40 Drinking the Water
Still fluttering your hands . . .
i Slop lorwards with your left k-g but keep your weight on your right leg.
ii Begin to bend forwards from the waist, and turn the palms to face your chest.
iii Continue bending forwards and down and at the same time "wash' down the fn>nt of your body with your hands. Then continue washing down, along the sides of your right leg lo the ankle.
iv Open your hands out to your sides and straighten up. Your hands should circle out. up and back in. so that your right hand passes in front of your liver and your left in fn>nt of your spleen.
v Repeat the 'washing' motion once more.
When doing this movement, make sure that your palms pass over your liver and spleen, (lending forwards at the same time as moving the hands helps strengthen the kidneys.
41 Looking at the Sky i Wash down one more time hut this time when you come to the ankle, shift your weight forwards onto your left leg. raise your hands up hut keep your arms slightly hent. Look up. Stop fluttering your hands when they are above your head.
42 Recovering Qi i Bring your right k*g forwards. Open your hands outwards and k>wer them.
ii Hold y«Hir Dantien with your finger tips. The left hand should be slightly higher than the right, with the thumb and first finger either side of the Dantien and the right hand, thumb level with the Dantien.
All the fluttering of the hands creates a lot of energy, so y«Hi need to drop them down to (he Dantien to bring all this Qi to the Dantien. The left hand is slightly higher than the nght and covers the spleen. The right covers the liver. If you have a problem with your liver then you can change the hands round i.e. have the right hand higher than the k-ft. Shaking the Dantien three times stimulates it.
Just Along For The
Ian Cameron has practised Wutan Taijifor twenty-three years. He worked with Cheng Tin Hung in Hong Kong for two years and has studied his system of Taiji Chuan under his tutelage ever since.
Ian is Scotland's foremost instructor, based in Edinburgh, with schools in Glasgow, Bathgate, & Aberdeen. Although Ian works quietly with no pretension he is held in high esteem by his peers and fellow Taiji practitioners.
Having studied Taiji in Scotland for twelve years I have met and talked to Ian on a few occasions. Consequently, when I was asked to do this interview for Qi Magazine I jumped at the chance. The conversation below gave me an opportunity to know Ian a little better and allowed me some insight to a man who has lived with Taiji, as an integral part of his life, for twenty-three years.
Coutd you tell me bow you got involved in Martial Arts and Taiji?
When I was at school I attended a Judo club in Edinburgh. Judo was the only martial art being practised in the town and I studied that for a number of years. Later on, a Karate club opened up and I attended that. Eventually it became the Wado club under Tatsuo Suzuki and I trained with him for a number of years.
Were the early Judo clubs well attended?
Yes, they were different from those we now see. but very popular.
In what way was it different?
I think the Olympic Games and some of the European influences changed the emphasis in Judo.
Do you think it changed for the better or worse?
I don't think it's quite as good to watch. I used to enjoy longer contests and less emphasis on attacks and gaining points. I always thought it was better with a full point and a half point - and that was it. Judo is still very effective, it's a good art.
How long did you spend doing Karate?
About four or five years. Like I said, that was at the very beginning and gradings were few and far between.
So when did Taiji come into your life?
Taiji was just something I had read about at that time.
I'm surprised you were even able to read about it then as literature on the subject must have been hard to come by.
I think it was R.W. Smith who had written the book, which was one of the first I had seen on Taiji. The postures in the pictures looked really nice and the subject was interesting. It looked really interesting. That was the first time I had come across Taiji. Then I started to see little clips of it, when there was anything about China featured on television. There were these fascinating movements they were doing in the parks. That too, was something which attracted my attention.
Did you then go and actively seek out Taiji?
No, because there was none. None at all. I picked up a book, again by R.W. Smith, on Bagua and this kept my interest By this time I had stopped doing Karate.
You weren't doing anything?
No, I came away from Karate. For whatever reason I'm not sure, but It wasn't for me. I always kept an interest in the arts at some level and I always kept fit
/ notice you have some statuettes on boxing. Did you have an interest in western boxing too?
I had participated in boxing at local clubs. At that time there were quite a few clubs around as boxing was fairiy popular. When I stopped Judo, I tried quite a few things and even had a go at amateur wrestling. I was really just looking, trying to see what was available. My main interest was always in the East I remember at sixteen picking up a book by Alan Watts on Zen Buddhism, reading it, and never understanding a word of it, but nevertheless, having an interest
Do you think there is anything that has focused you towards the East?
1 couldn't put a finger on it It started when I was about sixteen and maybe before that but I had no idea of anything leading me to it or whatever. Once I picked up that Zen Buddhism book, it kept a strong interest for me.
It's onty in the past twenty to twenty-five years we have been subjected to any great level of exposure in things Eastern. I wonder to what extent material on Eastern philosophies was available thirty years ago.
Very little, we just had Judo. Interest in Eastern philosophy followed on from that
Were you working with people from the East then?
