ZHONG DING

NEWSLETTER

Spring/Summer '99!

Nin hao!
For anyone who hasn't been keeping up with 'what's hot and what's not in Zhong Ding', I'm Spanner! The sacred entitlement of Zhong Ding standard bearer is now mine.
MINE!! AHHHH THE POWER!!!
That said, I want you to remember, this is your newsletter.
NO! IT'S MINE!! MIIINNNNEEEE!!!!
Hmmm. Well, anyway, I thought I'd let you know a bit about me, since I'm going to be feeding you Zhong Ding propaganda for a while.
I began practising Taiji about two and a half years ago and quickly rose to the position of Grand Master. I remade the empty hand form to include such new and powerful moves as 'Snake Creeps
Up', 'Knife Through the Back', 'Mama Gon' Whip Yo' Ass Good' and 'The Monkeys Ate My Soul' to name but a few. I now reside in a temple dedicated to the worship of Kwai Chang Caine in Huddersfield, where people throw ducks at balloons and nothing is as it seems. In my spare time I enjoy drinking, writing revolutionary metaphysics theologies, horse riding, protecting the innocent and drinking.
None of the above, of course, is true (particularly the horse riding bit). But by lying about it, I believe I give you an insight into my personality that I couldn't otherwise put into words. After all, we all go a little insane sometimes, don't we? I know I am. And I
swear I've never been horse riding. In fact, I'm beginning to regret lying about it. There's a lesson to be learned there. Which I believe is:
"Only lie about stuff that's true." Wise, wise, insane words. I know I am.
I've introduced a couple of regular features, and I'd like to know whether you think they're worthwhile and hopefully contribute to them next issue. If you can think of any such thing, I'm marginally interested. One such feature I'd like to include is a letters page, but I can't do it without
you, so PLEASE send me a letter. It can be about anything. Perhaps some revelation you've had that changed your direction, a tip someone gave you about Taiji, a question you'd like me to try and get answered by one of the big cheeses at the top, something you'd like to see in the next issue or just a little feedback about the newsletter.
Xiexie and Zaijian! (Whatever that means).



I've included any info I could think of with reference to this publication in this handy sidebar. So if your looking for any contacts, prices and so on, look here!

Spanner (editor supreme)
Home No. 01484 325612
Mobile 0370 617189
4 Moor Crest Road,
Crosland Moor,
Huddersfield,
HD4 5PT

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Zhong Dao
John Higginson 0161
8604111
74 Greatstone Road,
Firswood,
Manchester,
M16 0HD
Email
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San Chai (Rob Poyton)
Tel 01733 270072
Fax 01733 270072
SCTCA
PO Box 460
Thorney
Peterborough
PE6 OTQ
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Subscriptions
If you want to subscribe personally, please send your name, address, phone, email and quantity (ie: 1 copy of each issue for a year). Maximum of 1 year. Price is £2 for ZD members, £3 for non-members for 1 year. Please make cheques payable to :
MRS KIRSTY SPENCER (my wife) at the same address as me (Spanner). Back issues will be available starting next issue. Ta!



 

"He wouldn't last long in a dojo….."
Comparisons between taijiquan and other martial arts: a blind alley by N I G E L S U T T O N

