Please enjoy this episode on Tai Chi from Kungfu Quest!
Kungfu and Tai Chi Seminars
CMAA will be hosting Tai Chi and Kungfu seminars with USA Wushu-Kungfu Team member and national/international Tai Chi champion Brandon Sugiyama. Master Sugiyama is a Longfist and Spear specialist in Kungfu, and Yang style Taiji and Bagua specialist in internal styles.
Date: Saturday, December 8th Time: Tai Chi 9:15-11:15am Kungfu 12pm-2pm Cost: Tai Chi $40 (limited to the first 25 people) Kungfu $25 (limited to the first 25 people) (Tai Chi + Kungfu = $55)
Please register ASAP as space is limited!
Brandon Sugiyama is a former member of the US Wushu Team and a decorated competitor in both internal and external styles. He was introduced to martial arts at the University of Oregon Wushu Club as a freshman in college and went on to become coach his senior year. After graduation, Brandon moved to San Francisco to continue his training at Pacific Wushu Academy focussing on taijiquan and baguazhang with Zhang Hong Mei of the Beijing Wushu Team.
His competition record includes multiple All Around and Internal Grand Champion titles at tournaments across the country and he has represented the United States in competition at the World Wushu Games in Hong Kong, the 1st World Traditional Wushu Festival in China and the Pan-American Wushu Championships.
Brandon currently resides in Brooklyn and continues his training with Sifu Chen Ying. -- Don't miss this rare opportunity where Brandon will share his insight and philosophy developed over nearly two decades of training and competition experience. These seminars will focus on taiji and wushu basics and forms correction, as well as tips and tricks for mastering the progression from a beginner to an advanced martial artist. -- Competition Highlights: US Wushu Team, 1999, Hong Kong Internal Grand Champion, Wah Lum Kung Fu's Tournament 2000, Orlando, Florida, Internal Grand Champion, 2000 World Martial Arts Championship, Phoenix, AZ, Internal All Around Champion, 2001 USAWKF Nationals, San Diego, CA First Place, Tongji Bisai, 2003, Beijing Sports University Two time Gold Medalist, 2004, Pan American Wushu Championship Two time Gold Medalist, 2004 First World Traditional Wushu Festival, Zhengzhou, China
Please note: Only the 11:15am-12pm, 5-7yrs old Kids Kungfu Class and 2pm – 3pm Sanshou will be held as regularly scheduled. ALL other individuals are encouraged to attend this rare opportunity to train with a visiting master – Brandon Sugiyama!
Parents- All students ranked White Sash and above are encouraged to attend the Kungfu seminar from 12-2pm. It’s a great chance to train with one of the most well-known and well respected martial arts competitor and judge in America! It’s sometimes hard to understand why this is important in the early stages of your child’s training, but having a USA team member for an instructor (ShifuJ), USA Team Coach Mario Martinez visit a few months ago, and now to have USA team member Brandon Sugiyama visit- CMAA is getting on the national kungfu scene radar very early. It’s a very important time for our young students to be exposed to elite national level martial arts and their critical eye. Having the highest quality instruction is one of the things that make CMAA so different than all the other schools locally- Please take advantage of these opportunities!
Chinese Martial Arts Academy Monthly Newsletter - October 2012
What an exciting month! We did it. We are up and running, enjoying the new space and new class schedule. There is still much more to do, but we are on our way! Please note the following information:
Along with all the great new benefits of our beautiful new space and daily class offerings, there will be a minor adjustment to the tuition rates, including multiple types of payment plans.
As requested by many of you, we will be switching to an automated payment system to accept credit cards!
In addition, beginning this October the new rates will include separate types of memberships and three types of payment plans. All memberships are for unlimited training. I have always believed in only giving everyone the incentive to come as much as they want.
Monthly (w/ Annual Agreement):
Tai Chi $75
Month-to-Month (No Long-Term Commitment):
Tai Chi $95
Same rate as the Monthly (w/ Annual Agreement) but paid in total and receive the 13th month free!
Please note- we also offer 10% discounts to families, teachers, military, law enforcement and fire fighters!
Updated Class Schedule:
Please note the new class schedule! In addition to offering classes 6 days week, we have added several new classes and adjusted other class times for your convenience. The beginner TaiChi class on Saturday is earlier so all classes have access to the entire carpet. Beginner TaiChi classes on Tuesday/Thursday is now 6-7pm. In addition, we have added in two Kungfu classes on Tuesday/Thursday from 7-8pm for ages 8 years old and older. Please know that I am listening when you tell me what works better for you!
CMAA is on GOOGLE!
