Wu Chun Yuen
he was still full of energy and he was talking about his impending move.
Sifu was originally born Shandong Province in 1927. He moved to Beijing when he was in his early twenties and he worked making leather bags and cases. He made me a case for my swords which I still have today. He worked in this same factory for the next forty years, never changing his job. He was very patient to do these simple things and a very loyal worker.
I remember looking at his palm one day. The lines on it were very few, only the three lines of heaven, man and earth. This meant that his life, his mind was very clear and that he would dedicate himself to one thing. That is why his martial art skill was so good. If you look at most people today, they have so many lines. It means they are never settled and try so many things.
When Sifu was in his twenties, he met his teacher, Wang Ping, who taught him all his Shaolin skill. ^
Grandmaster Wang Ping was a famous opera actor of that time. In the old days, anybody doing opera must have a high level and understanding of martial art skill. They had to be able to handle all kinds of weapons, like the spear, straight sword, broadsword and also be flexible and strong in order to do tumbling and jumping.
After he started learning with Wang Ping, Sifu said he never missed a day to study with him. Even on Chinese New Year, when most people stay at home with their family, he still went to see his teacher. He was very dedicated. He said that he liked martial arts as it brought him back to be a Chinese person. He was not just a mere factory worker, but carrying on a skill that had a lineage and history. He learned with Wang Ping for over twenty years, until his Sifu passed away.
The first form he learned was Xing Sau (Style Hand) and then Er Lian Quan (Three Eyes Immortal Fist) and Green Swallow Fist. Later he learned Mi Ju Quan (Secret Ancestor Fist) and Great Sadness Gong. These were all barehanded forms which make the body light and improves coordination and opens the channels. They also help to develop strong
bones and good posture, which is important for being able to handle the weapons. I love these forms so much and I practise them everyday. I have come to call them "Five Element Fist" as I find they cover everything in the body, internally and externally.
Sifu not only knew the barehanded forms, he also excelled at many weapons. His favourite was the Green Dragon Sword and another form called, White Crane Sword, which is a very long form. Green Dragon Sword develops coordination as it is performed with a very long tassel that is quite heavy. It also has a lot of jumping and uses Fa Jing (releasing power skill). White Crane Sword develops coordination on a special level,...that of using the long tassel as a weapon, tossing the sword and getting it back or changing it from one hand to another in mid form. These forms are quite unusual, with a lot of detail. Not many sword forms still exist today which have this kind of level of skill.
Many people find these forms very difficult to do as it does not rely on external strength to control the tassel and balance the weapon. They rely on inner strength and coordination. The sword forms are a very challenging and special skill. When Sifu taught me the White Crane Sword, he first had me practise swinging the tassel. He laughed as I could not get it. It always got tangled up on my hands or around my head. Sifu, however, made it look so easy, just like he was swinging silk through the air.
The next favourite form was the Damo Staff and the Plum Blossom Spear. He also taught me the Yang Family Spear. Damo Staff is a very long form and very interesting. Even when learning the basics of how to swing and play with the staff, it is easy
Sifu did not only know the barehanded forms. He also excelled at many weapons."
to hit yourself a couple of times. However, once you get it, you will know how to use to defend yourself with any stick you hold in your hands. The staff uses both ends to defend which is different from spear, but the spear also needs more accuracy
Sifu also had other weapon skills. One of these was the multi-sectioned metal whip and he still practised and could perform even in his late seventies. I remember a few years ago when I was visiting him, it was in the autumn and Sifu was demonstrating some forms for me. He pulled out his whip and started to swing it around his head and body. One of the parts of the form is lying on the ground and swinging the whip underneath the body while 'bouncing' upwards. He did this so
An early photo
Staff vs Staff
One of the more difficult movements in the Green Dragon Sword
Staff vs Staff
One of the more difficult movements in the Green Dragon Sword naturally and, yet many other people less than half his age could easily have hurt themselves.
I remember cycling with him on an errand one time. He had a cap on his head and he sat perfectly straight as he cycled, weaving with grace through the busy rush hour cyclists. He looked as if he were hardly peddling, yet I was struggled to keep up with him. His movements were so effortless that I knew this was because of his martial art skill and training. This always impresses me whenever I think about it.