During my two decades of taijiquan practice I have often found myself comparing my training experience with that of the practitioner of Japanese martial arts. Such comparisons were only natural as my first experience in the martial arts was in Judo, Karate and Aikido.
Now that I am a teacher of taijiquan the issue has become even more pertinent to me, especially in relation to the question of what it is that qualifies a person to teach the art.
Taijiquan, as many experts have been at great pains to point out, is a martial art, and therefore it might be expected that instructors of the art should be martial artists. But even this seemingly straightforward point needs clarifying, for what exactly is a martial artist?
The possible answers to this question, I suspect, cover as wide a spectrum as that of the arts themselves.
A kickboxer might answer that a martial artist is a person who keeps him or herself in a fit condition and who is able to kick and punch effectively, as well as being able to defend against such attacks.
A judoka might aver that a martial artist is a person who is strong, fit and technically capable of facing other exponents in competition.
An aikidoka could well argue that a martial artist is a person who practises a "way" which, although involving techniques of offence and defence is primarily aimed at resolving conflict in as harmonious a manner as possible.
Of course, all of the above definitions are extremely general, and it is very unlikely that all kickboxers, judoka and aikidoka will agree with them. Indeed the very nature of martial arts, as activities whereby an individual strives to master an art, in a process which involves overcoming not only external adversaries but also internal ones, makes generalisations very difficult to apply.
To explore this issue further let us take a look at what the founders of some prominent martial arts felt to be the purpose of their arts.
In his book Three Budo Master (Kodansha1995) John Stevens describes Jigaro Kano's vision of his art Kodokan Judo as:
".. a discipline of the mind and body that fostered wisdom and virtuous living." (ibid. p.21).
In the same book Stevens quotes the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba:
"… the way of a warrior is to manifest divine love, a spirit that embraces and nurtures all things." (ibid p.112).
To a modern practitioner the experience of training in a judo dojo or an aikido dojo might seem very different from the described aims of the arts above. Furthermore the atmosphere and training in the judo dojo might well be very different from that of the aikido dojo. The water is further muddied if we consider the traditional karate dojo. Here the exponent may well find rigid discipline, constant practice of basic techniques conducted in a militaristic manner and an overall atmosphere of austere seriousness.
All of the above serves to emphasise the need to qualify what we mean by dojo. The original Chinese characters refer to a place where the Dao or Way is practised (for an interesting discussion of this see Kodo: Ancient Ways by Kensho Furuya, Ohara Publications 1996). It is obvious from this general description that we must first define the Way that is being practised. Is the Way of judo the same as the way of aikido or karate-do? Even if the underlying Way is the same are its manifestations in practice the same? In short what lessons are the teachers trying to teach and how are they being taught?
Now let us look specifically at the case of taijiquan and consider the nature of the art, what it teaches, how it is taught and where, if at all, comparisons with other martial arts may be made.
Taijiquan, as a martial art, encompasses the practice of solo patterns of movement (forms), partner work, and weapons training. The solo forms include both slow and fast movements all of which may be explained in terms of martial application. As well as practising empty hand forms, the exponent also trains with a variety of weapons, the most popular of which are the straightsword, the broadsword, the staff and the spear. Partner work in taijiquan is mostly concentrated around the practice of what is known as push hands. Initially the exponent learns patterns of movement , which when practised with a partner, enhance balance, tactile sensitivity and leg strength. At the same time the student gains an appreciation of the difficulties of remaining relaxed and aware while under pressure, both qualities essential to martial skill.
One of the reasons given for why taijiquan might be described as an internal art, is the emphasis on correct body alignment and posture, in combination with the development of a calm state of mind. Furthermore the taijiquan exponent seeks to use the body as efficiently as possible so that when force has to be exerted the strength of the whole body may be applied against the opponent. This application of force, however, does not occur at random. Rather it is applied at a place and time when the opponent is at a disadvantage. In order to detect when this moment might be, the exponent has to be sensitive to the opponent's every move; in practical terms this most often means being in close contact with him. In order to apply the maximum force necessary at the appropriate speed the exponent must learn to relax the muscles to the point where there is no unnecessary tension which might serve to impede or slow down the necessary responses.
From the above we can isolate three important areas in which the taijiquan practitioner seeks to develop skill. These are correct structural alignment; sensitivity; and the development of a relaxed mind and body.
Correct structural alignment allows the exponent to use the whole body in such a way that incoming force may be absorbed into the ground; while, in offence, the exponent uses the body in a spring-like manner to bounce force from the ground into the opponent. To do this the body must be so aligned that none of the joints impede the clear transfer of force, either in or out.
Sensitivity is specifically referred to in taijiquan in the two terms ting jing (listening jing) and dong jing (understanding jing). Initially ting jing is developed through form practice. This development is manifested as an increased body awareness; the exponent "feels" the whole of the body, identifying when and where there is excess tension and releasing it. The process is further developed through the practice of pushing hands, as the exponent learns to feel another person's body, locating areas of tension and weakness, which may then be exploited.
The development of sensitivity and correct alignment are inextricably linked with the third area of skill, that of relaxation of body and mind. Only when the body is correctly aligned can as many muscle groups as possible be relaxed, and it is sensitivity to, and awareness of, the degree of relaxation and tension in each body part that allows the exponent to attain a greater degree of relaxation. As the practitioner becomes more physically relaxed he is likely to become more aware of the vital role of the mind in this process. The mind must remain comfortably focused, uninterrupted by everyday vexations, in order for the body to relax. At first the exponent struggles with the physical requirements of the solo form, but then, as these become more a matter of habit, he has to keep his mind alert, feeling his body, being aware of the constant interplay of tension and relaxation. Then, when practising, pushing hands, the mind needs to be kept in a state of calm even when the exponent is under pressure. Fast forms and weapons routines also provide their own forms of stress and tension under which the body and mind must be kept as calm and relaxed as possible.
In examining these three areas of skill, structural alignment sensitivity and relaxation, a major difference from an art such as karate or kickboxing is immediately apparent. Where the emphasis in such arts is initially on technique, in taijiquan technique is something that comes with time. It is true to say that in theory and in practice taijiquan is the opposite of many other martial arts. That is not to say that principle and theory are of no importance in an art such as karate; only that they come later after basic techniques have been trained and drilled. The basics of an art such as taijiquan are enshrined in every exercise carried out in the training hall. The warm-up exercises teach as much about structural alignment, relaxation and sensitivity as do the most advanced forms or partner exercises.
While a beginning student in karate will learn a number of punches, kicks and blocks, a beginning student of taijiquan learns how to stand so the body is as relaxed as possible. He learns how to shift the weight from one leg to another in as smooth and balanced a fashion as possible. Co-ordination of the whole body is learnt with the initiation of every movement coming from the large muscles of the abdomen. The exponent learns how to relax the whole of the upper body so that, when breathing, as much stale air as possible can be expelled and then fresh air taken in using the full capacity of the lungs. When practising movements that could be interpreted as kicks or punches, the taijiquan practitioner learns how to make the arm or the leg transmit the power of the whole body. Furthermore he learns how to develop and maintain a state of relaxed awareness which gradually may be used in all areas of his life.
A further consideration, when examining points of comparison between taijiquan and other martial arts, is the cultural background of the arts concerned. In the case of Chinese arts such as taijiquan the central relationship is between the teacher and his disciple. Although the modern trend is for teachers to hold public classes still the refined knowledge and teaching is saved for those "special" students who have indicated that they wish to really master the art. These students, commonly referred to as disciples, and who often have to undergo a formal rite of initiation to mark their new status, will train in small groups, or individually, at the teacher's house. The teaching will be informal with the student performing his techniques with occasional corrections from the teacher, or a senior disciple. In the relationship between teacher and disciple it is accepted that the onus is on the disciple to try his best to "steal" his teacher's art. In practical terms this means that he is always observing the teacher and his seniors, examining and analysing their technique, form and actions, and then attempting to reproduce them himself. He may get very little in the way of feedback from the teacher and often will have little or no opportunity to question him directly.
In many cases, where the teacher is well-known enough for students to seek him out for tuition, geographical location might mean that disciple and teacher are seldom together. All of my taijiquan teachers saw their own teacher at intermittent intervals and often for short periods of time. This further added to their sense of the precious nature of the time they spent with their teachers. Master Lau Kim Hong remembers how his master, Lu Tong Bao, only visited the south of Malaysia every few months or so and then only for a week at a time. Master Koh Ah Tee's last teacher Wu Guo Zhong, lived in Taiwan, visiting Malaysia, at most, three times a year. Yet, under these conditions, these teachers aspired to, and managed to reach, the highest levels of their art.
Compare this with the learning experience of a student of karate, who visits the dojo two or three times a week, where he is a member of a group class. As opposed to the taijiquan learning experience where the discipline and motivation is very much from within, our karateka is part of a group where strict, and sometimes even harsh, external discipline is imposed. As a result of this the exponent's speed, power and strength swiftly and visibly improve.
By way of contrast the taijiquan exponent has to spend long periods of time training alone, always seeking to ensure that every movement conforms to the principles of the art. Training alone, however, is not the whole story. In order to ensure that he or she is on the right track, the exponent must practise push hands with as wide a range of people as possible. Furthermore the kinds of pushing hands experience must be varied to cover a full spectrum from gentle, sensitivity training to encounters where one or other of the partners uses a great deal of force. The latter approach often draws criticism from taijiquan "purists" but it is essential if the exponent is to discover whether he or she really has the ability to "borrow the strength of the opponent" or the ability to "deflect a thousand pounds with four ounces". I must reiterate that soft pushing hands for the development of "ting jing" and "dong jing" is essential but so is putting your art to the test by finding opportunities to face attacks that are both fast and powerful. In this "arena" the three factors of correct alignment, sensitivity and relaxation may be put to the test.
To return, however, to the focus of this article, namely comparisons between different martial arts; how would our taijiquan exponent fare in a karate dojo? Firstly he or she would probably find himself uncomfortable practising the staccato techniques of that art. The locked-out punches and snapping kicks would certainly feel uncomfortable. Sparring would be an unfamiliar experience, initially as the exponent attempted to come to terms with the different distances used. Another strange and painful area to the taijiquan exponent who had not "sparred" before would be the fear and actual pain of contact.
What if we transplanted the karateka to the taijiquan training hall? He or she would probably find the slow pace frustrating. The sequences of movements would seem overly complex and their relationship to or application in actual fighting, obtuse, to say the least. The seemingly simple postures, however, might cause some difficulty particularly when held for extended periods of time. Pushing hands would seem totally alien for the close range might be different from that which the karateka is used to. The frustration of trying to use as little strength as possible while attempting to unbalance a partner might also affect the karateka.
I could go on endlessly. Comparisons might also be made with judoka, aikidoka, wrestlers, boxers and so on. While interesting such comparisons are not particularly helpful. Instead of worrying how you would fare when fighting a karateka or a wrestler look at those elements of their training which you feel is lacking in your own. If you feel that your stamina is poor then look at those areas of the taijiquan curriculum which can be used to improve this area. If you are afraid of the effect an opponent's strikes or kicks may have on you then practise with padding and a training partner, avoiding and taking blows, while still trying to retain the core elements of alignment, sensitivity and relaxation. If you feel that your training has not equipped you to cope with a wrestler then try to find a partner who will help you to practise countering "the shoot" or working on what happens when you go to the ground. In short the art belongs to each generation that practises it and it is up to us to try to make the best use of it that we can.
I was recently training with Master Lau Kim Hong and a visiting American student who is experienced in both wrestling and stick fighting. Master Lau was very interested to see his techniques and to explore how his own art could counter them. Similarly Master Koh Ah Tee, while pushing hands with the same visitor invited him to use locks or throws if he so wished. During the encounter Master Koh made use of some extremely effective counters which I had never seen before. When I questioned him about them he pointed out that they were not "thought out" but rather were instinctive responses to the interflow and interchange of forces in their pushing hands encounter.
As for my American friend and I; well we are both covered in carpet burns from experimenting on industrial carpet. I'm sure the headache will go away (I didn't know you could use your legs like that!); my thigh will probably recover from the effects of testing a "slow" Thai roundhouse kick; and his neck will probably get better. But at the end of the day I am more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of my art as is my friend. This, I believe is the way to progress.
I have been lucky enough to have been generously and openly taught the art by a generation of Masters who have made actual use of it. I have tried to pass on the art in this same spirit. Now it is up to all of us that we preserve, improve and pass on this art so that future generations can also make it their own. In the process we can learn from all other martial arts but let's not get lost in pointless and time-consuming comparisons.

 
     
 

 

Doing The Tao
 
   
 
 
 
                 
 
     
 

 

Open your mind. It could use the fresh air.
 
   
 
 
     
 

Here I thought we might have a little Taoist wisdom, general good advice and anecdotes that any of us may stumble across on our way to the Tao! If you've something to add, let me have it and I promise to send it to print!

