by Mo Ling

Marin Spivack interviewed by Israeli Podcast 2018, Parts 1 & 2 of 3

March 2, 2018 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

This is a multi-part interview by a Podcast in Israel called “No Wax Needed” that focuses on broad variety of martial arts and martial arts related subjects.  In this case their audience is not specially focused on Chen Taijiquan, or any Taijiquan.  Therefore some of the areas covered might be unusual and interesting for those who are used to always talking to their small crowd of enthusiasts.  Successive segments will be posted as they release them.

Listen here:

Episode 32 – To China and Back: An Interview with Marin Spivack – part 2

by Mo Ling

Chen Shi Taijiquan & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Crashup

January 22, 2018 in Articles, Mo Ling Taijiquan Videos, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

The video series you are about to watch is a walk through of some of our in-the-moment fun and research. I, Marin Spivack, am (at the time these videos were made,) a 22 year practitioner, 20th gen. tudi of Chenyu, and teacher of Chen Taijiquan. I have absolutely zero experience or exposure to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or any other trained ground-fighting method, and have never actually practiced it with anyone before one week prior to the filming of this video. My partner, and student (in Taijiquan) in this case had a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of about 2 years of very regular training and probably the level of an advanced white belt.

This exchange was initiated impromptu based solely on a question, “How can Chen Taijiquan/tuishou methods be employed in ground-fighting?” A year or two previously I had casually mentioned that tuishou skills used in standup grappling etc translate easily to ground application based on some very casual experiences I had in the past. I never followed up on this statement, but my student as I remember, out of the blue revisited the question and asked me to explain that comment from a year or so back as it related related to his background. I was about to answer and just figured, hey, let’s try it out instead. The results were so interesting he suggested we should video it, and so the next week without any rehearsal or preparation, we did. The result are the videos that you will see.

This work and videos are not in any way attempting to claim Chen Taijiquan supremacy in ground-fighting. It is also not in any way an attempt to claim my own efficacy in ground-fighting, nor any fighting. It is also not intending to make any negative comment about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a respected and effective practice within it’s intended context.




The only questions or issues we wanted to address with these videos were,
1) Can Chen Taijiquan methods be effectively employed on the ground? If so, how? -And what might that look like?
2) What does ground-fighting look like when small joint manipulation and pressure points are allowed? -and by extension, how does ground-fighting as we are familiar with it change when more of a self-defense intent is included?

The setting:

I am 47 years old, 5ft 6in on a good day and I weight about 142lbs after a a dinner of ribs, beer and ice cream.
My student/opponent, is 38 years old, 5ft 10in and probably at least 168lbs.

Rules: we did not do any striking, nor clawing or fish-hooking, eye gouging etc as it is only for the truly hated enemy and did not suit our questions at all. Small joint manipulation and pressure points allowed.

Tile over concrete floor, 100% unforgiving. No mats, no Gi.

He was to try apply his BJJ and submit me. I was to use tuishou/Taiji method to submit him, and or just survive. Sometimes we worked on a particular technique attempt on his part that he tried to apply on me, but those often and repeatedly led to tangental actions when either of us failed. Sometimes we approached the action neutrally without competing to observe the flow. Very often as can be observed I would simply offer him hand placement or positional disadvantage to start from. There was also time spent on him just explaining and demonstrating the sequence and approach that BJJ would use so we could explore it.

He tried hard to succeed as he wanted a reliable answer to his question. He did not go easy. I expected to fail as I have never done this. However, as I did try hard, I also did not go extremely intense either, as we were both feeling that tile floor, as well as the unplanned nature of the collision of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Chen Taijiquan joint locks. It would not be difficult to injure at fast speed.

Chen Shi Taijiquan Gongfu is approximately 400 years old and was developed for a context entirely without rules or sportive concerns. Although there are many cooperative and semi-cooperative practices that do impose limits (rules) for the purpose of achieving a specific skillset, the long term view is always one that involves and employs all combative and self defense methods.

