Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Master is unecessary!

The Tradition spreads with strength essential information for our personal evolution: this information is distilled with wisdom by the Professor and perceived by our mind, exchanged within the School.

If information is inestimable, if exchange is essential for a just evolution, it is the clarity of our mind and its availability which are going to make everything.

But the subject of the clarity of the mint is a subject which we often treat …

The subject here, it is the uselessness of the Professor … under certain angles.

The realization, the experiences and in general the life of the Professor have no importance for one's personal practice.

Careful, it is obvious, and I often say it, that the Professor must be a follower and a man of letters of his tradition, that his life must be coherent with its teachings and that he has to be a source of inspiration by his joy and his actions.

On the other hand, the choices of his practice, the actions which he undertakes or his choices of expression of the Way are not useful for the development of the students.

The fact of taking too much of an interest of the professor, of trying to copy him or of trying to understand his life, all this is only entertainment and guarantees a failure in one's personal evolution:  in fact, everyone evolves in one's way, every human being has his road and his qualities, it is not good to copy the evolution of somebody else.

The qualities of the teacher are the product of his work and of the evolution within his teaching, not the causes: if we try to copy the effects, we imitate and it is not an evolution, it is pretend!

We have to find our own means to work the causes who will produce the effects: and all this is within the Practice which is taught by the Professor.

As vector of the Way, the Professor has no importance, no interest.

He only has to give the good exercises to the good students, at the right time.

His personal stories are only anecdotes and his path an example among others.

The transmission is long, often too long for the common of the practitioners who prefer to spin without settling, to accumulate without deep foundations, to speak more than practice.

The relationship to the teacher is essential to acquire all the subtleties of the Way and this over years (traditionally three cycles of jing: one to be a practitioner, one to be an expert and the last one to become a Master).

  • Respect your professor, but do not copy him!
  • Follow all the teachings which you can, but do not speculate!
  • Do not pay attention to the private actions of the Professor, but do not accept incoherence!
  • Develop your independence, but remain faithful to ONE tradition and teacher!

The Way is a road traveled alone, formed of personal direct experiences, on the other hand this road is indicated by the Professor (not by one's mental creativity or one's falsified observations!)

The Practice requires a good dose of creativity and freedom, but the assimilation of the concepts of the Way requires to make a commitment fully after thinking about it.

The freedom of one's Practice comes from a precise assimilation of one's Tradition, not by imagination or band-aid of ends of practices.

The personal benefit of one's evolution, the deep knowledge of one's nature and the stopping of the unfounded questioning are considerations which are inestimable … but which ask for efforts in return!

The knowledge transfer requires the professor, but there ends his use!

The Tradition goes through the teacher but his role stops there!

Only the Way asks for an exposure to the world, not its vector.

And for the one who is a student of the Way, it is good to content oneself with self cultivation
and let oneself be traversed by the teaching …

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lost in the Fields

It is important, in a personal journey, not to get lost in the teaching's technicality and to know how to keep our real goals in sight.

Whatever the Way, it offers progression techniques for a successful evolution: it is possible to end up perfecting the techniques of the school, forgetting our own progress.

There's no need to be a good representative of one's school to be a good practitioner, there's no need to be a good practitioner to be happy and being happy only requires knowledge of oneself and of one's world ... Which is explained in one's Way.

What are the facets of self-discovery?

There is the body which has to be firmly rooted in physical reality, to be relaxed and flexible, while remaining strong and long-lasting. A body which has to be connected to the breath and the spirit as much as possible. This is the practice of the body.

There is the breath which is linked with emotions, and has to move freely for everything to go well. The awareness of this general circulation enables its fluidity. This is the practice of the breath.

There is the spirit which is less known than we think: the very fact of knowing its internal mechanisms through personal experience allows us to live better with our mind. This appeasement coming from alertness is the practice of the mind.

So we have to move a bit (at least with consciousness), to breathe carefully and watch ourself thinking... and that's all!

All the advanced techniques are only means to reach these qualities in one way or another ... Techniques have to be overcome to be useful. Any practice which is based on a technique is not in its final stage, the result always has be in the natural, the lively, the simple.

But it is a natural which is educated, worked, polished.

Be careful with the search of the secret or advanced technique or with focus on the tool rather than the goal: the Way is long, it is not useful to extend it or to add sideroads.

Return to the simple, understand the trap of the secret technique and free yourself from the expectations of the hidden ... it doesn't exist: what is hidden in your practice is something that is already right in front of you and that you haven't understood yet.

This is where the master is useful.

Indeed, if everything is so simple, why not make a one hour seminar and say everything clearly, then everyone says "oh yes, so that's it" and we just have to practice by ourself? .

The problem for the practitioner is that what happens in his practice will distract him from his path, a little bit like a fool walking on a path full of butterflies: he spends his time watching, hunting and comparing the butterflies instead of going where he is supposed to go. This is why many practitioners, isolated by choice or by the will not to commit, will become experts in butterflies, lost in the fields, but firmly convinced of their evolution. The great strength of the fool is the weakness of his lucidity supported by a fair amount of various illusions.

The master will put him back on the path, show him again where to go, patiently listen to his ravings, show him again where he has to go and reassure him about his performances, while showing him, again, where to go.

Let's go back to the important work, the simple work of self-accomplishment and let's not lose our Way, our path.

The teacher is here to guide us, but we walk on the path by ourself.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Let's see the details that will allow to develop maximum impact.

We're talking here about "obvious" power, the raw force of a rear fist hitting linearly, from the back to the front.

It is important not to confuse the force of impact with physical force.

Often enough, a heavy puncher is pretty strongly built, but it is not necessary.
In my tradition, it is recommended to work the body structure, flexibility and coordination before attempting to work pure strength.

The whole work on the structure goes in the direction of the force of impact.

