I have recently returned from Boston for a week of intense training with Marin Spivack of the Chen Zhaokui lineage. Having appreciated Marin Spivack’s ability to articulate his experience regarding Chen Taiji, watching his videos, along with some of the highly achieved masters he has studied under, I took notice that their method differed from mine. This difference sparked my interest. I wanted to discover what it is they practice and could the practice enhance my overall growth as a practitioner. I want to briefly share my experience and thank Marin for being a generous host, making sure that my experience was full in the sampling of his method of practice.

I found Marin is unique in how he approaches development of the body, informing the body of what is possible and required for developing internal connection. His training method is a true visceral experience that connects the neurological system to consciousness in a direct and extremely tangible manner. His method was extremely challenging! The details that are emphasized and adjustments to my posture made the form very difficult. Xinjia and his gongfu method demanded new mental awareness and greater strength in my legs then required in my practice of Laojia. Holding the requirements of Xinjia under Marin’s hands on instruction, I found it difficult to complete the first few postures of the form. After many years of training this was a surprise and shock to my mind and body. It brought actualization to the term many of us like to use… “Eating Bitter!” His practice taxed my legs and had me considering my choice in travel destinations. Having trained in Xian and reflecting on my early days in Chen style basics my legs were sore and spent , but this was a special kinda of torture that got into parts of my legs and alignment that were not previously awakened.

As a martial artist I found his approach to be practical and reality based. Marin moves swiftly, connected and creates much more power than his frame and body type would have you imagine. Being of small frame he definitely embodies the cultivation of integrated strength that is possible with proper practice and methods. His approach to Taiji boxing isn’t influenced by contemporary trends but is rich in classical applications that are “textbook” from Xinjia and found within various Chen Taiji lines. Marin also showed skill in the strategy of use, bringing greater utility to the classical applications. . In Tuishou the patterns externally were similar, but internally he shared with me mechanics that were present in his method that I wasn’t aware of making me vulnerable during my Tuishou applications when practicing with him and his student. His diverse experience in Chen Taiji method comes across in Marin’s ability to see a common thread between various methods, point out missing elements in methodology, and maintaining curriculum that is fundamental to training the energies, jin and martial applications of Chen Taiji.

Though I had a short experience with the Chen Zhaokui method /Chen Yu Xinjia practice I found it has more detailed requirements than I have experienced in my Laojia lineage of Chen Quanzhong and other instruction I have received over the years from other well-known Chen family lineage teacher’s. The mechanics of movement, energy, and usage all correlate directly to application within the Xinjia form. It wasn’t only a difference in choreography, small or large circles, but a distinctly unique approach to the motor of movement and the placement of structure. I must say I am intrigued and interested in learning more of the Chen Zhaokui Lineage. I’m curious to see how the details and pain will enhance my practice and martial ability. If you’re looking to eat bitter Gongfu (miserable pain) and a traditional curriculum that has not been commonly shared, you don’t have to travel to China.

There is much I could say about Marin as a thought full conscious person, contrary to what some may have deduced from on line dialogue, but I will leave it at he’s real and keeps it 100. I had a great training experience and look forward to learning more within the Chen Zhoakui lineage.

Chen Taijiquan Gongfu Jia With Marin Spivack, First Impressions, by William Miller
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