 
   
 
     
 

"Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself. " - Plato (B.C. "Only one who is in pain really senses nothing but himself; pleasure does not enjoy itself but something beside itself." - Hannah Arendt

"No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions"-
Charles P.

Steinmetz

"I can't decide if indecision is good or bad." -Causey

"I never said I was a millionaire, but I said I have spent more
money than a millionaire. If I had-a kept all the money that I've already spent, I would 'a been a millionaire a looooong time ago." 'Goin' Down Slow' by Howlin Wolf.

 
   
 
 
     
 

 

That contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch! (W.C. Fields.)
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
     
 

"Proverbial Corner"
"If you lose an hour in the morning, you have to hunt for it the rest of the day." Chinese Proverb
"A drowning man is not troubled by rain." Persian Proverb
"A forest is in an acorn." Proverb of Unknown Origin
"A courtyard common to all will be swept by none." Chinese Proverb

 
   
 
   
 
     
 

 

There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
-- Dick Cavett
 
   
 
 
 
   
     
   
 
     
 

"And your body will flow with the winds of their hatred and you will take them to the destruction they seek." Old ninja poem

"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." Burke (1729-1797)

"Indulge not thyself in the passion of Anger; it is whetting a sword to wound thine own breast, or murder thy friend." Akhenaton ( B.C. 1375)

"In Taiji, we aim to get our head above our leg!" Kirsty Spencer (after havin' a few more than is good for 'ya!)

"….impress your friends with how slow you are!" Nigel Sutton - Applied Tai Chi Chuan-

"Inner peace is all well and good until the fat bastard next door nicks your rice." Ian Gillespie

"If a man is standing in a forest with no women around, is he still wrong?" John Higginson


 
   
 
   
 
     
 

Television is a triumph of equipment over people, and the minds that control it are so small that you could put them in a gnat's navel with room left over for two caraway seeds and an agent's heart.

- - - Fred Allen, CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter, 1977

 
   
 
 
 
   
   
 
     
 

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist's Novocain during root canal work? He wanted to transcend dental medication!

 
   
 
   
 
     
     
   
 

"Eating Humble Pie" by Craig Jackson

Approximately six years ago the senior grades of the class that I attended wore black belts. At first I thought that I had wandered into a karate class so I inquired as to why they were wearing them. I was told that it was because one of the assistant instructors was once asked what authority he had correcting one of the beginners with their form. The person questioning the instructor was a relative beginner which makes me wonder why he / she didn't realize that they were being helped by someone with more experience.
This scenario, I think, is pretty unique. Most beginners and intermediate students are keen to take advice from anybody they contact within a class. Most classes are nice environments in which to practice and learn tai chi chuan because humility and respect are present early on in our martial arts training.
But what about more experienced students and even instructors.
Sometimes they can find it hard to take on different opinions and can even feel anger when someone tries to question or alter their form. If they have attended a Bai Shi ceremony they will have heard part of the oath that says.

"Let anyone become my teacher, and anything a lesson."

With this in mind here is an example.
An instructor attended a course run by a master instructor from which he learnt a new weapon form. He later returned to his training hall and was practicing his new form when one of his fellow instructors saw what he was doing and came over to him.
The instructor who was watching had previously learnt the form from a different instructor and had noticed that there were some slight differences.
The second instructor then suggested some alterations to the form and after he had made the necessary corrections the first instructor thanked him and went about practicing the form the way that his colleague had shown him.
After a few weeks he found that certain parts didn't make sense and contradicted the applications shown to him by the master instructor, so he returned to form that he was originally taught.

Notice how he didn't just dismiss the other version of the form, but took the ideas on board and had the attitude of " I'll try it. And if I like it, I'll keep it."
Sometimes by having a fresh perspective on things it can make you go out and try them to see if they work in accordance with the principles of your art.
Exploring your art is how you can make it your own.
And don't forget, if in doubt, you can always consult someone more senior.

Happy training.
Craig Jackson.
Instructor, North East Zhong Ding.


     
     
   
       
 
     
 

 

Zhong Dao
 
   
 
 
   
 
     
 

Due to increasing membership of Zhong Ding Applied Tai Chi Chuan we are now able to enclose a list of some of the items that we are now able to provide from stock, as a complete service to our students. (Instructor discounts available)
I have a lists of over 200 books on tai chi, some of other styles and some of dubious origin or content so here is a list of several
books we recommend and stock. Your instructor may be able to supply them so please ask. Prices correct at time of printing.

 

RECOMENDED
** - strongly recommended for the complete beginner
* - essential for the serious student
New - New to list 3/99

TITLE AUTHOR PRICE Recommended TYPE
ROOTS AND BRANCHES
N.Sutton £ 5.95 ** Form(basic)
COMPLETE T.C. S. McFarlane £14.99 ** Form
APPLIED TAI CHI CHUAN
[2nd edition] N. Sutton £ 9.99 ** Basis Of The Zhong Ding School
CHENG TZU'S 13 TREATISES
Cheng Man Ching £18.50 * Form & Philosophy.
TAI-CHI Cheng Man Ching £18.50 * Complete
C.M.C. ADVANCED FORM D.Wile. £ 8.99 * Form & Phil.
TAI CHI CHUAN Cheng Man Ching £ 9.99 Form
TAI CHI TOUCHSTONES
D.Wile £ 9.99 * T.C.Phil.
THERE ARE NO SECRETS W.Lowenthal £11.50 ** Gen.
C..M.C. MASTER OF 5 EXCELLENCES £13.99 * Phil.
C.M.C: ESSAYS ON MAN & CULTURE
£13.99 Phil.
MASTER CHENGS 13 CHAPTERS
£ 7.99 Phil.
T.C. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS Chen Wei-ming £ 6.99 * Phil.
LOST TAI CHI CLASSICS £13.25 Phil
ESSENCE OF T.C.C.
trans. Loo/Inn £ 9.99 Phil.
T.C. THE SUPREME ULTIMATE L.Galante £10.99 Gen.&Form(basic)
IMAGINATION BECOMES REALITY T.T.Liang £16.99 Yang style
INTRINSIC ENERGIES of T.C.
Olson £10.99 * Phil.
MARTIAL APPLICATIONS OF T.C.
Yang Jng-M £18.95. Applications
CULTIVATING THE CHI
Olson £10.99 Yang Qigong
CHINESE BOXING
Robert Smith £ 9.99 Meetings with Masters
GATEWAY TO MIRACULOUS W.Lowenthal £10.99
LAO-TZU Cheng Man Ching £10.99 Taoist
T.C. WEAPONS Dr Tseng Ju-Pai £ 7.95 Weapons
AIKIDO & CHINESE M.AVol 2 Sugaw, Xing,Jones £22.95 New Weapons
ART OF WAR SUN TZU £ 8.99 Strategy
" " (Pocket classic) £ 4.99 "
INNER WAY Xu S. Song / N.Sutton ( " " ) £ 5.00 ** TC Phil.
INNER WARRIOR
Lau K H/N Sutton( " " ) £ 5.00 * TC Phil.
I CHING ( " " ) £ 4.99 Taoist
ART OF PEACE M. Ueshiba ( " " ) £ 4.99
SHAMBHALA Sacred Warrior path ( " " ) £ 4.99 Phil.
TAO TEH CHING
( " " ) £ 4.99 Taoist
T.C.CLASSICS
W.Liao £11.99 Phil.
ESSENCE
W.Liao (Pocket classic) £ 4.99 Phil.
TAIJI CHIN NA
Yang Jwing-ming £21.95
T.C. CHRONICLES
Kuo Lien-Ying £12.99 * Phil.
WAY OF SOFT MARTIAL ARTS
£10.99 Bagua, Hsing I , Qigong & Taiji.
ELEMENTS of T.C.C.
P. Compton £ 5.99 General
THE HEALING POWER OF MIND
T. Thondup £10.99 New Health
MEDITATION IN ACTION
C.TRUNGPA £ 4.99 Meditation
ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND
Suzuki £ 5.99 "

 

MOST OTHER BOOKS CAN ALSO BE ORDERED - (Please enquire)

VIDEOS
Z.D. Vol.1(form,Dao,spear)
J.Fowler £15} **
Vol.2(S.S.A, S.S.B, 54 Jian) J Fowler £15} £25 for both vol. 1 & 2
Fragrant Buddha Qigong audio & info. £ 6
Zhong ding T-shirts £10; £ 8.50(6.50)

ZHENG GU (special) Lg. £ 5 {In stock again}
SWORDS please enquire.
Straight [
Finest Gold Plated £119 - Silver Plated £99 / Extending £20 ]
Dao/Broad [
£40 plated, £65 'Long chen' ]
[NB Also FANS,Walking & Straight Canes]

 
   
 
 
     
 

 

EVENTS in the UK
 
   
 
 
     
 

San Shou and Da Lu- Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th April 1999 Venue: Manchester
The Taiji Broadsword - Form and Application -Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th May 1999Venue: Manchester
Learn MassageSunday 13th June and Sunday 17th July 1999 Venue: Manchester
1999 Taiji Camp Friday 25th - Sunday 27th June 1999 Venue: Buxton in the Beautiful Peak District
Inter Club Competition - Proposed date : 4th July Venue: TBA

 

For more details. Please contact John at any hour of the day
or night (tee hee! Editor).