If you’ve ever had a positive experience at CMAA, myself or Jiang Shifu, let the world know about it. Help others find a great martial arts school, help others find CMAA!
To like, review and/or rate us on Google please go here:
Articles and Interviews!
In addition to the world’s greatest teachers (Jiang Shifu and I;) The Chinese Martial Arts Academy ????? also has a few other incredible resources which will make it one of the greatest martial arts schools EVER. These other resources include our new facility (which includes even more improvements lined up for this coming year), and YOU - our students! We attract good people, dedicated to their art.
This month we have a great interview with one and a truly awesome article by another. Please enjoy:
Wushu (Kungfu) with Dean Farley:
TaiChi with Jim Posniewski:
For those of you who were able to attend class September 22nd, we were very fortunate to have Shifu Martinez visit and guest instruct the 13+ class. For those of you who don’t know, Shifu Martinez is a head instructor, along with Beijing Wushu Team member Xu Dingyuan at The Professional Martial Arts Academy (PMAA) under Master Jiang Bangjun (former All China All Around Grand Champion). He is also a USA Team Coach and trains several USA Team and USA Junior Team members. Just having him visit, put an eye on our program and young athletes is very meaningful. He had a lot to offer the class, and a lot to offer me as we look to move our athletes to national tournaments in the future. Just so you know, he was VERY impressed by our program. Look forward to many more visits from current and former USA team members and coaches!
Monthly Challenge - October:
When I moved to China in 2002, I met an American there named Peter Wolf. I’ve come a long way in my training since then. However some of the things he’s written or spoke with me about have stayed with me for over 10 years now. I wanted to share some of them with you and hopefully give you something to think about for this month’s challenge: http://www.martialartsalbany.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more exciting information about upcoming Open House, an Official Grand Opening, Movie Nights and Seminars with guest instructors!
Thank you for being so understanding as we get settled in at our new home. There are many things to do and I am working on them all! From sales to bookkeeping, cleaning to teaching and everything else going on behind the scenes please know I am doing my best to keep things running smoothly while giving you the best in Kungfu and Taichi!
When I moved to China in 2002, I met an American there named Peter Wolf. I had actually read various things he'd written about wushu which were online, including his jump training regimen from his time training in Shanghai. When he first introduced himself to me at the Beijing Sports University I responded "Peter Wolf? THE Peter Wolf?!".
Well, I've come a long way in my training since then, however some of the things he's written or spoke with me about have stayed with me for over 10 years now.
I wanted to share some of them with you and hopefully give you something to think about for this months challenge.
The following text is a compilation of journal entries from Peter Wolf written while he was training in China in 2002.
"Flavor Flavor…ok so i’ve been asking some coaches and athletes around here about developing flavor, here’s what i’ve come up with.
(*Note: for those of you unsure of what flavor is please finish reading this entire article and then follow the link to Jet Li's explanation:)
- First step is good basics of course, proper mechanics is most important, then add speed and power, and don’t forget ‘intent’. Intention is a little hard to explain but it should come from a inner focus and be expressed in the eyes (that intense far looking stare you can see in pro’s for etc.) Snap, in the head and wrist and hips cad all be improved during basics as well (especially when your coach is always pointing out when you do it wrong).
- Combinations, after basics we always do combinations. Usually 3-5 movements from your set, weapon or empty hand. During combination you are working again, first on mechanics then speed and power, after that snap and the eyes. For example i’m recently discovering I often look down a little, not at the ground, but not proper posture looking straight out ahead or at my sword when i’m supposes to etc…
Ok, so far none of this is strictly gonna improve flavor, but it doesn’t hurt either. A coach explained to me that this stuff is most important, but flavor is important too. He said a lot of what people call “flavor” is the ability to use more of there body, but more hip and waist into movements, extend motions, relaxed and know when do go fast and when to go slow. This is what he told me might help;
- Most useful way is “Hua Dongzou” in chinese. Not sure i’m getting the translation correct but my interpretation of “Hua Dongzou” is to “draw your motions” or “paint your set”. After practicing basics and combinations and sections of your set then go back and go through your set slow (maybe not taiji slow but real slow) think about each motion, exagerate every motion make it bigger more open. If you go slow and concentrate and repeat enough you should become more aware of your body each time you go through a section. Ex. first time through you put a little more waist in that slash, second time you put the waist and you make sure your eyes follow the sword the whole time, third time you make sure your back is straight and put more waist in and eyest follow the sword etc…you get the picture? k, not sure this is making sense (feedback?) anyway writing it out helps me think about ;)
- Watch lots of wushu! Watch carefully pick something to mimick once in a while, find movements that you like, you’ll enjoy practicing more and should show through in performance. Now in saying this I don’t think my coach meant go practice twists when you’ve just starting learning wushu. Pick smaller motions, details. This is not as usefull as the first for many of us do compulsory forms but i like to think that by practicing other movements and then comming back to old ones you can improve.
