Construction / Deconstruction

About four years ago I had a motorbike accident that left me with a herniated disc of the lower back. I struggled on and eventually with the help of my teacher and class mates in Beijing seemed to have it under control, but it would always reappear and be debilitating each time getting worse and restricting my training. It was mainly sciatica and discomfort. I decided that after this last bout of discomfort, I needed to look at my training and what I could do realistically. Too much movement was out, no matter how gentle! So I started to think about the Xing Yi I had learned. Not just the movement, but the standing that was obviously part of the system, but maybe had got lost and we were left with just San Ti Shi  as the main standing exercise. Looking at Yiquan Wang Xianghai and how he got his initial introduction to standing practice from his teacher Guo Yun Shen and as this is the same teacher in my Sun Style lineage to Sun Lu Tang then Lei Shi Mo to Lei Shi Tai to myself, I felt worth some investigating and also experimenting.

I have been undertaking this standing practice gleaned from my research and it is definitely helping. I do about 40 minutes a day at the moment building slowly to an hour and I’m able to do more movement, but feel this is all I need.

Xing Yi is a remarkable art, truly flexible and adaptive to the needs of the practitioner.
I am not advocating this as a system for people to learn, it has been purely for me to improve my own health and well being,. Though I am sure it would help others in a similar situation.

Body Conditioning

How much do we need to condition the body in this modern world of knives and guns? Is there a place for the traditional skills? Within the Chu Gar kuen system we emphasis a lot of time on conditioning of the single knuckle the iron palm, iron shirt and also the bridge arm, with the main aim to get close enough to the opponent to damage them without getting damaged ourselves, obviously this would change if faced with a knife or gun.
I think I am able to bridge the gap between training and using the traditional methods, keeping them alive and also I am able to look at the arts I teach in the modern concept of weapons and train accordingly, here I am exposed to firearms everyday seeing them carried by police, army and even the civilian population, knives are also prevalent here as tools and also everyday carry. Every house will have a traditional sword hung near to the shrine so it is available if needed.
I think there is still a place for the traditional skills, otherwise I would not train and practise them but also they are a great foundation to build upon for more modern skills utilising more modern weapons.

Chu Gar Kuen History and Training

For my 150th post I thought I would shed some light on this style of Chinese Gung Fu firstly this style originates in Toisan, or it is where my teacher learned it. It is not a version of Chu family or Chow family preying mantis, it might share some similarities but that is normal for the area and styles that existed.

My teacher is Chu Siu Woon and he has been teaching in Manchester, England for well over 45 years, he  has been teaching Chu Gar Hung Kuen for all those years, and had always said the Hei Gung was from Tibet and the Gung Fu was from China and he had two styles, the first a village boxing style and the second a short arm style to counter the longer and medium range systems, he had taught little bits but very little, it was not until 1991/2 that he started to teach me on a one to one basis, the training I undertook was twice a day 6 days a week for 6 years in that time I learned about how the wooden dummy is constructed and used, the conditioning of the Phoenix eye fist and iron palm plus the bridge arm conditioning needed for this style. There are three hand forms short, medium and long range but they are all short range, they refer to the use of the hand or arm in combat and so are just called short , medium and long. Before starting the one to one training with Chu Sifu I had already been training these forms for a few years they were never demonstrated in their entirety and only the most senior students knew them.

The other training I did was conditioning of the body through Hei Gung skills and other training methods using weights and also ropes and pullies to strengthen the area required, this was supplemented with sensitivity exercises using the wooden dummy. Other techniques were drilled in a linear fashion, and as I was the only student then they were carried out on my own as was all the other training, if we were interrupted during training I stopped immediately and did not resume until the person or persons had gone and if other students then I would start again the next day but usually I made sure to do the conditioning and dummy before anyone else arrived. some of the conditioning was general stuff but a lot was specialised specifically for Chu Gar Kuen.

The complete system is three empty hand forms, a broadsword form, long pole techniques, dummy training and conditioning, Hei Gung and a unique kicking style that is very hard to train. It is not such a difficult system to learn but it is a difficult system due to the amount of training and conditioning needed to be effective, it is based on solid principles and footwork, designed to do maximum damage in minimum time.

I feel very proud and privileged to have been given this system to safeguard and it is a very unique link to an earlier age where the only goal was to defeat your opponent as quickly as possible.

My hope is that a family member will want to learn this unique style or a senior from my Gung Fu brother John Farrell’s group it is not for the faint hearted, it needs a good grounding in a Gung Fu system that has covered basic power development and strong basics, if anyone wants to learn this unique style then get in touch, I cant promise I will teach it to you, but it would be a start. Don’t ask me to expound in print about how you can learn this style only by training it can you understand it.