Both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and “MMA” are fitted with rules that protect both the participants AND the “game”. Over the years I cannot count the number of times I have been told that small joint manipulation, pressure points etc, are banned because they either are,
1) too easy, require no skill, makes the game too boring, and it’s “cheap”
2) too dangerous, effectively ending the entertainment too quickly with injury
3) unsportsmanlike, it’s just plain mean-spirited to poke, and twist fingers etc
4) unrealistic, they don’t change or impede a trained opponent’s activity
5) will only make a trained opponent mad
6) unrealistic, impossible to employ against a trained opponent

Based on this experience I came up with these answers:
1) Too easy and cheap?
In many cases the joint lock (Qin Na) and pressure point techniques I was employing are not particularly easy to apply. They require training, conditioning, and keenly developed “mastery” of flow and psychological as well as physical situational control. This method of control or response of situation is developed in tuishou practice and is not at all easy. IF it were actually easy then this this would reveal glaring weakness in either the art against which it was employed, or the format, in regards to self defense. It SHOULD NOT be easy, from a self defense standpoint.

2) Too dangerous?
Yes, perhaps it is too dangerous. From a self defense standpoint we do hope our methods are far too dangerous. However from my experience here it seems apparent that there is little difference between submitting an opponent by a finger or an elbow. I think it is really very dangerous to the entertainment side of things, as well as dangerous towards the fun of an uninterrupted BJJ bout. These methods do interrupt a lot.

3) Unsportsmanlike? Maybe. Self defense is not a sporting attitude. It is in essence nasty and pragmatic. That said, again I do not think the pain of a finger or being poked in the ribs is any less sporting than being choked.

4) Won’t stop a trained opponent? This idea failed. In this case my ‘opponent’ was far more trained in this context than I, and he wanted his questions answered clearly so he was going for it, yet this definitely stopped him. He stated quite clearly that he had also heard many times how one can “fight through the pain” and these things would make no difference, so that is what he tried to do, and no that was not working. Could someone more trained and tougher than him fight through it? Maybe to some degree, there are beasts out there, but still many of the methods are basic physiological actions that produce expected natural results. One might be able to “fight through” it but that itself requires attention, which is exactly what we intend, as we seek to control the situation, rather than win by points.

5) Makes opponents mad? yes it may. That can also be called mind control. Even so, being mad does not make anything more or less effective. Anger is not a problem solver. In a self defense situation the default state is that the opponent is enraged enough to mean you serious harm. Assume they are mad, anyhow. If they are not mad, that may be worse.

6) Unrealistic and impossible to employ against the trained? Apparently not. There are always going to be local failures of technique, and individually formidable opponents against any particular person or ability. But again, these are fairly straightforward physiological actions that produce normal results. The bigger question would be whether or not a highly trained person in BJJ or the like was adept in closing off the opportunities to employ these methods, and it seems apparent that in fact they do not train at all to close these off as such threats are clearly outside of their rule-set and therefore are neither expected nor prepared to deal with.

I know from years of debating these topics that there are going to be those who say I “suck at ground-fighting” and they are absolutely correct. Myself having zero experience at it and sucking at it are specifically the status from which I approach this and it is the correct state to test these ideas. I am in fact not terribly interested nor motivated towards ground-fighting, so I happily ‘suck’. I would rather train tuishou, and here that is what I tried to use.

The other argument that we are obviously going to hear is, “the opponent is too poorly skilled to offer a legitimate test of these questions”. We could entertain that idea. After this experience he himself wondered, maybe he was really a bit worse than he thought he was. Here were some of his thoughts:

“I trained BJJ pretty regularly for about two years. I stopped in 2010 and I would say I was an advanced white belt. I could win fights against other white belts, and sometimes against a blue belt. At the time I would say I was acquiring a decent command of the basics. Now it’s pretty rusty and I had a few moments where I couldn’t quite remember how to execute the moves or some of the details of what I was trying to do. I still have a lot of respect for jiu jitsu and I think it’s both fun and effective in its sphere.

Today I tried a few things. Arm bar from the mount, cross choke from mount, americana from the mount, kimura from the guard. I also think when you were in my guard at one point I tried an omaplata. In all of these cases we began with me in a controlling position. And in many cases you willingly made yourself vulnerable to these attacks (maybe not the omaplata as that one came out of a progression of moves).