Ok, hope that was worth reading. Lastly, the main thing i’ve heard chinese coaches gripe about foreign Wushu is “Wuxing” this can be divided into two things.
- No tempo in forms, everything one speed (even if it is fast) is not good. Some motions should be slow! Also if you go slow first then your next motion will look even faster in comparision (so i do a lot a taiji).
- No intention in the movement. Intention can be tough, but it helps to remember that Wushu is not dance! It is not gymnastics! And yes I know it’s not real fighting either, but it is a display of martial skill. You should be concentration on putting full effort into every motion (again this doesn’t mean just go fast) maybe i should say full body and mind into every motion. Look determined, like Clint Eastwood when its five on one in “For a few dollars More” (sorry just watched that, maybe just watch some pro Chinese)."
For this months challenge, I want you spending some more time working on your flavor! Paint your set! Spend time at home or in school when you're not on the main floor thinking about your form. Where your eyes should be, snapping each move, using your waist, etc.That's it. Good luck. Let me know how it goes!
Thanks Peter for putting this down in words. It's been an invaluable part of my understanding of Wushu over the years.
(*Note: for those of you unsure of what flavor is please finish reading this entire article and then follow the link to Jet Li's explanation:)
Jet Li on "Flavor": http://jetli.com/jet/index.php?s=body&ss=essays&p=1&l=en
Some of you who have been with CMAA a little longer may have had the honor and pleasure of training with Dean Farley. Humble and dedicated to his art, over the past year I watched Dean's wushu improve greatly as he acquired great flexibility and jumping skills.
As Dean prepared to move to Japan this past September, before he left I asked him to please share with The Chinese Martial Arts Academy what he thought helped him with making that progress.
Dean's thoughtful and well articulated response was more than I could have asked for. Please take the time to read this, think about it and apply it to your own practice.
Dean Farley (untitled)
I’ve been training martial arts consistently since I was 13 years old, switching between styles or doing multiple styles at once. However, I feel, as well as Coach Lucas and others that I train with, that I’ve grown the most during my year practicing wushu. Admittedly I was able to pick up wushu very quickly, maybe even faster than some students who have been training traditional kung fu longer. So when I was asked to put into words what I thought I did different in my training I found it was actually hard to do. Not only do I have the habit of trying to be modest, but I also found myself thinking “Just what have I actually done?” It’s not that I’ve been lazy it’s just that I had never really thought about how I train before. After a very long and intensive thought process I think I’ve found what my style of training really is and what I’ve done differently to achieve the results I have. My training method can be broken down into three main sections: explosive power training, proper mind set, and copying. I believe that these three things have helped me become a better martial artist and could benefit everyone else if applied correctly.
So I’ll start with explosive power training, not only because it’s the only physical category I’ve listed, but also because it is the easiest to understand and apply. Any martial artist will tell you that you don’t have to be a big guy/girl in order to have a lot of power. I may be a very good example of this due to my small body size but my ability to exert more strength and power then it appears I should. I will however, in an effort to not take up an extensive amount of space, keep this solely about explosive power related to wushu forms rather than fighting. A very important part of wushu is our leg strength and let me start with saying that while over training is something to be avoided that I feel it is very hard to over train your legs. One easy way to prevent yourself from ever over training your legs, and stay with me for a minute here, do lots of leg exercises! So, how do you do lots of leg exercises without over training? The key is to keep the weight light or just remove it! In fact, two of my favorite leg training routines for building explosive power don’t require any weight at all! Frog jumps and Tabata squats, ask Coach Lucas for instructions on these, are simple and important ways to build explosive power that we all should be doing more of!
Those two exercises aside let’s say we really want to use weights to work our legs. While doing heavy squats is very good and impressive, I feel that there is a lot to be gained by doing light weight squats. When I’m at home I don’t have easy access to a gym as there is no gym in my town or the surrounding ones and as a poor college student I really don’t want to pay for the gas to drive to a gym or for the membership. I do however, posses a small 100lb weight set I got as a gift when I was just getting into martial arts. Currently my squat routine requires only 70lbs. However, even this light amount of weight can still help build explosive power. The trick is to explode when you squat.
