveling the world teaching and studying  martial arts with some of the best martial arts masters on the planet.

www.StudyMartialArts.Org

Martial Arts & Language Learning in China

If you’ve ever wanted to Study Martial Arts in China, an awesome way to do that would be with one of these combined Martial Arts and University Language Courses.

The benefit of one of these programs will be the practical skills you can learn throughout the experience that can actually legitimately add value to your CV and future employability. These programs allow participants to develop their martial arts and also their understanding of Chinese culture and also importantly the language. It’s a unique way to study with a high level master outside the normal international kung fu school route as that all important Chinese visa will be got through the University.

This video clip above was taken in Yantai, Shandong province. Yantai is a small second tier Chinese City on the northeast coast of China. It has cheap housing and has a good environment. Yantai is famous for a number of kung fu styles including Taichi Mantis, Tongbei quan, Baguazhang and more.

The city itself is a little hot bed of kung fu schools and masters and is well worth a look.

For details of our Traditional Martial Arts and Language Learning programs contact us now! Study Mandarin and Traditional Chinese Martial Arts in China – http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org

Check out Master Sui’s full biography and training schedule here – http://www.studymartialarts.org/master/master-sui-peng-fei/49.html — with Bernard De Premonville in Yantai, Shandong.

SMA School Visit – Rising Dragon Martial Arts School (Part 1)

Exceptionally small tables and chairs at the Qing Tang Fu Restaurant
Exceptionally small tables and chairs at the Qing Tang Fu Restaurant

Last night I went to a Shaanxi Food Restaurant with my fantastic girlfriend that happened to have the smallest table and chairs I’ve seen outside a nursery. Check them out!!

The perfect cup of joe at Beijing Airport
The perfect cup of joe at Beijing Airport pre flight

The restaurant, Qing Tang Fu, serves great suantang shuijiao and is located in Beijing’s Dongcheng District. Here’s a link if you are ever in the neighbourhood and have a craving for their sour soup dumplings. https://studymartialarts.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=338&action=edit .

With a 5am start at the back of my mind and fully satisfied from the delicious food we headed home so I could prepare for my trip. Now I’m chilling out and blogging to pass my time at the airport while waiting for my flight to Shanghai.

So I’m off on another one of my frequent martial arts school visits. I usually concentrate these annual trips to the summer holiday due to other commitments. This time I’m off to meet up with Scott from Rising Dragon Martial Arts School for a tour of their new school location. The school will move to Jiangsu province in September and will be a short train ride outside of Shanghai.

With great transport links to and from both Shanghai and the capital Beijing it will be in easy reach for our SMA international martial arts students as well as those already in China. Situated within a revitalised Taoist site costing in-excess of 10 million US dollars the school will offer a very different experience from the existing site which is currently in one of the most beautiful rural areas I have visited here in China. A number of questions spring to mind for my meeting with Scott. Why the move from the current location having spent half the last decade creating such an amazing school there? How did the opportunity for the new school location come about? What will you miss about the last school? And of course what plans do you have for the new school?

Having talked a number of times to Scott over the last few weeks prior to my trip I can tell he is excited to tell me about his future plans for the school.

A picture of Rising Dragon Martial Arts School. In the picture you can see the students from the schools BJJ class. This is one of the only international full-time martial arts schools that combine Chinese arts stand up game with BJJ's ground game. Check out that stunning location in the background.
A picture of Rising Dragon Martial Arts School. In the picture you can see the students from the schools BJJ class. This is one of the only international full-time martial arts schools that combine Chinese arts stand up game with BJJ’s ground game. Check out that stunning location in the background.

To be continued…….https://studymartialarts.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/sma-school-visit-rising-dragon-martial-arts-school-part-2/

If you want to study martial arts in China make http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org your first contact for information on schools, training discounts and travel and training resources all at no additional cost.

Fujian White Crane Kung Fu “The Scholar’s Style”

A Brief Introduction to Fujian White Crane Kung Fu

Fujian White Crane Kung Fu, once known as Tiger Crane Combination Kung Fu comes from Fujian Province in China. Fujian Province is famous throughout China for its flamboyant, fierce and efficient White Crane Kung Fu styles. For the sake of simplicity, it is known as Fujian White Crane Kung Fu in the West. It is the complete system of White Crane (the tiger stance providing a strong base for the more flamboyant hand techniques of the crane).

Created by a female martial artist called Fang Qi Niang it incorporates fighting principles to suit every body type and personality, and has a defense to counter various attacks. The characteristics of this style are deep rooted stances, intricate hand techniques and fighting mostly at close range.

Because of its complexity, the system is often known as a “scholar’s style”, suitable for students who wish to take their skill to the highest possible level. The efficiency and practicality of the Crane system is such that a number of other styles have borrowed elements of this style to make those styles more effective.

