Has anybody read this book?

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lpboyle
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Has anybody read this book?

Post by lpboyle » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:13 pm

I was shelving some books at the college library today (I'm going back to college on the injured graybeard program) and ran across this small volume in the stacks that kinda spoke to me. "Chi Kung: Way of Power" by Master Lam Kam Chuen ISBN: 0-7360-4480-9. I've barely looked at it yet, and it seems to be about Zhan Zhuang Kung. I'm just wondering if anyone here is familiar with it, and if the instructions contained are complimentary to the similar training we do in taijiquan.

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Re: Has anybody read this book?

Post by jotrakoun » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:17 am

I read this book. I really liked it. The qigong described in the book is from Yiquan, and I thought it was pretty similar to the zhan zhuang exercises of GRTC, in form and resulting feeling after practice (The most basic postures, at least. Maybe a little 'rounder.'). There are some wild-looking postures in it though, i.e. the one about a dragon and the one about a tiger. It's best to consult your teacher before mixing and matching techniques from different schools. Beyond stationary exercises, the author presents some moving and stepping exercises that a student of martial arts should probably not learn from a book, at least not without an instructor to make corrections. The book is interesting for the many graphical aids in it (especially relating the human body to architectural structures, and the little flip-book graphics at the corner of each page), and its description of Dachengquan/Yiquan's history. Towards the end it touches a little bit on the martial aspect of the art, and the author presents his own take on Xingyiquan's Five Element fists. The author seems to be fond of presenting his own take on many things. I think he even founded his own family branch of Taiji (see the About the Author section), so you must keep in the back of your mind when reading the book which tidbits of information are transmissions from the past, and which are modern interpretations. This distinction can be hard to delineate at times. But the most important thing about the book is its cover. It's shiny, glossy, and fancy looking, which indicates that the book as a whole is just terrific.

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Re: Has anybody read this book?

Post by Psi Man » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:28 pm

Yeah, if a lot of the info comes from Yiquan, I wouldn't be surprised if the exercises are awesome. Yiquan has a slew of really interesting (and supposedly very effective) energy training drills, and some martial arts historians and experts have argued that zhan-zhuang's pivotal place in modern Chinese martial arts (Taiji, Xingyi, etc.) comes from Yiquan.

lpboyle
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Re: Has anybody read this book?

Post by lpboyle » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:57 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys. Somehow I wasn't getting my "follow thread" emails. I've adopted the basic exercises from the book into my own training. With the advanced practices the book shows I would rather stick to more traditional taiji methods as delineated in the writings of Cheng Man Ch'ing (Zheng Manquing). I already do some combined work with taijiquan footwork and German longsword movements but that is my own personal pet project. I felt no need to confuse myself with the Yiquan material yet. While I returned the borrowed copy, I plan on purchasing my own once I have a free $15 USD. I found the instructions on activating the foot pump contained in the text very useful when combined with the more traditional taiji postures from the 37 form, although with centering my weight on the "bubbling well" point I have noticed a tendency to let my knee alignment slip a bit too far forward or towards the inside of my stance that I have to be on guard against.

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Re: Has anybody read this book?

Post by Tashi James » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:48 pm

I don't think I've read it, however, zhan zhuang was apparently the original name given to baguazhang before it was renamed. Therefore it may be drawing upon the internal component of that art/style. Though I'm not sure.
"There is nothing that does not become easier through familiarity" (Santideva).

"We become what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit" (Aristotle).

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Complete Martial Art vs. Mixing It Up

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:14 am

I haven't read this book, so can't comment on it...

In general, I have found that is it not a good idea to mix & match from different systems. When one looks around the world of "martial artists" today, one is not usually impressed by the high level of the practitioners. What is typically encountered are people have taken the buffet approach, grabbing a little from here & a little from there, the so called mixed martial arts approach. What they have is the surface of several arts which often use different body mechanics. I would suggest that a more interesting approach is to go deeply into one art, doing one's best to reach mastery. In other world, study an art completely, not mix them up.

