Martial Arts Articles

New Book Review: The Essence of Lien Bu Chuan written by Artie Aviles, James Man Chin and Nelson Tsou

New Book Review: The Essence of Lien Bu Chuan written by Artie Aviles, James Man Chin and Nelson Tsou

The very first thing you will note about the cover of this book is that none of the authors have listed their names with titles or honors. They have, however respectfully dedicated the book to their teacher, Grandmaster Li- Mao-Ching. They follow the Grandmasters teaching, in that they are skilled, yet humble, they endured many decades of tough training so that they could conserve and preserve the traditional arts. Each one teaches with politeness and professionalism, with an eye toward precise, exacting correctness.

Lien Bu Chuan (Continuous Steps Form) was chosen by the Central martial Arts Academy in Nanjing in the late 1920’s as one of the simple, basic, required forms to learn. Stance, Hand Work and Foot Work are the skeleton of the form and movement, flow and applications make it an art form.

This book is a gem and a treasure because of the way it is logically and practically laid out. The form is listed by it’s Verses in both English and Chinese. The drawings and descriptions are some of the finest I have seen in martial arts manuals. Each movement is numbered with a flow chart across the top of the page. You can immediately see where the particular movement is in the sequence of the form. Simple line drawings show the full body and the direction in which the hands and the feet move. To help make it even clear, a top view is shown. Key points for each movement are given, as well as applications.

The entire from is drawn out both in elevation and overhead view so that it becomes easy to see what direction and which angle you are facing while performing each movement.

This is a must have book for anyone looking to learn Northern Shaolin Styles. The only thing better than using this as a guide would be seeking out these teachers and learning directly from the source. I urge my friends in the tri state area of New York, New Jersey and CT, to enroll with Master James Jett Man Chin and be a part of this great lineage.

For more information, please visit Master Chin’s website:

Martial Arts Articles

The significance of the Bubishi

The Bubishi contains anatomical diagrams, philosophical essays, defensive tactical strategies, and poetry.

(Martial Arts Guardian) – The Bubishi is one of the most valuable books a Karateka can possess. It is also of tremendous value to practitioners of Wing Chun, Hung Gar and White Crane.

The book “The Bubishi” is sometimes called The Bible of Karate. It is to Karate what the “Book of Five Rings” is to the Samurai.

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Martial Arts Guardian – May 11, 2015

Martial Arts Articles

An informal history of Okinawan Karate

(Martial Arts Guardian) – In England, Chinese martial arts was first practised in what we know as “China Towns” in the main cities. In Okinawa, the same was true and the Okinawan China Town was Kumemura.

One of these Chinese families living in Okinawa was the Cai family, known in Okinawa as the Kojo. Within Kume, the resident families studied and taught Chinese Quan Fa which the local Okinawans called Toshu Jutsu or Tote Jutsu – Chinese hand techniques – which can also be pronounced in a third way as Karate Jutsu. It is Kume that led to Okinawa’s famous relationship with Fuzhou in China.

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Martial Arts Guardian – May 11, 2015

Martial Arts Articles

One’s Journey in the Learning of Tai Chi and Kung Fu

My introduction to Tai Chi principles came long before I ever heard of or saw any Tai Chi. In the early 1990’s, I was in my 40’s and a neighbor bought a ranch with some horses included in the sale. None of us knew how to ride or care for horses, so we learned together. In order to approach a new horse, you have to go quietly, slowly and yet have confidence. When mounting him, you must make contact with his mane or neck, slowly move your leg over the top and sit down gently. If you don’t, he will dance or bolt. Once seated in that nice “horse stance”, you must remember to not pinch your knees in or grip too tight with the legs, or it will lift your seat and give him the signal to run. When he does take off into a gallop and you haven’t yet learned to control the speed, the biggest mistake you can make is to use muscle. A human, even a large man, is no match for 1000 pounds of horse. You must instead, use 4 ounces of movement in your fingers to zigzag his head and turn him into smaller and smaller circles until he slows down.

Does any of this sound like Tai Chi?