What do I mean by this exactly? Well, normally when people do squats they are very careful and squat rather slowly as not to hurt their knees. Which is awesome, I’m never going to tell someone not to keep the safety of a joint in mind. That being said wushu is not a slow sport and once you get proper squatting form down you can move on to wushu worthy squats. Remember that light 70lbs I said I squatted? Well, the reason is I keep the weight light so that I can squat quickly. While keeping proper form I do full ATG (to the floor) squats at a relatively fast pace. This way I can help condition my legs for the fast pace demands of wushu but with the extra resistance that the weight adds. By dropping to the floor in a quick but controlled manner and propelling your body up you will help build wushu strength in your legs while also preventing a huge amount of bulk that may be undesirable. So that trains the quads now what about the hamstrings?
I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any weight trick for those muscles. Dead lifts and hang and cleans work great and I encourage packing on the weight for those. Well sort of anyway. As with the squats I like low-ish weight for one reason, endurance. Remember before when I said to train the legs a lot? Same thing applies here. Make sure that you have done some many dead lifts with one amount of weight that it becomes so easy and boring that you almost don’t want to do this exercise anymore and then up the weight. Why? Two reasons: One is that so you don’t hurt yourself by adding too much weight too quickly, and two is that muscle endurance will help you last thought a particularly hard/long practice or competition. Well enough about training at home more important now is to talk about how to build explosive power during practice.
The best way to build explosive power in practice, and I think this is hard to understand if you’re new to wushu, is to put 100% into everything you do. Did you know that being explosive in wushu doesn’t end with jumps? All your kicks have to be explosive as well as your punches. When doing line basics, such as snap kick punch, you should throw every kick and every punch as hard as you can with correct form. That way every strike is pushing your body to the limit, forcing you to get stronger. The best way to tell that you are doing every kick or punch as hard as you can is to listen to your body. If you throw a punch, and strike only air, as hard as you can you should feel like you punched as hard as you physically can. But that’s not it! You should also feel something else deep in your arm. You should feel like you COULD have punched harder! If you feel this it doesn’t mean you were lazy and you held back, what it means is you are feeling the next level your body can reach. That’s right! Your body tells you what being stronger will feel like and just how much stronger it can become. Jumps work just the same. It isn’t enough to jump just enough to get off the ground or turn just enough to do a 360. NO! Always jump as hard as you can and twist your body as hard as you can. It might be even better to think to do both of those things HARDER then you can. Again you want to force your body to improve. Your goal should always be this: to become stronger the you were the day before!
Let’s move on to proper mind set. Proper mindset applies to every aspect of martial arts weather its forms or flexibility, if your mind is wrong you will never improve! What I mean is NEVER say “I can’t do___.” NEVER! The closest thing I, or you for that matter, should ever hear you say is” I can’t do___ yet.”, followed closely by “But I will be able to soon!”. A negative mindset is kind of like self bullying. Remember those? Bullies. The big kid that always told you that you were stupid while you were in grade school. That guy made you feel worthless right? So why would you do it to yourself? I know some people, especially older people, will say that they are just being realistic but I don’t believe it. How many things have been done that “can’t be done”? If you’ve been training a particular move or jump for months, and you feel you can do it but just quite can’t means one thing and it’s not that you can’t do it. It means that you don’t want it enough.
I know this seems odd or unrealistic. Heck, I might even sound angry, but I feel that if your mind wavers, even just a little, you can fail at even simple tasks. So how do you build the proper mindset? Well it can be quite hard actually. Overconfidence is just as dangerous as a lack of confidence and an inflated ego will only get you hurt. Believe it or not the understanding of what the proper mindset is wasn’t first taught to me be an instructor, or even a martial arts book but by a graphic novel. I know it’s lame and nerdy but I feel that this graphic novel, titled BLEACH if you were wondering, explained things rather well. The main character was being taught how to fight with a sword and the man “teaching” him said this:
“When you evade it’s –‘I’m afraid to be killed!’ When you attack it’s-‘I’m afraid to kill!’ Even when you’re trying to protect someone it’s-‘I’m afraid she’ll die!’ Your sword speaks only of fear. That’s all wrong. Fear won’t bring you victory in battle. Nothing is born of fear. If you evade, it should be-‘He’s not going to kill me!’ If you’re protecting someone it’s-‘I won’t let her be killed!’ If your attacking it’s-‘Kill!’”