If I might offer just one example, some years ago I was at a tournament my students were playing in. After the action, standing outside later with an acquaintance, we started doing a little single hand push hands. Afterwards, discussing taijiquan, he said he was taking up baguazhang to improve his foot work, because he didn't have any from his tjq. But when I asked him had he learned the two-man dalu forms or sword forms, he hadn't. If he had taken the time to learn these, he would have found that the active stepping in tjq is taught thru these parts of the system. But instead of seeking out the next levels of training in an art he had already invested some years in, he was instead going to learn the beginners practice of a new art. BTW, this practitioner also had no understanding of fajin, & was amazed at mine (I don't say that to be boastful at all, I only have what anyone who trains properly can have). I also explained to him how fajin is learned & trained thru weapons, but he wasn't going to get to that training if he divided his time between beginner's level tjq & bgz...

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J HepworthYoung
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Re: Complete Martial Art vs. Mixing It Up

Post by J HepworthYoung » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:21 pm

Scott M. Rodell wrote:I haven't read this book, so can't comment on it...

In general, I have found that is it not a good idea to mix & match from different systems. When one looks around the world of "martial artists" today, one is not usually impressed by the high level of the practitioners. What is typically encountered are people have taken the buffet approach, grabbing a little from here & a little from there, the so called mixed martial arts approach. What they have is the surface of several arts which often use different body mechanics. I would suggest that a more interesting approach is to go deeply into one art, doing one's best to reach mastery. In other world, study an art completely, not mix them up.
I mean no disrespect, Yang Luchan was just a man:
Naturally, since all the Yang styles of taijiquan emanate from the same source, Yang Luchan, we should expect similarity in technique & approach to martial application. One of the major differences between the Michuan part of the Yang Family's system & those taught publicly, is the incorporation of stepping techniques from the beginning in the hand form. These stepping techniques (bufa) are drawn from several sources: Half-stepping from xingyiquan (which is used to control & vary the distance), the above mentions Plum Blossom Stepping (from Northern Shaolinquan, which included diagonal steps, both forward & backward & in combination & the circling step shown in the photos above) & Snake Stepping from an art known only to us as Snake Boxing. Some of these steps are seen in other parts of the Yang system including the public Yang, such as the circle step used in the Michuan version of Wield the Pipa, which is also used in the corning dalu two-man exercise.

Yang Luchan, according to the above quote, incorporated techniques of multiple martial arts into his own, making Taiji a mixed martial art system in terms of origin. Chen-bu of Chen village likewise incorporated multiple martial arts into the system of Chen Village, which Luchan trained in.

I agree entirely that perseverance is vital to mastery, but i must respectfully disagree with the notion that an man (or woman) cannot successfully draw from multiple sources and achieve mastery. In regard to my own opinion on this, there would be far more skill in taiji players in the modern world if they but mastered the grasp sparrows tail sequence itself. Some forms of taiji training insist upon working on one move at a time in a very serious and focused way before introducing the next move, and those types of training methods seem to hold to and result in a higher standard of skill than many of the modern training methods, methods aimed at teaching groups of people various forms without emphasis upon individual moves and individual preparedness for such moves.

Perhaps mastery is a deeply personal thing, which no group approach or method of training can guarantee?
In China, if you say you want to reach a high level, you'll be asked, "if you can eat bitter?' If you want a treasure, be prepared to spend lots of time, money, & sweat attaining it.

I take this to mean that mastery is the result of diligence and can be had only through hard work and sincere personal effort. I do not believe that any master of taijiquan was or is exceptionally qualified as an individual to obtain mastery, it was their effort and practice, which facilitated their mastery. Luchan incorporated multiple martial arts to form his system and over time the training methods and content of the system have changed distinctly, more or less and for better or worse. I believe your skill, Laoshi, stems directly from your effort and sincerity and am aware of many people who having the same teachers, system and methods, have failed to obtain the same level of skill.

I look forward to a chance to play with your students, should it ever arise. I believe you are correct that the buffet approach is problematic, but the problem of shallow skill development is one that can arise within a single well developed and effective system, and mastery is something that is not prohibited from being obtained by drawing from multiple martial arts, as Luchan is known to have done. Proper introduction, initiation and understanding is the first step to mastery and no man is an island.

I am deeply sorry if this offends. I do have a taste for bitter things.

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Re: Complete Martial Art vs. Mixing It Up

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:26 am

J HepworthYoung wrote:... I look forward to a chance to play with your students...
You are welcome anytime...
J HepworthYoung wrote:... I am deeply sorry if this offends. I do have a taste for bitter things.
No worries, no offense is taken in anyone politely offering their options, nor should there be!

(Sorry just have time for a quick response today... more later...)

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