Before anything else, we have to understand the mechanics of the move before thinking about hitting something.

See details from the bottom to the top:

- The feet are rooted to the ground, the weight being on their center, the rest of the body depends on this foundation.
- The rear foot will push the weight slightly forward, initiating the move.
- The front knee bends slightly, remaining in the alignment of the toes.
- The push is passed on to the hips moving the waist, acting as the base for the connection of the shoulders and the latissimus dorsi.
- The trunk rotation will propel the striking shoulder straight forward, remaining low and connected to the latissimus dorsi.

The whole movement allows to let the arm go forward, including these details:

- No tension in the arm and forearm,
- Aligning the striking part of the fist, the wrist and the tip of the shoulder,
- Letting the elbow down and the shoulder connected to the latissimus dorsi,
- Looking at where you strike.

At the impact, the elbow must not be bent, but it should not be stretched ... the striking distance is therefore essential for a truly devastating strikes.
The fist should be held, but not tense. If the fist is really clenched tightly, it will be possible to make "brutish" strikes, but not the most subtle ones.

The fist will have more power when aligned with the opposite shoulder.

Much of the force of impact may be annihilated if we hold our breath, if we stuck our diaphragm. In addition, striking while holding the breath will make us tired much more than when striking with a relaxed breath.

We just have to strike the air first, seeking to feel, slowly and remaining relaxed ... we should not rush to train with speed (and it's not really necessary).

The more the move is direct, the less there will be "force leaks".

So, even slowly, you have to go from total immobility to a decisive move.

It is advised not to put attention on the striking hand or arm (it will create tensions), but rather on the rotation and mobilization of the back.

Once the move is loose enough, and without parasiting movements (or at least, as little as possible), we will strike stuff (rather a soft bag, but quite heavy, for example).

Traditionally, in our school, we hit a wooden post. We start from pushing, rubbing and then violently hitting the post. The work bag comes later.

We will see specific exercises that develop the impact force in another text (working with weights, targets, iron rings ...).

We are not talking here about the work of precision, speed or structure which will obviously determine the effectiveness of the strike.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adrenaline: assistance to a person in danger

In the primitive times of the development of mankind, humans had to struggle to survive. Every day, to eat and live, men were challenging death.

The confrontation with the possibility of dying was as present as life itself. We have not changed that much: our immune system is still functioning like in survival days.

The reaction to an important stress triggers a release of adrenaline that allows to deal with the two most important options: fight or flight. This rush allows us to have an increased neuromuscular function and to be more resilient to pain.

In our sterile society and where the sense of responsibility has vanished, we don't have many occasions to be confronted with these extreme body mechanisms, so they end up surprising us. We take this natural feeling, which renders assistance to a person in danger, as a pathological manifestation of our weakness in a situation: it overwhelms and paralyzes us instead of supporting us in our choice of action or escape.

When driving a car, it is requested to engage the clutch and then accelerate. If you do so, you will have a movement that depends on how hard you are pushing your machine. If you accelerate without clutching a gear, you will have a terrible noise, a shaking of the structure and some surprise of the driver who does not feel the expected motion. Adrenaline causes the same phenomenon in humans: if we learn to use it then it is of invaluable help, otherwise it will only disturb us.

Now we need to recognize the various manifestations of these rushes in our body. There are five major manifestations of our fears and anxieties that will be related to problematic releases of adrenaline:

- The anticipation anxiety,
- The fear before the confrontation,
- The fear during the confrontation
- The second dose during the confrontation,
- The anxiety following the confrontation.

Through daily pathological anxieties, we release, over long periods of times, small doses of adrenaline without any purpose or specific reason.

A possible confrontation with the partner, the department head or the "colleagues" at work, causes this anxiety unnecessarily. The more the body gets used to this constant release of adrenaline, the more the person will be tense, agitated and unable to respond to a real emergency situation. The constant stimulation of the system, without reason and without action, is not like a car that accelerates constantly without being clutched, thus burning the engine.

The compulsive calculation of possible conflicts destructs us and makes our daily life arduous. We'd better fight against situations that really come up, rather than tilting at windmills. Moreover, after a while, this unused energy, stagnant and "heating", will be turned against someone weaker than us in our daily life: a partner, a child or small pet (if we are really weak and pathetic). This sweet release of "poison" must be identified and sublimated not to destroy us.

This is an anxiety, so it comes from ​​the world of thoughts. It is a work of internal alchemy which begins with Qi Gong.

When planning a real confrontation, it is normal to be scared. This stimulation prepares us for a reality. Whether a request for an raise, the prospect of a breakup, a fight for one's life or for sport, the feeling will grow until the manifestation of the event.

This fear may be that of defeat like that of success. This adrenaline rush lasts long enough and becomes useless. It is very difficult not to be the victim of this waiting period, often much worse than what we really expect.

This is related to the field of "calming the mind", but this represents an advanced level of practice.

In a conflict situation, and according to our level of knowledge of these phenomenons, we have a wrapping and violent adrenaline rush.

Depending on our own reality, we will be overwhelmed by the flight of a sparrow or a bayonet fight in the dark night. The more we become  intimate with these rushes and situations, the more we live them fully, in a completely relaxed state. The response will be even proper if our intellectual mind is not involved: we are more in an instinctive response which depends directly from an adaptation to our perceptions; the mental compulsive mind there is not welcome here.

We wil be progressively able to be more familiar with our reactions in a gradual exposure to our fears. Thus we will be more able to respond normally to life, in a typical taoist non-resistance.

In a conflictual situation with life, we can misjudge it. This mistake may suddenly appear when realizing the confrontation: again we go through a fear of failure or success that will give us a "second round" of sudden release of this natural stimulant.