In each case I didn’t feel like I was in danger of losing the position, because you weren’t necessarily trying to get out of the position. Rather, whenever I made a choice to attack a specific side, you took advantage of that and attacked me from the position that you were in.

Some ways that this was different from rolling with a jiu jitsu player is that instead of defending my attempts at submissions, you went with them and turned them into attacks against me. I found that my thumbs were particularly vulnerable, as were my wrists. Some of the ways that you used pressure points were more compelling and painful than others, but what they really did was draw my attention, and often my hands, in such a way that allowed you to attack me. I intentionally tried to ignore those and fight through the pain, but it was impossible to not react at all, and the reaction opened me up, even if it didn’t make me lose position.

What the camera might not pick up is the way in which taiji jins as well as qina worked here. I’m particularly thinking about peng in your arms when you were in my guard and I tried to pull you to me, and peng in your legs when I was trying to pass your guard.

Basically, it felt like whenever I put my hand on you, even if I was in a dominant position, it opened things up for an attack.

A couple of things I took away:

1) The different strategies of jiu jitsu and taiji: jiu jitsu seems to really emphasise attaining position and then working towards a submission, whereas you looked for a submission from wherever you were. For example, when I went to put my hand in your collar for a choke, a jiu jitsu guy would try to defend and prevent me from getting my hand in there. You just took my hand and attacked it.

2) This helped me see the difference between external and internal: a lot of the structure that you were using and the way that you were moving me might look similar at times to what jiu jitsu guys are doing but it feels very different. And there is nothing in the jiu jitsu training regiment that would allow a person to develop that.

These are just some quick thoughts. There’s clearly a lot more to be said.”

The idea that he was not good enough and that is why I did not utterly fail is not compelling. I have been lectured time and time again that “without ground-fighting I will have an incomplete martial art for modern times” etc etc, and that “anyone who does not spend at least a few months rolling with BJJ guys to get the basics is in for a rude awakening even from any white belt” etc. It was an uncountable number of times I’ve heard that talk.

If these ideas are at all correct then a white belt, who knows the basic techniques should easily handle a complete idiot-noob as myself, otherwise that might mean that sans sporting rules, something like Chen Taijiquan might actually just be somewhat useful in ground-fighting, and hence, real fighting and self defense. Regardless of his level, he was good enough to go through fairly normal BJJ positional and technical procedure, and the opportunities within THAT were very readily available to one who does not observe their rules. And breaking the rules, to illustrate that difference WAS the point.

Could a BJJ practitioner also employ these techniques thereby totally negating that advantage in a real situation? In some cases absolutely yes. The easy pickins they could also replicate, but some of the flow and joint lock methods are not within their curriculum at all, are not easily learned for anyone, and even though not necessarily obvious to the untrained eye, many are quite specific to Chen Taijiquan.

As my student noted, there are definitely some things that do not come through well on the video, he could feel them and was affected by them but a watcher cannot see easily. Some of the compelling/painful locks or points happened under the crush of bodies. So he may shout or be stopped but the audience cannot see the area of action. In other cases the important point might be that I am using a specific and subtle Taijiquan skill to move and control his weight and direction. It is not magic, it is just what we focus on, and it works very well. Though a watcher cannot necessarily see HOW or WHY it worked, or in many cases if not trained to watch they may not even notice it happened at all. Another less obvious point is the pressure point touch. On the video in some cases it appeared (even to me) that I was lightly touching and he was reacting. It is not clear at all what or why there is any effect. This one is hard to discuss, because it is not particularly light at all, it hurts (a lot) but for some reason it looks light.

Another important point to consider is that we had no gi to grab, and we were on a tile over concrete floor, no mats. Uncomfortable as this was it is also very important as a barometer for self defense. That evening and the next day, of course I had painful bruises all over every bone on my shoulders and back down to the tailbone, as well as both knees and around the back of my head. The most interesting part (to me) though was that we had to slow some moves way down for fear of a head, face, or dental injury just during what might be considered a rather normal change of position in sporting context. So as a result of that the audience will notice that in some cases we slowed down and kind of lowered the opponent to the next position. It became quickly obvious that an injury from being thrown in such a surface was not reserved for a standing height. Being quickly smashed to the hard floor from even a half sitting position suddenly seemed perilous so we slowed that down. This was not because anyone intended to be compliant, but more the intent to avoid becoming a lisping denture chewer.