The Crane is a Chinese symbol of happiness and longevity and Crane style exercises are renowned in China for improving the general wellbeing of the practitioner. As well as the muscle groups, Fujian White Crane Kung Fu exercises increase flexibility, improve lung capacity, strengthen the joints and increase bone density.

If you’re interested in studying Fujian White Crane Kung Fu full-time in China visit the http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org website there you will find a host of masters and martial arts schools where you can learn traditional Chinese Martial Arts.

Finding the right master? Not as easy as you think

by Nathaniel Cooke

Phew – for some time there, it looked like my epic Kung Fu pilgrimage was looking like  turning in to the most extravagant wild goose chase in human history. Ok, apart from the search for the Holy Grail. And Noah’s Ark. Oh, and there was the Ark of the Covenent for a while there, and something about a golden fleece for the Greeks? Oh no they got that in the end, didn’t they.

OK fine it’s not the most extravagant wild goose chase in history, but grant me a little dramatic invention with a splash of poetic license and things will go much easier for the both of us in the long run, I promise.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes.  After a week of searching, I was beginning to worry having not seen an ounce of Kung Fu, anywhere – and this was only confirmed by a student in one of my first classes who took no small pleasure in telling me that the nearest place that specialised in Wing Chun was halfway across China, and nobody really did Kung Fu in Sichuan Province. Having travelled several thousand miles specifically for this sole purpose, this came as something of a disappointment. It turns out that I have managed to pick the only province in China where nobody really gives a monkeys’ about Kung Fu – not even Kung Fu with monkeys in it (yes, for those uninitiated in Kung Fu lore, there is such a thing) or Kung Fu done by magical ghost monkeys (I can back this one up too – put ‘Monkey King’ in to You Tube for the most random five minutes of your life). There is, in fact, a distinct lack of Kung Fu, or monkeys, or any combination thereof, in this province. I hope I am clear.

Indeed it was all beginning to look rather bleak, until the wife of a fellow English teacher at the university mentioned a group of older women that do Tai Chi every morning, right outside my flat. Now I have to admit that two weeks ago this news would not have filled me with joy, but by this stage I was beginning to panic that my best laid plans were rapidly laying to waste, so I decided to check it out.

Which is why, at 6:45am on a Sunday morning I was roaming the streets of the campus in a pair of tracksuit trousers and a t-shirt in rain that, were it any heavier, would have required a pair of armbands instead of an umbrella. After about twenty minutes of soggy wandering the nearby streets I began to wonder if they came out in the rain after all, and was set to turn home when I espied an open door to a hall, with music drifting out of it and in the gloom, an elderly gentleman inside, wearing duck-egg blue silks and moving slowly, ethereally, slipping through the air as if he were floating on top of it. I had found my Tai Chi.

Cautiously I sidled up to the door, lingering awkwardly in the foyer like only a Brit can. Taking pity on me, the old man smiled and motioned toward a chair, indicating it was OK to watch. I tried to explain that no, I wanted to learn, and we soon discovered common ground in that I spoke not a word of his language, and he not a word of mine. This led to an awkward five minutes of miming and pointing from me and much awkward, albeit patient, grinning from him until realisation dawned and my brand new Sifu invited me to follow him. Two things immediately sprang to mind. One, that in China Tai Chi is not so soft and slow as it is in the west (the martial form is punctuated with snaps of speed and power that I was not expecting) and two, that although it is slow (or because it is slow) Tai Chi is actually one heck of a workout. After the first hour I was sweating; movements that I would have used kinetic energy to achieve in the past (kicks, stretches etc) now had to be achieved through strength and suppleness alone.

I am put in mind of a swan floating on a lake; the beauty visible above the surface of the water belies the churning effort of the legs to create all that graceful floating. And disguises an incredible power – the swan also, as the saying goes, has the power to break a man’s arm. I ended my first two hour class exhausted and excited. Tai Chi Quan is not the Kung Fu I came here seeking, but it may well be what I find.

To read more stories from Nathaniel click http://www.hownottogethit.com

八极战道简介A Brief Introduction of Ba Ji Zhan Dao

by Grandmaster Chen Fusheng

Grandmaster Chen Fusheng

八极者,道家术语。大而无外,小而无内也。宇宙十方无限极远之意,无微不至之精妙也。

Inherent in BaJi Zhandao philosophy, is the Daoist concept that is woven throughout Daoist philosophy; namely the vital and integral theory of Yin and Yang.

That, at the same time something can be large and limitless in its size and entirety, like the infinite expanse of the universe itself; simultaneously there can exist side by side, its opposite of such infinitesimal size, like the tiniest of atoms.

