New Article & Information Coming Soon

June 17th, 2011

Tai Chi

July 15th, 2009

More Information about Yang Tai Chi and Its Development

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

In my original article on the history of tai chi, I mentioned that the founder of Yang style tai chi, Yang Lo Sim [楊露禪], studied in the Chen village over ten years. Now I have more information from several books on tai chi published in mainland China to support my assertion that he incorporated information from various sources into his marital art. It is indicated that many historical papers from the Yang family use Daoist religious language. Also, it is indicated that Yang went to the Chen village three times instead of only once. After the third time, he came back and started winning bouts. His background was what we would call lower middle class, so in terms of education, it would be surprising that he could himself write these papers in a very educated and esoteric Daoist style. I assume he was given this material. Someone, whom he did not mention publically, also taught him tai chi, which led to the difference between Yang and Chen styles.

During the Manchurian dynasty, Han Chinese could not easily have access to high-ranking officials. Yang was referred by a member of the Wu (Mo) [武家] family to teach government officals in the capital of Beijing. His most famous successor, his second son, Yang Ban Ho [楊班侯], lived with the Wu family for a few years at this time when the Yang and Mo styles were being developed and learned both, as seen in the Yang style Small Frame [小架] he later developed. The Yang and Wu families lived in the same county [永年] in Hebei. Mo Yu Hseng [武禹襄] was a officer in that county and financed Yang Lo Sim’s trips to the Chen village.

This newly available information confirms my impression that Yang style has a WuDong flavor and could not be based solely on Chen style tai chi, as some writers have asserted.

Posted in Tai Chi, Chinese Martial Arts | No Comments »

Xing Yi and Shaolin Xin Yi

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Shaolin’s Xin Yi, Sum Yi Ba or Sum Yi Chuen [少林心意, 心意耙, 或心意拳], is said to be similar to xingyi. One theory says it is the basis of xingyi. Shaolin is associated with many styles of martial arts. Why does this one place have access to so much data on the martial arts? Why is the Shaolin Temple so famous?

Before he founded the Tang dynasty, Lei Sai Mun [李世民] fought with many contenders for the throne. He was surrounded by rivals on Song Mountain [嵩山] when 18 monks happened by and ran off the attackers. The Tang dynasty was one of the most famous and powerful. The emperor gifted the Song Mountain area to the temple as a thank you. Shaolin’s fame has been increasing ever since then. Before this time Buddhism was a little-known religion and its main tenet of keeping a mind free of distractions such as wine (addiction) [酒], sex (lust) [色], money (greed) [財], and anger (hatred) [氣], but it spread over all of China and Southeast Asia with royal patronage being a significant factor.

The Shaolin Temple has always been famous for wood rod, or staff, skills. For centuries, its monks have ventured out into unknown territory with only a walking stick for protection. Naturally, monks would not want to carry a weapon, and a knife or other martial tool would certainly make a poor impression on any stranger expecting a peace-loving soul. The reality of the situation was that a traveller on foot could meet wild dogs, tigers, or bandits intent on harm. So that is why kung fu skills were an important part of a monk’s training.

In general, some monks stayed in the monastery and others moved in society attempting to convert and educate those they met. In fact, any monk wanting to advance had to leave the monastery to travel for three to five years to endure hardships and build relationships []. The main purpose of fa yun [化緣] was to spread Buddhism but a beneficial byproduct was it allowed for an exchange of information between the monastery and society at large.

Monks would intentionally approach notorious criminals, hoping to convert them. One of the Buddhist concepts is that saving one very bad person can be better than saving a thousand average people for the simple reason that the one bad person would do more damage. In another scenario, wealthy families might hire a monk known for kung fu skills to tutor their children. In any case, the monks met possible benefactors and also taught and practiced fighting skills while spreading the message of Buddhism.

One famous example of a monk in society is Jai Din [濟顛和尚] of the Sung dynasty. He must have tired of going door-to-door to beg food and attempt to talk to strangers about religion or share his skills in medicine and martial arts. He took to wandering the streets drinking wine and eating meat — two things a monk shouldn’t do! Instead of talking to a few people a day, the whole village swarmed to him to accuse him of insulting the Buddha or just out of curiosity. Those who stayed were drawn into conversation. Eventually he became famous for helping people. He wanted people to realize they didn’t need to waste their time in ritual or slavishly following rules. More important to be a good person. His unconventional method was successful in delivering his message.

Another source of martial arts information for the Shaolin temple was the reformed criminals who turned to religion in later life and defeated warlords hiding out from the king. They dedicated their old skills to helping their new associates.  Over time, a variety of high-quality information was accumulated.

During the later Ming dynasty it happened that hard-style fighters were being laid low by soft-style martial artists. Eventually word got back to Shaolin that their skills weren’t the top of the top. Soft-style kungfu, yao kuen [柔拳], apparently came from the Wu Dong [武當] mountain area and Daoists. It’s related to today’s so-called internal styles of tai chi [太極], bagua [八卦], and certain Wu Dong styles. One of the famous styles at the time was called “If you touch his clothes, you’ll be on the ground” [沾衣十八滾]. Gum Fung Chi [甘鳳池] was a famous Robin Hood-type figure of the Qing dynasty who used that style.

Gok Yun [覺遠] was a monk from a wealthy family who was skilled in  kung fu. His teacher was another Shaolin monk, Hong Wan [洪蕴和尚]. People were already coming from all around to learn from Gok Yun Wo Seurng [覺遠和尚]; however, he realized there was room for improvement, so he traveled around the country looking for more information. Once he got to Gansu [甘肅] he met an old man, Mr. Li [李姓志者] who was famous for chin na [擒拿]. He and his son went with Gok Yun to visit Bak Yuk Fung [白玉峯], a top expert who was originally from Xansai, in Lok Yeurng [洛陽], a city in Henan. They stayed at a temple there and eventually Gok Yun convinced them to go to the Shaolin temple with him. Mr. Li’s son and Bak Yuk Fung converted to monks, taking new names: Ching Wai Wo Seurng [澄慧和尚] and Chau Yut Wo Seurng [秋月和尚]. Eventually old Mr. Li left, but the two new monks researched all the available Shaolin kung fu skills and organized them into five branches: Dragon [龍], Snake [蛇], Tiger [虎], Leopard [豹], Crane [鶴]. Later Gok Yun went to Guangxi [廣西] and met another very famous martial arts master, Ma Si Lung [馬士龍].

During the later part of the Ming dynasty — a millennium after Da Mo — Shaolin developed a more complete kungfu system. In my opinion, the Shaolin temple has been like a research center. Many martial arts were improved there because more information was available in one place and the monks had the time to practice. Historically speaking the experience was not available at the time of Da Mo for him to be the founder of xingyi. Another reason xingyi is unlikely to have originated in any monastery is its martial flavor.  Whether xingyi was invented there or was introduced from the outside is questionable, but my personal opinion is that xingyi was created by Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] in Xansai [山西].

Posted in Tai Chi, History, Xing Yi, Culture, Shaolin, Chinese Martial Arts | No Comments »

Tai Chi Theory

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Tai chi theory is part Taoist philosophy, part traditional Chinese martial arts. Taoist philosophy emphasizes the quality of being natural. One should be in harmony with Nature, and the mind and body should work together harmoniously. For health purposes, one’s practice should be floating like water. For self-defense, one’s practice should build up strength, like water behind a dam that can be released by opening a gate. One should neutralize the opponent’s force and find a way to throw him off balance and defeat him.

Shaolin

July 15th, 2009

Shaolin Temple’s Influence

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Wang Xiang Zhai went to the Shaolin Temple in Henan in 1918. He met with the abbot, Hang Lam Wo Seurng [衡林和尚] who specialized in Shaolin saam yi ba [心意耙] . His teacher Boon Hung Wo Seurng [本空和尚], the former abbot, had retired and given him the head job; he liked Wang and invited him to stay a few months. Wang’s number one student Yu Jong Fun / Yao Zongxun / 姚宗勛 indicates in his book that the time Wang Xiang Zhai spent at the Shaolin temple was an important influence on his future martial arts style.

It is said the Shaolin Temple held two major secret books about martial arts: the Yik Gun Jing / I Chin Ching / Yijinjing / 易筋經 / Tendon Changing Classic and the Sai Soi Jing / Xisuijing / 洗髓經 / Bone Marrow Cleansing Classic. There is no telling who wrote them. It is said the Sai Soi Jing was lost, but the I Jin Ching is available now. When I was very young in Macao my neighbor brought a manuscript of I Jin Jing to me to read that his teacher, originally a Shaolin monk, gave to him. His teacher was a refugee from the political turmoil in China and I heard he went to Taiwan later. When I was a student there in the sixties, I searched for him without success.

I speculate that the I Jin Jing contained physical training and the Sai Soi Jing probably mind and nerve system training. The I Jin Jing has a lot of standing post chi kung, so it’s possible that information influenced Wang XiangZhai’s standing post methods. It seems to me that yiquan’s footwork and certain body movements were influenced by Shaolin’s Gim Jee Hop Kuen / Finger Sword Fist / 劍指合拳. Many different styles were seamlessly integrated into what we call yi chuan.

Posted in Yi Chuan, Shaolin, Chinese Martial Arts | No Comments »

Xing Yi and Shaolin Xin Yi

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Shaolin’s Xin Yi, Sum Yi Ba or Sum Yi Chuen [少林心意, 心意耙, 或心意拳], is said to be similar to xingyi. One theory says it is the basis of xingyi. Shaolin is associated with many styles of martial arts. Why does this one place have access to so much data on the martial arts? Why is the Shaolin Temple so famous?