Again I must restate that I have no intention of making any negative statement about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, on the contrary, I found it all very interesting. However it is decidedly a sporting concern with those rules in place. The rules dictate what receives attention, and in this case it was apparent that attention is not given to the vulnerabilities that Chen Taijiquan Gongfu would normally seek to exploit. It is apples and oranges as they say. Certainly there are enough similarly nasty things any BJJ practitioner could also decide to do if faced with an actual threat, but the method I sought to employ are neither in their curriculum nor prepared for defensively, in that sport version at least. Of course as a non-practitioner of BJJ I am also unprepared and vulnerable to the methods they might employ, yet breaking those rules that allow smaller joint locks and points appears to at the least equalize that situation to some degree if not more.

As I also stated earlier, this is absolutely not about the supposed primacy of Chen Taijiquan or myself. By traditional standards I am a fairly average practitioner of my art, and I am neither highly athletic, strong, nor fierce, and I am a bit old as well. Chen Taijiquan has never been highly concerned with conquering the world of ground-fighting, and I personally do not believe in the idea of any martial art being inherently “better” than the rest. The important part is what its intended purpose is and what living that life of practice offers the individual. So it does not have to be “the best”. It just has to work as intended in this case for self defense, which is my interest.

Plenty of folks have stated over the years that Taijiquan or something like it, cannot or should not work in either ground-fighting or some other arena because the practices employed in such an environment either do not appear as Taijiquan appears, or do not favor the methods Taijiquan appears to favor. My thought is that demanding that any martial art must get 100% of what it wants from any situation in order to function and be called legitimate is an unrealistic burden to place upon it.

Chen Taijiquan usually functions standing up and utilizing an anchor to the ground for power and body action. The argument that, removed from that ground anchor based structure it will then either cease to be Chen Taijiquan or cease to function is an unrealistic illogical demand. Chen Taijiquan being a martial art intended for self protection should be, was, and IS functional having far less than 100% of it’s familiar situational needs met. Not being able to stand, being over powered, outweighed, out of one’s element, it can still be used effectively and in those situations it is still authentically Chen Shi Taijiquan that is being used effectively. In this case there is no other answer, as myself as the example I have only ever seriously trained this art, and had absolute zero exposure to formal gound-fighting outside of watching a few matches. Whatever came out can only have come from that one source. Might I fail terribly when faced with a much stronger or more skilled opponent? Quite possibly, but it does not change the results of this test much. There will always be someone better.

In closing, I am certain there will be many who simply hate both the videos and the discussion, and some will have the opinion that none of this is particularly important or earth shattering and I think that is also a fine position to take as well. However it remains an extremely interesting and fun intersection (collision) of two arts in our estimation. We do not have any great need to establish any new era nor be heroes, or villains, nor even shmucks for any cause.

It is probably relevant to mention that I am not teaching ground-fighting, nor “a Chen Taijiquan approach to ground-fighting”, nor am I promoting a seminar nor idea in any way related to this. I just train and teach Chen Shi Taijiquan Gongfu, and remain humble enough to wade into unknown territories and risk being revealed as a normal fallible person. Psychologically and spiritually I can suggest that is a most healthy and comfortable position to aspire to in martial arts.

by Mo Ling

Chen Taijiquan Chan Si Jin & The Copy Expert

February 3, 2017 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling


Regarding shenfa and the deeper ‘mysterious’ structures and actions, many people can approximate these actions.  Many people can watch some videos or spend an hour with a skilled practitioner and make a decent copy of the movements or actions they see.  An untrained eye will often easily believe that what they are showing is the real thing, and in some cases that the person is “such a genius” for figuring it out on their own if they are revealed to have not been traditionally trained.

