Does tai chi get any sexier?
In late November, 12 weeks into the 6-month Nourishing Life program at San Feng Academy, my classmates and I began learning Tai Yi Wuxing Chuan (Tai Yi 5-elements form), a Wudang martial arts form that originated in the Ming Dynasty (1488-1504) and is considered essential to cultivating flow of internal energy.
Based on the movements of Zhang San Feng's Tai Chi Chuan 13, the form was influenced by the Five-Animal form of Hua Tuo, a famous doctor from the Han Dynasty. The spiraling, snake-like movements of this signature form combine the practices of regulated breathing, coordination of limbs, striking and defense.
In the video above, Master Huang Chuan Bo, performs a slightly abbreviated version of the form for an audience in Austin, Texas USA during his summer 2006 visit to the city. Master Bo was a member of a 36-member entourage of Taoist priests that brought Wudang Martial arts to the United States.
The martial precision and grace of the form relies heavily on lower body strength as well as fluid coordination of the waist, hips, and torso. Cultivation of the form demands clear yi (mind-will) far more than physical strength, and emphasizes the ability to absorb and redirect over frontal attack.
Form of Liang Yi Quan
While Master Bo's slow, meditative style gives this form a tai chi-like "flavor", Tai Yi Wuxing is actually not tai chi. Within the realm of Wudang internal martial arts, it is categorized as Lian Yi Chuan, a "hybrid" form combining the slow, fluid moves of tai chi with the explosive power moves common to kung fu.
The Taoist philosophy that underpins the Wudang systemm of martial arts holds that Wuji (formless void, nothingness) gives birth to Taiji (form, in some combination of yin and yang). Out of Taiji comes Liang yi (two gifts or two extremes), which represents the separation of yin and yang, of quick and slow, of hard and soft.
A more traditional Liang Yi style performance style of Tai Yi Wuxing, one that has a more martial flavor and includes the characteristic explosive power may be viewed at the blog entitled "Master Zhong Disciple Taking Ceremony". The October performance by Master Yuan Xiu Gang was one of several disciple performances offered to Master Zhong as part of the ceremony.
You can view a performance of Tai Yi Wuxing that has a more martial flavor and the explosive power characteristic to Liang Yi Quan at the blog entry "Master Zhone Disciple Taking Ceremony". The October performance is by Master Yuan Xiu Gang, a senior disciple of Master Zhong.
Meeting Master Bo
One Thursday afternoon in late November, my classmates and I were visiting a tailor's shop in the nearby town of Wudangshan where we bumped into another customer that just happened to be Master Bo. My classmate Michelle recognized him as an instructor at the kung fu school she previously attended. He was more than happy to take a photo with me (in a regal, Wudang sort of pose).
It was exciting for me to meet the man whose performance in part inspired me to make the trek to China and to pursue the learning of this advanced Liang Yi Quan form. Here we are in a posture from the form.