Xingyi and Bagua Instructor Robert Allen Pittman - the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview

Robert Allen Pittman

The new edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast features an interview with Robert Allen Pittman, a martial artist and author who teaches Xingyi and Bagua through his system that he calls Wisdom of the Body. He is the type of martial artist I love to talk with -- a man who has gone to extraordinary lengths to learn his arts, particularly Xingyi and Bagua.

Allen was a student of Robert W. Smith, a pioneer who wrote some of the first books about Chinese kung-fu for the Western audience. Allen also co-authored books with Robert W. Smith on Xingyi and Bagua

I was thumbing through my martial arts library a few weeks ago when I came across his book, "Walking the I Ching." I tracked him down on the Internet and we arranged an interview while he was visiting his mother in England. I have seen his name for a long time, because of his work with Robert W. Smith, but I had no idea that he had such a good story.

Download the file or listen online by following this link, or play here:





Is Tai Chi a Healing Art? Interview with Author of Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi - Peter Wayne

HarvardTai Chi is a martial art. Every movement is a powerful fighting application for self-defense.

But is it also a healing art? Does it have benefits that are more powerful than normal exercise, and if it does, do those benefits come from the slow, controlled nature of Tai Chi and the mindful, meditative components and from the flow of chi?

I would guess that more people consider it to be a healing art than a martial art. But is it really? Or when it is done in slow motion, is it one of the most low-impact exercises that elderly people can do to get them moving and to get their minds off their problems?

Do we think of it as a healing art based on outdated stories and science that doesn't hold up?

And do clinical trials show benefits that can be attributed simply to exercise and calming meditation, or is it something more? Are the health benefits of Tai Chi anything special?

Almost a year ago, I bought the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter Wayne, Ph.D. I began asking Peter to appear on my Internal Fighting Arts podcast last August. After the podcast last month with Dr. Harriet Hall, the "SkepDoc," and the heat I encountered from some in the Tai Chi community following that interview, I thought it was time to balance the scales and talk to someone who is obviously more inclined toward the "traditional" view of the art.

Last week, I was finally able to talk with Dr. Wayne for an hour. The result is this podcast, the 24th in the series.

Don't miss the final five minutes, as I clarify part of the interview and have some final thoughts that wrap up some of the issues raised in the past two podcasts.

Follow this link to listen online or download the mp3 file to your computer -- the Internal Fighting Arts podcast 24 - Peter Wayne.



Disciple of Chen Bing -- the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Bosco Baek

Podcast LogoBosco Baek is the first senior disciple of Chen Bing who was given permission to have his own disciples. Bosco is the chief instructor at the Chen Bing Taiji Academy USA in Los Angeles.

I first met Bosco when he lived in Chicago, and since I have wanted to have a podcast guest with ties to Chen Bing, I asked Bosco to do an interview.

In the podcast, he talks about growing up in South Korea, how he met Chen Bing, and his thoughts on discipleship and whether it is a "master/slave" relationship or if it is something more positive.

Here is the link to the podcast on Audello. You can listen online or download the file.


Internal Fighting Arts Podcast 21 -- Interview with Chen Taijiquan Instructor Jan Silberstorff

Jan Silberstorff
Jan Silberstorff is interviewed in the 21st edition of the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast.

Jan Silberstorff is one of the martial artists who was at the top of my mind when I launched the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast more than a year ago. I have heard such great things about him from other Chen Taiji folks that he was on my wish list of interviews.

Luckily, he was in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, doing workshops at Bill and Allison Helm's Taoist Sanctuary, and Bill helped arrange for me to talk with Jan. By the way, Jan Silberstorff is pronounced "Yahn Zeelberstorff." 

Jan was the first Western indoor disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, and he is the co-founder of the Chen Xiaowang World Taijiquan Association. He is based in Germany, but Jan travels the world teaching Chen Taiji.

Our conversation started with his beginning as a street punk in Germany, and his evolution in the martial arts and Taijiquan. His story is that of a determined, dedicated martial artist. Among other things, Jan tells us Chen Xiaowang's surprising reaction the first time he saw Jan perform Taiji, and he talks about how his practice has evolved, and what he is working on now when he practices.

Jan does not have an English website, but you can reach him through this site for the Chen Xiaowang World Taijiquan Association - Germany. 

He has two charity websites, which provide housing for street children in Brazil and Sri Lanka:

He also has a website through the Center for Daodejing Studies:

Here is a link to the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast via Audello. You can listen online or download the file here:

An Interview with Qigong Master Ken Cohen -- The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast

Ken Cohen 3
Ken Cohen

This is the first podcast interview I have done with someone who is described as a Qigong Master.

I became aware of Ken Cohen in the late Nineties, when I saw one of his books in a public library next to Alan Watts' books on Taoism.

Ken's website describes him this way: "...renowned health educator, Qigong GrandMaster, and practitioner of indigenous medicine. He is the author of the critically acclaimed books The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing and Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing, as well as numerous Sounds True audio/DVD courses and more than 200 journal articles on spirituality and health. Ken speaks and reads the Chinese language, and his academic training includes graduate study of Taoism and theology."

Ken is also a student of William C.C. Chen and has also studied Chen Taiji and Taoism.