Wu Sifu had a brother who also lived in Beijing and they were very close. Sifu's first child, was a boy. However, Sifu gave up his own son to his brother, who had not been
able to have any children of his own, to raise as his own. This was actually quite common in Chi n a a t th i s time, but it still required a very generous heart to do this. His son still visited Preparing the dumplings him to pay his respects every Chinese New Year and so he was happy for this. In time, Sifu had two other children, both daughters. Soon after his wife passed away and he took care of his daughters on his own. In 1990, his youngest daughter passed away, leaving only himself and his eldest daughter, who lived near by.
You can say his life was very hard. Still, through all of this, he still carried on practising his martial art skill everyday. Even where he lived was very old fashioned and basic. He lived in a one of the old Hutongs of Beijing. These were small, stone houses that lined both sides of a narrow lane, which was often nothing more than a dirt or gravelled road. They were only one story high and very simple. Most did not have water inside and the toilets were shared in a — communal building down the road. Many of these are now being torn down to make way for high rise apartment buildings, so they are becoming a rarity. Although he lived very simply, Sifu was always happy, and I mean really happy from the heart, not just pretending. This also impressed me a lot. That he could stand all the difficulties in his life and still be happy, to me that is a true and special person. HisShaolin skill helped him cope and also to stay healthy as it created a lot of heat in the body which helped to get rid of the damp that came out of the stone in his house.
Although he did not have much money, he always was very proud to show me that he had his savings. The money he had was enough for him to live as he did not spend very much. He ate very simply and loved the Beijing dumplings known as Gouzi. He also loved nuts and watermelon seeds and you would always see a bowl of these on the table in his room. Whenever I came, he would buy two dozen or more of these dumplings and then steam them for us at his home. In between drinking mugs of hot tea, we would dip the Guozi in the blackvinegarand talk. Sometimes he would offer me another of his favourites, preserved duck egg with soy sauce. If we had talked too much and the dumplings had got cold, he would re-steam them and we would eat some more. He would tell me about his children and wife and also we would talk about martial arts and even Chinese history and philosophy.
Everyday Wu Sifu would go to the park at 6am and practise for two hours
"I was close to him and he treated me like his son.
until 8am. Everyone knew him as Uncle Wu. He had many people come to study with him, some retired people and some younger like myself. Often his students could not come regularly because of their jobs, and they would sometimes forget the forms. However, he was always very patient and take time to show them the form over and over again if they forgot. I admired his patience a lot. In my heart, I always found that Sifu was like my father. He had lost his own son, but I was close to him and he treated me like his son. He gave me many of his old photos in which he is posing with the sword or knife. He kept all the Qi Magazines I sent him and showed them to his friends. His posture is the best I have ever seen. If you look from the tip of his sword down through his body, you can see the line of his arm and sword are relaxed but perfectly straight. This is high level.
I learned from him that when you like something, be dedicated at it. Work hard on it, keep practising and do not give up as then you will reach a good level. That is how he got his high level. So even though he was not so famous, his skill level and also his manner was beyond most people. I hope that all of us can keep his skill and let it pass down to the future generations. I hope that we can also remember his good example for life and try to follow it and be happy no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. To have a peaceful heart and a healthy body is the priceless example he set for usB
by Michael Tse
My Chinese was still not up to much and so I tended to rehearse the same conversations over and over. People would invariably askyou what countryyou are from, how long you have been in China and what you're doing there, then they compliment you on your Chinese (which means its bad - when they don't say anything you know you're getting better).
During one such conversation with a student I mentioned my interest in Chinese martial arts. This normally draws a blank as most of the young Chinese I met have no interest in it what so ever and even, I got the distinct impression, thought me a little eccentric for having such an interest. On this occasion however the student's eyes lit up and he said he had an 'uncle' (which often means the father of a friend) who teaches Martial Arts and would I like to meet him. I said 'yes' and the next thing I knew we were cycling out of the campus and away down roads and alleys that I had hitherto failed to summon up the courage to explore. A good fifteen minutes later we arrived at a self-contained village within the city. I was totally lost and had visions of ending up in a soup pot and never being heard of again.