 
   
 
     
       
     
 

 

BIOGRAPHY
 
   
     
     
     
     
 

 

- A Trilogy in Two Parts -
Part 1 - The Wonder Years
 
   
   
       
 
 

"I have been asked to write a biography for the newsletter which I hope will be interesting and give some peripheral insights into Tai Chi in the UK over the last two decades and my involvement in Zhong Ding.
My personal belief is that ones essential nature, divine spark or whatever you choose to call it, is reborn time and again until you have learnt the lessons and attitudes that you have set yourself to learn.
If you have a certain role then that will be a recurring theme throughout your incarnations. For myself I have always had an interest and facility with weapons that goes back as far as my memory can reach. A sword feels more natural to my hand than a pen, a Dictaphone, a volume of the Civil Court Practice or a file of papers.
I was born into a family with a strong boxing tradition. One of my relations is Howard Winston. I was taught to box by another cousin, some six years older than me. From the age of twelve to sixteen I boxed for my school and for a boxing club called St Peters in Woolwich, London. I was London ABA champion for the weight category seven to seven and a half stone for 1960/1961.
I played rugby for my schools' first fifteen from the age of fifteen to eighteen at number eight and occasionally on the wing.
From fourteen onwards I rode horses a lot, being more interested in the martial aspect than in winning races although I did the usual pony club / gymkhana / point to point thing. On my own I spent a lot of time riding at trees and hitting them with swords and lances. I cannot describe my father better than did Winston Churchill, "The most quietly spoken, unemotional gentleman who ever cut a throat". One of my brothers has my fathers eyes and it is always a shock when they show emotion.
My parents spent a lot of time in Africa when I was young, so perhaps I was more involved in school than most children. Our wood work teacher was a Mr Churchman. He had been in the SAS during the Second World War, attached to the Eighth Army in North Africa (where my father served with the Grenadier Guards). Apparently the SAS were dropped behind enemy lines, unarmed save for a knife, and used their radios to direct artillery against enemy positions.
One day when I was sixteen and weight lifting in the gym, Mr Churchman approached me and established that I was the boxer. We did not know each other because it was the sort of school where only the educationally sub-normal did wood work. The rest chose between Latin and Greek or art. He asked me to throw a slow punch at him and then showed me what he could do, starting by breaking all the small bones in my foot. Midway, it appeared, he could put my knee cap in parenthesis to my testes and higher up did not bear thinking about. I never boxed again.
Over the next couple of years he gave me the benefit of his training, complemented by his knowledge of Jujitsu and Karate. We did knife fighting, sometimes one combatant armed, sometimes both. How to take guns off people, how to cover a lot of people with your gun etc. Bayonet practice figured largely and so did knife throwing. My father had sent me a Nigerian throwing knife which I could easily send through a door to the length of it's blade which Mr Churchman was really envious of.
The unarmed combat stuff was very practical and very simple. It stays in the mind and is easy to do. It was from Mr Churchill that I learnt not to be deceived by appearances.
During this period, while doing 'A' Levels, I spent a lot of time making bombs. I was the only Classics Scholar in my school to be a member of the Royal Institute of Forensic Scientists. Through this august body I refined my bombs through weed killers, sugar and phosphors to such refinements as mercury switches (which trigger the bomb when you turn a door handle etc.). This, of course, was before the days of the internet.
Horse riding remained a constant interest and at eighteen I had to decide whether to do a law degree or open a riding school with my then girlfriend, later wife, who owned quite a few horses and whose parent s were quite wealthy. To my regret, I chose law. My speciality for the LLB was Roman law. I was fascinated by the contrast between their barbarity and the sophistication of the legal system which supported it. For example, if your slave was used in the arena and was killed then the contract was treated as a sale. If he survived or was merely maimed then it was 'hire', so there were conditional sale agreements.
While studying for my degree I was involved in horses, fencing a bit and rode an Indian 1200cc motorbike, which had been built in 1938 and had running plates and reverse gear. Then my daughter Corinna was born and being a sedate married man I sold the Indian and bought an Austin Healey "frog eyed" Sprite which seemed marginally more sensible.
After my degree I did the professional exams and then got articled to a firm of solicitors in Bedford Square, London WC1, which is by the British Museum, where Oxford Street crosses Tottenham Court road. This firm acted for the very rich. For example Peter Sellers was a client until the senior partner got irritated because Sellers insisted on sending his instructions round via his chauffeur.
As my articles finished I divorced Monica, broke off my engagement to Sally, stopped dating her friend Penny and split up with Maureen with whom I was living. Free at last I spent eight months hitching around Europe which included some time in Heidelberg where I joined a Schleger club. That is where you use real swords and hopefully get a scar.
Scar free I then hitched across the Sahara, both ways because as soon as we got to Tamanrasset my travelling companion, Peter Coote became ill and we had to hitch back to the (relative) civilisation of Algeria. Peter was a former naval frogman who later drowned in bizarre circumstances for which I have never really forgiven him.
Returning to the UK I got a job in Milford Haven. In contrast to my previous clientele I started working for battered wives off the council estates which seemed more appropriate than acting just for the rich and famous.
I had many relations in this area because my father had lived, as a child, about forty miles up the road, on moving to Milford I became greatly involved in dinghy sailing, mostly G.P 14's which are ideal for racing on the sea, being quite sturdy. I met and married my wife Diana shortly after moving down.
In 1980 Diana's nephew, who had been a pop star during the late 70' and 80's (Suggs of Madness) paid for Eddi (his mother) to go on the Trans Siberia Express to the Far East, down Japan on the Bullitt Train etc. Diana had largely brought Graham (Suggs) up and this was a "thank you" gesture.
During the course of this trip Diana travelled with some Australians who practised T'ai Chi and she got very interested. Shortly afterwards, while visiting Eddi in London (she lives in Covent Garden) we bought a book on T'ai Chi in the Chinese Bookshop opposite the British Museum. At this point (1980) there were not a lot of T'ai Chi teachers in the UK and it took some six months to find a teacher in Wales. This was Richard Farmer of Rising Dragon who taught in Cardiff.
Richard was a former student of John Kells (who taught from the lower part of his father's opticians business just above Harley Street). Since we lived the other side of Wales we had to have private lessons. Richard holds himself out as being too spiritual to teach the martial aspects of T'ai Chi but in return for imparting minimal knowledge, charges quite highly. I recall that we had to pay around £1000 to reach the posture Diagonal Flying in Cheng Man Ching's form which in 1980 was a lost of money.
At this time I was involved in two major hobbies apart from T'ai Chi. The first was guns. As a member of Haverfordwest Pistol Club I did a fair bit of pistol shooting. I regard this as a fairly boring pastime, especially if you stand at a range and shoot at a static target 25 metres away. What I find interesting is minimising the length of time it takes you to get the gun on target. I therefore used to either jump through a doorway or duck behind the loading counter and come up shooting. Both these exercises were frowned on as being both frivolous and dangerous at the pistol club but to my mind they were the only sensible way to train. They were more fun too. My real favourite was combat shotgun at which I was, in all modesty good. Certainly I was better with a shotgun that at T'ai Chi.
During this time I worked with a legal executive called Barry Nicholl who used to go shooting with me twice a week. Every lunchtime we stalked each other round the offices using Barry's huge collection of guns and defused grenades. The building is on three floors with two staircases and numerous corridors. Once, while I was interviewing a divorce client, my door opened and a defused grenade rolled across the floor. While my client and I watched it roll with numb fascination, Barry wearing a three piece suit burst in carrying a Heckler & Koch 9mm SMG (similar to that used by the SAS at the Iranian embassy). He made the appropriate rat, tat, tat noises signifying that he was firing ten rounds a second for a tad over three seconds. Then seeing my client he backed out leaving the grenade on the floor. Neither she nor I made any reference to the incident!
My other big interest at this time was land yachting which is great fun and very frightening. You have no brakes, sit six inches above the ground and travel at twice the speed of the wind. In 1985 I was in the Welsh team in a competition between England and Wales. I managed to write off two land yachts in a day. The first was mine, the second was a "state of the art" French machine imported at great expense by another of the team members called Daniel Valla. On my return to Pembrokeshire in 1996 Daniel and I went out for a couple of drinks and on returning to his flat he said "not that I hold it against you" and then produced an album of photographs of his mangled yacht, a decade on.
In 1986 Diana and I moved to Yorkshire. Many of my Milford divorce clients were by that time on their third marriage to their third violent husband and I was starting to feel that I was pretty much wasting my time. I therefore decided to make some serious money by specialising in Commercial Litigation and became a partner in a firm of solicitors in Huddersfield.
Yorkshire had many advantages and the first evident one was that I met Bob France, another former Kells student but who has studied with just about anyone you have every heard of. Bob is now a Zhong Ding member and teacher in York. From Bob I learnt Yang's Long Form which I practised for several years in addition to Cheng Man Ching.
In 1988 Bob phoned me one Wednesday and asked me what I was doing at the weekend. He expressed approval when I said "nothing" and went on to explain that he had entered me (behind my back) into what I believe was the first T'ai Chi pushing hands competition to be held in the UK. This took place in Sheffield. The principal organisers were David Barrow from Sheffield and Ray Wilkie who was Bob's teacher.