The thing that the untrained observer cannot discern is everything else that the body is supposed to be managing when performing these movements and actions.  Essentially we are talking about the structural and methodological rules that traditionally apply.

A good example to use here would be the one of an actually trained gymnast and an untrained astronaut  on a space walk. The trained gymnast can perform complicated flips in the air with perfect form.  An astronaut who is not trained in gymnastics may be able to perform some of those same complicated flips in a zero gravity situation.  To the untrained (or unintelligent) the flips may look similar and they may insist that the two are equally skilled in gymnastic abilities.  In this case they are ignoring the fact that the gymnast performs these feats within the limits, and under duress of gravity, while the astronaut has no limits nor such risks.

In terms of gongfu, gravity in this case relates to the connection to the ground and the foundation.  If we remove the rules that limit how we are connect to the earth, how our structure must be propped up and controlled, then anyone can move their mid-section around somewhat easily.  When the untrained copy-artist has a very loose, or actually no lower body foundation, no rules that limit or conflict with torso movement, then torso movement is easy and may appear impressive.

When the limits are applied that action is much much more difficult, and that is the difference between whether actions are martially useful or not, before we ever begin to consider “energy”.

When people say that internal skill is ‘hidden’ they are usually discussing in reverse.  Sure, internal skill can be ‘hidden’ to the untrained eye, but more accurately it is the basics that are hidden while the internal part is somewhat obvious, and more often, fake.

by Mo Ling

Chen Taijiquan Gongfu Jia & The Death of Romance

November 10, 2016 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

Besides being a centuries old Chinese martial art, Chen Taijiquan always was and especially now is a kind of celebration of culture and philosophy.  People the world over often see and use this practice as an affirmation and illustration of their ideas of cosmic harmony, intricacy, propriety, order and Chinese cultural beauty, which kind of encompasses many of the aforementioned ideas.  In some ways this relates to this somewhat Confucian ideology of putting things (and people) in their natural order in the universe and the Daoist view of harmony.

In the current moment the worldwide mass popularity of Taijiquan, (Chen or other varieties) is mostly about expressing and celebrating these cultural and philosophical ethos and aesthetics.  To many Chinese people this is very important as an expression of identity which for many is very tightly bound to ethnicity and national pride.  For many non-Chinese ASPIRING to even properly understand that set of philosophies and ideologies and then possibly express a bit of them is a great challenge, often failed. That is attractive due to a form of culture worship, or a personal need for ‘salvation’ and/or a search for meaning in life.  Mostly it is a form of exotic sinophile fascination, that tied to the search for existential meaning or place easily grows into a mechanism for social status establishment within small (or in some case very large) groups.

Taijiquan as an expression of philosophy, cultural nuance, ethnic and national identity, and generally beauty-aesthetic, is in essence a type of romance expression.  People seeks to embody a physical poetry of a past era, and the romance of quasi-spiritual thinking made physical, lending a greater, deeper meaning to (the appearance of) their lives for at least that moment of practice/demonstration.  From an experienced eye looking at the vast majority of groups and styles even in the very famous well reputed Chen “martial art” Taiji  schools it is clear that this romance approach to practice is very prevalent and entrenched.  Any practice without this aspect at the forefront does not go far in popularity these days.

This particular point is very important to understand.  In the style and line of Chen Zhaokui, and really much that we see from the line of Chen FaKe as well, and certainly from the line of Chenyu as I know it, this particular issue is a clear and dividing line on how to understand the approach, goals and methods of the frame.  Our method from Chen Zhaokui is essentially a NON-ROMANCE style.  My Shifu, Chenyu made many very aesthetically beautiful performances.  Neither he nor I would ever claim that aesthetic beauty was not important to him or the style, it certainly was and is and on many occasions great jokes were had at the terrible ugliness of some hapless student’s demonstration during teachings.  There was and certainly is concern for appearance.  However the actual appearance takes a back seat to function and is in fact a proper by-product of it.