All this talk of killing very extreme for the average person but the concept remains. Keeping things to wushu, if you’re trying to balance it’s-“I’m not going to fall!” If you’re trying to jump higher it’s-“I’m going to jump higher!” If you want to stretch farther but not pull a muscle it’s-“ I’m not going to get hurt!” If you remove doubt from your mind, let go of your fear, then suddenly there is room for everything else and suddenly you are in control of your improvement. By telling yourself that you won’t get injured and that you will succeed you prevent injury and increase results. Most importantly, to really let go of your fear, you just have try 100%. Know this, after you tell yourself that you won’t get injured, and if your body is prepared then you are fine, the worst thing that will happen is you fall.
I applied this philosophy when I was learning three-section-staff. Because of this weapon’s design it can be particularly hard to control and I would always end up hitting myself with it which became painful when I switched from a padded practice weapon to a real wooden one. After getting hit a lot I thought about the philosophy I’ve just explained and thought to myself “Why am I allowing this weapon, my weapon, to hit me?” Suddenly it made sense; this three-section-staff was my weapon and it had no right to be hitting me. I was afraid of getting hit by it before and as a result I couldn’t control it! Before the next practice I told myself I wasn’t going to let my own weapon hit me and it didn’t. I didn’t practice any extra, I simply removed my fear and lack of control!
The third and final aspect I want to talk about is copying. While copying is normally frowned upon being skilled at copying moves is very important in martial arts training. Being able to copy moves well has many practical uses and I have a personal connection to the skill. Back in February of 2010 I dislocated my left knee cap. I ended up being in an immobilizing brace for two weeks and on crutches for about six. During the first week of the injury I stayed at home just trying to come to terms with what this injury could mean for my martial arts training and trying to get used to crutches. After that time I returned to kung fu practice. I still couldn’t practice of course but I had to update everyone on my condition and staying away from practice wasn’t something I could do anymore. During that time when bending my knee wasn’t safe I would sit on the side for the entire practice watching Shifu teach taichi and kung fu. I paid very close attention to everything that was said and every move every student made. After I thought I understood it I, still sitting on a chair, would begin moving my arms and torso like everyone else. During the weeks I was “unable to train” by the doctor’s standards I was still able to train the moves at least in my mind and part of my boddy. Once I got the clear to go back, more with a push from Shifu then my doctor, I moved much slower than I ever had but I knew just as much of the forms as everyone else did, even the parts I wasn’t on the floor being taught. While this personal success story is a good example of the usefulness of copying you don’t actually have to be injured to make use of this skill.
Copying solves the problem of not being able to train all the time! Think about it! You’re at home, it’s late, and we don’t have practice but you want to see some wushu so you go to youtube! Great! Now you get your daily fix of watching people better than you! But you leave it at that, watching people better than you. This is where copying comes in handy. If you actively watch the videos you might just see a move you like but have never seen before! It doesn’t look all that hard, but you’ve never been taught it. Why? Well, not everyone knows or does or can do the same moves. So what are you to do? We are always pressed for time in class so asking Coach Lucas might be hard plus you have a new form to learn anyway. So copy it! At home! Watch that section of the video over and over and study every detail. Look at how he/she turned, jumped, landed, what was different about the run in, if the move is a jump, and how his/her hips moved, if your copying a stance shift. How his non striking hands are placed, even down to where the eyes are is important. It may take some time, and a massive amount of clicking of the 0:45 mark on the video, but it will pay off in the end because if you can see yourself in your mind doing a particular form you have a much better chance of pulling it off in practice. Even better yet, just turn the sound down/ off on the video and you can “train” on those nights when you can’t sleep.
Finally copying helps you see what NOT to do. The internet is full of failures and wushu videos on youtube are no exception. But not just youtube, watch the others train in class. Their basics as well as their forms. They may do something you like or better than you or you may see something that you know you don’t like and know you know not to do that! The more you teach yourself to be able to make use of watching the easier time you will have in the future picking up more complex forms.
The most important part of wushu training is to always push yourself. Unless you work hard and devote yourself to your training you will never improve. These three things are the main way that I’ve trained myself throughout my years of martial arts training and I believe that they have aided me the most in my learning of wushu. In the year that I spent training under Lucas I have been able to greatly advance through the techniques and forms and it is not solely due to the fact that I made almost every practice. Without the proper training for wushu it is very hard to improve. Unless you train your muscles to be quick, convince yourself that you can do the forms and that they are not hard, and learn outside of class by copying the best the internet has to offer you will advance at a slow pace.
Dean, thank you. I thought to myself - if just one person reads this article and benefits from it then its "mission accomplished". But then I realized that I read it and benefited from it myself, so you can rest assured knowing that your knowledge has already helped someone else;) Now lets hope it reaches future generations at CMAA! Best of luck in Japan. Hope you keep up your martial arts training and your hard work:) I look forward to your return and letting you share more with all of your kungfu brothers and sisters when you get back.