 

Find out what happened in the UK's first Taiji competition, and exactly how big a can of whup ass Vinny opened on the other competitors next issue.
I don't know about you, but I hate having to wait three months for the end of a story.
Luckily, I have read the whole article already. Phew!
Be here in three months!

 
                     
     
 
     
 

Please send us any news /events you hear of. It may be important to someone and might help out those organising them. Thanks for your co-operation, citizen!

 
   
 
 
     
 

1999 SUMMER TAI CHI CAMP
Once again John Higginson will be organising his
Very successful training camp in the peak district.
The camp includes a variety of events from push hands and qigong to a session at the local swimming pool. Prices range from £25 per day to £55 for the weekend for ZD members. There is also a
Possibility that there will be a technical panel meeting at some point over the weekend.
The dates are Friday 25th -27th June 1999.
For further details contact John or Vicky

 
   
 
 
     
 

NIGEL'S VISIT
Unfortunately due to his huge work commitments at the moment Nigel has not been able to visit us in the early part of the year as was hoped.
All is not lost however, there are some plans in the pipeline and he hopes to be with us in September. Hopefully further details will be available for the next issue-
WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

 
   
 
 
     
 

JOHN'S MINI COMPETITION
John Higginson is holding a "friendly" competition,
An opportunity for us all to get together and to test our tai chi and push hands, which certainly sounds like fun!!! The details have not yet been finalised but it is more than likely to be on the 4th of July.

 
   
 
 
     
 

NEWS FROM OTHER TAI CHI CLUBS
We have heard from Erle Montague that he will be visiting the UK in late October this year to hold a weekend seminar. The seminar will take place in Folkestone, Kent from the 29th October and will cover the old Yang style form, push hands and qigong. The cost is £180 for the 3 days (Fri, Sat, Sun) or £140 for Saturday and Sunday.
Contact Christina Campbell 01277 730039

 
   
 
   
   
 
     
 

If you try and don't succeed, cheat. Repeat until caught. Then lie.

 
   
 
 
 
   
   
 
     
 

Sincere thanks for their help with this issue go to :

Kirsty Spencer
(my wife)
Christine Spencer
(my Mum)
Nigel Sutton

Craig Jackson

John Higginson

Vincent Jones

Robert Poyton

John Cooper

Rob Wesley

Ian Cassettari

Erle Montaigue

Andy Hague

All your efforts are gratefully received and I hope you enjoy the newsletter and take it in the manner in which it is intended. Primarily, to entertain. Please keep sending your input and remember, the more you send, the less I have to do myself. Thanks.

 
   
   
     
 
     
 

 

 
   
   
   
         
 
     
 

 

Zhong Ding Grand Championships
 
   
 
 
   
 
     
 

From the vantage of a seasoned spectator, I happened to notice at some point during the day that the competition was a great success. The overall atmosphere of sportsmanship was rivalled only by the cracking of bones, the separating of joints, the high volume expletives and the hatred. Of course it wasn't. From what I saw, the quality of the organisation and of the participants skill was very impressive. It would be unfair to just mention the few people whose efforts drew my attention through the days course, but then, life is unfair. So here I go.
Brian Woodruff, John Higginson and Dave Spencer supplied an unlimited amount of oil that kept the wheels turning with a ruthless efficiency and all the long, Vicky Holden held a (fairly) peaceful vigil peddling hers and Johns wares to the grateful ZD public. All worthy efforts and their absence would have been tragic.
Though he's only a wee fella, (kind of reminds me of Sneezy and makes me want to chase him round a room in a Benny Hill fashion) Geoff Taylor's character
towers above the common house hold ant. No no no. I mean, towers above the great and the good. His eternal merriment and ability to laugh at anyone made him the supreme choice to referee the Grand Championship Pushing Hands. The way he tamed the savage pit bulls (sincere apologies if I just called you a pit bull) and helped bring it to its eventful conclusion were like unto a poem. Oh yes.
The referees who provided their services to an area where the internal practitioners are often lacking, carried out their favours with an awe inspiring professionalism that made the Grand Championship full contact a safe yet exciting and unique event.
I happened to be present when it was noticed that the certificates were surprisingly blank, and I think all who entered and administrated will agree that Tracey Jackson is due thanks for giving up an hour and sacrificing the use of her right hand for a week by filling them in (so to speak).
Congratulations to everyone who was involved yet unmentioned, your efforts were rewarded by an excellent and unique show of a dedicated, skilful Taiji community and helped promote not just Zhong Ding, but the whole of Taiji as a legitimate martial art in the UK.
I've spoken to several non-Zhong Ding members and all agree that it was an excellent event and hope that it will become a regular feature in the UK's Taiji diary.

 
   
 
   
 
     
 

 

Beans on Taoist
 
   
 
 
     
 

Mahatma Ghandi walked barefoot everywhere, to the point that his feet became quite thick and hard. He also was quite a spiritual person. Even when he was not on a hunger strike, he did not eat much and became quite thin and frail. Furthermore, due to his diet, he ended up with very bad breath.
He was a super-callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.

 
   
 
 
   
 
     
 

 

 
   
 
       
 
     
 

 

Critical Condition
 
   
 
 
   
 
     
 

Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan video series - Volume Four Basic Applications
San Chai Tai Chi Academy


Running time: 60 minutes Price: £24.99

Yang Style Basic Applications is the fourth volume in a series of videos by Robert Poyton, Chief Instructor of the San Chai Tai Chi Academy. This series aims to cover the full syllabus of traditional Yang style and volumes already published include the medium frame long form, sword, broadsword and the large frame form.

As the title suggests this tape shows the basic self defence applications of the Yang Cheng Fu form. The tape begins with an introduction, where Robert discusses the importance and value of learning posture applications. He clearly explains how, even if you have no interest in the combat methods of Tai Chi, learning the applications will help improve your form practice and thereby bring you greater benefits in your training.