Too often ignored by unadventurous scholars in their studies on fear, the second wave can break the achievement of our action. Confident of our abilities, but surprised by how reality turns out, we can be knocked out by this phenomenon.

A fantastical imagination, nourished with hopes and dreams, may be the cause of the difference between our projections and reality. I love the image of the armchair fighter who actually for the first time on an opponent. He is sure of the immensely destructive power of his iron fist and he is surprised by the absolute lack of results on the guy standing in front of him.

Imagination and cheap books guaranteed him victory however, but reality is not as attractive. He can be gone strong to battle, with all his illusions, and receive a "second wave" of fear that will freeze him at worst, make him run at best.

A husband who wants to break-up with his wife can feel self-confident and full of power until the final confrontation where his girlfriend leaves him.

His universe of decision-maker male may be the source of a memorable adrenalin rush. Exposure to fears will help setting the proper level of response to fear to a pleasant degree for everyday life: This level differs depending on whether one is a dressmaker or a special forces agent.

After the conflict, a "drawling" release remains and relaxes residual tensions. May the confrontation be a success or not, there is often, in this moment, a violent feeling which concludes the expérience.

The emotions that will be linked to the happy or unhappy resolution of the confrontation will make this moment easily discernible or not. When we are very pleased with the success of a confrontation, the final corresponding release end can be confused with the emotional signs expressed, but it's here anyway.

The more the confrontation phase will be unresolved, the more violent the final phase will be. If all steps do not end in a clear resolution, the remnants will be very present and very troublesome.

How to recognize these manifestations of adrenaline release?

The  results a slow rush, ie type 1 of the "anxious", and type 2 , are by far more dangerous and can become chronic. The same symptoms can exist for a bad psychological reaction to type 5, the afetrward rush, it is a state of shock.

We have four major symptoms:

- Loss of sleep or disturbed sleep,
- Loss of appetite or weight loss,
- Depressive syndromes,
- High blood pressure and palpitations.

Regarding the violent releases in the confrontation moment, we have five manifestations:

- An agitation that starts from the heart pumping to shake the whole body (voice included)
- A lack of saliva and spontaneous sweat (hands included)
- A "tunnel"vision that reduces peripheral vision (useful but dangerous)
- A possible nausea or a desire to go to the bathroom,
- A distortion of time which may seem longer or shorter.

These are the manifestations listed as the most common in studies on fear and its biochemical process.

To regain a kind of relaxation in these situations, a more normal way of working, we have three key concepts:

- To accept by intellectual and experimental understanding of the body mechanisms,
- To feel the adrenaline rush without confusing it with weakness,
- To use this natural help to "fight or flight" the situation.

We will detail these steps later.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Forms are useless

I mean the choregraphed form, composed of several techniques aped to strike the wind.

I was fortunate enough to meet many talented practitioners and masters in martial arts, they shared with me some forms and exercises that I still practice today.
After all this time, I want to say, whether for fighting, energetic development or for the spiritual aspect, forms are useless.

In terms of fighting, the exercises that modify the main qualities of the practitioner (ie his power and his "heart"), are enough to prepare the basis to approach physical confrontation.

The forms just give an illusion of fantasy and infeasible techniques. They take a precious time to the practitioner who'd better work seriously... But I've never met a fighter who had not a good technical training, based on on the practice of forms, or at least on training the body structure. Of course there are a few forces of nature, rather nasty and rough ... but they are out the classical practitioners category.
Concerning the use of lines of force, the respect of the structure in the action and the force transfer, repeating forms may be a good idea. Moreover, the fluidity of the moves, not impeded by thoughts since the mental mind had time to integrate the learning process of the form, allow to combine strikes... to keep the balance... hummmm.
I do not speak of single-move training, that we train later to "express the Jing", but of "danced" forms.

For the work on blood hence energy circulation,we just need to relax, and "it will come" ... What an idea to make movements that are supposed to "make the energy circulate" or "open the meridians"! Yet it is clear that certain moves develop and strengthen specific body parts. This development leads to a better circulation, thus an increased flow of energy. Could it be that some crafty people regrouped these moves to extract "forms"? If it has not been done, it seems like a good idea.
The forms that I could discover in the internal arts of taoist influences, those which are not from the day before yesterday, have this feature of brining a balanced circulation throughout the physical structure, "stretching" on the lines of the meridians of Chinese medicine and all that in a minimal quantity of movement. We can do without it, but since it is already there ....

For spiritual practice, which involves only a few people, I will not say anything ... but I do not think less.

Forms are of no use for fighting, but their practice will "relax" and enhance the fighter's qualities. They have an odd position in the practice, unnecessary but essential ...
Forms are useless, but without their study, the road seems longer.

A paradox!

I practice the "routine" from the beginning of my training, I believe they are useful.
But it seems to me that there is a paradox about their role: they are not useful for the reasons why they are practiced.

Athletes or combat sports practitioners do not know this practice. They focus on "single moves", the techniques and their applications.

In the internal arts, training forms is often followed by training single moves. These moves are often taken from forms, and they are trained separately, to enter the "no thoughts", and to learn to express the force.

Each move is then worked to become more powerful and more relaxed, all that being integrated in the form afterwards.

The exercises and training methods might be enough, as in Yi Quan for example, but yet the taste is not the same.
There is something "magical" in the forms, a spark from the past, a contact with something else.
I am a lover of old or rare forms, for the pleasure of the mind or to learn a way to express the jing in a precise system. In the same time, they seem unhelpful, but nevertheless essential.

Among the teachers I met, none of them was still practicing the forms, or just to teach them. However, they often had a free practice, nourished by the forms they had practiced before. At a certain level of body and mind freedom, the form can not be contained in its pre-determined structure, but without form freedom is hard to find.

The role of "routines" is much subtler than it seems.
There are basic movements, which are praticed first.