Before he founded the Tang dynasty, Lei Sai Mun [李世民] fought with many contenders for the throne. He was surrounded by rivals on Song Mountain [嵩山] when 18 monks happened by and ran off the attackers. The Tang dynasty was one of the most famous and powerful. The emperor gifted the Song Mountain area to the temple as a thank you. Shaolin’s fame has been increasing ever since then. Before this time Buddhism was a little-known religion and its main tenet of keeping a mind free of distractions such as wine (addiction) [酒], sex (lust) [色], money (greed) [財], and anger (hatred) [氣], but it spread over all of China and Southeast Asia with royal patronage being a significant factor.

The Shaolin Temple has always been famous for wood rod, or staff, skills. For centuries, its monks have ventured out into unknown territory with only a walking stick for protection. Naturally, monks would not want to carry a weapon, and a knife or other martial tool would certainly make a poor impression on any stranger expecting a peace-loving soul. The reality of the situation was that a traveller on foot could meet wild dogs, tigers, or bandits intent on harm. So that is why kung fu skills were an important part of a monk’s training.

In general, some monks stayed in the monastery and others moved in society attempting to convert and educate those they met. In fact, any monk wanting to advance had to leave the monastery to travel for three to five years to endure hardships and build relationships []. The main purpose of fa yun [化緣] was to spread Buddhism but a beneficial byproduct was it allowed for an exchange of information between the monastery and society at large.

Monks would intentionally approach notorious criminals, hoping to convert them. One of the Buddhist concepts is that saving one very bad person can be better than saving a thousand average people for the simple reason that the one bad person would do more damage. In another scenario, wealthy families might hire a monk known for kung fu skills to tutor their children. In any case, the monks met possible benefactors and also taught and practiced fighting skills while spreading the message of Buddhism.

One famous example of a monk in society is Jai Din [濟顛和尚] of the Sung dynasty. He must have tired of going door-to-door to beg food and attempt to talk to strangers about religion or share his skills in medicine and martial arts. He took to wandering the streets drinking wine and eating meat — two things a monk shouldn’t do! Instead of talking to a few people a day, the whole village swarmed to him to accuse him of insulting the Buddha or just out of curiosity. Those who stayed were drawn into conversation. Eventually he became famous for helping people. He wanted people to realize they didn’t need to waste their time in ritual or slavishly following rules. More important to be a good person. His unconventional method was successful in delivering his message.

Another source of martial arts information for the Shaolin temple was the reformed criminals who turned to religion in later life and defeated warlords hiding out from the king. They dedicated their old skills to helping their new associates.  Over time, a variety of high-quality information was accumulated.

During the later Ming dynasty it happened that hard-style fighters were being laid low by soft-style martial artists. Eventually word got back to Shaolin that their skills weren’t the top of the top. Soft-style kungfu, yao kuen [柔拳], apparently came from the Wu Dong [武當] mountain area and Daoists. It’s related to today’s so-called internal styles of tai chi [太極], bagua [八卦], and certain Wu Dong styles. One of the famous styles at the time was called “If you touch his clothes, you’ll be on the ground” [沾衣十八滾]. Gum Fung Chi [甘鳳池] was a famous Robin Hood-type figure of the Qing dynasty who used that style.

Gok Yun [覺遠] was a monk from a wealthy family who was skilled in  kung fu. His teacher was another Shaolin monk, Hong Wan [洪蕴和尚]. People were already coming from all around to learn from Gok Yun Wo Seurng [覺遠和尚]; however, he realized there was room for improvement, so he traveled around the country looking for more information. Once he got to Gansu [甘肅] he met an old man, Mr. Li [李姓志者] who was famous for chin na [擒拿]. He and his son went with Gok Yun to visit Bak Yuk Fung [白玉峯], a top expert who was originally from Xansai, in Lok Yeurng [洛陽], a city in Henan. They stayed at a temple there and eventually Gok Yun convinced them to go to the Shaolin temple with him. Mr. Li’s son and Bak Yuk Fung converted to monks, taking new names: Ching Wai Wo Seurng [澄慧和尚] and Chau Yut Wo Seurng [秋月和尚]. Eventually old Mr. Li left, but the two new monks researched all the available Shaolin kung fu skills and organized them into five branches: Dragon [龍], Snake [蛇], Tiger [虎], Leopard [豹], Crane [鶴]. Later Gok Yun went to Guangxi [廣西] and met another very famous martial arts master, Ma Si Lung [馬士龍].

During the later part of the Ming dynasty — a millennium after Da Mo — Shaolin developed a more complete kungfu system. In my opinion, the Shaolin temple has been like a research center. Many martial arts were improved there because more information was available in one place and the monks had the time to practice. Historically speaking the experience was not available at the time of Da Mo for him to be the founder of xingyi. Another reason xingyi is unlikely to have originated in any monastery is its martial flavor.  Whether xingyi was invented there or was introduced from the outside is questionable, but my personal opinion is that xingyi was created by Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] in Xansai [山西].

Posted in Tai Chi, History, Xing Yi, Culture, Shaolin, Chinese Martial Arts | No Comments »

Pure Speculation: Da Mo & Xingyi 達摩與形意

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Da Mo [達摩和尚] came to China from India, first visiting Canton, then Nanking, finally settling at the Shaolin temple on Song mountain. He is famous for facing a wall in meditation for nine years. He died in 535. He is considered the founder of Chan Buddhism, which we also know as Zen Buddhism. Buddhism is well known for emphasizing not killing, as in recommending a vegetarian diet.

One of its concepts or practices is Fu Sim [枯禪], which means dead or motionless. Obviously, Da Mo was not known for moving around much. He probably introduced slow stretching movements to the Shaolin monks, no doubt related to Indian yoga practices.

The concepts of hsing i (xingyi) are all traditional Chinese concepts. For example, the twelve animals [十二形] that you see drawn on the place mat when you sit down at a table in almost any Chinese restaurant. Or, the Five Elements [五行] or Eight Directions [八卦].

These factors considered together indicate that the idea of Da Mo creating the xingyi kungfu system is pure speculation. Although he is a famous historical figure, he preferred motionless meditation to active endeavors and was a follower of Buddhism, an unpopular concept in his time and one contrary to the fierce fighting spirit of xingyi.

Pain Relief

July 15th, 2009

Causes of Pain

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

There are many causes of pain. There may be inflammation of ligaments, muscles, or tendons; fresh or old injury and lingering inflammation; and/or stress. A lot of research has been done on the effects of stress in recent years, and now people are aware of the mind-body relationship. Psychology affects physiology and vice versa. An effective treatment activates your body’s own healing instinct. Your brain will direct the healing procedure. It is important to remember that nature heals — any medicine or treatment slows down the problem to give your body time to heal.

Posted in Health, Pain Relief | No Comments »

9 out of 10

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Nine out of ten martial arts practitioners will get injured, according to Chinese folk wisdom. In old times and up to the time I began learning martial arts, we learned how to handle pain and injury before we started training. Nowadays things are a little different. . . .

I gained medical knowledge from my family and then I researched and practiced on my own. I started helping people repair their injuries when I was in my twenties; now I’ve reached retirement age. After that many years of research into both Western and Eastern medical concepts I have developed a niche method of addressing pain issues to help people achieve significant results. I am still doing it and enjoy helping others, including those who think their case is hopeless.

Proper exercise maintains your good health after you recover from an injury. A little bit of time on a daily basis will help prevent many problems that would otherwise sap your time and money. Promoting proper exercise is my way of giving back to society. If you suffer from physical pain or need a second opinion, call me at 770-938-8227 to make an appointment.

Posted in Famous Sayings, Pain Relief, Chinese Martial Arts, Background, Exercise | No Comments »

What to Expect

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

What can you expect when you come to my office with questions about a pain problem? I provide instruction in exercise and meditation to help you improve your circulation and recover more quickly. My method is based on classic acupuncture theory, but I use no needles. It is different from massage and pressure point therapy. My treatment activates your body’s own repair system to fix your problems. During the initial consultation I can determine if your pain problem will respond to my treatment. Each session lasts about 45 minutes and can be scheduled by telephone.

Meditation

July 15th, 2009

Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

History

July 15th, 2009

Chen Bok [陳摶], founder of Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

XinYi LiuHeBaFa / Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法 was founded by Chen Bok [陳摶](also 陳摶 or 陳希夷), an important figure in Chinese history. He lived at the time of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms [五代十國], or during the Tang and Northern Sung dynasties. Chen was a well-known expert in Daoist philosophy and also believed in organized Daoist religion. He was learned in that area of culture called Yi[醫] Book [卜] Sing [星] Seurng [相], which is medicine, prediction, astrology/astronomy, and face reading. He wrote several books on different subjects such as poetry and qigong, breathing, and exercise. His most famous work is probably Ji Yun Pin [指玄篇], for introducing the concept of Dim Mak [點脈], which has been popular ever since that time.

Dim Mak [點脈] is the skill and knowledge of pressing acupuncture points for the purpose of healing or causing pain. Depending on the time of day, pressing a particular point could cause paralysis or death. A majority of Chinese martial artists believe in this theory, which started with the metal models of the human body showing meridians and points based on Chen Bok’s book. I read manuscripts about dim mak as a child, but I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. In my opinion, the benefits of dim mak for health have been shown, but questions remain about its use for martial arts purposes. If you like that kind of thing, I suggest you do your own research.

Chen created the kung fu style Saam Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat. His student Li Dong Feng [李東風] carried on this art and Ng Yik Gwan [吳翼軍] was the carrier that Wang XiangZhai[王鄉齋] praised in the twentieth century. This style was taught to very few people, so it was almost lost.

Zhang Sanfeng [張三峯]– the founder of taiji [太極拳], which was then a type of Wudong kung fu and not yet known by that name — consulted Chen Bok about Daoist matters. My personal opinion is there were two men of this same name — one in the Sung and another in the Ming dynasty. A lot of people went to see Chen Bok for various reasons to do with Daoism or Yi Book Sing Seurng and many miraculous stories are told about him. He also rejected several offers to become a government official.

