|The Chinese Internal Arts
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|( only selected articles remain)
Saying of the month:
Nothing in the world is softer than water ... - but we know it can wear away the hardest of things. The supple overcomes the hard, and the so called weak, the strong.
Dao De Jing
Internal Strength with Mike Sigman
Last autumn we had another of Mike Sigman's Internal Strength seminars. This time it was held in Reading and subsequently more of our students attended. From all the comments I've had, it was a very successful seminar and everyone learned quite a lot there. Below are just few pictures from that event.
This January we went to Greece to give another seminar in Athens for Lydia's Taijiquan school. The weather was excellent and when we had time, we would go to the seaside and practise there with Lydia.
This time we concentrated more on pushing hands and would sometimes divide the students into two groups. Eva worked with beginners whilst I worked with the students who had already had some experience with pushing hands.
Dachengquan by Karel Koskuba
During our several visits to China, I had always wanted to meet Yiquan or Dachengquan practitioners. I knew about these internal martial arts because master Han Hsing Yuen, the Xingyi teacher of my Yang style teacher, master Chu King Hung, was a student of the founder of these arts, master Wang Xiangzhai.
Well, my wish has, at last, come true. During our last visit, we were fortunate to be introduced to a high-level Dachengquan teacher, Mr Xue Si Qi, by Jake, a friend of Xue's student in Holland, Jan Voormeij, who put us in touch with him. There were more people involved in the chain but I do not wish to make it too complicated!
Apart from introducing us to Mr Xue, Jake acted as an interpreter. His English was very good, which was very fortunate as Xue Si Qi was very open and thus we were able to get lots of information and training! If you ever wondered where I learned that wonderful exercise called "Turtle Peeks above Water", it's from Mr Xue.
Dachengquan (Great Achievement Boxing) was created by Wang Xiangzhai (1890 - 1963) after a lifetime of practice and research into martial arts. Wang Xiangzhai trained Xingyiquan under a famous master Guo Yunshen. After Guo's death, Wang travelled extensively around China looking for top teachers. He became dissatisfied with the way martial arts were taught. In his opinion, far too much time and effort was spent on empty forms. He therefore created Yiquan (Mind Boxing) to re-focus on internal energy training. Yiquan's main training tool is Zhan Zhuang, various standing postures. These are held for a minimum of one hour. Wang's students at that time, while becoming strong enough through the training, did not exhibit much agility or dexterity and so Wang abandoned teaching and did some more travelling and research. Eventually he created a new style by adding to Yiquan some very simple forms. He didn't give his new style any name, as it would discourage, in his opinion, further development. Eventually he settled in Beijing and issued a challenge to other martial artists (or, as he put it, an invitation to share their knowledge). Since no one could defeat him and also his students did extremely well in tournaments, his style was given the name 'Great Achievement Boxing'. At present, Dachengquan and Yiquan are often used as synonyms for the same style.
As with any great master, after their death there is always dispute about who was their best student, who was the inheritor of the style, etc. There is no exception in Wang Xiangzhai's case and there are several people who stake their claim to have been the best student. The late Prof. Yao Zongxun has probably better claim than most, having been designated, by Wang Xiangzhai, as his successor. And it so happens that Mr. Xue was one of his senior students. There is a possibility that he may come to UK one day to do a Dachengquan seminar. If that happens, I would announce it in the newsletter.
In the meantime, just a short syllabus of Dachengquan:-
The Main Steps in Training
Qigong Course by Eva Koskuba
Taijiquan practice is very beneficial. However, some people find learning Taijiquan form too daunting.
As you all know, we have a large number of people who start, stay for a few lessons and disappear.
Talking to some of them, it becomes clear that they like the Taiji exercises but they find the form just too difficult to learn and they are also not particularly interested in the self-defence part of Taijiquan. For these people, Qigong can be the answer. Qigong practice will give them the same flowing movements and attention to their body and mind without the 'burden' of having to remember a long sequence of movements. At the moment, Qigong is less known and understood but I can see that it is likely to become more popular than Taijiquan.
We have devised Taiji and Qigong based exercises for the elderly in Battle Hospital and Dawn Hatton has successfully started teaching patients there. I started to give Qigong classes incorporating Taiji exercises and Qigong at Firtrees. But obviously whatever effort Dawn and I put into it is not going to make a big impact. We need more teachers to help us. We already have a three year advanced Taijiquan course and as a result our students teach Taijiquan in local halls, colleges and sports centres. The need for Qigong teachers is growing and thus there is a similar need for Qigong training course.
We have devised a three-year course of Qigong for people who would like to teach, for people who would like to use it as therapy, and also for those who would like to study Qigong for their own qi cultivation and development. The course will start in the year 2000. We shall hold one or two Sunday afternoon sessions for people who might be interested and would like to find out a little bit more. I shall arrange the dates for August and October and inform you in our next Newsletter.