No. I was working with Andy Bull, who was a teacher in Edinburgh. Like anyone else who was studying an art I bought books on the subject and studied the background to it Things like Harrison's "Fighting Spirit of Japan." This gives a background to Judo, Karate and some of the other arts that were around then. It just grew from there. You're looking for more information and you just take a hold of it when you find it Like you say, there wasn't that much around. It was hard to come by. Maybe that was a good thing, because you studied what you had. It wasn't like you were buying every book in sight as there were only a few available.
Where did Taiji come in then?
I was a musician in the army and I joined a particular regiment that was going to Hong Kong.
Yes. I went there with the sole intention of finding a teacher in Taiji. I did that within the first week I was there.
How did you make contact?
I went to a sports shop with a Taiji book in my hand and said that I was looking for a teacher. The guy in the shop brought out a big, thick book of teachers and he pointed out Cheng Tin Hung. It was a stroke of luck. I never experimented with any other style of Taiji. That was it
You got the name from the book Did this guy then phone and make contact for you?
No, he just gave me the address to go round and see how I got on.
Did you just go round and knock on the door?
I just took a walk up the stairs, knocked on the door, and there he was sitting with his friends. We went through,
"What is it you want to learn etc. etc." Eventually I
made an appointment to visit the class on a Saturday Morning.
Did be have any English?
No, but fortunately his friend did, as I had no Cantonese.
Were you Just balf hoping that someone would be able to understand you when you called on bis bouse.
Yes. I was keen to leam.
What kind of reaction did you get on tbat initial meeting? How did be regard you?
I think there was a bit of surprise at this Westerner turning up on his doorstep on a Sunday afternoon.
Was it the surprise tbat got you tbe appointment to go to tbe class or was be quite open anyway?
I think he was quite open. There was a fairly long conversation initially when I told about my background, what I had studied etc.
I went to the class the following Saturday, was shown some of the form and then went home to practise it
What were your initial feelings, finally seeing tbe reality of something you bad onfy previously seen in books and movies?
The Initial thoughts were concerning the different styles from the books. The Yang form was what the books were always about and this was the Wu form. 1 was initially taught the square form, which was something different again.
Did someone demonstrate a square form and then a round form and explain what tbe difference was and form an outline of tbe way you would be working?
It was almost like they took it as It came. I suppose initially they were wondering whether or not I was going to stay around for a while.
Was there much verbal contact? I know, from what little I have seen tbat there is not much verbal contact with tbe Chinese, tbey Just work away and you follow, trying to imitate as best as possible.
That was pretty much how they worked. Things gathered momentum and I went from Saturday mornings to also . attending in the evenings. The evening classes were very busy.
Were you tbe only Westerner?
Taiji is now becoming very popular in tbe West and there is also a lot of superficial interest. Did you find tbat in Hong Kong?
Not really, it was too early then. There was hardly any
Western interest and I was the only European there for two years. As Taiji wasn't too well known, it was mainly only the serious students who were practising back then.
How did tbe rest of tbem regard you?
I found it a very friendly atmosphere. It was good. It was very nice and I made a lot of good friends. It's been like that ever since. I've just carried on practising.
Wbat are tbe roots of your system?
Yang Lu Chan was the teacher of Wu Chuen Yu, who In turn taught his son, Wu Chien Chuan, who taught Sifu's uncle, Cheng Man Kuo, who in turn taught Sifu - Cheng Tin Hung. So it goes back to Yang Lu Chan who was the major influence.
How many teachers are there around of the style which has come through that lineage?
I couldn't tell you.
Oh, yes. It's the most prevalent style in Hong Kong.
v i everywhere else?
I don't know, but I think that Wu Chien Chuan spent a lot of time in Hong Kong.
When / was in China for a short while last year, / got the impression that there was general Taijifor health going on in the parks but there were also small coteries of people doing something that was completely different. They seemed to be pursuing another side of the art that the masses weren't doing. Did you find the same in Hong Kong?
I just felt I was getting a lot of what was very good. I really felt that. That was backed up by Sifu's reputation in Hong Kong.
Was the guy in the shop, who gave you his name aware of bis reputation?
He gave me his name because of his reputation, he was well regarded. From all my time practising I have never felt that someone else was getting anything better. I think if you have that idea you will never really settle down. It's really what you're doing and what you put into what you're doing that relates to what you will get out of it. If you're continually dissatisfied and are pursuing hundreds of styles of this thing and the next thing I'm not sure that that's really satisfying. I did get a complete system and I'm happy with it
How long did you spend there?
It was two years.
How did your colleagues in the army feel about what you were doing?
They were quite surprised. It was just something Ian did. Being a musician I had a fair bit of spare time which allowed me to practise regularly. If I was off in the afternoons, I would go off to the gym and practise. I was probably there about three or four times a week and the Saturday morning. It was fairly intensive for two years.