He was living on Wah (Hua) Mountain [華山] when Jiu Hong Yan [趙匡胤], the future founder of the Sung dynasty sought him out to consult him about the chaotic situation in China. Chen named him as the future emperor as soon as he saw him. Jiu offered a bet: if he lost and really became Emperor he would give the whole mountain to Chen. Through playing Chinese chess — games could last for days played on a 19×19 square — Chen answered Jiu’s questions about strategy and how to overcome the competing warlords. Sure enough, Chen’s prediction came true. Jiu became the first Song emperor and gave the mountain to Chen.

Posted in History, Culture, Chinese Martial Arts | No Comments »

Historical Note

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Ng Fung Gwan [吳封君], the Mo Jong Yun, was the descendant of a famous figure in Chinese history — Ng Sam Gwai [吳三桂] — who was instrumental in overturning the Ming dynasty.
This general was in charge of defending China’s border with Manchuria. At that time, it was common for men to have multiple wives, especially among the wealthy. When it came to his notice that one of the royals had stolen his favorite wife, he was so mad his hair stood on end, which became a famous saying [沖冠一怒為紅顏]. He made a deal with the Manchurians to open the gate in the Great Wall, allowing the Manchurians to take over China and found the Qing dynasty. As a child I didn’t understand his motivation, but one can imagine his despair at his patriotism and loyalty being repaid by the destruction of his family by those in power.

Posted in History, Famous Sayings | No Comments »

Xing Yi and Shaolin Xin Yi

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Shaolin’s Xin Yi, Sum Yi Ba or Sum Yi Chuen [少林心意, 心意耙, 或心意拳], is said to be similar to xingyi. One theory says it is the basis of xingyi. Shaolin is associated with many styles of martial arts. Why does this one place have access to so much data on the martial arts? Why is the Shaolin Temple so famous?

Before he founded the Tang dynasty, Lei Sai Mun [李世民] fought with many contenders for the throne. He was surrounded by rivals on Song Mountain [嵩山] when 18 monks happened by and ran off the attackers. The Tang dynasty was one of the most famous and powerful. The emperor gifted the Song Mountain area to the temple as a thank you. Shaolin’s fame has been increasing ever since then. Before this time Buddhism was a little-known religion and its main tenet of keeping a mind free of distractions such as wine (addiction) [酒], sex (lust) [色], money (greed) [財], and anger (hatred) [氣], but it spread over all of China and Southeast Asia with royal patronage being a significant factor.

The Shaolin Temple has always been famous for wood rod, or staff, skills. For centuries, its monks have ventured out into unknown territory with only a walking stick for protection. Naturally, monks would not want to carry a weapon, and a knife or other martial tool would certainly make a poor impression on any stranger expecting a peace-loving soul. The reality of the situation was that a traveller on foot could meet wild dogs, tigers, or bandits intent on harm. So that is why kung fu skills were an important part of a monk’s training.

In general, some monks stayed in the monastery and others moved in society attempting to convert and educate those they met. In fact, any monk wanting to advance had to leave the monastery to travel for three to five years to endure hardships and build relationships []. The main purpose of fa yun [化緣] was to spread Buddhism but a beneficial byproduct was it allowed for an exchange of information between the monastery and society at large.

Monks would intentionally approach notorious criminals, hoping to convert them. One of the Buddhist concepts is that saving one very bad person can be better than saving a thousand average people for the simple reason that the one bad person would do more damage. In another scenario, wealthy families might hire a monk known for kung fu skills to tutor their children. In any case, the monks met possible benefactors and also taught and practiced fighting skills while spreading the message of Buddhism.

One famous example of a monk in society is Jai Din [濟顛和尚] of the Sung dynasty. He must have tired of going door-to-door to beg food and attempt to talk to strangers about religion or share his skills in medicine and martial arts. He took to wandering the streets drinking wine and eating meat — two things a monk shouldn’t do! Instead of talking to a few people a day, the whole village swarmed to him to accuse him of insulting the Buddha or just out of curiosity. Those who stayed were drawn into conversation. Eventually he became famous for helping people. He wanted people to realize they didn’t need to waste their time in ritual or slavishly following rules. More important to be a good person. His unconventional method was successful in delivering his message.

Another source of martial arts information for the Shaolin temple was the reformed criminals who turned to religion in later life and defeated warlords hiding out from the king. They dedicated their old skills to helping their new associates.  Over time, a variety of high-quality information was accumulated.

During the later Ming dynasty it happened that hard-style fighters were being laid low by soft-style martial artists. Eventually word got back to Shaolin that their skills weren’t the top of the top. Soft-style kungfu, yao kuen [柔拳], apparently came from the Wu Dong [武當] mountain area and Daoists. It’s related to today’s so-called internal styles of tai chi [太極], bagua [八卦], and certain Wu Dong styles. One of the famous styles at the time was called “If you touch his clothes, you’ll be on the ground” [沾衣十八滾]. Gum Fung Chi [甘鳳池] was a famous Robin Hood-type figure of the Qing dynasty who used that style.

Gok Yun [覺遠] was a monk from a wealthy family who was skilled in  kung fu. His teacher was another Shaolin monk, Hong Wan [洪蕴和尚]. People were already coming from all around to learn from Gok Yun Wo Seurng [覺遠和尚]; however, he realized there was room for improvement, so he traveled around the country looking for more information. Once he got to Gansu [甘肅] he met an old man, Mr. Li [李姓志者] who was famous for chin na [擒拿]. He and his son went with Gok Yun to visit Bak Yuk Fung [白玉峯], a top expert who was originally from Xansai, in Lok Yeurng [洛陽], a city in Henan. They stayed at a temple there and eventually Gok Yun convinced them to go to the Shaolin temple with him. Mr. Li’s son and Bak Yuk Fung converted to monks, taking new names: Ching Wai Wo Seurng [澄慧和尚] and Chau Yut Wo Seurng [秋月和尚]. Eventually old Mr. Li left, but the two new monks researched all the available Shaolin kung fu skills and organized them into five branches: Dragon [龍], Snake [蛇], Tiger [虎], Leopard [豹], Crane [鶴]. Later Gok Yun went to Guangxi [廣西] and met another very famous martial arts master, Ma Si Lung [馬士龍].

During the later part of the Ming dynasty — a millennium after Da Mo — Shaolin developed a more complete kungfu system. In my opinion, the Shaolin temple has been like a research center. Many martial arts were improved there because more information was available in one place and the monks had the time to practice. Historically speaking the experience was not available at the time of Da Mo for him to be the founder of xingyi. Another reason xingyi is unlikely to have originated in any monastery is its martial flavor.  Whether xingyi was invented there or was introduced from the outside is questionable, but my personal opinion is that xingyi was created by Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] in Xansai [山西].

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Pure Speculation: Da Mo & Xingyi 達摩與形意

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Da Mo [達摩和尚] came to China from India, first visiting Canton, then Nanking, finally settling at the Shaolin temple on Song mountain. He is famous for facing a wall in meditation for nine years. He died in 535. He is considered the founder of Chan Buddhism, which we also know as Zen Buddhism. Buddhism is well known for emphasizing not killing, as in recommending a vegetarian diet.

One of its concepts or practices is Fu Sim [枯禪], which means dead or motionless. Obviously, Da Mo was not known for moving around much. He probably introduced slow stretching movements to the Shaolin monks, no doubt related to Indian yoga practices.

The concepts of hsing i (xingyi) are all traditional Chinese concepts. For example, the twelve animals [十二形] that you see drawn on the place mat when you sit down at a table in almost any Chinese restaurant. Or, the Five Elements [五行] or Eight Directions [八卦].

These factors considered together indicate that the idea of Da Mo creating the xingyi kungfu system is pure speculation. Although he is a famous historical figure, he preferred motionless meditation to active endeavors and was a follower of Buddhism, an unpopular concept in his time and one contrary to the fierce fighting spirit of xingyi.

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Did General Yü create xingyi?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

General Yü, or Ok Fei [岳飛], is one of the most famous general in Chinese history. He came from Henan and lived during the Sung dynasty from approximately 1103 to 1141. He learned martial arts from Jau Tung [周同] and spent most of his life in the military. He was an expert in strategy and one of the few who thoroughly understood the famous book The Art of War.  The Northern Sung dynsty was in danger due to invasion by barbarians from Manchuria, and the capital had been moved to the south because of their incursion. They were on the verge of overrunning China but General Yü pushed them back to their starting point. It is said that it’d be easier to destroy a mountain than General Yü’s army. [憾山易, 憾岳家軍難] The general’s fame reached far and wide. Eventually even the emperor feared his power would be eclipsed. He ordered General Yü to withdraw. The general refused. The emperor ordered him to withdraw 10 times, finally ordering the general to patriotically commit suicide by swallowing the gold pallet engraved with the order. [賜死]

General Yü was in the military most of his life and fighting most of that time. Where would he get the time to write a book about xingyi full of sophisticated theory during wartime? Some say Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] found General Yü’s manuscript 500 years later in the mountains where it had been guarded by Daoists. How could this manuscript have been around five centuries without anyone ever hearing of xingyi before that? Surely it would have spread throughout his army at the time. So, it’s really questionable whether General Yü ever wrote the original book on xingyi. Gei lived at the time of the Qing dynasty. The Qing were the same tribe of barbarians General Yü had driven out of China centuries before. The story about xingyi being a lost art from the Sung dynasty is clearly meant to inspire patriotism. If you look into it, you will find many stories about General Yü’s patriotism.

Other stories attribute part of the current Eagle Claw style kung fu to General Yü. Because those particular movements are straightforward and effective and thus perfect for hand-to-hand combat, it is highly possible this art spread from the military to the general society.

