Monday, April 27, 2009

Martial Arts Stories

So, I have to write this after the last couple of weekends. Many folks ask alot of questions about what martial arts are and how they relate to life. The first story I want to tell is how martial arts can affect a kids life very quickly.

My girlfriends son is 14, he has studied some taiji with me, but wanted more socialization with his study. We got him enrolled in a great dojo here in town, after reviewing quite a few. He studies Aikido and Arnis as well as kenjutsu now. He has been studying since the beginning of October. He takes it quite seriously and is the youngest Aikido student that Grandmaster has ever taught. Well, this Saturday afternoon, he was walking from an adjoining neighborhood back to ours accross a wooded path, and four 13-15 year olds decided that they wanted his Xbox game more than he did. Two of them pulled out pocket knives. One put it up to his throat, the other put the blade on his arm. Marc kept his cool. He didn't challenge them and when he got his chance he got out of there. He knew that with his limited training he wasn't a match for four kids his size that had knives.

Two things are important as outcomes of this story. One, he kept his cool under pressure. Two, he wants to redouble his training so that he never feels that way again. Martial Arts training is more important than ever in society today. It is much more than fighting. It is awareness of ones surroundings, honest awareness of ones capabilities, and it is the ability to not be afraid so that we can live our lives fully.

The second story I think captures the best use of martial arts that I can imagine. As I worte about, I was at a Jiujutsu seminar last weekend. The founder of Atemi Ryu JiuJutsu was there. He told some great stories about fights that he was in. What follows is the story that he said he was most proud of.

Dr. Chenique (Grandmaster Atemi Ryu Jiujutsu) was exiting a highway in Miami when he observed a car pulled over by the side of the road. There was a lady standing outside of the car in the rain, obviously in an altercation with the occupant of the car. The car then sped off leaving the lady standing there in the rain.

Dr. Chenique pulled over, asked the lady if she was ok, and if she needed a ride. She said that she was ok, and that he would come back to get her. The driver of the car obviously saw that Dr. Chenique had pulled over, and came ripping back to where this was all happening. He exited the car and began to verbally assault Dr. Chenique.

Dr. Chenique (remember, this is his story that he was most proud of) calmly told the driver that he should treat this lady better and then asked him what he was going to do...beat up a 53 year old, bald, fat guy. He said that as soon as he uttered these words, the driver of the car began to lose his aggression. Dr. Chenique had stopped the fight before it got started, caused the man to change his behavior with out any force at all. Sun Tzu would have been proud.

Sometimes force and violence are neccessary, but the warrior is the one who hopes it can be solved without them. It is the warriors who pay the price when force and violence are used as solutions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taiji (tai chi) vs. Jiu Jutsu

OK, I'm not really righting about a vs. type scenario, but I thought this would be a fun title. What I am writing about are the results from a two day workshop that was just held in Fayetteville, NC. Now, this workshop was primarily Jiu Jutsu, with a bit of Aikido thrown in. The seminar was put on by Musha Dojo, head instructor Grandmaster Lioni Velazquez, top student of Dr. Philip Chenique, Atemi Ryu Jiu Jutsu. There were a bevy of highly ranked instructors there as well, from Sanuces Jiu Jutsu.

By now, you might be asking "what does this have to do with Taijiquan?" Well, the short answer is that myself and one other participant in the seminar are taiji practicioners. No, we are not switching arts. We were feeling other practicioners, were were testing what we had learned, we were seeing new relations between Yang Style forms and martial arts that might seem as remote as Jiu Jutsu. Guess what. We were not left in the dust. In fact, I would say that we held up as well as anyone with our level of experience in Jiu Jutsu would have. Naturally, our break falls were not so pretty, we did not roll as gracefully, but we certainly were just as effective with alot of the techniques.

Now, why do you think that I wanted to write a blog about this experience? Simple really, Taijiquan often gets the bad rap that it isn't really martial in nature. I seem to be on a one man quest to prove that Taijiquan is a different kind of martial art, but that it is a martial art and that it does indeed have martial application.

So, if you want to read about those continuing exploits, feel free to read my blog.

BTW, I am not however one of the guys that thinks Taiji is a hard style in disguise. Nor am I one of the guys that thinks I can knock you over with a Chi blast. I belive in the scientific applications of technique, and praticing those techniques until you can do them correctly, then adding resistance to the practice, eventually testing them against a completely non-compliant agressor, all the while still maintaining the Taiji principles.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is taiji?

So, I was thinking alot about taiji and its relationship to other martial arts. Specifically because of some conversation on youtube about a push hands controversy that has now carried over to Bullshido. It really doesn't seem like many people understand what taiji is. When trying to explain it, a lot of us get mis-quoted and sucked into other discussions, such as the purpose of martial arts, new training vs. traditional training, lineage, etc.

Now, I have always been an advocate that taiji is a martial art. What martial arts means to me has changed quite a bit throughout my life, from the desire to be able to defned myself(kid), to the desire to be able to "kick butt"(teen), do my job (soldier), finally it became about the warrior philosphy.

I won't get into the warrior philosophy here, what I will say though, is that being trained in warrior arts (like the samurai) allows us to eliminate fear and more fully experience life. Not just pound someone. I digress though from the original question.

What is Taijiquan?

My newest simple answer is a martial art with all the details.

The applications exist in many other martial arts, but there is still a difference. Quite often I have heard that what we all end up doing in the end is taiji, no matter what martial art. My teachers teacher in china was 92, he did not posses the strength to "whoop ass", what he did have was a very refined technique and way of moving. He was still efficatious at 92, able to uproot and topple his students.

There are alot more conversations to deal with here. Patience, this conversation will unfold just as a flower. Stay tuned.