Interview with Jim Posniewski - Tai Chi CMAA is fortunate to have inherited long time TaiChi, and Kungfu practitioners from Shifu Jiang Jianye. Some have been training for 10, 15 years or even longer with him. I have always kept my cup empty and consider myself lucky to have them as friends who genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge which they have acquired throughout years of devoted study.
Previously I have conducted interviews with Scott Beiter and Sanda Balint. Students of Shifu Jiang Jianye and Lu Yuzhi who I remember since the day I first began studying with Shifu about 15 years ago.
Another long time student of Shifu’s (and Shimu’s) is Jim Posniewski. He has continued to share his wealth of knowledge with me for which I am very grateful. After sharing so many great tips, thoughts, and advice on Chinese martial arts with me, I thought it would be great if there was a way for him to share some knowledge with ALL of CMAA which is why I asked to speak with him. So, without further ado, please enjoy the interview:
L: How long have you practiced martial arts? Chinese Martial Arts?
J: I have been studying and practicing Taijiquan and Qigong for more than 20 years
L: How and why did you begin studying?
J: I was looking for a way to exercise for fitness and flexibility that was easier on my body than running. I started with a class at the local YMCA that was taught by one of Shifu Jiang's students.
L: Studying with Shifu Jiang Jianye for so long, what has your relationship been like? Its rare to find a student who stays with one teacher for so long, why have you decided to do so?
J: It doesn't seem like a long time as it is happening, time just seems to accumulate. My wife Shelley and I started together, and that helped us both stay with it.
Shifu Jiang has such a vast repertoire of forms, that there was always something new happening. I have learned and forgotten almost as many forms as I now continue to practice. He also always encouraged study with other teachers and masters, inviting many to his studio for seminars and workshops.
L: What have been the most significant influences in your study/practice?
J: Not long after I started classes at the studio on Colvin Avenue, Shifu Jiang asked me to be an assistant to his wife Lu Yuzhi at her classes in Clifton Park. I am sure that I benefited much more from this, than any assistance I provided to Laoshi Lu at her classes. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity to learn from Laoshi Lu, since she did not teach many Taijiquan classes at the studio.
I also started teaching beginner Taijiquan classes for Shifu Jiang at some of the local high schools. Having to teach a form makes you learn more about it. You don't realize how little you know until you try to explain it to someone else.
Master Jou Tsung Hwa's Tai Chi Farm and his annual Zhang San Feng Festival introduced us to many excellent teachers and masters of Taijiquan and Qigong. Although one or two hours of seminar is not the same as long term study with a master, I could come away from every workshop with something new to add to my practice of Taiji or Qigong, and we went to a lot of them.
Annual seminars with Master Chen Zhenglei.
I started attending Master Chen Zhenglei's seminars when he came to Shifu Jiang's studio. I continue to attend whenever he is in the area. Studying with a Chen style master of his caliber is a unique experience and has given me a great appreciation and feel for Chen style Taijiquan
L: Do you have any practice tips?
J: The original practice tip that I got from my first teacher was:
When you learn a new form in class, go home and repeat the form yourself at least three times. You don't realize how much you rely on just following others in class until you try to do it yourself with no one else to watch.
Do you have any suggested “study material”(influential books, videos, websites, blogs etc.)?
I have used a lot of study materials. I like to see things written down, or in labeled drawings.
A few things that I could recommend are:
Any of Shifu Jiang's Videos – They are Great supplements when we are learning a form in class, or for forms you want to learn but aren't currently being taught.
The Dao of Taijiquan by Master Jou, Tsung Hwa (Intended originally as a college textbook for a course in Taijiquan. It's great to have met and known the author)
The Tai Chi Book by Robert Chuckrow Written by a student of Cheng Man-ch'ing who happens to be a Ph. D. physicist. An explanation of the details of taijiquan principles from a more western scientific perspective.
Simplified Tai Chi Chuan 24 & 48 Postures with Martial Applications by Master Liang, Shou-Yu & Wu, Wen-Ching
I used this book when first learning 24 form. It is a great introduction to Taijiquan forms for those like me that like to see it written down and well described.
Chronicles of Tao The Secret Life of a Taoist Master by Deng Ming-Dao A biography that reads like a novel. Not really a Taiji book, but anyone interested in Taijiquan would likely enjoy it. The Taoist master of the book is actually still alive living in New York.
L: What are your feelings about Taichi as a martial art? A healing art?
J: Most people will never utilize Taijiquan for a martial application. Thankfully, most of us will never (again?) be in an actual physical fight. But treating Taiji forms as a martial arts practice, and understanding the martial applications can greatly improve your Taiji performance and the effectiveness of its health benefits.