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Hebei Xingyi: Gok Wan Sum

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

When Lei Lok Lang retired and went home to Hebei he taught xingyi there too. Gok Wan Sum [郭雲深] was one of his better students. He kept hearing that Gui Wing Wan [車永宏] was better and developed a wish to meet him. Lei said, “No, your skill is too far away; you don’t go over there until I die.”
One story about Gok Wan Sum shows he had a good heart. He always wanted to help the underdog. In one instance, Gok argued with the security guard of a very rich family who was harassing some poor people. During the fight, he killed the guy; he was arrested and sent to jail. Usually a killer would get a death sentence. The judge recognized the extenuating circumstances — Gok didn’t intend to kill anyone and was helping the disadvantaged people — and sentenced him to five years’ jail time instead of death. Gok was put into a big, heavy punishment tool with three holes for the head and hands. He had nothing to do in jail, so he kept practicing xingyi chicken step [雞步] and tiger push [虎撲] while carrying all that extra weight. He was released after three years for good behavior. His teacher Lei sent him traveling to meet more martial arts people before he met his kungfu brother. Gok traveled through 13 states looking for friendly competition. He was never defeated. He earned the name Half Step One Punch [半步崩拳, 打天下]. He defeated all his competition with a half step and one punch. People said if you took his punch, you lost; if you didn’t take his punch, you lost. [招亦輸時, 不招亦輸]
In my opinion, Lei recognized that Gok’s standard was not up to Gui’s and wanted him to practice more before he went to Xansai. Eventually Gok traveled to meet Gui after Lei passed away. Gui was happy to meet his kungfu brother from another state. Gok was anxious to test their skills and find out why Lei said Gui was so much better. Gui said, “No, no, rest awhile after your trip, enjoy the sights, etc.” So after two weeks, Gok brought up the subject again and they cleared a space to play. Gok kept attacking and Gui retreating till he was cornered. Gok used the famous bung chuen [崩拳] and thought he might hit his target, but Gui disappeared and avoided the punch and put his hand on Gok’s shoulder at the same time. It was a draw. Gok said it was no wonder Lei said Gui was better. Gui said he didn’t think anyone could take Gok’s punch. Gui asked Gok to stay for awhile to exchange opinions.
Lei only taught half the xingyi system to his Hebei students. After he died, his top students went to Xansai to learn the other half. One of the famous ones was Lei Chun Yi [李存義].

Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi

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Xansai Xingyi: Gui Wing Wan

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Lei Lok Lang [李洛能] eventually moved to another town, Tai Gook [太谷縣] – where most of the rich people lived – because he worked in the security business. He taught xingyi to children of the wealthy families as well. Gui Wing Wan [車永宏] was a laborer for one of the rich families, Mo [武式], feeding the horses, oxen, and such. He became curious about the noises he heard while working early mornings and late nights. He saw Lei Lok Lang was teaching and his students were making the explosive power noises that martial artists do. He started practicing the movements he’d seen. He picked up the Five Movements and walking by practicing on his own. One day, Lei Lok Lang came back early and saw this youngster practicing xingyi while he was walking through the farmyard. He saw he was pretty good after watching for a while and thought he might have learned from a local teacher. When Lei approached Gui and asked him where he’d learnt xingyi, Gui was scared because he thought he might lose his job over this incident. Gui knelt down and explained he’d watched Lei teaching and had been practicing on his own. Lei reflected on how hard it is to learn martial arts and saw that Gui had real potential, so he took him on as a student on his own time. After teaching Gui for a few years, Lei was able to hand over his security business to Gui and retire to Hebei. Gui is one of the major figures in Xansai xingyi. He taught rich and poor students alike, which made him well-known.

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Xansai and Hebei Xingyi

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Now let’s look at some of the major players in the history of xingyi in Xansai and Hebei. Of course there were many more xingyi practitioners, but these are the ones I’ve heard of.

Lei Lok Lang [李洛能] was a very good martial artist from Hebei, who was born around the turn of the nineteenth century. He was interested in the subject and traveled the state looking to learn more. He made his living by demonstrating his skills in whatever town square he happened to find himself in and usually onlookers would throw him money after the show. He heard about Xansai’s xingyi so went over there. He was in Xansai for a while, doing his usual thing but he didn’t attract much attention. No one seemed to be interested in a friendly contest or sharing of opinions on martial arts. So he changed his tactics when he went to a town called Mun Cook Chune [文曲村], famous for its xingyi masters. This time he ran his mouth, saying he’d traveled the whole country and remained unbeaten. In fact, he hadn’t seen any good martial artists since he got here. Now, raising Cain in a town famous for its martial arts may not seem too bright — it’s kinda like going to your local high school on Friday night and saying you don’t see any football players — someone’s gonna put you in your place.

So, word got around about the nutcase in the marketplace boasting about his kungfu skill. Some neighbors of Gok Wei Han [郭維漢], a teacher, saw Lei and told Gok about this new phenomenon. He went over there to see this guy and arrived in the middle of one of Lei’s kungfu demonstrations. He could see that his kungfu was in fact pretty good so he stayed to watch. He approached Lei afterwards, asking why he’d come. Lei said he was looking for some good martial artists willing to share their experience and asked did Gok know anyone? Gok offered to play with him. Lei looked at this bookish person and said, “What, You? You understand a contest is not for fun, right? Someone could get hurt or injured.” As Gok didn’t back down, Lei offered him his choice of weapons. Gok replied that since Lei was holding a spear they might as well use that and he had his walking stick, so they were ready. You can imagine the look of surprise on Lei’s face. After the preliminaries Gok flipped Lei’s spear ten feet away at the first clash. Using the famous Dragon Chicken Step [龍形雞步], Gok approached Lei and used his stick to flip Lei, who ended up on the ground a few feet away. Gok politely thanked him for letting him win [sing yeurng, sing yeurng] and left. Lei was stunned — by the time he recognized what had happened Gok had disappeared into the crowd. Lei realized he’d finally found the really good martial arts people he’d been looking for and asked after his mystery opponent until he found out who he was and where he lived.

Lei went that evening to explain to Gok that he’d only wanted to find a good teacher and that was why he’d said those rude and boastful things in the town square. They had a very good conversation. Lei knelt down, asking Gok to accept him as a student; Gok refused, saying they could be friends and in the morning he would introduce him to his teacher, Dai Long Bong [戴龍邦], who was also a relative. Dai had learned xingyi from Cho Gei Mo [曹繼武], a top student of the founder, Gei Lun Feng.

Dai Long Bong was famous for teaching only within his family. It was said you might see a Dai knocking you out, but you would never see them training. So everyone was really surprised when Dai accepted Lei as his student on the spot. Most likely he recognized his potential and appreciated his sincerity. Lei worked on the farm in the daytime and learned martial arts in the evening, which was a typical arrangement at that time in China.

One day about ten years later,  his teacher wore some special clothes — a mail shirt made of coins strung together with silk. He wanted to test Lei and told him to hit him. He did and the vest bust, scattering coins all around. His teacher was very happy and told Lei he could graduate now. Shortly afterwards there was a big birthday celebration for Dai’s mother, and Lei was asked to make a demonstration to entertain the guests. When he finished, Dai’s mother asked him why he didn’t go further. Lei responded, “Ma’am, that’s all I know.” She turned to her son and asked why he didn’t teach him the rest. From that point on, Lei learned the entire xingyi system.

Lei stayed in Xansai working as the most well-known bodyguard for the wealthiest families and teaching them martial arts. He earned the nickname “God Fist” since his skills were so superior to any of his opponent’s.

21

43

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8Xansai Eight Movements

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Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

Health

July 15th, 2009

Chen Bok [陳摶], founder of Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

XinYi LiuHeBaFa / Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法 was founded by Chen Bok [陳摶](also 陳摶 or 陳希夷), an important figure in Chinese history. He lived at the time of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms [五代十國], or during the Tang and Northern Sung dynasties. Chen was a well-known expert in Daoist philosophy and also believed in organized Daoist religion. He was learned in that area of culture called Yi[醫] Book [卜] Sing [星] Seurng [相], which is medicine, prediction, astrology/astronomy, and face reading. He wrote several books on different subjects such as poetry and qigong, breathing, and exercise. His most famous work is probably Ji Yun Pin [指玄篇], for introducing the concept of Dim Mak [點脈], which has been popular ever since that time.

Dim Mak [點脈] is the skill and knowledge of pressing acupuncture points for the purpose of healing or causing pain. Depending on the time of day, pressing a particular point could cause paralysis or death. A majority of Chinese martial artists believe in this theory, which started with the metal models of the human body showing meridians and points based on Chen Bok’s book. I read manuscripts about dim mak as a child, but I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. In my opinion, the benefits of dim mak for health have been shown, but questions remain about its use for martial arts purposes. If you like that kind of thing, I suggest you do your own research.

Chen created the kung fu style Saam Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat. His student Li Dong Feng [李東風] carried on this art and Ng Yik Gwan [吳翼軍] was the carrier that Wang XiangZhai[王鄉齋] praised in the twentieth century. This style was taught to very few people, so it was almost lost.

Zhang Sanfeng [張三峯]– the founder of taiji [太極拳], which was then a type of Wudong kung fu and not yet known by that name — consulted Chen Bok about Daoist matters. My personal opinion is there were two men of this same name — one in the Sung and another in the Ming dynasty. A lot of people went to see Chen Bok for various reasons to do with Daoism or Yi Book Sing Seurng and many miraculous stories are told about him. He also rejected several offers to become a government official.