The important question is, does the practice seek to express a set of philosophies or ideologies, or does it seek to develop a practical physical function?  In the older martial art, the physical (as in physics, like leverage and mechanics) structures and methods were designed based on these philosophies and in accordance with Chinese cosmology.  Therefore the ideology and philosophy is expressed by performance as a visual by-product of proper function.  A simple example would be, a movement trained for throwing or locking an opponent using the Daoist approach to natural forces and “Taiji” (yin-yang interplay) will naturally express “Taiji” when demonstrated.  Alternately, a movement designed to express “Taiji” by appearing like “Taiji” or really just the IDEA of “Taiji” will both BE and appear very different.  The romance approach is to practice movements that express “taiji” aesthetic non-dependent on Taiji function as a basis.

Many of the most popular modern commercial schools of Chen Taijiquan at this time (2016) would fit perfectly into this description of the romance school of Taijiquan.  Many, even most of these schools will teach, practice and demonstrate apparently proper movements. They may have within their curricula a number of applications for any action whether natively or externally (sport) sourced.  What most do not have though, is the functional knowledge and approach to every action, ever movement, every inch of their practice.

This point is not about “application”.  It is about JIN, and essentially physics and leverage in even a simple and western science kind of way.  While not intending to subvert the “qi” or Chinese energetics/medicine paradigm, let’s just say that simply put, “Taiji” action is also a route towards “most efficient leverage” within any action.  The Taiji approach to action and function, while in some cases apparently different from western science, in fact seeks the same result as most good engineering; efficiency and ease of use.

In many current examples any given movement, whether it be a complete sequence or one action of a single limb in one fraction of a sequence, may often display the great appearance of “Taiji”.  These qualities may be, softness, flow, relaxed structure, nuanced pacing, structure in accordance with gravity and well, poetics etc.  What is usually missing though is the efficient leverage and engineering compelling each action and every inch.  The result is a Taijiquan practice with many instances being light one function and heavy on the “Taiji” appearance.

If one extends a limb with every thought of “Taiji” principles or aesthetics and zero thought for the functional physics and leverage of that one single action, here we have romance.  Romance is practice that illustrates the dream or illusion of a functional leverage rich action (Taiji) rather than the reality.  This kind of practice is like telling one’s self a fantastic story about the power and depth of each movement.  In many cases this is necessary because the actual knowledge of the minutia of each inch of leverage has been lost.

The approach of cultivating functional “Taiji” leverage in each inch is what and why we call it “gongfu-jia”. Gonfu-jia (gongfu frame) is solely focused on functional leverage and structure without any of the romance of selling a Taiji fantasy to one’s self.  An action or movement that is empty (devoid of structural and kinetic leverage information) is what is considered wrong, and is usually keenly felt as physical and mental discomfort by a dedicated student. This is however, very different from the idea of so-called “practical method”. This school, while also being a non-romance approach, has in fact achieved that focus by simplifying and removing any and all actions and movements that were either too difficult for its progenitor to pass on, or too difficult for him to learn.  In simplifying practical focus was achieved, to some degree, for the movements/actions that remained.  The movements/actions and JIN that were cut away in this process are MANY however.

The practical focus and result of Gongfu-jia are not achieved by a pairing down or editing process, but instead by an entirely different configuration and approach from the very beginning.  Every inch of attention to leverage and function is built from the ground up from the beginning.  Lack of clarity and understanding for any particular movements, actions of uses is resolved by structural and functional analysis, then informed rebuilding rather than dismissal and removal.  This does require both the full range of structural curriculum as well as at least a very broad surviving application curriculum. This is imperative to inform the student/practitioner of leverage and function from the more gross all the way to the nuanced, fine and transitional actions.  Of course this is not a common situation to find especially given modern history and social change.

The unlikely proper convergence of mindset and available curricula are and were necessary for the preservation of the Gongfu-jia approach.  This is why it is no surprise that it is not in great supply.  Many Taijiquan ‘enthusiasts’, no matter how petty, political, and status oriented they may seem or actually be, really do want authentic gongfu.  The situation being that they do not have access to that unlikely convergence of fates often results in an ambitious effort to ‘fill in the blanks’ as they say.  In some cases filling in the blanks consists of applying romance technology to single actions and transitions or whatever they perceive as holes in usage and function in their practices.  In other cases “filing in the blanks” may consist of applying romance technology to their entire frame of practice.