The tape then goes on to discuss the different levels of application work. The first level is testing the posture. We are shown how, with the aid of a partner lightly pushing on our structure, we can get instant feedback as to whether or not our posture is correct. The next level is applying the posture exactly how it is performed in the form. Robert quite rightly points out that learning the applications at this level is not going to make is into invincible street fighters, but rather is a stepping stone to more advanced levels of training. The correct way of practising applications at this level is also explained.

The bulk of the tape is taken up with clear demonstrations of both how to test and the basic application, or in some cases two applications, of the form postures. The major postures are covered - it would have been nice to also see some of the intermediate postures, but as is pointed out on the tape this would probably require a three hour video! Applications are shown slowly and at speed. Where necessary, relevant points are shown in more detail. Speaking of points, the subject of point striking, or dim mak, is also briefly covered.

Overall, this is a sound instructional video that will develop solid basics and lay a good foundation for future study. Production standards are good, thanks to today's digital technology, and everything is clearly shown and explained. There is no "filler" material , the tape is packed with practical advice from beginning to end. An excellent addition to a very good series and I'm looking forward to future releases.

    review by John Cooper
 
   
 
 
     
 

Qigong Empowerment by Master Liang Shou-yu & Wen-Ching Wu
This is a remarkable book covering every aspect of Qigong (Chi Kung). In fact is would be more accurate to call it five books, split as it is into separate sections on the various schools and methods of qigong. The authors are Master Shou-Yu Liang, one of China's top Coaches of Excellence, with almost 50 years experience in qigong and Mr. Wen-Ching Wu, US National Grand Champion in both Internal and External styles. Their aim in producing this book is to encourage greater participation in qigong, to reveal important methods of practice and to dispel some of the myths surrounding qigong.

Book One: Medical Qigong outlines the basic concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, clearly explaining terms such as Qi, Jing and Shen. After a discussion of Five Element theory, a number of relaxation exercises are presented. These are followed by more advanced exercises to benefit specific organs, as well as advice on how to tackle specific complaints.

Book Two: Daoist Qigong first covers the history and background of Daoist thought and philosophy in detail. There then follows a series of exercises and practices, ranging from basic qi circulation techniques, through energy cultivation practices, all the way up to methods of spiritual meditation.

Book Three: Buddhist Qigong follows a similar format, first explaining the background and concepts of the Buddhist faith. The accompanying exercises incorporate Buddist breathing techniques, mantras and the Nine Esoteric Seals - specific hand postures accompanied by nine command characters.

Book Four: Emitting, Absorbing and Healing Qigong describes methods to both absorb and emit qi for healing purposes. Once again a detailed set of exercises and meditations are presented, including absorbing qi from nature and exercises to help develop healing ability.

Book Five: Wushu Qigong describes internal energy training for martial arts. A whole range of exercises cover various methods of iron shirt and strength training. Each part of the body - legs, arms, fist, body and so on - has its own specific conditioning techniques, developing the practitioners offensive and defensive capabilities.

The whole book concludes with an extensive set of acupuncture charts, advice on corrective methods and a comprehensive glossary.A short review such as this can do little justice to a book of such magnitude - I really believe that this is a landmark text. I doubt whether any other book in the English language has such a huge amount of detail on qigong. The background information alone is worth the price, but add to this the huge amount of clearly detailed exercises, hundreds of photographs and diagrams and you have a book that is essential for anyone interested in any aspect of the internal arts.

    review by Robert Poyton
 
   
 
   
     
 

 

 
   
   
                 
     
 
     
 

I believe I'm now song enough of mind to be able to stand up and say- "Hello. My name is Spanner, and I'm an internet nerd." I urge you all to do the same. Admittance is the first step to being laughed at. If you see anything of interest and relevance, it's probably interesting to other people too. Send it here.

 
   
 
   
   
 
     
 

 

Beans on Taoist
 
   
 
 
     
 

"Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. And there
are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either
my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother
Ho-Cha-Chu. But I think it's Colin." Tommy Cooper

 
   
 
 
 
   
     
 

 

Where are my shoes? By Spanner
 
   
 
 
   
   
 
     
 

It wouldn't be fair of me to ask all and sundry to write for the newsletter without having a dabble myself. I don't feel I know enough about Taiji to advise or educate anyone, so I'm going to talk about an aspect of my personality that conflicts with not only my training, but my general philosophy by which I try and live.
At one time, I had a terrible memory. I don't suffer from it now (I don't think), anymore than your average chump does, and I think it was probably due to drinking a
lot, and eating very little. But because of this, people who knew I had such a bad recollection beyond the last half hour, expected me to forget any plans or appointments I may have made with them. This in turn caused me to become very punctual so as not to worry whoever was expecting me. It reached (and still occupies) the point where I become extremely agitated if I am even slightly late or if it looks like I'm going to be. This has dug deep into my psychology, and I now can't bear to ever be late or miss any form of appointment, no matter how seemingly trivial. For instance, of the two and sometimes three times a week that a Taiji lesson is held up here, I have only ever missed one in the two and a half years of practising. The outcome of this obsessive behaviour is that I have become a reasonably reliable person (not just for Taiji but for everything I do), which is in fact a rather positive side effect of being nothing short of neurotic! I don't want to come across as being pretentious as well, for anyone busily remembering that time that I didn't show, but iterate the anxiety I feel in the situation. So, does this say that in everything negative that I do, eventually something positive comes in return? Then is this not also going to be true of the opposite?
When people see you as reliable, they think of this as being one of your more admirable qualities. But when it simply becomes
you, your absence is more noticeable and less tolerable than someone who is very random. Before long, things are expected of you because you've never given anyone reason to believe that you will do anything unexpected. So what do I want? Do I want to be more sporadic? Or am I looking for gratitude for simply living my life? Perhaps I want to carry on the way I am, but without anyone relying on me showing up. This might be what I want, but how likely is it to happen? Pretty bloody unlikely when I never tell anyone anyway! And then again, I think there's a good chance that I'd miss it if it suddenly stopped, so what now!
I suppose what I'm saying is, if I don't tell people outright what's pissing me off, then they can't be expected to know. However, going round telling everyone that they annoy me isn't a very appetising thought either. But that's what we're practising in our Taiji lessons, isn't it? Self defence. And this is the hard part about it for me. Do I have the stomach to deliberately injure someone!
Now, I remember a Chinese proverb I heard.
"Forgive me, for I was angry when I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet."
It's dramatic, and my bitching pails in comparison, but the concept is the same. There must be four and a half billion people in the world who could contribute to my wailing, but is it too simple a solution to just give up something because it's not ideal to me? I think it is. I think about people who I demand things of, not that I see them as demands (no one does), which makes it hard to realise that I'm being a pain in the arse. This is all conjecture (so forgive me, Nigel, if it's untrue!), but Nigel Sutton has to be one of the worlds more well known martial artists (and I'm not talking about film stars, obviously), so the amount of people who must want his advice, patronage, teachings, writings and so forth must be vast. And there, in the background is me, buzzing round his head like a fly. Me and three dozen others. "Write me an article, Nigel", "Put something on my web page, Nigel". I'm sure he doesn't need it. Are there times when he wishes that he didn't know so much about his passion? There must be. But do I believe that he would want this to come true? Where would all his hard work be then? And what would be the impact on our lives if he hadn't endured?
Well, I don't seem to have reached any conclusions, but writing it down seems to be quite a good temporary measure.
I'm not going to change myself, because I can't help being reliable, so how can I expect anyone else to treat me differently? I can't. After all, they're only being themselves, and
they can't help it either! So is there any point in shouting at people for overtaking me in their cars? Punching someone for trying to punch me? We're stuck with our individual nature, and the hardest part must be realising what your nature is and developing it's positive qualities. Then I hope it'll be easier to accept that no one else's nature is ever going to be the same as mine!
For me, acceptance seems to be the way to self defence.
I think a good way to finish is by telling you what Vincent Jones once said to me.
"Vinnie" I said (for twas his name) "Vinnie, I've been thinking a lot about Chin Na lately, what do you know about it?"
" Ah, not much. Try not to think about it." Good advice. But don't take it from me. Unless you want to.
Cheers Vinnie.