He was living on Wah (Hua) Mountain [華山] when Jiu Hong Yan [趙匡胤], the future founder of the Sung dynasty sought him out to consult him about the chaotic situation in China. Chen named him as the future emperor as soon as he saw him. Jiu offered a bet: if he lost and really became Emperor he would give the whole mountain to Chen. Through playing Chinese chess — games could last for days played on a 19×19 square — Chen answered Jiu’s questions about strategy and how to overcome the competing warlords. Sure enough, Chen’s prediction came true. Jiu became the first Song emperor and gave the mountain to Chen.

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Historical Note

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Ng Fung Gwan [吳封君], the Mo Jong Yun, was the descendant of a famous figure in Chinese history — Ng Sam Gwai [吳三桂] — who was instrumental in overturning the Ming dynasty.
This general was in charge of defending China’s border with Manchuria. At that time, it was common for men to have multiple wives, especially among the wealthy. When it came to his notice that one of the royals had stolen his favorite wife, he was so mad his hair stood on end, which became a famous saying [沖冠一怒為紅顏]. He made a deal with the Manchurians to open the gate in the Great Wall, allowing the Manchurians to take over China and found the Qing dynasty. As a child I didn’t understand his motivation, but one can imagine his despair at his patriotism and loyalty being repaid by the destruction of his family by those in power.

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Xing Yi and Shaolin Xin Yi

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Shaolin’s Xin Yi, Sum Yi Ba or Sum Yi Chuen [少林心意, 心意耙, 或心意拳], is said to be similar to xingyi. One theory says it is the basis of xingyi. Shaolin is associated with many styles of martial arts. Why does this one place have access to so much data on the martial arts? Why is the Shaolin Temple so famous?

Before he founded the Tang dynasty, Lei Sai Mun [李世民] fought with many contenders for the throne. He was surrounded by rivals on Song Mountain [嵩山] when 18 monks happened by and ran off the attackers. The Tang dynasty was one of the most famous and powerful. The emperor gifted the Song Mountain area to the temple as a thank you. Shaolin’s fame has been increasing ever since then. Before this time Buddhism was a little-known religion and its main tenet of keeping a mind free of distractions such as wine (addiction) [酒], sex (lust) [色], money (greed) [財], and anger (hatred) [氣], but it spread over all of China and Southeast Asia with royal patronage being a significant factor.

The Shaolin Temple has always been famous for wood rod, or staff, skills. For centuries, its monks have ventured out into unknown territory with only a walking stick for protection. Naturally, monks would not want to carry a weapon, and a knife or other martial tool would certainly make a poor impression on any stranger expecting a peace-loving soul. The reality of the situation was that a traveller on foot could meet wild dogs, tigers, or bandits intent on harm. So that is why kung fu skills were an important part of a monk’s training.

In general, some monks stayed in the monastery and others moved in society attempting to convert and educate those they met. In fact, any monk wanting to advance had to leave the monastery to travel for three to five years to endure hardships and build relationships []. The main purpose of fa yun [化緣] was to spread Buddhism but a beneficial byproduct was it allowed for an exchange of information between the monastery and society at large.

Monks would intentionally approach notorious criminals, hoping to convert them. One of the Buddhist concepts is that saving one very bad person can be better than saving a thousand average people for the simple reason that the one bad person would do more damage. In another scenario, wealthy families might hire a monk known for kung fu skills to tutor their children. In any case, the monks met possible benefactors and also taught and practiced fighting skills while spreading the message of Buddhism.

One famous example of a monk in society is Jai Din [濟顛和尚] of the Sung dynasty. He must have tired of going door-to-door to beg food and attempt to talk to strangers about religion or share his skills in medicine and martial arts. He took to wandering the streets drinking wine and eating meat — two things a monk shouldn’t do! Instead of talking to a few people a day, the whole village swarmed to him to accuse him of insulting the Buddha or just out of curiosity. Those who stayed were drawn into conversation. Eventually he became famous for helping people. He wanted people to realize they didn’t need to waste their time in ritual or slavishly following rules. More important to be a good person. His unconventional method was successful in delivering his message.

Another source of martial arts information for the Shaolin temple was the reformed criminals who turned to religion in later life and defeated warlords hiding out from the king. They dedicated their old skills to helping their new associates.  Over time, a variety of high-quality information was accumulated.

During the later Ming dynasty it happened that hard-style fighters were being laid low by soft-style martial artists. Eventually word got back to Shaolin that their skills weren’t the top of the top. Soft-style kungfu, yao kuen [柔拳], apparently came from the Wu Dong [武當] mountain area and Daoists. It’s related to today’s so-called internal styles of tai chi [太極], bagua [八卦], and certain Wu Dong styles. One of the famous styles at the time was called “If you touch his clothes, you’ll be on the ground” [沾衣十八滾]. Gum Fung Chi [甘鳳池] was a famous Robin Hood-type figure of the Qing dynasty who used that style.

Gok Yun [覺遠] was a monk from a wealthy family who was skilled in  kung fu. His teacher was another Shaolin monk, Hong Wan [洪蕴和尚]. People were already coming from all around to learn from Gok Yun Wo Seurng [覺遠和尚]; however, he realized there was room for improvement, so he traveled around the country looking for more information. Once he got to Gansu [甘肅] he met an old man, Mr. Li [李姓志者] who was famous for chin na [擒拿]. He and his son went with Gok Yun to visit Bak Yuk Fung [白玉峯], a top expert who was originally from Xansai, in Lok Yeurng [洛陽], a city in Henan. They stayed at a temple there and eventually Gok Yun convinced them to go to the Shaolin temple with him. Mr. Li’s son and Bak Yuk Fung converted to monks, taking new names: Ching Wai Wo Seurng [澄慧和尚] and Chau Yut Wo Seurng [秋月和尚]. Eventually old Mr. Li left, but the two new monks researched all the available Shaolin kung fu skills and organized them into five branches: Dragon [龍], Snake [蛇], Tiger [虎], Leopard [豹], Crane [鶴]. Later Gok Yun went to Guangxi [廣西] and met another very famous martial arts master, Ma Si Lung [馬士龍].

During the later part of the Ming dynasty — a millennium after Da Mo — Shaolin developed a more complete kungfu system. In my opinion, the Shaolin temple has been like a research center. Many martial arts were improved there because more information was available in one place and the monks had the time to practice. Historically speaking the experience was not available at the time of Da Mo for him to be the founder of xingyi. Another reason xingyi is unlikely to have originated in any monastery is its martial flavor.  Whether xingyi was invented there or was introduced from the outside is questionable, but my personal opinion is that xingyi was created by Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] in Xansai [山西].

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Pure Speculation: Da Mo & Xingyi 達摩與形意

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Da Mo [達摩和尚] came to China from India, first visiting Canton, then Nanking, finally settling at the Shaolin temple on Song mountain. He is famous for facing a wall in meditation for nine years. He died in 535. He is considered the founder of Chan Buddhism, which we also know as Zen Buddhism. Buddhism is well known for emphasizing not killing, as in recommending a vegetarian diet.

One of its concepts or practices is Fu Sim [枯禪], which means dead or motionless. Obviously, Da Mo was not known for moving around much. He probably introduced slow stretching movements to the Shaolin monks, no doubt related to Indian yoga practices.

The concepts of hsing i (xingyi) are all traditional Chinese concepts. For example, the twelve animals [十二形] that you see drawn on the place mat when you sit down at a table in almost any Chinese restaurant. Or, the Five Elements [五行] or Eight Directions [八卦].

These factors considered together indicate that the idea of Da Mo creating the xingyi kungfu system is pure speculation. Although he is a famous historical figure, he preferred motionless meditation to active endeavors and was a follower of Buddhism, an unpopular concept in his time and one contrary to the fierce fighting spirit of xingyi.

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Did General Yü create xingyi?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

General Yü, or Ok Fei [岳飛], is one of the most famous general in Chinese history. He came from Henan and lived during the Sung dynasty from approximately 1103 to 1141. He learned martial arts from Jau Tung [周同] and spent most of his life in the military. He was an expert in strategy and one of the few who thoroughly understood the famous book The Art of War.  The Northern Sung dynsty was in danger due to invasion by barbarians from Manchuria, and the capital had been moved to the south because of their incursion. They were on the verge of overrunning China but General Yü pushed them back to their starting point. It is said that it’d be easier to destroy a mountain than General Yü’s army. [憾山易, 憾岳家軍難] The general’s fame reached far and wide. Eventually even the emperor feared his power would be eclipsed. He ordered General Yü to withdraw. The general refused. The emperor ordered him to withdraw 10 times, finally ordering the general to patriotically commit suicide by swallowing the gold pallet engraved with the order. [賜死]

General Yü was in the military most of his life and fighting most of that time. Where would he get the time to write a book about xingyi full of sophisticated theory during wartime? Some say Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] found General Yü’s manuscript 500 years later in the mountains where it had been guarded by Daoists. How could this manuscript have been around five centuries without anyone ever hearing of xingyi before that? Surely it would have spread throughout his army at the time. So, it’s really questionable whether General Yü ever wrote the original book on xingyi. Gei lived at the time of the Qing dynasty. The Qing were the same tribe of barbarians General Yü had driven out of China centuries before. The story about xingyi being a lost art from the Sung dynasty is clearly meant to inspire patriotism. If you look into it, you will find many stories about General Yü’s patriotism.

Other stories attribute part of the current Eagle Claw style kung fu to General Yü. Because those particular movements are straightforward and effective and thus perfect for hand-to-hand combat, it is highly possible this art spread from the military to the general society.

