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February 2015

Board-Breaking with Tai Chi - Hsing-I - Bagua - and the One-Inch Punch

We like to have fun in my practices. A couple of nights ago, we took three rebreakable boards of different strength and practiced the following:

** Dropping Power

** The One-Inch Punch

** Movements from Tai Chi, Hsing-I and Bagua forms

We don't make board-breaking a regular part of our classes, but occasionally it's important to make sure you are focusing power for self-defense, even with internal movements.

At the end of the video, we do breaks with two or all three of the boards together. I hope it's as much fun to watch as it was to do.

 

 


Is Your Internal Arts Class Preparing You for Real World Self-Defense? Podcast Interview with Ari Kandel of Guided Chaos

Logo-IFA-2014-300I am turning 62 years old this week. I have managed to make it this far without ever being attacked by someone who wanted to kill me. I usually stay aware of my surroundings at all times and it has served me well over the years.

Remaining aware without anxiety is an important part of self-defense. A state of hyper-vigilance, like that of a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, or a police officer who is constantly put into potentially violent situations is not healthy and rewires your brain in destructive ways. This is why soldiers returning from war have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and why abused children have trouble in school and can act out in violent ways. Anyone who has to remain on alert, constantly in a "fight or flight" mode, is damaged. But awareness and mindfulness is a different and a more healthy state of mind.

So how much time do I need to spend training for a type of violent attack that I have never experienced? And what else do I need to do to prevent that type of attack from happening?

I was always a good fighter. I have beaten guys who were great punchers -- who jacked my jaw -- by being smarter. But I haven't been in a real fight since I was 18 (I have diffused or avoided fights as an adult). That's another reason I am about to turn 62.

As an internal artist, how much do I enjoy and appreciate the "art" and how much do I train for real world self-defense? I like a balance. But that is one of the reasons I wanted to do this week's podcast on Guided Chaos.  I appreciate what they do. Their material has made me take a fresh look at the Xingyi, Taiji and Bagua that I practice. 

It is important to understand that if you train in self-defense but don't prepare yourself for the killer -- not just the ego fighter in a bar -- you are missing a key element of a good self-defense mindset.

I think this is a good interview that all internal artists -- hell, all martial artists -- need to hear, even if, like me, you intend to live the rest of your life without being attacked by a someone who really wants to harm you. Because you just never know, do you? You can listen to or download the podcast, and I would appreciate it if you would share this blog post.

I became aware of Guided Chaos through my good friend, Evan Yeung. Although I had done push hands for some time, when he showed me the Contact Flow training exercise that they do, it changed the way I approach push hands and close-up self-defense.

Guided Chaos is a martial art created by John Perkins in 1978. It is heavily influenced by the internal arts, although calling it an internal art would get eyes to roll among some in the Chen Taiji community. But I would urge you to open your mind and absorb what is useful, and there is a lot here that is useful.

In the latest Internal Fighting Arts podcast, I talk with Ari Kandel, a 4th degree black belt with Guided Chaos who runs a school in Boca Raton, Florida. You can listen online or download the podcast by following this link. It is also available on iTunes.

There is a Guided Chaos workshop scheduled for April 18 and 19, 2015 in Kansas City and a workshop that I plan to attend in Cincinnati on September 19 and 20, 2015. You can find details for the workshops and much more information on the Guided Chaos website.


Chen Taiji Pear Blossom Spear Form - New Instructional DVD on Tai Chi Spear

Chen-Spear-DVD-250My new DVD offers two hours of detailed instruction in the Chen Taijiquan Pear Blossom Spear form, the Chen family spear form that involves lively stepping, athletic movements and bursts of fajing. I have probably spent more time shooting and producing this video than any other I have done.

The spear is one of the most important traditional weapons. The Chen Taiji Pear Blossom Spear Form can also be performed as a staff form -- it is also called the White Ape Staff form. It contains 72 movements, typically performed at a brisk pace with sharp explosions of power. 

As usual, I try to focus on the internal body mechanics that make Taiji such a powerful martial art. It is designed for students who are new to the Chen spear form, but even if you have studied the spear with another teacher, this DVD will hopefully provide you with insights that you may not have been shown.

When you watch different Chen masters doing this form, such as Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei, you will see differences in many of the movements. But the important thing to remember is that the body mechanics underlying the movements are the same.

You will not mistake my movements for those masters, but I think my best asset as an instructor is to get across some of the important body mechanics in a clear way. And that's what I am aiming at in this DVD.

Here is a clip from the DVD, showing instruction on three or four of the movements. Each of the 72 movements is explored in detail, from different angles, and the entire form is also shown from a front and rear view, at normal speed and in slow motion.

This has been a labor of love. I have been working on this DVD for more than a year. It is an amazing form, and I have tried to present it clearly so that anyone with a little experience can learn the Pear Blossom Spear form.

Here is the shameless plug - if you order this by clicking the button below, you will receive free shipping anywhere in the world. And if you don't like the DVD, send it back for a prompt refund, no questions asked.

 

 


Taiji Discipleship and Training for Martial Art -- Internal Fighting Arts Podcast

Stephan-2
Stephan Berwick, Chen Taiji instructor.

The fifth edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast is the conclusion of a 2-part interview with Chen Taiji instructor Stephan Berwick of Washington, DC.

I talk with him about discipleship -- he is an indoor disciple of Ren Guangyi -- and training in Taiji for martial arts. He also discusses training with Grandmasters Chen Xiaoxang and Chen Xiaoxing.

Stephan is one of those people who are so dedicated to his art, his insights inspired me, and I think he will inspire you, too.

Click this link to listen to the podcast or download it to your computer.

Please share it if you have friends that are interested in the internal arts.