Thursday, January 29, 2009

Master Yung Chung Chiang Shares About Guang Ping Yang & More

By Valarie Prince Gabel

I first met Master Y.C. Chiang about 6 years ago. Not long after that I had the privilege of meeting his wife Master Liu. My impression of them was of two gracious individuals who had great skill and knowledge.

I was also fortunate enough to take a few classes at the Wen Wu School while Master Chiang was still teaching. After class the students gather in the little kitchen and have tea with their teacher. When he stepped out for a minute I looked at the other students, mouth agape, and asked if they knew at all how very, very lucky they were to be casually sitting around with such a wonderful teacher at the head of the table.

Over the next several years I have also had the pleasure of taking a few lessons with his advanced students and teachers. Fu Tung Cheng and Allen Trigueiro come fondly to mind. I have also been able to attend several of the Guang Ping Association conferences which fosters the sharing, learning and hands on experience of our form.

However, until the weekend of July 12 & 13, I had not had the opportunity to witness and participate in an event, lasting several hours at a time, centered strictly on Shrfu and Shrmu's teaching. The workshop truly gave me the opportunity to drink in the essence of who they are and what they are about. The event was held in Orange County, California at Irvine Community College and was hosted by JoAnna Schoon, one of the Association's National Advisors and a Tai Chi teacher at the college. Since I am a tai chi student/teacher my focus was mainly on Master Chiang although I could appreciate the grace and beauty of Master Liu's Dayan Chi Kung and tea ceremony.

At 81 Master Chiang is a living example of what correct living and correct attitude makes possible. He did a demonstration of White Crane form on Saturday much to the delight of all present. The first movement involves dropping to a level so that thighs are level with the ground (low horse stance), and holding that position for longer then I personally would be comfortable holding. Shrfu did so with apparent ease. Of course, the rest of the form was executed with a power that seemed unending. And this is at 81! We have all heard the wonders of the power of practicing with chi over long periods of is true!! And he shows no signs of stopping. I must also add that Master Liu's demonstration of the 2nd set of the Wild Goose form was absolutely breathtaking.

There is a definite reason this man wears the title of Master. He is an extremely educated and cultured human being. He is a doctor of acupuncture, an herbalist, world renowned painter and calligrapher. As JoAnna says "What has always struck me about Shrfu is the breadth and depth of his knowledge.

He excels in the Martial Arts, in Ch inese Painting, in Calligraphy, in TCM,and in good virtue. Wen Wu School offers the best of Chinese Culture, and its name refers to that: Wen referring to culture, and Wu referring to the martial arts."

Over two days, 5 hours total, he also demonstrated each of the Yang Guang Ping forms replete with application explanation and error corrections. He had everyone spellbound as he performed each movement effortlessly. Every one of us felt the specialness of participating with a true master of movement. And rather then being dour or stern his lively sense of humor keep us all laughing and smiling.

Eighty met for a banquet held in Master Chiang and Madam Liu's honor on Saturday evening. JoAnna picked an excellent local Chinese restaurant. There were dishes served that most of us have never had before, everything was delicious. JoAnna presented the masters with Hawaiian leis which they appreciated very much. I was lucky enough to be sitting at a table close to theirs and could appreciate the fragrant flower scents along with them. Conversations were going on nonstop all evening between students, teachers, spouses and family members attending the
feast. The only complaint would be that there was too much good food! Master Chiang and Madam Liu donated 2 paintings to be raffled off after dinner. I don't know which made us drool more, the paintings or the food.

The second day Master Chiang spent several hours continuing his lecture and refining form. During his lecture he shared information regarding exercises for heath. A couple of tidbits were: the arm and shoulder warm up or 'windmill' expels harmful chi as well as benefiting the shoulder, toe kicks stimulate yang meridians and heel kicks stimulate the yin, and the removal of excess fire element is accomplished by slow inhale of breath and rapid exhale. Questions were asked and answers were given. He holds no secrets, shares all he knows. His true love of martial arts, chi, green tea, etc., and obvious respect for all life was there for all to see no matter the level of the attendee. I have been practicing tai chi for over 25 years and thoroughly enjoyed the entire event. A student of mine came to the Sunday lecture after having only 3 weeks of lessons. She told me how happy she was to have followed my advice to not miss this 'once in a lifetime event.'