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Hebei Xingyi: Gok Wan Sum

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

When Lei Lok Lang retired and went home to Hebei he taught xingyi there too. Gok Wan Sum [郭雲深] was one of his better students. He kept hearing that Gui Wing Wan [車永宏] was better and developed a wish to meet him. Lei said, “No, your skill is too far away; you don’t go over there until I die.”
One story about Gok Wan Sum shows he had a good heart. He always wanted to help the underdog. In one instance, Gok argued with the security guard of a very rich family who was harassing some poor people. During the fight, he killed the guy; he was arrested and sent to jail. Usually a killer would get a death sentence. The judge recognized the extenuating circumstances — Gok didn’t intend to kill anyone and was helping the disadvantaged people — and sentenced him to five years’ jail time instead of death. Gok was put into a big, heavy punishment tool with three holes for the head and hands. He had nothing to do in jail, so he kept practicing xingyi chicken step [雞步] and tiger push [虎撲] while carrying all that extra weight. He was released after three years for good behavior. His teacher Lei sent him traveling to meet more martial arts people before he met his kungfu brother. Gok traveled through 13 states looking for friendly competition. He was never defeated. He earned the name Half Step One Punch [半步崩拳, 打天下]. He defeated all his competition with a half step and one punch. People said if you took his punch, you lost; if you didn’t take his punch, you lost. [招亦輸時, 不招亦輸]
In my opinion, Lei recognized that Gok’s standard was not up to Gui’s and wanted him to practice more before he went to Xansai. Eventually Gok traveled to meet Gui after Lei passed away. Gui was happy to meet his kungfu brother from another state. Gok was anxious to test their skills and find out why Lei said Gui was so much better. Gui said, “No, no, rest awhile after your trip, enjoy the sights, etc.” So after two weeks, Gok brought up the subject again and they cleared a space to play. Gok kept attacking and Gui retreating till he was cornered. Gok used the famous bung chuen [崩拳] and thought he might hit his target, but Gui disappeared and avoided the punch and put his hand on Gok’s shoulder at the same time. It was a draw. Gok said it was no wonder Lei said Gui was better. Gui said he didn’t think anyone could take Gok’s punch. Gui asked Gok to stay for awhile to exchange opinions.
Lei only taught half the xingyi system to his Hebei students. After he died, his top students went to Xansai to learn the other half. One of the famous ones was Lei Chun Yi [李存義].

Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi
Hebei Xingyi

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Xansai Xingyi: Gui Wing Wan

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Lei Lok Lang [李洛能] eventually moved to another town, Tai Gook [太谷縣] – where most of the rich people lived – because he worked in the security business. He taught xingyi to children of the wealthy families as well. Gui Wing Wan [車永宏] was a laborer for one of the rich families, Mo [武式], feeding the horses, oxen, and such. He became curious about the noises he heard while working early mornings and late nights. He saw Lei Lok Lang was teaching and his students were making the explosive power noises that martial artists do. He started practicing the movements he’d seen. He picked up the Five Movements and walking by practicing on his own. One day, Lei Lok Lang came back early and saw this youngster practicing xingyi while he was walking through the farmyard. He saw he was pretty good after watching for a while and thought he might have learned from a local teacher. When Lei approached Gui and asked him where he’d learnt xingyi, Gui was scared because he thought he might lose his job over this incident. Gui knelt down and explained he’d watched Lei teaching and had been practicing on his own. Lei reflected on how hard it is to learn martial arts and saw that Gui had real potential, so he took him on as a student on his own time. After teaching Gui for a few years, Lei was able to hand over his security business to Gui and retire to Hebei. Gui is one of the major figures in Xansai xingyi. He taught rich and poor students alike, which made him well-known.

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Xansai and Hebei Xingyi

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Now let’s look at some of the major players in the history of xingyi in Xansai and Hebei. Of course there were many more xingyi practitioners, but these are the ones I’ve heard of.

Lei Lok Lang [李洛能] was a very good martial artist from Hebei, who was born around the turn of the nineteenth century. He was interested in the subject and traveled the state looking to learn more. He made his living by demonstrating his skills in whatever town square he happened to find himself in and usually onlookers would throw him money after the show. He heard about Xansai’s xingyi so went over there. He was in Xansai for a while, doing his usual thing but he didn’t attract much attention. No one seemed to be interested in a friendly contest or sharing of opinions on martial arts. So he changed his tactics when he went to a town called Mun Cook Chune [文曲村], famous for its xingyi masters. This time he ran his mouth, saying he’d traveled the whole country and remained unbeaten. In fact, he hadn’t seen any good martial artists since he got here. Now, raising Cain in a town famous for its martial arts may not seem too bright — it’s kinda like going to your local high school on Friday night and saying you don’t see any football players — someone’s gonna put you in your place.

So, word got around about the nutcase in the marketplace boasting about his kungfu skill. Some neighbors of Gok Wei Han [郭維漢], a teacher, saw Lei and told Gok about this new phenomenon. He went over there to see this guy and arrived in the middle of one of Lei’s kungfu demonstrations. He could see that his kungfu was in fact pretty good so he stayed to watch. He approached Lei afterwards, asking why he’d come. Lei said he was looking for some good martial artists willing to share their experience and asked did Gok know anyone? Gok offered to play with him. Lei looked at this bookish person and said, “What, You? You understand a contest is not for fun, right? Someone could get hurt or injured.” As Gok didn’t back down, Lei offered him his choice of weapons. Gok replied that since Lei was holding a spear they might as well use that and he had his walking stick, so they were ready. You can imagine the look of surprise on Lei’s face. After the preliminaries Gok flipped Lei’s spear ten feet away at the first clash. Using the famous Dragon Chicken Step [龍形雞步], Gok approached Lei and used his stick to flip Lei, who ended up on the ground a few feet away. Gok politely thanked him for letting him win [sing yeurng, sing yeurng] and left. Lei was stunned — by the time he recognized what had happened Gok had disappeared into the crowd. Lei realized he’d finally found the really good martial arts people he’d been looking for and asked after his mystery opponent until he found out who he was and where he lived.

Lei went that evening to explain to Gok that he’d only wanted to find a good teacher and that was why he’d said those rude and boastful things in the town square. They had a very good conversation. Lei knelt down, asking Gok to accept him as a student; Gok refused, saying they could be friends and in the morning he would introduce him to his teacher, Dai Long Bong [戴龍邦], who was also a relative. Dai had learned xingyi from Cho Gei Mo [曹繼武], a top student of the founder, Gei Lun Feng.

Dai Long Bong was famous for teaching only within his family. It was said you might see a Dai knocking you out, but you would never see them training. So everyone was really surprised when Dai accepted Lei as his student on the spot. Most likely he recognized his potential and appreciated his sincerity. Lei worked on the farm in the daytime and learned martial arts in the evening, which was a typical arrangement at that time in China.

One day about ten years later,  his teacher wore some special clothes — a mail shirt made of coins strung together with silk. He wanted to test Lei and told him to hit him. He did and the vest bust, scattering coins all around. His teacher was very happy and told Lei he could graduate now. Shortly afterwards there was a big birthday celebration for Dai’s mother, and Lei was asked to make a demonstration to entertain the guests. When he finished, Dai’s mother asked him why he didn’t go further. Lei responded, “Ma’am, that’s all I know.” She turned to her son and asked why he didn’t teach him the rest. From that point on, Lei learned the entire xingyi system.

Lei stayed in Xansai working as the most well-known bodyguard for the wealthiest families and teaching them martial arts. He earned the nickname “God Fist” since his skills were so superior to any of his opponent’s.

21

43

65

8Xansai Eight Movements

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Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

Famous Sayings

July 14th, 2009

Historical Note

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Ng Fung Gwan [吳封君], the Mo Jong Yun, was the descendant of a famous figure in Chinese history — Ng Sam Gwai [吳三桂] — who was instrumental in overturning the Ming dynasty.
This general was in charge of defending China’s border with Manchuria. At that time, it was common for men to have multiple wives, especially among the wealthy. When it came to his notice that one of the royals had stolen his favorite wife, he was so mad his hair stood on end, which became a famous saying [沖冠一怒為紅顏]. He made a deal with the Manchurians to open the gate in the Great Wall, allowing the Manchurians to take over China and found the Qing dynasty. As a child I didn’t understand his motivation, but one can imagine his despair at his patriotism and loyalty being repaid by the destruction of his family by those in power.

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Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

Posted in History, Xing Yi, Meditation, Famous Sayings, Health, Chinese Martial Arts, Exercise | No Comments »

9 out of 10

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Nine out of ten martial arts practitioners will get injured, according to Chinese folk wisdom. In old times and up to the time I began learning martial arts, we learned how to handle pain and injury before we started training. Nowadays things are a little different. . . .

I gained medical knowledge from my family and then I researched and practiced on my own. I started helping people repair their injuries when I was in my twenties; now I’ve reached retirement age. After that many years of research into both Western and Eastern medical concepts I have developed a niche method of addressing pain issues to help people achieve significant results. I am still doing it and enjoy helping others, including those who think their case is hopeless.

Proper exercise maintains your good health after you recover from an injury. A little bit of time on a daily basis will help prevent many problems that would otherwise sap your time and money. Promoting proper exercise is my way of giving back to society. If you suffer from physical pain or need a second opinion, call me at 770-938-8227 to make an appointment.

Exercise

July 14th, 2009

Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

Posted in History, Xing Yi, Meditation, Famous Sayings, Health, Chinese Martial Arts, Exercise | No Comments »

What does the name xingyi really mean?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Xing equals physical coordination and balance. Yi equals mind. The mind directs your physical responses. Integrate mind and body, so as soon as you think of it your body responds. The two are no longer separate. Your mind and body become one unit and respond together. If you can do that, you can become a good martial artist.

Often when people practice martial arts they overemphasize what the movement is and what the body looks like. You may look good, but is there content there? The shape is correct, but the mind is absent.

Also, they continue stressing themselves out when they can’t make the exact movement. They don’t give their body time to adjust to the new movement and lose the thread of what they were working on.