The Purpose Of Dao

Xiantianism_symbol_yellowThe Purpose of Dao (Tao)*1 is:
1. To venerate the Heavens and the Earth.
2. To worship God*2 and revere the Zhu-Tian-Shen-Sheng*3.
3. To be patriotic, loyal, and responsible.
4. To be of virtuous character and uphold the Rules of Propriety.
5. To carry out the filial duties to one’s parents*4.
6. To honor and respect one’s teachers and elders.
7. To be faithful to friends.
8. To live harmoniously with neighbors.
9. To rid oneself of bad habits and evil, and to pursue good thoughts and deeds.
10. To expound upon the Five Bonds of Human Relationships*5 and the Eight Cardinal Virtues*6.
11. To preach the main principles of the founders of the five world religions.
12. To obey and respectfully practice the Four Ethical Principles*7, the Three Mainstays of Social Order*8, and the Five Constant Virtues*9.
13. To cleanse the mind, purify the soul and eliminate unclean thoughts.
14. To cultivate one’s true-self*10 by utilizing untruths*11.
15. To recover one’s original Buddha-nature*12.
16. To continually develop one’s innate wisdom and natural abilities until perfection is achieved.
17. To establish and reach one’s own goals and to help others do so.
18. To transform the world into a peaceful, honest, and orderly society.
19. To enlighten the minds of people and enable them to return to a state of benevolence.
By pursuing this path, to bring the world into a state of equality, fraternity, harmony, welfare, and justice – the World of Da-Tong (Dah-Torng)

Lineage, ego or link to the past?

To me as a lifelong martial artist to search for the purest and closest method to the source has been a goal, it is not always possible due to time and location but I have been very very lucky in that I have been able to travel and experience training with teachers who have been at the top of their chosen arts and who have deemed me a good enough person to impart their knowledge. I know some will think claiming lineage in this or that is about collecting something or ego, but I can assure you I have only ever tried to get to the source or close as I can in the arts I teach or am proficient in from a view that the closer I am to the source then the teaching and training experience will enable me to grasp the basics and train them as they were meant. I don’t want to come across as disrespectful to anyone and I certainly don’t claim to be the best at the things I do, but for me lineage is an important step in the learning and understanding ladder or maybe I am getting to be an old man, reminiscing about when I started out, anyway for anyone out there who is interested I will offer my lineage in the Chinese systems I train and teach.

Lineage2A friend told me an old African saying

A man with no past is a man with no future !

Something to think about?

History and Lineage of Taji Stick and Ruler

The Taiji Stick and Ruler were reputedly passed on by Chen Dao a Taoist from Huashan mountain, his given name was Chen Xiyi (871-989). The name of the stick and ruler techniques were originally called the Qian Kun needle or Qi guiding stick. He also imparted the 24 sitting Qi Gong techniques. These techniques were passed down as part of Taoist practices.

Huo Cheng Guang visited Shanxi and it is here that Master Peng Tingjun learned the techniques from him. He was taught in a broken fashion over many years, but through perseverance and hard work attained a very high level of practice.

Master Hu Yaozhen learned Chinese medicine and boxing since the age of sixteen he had taken a roundabout way of learning and did not have access to a high level teacher until he met master Peng Tingjun in Shanxi he followed his teacher and combined what he had learned with his skill in Chinese medicine to help many people.

Master Feng Zhiqiang learned the techniques from Master Hu Yaozhen and with the knowledge from his other teacher Master Chen Fake further developed the techniques of Stick and Ruler and also Qi Gong. He passed on these techniques to his disciples in China of which Master Chen Hui Ying is one.

Biography of Chen Hui Ying

Zhu and chenZhu 2 zhu 3 zhu chenMaster Chen Hui Ying was born in 1936 he trained in a form of Shaolin from aged 8 till 23 years of age. In 1966-1969 he studied Baji Quan then Wu and Li Style Taiji. From 1973 till 1985 he studied Hebei Xing Yi with Master Zhu Yunxing. In 1985 he studied Fu Family Dabei Boxing learning the 42 and 128 forms. Then from 1990 to present day he has practiced Chen Shi Hunyuan Xin Yi and followed the late GM Feng Zhiqiang and became one of the top three disciples in Beijing.

Master Chen teaches everyday and everyone can go to join his classes, in my opinion he is a great teacher with exceptional skills and he can also pass those skills on for health and also for Martial practicality.

I wish to thank him for his time and effort in teaching me correctly, explaining the visualisations and training methods and welcoming me as part of the group.

The images are some old pictures of him training with Master Zhu Yunxing