The hardest thing to learn about riding was the control of the mind and fear. One freezing cold winter we were out in the park and I spotted some ice in the center of the trail. I should have trusted the horse, but my fear got the better of me and I steered him around and we slipped and fell. I was on bottom, him on top. My leg and ankle were shattered to dust. The surgeons and rehabilitation people said I would never be stable enough to walk on sand, bend my ankle enough to walk up stairs, and would probably limp for the rest of my life. My friend carried me to my first Tai Chi class and I practiced most of that year in a cast and brace. That first teacher, Mr. Lee, was a British engineer and approached everything very technically. We had to move without bouncing, breathe without sound, look without appearing to see in addition to ending every form in the exact spot we started. There was very little push hands and no instruction in applications.

When Mr. Lee closed his classes, I met my next teacher, Shifu Joseph Laracuenta. Joe is a Puerto Rican baseball player who loves all the martial arts. He wants to share his love with everyone he meets and he does it generously and most times without payment. From him I learned confidence. He takes students on their second class and drags them out into the center of the room and says “Show me your form”. Even if they only remember to step out left and lift their hands, Joe encouragers them and tells them what a great job they are doing. He came to my house for months to coach me for my first tournament, which was run by Master Li Tai Liang in Queens.

He would never accept money and only wanted a promise to practice. Joe instilled in me a love of tai chi and the people I met in his classes. At the same time, I was taking some qigong classes with Shifu George Masone and some workshops with Master Sam SF Chin. I couldn’t get enough. I was taking classes 4-5 days a week and teaching some basic classes in my own little space.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was not a good year for me. Five surgeries, seven months of chemotherapy, and 30 radiation treatments in a row. Joe, George and their students, my friends, Mike, Cathy, Isabel, Merrill and Mario got me through. Joe taught me sword and fan form to combat the joint damage from the chemo. They gave me reikii, massage, did countless hours of qigone with me. George taught me how to “Fly Under The Radar” while on the radiation table. It was a mind meditation that allowed the radiation to hit the cancer and not burn the rest of my cells. He would have his entire class do Soaring Crane for weeks on end to get my lymph flowing.

After I recovered from that awful year, George began to tell me to study with Master Li. I was afraid. All I knew about Kung Fu was from the martial arts movies. Lots of fighting, hacking, stabbing and killing. George was in the Army and sometimes taught class in his camouflage uniform. I was very afraid.  But, thank goodness, he finally convinced me to try.

In the summer of 2010 I took my first Xinyi Dao class. From Master Li I learned some Tai Chi, Bagua, Xinyi and Shaolin forms and principles. But most of all I learned that the important thing about the practice is developing health and helping other people. I have watched him spend his own time, energy and money in teaching and helping people at all levels. He shares his art, his food, his jacket. What student hasn’t gone out of the door on a freezing night and heard his voice telling you to put on more clothes. If you don’t have more, he takes off his own coat and gives them to you.

I think the most important thing about learning any Kung Fu is to practice with a sincere heart as Joe would say, go with the flow as George would say and help each other as Master Li tells us every class. More people need to learn the arts early in life as preventive medicine, then maybe we wouldn’t hear people saying, “I came to Tai Chi because my back is hurt, my knees are sore, I have injuries from hard arts, falls from horses, or accidents”. My wish is that all people learn the principles, including how to manage fear and stress. My thanks are to all the people, friends, strangers, students and teachers who have helped me all these years.

Nancy Fiano

July 21, 2015

Martial Arts Articles

Taekkyon: The Original Martial Art of Korea

The rhythmic steps and constant motions of the hands distract the opponent, setting up for a kick or sweep. Unlike taekwondo, flying or spinning kicks aren’t often used, rather, low kicks to the shins or knees, sweeps and trips, and direct push kicks to the body are more common.

(SMA bloggers) – Almost everybody has heard of Taekwondo and Hapkido these days, but Taekkyon, the original indigenous martial art of Korea, is almost unheard of.  Almost wiped out during the Japanese colonisation of Korea, the art is now making a revival, and is listed both as a national treasure of Korea, and is the first martial art on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

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SMA bloggers

Martial Arts Articles

Interview of A Great Internal Martial Artist – Master Yang Fansheng

Grandmaster Yang Fansheng performing the martial art system of Xingyi Quan.[Here is an old interview with Master Yang Fansheng that was translated back in 2009. The original interview date is unknown].