Another problem people have is overemphasizing thinking about chi and expecting to get power. They misunderstand the meaning of “chi.” Everybody has energy. How do you direct it? Without the correct training procedure you are just dreaming of chi.

Chi starts with fresh air. Air enters the body and your metabolism transforms outside energy into body energy. The mind can direct the energy to reach every cell of your body. If you can do that, then we are talking about chi! How can you do that? Step-by-step training can help you. Different styles of Chinese martial arts have different approaches. Otherwise you’re “cooking rice soup without rice”! This is a very basic explanation about chi; certainly, it is a very complicated subject.

People are chasing the miracle power. By instinct people can mobilize every part of their body (muscle, bone, tendon, etc.) to deliver power to one spot. We’ve all read or heard about the skinny mother raising the heavy object, like a car, to save her child. Martial arts training allows the practitioner to use that power whenever they need it. That is the difference.

WARNING: If you want to get to that high level, you must train right before you use any explosive power. Any weak point in your body will interfere with your coordination and balance and will cause damage, often in the heart or brain. Many famous masters have died or suffered a stroke in their late 40s and early 50s – do some research. If you have a weak foundation on a one-story building, it will crack under the strain of a second or third floor. You have to continually improve your coordination and balance as your strength increases. What is the difference between shooting a BB gun and a .357?

Xingyichuan has five movements representing five kinds of force. Henan style has ten animals; Hebei and Xanshi style have twelve animals. Another practice mistake is that people try to imitate animals’ appearance exactly instead of catching the fighting spirit or natural ability. This tendency leads to many unnecessary forms. We do have to drill; however, in reality, a fight won’t exactly match your form or drill. Your basic skills have to be good enough to adjust to the situation at hand. Just because you know a form doesn’t mean you can fight! A typical example we’ve all heard of is when someone who has taken lessons for ten years gets beat up by a street fighter.

I suggest people who are serious about learning high-level martial arts research Chinese culture. It emphasizes the importance of your mindset. Without using your mind you are like a man without a net looking at the ocean and wanting to catch fish. In other words, your mind should be the commander-in-chief and your arms and legs your army, navy, air force and marines.

. . .to be continued. . .

 

Posted in Xing Yi, Culture, Chinese Martial Arts, Exercise | No Comments »

9 out of 10

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Nine out of ten martial arts practitioners will get injured, according to Chinese folk wisdom. In old times and up to the time I began learning martial arts, we learned how to handle pain and injury before we started training. Nowadays things are a little different. . . .

I gained medical knowledge from my family and then I researched and practiced on my own. I started helping people repair their injuries when I was in my twenties; now I’ve reached retirement age. After that many years of research into both Western and Eastern medical concepts I have developed a niche method of addressing pain issues to help people achieve significant results. I am still doing it and enjoy helping others, including those who think their case is hopeless.

Proper exercise maintains your good health after you recover from an injury. A little bit of time on a daily basis will help prevent many problems that would otherwise sap your time and money. Promoting proper exercise is my way of giving back to society. If you suffer from physical pain or need a second opinion, call me at 770-938-8227 to make an appointment.

Posted in Famous Sayings, Pain Relief, Chinese Martial Arts, Background, Exercise | No Comments »

What to Expect

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

What can you expect when you come to my office with questions about a pain problem? I provide instruction in exercise and meditation to help you improve your circulation and recover more quickly. My method is based on classic acupuncture theory, but I use no needles. It is different from massage and pressure point therapy. My treatment activates your body’s own repair system to fix your problems. During the initial consultation I can determine if your pain problem will respond to my treatment. Each session lasts about 45 minutes and can be scheduled by telephone.

Culture

July 14th, 2009

Chen Bok [陳摶], founder of Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

XinYi LiuHeBaFa / Sum Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat / 心意六合八法 was founded by Chen Bok [陳摶](also 陳摶 or 陳希夷), an important figure in Chinese history. He lived at the time of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms [五代十國], or during the Tang and Northern Sung dynasties. Chen was a well-known expert in Daoist philosophy and also believed in organized Daoist religion. He was learned in that area of culture called Yi[醫] Book [卜] Sing [星] Seurng [相], which is medicine, prediction, astrology/astronomy, and face reading. He wrote several books on different subjects such as poetry and qigong, breathing, and exercise. His most famous work is probably Ji Yun Pin [指玄篇], for introducing the concept of Dim Mak [點脈], which has been popular ever since that time.

Dim Mak [點脈] is the skill and knowledge of pressing acupuncture points for the purpose of healing or causing pain. Depending on the time of day, pressing a particular point could cause paralysis or death. A majority of Chinese martial artists believe in this theory, which started with the metal models of the human body showing meridians and points based on Chen Bok’s book. I read manuscripts about dim mak as a child, but I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. In my opinion, the benefits of dim mak for health have been shown, but questions remain about its use for martial arts purposes. If you like that kind of thing, I suggest you do your own research.

Chen created the kung fu style Saam Yi Lok Hap Baat Faat. His student Li Dong Feng [李東風] carried on this art and Ng Yik Gwan [吳翼軍] was the carrier that Wang XiangZhai[王鄉齋] praised in the twentieth century. This style was taught to very few people, so it was almost lost.

Zhang Sanfeng [張三峯]– the founder of taiji [太極拳], which was then a type of Wudong kung fu and not yet known by that name — consulted Chen Bok about Daoist matters. My personal opinion is there were two men of this same name — one in the Sung and another in the Ming dynasty. A lot of people went to see Chen Bok for various reasons to do with Daoism or Yi Book Sing Seurng and many miraculous stories are told about him. He also rejected several offers to become a government official.

He was living on Wah (Hua) Mountain [華山] when Jiu Hong Yan [趙匡胤], the future founder of the Sung dynasty sought him out to consult him about the chaotic situation in China. Chen named him as the future emperor as soon as he saw him. Jiu offered a bet: if he lost and really became Emperor he would give the whole mountain to Chen. Through playing Chinese chess — games could last for days played on a 19×19 square — Chen answered Jiu’s questions about strategy and how to overcome the competing warlords. Sure enough, Chen’s prediction came true. Jiu became the first Song emperor and gave the mountain to Chen.

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Historical Note

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Ng Fung Gwan [吳封君], the Mo Jong Yun, was the descendant of a famous figure in Chinese history — Ng Sam Gwai [吳三桂] — who was instrumental in overturning the Ming dynasty.
This general was in charge of defending China’s border with Manchuria. At that time, it was common for men to have multiple wives, especially among the wealthy. When it came to his notice that one of the royals had stolen his favorite wife, he was so mad his hair stood on end, which became a famous saying [沖冠一怒為紅顏]. He made a deal with the Manchurians to open the gate in the Great Wall, allowing the Manchurians to take over China and found the Qing dynasty. As a child I didn’t understand his motivation, but one can imagine his despair at his patriotism and loyalty being repaid by the destruction of his family by those in power.

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Xing Yi and Shaolin Xin Yi

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Shaolin’s Xin Yi, Sum Yi Ba or Sum Yi Chuen [少林心意, 心意耙, 或心意拳], is said to be similar to xingyi. One theory says it is the basis of xingyi. Shaolin is associated with many styles of martial arts. Why does this one place have access to so much data on the martial arts? Why is the Shaolin Temple so famous?

Before he founded the Tang dynasty, Lei Sai Mun [李世民] fought with many contenders for the throne. He was surrounded by rivals on Song Mountain [嵩山] when 18 monks happened by and ran off the attackers. The Tang dynasty was one of the most famous and powerful. The emperor gifted the Song Mountain area to the temple as a thank you. Shaolin’s fame has been increasing ever since then. Before this time Buddhism was a little-known religion and its main tenet of keeping a mind free of distractions such as wine (addiction) [酒], sex (lust) [色], money (greed) [財], and anger (hatred) [氣], but it spread over all of China and Southeast Asia with royal patronage being a significant factor.

The Shaolin Temple has always been famous for wood rod, or staff, skills. For centuries, its monks have ventured out into unknown territory with only a walking stick for protection. Naturally, monks would not want to carry a weapon, and a knife or other martial tool would certainly make a poor impression on any stranger expecting a peace-loving soul. The reality of the situation was that a traveller on foot could meet wild dogs, tigers, or bandits intent on harm. So that is why kung fu skills were an important part of a monk’s training.

In general, some monks stayed in the monastery and others moved in society attempting to convert and educate those they met. In fact, any monk wanting to advance had to leave the monastery to travel for three to five years to endure hardships and build relationships []. The main purpose of fa yun [化緣] was to spread Buddhism but a beneficial byproduct was it allowed for an exchange of information between the monastery and society at large.

Monks would intentionally approach notorious criminals, hoping to convert them. One of the Buddhist concepts is that saving one very bad person can be better than saving a thousand average people for the simple reason that the one bad person would do more damage. In another scenario, wealthy families might hire a monk known for kung fu skills to tutor their children. In any case, the monks met possible benefactors and also taught and practiced fighting skills while spreading the message of Buddhism.

One famous example of a monk in society is Jai Din [濟顛和尚] of the Sung dynasty. He must have tired of going door-to-door to beg food and attempt to talk to strangers about religion or share his skills in medicine and martial arts. He took to wandering the streets drinking wine and eating meat — two things a monk shouldn’t do! Instead of talking to a few people a day, the whole village swarmed to him to accuse him of insulting the Buddha or just out of curiosity. Those who stayed were drawn into conversation. Eventually he became famous for helping people. He wanted people to realize they didn’t need to waste their time in ritual or slavishly following rules. More important to be a good person. His unconventional method was successful in delivering his message.

Another source of martial arts information for the Shaolin temple was the reformed criminals who turned to religion in later life and defeated warlords hiding out from the king. They dedicated their old skills to helping their new associates.  Over time, a variety of high-quality information was accumulated.