Exercises and training methods of internal arts, the "nei gong" and "wai gong"will allow to acquire power and relaxation in these moves.

Then you learn the forms, structured dances that incorporate the basic moves.

In these "routines", the basic moves are often used differently than in the basic exercises, they are given a further freedom and motion. The connection between the moves, the combinations and continuity of force along the form should be a specific work.

Dealing with the distance and the fighting concepts will emerge from the form putting the basic moves together.

In the internal arts, the basic techniques are often more focused on the body development and way of moving than on basic strikes. The latters are often practiced later in the exercises where you learn to express the force with single moves.

Why should we practice the forms today?

I think there are still three good reasons to do so:

- To prepare the body for movements of the style,

- To combine all the techniques which stucture the style,

- To concentrate the different ways of using the style, in one form.

In the form it will be possible to combine the way of moving, the movement mechanics, the fighting concepts and the way to deal with distance. None of these principles will only be truly visible, they can remain transparent in our practice if the training methods are not known.

The problem is that, over the centuries, the moves have evolved as a moves and not as principles anymore. Which leads to the faxct that a move originally created for a specific purpose, often ignored bythe practitioner, can then be changed without the practitioner understanding the reason. This will lead a more "prettier" form, more suited to the young master, but further from the original creation. Gradually, the style loses its "heart" and nourishes its "coating".

Furthermore, some techniques that could be used long ago, in a specific situation, are now obsolete. I refer in particular to techniques coming from fighting in armor, or designed to fight cavalrymen, who seem unnecessary in the street today. Unless you're overcome with bad luck and get attacked by a knight in armor!

Each movement of the forms has to be trained to express the power and speed while remaining relaxed. Without this training, the forms are "empty", and even if the moves are there, they lack strength and precision, they are useless, but it's pretty.

For art to remain alive, it must evolve.

A master proud to have a form that has not changed since the creation of style underlies two wrong things: the first is that if his style is appliable, he decreed that the ways of fighting have not evolved; the second thing is that people have become idiots in recent decades and thus unable to evolve or to think.

I repeat it: after mastering one's art, it is advisable to make it evolve if needed, or to leave it as such.

New knowledge in anatomy, cardiovascular training, techniques to develop proprioception, the understanding of how to increase strength and speed training exwercises... all this can lead us to an evolution the way we practice. If we prefer to ignore all this knowledge and practice like 300 years ago, it's a choice... which is often a waste of time, a precious time in practice.

"We have to find the right middle in everything". I think this is the solution. Traditional forms must be fed with today's knowledge, but we shall not give up the depth of knowledge of the ancients, the magic of passing on the knowledge.

The specificity of many internal arts lies in the seemingly innocent practices.

To develop deep changes in the body and mind of the adept, it is important not to give him too "clear" exercices, otherwise he will try to put strength and speed.

If you can train without "intent" on a transformation, everything is easier. Reproducing moves that express power through an unprepared body, or developing power in a fragile vessel, is like putting a heavy cannon in a boat: at the first shot, the boat sink.

In the internal arts, we give priority to the preparation of the body rather than to its usage. The form will allow test the structure, through an elegant dance which summarizes the theories of the style. After many years of understanding through practice, drills and training methods will feed the form that will "teach" the practitioner.

For all these reasons, the forms "are" the ancient arts, the" soul" of the styles and therefore they are of no "use".

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The different Jing (explosion of force)

Offensive Jing

"Repelling" is an offensive Jing that is very aggressive, even in defense. The idea is to ​​keep a protection zone in front of us, a circular area like a balloon in which we don't let any force penetrate. This is the area which we determine while holding the tree, a space where nothing can come in.
"Repelling" is not really a parry but a way to make the attack bounce and to hit in the same move. It is also a way to make the opponent fall when we managed to get into his guard. It is difficult to explain "repelling", but very easy to demonstrate. For those who already know, these explanations are simple.

The ideal thing to work on the repelling energy is to use a bag which we will make heavier and heavier. We can practice pushing, hitting, bouncing and deflecting. When using this move, this concept actually, the whole intent must be in aggressiveness.


This is a striking power that screws at the moment of the impact. This is the idea of ​​screwing (in any direction) after reaching the target. This circular action after impact involves a deep penetration of the power. We can strike with the fist, the knuckles, one finger or the palm. It is a way of hitting that we would love to use more often but which is hard to apply.

To train this, just put the fist on the still punching bag and suddenly screw the fist to propel the bag. This Jing is often used on cavities because they contain vital points of the human body. The focus must be inside the body as if it we wanted to send the power of impact under the surface of the target.


Breaking is used on the opponent's joints. This is very close to the intent we need  to cut wood. We need to focus and to aim at the branch that we will cut. This is just before the impact of the ax on the branch that we aim, then we have to accelerate the movement and extend it after touching the branch. For an effective action, we must remain relaxed and use force only at the end of the movement.

The best way to learn that Jing is to break small branches between the forearms. It is first advised to protect the arms but very quickly we get used to this movement. The most important is to focus the intent on what we do.


Whether it's a boxing hook, a "teaching slap", a circular elbow strike or a way of catching, circular strength is paramount in the art of combat. The most important work will be to coordinate all the body segments so that nothing is left behind during the rotation. We must remain completely relaxed until the end of the rotation, when we add a little more power in the last part of the movement before returning immediately to the starting position.

Throwing the whole body in one direction and then bringing it back in the other, reminds the movement of the whip. The quicker we bring the movement back, the more the power will penetrate deep inside the target as does the whip. This is an aggressive yet very relaxed Jing which gets effectiveness only with a lot of practice.

To train this, the ideal thing is again to take a punching bag in which you try to hit very quickly, causing a lot of noise but without pushing the bag.