战道者,此种武功乃气•武•健•医•美•技击等多种元素综合而成,而更突出实战功夫性,顾名思义•战道者乃取胜之道也。

Baji Zhandao (Baji Fighting Dao) is the combination of Qi (breath or energy), martial arts, health, medical/therapeutic healing arts, aesthetics, and fighting skills, all of which can be applied to a skillful fighter or to produce an accomplished martial artist. Judging from its name, “Fighting Dao” is the instrument through which the proponent can gain victory.

我自幼习武练习中国传统武术八极拳,劈挂通背,八卦,太极,形意,等多种武术。八极拳始祖吴忠一人三闯(南)少林寺比武较艺,三闯三胜而名声大振。清末皇帝拜他的镖师八极名家霍殿阁为师,孙中山,蒋介石,陈水扁,毛泽东,周恩来等身边都有八极拳师保镖护卫,日本首相也曾在执政期间亲自来中国学习八极拳,皆因八极拳尚功夫实战,没有什么虚套子。

I have been practicing Ba Ji Quan, Pi Gua Tong Bei, Ba Gua, Tai Chi, Xing Yi and many other kinds of traditional Chinese martial arts since I was very young. The great Ba Ji master, Wu Zhong, went to Shao Lin temple to compete in three matches, all of which he subsequently won. Some emperors in the Qing Dynasty learned Ba Ji from Huo Dian Ge, who was then an armed escort in the retinue of Wu Zhong. Many Ba Ji practitioners also served as bodyguards for among others: Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang Kai Shek, Chen Shui Bian, Mao Ze Dong, and Zhou En Lai. Ba Ji’s success in this area is testament to its practicality and martial techniques, which are not flowery or useless moves, but instead a series of deadly weapons.

我曾在国内国际武术功夫大赛中获得过多块金牌,1995年4月被国家编入了《中国民间武术家名典》,并先后有世界15个国家的弟子和学生。

I have won many gold medals in both national and international martial arts contests and in April 1995 was listed in A Compendium of Chinese Martial Artists. My students and apprentices come from 15 different countries around the world.

我于2007年创建了八极战道。以八极为基础,并容纳了太极•形意•八卦•通背•螳螂•戳脚•咏春等多家武术精华而自成体系。八极战道内功(气功)得师傅秘传,并经自己多年习练体悟创编了上气更快,在短时间里有效地结合武术招法,使武术更具威力的八极战道内功。八极战道外功,包括铁砂掌•黄龙掌等多套训练方法。

In 2007, I founded Ba Ji Zhandao, which, with the basics of Ba Ji Quan, also incorporates aspects of Tai Chi, Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Tong Bei, Praying Mantis Boxing, Chuo Jiao and Wing Chun and has developed into a new school of martial arts. The internal training aspect, or Qi Gong, was exclusively passed on to me from my teacher, as I was an indoor student. Following years of practice and my own research, I have developed Ba Ji Zhandao, so that the practitioner can attain even more powerful internal strength and more efficient internal breathing, to time in perfect accompaniment with the martial art moves. Other external strength exercises practiced include Tie Sha Zhang (Iron Palm), Huang Long Zhang (Yellow Dragon Palm), and so on.

八极战道的理念

Ba Ji Zhandao theories

无为不漏法:The method of energy retention and circulation and the creation of a “steel jacket”.

人体重要的几个大穴双脚涌泉、双手劳宫密闭,然后用心意使这个闸门总开关关闭全身所有穴道,用纯净之心内养内求真气,久之可使体内泥而不起之经、筋、膜腾起,进而摩•声•柔•转•合•刚•内•壮达金刚不坏之身,外可御敌抗击,内可祛病延年之圣界。

The body has 4 main acupuncture points, namely the Bubbling Well in the feet and the Lao Gong in the palms. To initiate the retention and circulation of energy throughout the body; first, using the mind the practitioner must “close off” the 2 Bubbling Well points (Yong Quan) and the 2 Lao Gong points; following which the practitioner can begin to close off the remaining acupuncture points throughout the rest of the body.

Although one is closing off these points, this is to close off the points to outside interference or incoming energy/power; one must use the heart and mind to focus the concentration on keeping the inner body’s energy gates open to allow the energy to flow through; doing thus will allow the muscles, tendons, sinews, vessels, organs and energy channels to become stronger and more invigorated, until finally your body will feel like it is made from some kind of indestructible material like a diamond or “steel jacket”, that cannot be penetrated by an opponent’s force, yet will enhance the practitioner’s health and longevity.