I feel as if I have received a vitamin booster shot in the chi! My motivation to
practice more has been heightened. I feel a renewed desire to watch every step, every shift of weight, every arm/hand/hip/shoulder/knee/foot/wrist/waist/head/back movement more closely then ever.

For those of you who have not or will not have the same opportunity I highly recommend you attend at least one of the Guang Ping Association conferences. There is that same sense of sharing, learning and camaraderie going on among the teachers and students. You come away with such a sense of renewed enthusiasm.

And lastly but not least I wish to extend 10,000 thanks to JoAnna Schoon who held the vision of the workshop up high enough to make it happen. It was a ton of work coordinating Shrfu and Shrmu's visit: accommodations, meals, transportation, etc. She also spearheaded the fund raising, registration of students for not only workshops but medical consultations. JoAnna made sure there was green tea for all as well as teacups, teapots, hot water, all for 70 people!

Job well done JoAnna.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Xingyi Boxing Manual: Hebei Style’s Five Principles and Seven Words

By Nick D'Antoni

Jin Yuntang was a student of Shang Yunxiang and Sun Lutang (perhaps better known to modern practitioners).
It is clear after reading his introduction and the testimonials of his students, that Jin’s association with Sun Lutang, “… under whose guidance I traveled for more than ten years” was formative and life changing. First published in 1931, this brief manual is a concise presentation of the essentials of xingyi as presented in the five element fists which Jin calls the Five Principles. Jin uses the traditional “song” form, short mnemonic and evocative verses, to produce a manual that is both spare, and eloquent.

Mr. Groschwitz, the translator, has chosen to include the Chinese text in parallel throughout the book this
will be of help to some. He also includes in each section sketches illustrating each posture, which appear to
be based on the photographs of Jin Yuntang from the original, as well as pages that include reproduction of
calligraphic blocks from the publication in Chinese. The inclusion of this traditional brush calligraphy particularly contributes to a pleasant aesthetic and provides relief from the blandness of the longer sections of Chinese text set using modern typographic font. The end result is a book that is also fairly pleasing to the eye in it’s layout and design and thus a comfortable browsing experience.

The translation includes the traditional numerous forewords, or testimonials, that precede the text of the manual proper. It is supplemented by a lineage chart illustrating Jin Yuntang’s placement in the Xingyi family tree, as well as a short section of biographies “… translated from the Encyclopedia of Chinese Martial Arts published in 1998.” The criteria used to select the biographies presented here is Jin’s Xingyi lineage, and the list includes biographies of: Yue Fei (1103-1142),Ji Jike (1602-1680), Cao Jiwu (1669-?), Dai Longbang (1713-1802), Li Feiyu (1809-1890) “… founder of Hebei-style Xingyi …”, Guo Yunshen (1820-1901), Liu
Qilan (1819-1889), Li Cunyi (1847-1921), Sun Fuquan [Lutang] (1860-1933), and Shan Yunxiang (1864-1937).

The manual is in two parts. The first part, The Five Principles, begins with the “Preparatory Posture”, and
then presents each principle, or fist, in its own section consisting of a three-verse mnemonic "song” accompanied by an illustration of the form. This is followed by a longer passage, the “Discussion on the Rising and Falling of …”, that is a more detailed descriptive passage addressing both the basics and stance as well as principles of movement. The order of the five fists as Jin presents them is: pi quan, beng quan, zuan chuan,pao quan,and heng quan. The second part of the manual is a chapter of five line “songs” Jin calls The Seven Words and Twenty-One Methods of Xingyi Boxing.

This second part ends with a “song” in the longer form, reminiscent of the Song of the Universal Post that is
familiar to Guang Pingers, entitled The Essential Points of Xingyi Boxing’s Harmonies and the Extremities. A
clear and concise illumination of the traditional three internal and three external harmonies.

Though probably not the greatest book, and certainly not the most definitive ever published on Xingyi, this
little volume is an easy and enjoyable read. I believe it can be returned to and appreciated many times over as one’s practice develops and evolves. If you don’t really know much about Xingyi but are curious and
interested in an accessible basic look, I think this book could be useful. If you’re actively studying the art and are looking for deeper understanding, then I believe there is something in the economic language here that can be helpful as well. All in all, a worthwhile exploration.

I’d buy it. Heck, I already did!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5