In Gongfu-jia we generally seek to kill all romance in our practice.  If beauty results, that is from proper “Taiji” aligned function and leverage in our movements.  There is no doubt that such a practice devoid of romance can create some pretty bleak times for a practitioner especially in the early years, but the potential payoff later is often greater.

So one can ask themselves, how much of the “Taiji” that they see in their actions (or the demonstrations of their teachers if they have the eyes to discern) are derived from function based “Taiji” leverage and efficiency?  How much, if any of that “Taiji” they see is derived from the intent to embody “Taiji”?  -A completely different situation with a completely different result.

by Mo Ling

Attaining Chen Taijiquan Gongfu & Character of Teachers

May 9, 2016 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

How does one go about getting through the door of the school (or teacher) which they have decided they want to learn from?  This can be a complicated territory for would be students of Chinese internal gongfu.  Due to cultural differences in some part, even achieving the proper perspective can be very deceptive.  In these times many people may (in the west) still believe in taking things at face value.  They often see their (usually Chinese) teachers as rather one dimensional.  Due to language barriers and lack of cultural understanding Read the rest of this entry →

by Mo Ling

Chen Taijiquan Survival in Chen Village Through the Difficult Years Part 3

March 14, 2016 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

(By Warmond Fang)

This is the third and perhaps final article in covering the history of Chen Village and the development of Chen Taijiquan. This article will cover the time period starting from the Cultural Revolution and to the Return of Chen Zhaokui and later Feng Zhiqiang. Again, all Chinese sources will be posted and an English translation provided after. I will also list source material, author and links to original source material where available. I will start by translating a narrative given by Zhang Weizhen, the Communist Secretary for Chen Village starting from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.


In 1966, The cultural revolution began. Zhang Weizhen Read the rest of this entry →

by Mo Ling

Chen Taijiquan Survival in Chen Village Through the Difficult Years Parts 1 & 2

March 13, 2016 in Articles, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

These are several very informative articles written on facebook by Warmond Fang in response to much misinformation about this fascinating history.  Copyright 2016! Posted here with permission.

Part 1:

(Taiji-guy-X was) claiming that Chen Taijiquan has no broken continuity and that what they call “old frame” in modern times is exactly what was practiced in Chen village since time immemorial and I can assure you this reading of history is incorrect and not supported by historical evidence.

It is true that all Chen Taijiquan started in Chenjiagou but due to a multitude of factors such as economic, political, natural disasters etc. Taijiquan suffered from broken continuity and what is called “old frame” or “laojia” today in Chen Village is not the same Taijiquan that has always been practiced since the advent of Chen Taiji in CJG. More accurately it was the frame that CZP brought back to Chen Village after he retired from the Yellow River Conservancy Commission in 1958 after discovering the fact that the art was near extinction in CJG.

Let’s first look at an original essay written by Chen Ke Shen (Chen Zhaopi’s son) regarding Read the rest of this entry →

by Mo Ling

Chen Taijiquan Gongfu Jia; Roots Determine the Genetics of Trunk and Branches

July 24, 2015 in Articles, asides, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

The reason for the stance methods, and the low stance methods is not (in our line) solely due to the common talking point that it is for strength, or even the very true point that it develops root.

In our line it really IS for developing root, but what is that root for?  It is certainly for martial usage, but it and the leg methods/shapes also have an alternate purpose.

This is related to the energetic/medicinal design of the art.  Just as the shapes of the arms determine energy flow, so do the shapes of the legs.  Similar to meditation sitting methods, the stance methods and shapes of our art create and determine specific Read the rest of this entry →

by Mo Ling

Taijigongfu power

May 27, 2015 in asides, Photos, Taijiquan Musings by Mo Ling

T. Klugman practices Lan Zhayi absorbing local vibes.

by Mo Ling

Early Spring Classes, perfecting the shape

May 4, 2015 in Taijiquan Musings, Uncategorized by Mo Ling

       Read the rest of this entry →

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