I began practicing Yang family taiji quan back in the early Eighties and over the years have dipped into different Nèijiā schools and experienced different teachers. Back in the day, information on Chinese martial arts was thin on the ground and we drew our inspiration from Kung Fu films and the skills of Bruce Lee and the odd book. In 2011 it’s different story. There are dozens of books and manuals, You Tube has an incredible array of footage featuring great masters and an incredible array of styles, there are excellent training DVDs available from Chinese masters and other excellent practitioners in the west, and training in China is accessible. Only the other day, I was talking to Benjamin Zephania, who is a Wing Chun adept, and has made regular visits to Chejiagou village – the home of Chen taiji – to further his skills.
I am basically obsessed with the world of “Nèijiā (內家, lit. “internal school”). Within the Chinese Martial arts it is a grouping of styles that practice nèijìng (內勁, lit. “internal strength”). Taijiquan (T’ai Chi Ch’uan), Baguazhang (Pa Kua Ch’ang), and Xingyiquan (Hsing-I Ch’uan), YiQuan (I-Ch’uan/Dacheng Quan), Liuhebafa …the Japanese art of Aikido…all adhere to Nèijiā principles. In fact, a lot of so called “external” styles have a strong internal element – Wing Chun is a good example.
In these times, taiji quan is more associated with health than self defence but historically it was conceived as a fighting art and that’s why I currently practice Chen family taiji quan at the taiji Circle with Shifu Quan Jun Liu (along with a little xing yi quan which I learned from Marnix Wells). Chen tai ji quan is the root of all the taiji styles – Yang, Wu, Sun. It is a seriously comprehensive system with various hand forms, two partner sets and weapons. It has deep spiralling energy and explosive moves (fajin).
So… rather than waffle on, the plan with the Ancient To Future blogspot is to share some of my experiences and thoughts re. martial arts and hope you might find some of it interesting. I might do a few interviews, review some DVDs, books etc.,tip you off to nice vids and bogspots and post interesting quotes I come across… basically, have a bit of fun!