 

Spanner.

 

 
   
     
 

Here, for want of something better to do, I've tried to collate as many of the various terms we use and abuse in the internal arts, and apply a brief description to perhaps educate some and remind others of what we're taking about. I understand that I may not have fully captured the essence of every phrase, and maybe even misinterpreted some, so feel free to let me know if you want to add or change a little.

 
   
     
 

Aikido [Japanese] "Way of harmony of love" An internal martial art of Japanese origin that emphasises the use of internal strength in controlling the opponent's momentum through techniques of locking and throwing. Strikes are not emphasised and "short power" is generally not developed or used.
Baguazhang [Mandarin] "Eight diagram palm" An internal martial art of Chinese origin that emphasises the use of internal strength in close fighting with circular footwork and body movements. Baguazhang, often romanised as Pa Kua Chang, is well known for its fast, evasive footwork, intricate coiling, and numerous palm strikes.
Chan si gong [Mandarin] "Silk-reeling practice" or "Spiral-power practice" A set of exercises practised in Chen-style Taijiquan used to develop the co-ordinations and strengths that form the basis of internal strength. Skill developed by this practice, or, to a lesser extent, by any internal martial arts practice, is sometimes called "Chan si jing."
Chen-style Taijiquan [Mandarin] An internal martial art of Chinese origin. Chen-style Taijiquan is the family style of the Chen family of the village of Chenjiagou in Henan province. It is probably between 300 and 400 years old and is generally acknowledged to be the ancestor of the other major styles of Taijiquan. Chen style is popularly characterized by low stances, overtly visible coiling, and distinctive power releases, or fajing.
Circle-walking [English] A skill-development exercise, or gong, used in several internal martial arts, but especially in Baguazhang. Like standing gongs, circle-walking develops posture, co-ordination, and internal strength, but has the added benefit that it helps develop movement skills at the same time.
Coiling [English] The spiral body movement that is characteristic of some internal martial arts. Coiling results from the natural way that the body's joints and tissues respond to the propagation of internal strength from the legs and waist to the upper extremities.
Connection [English] A skill of relaxing and co-ordinating the body so that movements involve the whole body structure, and are supported by the natural elasticity of the connective tissue.
Dachengquan[Mandarin] "Great achievement boxing" See Yiquan.
Dalu[Mandarin] "Big roll-back" A one or two-person exercise in Taijiquan used to develop the corner powers (Cai, Lieh, Zhou, and Kao). In some styles, such as Chen-style Taijiquan, Dalu is considered a push-hands drill, whereas in others, such as Yang-style Taijiquan, it is treated as an exercise distinct from push-hands.
Dantian[Mandarin] A point in the body about an inch below the navel and inside the body very roughly corresponding to the centre of mass of a person standing in a natural posture. In Chinese medicine, this is the place where the body stores Qi.
Dantian rotation[Mandarin/English] A practice used in Taijiquan, in which the body is moved in a fashion that rotates the lower abdomen as if it were a large, heavy ball. The rotation around various axis is used to develop co-ordination and strength of the legs, waist, torso, and body as a whole.
Fajing [Mandarin] "Expression of power" The release of strength or power that was previously stored. The use of internal strength to produce a powerful strike, whip, or push.
Form [English] 1. A formally defined posture, movement, or set of movements used to teach co-ordination and technique to a student of martial arts. The basic postures and movements of a martial art are often collected into a form or group of forms. A group of formal movements may also be called a set. 2. Posture or movement in general, when analysed in terms of its relation to the principles as a martial art. A person's movements may be said to express proper or improper form, or to express good or poor form.
Gong [Mandarin] "Work" or "practice" A practice used in the Chinese martial arts to develop a skill or "power". There are many kinds of gong, both internal and external, leading to many different kinds of skills or powers.
Supreme ultimate [English] The most common translation of the Mandarin word Taiji. Also used in reference to newsletter editors.
Ground strength [English] (See internal strength) A form of strength that depends upon a particular set of relaxed co-ordinations to bring the strength of the legs and waist to the upper body. This term for the strength in question emphasises its dependence on the ability to exert the strength of the legs against the ground.
Internal strength [English] The form of strength specific to the internal martial arts. A form of strength that depends upon a particular set of relaxed co-ordinations to bring the strength of the legs and waist to bear on objects through contact made by the hands, arms, or other points on the upper body. The particular co-ordinations that make internal strength possible are very difficult or impossible to describe adequately, and instead must be demonstrated. And not by me.
Jing [Mandarin] "Skill" or "Power" Any skill, strength, or ability developed as a result of, and as the goal of, practice in the martial arts. Jing is a generic term that applies equally to the strength or force developed by a skilled movement and to the skill or ability to execute a movement or postural technique correctly.
Kai [Mandarin] "Open" Any correctly-performed movement in internal martial arts that expands the body as a whole, extending the extremities outward.
Kua [Mandarin] (No precise English equivalent) The inguinal basin, where the top end of the thigh-bone (the femur) attaches to the pelvic girdle. The term "kua" refers to the entire inguinal area, including both sides of the lower pelvis and the articulation where the movement of the thigh joint occurs. The proper opening, closing, and sinking of the kua is an important basic part of internal martial arts.
Neijia [Mandarin] "Internal family" The category of martial arts that use internal strength principles as the basis for their techniques and strategy. Contrast with Waijia.
Opening [English] Any correctly-performed movement in internal martial arts that expands the body as a whole, extending the extremities outward. Opening movements can be either expressions of internal strength pressing outward, or preparations for closing movements that will express power.
Palm change [English] In Baguazhang, a technically-defined movement or group of movements (a form) used to teach students the co-ordinations and techniques that make up the art of Baguazhang.
Peng [Mandarin] 1. The posture in Taijiquan usually called in English "Ward Off." A well-rooted posture with a wide stance and an extended arm used to prevent an opponent from reaching a position of advantage. 2. The skill or "power," associated with the Peng posture, of bringing internal strength to the point of contact with an opponent. See Peng jing.
Peng jing [Mandarin] The skill or "power" associated with the Taijiquan posture Peng. The skill of "warding off" using internal strength. By extension, the skill of bringing internal strength from the legs and waist to the hands or other places on the upper body.
Qi [Mandarin] (Often Romanised as "chi") "Breath," "air," or "energy" A generic term for many phenomena in human beings and nature, but especially qualities of movement or intention expressed by living things. Qi is used to refer to a large variety of phenomena, including mundane concepts such as breathing, and subtle technical concepts such as the proper skill of aligning the body so that internal strength can be expressed. Besides the strength and intention that motivate internal martial arts, qi can also refer to the set of sensations and subtle physical changes that accompany qigong practice (flushing of the extremities, tingling, warmth, sensations reminiscent of magnetic fields, and so on). The definition of qi is a controversial matter and no single definition is likely to please everyone.
Qigong [Mandarin] "Qi work" or "qi practice" Any of a wide variety of exercises designed to develop and c-ordinate Qi. There is an enormous variety of qigong practices.
Chin Na [Mandarin] "Capture and control" Any method of seizing and controlling an opponent's limbs, usually by manipulating the joints or muscles.
Release [English] In internal martial arts, to move in such a way that potential energy stored in the musculoskeletal structure is directed outward into a strike, whip, or push.
Root [English] A term common to many Chinese and some other martial arts, root describes a skill or quality of placing the feet, body, and balance such that loads are transferred efficiently into the ground and so that it is difficult to cause the martial artist to lose his or her footing or balance. Many martial tactics are designed to uproot an opponent in order to deny him or her this advantage.
Short power [English] A release over a very short distance and time, resulting in a strong, brief pulse of force. Used in internal martial arts for hitting. See Fa Jing
Shuaijiao [Mandarin] A Chinese grappling and throwing art.
Silk-reeling [English] 1. In internal martial arts, especially in Taijiquan, the natural coiling movement that results from correct propagation of internal strength from the ground, up through the legs and waist, and out to the upper extremities. 2. The strength and suppleness that results from moving by silk reeling. 3. Any exercise or practice designed specifically to develop silk reeling. 4. A specific set of exercises that are part of Chen-style Taijiquan used to develop silk-reeling skill.
Standing gong [English and Mandarin Also "Post"] Any exercise or practice that uses standing still in a particular posture to develop internal strength. See "Zhan zhuang".
Store [English] In internal martial arts, to move in such a way that kinetic energy is transformed to potential energy stored in the muscoloskeletal structure of the body. See "Release."
Sun-style Taijiquan A style of Taijiquan developed by Sun Lutang, a famous master of Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. Sun learned Yang-style Taijiquan and developed Sun style as an offshoot of that style, incorporating ideas from Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. Sun style is characterised by compact movements with little visible coiling.
Song [Mandarin] "Relax with intent" or "relaxation" The quality of suppleness and ease of motion that accompanies proper movement in the internal martial arts. Not to be confused with limpness, song describes a quality of relaxed co-ordination of the entire body in movement.
Taijiquan [Mandarin] "Supreme-ultimate boxing" Duh!
Three Sister Arts [English] The Chinese internal martial arts of Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang, so called because they are often taught together. These are the most widely known Chinese internal martial arts, with Taiji being by far the best known of the three.
Tuishou [Mandarin] "Push-hands" or "pushing hands" In Taijiquan, an exercise used to teach students how to bring internal strength to the upper extremities and maintain and control it while moving in contact with another person. Tuishou practice normally begins with a simple, formally-defined set of movements in a relatively constrained format in order to simplify the student's task of learning proper co-ordination. Over time, as the student's competence improves, more complex and difficult movements are introduced and the constraints relaxed so that the student's movement becomes more and more free.
Waijia [Mandarin] "External family" The category of martial arts that do not use or train internal strength principles as their basis. Contrast with Neijia.
Xingyiquan [Mandarin] "Mind Spirit boxing" An internal martial art of Chinese origin characterised by simple, direct body movements, forward, linear motion, and an emphasis on very strong strikes. Sometimes called the assassins art.
Yang-style Taijiquan The most popular major style of Taijiquan in the world. Yang style in its most popular form was developed by Yang Chengfu, the grandson of the legendary fighter Yang Luchan, who learned his art from Chen Changxing in Chen village. The art as Yang Lucan practised it may be presumed to resemble Chen-style Taijiquan, but Yang Chengfu developed it into a distinctly different style, replacing the changing tempos and rising and falling postures with a sedate, even tempo and uniformly large, open postures.
Yiquan [Mandarin] "Intention boxing" or "Mind boxing" Also called Dachengquan or "Great achievement boxing," though its inventor disavowed that name. An internal martial art of Chinese origin, invented by Xingyi boxer Wang Xiangzhai. Yiquan can be thought of as a refinement of Xingyiquan that simplifies the curriculum and concentrates it much more on power development, in large part through standing gongs.
Zhan zhuang [Mandarin] "Stance keeping" Any exercise or practice that use standing still in a particular posture to develop internal strength. The internal martial arts incorporate several different versions of standing gongs, but all are used to develop a co-ordinated strength of the whole body for martial purposes.