That didn't happen of course. Instead we walked into a building that was both Wu Shu school and Chinese Medicine Clinic. In the yard young students were doing their ji ben gong and in the clinic the student's uncle was talking to a patient. Being British I was all for waiting outside until the doctor had finished with his patient but I was ushered in and we all said hello and did our introductions while the patient had to be just that - patient. We then sat and watched the rest of the treatment.
It was a short time after the Spring Festival that I had another run in with Hard Qigong, although I didn't realize it until it was too late. It was one of those strange journeys that sometimes happen.
Fortunately this was not entirely surprising to me. Since our trip to Yunnan I had had some problems with my digestion and had decided to get it checked out in case it was something serious. At the Western Hospital the consultation room was full of people, with, apparently, several people talking to the doctor at the same time. My interpreter joined in, finally extracted himself from the melee a few minutes later holding a piece of paper that had been signed by the doctor. I was to go to another room to have a mirror pushed down my throat into my stomach so they could have a look. Turning a shade whiterthana lab coat I inquired if there wasa Chinese Medicine section to the hospital. There wasn't. The Chinese Medicine hospital was on the other side of town, and surely I didn't want that superstitious stuff... did I? I assured him that I did and so off we went.
At the Chinese Medicine hospital it was the same thing. Consultancy rooms full of people who listened eagerly while I described the shape, size and consistency of my stools, through an interpreter. Many opinions were given but the doctor, a kindly middle-aged man with tired looking eyes and very soft hands, remained silent. Instead he took my pulse and looked at my face and tongue. He then asked me a few more questions, nodded, said it wasn't serious and wrote me a prescription for some Chinese herbs. The herbs were available as a powder to be dissolved in water (the foul tasting liquid from the Shaolin temple immediately sprang to mind), or in tablet form. I chose the latter. Three days later I was well again, thankfully without anyone having to stick anything into my stomach.
The patient at the Wu Shu school didn't seem to mind being watched. The doctor did some tui na, and some cupping. At the end of the treatment the patient was given a cup of tea and sat and chatted to the doctor for a short time while their herbs were being prepared. I have always been interested in massage, but have never really done any and so I was fascinated. We sat around chatting for some time. At one point the doctor's son appeared, he was also an English student at my University and so was keen to practice his English. In the end the doctor suggested that if I wanted to learn a bit about tui na I
could come around and learn and help his son with his English at the same time. It sounded like a good idea to me.
Over the next six months I visited the clinic pretty regularly and learned some basic theory and techniques. Over time we shared many meals and all became good friends, and I look back at my time spent there as some of the most enjoyable hours I spent in China.
After a few months of learning about basic tui na, the doctor said that if I ever wanted to use it I would need to do some exercises to develop strength. Fine I said. OK he said.
The next time I went there he gave me some finger strengthening exercises, such as throwing a bag full of gravel around with the other Wu Shu students and having to catch it one handed. If
"The next time I went there he gave me some finger strengthening exercises.
you dropped the bag it was 50 press-ups, which the other students did without batting an eyelid. I, on the other hand, nearly died.
I very quickly became aware that I was weaker than I thought. I'd always thought I was in all right shape, which I probably was, but when you do something like massage it uses up a lot of energy and you have to have it to spare. The doctor gave me more and more exercises to do to build up my strength. I did them without questioning, though some did seem a little strange. Then one day he said: 'You should keep this up for 100 days'. Where had I heard that '100 days' thing before? That's it. I had started doing Hard Qigong.