I have practiced Qigong since 1987 and find it to be beneficial, although I am skeptical about some of the "science" used to explain it. But I respect Ken's work and the interview turned out to be informative and thought-provoking.

Listen to the interview with Ken Cohen online or download the file through this link to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast on Audello.

You can also subscribe to the podcast by going to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast on iTunes.


From the Mailbag -- A Nice Email from Denmark about the Podcast

Podcast LogoI love the Internet. It allows me to engage with martial artists worldwide.

Today, I received a very nice email from a Tai Chi enthusiast in Denmark. He writes:

There is an abundant abyss of - excuse my French - meaningless crap on the web, but once in a while you are lucky enough to find a gem. And your podcast series is truly a unique one!

Imagine to suddenly stumble upon hours and hours of in depth interviews with high level chen taiji chuan pracitioners (and other interesting characters)  that are capable of changing your views on an art you have been practiing for nearly 15 years. Thanks to you that was my - and probably many others' - experience. 

Please know that what you are doing leads to changes in thoughts, training practices and perhaps even ways of living. And kudos, as well, for bringing a much needed down to earth approach to taiji!

This is why I created the podcast. If you have not listened, here is a link to all of the programs so far on Audello. Click this link: Internal Fighting Arts podcast on Audello. You can play online or download the file. The podcast is also available on iTunes, where you can subscribe and receive each new episode. Go to Internal Fighting Arts podcast on iTunes.

The Tao of Tai Chi -- Part 2 of the Internal Fighting Arts Interview with Taoist Monk Yunrou

Yunrou Guan Dao
Chen Tai Chi instructor and Taoist Monk Yunrou.

The 19th edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast features the second part of a two-part interview with Chen Tai Chi instructor and Taoist Monk Yunrou. He became known as Arthur Rosenfeld, as a martial artist and author, but has taken on the name he was ordained with as a Taoist monk -- Yunrou.

This interview covers some interesting topics:

** The need to boost the self-defense aspects of Tai Chi.

** The problem of "having a plan" in fighting.

** The Guan Do and its relationship to Tai Chi Chuan.

** Becoming ordained as a Taoist monk.

Yunrou lives and teaches in the Pompano Beach/Boca Raton area of Florida. His website is 

Here is the link to listen online or download the podcast on Audello. 

Internal Fighting Arts 19 - Taoist Monk Yunrou Part 2



Interview with Taoist Monk Yunrou -- The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast

YunrouArthur Rosenfeld is an author, ordained Taoist Monk who was ordained with the name Yunrou (pronounced "Yoon-ro"), teacher and a student of Chen Taiji Master Yan Gaofei.

As Arthur Rosenfeld, he is author of more than a dozen books, including "Tai Chi: The Perfect Exercise." He has also written fiction, and his newest book, "Yin," written under the name Yunrou, is described as a "Lao Tzu love story" and will be published November 1, 2015.

This is part one of a two-part interview with Yunrou, in which he talks about the forces in his life that drove him toward the martial arts, Chen Taiji, and the philosophy of Taoism.

You can listen to the podcast online or download the file via this link:

It will also be available on iTunes, where you can become a subscriber. 

By the way, at the end of the podcast, Yunrou tells of an incident he was involved in at Starbucks, resulting in a "random act of consciousness." You can see the story that went viral by clicking this link to the NBC Nightly News report.

The Fantasy and BS Epidemic in Tai Chi -- The Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Stuart Shaw

Podcast Logo 250YouTube is an amazing tool for presenting good information in a visual way. But it has also become a tool for the scum of the martial arts world to present fantasy and pretend it is truth.

The BS that is an epidemic in Tai Chi is not restricted just to the internal arts, however. You see martial artists of all styles, in nations around the world, pretending to have supernatural powers, including:

** The ability to knock someone down without touching them.

** The ability to make push hands partners hop and jump away at the slightest touch.

** The ability to set paper on fire.

** The ability to heal people with their chi.

And much more.

In the latest Internal Fighting Arts podcast, I interview Stuart Shaw, an instructor of Tai Chi and Sanda in the town of Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia. He began studying in the Chen Man Ching lineage, but turned his back on the system after seeing instructors push the fantasy elements. Stuart has created The Fajin Project, a Facebook page that calls out instructors who promote BS.

Listen to the podcast online or download the mp3 file by following this link:

You can also find the podcast and subscribe on iTunes:

How do you develop critical thinking skills? What questions should you ask when a martial arts teacher performs a supernatural feat? 

The next blog post will arm you with some key questions.

A Passion for Xingyiquan - the Internal Fighting Arts Podcast Interview with Byron Jacobs

Podcast LogoByron Jacobs is a South African who moved to Beijing to study with his Xingyi teacher, Master Di Guoyong. The interview I did with him for my Internal Fighting Arts podcast should inspire any martial artist.

Besides studying Xingyi simply for the art, Byron also works for the International Wushu Federation. 

We talk about how he got into martial arts, the culture shock of moving to Beijing, what it's like to train with his teacher, and some of the finer points of Xingyiquan (also spelled Hsing-I Chuan).

Listen online or download the mp3 file through this link to the Internal Fighting Arts podcast on Audello.

It will also be available on iTunes.

Byron Jacobs put a website up for his teacher -- visit Master Di Guoyong's website.