Strong and vigorous, both eyes bright and piercing, and known as “Shanxi Little Overlord”, Yang Fansheng left quite a deep impression on me. Cheng Suren praises him as having the highest level of xingyiquan.

Yang Fansheng obtained the first class award at the 1994 All China Xingyiquan Competition. He also placed top honors in the 1995 International Xingyiquan Competition. He is currently the president of the Shanxi Taigu Che Yizhai Association. All his life, he has been passing on the real skills of Xingyiquan. He has taught over a thousand people, with more than a hundred winning in All China martial art competitions and leitai matches.

— First, thank you very much for agreeing to our interview. Please start with an introduction of your martial arts background.

Yang: I was born on August 28th, 1949 in Shanxi provence, Taigu county. I learned xingyiquan from Wu Lianfu (note: Wu Lianfu became a disciple of Liu Jian in 1930).

— What’s the difference between Hebei and Shanxi styles of xingyiquan?

Yang: There are some differences. Hebei xingyiquan has a larger frame. Shanxi Taigu xingyiquan’s frame is smaller.

— If I may ask, what are the special characteristics of Che style xingyiquan?

Yang: Powerful jin in fighting, paying attention to the coordination of jin and yi, strong defense of the body, and good results in keeping the body healthy. Speaking of the characteristics of attack, of course there is “defense in attack, attack in defense”.

— I think this is applicable to all styles of xingyiquan, isn’t it?

Yang: With respect to fighting, each teacher has his own way of teaching. Each student also has his own way of learning. It’s different from person to person.

— Xingyiquan’s foundational santi stance is very important. I’ve heard that perfecting standing in santi requires a few years time. Is that right?

Yang: This is not necessarily true; each person is different. Santishi is a very effective posture for fighting. Santi is “Heaven Earth Man” which relates to santishi’s defense of hands protecting the face, elbows protecting the belly, knees protecting the lower body. Other than santishi, xingyiquan has a lot of other important things, such as “water carrying” stance, etc.

— Speaking of “water carrying” stance, it can be said it’s a signature move of Che style xingyiquan. What are some of the similarities with santishi?

Yang: There’s nothing especially different between the two, but in utilization there is some difference.

— Does Che style xingyiquan train iron sand palm?

Yang: Of course. We train both internal and external gongfu.

— What’s Che style xingyiquan’s elementary gongfu?

Yang: First is ya tui (pressing legs) and ti tui (kicking), then studying “Yi Gu Jing”, to stretch tendons and bones.

— Is it difficult?

Yang: No, it’s very simple, just like tongzi gong (kid’s gong fu). Practicing this enables your joints to be more pliable and tough during movement and makes your tendons and bones more smooth and extended. If your tendons and bones aren’t open and flexible, then even if you study with great effort, you won’t have good results. After achieving these basics, then you can study the santishi posture, the five element fists, and study power. After that you can practice the body methods of the 12 animals, two person drills, solo forms like zashichui, etc. There are also the 5 elements, 12 animals transformations as well.

The highest level of technique is no technique. The highest level of xingyiquan is to unify and harmonize the nervous system.

— Can you tells us some specific examples of practice?

Yang: If you want to learn real gongfu, you must have rigorous, systematic, and correct training. There is no quick and easy trick to it.

— I don’t know if my understanding is correct or not, but I feel that xinyi liuhequan stresses using the middle joint (elbow) and root joint (shoulder) whereas xingyiquan uses the end joint (fist, palm) more?

Yang: Let’s say we’re facing off against someone. If we want to use the power of the upper root joint, it’s rather difficult. It’s easier to use the end joint to attack. However, in reality, you should always defend against your opponent’s attack while at the same time attacking your opponent. If you only issue strength from your end joint, but your middle joint and root joint aren’t coordinated with it, or vice versa, that won’t work. None of them are isolated – when attacking and defending, everything is one integral whole.

— Guo Yunshen (from Hebei) style’s specialty is the half step bengquan. What is Che style’s representative move?

Yang: Guo Yunshen’s half step beng quan was the result of his diligent training, arduous training, and intensive study of Li Luoneng’s teachings. With this technique he defeated many people, and proved that his gongfu was very high. But his teacher, Li Luoneng, told him that, “No matter how trained, it cannot compare to your shixiong Che Yizhai”. Unconvinced, Guo Yunshen made a special trip to Taigu and compared skills with his shixiong, Che Yizhai. After losing, he was thoroughly convinced.