L: What are your feelings about “modern Taichi”? Simplified routines and competition routines?
J: I guess I am somewhat a traditionalist, and I like the longer traditional forms, but the shorter “simplified” forms are a good introduction, and are almost a must for beginners. In most cases, the simplified forms are just shorter, fewer forms and fewer repeats. The actual forms are not necessarily simplified in any way. I consider the very short forms (e.g., 10 form and 16 form) as transitional beginner forms. After a short time the student moves on to longer more complete forms.
Competition forms (with a couple of exceptions noted below) have little appeal to me. They are in general longer than the simplified routines, but shorter than the traditional forms, and designed with some intentionally higher difficulty for the competitors to demonstrate their skills. Most of these routines provide little benefit to me over traditional routines.
Even more recently, “modern” competition routines have started to incorporate very difficult acrobatic forms, kind of a mixture of Taiji and Wushu. I find it difficult to even classify these routines as Taijiquan. They are more acrobatic Wushu with Taiji forms in between to rest.
L: What are your personal favorite routines and why?
J: Personal Favorites
Chen Style Old Frame First Routine (Laojia Yi Lu) - A traditional form that establishes all the basics of Chen style without the extra flourishes and more elaborate transitions of Chen New Frame. Chen style is more obviously martial than other Taiji styles, with deep stances and a mixture of fast and slow movements.
42 Taijiquan (Competition Routine) - This competition routine incorporates forms and movements from five major Taiji styles (Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu-Hao, and Sun). Although it is a competition routine, all of the movements and forms are accessible to most Taijiquan practitioners. The sequence is well designed, without any awkward transitions or direction changes. It just feels better than the similar “48 Form” that also incorporates forms from the “five families”.
42 Taiji Jian (Sword Competition Routine) - This routine is also a competition routine, but like the 42 Taijiquan routine, all of it's forms can be reasonably performed by average practitioners. The individual forms and the sequence seem more polished than the “32 Taiji sword form” that is usually taught first to beginners.
Traditional Yang Style (108 Form) – A very long form with many repeats, but done more slowly than Chen style. The slower more relaxed pace of Yang style allows you to think more about the forms as you’re doing them.
L:What are your recommendations for those interested in studying (taichi/kungfu)?
J: There is much to learn in the study of Taijiquan and Qigong. You can take it as far as you personally want. Follow your own interests, read books, go to workshops and seminars, and ask lots of questions.
L: Please feel free to write about as much or as little about any particular question or area of taiji/kungfu that interests you.
J: I was surprised at how much is covered by your few questions, and also surprised about how much more could be said. However, I think this is already longer than most will care to read, so I think it is best to stop now.
Chinese Martial Arts Academy Monthly Newsletter September, 2012
With so many great things going on right now this is without a doubt the longest school newsletter to date. Some of the announcements are important while others are just more fun and interesting. Please take a few minutes to read about all the exciting things going on at CMAA so you don’t miss a thing!
Major Announcement (reminder):
The Chinese Martial Arts Academy (CMAA) will be moving to a new location- our very own home! Find out what this means for you! Read more here:
Progress Update: We are very hopeful of making our move in the second week of September. While we are aiming to have our first class in the new school on September 15th, if things keep going as smoothly as they are now we may even begin classes in the new space earlier in the week! I will keep you updated via in class announcements, website/facebook updates, and email.
Class Cancellations As you can imagine things are all getting very busy now as we near moving in to our new home. Once we are settled in, we will be offering many more classes six days a week! However, in this period of transition we will have to cancel a few classes. Please note the following class cancelations.
Wednesday 5-8 Tai Chi
Thursday 5:30-6:30 Kungfu Kickboxing
Thursday 8-9:30 Kungfu
Morning Tai Chi, Kids Kungfu, Wednesday Kungfu and Saturday classes will all be held as regularly scheduled.
Our new class schedule will be effective immediately as of our move in date. Please visit our website to view the future schedule:http://www.
New Website! We have a new website! Along with a new school, we have also updated our online image. Please visit www.MartialArtsAlbany.com for up-to-date information about the school (including our future location and schedule). Please contact me with any suggestions about the website and forward it to any friends and family that might be interested in our classes.
We will be conducting our quarterly Kungfu Sash Test September 15th. Please register by September 8th if you or your child is ready to progress. If you are not sure if you or your child is ready to test, please speak with me before class. Testing is required to advance to the next level of forms training. Also, please note the testing requirements and the small associated fee as identified by the curriculum: http://www.