The energy of the "diving" Jing can be horizontal or vertical. This is an horizontal energy when diving inside the guard to avoid an attack and not to be in the danger zone. For example, if an opponent tries to hit us in the face and that we have the reflex to dive inside his guard, his shot will hit an empty space or our shoulder. On an offensive or defensive action, we can use the vertical diving strike to hit the ribs downward, the hip or the leg often causing the opponent to fall. We can use this Jing in throwing more than in striking. This is a very good way to control while causing minimal damage.

On the punching bag you train while trying to reach the last ten centimeters of the bag, located around hip height. We start standing, straight on the legs, and when striking we drop the whole the bodyweight on 10 or 15 centimeters down. "Diving" brings a heavy hit  which take the opponent's balance.


We can easily understand what it means to push but it is difficult to understand how aggressive it can be, detering the opponent to continue the fight. We can push forward, downward or upward. We can push with one hand or with both, with long or short power. We can use the pushing power as a strike or as an action where the idea is to send off the opponent. It turns out not to be the most appropriate response, given that most of the time we will have to go get him back. The power of the push is obviously not in the arms but in the source of the power of the body, that is to say the legs and feet on the ground.

The most effective way to train pushing power is divided into two stages. We start by pushing something that does not move and after some practice we go to a pretty heavy bag on which one uses the same force. It is a training that is to be done, pretty hard to describe. A short power push can be very effective before bringing any other strikes: it is a way to shock the opponent to prevent him from responding.


"Catching" is a force that can be used to control, destabilize or throw. In general, it is recommended to engage contact with the surface to catch and then to feint in the opposite direction of the one you want to catch him into. The opponent's reaction will be to tense, which will make the throwing easier and reduce his ability to defend.

If the "catching" Jing is strong enough, it may be sufficient for itself. Most of the time, catching is a way to bring another Jing like "screwing", "circular" or "pushing". Rooting is essential in this kind of Jing as the person caught will inevitably attempt to break free. If we do not have a good balance on the legs, it is a dangerous Jing which can cost our own balance.

The only way to train "catching" is to have a partner with whom we can this concept.


In close range elbow is an indispensable asset that makes the difference. This attack is obviously difficult to counter and, inflicting heavy damage; but it is also a clever way to parry. Using the elbow for parry is effective since it breaks the aggression. Knowing how to use the elbows turns them into hand when we are close to the opponent. Again, explaining it with words is not worth the practice where the understanding is immediate. The use of elbow strikes can be straight, circular, rising or falling.

All these attacks are worked on a bag or on a moving target. These moves are also ways to parry with the elbow. The fighting arts, regardless of styles, always bring to a very short distance to reduce the danger. Without the practice of Jing elbows, it will be impossible to respond properly within a short distance.


We can use the hand or the forearm before rubbing on the front, on the side, up or down. This concept can be used to rub against an arm or a leg but can also be used on a seizing attempt to clear the way and be able to apply another Jing. It is a way to deflect the opponent slightly without sending him too far away, before engaging in a counter-attack.

A heavy punching bag will be very useful to train this Jing. We make the bag rotate without the use of the closed hand but with a rubbing action of the forearms. By rolling the bag we go from one forearm to the other, which develops their sensitivity. Rubbing can also be used in a sudden and violent manner, with the idea of ​​a ricochet. An advanced method involves taking a stick and rolling the hand and the whole arm on one side and on the other. Rubbing against the stick allows to condition the arms subtly while developing even more sensitivity.

The defensive Jing


The pulling action deflects the opponent and puts it in the position that suits us best. This Jing can be long or very short. With enough rooting, the action of pulling is enough to throw on the ground but can also cause a KO. To throw the opponent we just need to pull him by moving his center of gravity towards the empty point of his support polygon. People who are already familiar with the fighting arts will understand what is written.

If you learn to pull the arm in a brief and violent manner, it will cause a tension in the trapezium, which itself will compress a nerve in the neck. It is difficult to believe that if we never experienced a Jing violent enough to twist the head. This is a independant Jing, but which can also, like all other Jing, be done in combination.

The best way to train this is to use a wooden dummy and to practice exercises on it.


It is a defensive Jing where we go ahead of the opponent's strike, blocking his attacking Jing and staying stuck to his arms. Without using the hands to catch the arms we will use the palms, forearms and arms to stick as much as possible and prevent the opponent from finding enough space to thrust another attack. Moreover, this very short distance is appropriate to perform different types of Jing, since the opponent is made more vulnerable because he's tense.

This is a Jing difficult to apply but if you master it well enough, it becomes one of the best to use. Not only the opponent is turned harmless, but in addition we do not have to cause too much physical damage.

The only way to train "intercepting-sticking" is to practice appopriate exercises with a partner. This is an advanced defensive Jing but very interesting to work on. Moreover, the practice of this Jing is by far one of the funniset in our way.


These two opposed Jing allow to have to have a fast defense against surprising attacks. These are the typical parries which are found everywhere in the fighting arts. We have to understand that they are never a first choice but rather a backup solution when you have been surprised. To control the opponent, we have to use an aggressive Jing as soon as possible after opening or closing.

Again, the best way to understand this Jing is to train with an opponent who will try to surprise us by attacking quickly.

This was a first introduction to the various Jing for a simple usage. There are endless variations on Jing, knowing that each move, each situation can involve a different Jing. We have to understand that it is infinitely more effective to work rather than forms. Only when the Jing are perfectly mastered, we can use the forms as technical reminders.

The reason why Chinese internal arts are mostly  useless today is precisely because many teachers forms  sell the forms more easily than the difficult work that is Jing training . Again, they focus on the external form, which remains anecdotal for internal arts, while the essence of martial arts lies in the methods ...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy idiot

It is sometimes justified to question ourselves about the pertinence of a spiritual practice: indeed this work turns  our inside world upside down and can bring suffering to liberate us from our sick mechanisms.