Knowing I was only going to be there for two years, I tried to practice as much as I could.
Being a musician, did you find Taiji bad any noticeable effect on your music?
It's hard to say, but more recently I've seen connections between the two in the sense that everything is refined over a long period of time. It doesn't matter what you are doing, if you keep doing it, it becomes more and more refined. The musicians I admire are the ones who push the barriers out, those who aren't sticking strictly to the rules. I also see the applications and the expanding of the applications of Taiji in a similar way. There is also the expressionism.
Over tbe two years you worked on the form, you worked with pushing. Did you get involved with any Qigong or anything?
Internal strength which is different from Qigong, it's Nei Kung, which means internal work, as opposed to breath. For me, this is what gives the outer appearance of Taiji the balance and the internal core which balances the outer appearance. It builds up the body in a different way and makes the body more resilient, stronger, the joints are looser. For me it's a very important aspect of Taiji and it's almost indispensable for good Taiji.
Can you see an inner quality when looking at someone doing Taiji?
You see a quality but you're not quite sure how he's got there until you start practising and realise how much work he has put in to get to that level. I always feel if something is good, it's not a problem to carry on with it Watching some of the people I had been working with took me along and inspired me. It was also the enjoyment that kept me going. We got into some free fighting, some applications, this was always part of the course, we just did it
Was it only certain people who were taught tbe internal strength?
I think they had to get to know you for a while. They wouldn't take you just walking in off the street.
How long did it take you to become confident in Taiji as a bone fide fighting system.
Some of the training I did with sparring was within me already, as a result of my previous work. You were kind of put on the spot and had to learn as you did it. The sparring didn't seem to be like sparring, it was fighting and there was a fair bit of hard knocks and throws.
. . . continued next issue by Ronnie Robinson
A handy pocket sized book which endeavers to explain the history of wushu (Ch inese Martial Arts), from prim itive man first picking up a stick, to the modern acrobatic forms demonstrated in competition today. Just ten pages spans from the sixteenth century BC to the present day. So this is a very concise history! However, it us padded out with some information about the health aspects, self defence and the beauty which makes wushu an art in the real sense of the word. Classical wushu master being described as "Each like an elegant woman, yet as fierce as a tiger when disturbed".
It explains how the hundreds of different styles are classified into Northern Schools (Bei Quan) and Southern Schools (Nan Quan). Hence the common saying "Southern Fists and Northern Legs" indicates the charateristics of each school. For competition purposes the styles are further classified into seven different categories whilst the many weapons skills are classified into four basic categories.
The main part of this book is dedicated to teaching, with the aid of diagrams, three exercises: "Twenty four
A Guide to
Chinese Martial Arts
Gestures of Lianhuan Chang Quan", "Simplified Twenty four Step Yang Taiji Quan", and "Shaolin Tiangang Quan". I personally feel that trying to leam any exercise from a book is a waste of time, butthe illustrations are clear enough to give a good indication of the different postures and stances relating to each style.
The history of the Shaolin Temple is covered before the Shaolin form Is taught, and an interesting section on warm up exercises is covered before the Chang Quan form. It covers stretching, kicking, jumping, shoulder and waist movements, but these are definitely not for beginners!
An interesting little book, but whether you regard it as an essential buy depends very much on how wide an interest you have in the martial arts generally.
Essentials of Chinese Wushu"
Languages Press ISBN 0-8351-2451-7
Teaching and Research Wushu Research Institute of China, this book comes from an impressive background.
Following a brief history of the origin and development of Wushu skills, the content of Wushu is divided into the following classifications: Solo Practice, Routines, Group Practice (i.e. in formation with musical accompaniment) and Neigong (Internal Training).
The main part of this book Is dedicated to describing with a history of its origin, the content and techniques of thirty three different Wushu styles, some familiar in name and others more unusual in the Western world.
"Drunkard boxing demands extreme flexibility of the joints, as well as suppleness, dexterity, power and co-ordination."
"Pao Chui (Cannon Boxing) owes its name to its rapid and powerful fist blows, which are likened to firing cannon balls."
Weapons are discussed in a similar manner, both the familiar and the more unusual.
"The spear is the king of all weapons"
The rake, hammer, fork and axe described here bear little resemblance to those found in your garden shed!
"Swordplay is brisk, agile, elegant, easy, graufitl and natural in movement" The official rules for competition complete this guide to the "Essentials of Chinese Wushu" from the number of officials and their duties, to the running order and scoring. All aspects are covered. Points are deducted when:
"For any inconformity in any hand movement, footwork or leg technique." Something to consider when we are polishing our own movements!
An interesting insight into Chinese Wushu compiled by the nun who led the Beijing Wushu team to win the national championships ten times.
by Sue Johnson
Guide to Martial Arts"
Languages Press Beijing
Written by Wu Bin, the curr ent president of the Tech nical Co mm ittee of the Wushu Fed eration of Asia, and the Technical Director of the
Section of the
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