I had often seen Hard Qigong advertised in Qi magazine but had always avoided it for some reason that I can't fully explain. I suppose I thought it was aggressive, or damaging or perhaps we often avoid what is best for us. The truth is that I hadn't really bothered to find out what it really was. Now that I was doing it almost by accident, I found that I was reaping all sorts of benefits. In the beginning I found it tiring but after a few weeks I found that it made me feel much stronger and healthier. I felt that it helped my breathing and my posture, and I even found that my ability to concentrate had improved. I also came to appreciate how important it is to be strong and fit before you try to help other people through something like massage. I now feel that it has been so good for me that I can't believe I avoided it for so long, now I can't wait to get back to England and learn more about it at the Tse Qigong Centre. Often we have to travel a long distance to find that something we were looking for was available right under our nose!H
by Peter Anderssen
This is a Qigong that mimics the attitude of the turtle and snake. A turtle represents quietness, stillness and settling. A snake represents activity, speed and moving forward. The two together balances the energy.
I. Lying Down Turtle Breathing
II. Two Dragons Fight for the Pearl
a. Lie on your back with your head resting on a pillow, with legs naturally straight and arms resting naturally to the side of the body.
b. Close your mouth and eyes.
c. Breathe in and out slowly through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.
d. Swallow the saliva in your mouth like you are swallowing something, you can even make noise.
e. Slowly inhale again and at the same time swallow the saliva to the Dantian and then breathe out again slowly.
f. After swallowing the saliva like this for six times, relax the whole body. Breathe naturally and listen to the breathing. Relax and forget everything at the end.
This is good for relaxation and breathing.
III. Snake Walking Qi (no figure)
a. Lie on your back with your head resting on a pillow, with legs naturally straight.
b. Slightly lift the arms and move the fingers and toes like a snake moving.
c. Then move both the arms and legs like you are swimming, from inside out.
Lie on your back with your head resting on a pillow, with legs naturally straight and both palms resting, Laogong point to Laogong point together at the Dantian.
Swallow the saliva like above six times.
Listen to your breathing until you totally relax and forget everything.
This is good for relaxation and stomach.
IV. Wave Moving (no figure)
a. Lie on your back with your head resting on a pillow, with legs naturally straight.
b. With the whole body relaxed, let the body roll from side to side, like the action of a wave.
This is very good for constipation and kidney problems.
V. Spiritual Turtle emerges from the Sea
a. Lie on the stomach with the forehead resting on the floor/bed with the elbows bent and palms resting flat.
b. Lift up the head and breathe in slowly.
c. Lift the body upwards by pulling back the hands and support the body on straightened arms, all at the same time as breathing in.
d. Look forward with a concentrated look.
e. Lower the body while breathing out slowly.
f. Repeat six times.
This is very good for stomach and back problems.
VI. Lying on the Stomach to Rest
a. Lie on the stomach with the head resting to either side with the elbows bent and palms resting flat.
b. Swallow your saliva six times as before and then listen to your breathing.
This is good for relaxation and storing the energy.
VII. Turtle Resting
a. Bring the knees up under the body and rest the body on bent elbows. Let the head rest on the floor and look either to the left or right.
b. Breathe in and out naturally. Can do up to five minutes.
Good for menstruation, menopause and recover from pregnancy.
VIII. Lying to the Side (no figure)
a. Lie on your side with your head resting on a pillow.
b. Place bottom hand in front of the Sky Eye and let the upper hand rest on the side of the body.
This is good for liver and the spleen.
If you practise Lying Qigong everyday, then it will be good for your energy and relaxed. It is particularly good for your hips, waist and kidneys.
By Zhou Ren Feng
Common Chinese Herb,
On the 17 February 2003, the death of ^ t 23-year-old Baltimore Oriels pitcher Steve Bechler due to heat-stroke has re-raised concerns about the use of the herb, Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae). Ma Huang and its derivative, Ephedra, is marketed extensively in America as a weight loss aid and energy tonic. So is it safe?
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine say that Chinese medicinal uses of the herb are both safe and beneficial when prescribed and administered under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist. While no therapeutic Chinese herbal formulas have been linked with the serious adverse reactions being reported in the media, the Federal Drug Administration in America is considering banning the substance from being used.