All those who have started a real research on how the human being works and on the internal and subtle mechanisms that drive us cannot lie to themselves anymore: though it is sometimes difficult to experience, it is very satisfying to understand how we work and how we can work better.

But those who let the wind push them to the right or to the left don't have these "spiritual" worries and they just have to face some of the vagaries of life that are also part of the researchers lot...

Therefore, it is normal to ask oneself if it's better to live in a certain ignorance of the way we work and of our spiritual aspect, to take care of "reality", or to do things the hard way in order to finally understand how our body, emotions, mind and breath work...

In fact, this question is more relevant of barstool thinking, for one who does not believe that a part of us is "spirit-related", mental, psychological or spiritual is of bad faith ... or is one of these Neanderthals allegedly still with us ...

There are now enough experiments and studies that prove the importance of the union of body, breath and mind to feel good, united and to live a life with no worries.

But we can put that aside, saying that we will take care of that later, when we have more time... Or when the fear of death, for various reasons, will organize our priorities back in order.

This idea that "we will do it later" is the same myth as the one of the room of the house or the corner of the desk that we will clean "later."

Sometimes we clean it, out of spite or obligation, but without ever asking ourselves the right questions ... As a result, the same place will be in the same state in no time!

For those who may ask themselves questions at the end of this text, a shorter version ( it may spare me some emails):

Question: Mr. Urban Daoist, should one practice?
Answer: yes, it is important, we have to.

And here is a little more thought:

How does your little child, absolutely absorbed in his thoughts, sometimes unconscious about his environment, has survived his first years of walking?

He was guided by you, who were more aware in these moments, trying your best not to lose him in the crowd or under a train.

So, the unconscious one is led by the most conscious, the one who sleeps is guided by the one who is awake ...

Therefore, in my unconsciousness and the moments when I am overwhelmed by emotions, I am led by the people who are more awake than me: can we think about some medias, professional sellers, advertisements or the big large mass manipulations?

Perhaps, this is not the debate here.

However, it is good to stay conscious, conscious of what is happening inside and outside, not to find ourselves the unconscious toy of a life where the values ​​are no longer the right ones.

Practice and you will be more able to hang on to, manage, live your own life ... It is a good motivation, isn't it?

The summer days

For those who have a regular, sometimes really important, rooted in their everyday life,  practice, you need to know today that you are responsible for much more than you think.

It is hard to know what will happen in our life, our travels and our evolution in our professions... You can not really say what you will do in 10 or 20 years.

If you carry a tradition with you, of which you have a direct experience through your personal practice and an understanding through your study and your exchanges with your practice "colleagues", you can be the vehicle at one time or another of a branch of your tradition.

Simply put, it is important to practice primarily to solve what we want to clarify, but we also become responsible for the manual, the technique, the tradition that offers all that.

It is important to understand how lucky we are having this burden, and I'm not exaggerating at all, but we carry with us a piece of the puzzle that builds the world of tomorrow. We have within us, and available for others one day, a tool for the evolution of the human being and his liberation.

Wether this puzzle piece is used or not at the moment, we are in an active movement in the construction of human consciousness ... Isn't that better than a home loan plan or stock market shares? It is not an exaggeration and it was proved in the history of our lineage: some informations have sometimes survived by improbable and unexpected vehicles which were not part of the initial plan.

It is important to be aware of one's importance and the impact of one's actions: when you give a book about the Way, when you say good or bad things about it, when you do what you do, you have a direct influence on your world, which is also mine!

There are no accidents, we are responsible for what we do and we are the actors of our life... or we have to  become all that quickly (see the text "happy idiot" )

Let's accept the responsibility that we bear in the world, let's commit even more in a local and global action, let's share this deep research that builds human consciousness and let's stop thinking that only  the others bear this responsibility.

 This could warm your summer up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Ba Gua Zhang of Zhang Zhao Dong

Zhang style Ba Gua Zhang is the evolution of a master Xing Yi Quan master to Ba Gua Zhang.

Already an expert in Hebei Xing Yi, it is said that Zhang Zhao Dong combined the Fa-Jins of Xing Yi and Ba Gua. Actually, he rather used the Xing Yi Fa-Jins that he adapted to the Ba Gua moves.

The most interesting thing in the history of this master is the succession of his style and teaching.

For a teacher who sought to refine his style in simplicity,  his succession will evolve in multiple moves, sometimes without much meaning ... but as this popular branch benefited from the first publication of a best-seller, it became the most known (it was the "America's Voice" of  the time), at the expense of the transmission which was the closest to Zhang's teaching.

Fortunately, as always, a solid foundation of his teaching remains alive through discrete and gifted students. In a funny way, a very genuine branch from the initial style will be developed in Japan, among the Chinese community.

The most common branch is a flowery form made of overabundant moves, which calls itself, and in all modesty, "original form", but which differs a lot, in its moves and concepts, from the original form (the real one).

The idea is not to say "this is good, this is not", but to see how, in one generation, in the purest tradition of Chinese transmission, a style will go from one extreme to the other.

What made Master Zhang so great was this ability to blend skillfully, in a practical aspect, the Fa-Jins of Xing Yi and the Ba Gua moves.

His "official" succession will then promote forms which do not give this ability.

The second thing is what the heart of Zhang Zao Dong's teaching really was.

The master himself was teaching once a week in his school, and was regularly giving private lessons by appointments. He also had a solid group of students / disciples which was close to him.

In his Tianjin school, the master's teaching had two complementary aspects:

 - The "strength exercises" (Li Gong") and Fa-Jin exercises,
 - The walking and footwork exercises.

The "strength exercises" were composed of two sets of practices for physical strength, linking the body, conditioning and coordination.