— So, when Che Yizhai and Guo Yunsen compared skills, what techniques were used?

Yang: In regards to Che Yizhai, he had well-rounded attack and defense, so Guo Yunshen had a hard time applying his attacks. No matter what attack he used, the result was the same – he was unable to even touch Che Yizhai’s clothes. After discussion, Guo Yunshen was overjoyed and truly convinced.

In speaking of their techniques, the instant that Guo struck with a right beng quan, Che Yizhai sealed up everything above Guo’s right elbow – that is, the middle joint and the root joint. He was unable to apply anything. After the comparison of skills, Che told Guo, “Technique can’t beat strength, strength can’t beat gong, gong can’t beat artistry, artistry can’t beat spiritual.”

There’s another story told about that time. The first time Guo Yunshen visited Che Yizhai, Che’s top disciple (Li Fuzhen) asked to accept the challenge. But Che Yizhai did not agree because Li Fuzhen was a cruel and merciless person. Li’s attacks were vicious, and Che Yizhai was afraid that Guo Yunshen would suffer injury. In the end, Guo Yunshen was completely convinced of and deeply admired Che Yizhai’s skill. He stayed in Taigu for over a year to learn from Che Yizhai.

Martial Arts Articles

Hunyuan (Whole Body) Power

The other day, I was reading an article on Song style Xingyiquan in the February 2008 issue of 武當 (Wudang) magazine and came across an interesting quotation. It’s from Song Guanghua, who (if I’m not mistaken) is the current Song family lineage holder. It was interesting to me because he uses the term 六和渾圓整力 (six harmonies hunyuan complete power), which brought to mind the 渾圓一氣功 (hunyuan one qi) that Grandmaster Li Tailiang had talked about recently in a class at his school in Long Island.

The quote is:

Inside and outside in harmony,

上 下互撑,
Top and bottom mutual support each other,

Left and right side strive for supremacy

前后互为作 用,
Front and back are used in application,

Whole body completely coordinated,

先松 后 紧,
First loose (song) then tight,

紧而 速松,
Tight then quickly loose (song),

随松随紧的六 合浑 圆整劲
The looseness and tightness of six harmonies hun yuan power

Martial Arts Articles

Bunbu Ryo Do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar

A person who adopts the way of Bunbu ryo do is said to be training his body for war and his mind for peace. In the Okinawa of old, such men were known as bushi, gentlemen warriors.

(YMAA) – In the early part of the twentieth century, when Okinawan karate teachers were first asked to provide names for their karate by the Butokukai in Japan, they struggled to come up with a name that did justice to the martial art they practiced. Many of those from the royal capital, Shuri, settled on poetic sounding names that conjured up the spirit of their homeland; Choshin Chibana (1886–1969) chose the name Kobayashi ryu, the small forest school. While other teachers with a similar lineage later chose comparable names like the young forest school, and the pine forest school, Shobayashi ryu and Matsubayashi ryu respectively, others chose to honor their teacher, or teachers, and in doing so took kanji from their names to give a name to their karate.

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YMAA – March 10. 2014

Martial Arts Articles

Martial arts rank: What does it mean to your school and to you?

( – The concept of rank in martial arts practice is an important topic, in that there are several meanings and connotations that are associated with it. Certainly the non-practitioners understand that a black belt means that the practitioner is a “master” of their art form, and are quite capable of amazing feats of physical prowess. As a practitioner, the myth gets stripped away as one gains more understanding of the art, and the meaning of rank.

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Examiner – July 9, 2013

Martial Arts Articles

Submission Grappling vs. Classical Ju-jutsu

(Grapplearts) – There are many similarities between the sport of Submission Grappling and the classical Japanese Ju-jutsu systems. Both arts emphasize grappling over striking. Both arts recognize the importance and efficiency of ground-fighting. Both arts employ chokes, armlocks, leglocks and other submission holds to defeat opponents.

Despite these similarities, however, there are profound differences between these martial arts. They utilize different strategies, techniques and training methods. The purpose of this article is to examine both arts, side-by-side, and see what similarities and differences emerge.

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Grapplearts, March 17, 2012