 
   
                             
     
     
   
     
 

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INTERNAL ARTS BOOKS
QIGONG EMPOWERMENT
Master Shou-Yu Liang & Wen-Ching Wu
The most unique and complete volume ever written in the English language on qigong. Covers, in great detail, Traditional Chinese Medical Qigong, Taoist Qigong, Buddhist Qigong, Healing Qigong, Martial Arts Qigong. With hundreds of photos
Code W1 £29.99 P.back

THE POWER OF INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS
B.K.Frantzis
Leading practitioner BruceFrantzis draws on his extensive background to present and in-depth analysis of the Internal Arts. Discusses all aspects of the arts - fighting, healing spiritual - plus personal profiles of the great masters the author has met.
Code A20 £16.99 P back

TAOIST SECRETS OF LOVE
Mantak Chia
Renowned Taoist master Mantak Chia reveals the secrets of Taoist sexual techniques. The powerful exercises described in this profusely illustrated book allow men to conserve and transform sexual energy, rejuvenating the body's vital functions. Also discusses exercises to practice with a partner to bring both greater fulfilment.
Code A7 £14.99 P.back

EIGHT BROCADES SEATED CHI KUNG
Stuart Olson
Complete translation of the original Ching Dynasty texts on this remarkable set of Chi Kung exercises. Includes complete commentaries on the texts, plus breathing methods, chi circulation and a fully illustrated guide to the complete set of exercises
Code A16 £12.99 P.back

TAI CHI TOUCHSTONES
Trans. D. Wile
An outstanding collection of Yang family manuscripts, history and training methods from Yang Pan Hou, Yang Cheng Fu, Cheng Man Ching and others. Invaluable material - the book on Yang style.
Code A21 £9.99

TAI CHI CHUAN MARTIAL APPLICATIONS
Yang Jwing Ming
Formerly Advanced Yang Style Vol 1, this highly detailed book shows numerous applications for the form, including Chin Na (grabbing) techniques. Also includes pushing hands and two-person set.
Code A22 £18.95

 
   
 
     
 

INTERNAL ARTS VIDEOS

QIGONG FOR HEALTH
Dr Paul Lam
Excellent tape, gives detailed instruction in Five Element Qigong, plus supplementary exercises. Gentel, but effective exercises suitable for all ages and conditions.
Code L1 60 min £15.95

CHI KUNG FOR TAI CHI CHUAN by Yang Jwing Ming
Detailed instruction for the Tai Chi practitioner.
Code A29 110 min £26.95
TAIJI CHIN NA by Yang Jwing Ming
Chin Na is the art of joint locking and subduing an opponent. This tape demonstrates more than 80 Chin Na techniques from Yang style Taiji and pushing hands.
Code A28 £26.99 102 min

THE EIGHT BROCADES by Robert Poyton
Instructional tape on the Eight Brocades, an ancient set of highly effective qigong exercises. Covers the standing version of all eight exercises in detail
Code SC12 55 min £19.99

YANG FAMILY TAI CHI CHUAN SERIES
by Robert Poyton

VOL 1 INTRODUCTION TO YANG TAI CHI CHUAN
The complete Yang medium frame long form at its basic level broken down posture by posture. Also pushing hands (plus Dynamic Push Hands) and extracts from other Yang style forms. Ideal for beginners.
Code SC1 £24.99 1hr 14 min

VOL 2 YANG FAMILY SWORD
Instructional tape on the 44 posture straight sword form. Complete form posture-by -posture. Applications are also shown, plus handling the sword and background history
Code SC2 £24.99 50 min

VOL 3 YANG FAMILY BROADSWORD
Instructional tape on the 24 posture broadsword for. Includes applications and training methods
Code SC3 £24.99 55 min

VOL 4 YANG STYLE BASIC APPLICATIONS
Covers basic self defence applications of the main postures from the Yang Cheng fu form. Also shows how each posture can be tested with a partner
Code SC4 £24.99 60 min

VOL 5 YANG STYLE FIGHTING FORM
One of the several two person sets in Yang style. Partners match movements from the first part of the form. Regular practice helps develop timing, speed, power and conditioning. This set also reveals many of the hidden fighting techniques within the form, which are explained on this tape.
Code SC5 £24.99 60 min

 
   
 
     
 
     
 

 

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Closing Remarks
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
     
 

As you can well imagine, I'm pretty damn amazing. However, even someone of my impressive mental girth (?) has trouble thinking up new articles, stories, events and lies to fill up the newsletter, and so I reach out to you, the punter, to fill my crevice. Please send me some stuff to put in here and/or send me some feedback about the new format. It doesn't have to be an article, if enough people send me letters or comments just saying what they thought of this issue, if you have any technical Taiji questions I can get the guys at the top to answer for you, jokes, pictures, ideas, or if you just had a Taiji revelation you want to share with everyone, write it down and send it to me and I can start a letters page, just like the one in my dream! Go on! It's easy! Make a bit of an effort, because I guarantee it's always interesting to read what other people think, even if you think it's boring and trivial. Which it probably is.
That's all folks! See ya real soon, thanks for reading, and HEY!
Thanks for just being
you!

 
   
   
     
 
     
 

 

 
   
   

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