The first set includes twelve strength exercises, which give a solid body.

The second set consists of 64 exercises that work on coordination, strength and flexibility.

Fa-Jin exercises have three steps:

- The 8 Palms and their Fa-Jin,
- The Mother Palms and their application,
- The 64 strikes and 32 techniques.

The 8 palms are six ways of striking with the palm in two directions. This also include several Nei Gong for each palm, exercises to do alone, some while moving, and some with a partner.

In the Zhang Zao Dong school of Ba Gua, many exercises develop palm power and hand conditioning.

These exercises quickly provide real changes of the quality of the palm in its power, its listening skill and its structure.

The first exercises are the eight palms:

- Piercing, the palm of the sky,
- Bringing back, for the earth,
- Pushing, for the fire,
- Embrassing, for the water,
- Slicing, for the wind,
- Cutting, for the thunder,
- Lifting, for the lake,
- Twisting, for the mountain.

Each palm is traditionally connected to a Yin/Yang trigram of the Yi Jing (this is not very useful for fighting arts, but it is the origin of their name).

Each palm gives a shape to the hand for a specific strike and one movement, one direction.

The palms are then used in three series of exercises:

- Nei Gong, to develop energy circulation,
- Li Gong, for strength and to link the whole body with the hand,
- Fa-Jin, to amplify striking impact.

A strike from a "trained" hand causes the penetration of the force and the ability to disturb the whole structure of the opponent, and that much differently than with fists.

The mother palms are based on the eight palms, but with direction changes which are put in circle walking. So the new thing at this point is circle walking and the way of changing from one palm to the other in a dynamic movement.

The "64 strikes and 32 techniques" are fast combinations and ideas of techniques for fighting. This is step exclusively focused on combat, and quick resolution of any physical confrontation.

In the walking exercises, there are a dozen ways to walk the circle and their fighting applications.

In these, there were several simple and practical ways to change direction:

- The "2 Manifestations"
- The 4  Changes for wrestling,
- The 3 Palms for fighting (single, double and fluid).

The footwork exercises are a form which combines the understanding of the walking exercises and of the kicks. We call this practice the "72 legs" ...

So this is it for the teaching of the Tianjin school under the direction of the master when he was teaching.

Oh by the way ... There was also a form (with three levels of evolution) which was taught afterwards, and which was a summary, a reminder of all that had been worked before. Needless to say that without the preliminary and fundamental training of the school (everything I have just detailed), the form was useless and empty...

The school of Master Zhang Zhao Dong, a school not widespread but yet so rich.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Xing Yi Quan of Li Cun Yi

A friend of Zhang Zhao Dong and also a Ba Gua Zhang practitioner, Li Cun Yi (1847-1921) is mostly known for his Xing Yi Quan.

In the region of Hebei, Shen county, a master of Xing Yi Quan named Li Neng Ran (1809-1890) taught a few very famous disciples such as Guo Yun Shen and Liu Qi Lan.

Li Cun Yi became one of the best disciples of Liu Qi Lan.

Meanwhile, he often visited an old friend, Cheng Ting Hua (disciple of Dong Hai Chuan, the creator of Ba Gua Zhang) and regularly went to Beijing to exchange combat techniques.

His Xing Yi Quan is clear and powerful, fluid and relaxed, with no flowery or empty moves.

His teaching is precise, it strengthens the body and develops the ability to express the power in combat.

It always begins with static positions and Nei Gong without stepping, searching for structure and rooting.

After the Qi Gongs of the school and the basic Nei Gong exercises ("keeping heaven and earth", "the three old fists" and "linking the the whole body"), we begin the study of the five fists and of their related Nei Gongs.

Five fists:

- Pi Quan: separating, cutting,
- Tsuan Quan: twisting, going up,
- Beng Quan: screwing, sawing,
- Pao Quan: Forcing, exploding,
- Heng Quan: changing, horizontal force.

Each fist has several Nei Gong to develop the various combined strength of each move. These exercises develop the body and teach the practitioner to "express the power".

For example, for Pi Quan we have the following exercises:

- Upward power Li Gong,
- Pushing power Li Gong,
- Lifting-pulling Nei Gong,
- Pushing-changing Nei Gong,
- 5 steps,
- Basic form,
- Back lines form,
- Front lines form,
- Fa-Jin form,
- Fighting form.

There are about twenty small fighting forms which develop the ability to combine some of the five fists for usage:

- Pi Beng Tsuan,
- Tsuan Pao Pi,
- Beng Beng Heng,
Etc ...

To "relax" the five fists practice, there are a series of combined forms of these to link them naturally without mental reflection:

- The 5 linking fists,
- Uniting the five forces,
- The 5 explosions,
- Linking the five moves.

After releasing the five fists and developing the eight basic fa jin, one learns the twelve animal forms:

- Tiger: clawing power,
- Dragon: leg training,
- Horse: striking power,
- Snake: shoving and going back up,
- Rooster: One of the basics of Hebei style,
- Falcon: direction changes,
- Swallow: changing fist,
- Monkey: multiple strikes,
- "Tai" bird: hidden power,
- Crocodile: horizontal power,
- Eagle: grabbing,
- Ours: colliding.

Each animal form can be declined in three to five variations that develop different qualities and applications. There are also several Nei Gong for each, and each animal's power is made of combined Fa-Jins of the 5 fists.

The 12 animals practice is long and physically difficult.

Then, if we have acquired the ability to express the power in each animal form, we move to several "advanced" forms:

- "5 fists and 12 animals": a form which combines all that was learned since the beginning of the training.
- "Xing Yi Quan": a form which is characteristic of the Zhang Zhao Dong and Li Cun Yi school, and which develops fighting combinations.
- "8 special forces": develops forces which are missing in the learning process of the style: head butts, elbows and other combinations of uppercuts ...
- "8 styles": a short and explosive form which is practiced with "explosion" all the way.