八极战道习武的目的

Ba Ji Zhandao’s purpose

弘扬中华武术,加强各国武术爱好者的技艺研究、发展,共同提高、进步,锤炼人体素质,祛病延年,祛除虚假花哨的所谓“武术”,还武术本身防身健体实战竞技祛病之真实面目。培养人的意•智•体和果敢坚毅顽强的精神。

People practice Ba Ji Zhandao to promote Chinese Kung Fu and to enhance communication among Kung Fu fans around the world and to continue to develop the art and their own practice. It can build your body, health and strength, dispel disease, plus bring you a long life. We are committed to bringing out the true martial, health and curative functions of martial arts and clearing the misunderstanding caused by “flowery but useless Kung Fu”. Ba Ji can also cultivate your willpower, intelligence and health, as well as develop a firm and indomitable spirit.

八极战道如何训练

Ba Ji Zhandao training regimen

一:形体外功训练(柔身法)通过柔身而达灵活敏捷之目的。

Body conditioning and training to make your body flexible and agile.

二:刚阳法(黄龙掌•铁砂掌)。训练效果可使双掌具有很大的杀伤力

Gang Yang training (yellow dragon palm, iron palm) is to make your palms deadly weapons.

三:搂桩,撞板,踢球训练。可增强身体各部位的抗击打和打击能力,并能更好的促进血液循环和皮肤的敏感性。

Post training (“engraving the wooden post”), striking the board, kicking the ball can make different parts of your body strong enough to resist blows and defeat your opponent, enhance your blood circulation and make your body more sensitive i.e. Increasing the sensory perception and awareness, in Chinese this is referred to as “Ting Jing”, that is making the body, even the skin, the limbs, the senses and the visual awareness and all perceptory organs/features more and more sensitive, so the practitioner becomes even more aware of what others are doing or even intend to do.

四:空劈掌,每天劈1000掌,目的可使周身灵活强劲似弹簧,双掌练出穿透劲儿(穿甲劲儿)。

Palm chop or hack. Every day you should practice palm chops 1000 times to make your body have the qualities of aliveness, agility and elasticity, plus the coiling, explosive power of a spring, additionally, after training your palm will be able to slice through objects.

五:八极战道内功(气功)训练法,每天两小时,目的可迅速改变人体全方位的功能和武术融合为一体,全身抗击打,随招法击出并具备制敌于死命之神效。

Practicing Ba Ji Zhandao’s internal breathing, energy and strength (Qi Gong) training for 2 hours everyday, can soon change the overall functions of your body and integrate it into the martial arts so that every part of the body can be as hard as a diamond and every movement can be deadly.

六:八极战道内容,战道1—6套,战道匕首,操手训练,实战对练(摔打擒拿,打穴,卸骨)小八极,大八极,六大开,八大招,六肘头,刀枪剑棍,太极,形意,八卦,劈挂,通背,螳螂,等套路。目的培养技术过硬,灵活变化敢打必胜的优秀武术人才,能够应付各种危险场面。

Ba Ji’s Zhandao includes 6 forms, a dagger form, a sparring form, a 2-person sparring exercise, (wrestling and qin na or joint-locking, striking acupoints (Dim Mak) and dislocating the joints) small Ba Ji, large Ba Ji, six big opening, eight big moves, six elbows, broadsword, spear, rapier, cudgel, Tai Chi, Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Pi Gua, Tong Bei, Mantis forms and so on. After some period of diligent practice, successful students will become accomplished martial artists who can deal with a variety of potentially dangerous situations, plus have great skills to fight with and defeat opponents.

七:八极战道的根本元素:八极是道教文化,道教乃是中华国学之根,中华是滋养武术的沃土温床,各门各派武术枝繁叶茂,各具特色,八极战道就是吸收融合了八极,太极,形意,八卦,劈挂,戳脚,通背,咏春,螳螂等多种武术之精华。内功是武术的核心,内功大,功就高。哲学,军事学,心理学,力学,人体经穴学,道学,儒学,佛学及50多年的习武功夫,科学的教学水平及世界15个国家我的海外弟子学生,以上是八极战道的根本元素。

The essence of Ba Ji’s Zhandao: Ba Ji Zhandao has its roots firmly embedded in traditional Daoism, which is the very essence of Han Studies. China is a sound milieu conducive to the development of martial arts. Here, every style and school of martial arts is in full bloom, each with its own respective uniqueness. Ba Ji Zhandao incorporates Ba Ji, Tai Chi, Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Pi Gua, Chuo Jiao, Tong Bei and Wing Chun. Internal breathing, energy and strength are the essence of martial arts, so the better these qualities and components are, the better the martial artist you will be. Inherent within the core of martial arts are also philosophy, military strategy, psychology, scientific theories, the theory of meridian science, Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. All the aforementioned are essential to Ba Ji Zhandao. I have been practicing martial arts for more than 50 years and with overseas students coming from 15 different countries, I am proficient at teaching martial arts in a scientific and efficient way, to allow students to comprehend the material and movements taught.

If you would like to learn more about Baji Zhandao follow the link http://www.studymartialarts.org/school/master-chen-fushengs-martial-arts-academy/35.html