The old way: basics before forms

In one of the oldest, most functional Chinese styles, Tongbei, basic techniques were trained individually far more than forms… “Today the basic training in Qi style Tongbei is 108 individual techniques. Sometimes it is called Chai Quan – take apart skill. The basic training in Shi style is 24 postures, sometimes it is called Lian Quan – synthesized form.…As Qi style became more popular some forms were created for teaching purposes. Compared to Qi style, Shi style group still kept the old way” Strider Clark…The main trainings include: 6 Prime Skills, 8 Older Fists, 12 Linking Fists, 12 Cannon Fists, 24 Posture Form, 36 Take Apart Fist, Weapons. Note, ONE FORM only… Strider Clark in action (in case you’re one of the few people who’s not seen this clip, it never gets old…)  The source of the quote is here


Aikido and Taiji as unarmed portion of weapons arts

On one level, this is a great advertisement for aikido’s effect on personality if not fighting ability. Having said that, the MMA guy is equally respectful. Constant investment in loss seems to grind the ego down rather effectively. Question: would a Tomiki or Yoshinkan Aikido guy do better? Probably, but not much. Makes me think, perhaps Aikido and Taiji share a similar evolutionary history: its possible they both started as weapons arts (certainly the case with Aikido) and the unarmed aspect only makes sense as a last ditch set of techniques intended to defend against an armed opponent?

Sanda…’chute boxe’ style

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Chinese martial arts have a modern, sporting aspect… and fearsome it is too. Here’s a nice nine minute intro to the training and basic techniques of Sanda, with a little added Brazilian ‘chute boxe’ flavour….

“If CMA doesn’t wake up, it will die.”

MMA fighter Xu Xiao Dong really stirred things up when he beat down Tai Chi ‘master’ Wei Lei. Now Lü Baochun, a normally mild- mannered Baji Quan and Chen Taiji teacher (and erstwhile challenge-taker for Feng Zhiqiang) has taken the unusual step of airing his views on the match and what it means for Chinese martial arts .

1) Chinese martial arts is truly on its last breath and only something like this can help resuscitate it. That’s why this video and the fight in it is a very good thing. Chinese martial arts need to be violently shocked into waking up. Whoever does this is doing CMA a big favour. Direct quote from Master Lü: “The fight itself and who is fighting or who wins or loses is not important. What is important is that they are talking about CMA. It’s good because they are forcing it to wake up. If it doesn’t wake up, it will die.”

2) CMA started going downhill 30-40 years ago. Before that the principle said that when talking about fighting you should “talk with your fists”, not only wth your mouth. Now almost everybody (99%) of CMA have small fists and big mouths. It’s good that somebody shows up and shuts them up. “There is a time for talking but there should be a balance between talking and really fighting. We can and should talk about techniques, ideas, styles but you should be able to support it. Many people stay “inside” talking about how they are the best but refuse to open their doors and open their minds.

Who is best is determined by fists, not by talk. 3) Master Lü said he is glad to watch the video and he wants to thank both participants. They both did a good thing for CMA. Hopefully people will think hard about what is the future for CMA.

Tai Chi postures for free fighting

Perhaps turn the soundtrack down unless you’re a Dead Kennedys fan, but this clip of Wudang / Practical Tai Chi shows quite well how Tai Chi postures can be trained realistically to transfer over to more of a free fighting format

Laughing Taoist throws you on your head

People tend to think of Bagua Zhang as being about spinning around in circles and fighting multiple opponents, but what struck me most about this weekend of Yizong Bagua in Paris with Luo De Xiu – one of Tim Cartmell’s main teachers   – is that he is teaching a highly sophisticated conceptual martial art that is not only consistent with western boxing (complete with feints, unpredictable footwork, misleading handwork, psychological set ups and all sorts of other practical trickery,)…but is also one in which the underlying concepts are indistinguishable from the body method. Luo said several times that Bagua wasn’t really about teaching his students tricks and techniques,  but about getting them to fully embody the art’s concepts so that they can move using large and small circles and spirals at every joint..with the techniques emerging spontaneously out of that. The other thing I hadn’t fully appreciated is just how funny, light-hearted and irreverent Luo is, whether he’s talking about Taoist meditation or throwing someone on their head.

Fitness first

Great defence of the primary importance of fitness in martial endeavour: “Within the fantasy based martial arts, you wouldn’t find it uncommon to find a “streetfighting” seminar where people talk about tactics, ammunition, and serial killers, and find the room full of obese, camouflage wearing, grossly out of shape, knife carrying paranoids, all actively pretending that their main motive for being there – is to live longer.”

Fighting – and, not or – Fitness