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.

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?

Sun Style Mini System

DSCN0576After a long time researching and developing the Sun Style System, I have developed a mini system meant to introduce people to the Sun Style giving them a flavour of the arts involved but also keeping it simple and effective using the traditional methods and exercises.

Based on the 13 Step form developed by Sun Jian Yun, it introduces the practitioner to the basic movements of Sun Style Taiji with the emphasis on moving slowly with intent. The form can be performed multiple times or in multiple directions. Once mastery of the form is achieved the San Ti posture and Pi Quan are introduced along with the walking step of Bagua. After proficiency is attained then the single palm change is taught.

The last thing to be taught is a shortened version of the Taiji Sword. Obviously this method can be aimed at beginners, but also to improvers or for someone who just wants to experience all the elements involved in training the Sun Style. But without the time it takes in learning the 97 Step Form, all the Xing Yi and Bagua plus sword. This training is available still for those that want to follow that route and we will be offering certification, for those wanting to become instructors or affiliate groups.

This is not a detailed breakdown of what will be taught just a basic overview of what we will be offering, for further information please contact me.

What should I do?

Zhu and chenWhen you don’t have as much time as you would like what is the best exercise to do?
I am relating this to Martial arts and not specific to all but certainly to the arts I am proficient in.

Sun Style Martial Arts

The Taiji form takes between 7-12 minutes to perform it can take longer of course so this is a good thing to practise as it has everything inside, my teacher related to me though that when you only have time to do one thing it should be Pi Quan, as it is everywhere in the Sun Style.

Krabi Krabong

The mother skills are the most important things here and if not a lot of time the martial dances are essential to hone your technique.

Eskrima

familiarity with weapons is essential but that can be achieved by doing Ammara, with any weapon not just sticks.

Muay Boraan

The essential things are the basic footwork and doing combinations, making the transitions smoothly, making sure you have good co ordination between hands and feet, shadow boxing essential here.

Hunyuan Chen Shi Xin Yi Taiji

Without a doubt the 24 step form contains all you need to improve with daily practise, this can do done in anything from 7-20 minutes depending on your time available, also the 12 step qigong is another thing you could supplement or just do stand alone if time limited.

Obviously there are a lot of exercises that will give you reward for the effort to do them, Master Feng Zhiqiang advocated standing in Wuji for 45 minutes a day, as well as doing form and qigong but in this modern world we don’t always have the luxury of training 7-8 hrs a day, we can practise before work or after, get up early, practise during lunch there are so many ways to get your training but you must enjoy it, the daily grind is the most important thing.

Rolling back the years

This year 2013 sees some of my students reaching the milestone of 10 years of practise, some of them are no longer my students in a formal sense but the road they travel was first shown to them by me and so to the following people I hope you are still practising or teaching but the gift you were given can’t be quantified in money as no amount of that will give you good health so I hope you use the skills well
Ian Platt
Annemarie Parker
Dave Polshaw
Stewart Polshaw
Martin Brady
I wish you all good health and happiness
May the light of the Lord Buddha shine on you and be with you always

Sun Style Bagua Characteristics

Sun Shi Ba Gua was created by Sun Lu Tang on the basis of what he learned with Master Cheng Ting Hua. Compared with the other schools of Ba Gua, the characteristics of Sun Shi Ba Gua are as follows:

1. The form is very simple, but contains infinite possibilities of change.
Sun Shi Ba Gua comprises only eight Zhang ((lion, large male deer, snake, kite, dragon, bear, phoenix, monkey), as well as the Dan Huan Zhang (single palm change) and Shuang Huan Zhang (double palm change), the two movements of transition, is on the whole ten Zhang. Each Zhang comprises only some simple movements. It avoids the too complicated movements and the long transitions to the image that exists in many other Ba Gua schools. The principle is that the more the formulated and fixed movements are simple, the more one leaves the expert practitioner the freedom to explore the possibilities of changes and uses, and not be blocked by too established forms. For example, the movement “Qing Long Fan Shou” in the Dan Huan Zhang can be transformed into at least five different movements of attacks. Thus, Sun Shi Ba Gua is very simple seemingly, but contains an immense space that allows the change and the variation which are the essence of the spirit of Ba Gua.