Two-person exercises and other combat applications are practiced all along the way and start from the first course: one learns the basic Qi Gong and trains with a partner from the beginning.

Li Cun Yi said: "Xing Yi Quan develops the forces (solo training) and the exchange expresses these forces (partner training)."

Without two-person training, fighting exercises and sensitivity skills training, all developed with a partner, Xing Yi Quan cannot be practical.

Li Cun Yi also included in his teaching circle-walking and three Ba Gua Zhang palm changes:

- Single-palm change,
- Double-palm change,
- Fluid palm change.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Li Family's Tai Ji Quan

The Tai Ji Quan of Li Fang Chen, who was a friend of Du Xing Wu, is a ancient boxing style whose founder was Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872).

Yang Lu Chan, forced to teach his art to an imperial court that he abhorred (the Manchus), transformed it so as to pass on his personal form only to his family.

Yang Lu Chan had three sons and the youngest , Yang Jian Hou (1837-1917) who had Li Fang Chen as a disciple, learned the ancient form of boxing which remained alive but hidden.

On his part, the third son of Yang Jian Hou, Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1917), popularized a health exercise based on the movements of the family art.

What differentiates them is quite simple:

In the modern form, you learn a choreography of martial inspiration that no longer relies on Nei Gong (internal energy training), but only on the movements themselves.

In the old form, as in all the internal boxing styles, many Li Gong (strength training), Nei Gong (internal strength training) and combat exercises were practiced before seeing the form.

The health aspect of the form comes essentially from the practice of Nei Gong and it is important to know that the martial aspect is not contained in it.

There are 3 levels of study in the Li Family Taijiquan:

- Learning the movements linked with the 13 postures,
- Practicing the  linking exercises and the fast  forms,
- Mastering the "long boxing".

There are 4 combat principles and 4 support techniques:

- Peng: occupy the space,
- Lu: pull,
- Jie: crush,
 - An: push.

And the forces of:

- Elbow: the usage of  the elbow for fighting,
- Shoving: "walk through the opponent",
- Grabbing: catching and twisting,
- Separate: throwing off and breaking.

These 8 concepts of fighting are expressed in the 5 directions (13 postures).

Each principle, such as Peng, has a dozen Nei Gongs, Li Gongs and two-person exercises to be understood and used.

Having understood and practiced the basic exercises for a few weeks (...), we normally move on to the linking exercises and fast forms.

There are 16 linking exercises which are made of combat principles and seek to develop the force of impact in different angles :

- Pushing back
- Carrying
- Lifting
- Creasing
- Sealing
- Sticking
- Piercing
- Drilling
- Smashing
- Wrapping
- Intercepting
- Clawing
- Breaking
- Leading
- Hindering
- Shaking

The 12 fast forms are small forms composed of 3 to five movements which test strength and understanding of the fighting concepts in speed and movement:

- Fast strikes
- Linking elbows
- Powerful pushes
- Fast throws
- Clawing and Creasing
- Changing palms
- Go with
- Go against
- Destructions
- Controlling and Breaking
- Leading and Piercing
- Provoking and Sticking

Then, and only because we have acquired the knowledge of all the practices quoted above, we move to the acquisition of a form which is used as a summary of everything that was learned: the Long Boxing.

The moves taught in this form are a way to practice the whole style, if it is known, of course:

- The way of moving of the Li Gong,
- The intention of the Nei Gong,
- The slowness of the structure exercises,
- The speed ​​of the fa jin exercises,
- The boxing lines of the combat combinations,
- The linking sets of the small fast forms.

There are three distinct forms of Taijiquan in the Li family:

- The "Long Boxing",
- The "Spiral Boxing",
- The "Cannon Fist".

The Long Boxing is a long form which is practiced very slowly in the learning process, but which must be worked at all speeds when one has acquired the basics. Acceleration and rhythm changes will develop the footwork qualities for fighting.

The Spiral Boxing is the "hidden" particularity of the Yang family Tai Ji boxing. It is a form which develops martial skills and "chi wrapping" to develop a strong and healthy body. This is the form which teaches the Fa Jins of the school.

The Cannon Fist is the fighting form of the style, a form which combines the internal forces and the footwork for a practical usage. It is with this form that we use the fa jin in combat applications.

There are three stages of development in the learning and practicing process of the long form:

- The basics: forming the structure,
- Learning: learning the form,
- Practice: gaining freedom.

In the basics, it is important to pay attention to five points:

- Relaxing the body and calming the mind,
- Keeping your body straight,
- Paying attention to every technical detail,
- Keeping the body light, agile and balanced,
- Being relaxed, natural and flexible.

In the learning process, there are three points:

- Coordinating movements throughout the body,
- Moving gracefully, softly and naturally,
- Moving each part of the body during each movement.

In the practice phase we distinguish three points:

- Leading the body through a conscious sensation,
- Making a clear distinction between empty and full (conscious body positioning),
- Nourishing the body with chi and combining internal and external power,
- Letting the body go into a united movement in the Shen (spirit).

In our school there are ten important points for the practice of Li family Tai Ji Quan:

- Keep the head up, be calm and natural,
- Keep shoulders and elbows down,
- Stretch the arms and empty the armpit strength,
- Release the fingers and free the wrists,
- Relax the chest and occupy the space with the back,
- Relax the waist and straighten the spine,
- Release  hips and buttocks,
- Maintain the feeling of the perineum and of  the center,
- Keep the  knees bent and the hips loose,
- Keep the knees soft and feet rooted in the ground.

Tai Ji Quan is a complete boxing style which requires no addition, it is an internal arts family style, not to be confused with "soft" arts...