During the later Ming dynasty it happened that hard-style fighters were being laid low by soft-style martial artists. Eventually word got back to Shaolin that their skills weren’t the top of the top. Soft-style kungfu, yao kuen [柔拳], apparently came from the Wu Dong [武當] mountain area and Daoists. It’s related to today’s so-called internal styles of tai chi [太極], bagua [八卦], and certain Wu Dong styles. One of the famous styles at the time was called “If you touch his clothes, you’ll be on the ground” [沾衣十八滾]. Gum Fung Chi [甘鳳池] was a famous Robin Hood-type figure of the Qing dynasty who used that style.

Gok Yun [覺遠] was a monk from a wealthy family who was skilled in  kung fu. His teacher was another Shaolin monk, Hong Wan [洪蕴和尚]. People were already coming from all around to learn from Gok Yun Wo Seurng [覺遠和尚]; however, he realized there was room for improvement, so he traveled around the country looking for more information. Once he got to Gansu [甘肅] he met an old man, Mr. Li [李姓志者] who was famous for chin na [擒拿]. He and his son went with Gok Yun to visit Bak Yuk Fung [白玉峯], a top expert who was originally from Xansai, in Lok Yeurng [洛陽], a city in Henan. They stayed at a temple there and eventually Gok Yun convinced them to go to the Shaolin temple with him. Mr. Li’s son and Bak Yuk Fung converted to monks, taking new names: Ching Wai Wo Seurng [澄慧和尚] and Chau Yut Wo Seurng [秋月和尚]. Eventually old Mr. Li left, but the two new monks researched all the available Shaolin kung fu skills and organized them into five branches: Dragon [龍], Snake [蛇], Tiger [虎], Leopard [豹], Crane [鶴]. Later Gok Yun went to Guangxi [廣西] and met another very famous martial arts master, Ma Si Lung [馬士龍].

During the later part of the Ming dynasty — a millennium after Da Mo — Shaolin developed a more complete kungfu system. In my opinion, the Shaolin temple has been like a research center. Many martial arts were improved there because more information was available in one place and the monks had the time to practice. Historically speaking the experience was not available at the time of Da Mo for him to be the founder of xingyi. Another reason xingyi is unlikely to have originated in any monastery is its martial flavor.  Whether xingyi was invented there or was introduced from the outside is questionable, but my personal opinion is that xingyi was created by Gei Lung Fung [姬龍豐] in Xansai [山西].

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Henan Xingyi

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ma Hok Lai [馬學禮] lived in Henan [河南], and learned xingyi from a Mr. Zhang, who was a student of xingyi’s founder, Gei Lung Fung []. His son Ma Sam Yun [馬三元] challenged a lot of martial artists and killed many in competition. He died very early, as a teenager. I surmise he suffered physical and mental damage due to too much explosive or powerful practice and a lack of peaceful mind. Over training causes mental and physical problems.

Jeurng Ji Sing [張志誠] carried on Ma’s Xingyi style and taught Lei Jing [李政], who taught Jeurng Joi [張聚]. Joi’s son, Lo Gei Yi [老格兒] experienced a similar fate. Eventually no one would fight him anymore and he killed himself by hitting the rock and post. Constant thinking about fighting possibly disturbed his mind. It is another example of young people overemphasizing fighting and killing causing mental disturbance.

A similar instance in this area occurred when a young karate teacher killed his father. Apparently they had argued over his future and the constant focus on fighting without any direction on resolving disputes peacefully or finding alternate options led to tragedy.

Physiologically it makes sense – if you continue exciting your mind without balancing your activities with rest you will become a powder keg ready to explode at any small irritation. Most martial artists are in real danger from constant training and focus on fighting. This problem is similar to that of the soldier who comes home after a few years of constant stress on a foreign battlefield and can no longer function at home. Many martial art styles developed over time from an external focus to a more internal focus. Experience showed that training had to be moderated.

The key to martial arts is to keep the fighting spirit available when you need it. It can be kept in reserve instead of being foremost in your mind. A proverb old people repeat to youngsters is to stop sharpening your knife once it has an edge. If you keep sharpening it after it’s sharp then you will just wear away the blade. In other words, remember the purpose of your training – overdoing it will only hurt yourself.

You have to train to kill, to be courageous in the face of danger regardless of the opponent. This spirit has to be available to you whenever you need it. However, day-to-day life is not a life-or-death situation. You have to be able to forget about fighting or put it in the back of your mind and accomplish your normal activities.

Currently tai chi has lost its standing as the superior martial arts style that it is because many of its practitioners have lost the fighting spirit. Moving slowly is an excellent training method if you know what you are doing but in no way indicates that you would move slowly in a real fight. This is an area the serious student would do well to research and study.

The Chinese martial arts offer an outstanding training program for developing a well-rounded personality. Through years of trial and error and wisdom of experienced practitioners, styles such as xingyi, taijii, and yiquan offer a proven, step-by-step training program for developing confidence as well as self defense and better health.

Xingyi is traditionally a very explosive art. A practitioner is trained to move his hand only when he is certain his punch will hit and do damage []. Punching is not for fun or for no purpose. It is a tool to use in a life-or-death situation.

In old times when the student graduated and the teacher said he was ready to face the world, right then and only then, was he taught standing meditation. It is a map for future development of the art and a peaceful mind. Now we are back to the name: xing [形] means physical and yi [意] means mind. In other words, psychological training is a very important factor in the martial arts. Why do parents take their children to martial arts schools? Because developing confidence and good health contributes to success in any area of life.

Jeurng Joi [張聚] taught Mei Jong To [買狀圖] who taught On Dai Hing [安大慶], a leader of the Muslim community in Henan, and he taught Bo Hin Ting [寶顯廷]. The current experts I don’t know, but you can do your own research. Below are three sample movements of the Henan style.

xingyi1.JPG

xingyi2.JPG

xingyi3.JPG To be continued. . .

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What does the name xingyi really mean?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Xing equals physical coordination and balance. Yi equals mind. The mind directs your physical responses. Integrate mind and body, so as soon as you think of it your body responds. The two are no longer separate. Your mind and body become one unit and respond together. If you can do that, you can become a good martial artist.

Often when people practice martial arts they overemphasize what the movement is and what the body looks like. You may look good, but is there content there? The shape is correct, but the mind is absent.

Also, they continue stressing themselves out when they can’t make the exact movement. They don’t give their body time to adjust to the new movement and lose the thread of what they were working on.

Another problem people have is overemphasizing thinking about chi and expecting to get power. They misunderstand the meaning of “chi.” Everybody has energy. How do you direct it? Without the correct training procedure you are just dreaming of chi.

Chi starts with fresh air. Air enters the body and your metabolism transforms outside energy into body energy. The mind can direct the energy to reach every cell of your body. If you can do that, then we are talking about chi! How can you do that? Step-by-step training can help you. Different styles of Chinese martial arts have different approaches. Otherwise you’re “cooking rice soup without rice”! This is a very basic explanation about chi; certainly, it is a very complicated subject.

People are chasing the miracle power. By instinct people can mobilize every part of their body (muscle, bone, tendon, etc.) to deliver power to one spot. We’ve all read or heard about the skinny mother raising the heavy object, like a car, to save her child. Martial arts training allows the practitioner to use that power whenever they need it. That is the difference.

WARNING: If you want to get to that high level, you must train right before you use any explosive power. Any weak point in your body will interfere with your coordination and balance and will cause damage, often in the heart or brain. Many famous masters have died or suffered a stroke in their late 40s and early 50s – do some research. If you have a weak foundation on a one-story building, it will crack under the strain of a second or third floor. You have to continually improve your coordination and balance as your strength increases. What is the difference between shooting a BB gun and a .357?

Xingyichuan has five movements representing five kinds of force. Henan style has ten animals; Hebei and Xanshi style have twelve animals. Another practice mistake is that people try to imitate animals’ appearance exactly instead of catching the fighting spirit or natural ability. This tendency leads to many unnecessary forms. We do have to drill; however, in reality, a fight won’t exactly match your form or drill. Your basic skills have to be good enough to adjust to the situation at hand. Just because you know a form doesn’t mean you can fight! A typical example we’ve all heard of is when someone who has taken lessons for ten years gets beat up by a street fighter.

I suggest people who are serious about learning high-level martial arts research Chinese culture. It emphasizes the importance of your mindset. Without using your mind you are like a man without a net looking at the ocean and wanting to catch fish. In other words, your mind should be the commander-in-chief and your arms and legs your army, navy, air force and marines.

. . .to be continued. . .

 

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9 out of 10

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Nine out of ten martial arts practitioners will get injured, according to Chinese folk wisdom. In old times and up to the time I began learning martial arts, we learned how to handle pain and injury before we started training. Nowadays things are a little different. . . .

I gained medical knowledge from my family and then I researched and practiced on my own. I started helping people repair their injuries when I was in my twenties; now I’ve reached retirement age. After that many years of research into both Western and Eastern medical concepts I have developed a niche method of addressing pain issues to help people achieve significant results. I am still doing it and enjoy helping others, including those who think their case is hopeless.

Proper exercise maintains your good health after you recover from an injury. A little bit of time on a daily basis will help prevent many problems that would otherwise sap your time and money. Promoting proper exercise is my way of giving back to society. If you suffer from physical pain or need a second opinion, call me at 770-938-8227 to make an appointment.

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Tai Chi Theory

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Tai chi theory is part Taoist philosophy, part traditional Chinese martial arts. Taoist philosophy emphasizes the quality of being natural. One should be in harmony with Nature, and the mind and body should work together harmoniously. For health purposes, one’s practice should be floating like water. For self-defense, one’s practice should build up strength, like water behind a dam that can be released by opening a gate. One should neutralize the opponent’s force and find a way to throw him off balance and defeat him.