Ma Huang, which is native to China but is also now found in the Mediterranean region, India, Persia, and the western portion of South America, has been used safely and effectively for centuries among practitioners of Chinese medicine. The herb was first mentioned roughly 3,000 years ago in The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing). This classical text was the first to lay the foundation
Steve Bechler who sadly died for study in Chinese medicinal herbs. In this text Ma Huang is described as: "Non-toxic, treating mainly a form of the common cold, headache, and warm malaria. It causes the body to sweat, suppresses cough and counter-flow of Qi (asthma), eliminates cold and heat, and breaks concretions and hardness, accumulations and gatherings."1
Ma Huang has also been mentioned in The Treatise on Cold Induced Diseases (Shang Han Lun), a classical text that is a staple in all Chinese herbal education. The herbal formulas from this text are still popular in China and throughout the Chinese medical community today. It is in this text that Ma Huang is combined with various other herbs to treat diseases such as the common cold, asthma and edema.
Current students and practitioners of Chinese medicine study from the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, where Ma Huang's functions are described as: "Induces sweating to relieve patient of "common cold" or flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, headache, and absence of sweating). Facilitates the opening of the lungs and controls wheezing for those patients suffering from cough with wheezing due to the lungs being obstructed. Promotes urination and reduces edema, especially edema that is associated with flu-like symptoms."2
In Chinese medicine, Ma Huang is not used to increase energy levels or promote weight loss. Rather, the herb is typically used as a remedy for asthma, coughs, congestion, and other lung problems. Licensed herbalists administer Ma Huang in much lower doses than the amounts typically found in Western diet pills and energy enhancers. Ma Huang is also administered in conjunction with other herbs that serve to counteract and balance any of the negative side effects of Ma Huang.
Ephedra's dangers are well documented in the traditional Chinese medical literature, which are studied by students training to be licensed acupuncturists and herbalists. The texts instruct practitioners to be aware of patients who would not be prime candidates for specific medicinals, as well as to recognize side effects that might arise from any given herb. It is from the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica that practitioners of Chinese medicine learn that Ma Huang should only be used in low doses for short periods of time, as it has a prolonged effect in the system. This text also states that Ma Huang may cause a rise in blood pressure and should not be used in patients with cardiovascular disorders or high blood pressure.
When Ma Huang was introduced to the West, it transitioned from being used as an herbal treatment for diseases to an energy stimulant and a weight loss product. Western pharmaceutical companies use a concentrated form
Steve Bechler who sadly died of ephedrine, the alkaloid enhancement of the natural herb Ma Huang. Many Americans use this form of ephedra for extended periods of time without professional medical supervision. Often, the herb is combined in diet or energy products with caffeine or a natural caffeine source such as kola nut, guarana, or tea. The combination of these two different types of stimulants can be especially powerful, yielding a potentially dangerous effect in sensitive individuals.
If abused or misused, ephedrine can lead to dangerous side effects, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stoke. According to Jack Miller, licensed acupuncturist and President of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, "If one of the dozens of chemical compounds found in any herb is isolated, concentrated and then used as a drug, there is definitely an increased possibility of toxicity and negative effects. This is compounded when the herb is used forconditions not traditionally indicated."
To ensure safe and appropriate use of Ma Huang, one should only take the herb under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist.
Practitioners trained and licensed to prescribe Chinese herbs such as ephedra typically have three to fouryears of graduate level schooling from a Traditional Oriental medicine college, graduate with a Masters degree, and pass minimum competency exams for licensing. To date, there have not been any reported cases of death from ephedra use in China, where the herb is commonly prescribed by licensed practitioners.
The National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have cited Oriental medicine, which includes herbology, as an effective means of healthcare. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 42% of all Americans are using complementary therapies, spending more than $34 billion annually by Rebecca Wilkowski Rebecca Wilkowski is a health writer and PR Director for Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Her work has appeared in Qi Magazine, Healthy & Natural, Chicago Sun Times, San Diego Business Journal and others. Marc Sklar is the President of the Student Government at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego; Board Member of the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA); and Co-Founder and President of the CSOMA Student Organization. For more information on the history and safety of Chinese medicine, please contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-094 1.
1. Yang Shou-zhong (translator), The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica, 1998 Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO. 2. Bensky D. and Baroler R., Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, 1993 Eastland Press, Incorporated, Seattle, WA.
It has transitioned from being used as an herbal treatment for diseases to an energy stimulant."
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