2. The movement of step is specific.
In many other Ba Gua schools, the front foot slips forwards parallel to the ground while the back foot presses on the ground and pushes the body forwards. In Sun Shi Ba Gua, it is initially the back foot which pushes whereas the front foot gradually lowers to the ground (the heel initially, then toes), then it is the front foot which draws and tears the back foot off the ground. The advantage of this step is that there is no interruption in the translation forwards: the centre of gravity advances while preserving a constant stability. For this reason Sun Shi Ba Gua requires to develop the capacity of the feet to seize the ground firmly as roots which plunge whereas the axis head, back and foot that supports must remain perfectly right and stable. It is necessary to begin the practice with steps slow, solid, and heavy. The feeling must be like turning a mill with the hands. It is only after this base has been established that the search can begin for speed and lightness.

3. The body must be moved back to the maximum. The shoulders and the hips must be moved back to the maximum so that all the weight of the body rests on the heels. Only the full and slackened retreat is capable to prepare for the sudden deployment of attack.

4. The body adapts to the situation, and the hands follow the body.
The principle is that any change must have a reason. The purpose of the change is to create opportunities facing the enemy. The attack of the hands must be fast and direct, the steps and the movement of the body must guarantee that the hands achieve their goal instantaneously. The hands, as well as Jian (sword) or Dao (sabre) must seek the objective, and the body and the steps must enable them to achieve this goal. The arms and the hands or the sword should not turn around the body with an aim which would be only aesthetic or demonstrative. The body is at the service of the sword, of the objective, not the sword at the service of the body.

Sunstyle Xing Yi Characteristics

Sun Shi Xing Yi was created by Master Sun Lu Tang, on the basis of what he learned directly, since the age of 15, from Grand Master of Xing Yi, Guo Yun Shen. Compared to the other schools of Xing Yi, Sun Shi Xing Yi has a style that is simple, solid, discrete, reserved, flexible and light. This specific style is the result of the following characteristics:

1. Centre of gravity on one leg.
In the basic position as well as in movements, the principle of Sun Shi Xing Yi is that the weight always falls on a leg. One does not find the horse riding stance or bow and arrow stance. This principle makes possible an apparently contradictory requirement – the body is at the same time stable, heavy like a mountain, and flexible and light like a bird. Indeed, the axis which supports the weight must be stable and heavy, it is Shi (full), the remainder of the body must be flexible and light, it is Xu (empty). Shi is the base, Xu is the tool, and both are made possible mutually.

2. The position is relatively high.
The angle with the knee should not be lower than 135 degree. The steps are relatively small, the principle being that the movements should not be difficult. Thus, contrary to much of other schools of Xing Yi, Sun Shi Xing Yi does not seek the large steps and the low position. Two advantages rise from this characteristic: on one side, the natural position of the human body is respected, the wear of the knees is avoided; on the other side, the balance between flexibility and stability is balanced.

3. The striking force is a turning force, on three dimensions.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, the striking force is based on the axis of gravity (head – back – supporting foot which supports the weight). All force is accumulated in the middle of the axis, i.e. with the bottom of the back and the hip. When one strikes, there is at the same time a force generated by advancing the axis, and a force generated by the rotation of the body around this axis. The two forces form a force of three dimensions. For example, contrary to much of other Xing Yi, in Pi Quan within Sun Shi Xing Yi, in the movement of Pi, the rear leg  does not follow step, with a result that the force directed forward has decreased; but the rotation of the body gives the striking an additional dimension , the result is in fact reinforced.

4. The position of the hands is vertical.
Hand and arm form an angle of 90°. It is a major modification which Sun Lu Tang introduced during his last years. Front, the hands are positioned horizontally. When the hands become vertical, the muscles/tendons lengthen themselves, the force of the arms and the feeling of Qi on the hands increases considerably. This position of hands is adapted also to the need of true combat.

5. Two different kinds of exercises: exercises on thickness and solidness; and exercises on lightness and flexibility.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, Wu Xing Quan (five xing) are the basic exercises, they require the thickness and heaviness, the five Quan correspond to the exercises of five different forces; while Shi er Xing (Twelve Xing) are the exercises of application, they require lightness and flexibility. In true combat, it is firstly necessary to seek not to lose, by flexibility; and then to seek to gain, by using force. Thus, the way of exerting Wu Xing and Shi er Xing are different, it should not be mixed.

6. The use of the force must be reserved and discrete, flexible outside and hard inside.
Sun Shi Xing Yi requires that the muscles and the articulations must be relaxed, while the axis head – back – supporting foot  must be solid and stable. The force must be preserved inside the bones; the Qi descends to the Dan Tian. The power is felt inside, but does not show itself outside.

7. The gestures are simple and practical.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, there are no movements of decorations, nor movement of transition or preparation. This comes from the principle that the simplest gestures are the most effective.