CMAA Superhero Training for Kids (and Adults;) How many of you have watched Kungfu Panda, the Karate Kid or other exciting action movie? How many of you have played video games with the role of a superhero, someone strong and brave? Did you ever wonder what it would be like if you had those awesome powers?
Team CMAA! CMAA officially forms the Dragon Tiger Wushu Team and DT Fight Team! To learn more about what this means for you (or your child), please read more here:
CMAA and CrossFit Essay My name is Lucas Geller. I am the owner of a new martial arts school- The Chinese Martial Arts Academy. In one day I train 5 year olds to become super heroes, tattooed bodybuilders sport fighting and help seniors in their pursuit of longevity. Let me explain to you why I know Crossfit will be a powerful addition to our current course offerings:
China Trip: It is that time of year again. Grandmaster Jiang Jianye will be leading a group to China during the month of September. This year the group will be traveling to Shanghai-Zhangjiajie-Chengdu- Mt. Leshan- Tibet- Mt. Qingcheng- with an extended trip to Xian-Beijing. This year the group will focus on learning Tai Chi, Qigong and Buddhist and Daoism Chanting and meditation! Wish you all a safe and exciting trip, we look forward to lots of great stories and photo sharing when you return.
Interview with Longtime Taichi and Kungfu Practitioner Sandra Balint. Growing up training at the Capital District TaiChi and Kungfu Association, I remember at every seminar, every school demo, every event- there was one woman always there. She was always helping to organize, prepare, clean up and TAKE PHOTOS! I knew she was a dedicated, long time student of my Shifu, Jiang Jianye.
With great appreciation of her dedication to the arts, Shifu Jiang Jianye and CMAA I asked Sandra Balint for an interview. I knew she would have a lot to share, a lot of great knowledge we could learn from.
CMAA Monthly Challenge, September- Goal Setting! Training with short term goals in mind will help us make those incremental baby steps and improvements required to achieve our long term goals. Remember “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Make a plan and make your wish a reality!
That is all for now. Hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend.
Please stay tuned for more updates on our upcoming move!
CMAA Monthly Challenge, September – Goal Setting!
A New Start
Every month I issue a new challenge. The challenges change month to month and the focus may range from flexibility, to strength training, diet, meditation and martial art books reading. However, the objective remains the same- to help you improve as martial artists.
As we prepare to move in to our new school we will be afforded many new improvements to our training regimen. We will have a new and improved training facility, new training tools and new classes offered six days a week in Kungfu Forms, Kungfu Kickboxing, Tai Chi, strength and conditioning (and more!)
With all this on the horizon, this month I think I’d like to take things a little further. Instead of me telling you what to improve on, I’d like to take a step back and let you take a more proactive role in advancing your practice.
This month’s challenge is to sit back and reflect. Think of what you want to get out of your training. Think both big and small thoughts. Identify both your long and short term goals. Then work backwards and come up with a plan of attack as to how you’re going to achieve those goals in your practice.
Long Term Goals
Identify long term what you want. A Black Sash in Kungfu? A no handed cartwheel? To be a Kungfu Master? Maybe it’s to lose 15 lbs. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it doesn’t matter what others might think about it. What matters is that you know WHAT you want to achieve.
Short Term Goals
Once you’ve identified your long term goal/s. The ones that might take 1, 5 or even 20 years, sit down and make a list of short term goals!
What’s the next form you’re working on(long fist)? What basics need the most improvement (front stretch kick)? What is your favorite technique that you’ve always aspired to do (aerial)? Is your goal to lose weight? Get more flexible (splits)? Get lower stances (drop stance)? Get more explosive jumps (tornado kicks)? Improve your balance (low single leg)? Improve your power (bow stance punch)? Improve your reaction time (kickboxing punch drills)?
Write your goals down. Take a look at them before you come to practice. Remind yourself what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it!
Make a Plan!
With your newly identified list of long and short term goals you must now sit down once again and decide how to best achieve your goals! Maybe just coming to practice more frequently, or stretching at home for 20 minutes a day will help you reach your goals. Maybe you have to wake up 15 minutes early to do a few sets up pushups, sit ups and stretches. Maybe you have to discipline yourself to buy healthier food and limit the amount of snacking you do during the day. The more specific your plan, the more likely you are to stick to it and accomplish your goal.
Ready, Set- Make Your Dream Come True!
Training with short term goals in mind will help us make those incremental baby steps and improvements required to achieve our long term goals.
Remember “A goal without a plan is just a wish” - Antione de Saint- Exupery.
Make a plan and make your wish a reality!
I’ll be here to help you.