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morning dew

Wu Tai Chi, anyone a fan?

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I'd never actually heard of this style before I started the short form this year (I'm around a quarter of the way through right now). I was wondering if there were any advanced Wu Tai Chi practitioners in here and what your experiences with it were.

 

Personally, I do it for health (I have a muscular disability, fibromyalgia) and I seem to be slowly becoming a bit more flexible in my range for certain hand movements, for example. I also feel quite loose sometimes after the lessons and springy in my knees (it's a strange sensation). Furthermore, I feel quite grounded/solid/centred/together after I do it in the mornings. Anyone else found health benefits with it?

 

Also, I'm aware there is still a martial side to it. I was just curious if anyone actually fights in purely that style (not that I was planning to myself lol).

Edited by morning dew
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Glad to see your seeing benefits. Im not advanced but i do practice wu style. The teacher matters more than the style iv learned but generally it seemed like the wu teacher had a more balanced and traditional system then the yang teachers in my area so i went with him. I like how the style focuses on leaning, the top of the head lines up with the unweighted foot. My teacher has gone into detail with the martial side however i wouldnt feel confident enough to use it yet. As with alot of the popular styles i feel it has been watered down here in the west. I will say that iv been learning from someone who practices chen style and he seems to have alot more focus on the internal, and the martial side of things. But again that goes back to the teacher being more important than the style. Im sure there are plenty of teachers from each style that are well cultivated

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That's fascinating. Thanks for the input. Always nice to meet a fellow practitioner. :) 

Yeah, I think the teacher can make a big difference and is more important than the style, especially at my level. I quite like the guy I'm with right now, both his teaching style/personality and emphasis on health. He's an Energy Arts teacher (I can't remember BKF's teacher and lineage), and I've no idea how watered down it is. I guess if I really get into it, I can always do a bit of travelling later on to find something a bit drier. :D

 

I did Yang short form years ago for a little while. Wu style is a lot more compact from what I can remember, which I quite like for some reason. Also, there seems to be a lot of folds and twists, which I have a feeling helps massage organs internally. I can't remember if that came up so much in Yang style, but it's something else I like about it.

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Thats great iv heard the energy arts teachers are good, havent had experience with them myself. My teacher is also focusing a little more on the health but i feel the martial applications part of it is extremely important for correcting small details in the form which leads to greater health benefits. When i was visitig different teachers before deciding i was dissapointed to find that not many of them taught the martial side unfortunately.

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That's very interesting. To be fair, my one isn't hugely focusing on health either apart from relaxation. He seems to have a different approach to doing it. Each week we do one section (four movements/steps), first the feet, then adding the arms/hands. I've never learnt a form this way before. He's basically aiming to get the main shape of the whole form first, and then go back over again in fine detail and learn the subtle movements. I know he's aware of the fighting applications, but I'll have to ask about that.

 

Does Wu have any two-person interactions? Do you do push hands or actually try out certain moves on each other or even do any sparring?

Edited by morning dew

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Thanks for the input. It's quite interesting looking at that site and reading up on them all. I didn't realise Wu style was so recent.

 

What did you find/feel the difference was between Energy Arts and Stephen Hwa? What was William Cranstoun's take like that caught your eye?

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As with alot of the popular styles i feel it has been watered down here in the west.

 

I know very little about these things, but it has been my understanding that many traditional Chinese practices have been better preserved in the West than they were in China over most of the 20 Century (generally due to decades of war, revolution, civil war, more war, and most of all the evil Mao).

 

True understanding and practice of martial applications have been decreasing for longer than that, too, in the East and West. In the West, centuries of sword fighting art (among other things) were fairly quickly forgotten with the advent of guns, and have now faded into oblivion. The same happened in China... just a little bit later and more slowly. If a martial art isn't continuously exposed to real fighting, if its practitioners aren't using it to fight, the understanding of its fighting application must decline.

 

I don't mean this as a "Chinese martial arts are useless in a fight" kind of post, but as a defense of Western teachers in preserving these arts as best they could. If any watering-down has happened, it's happened more in China.

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Thanks for the input. It's quite interesting looking at that site and reading up on them all. I didn't realise Wu style was so recent.

 

What did you find/feel the difference was between Energy Arts and Stephen Hwa? What was William Cranstoun's take like that caught your eye?

 

It's been so long since I learned from an Energy Arts instructor in-person that I forget it almost entirely. The guy was a long-term student of Bruce's but they had a falling out for whatever reason and he jumped ship to Xie Peiqi's Yin baguazhang and some obscure Northern Tiger style. I was learning large frame Chen family old first road at the time from someone else and it was so much different from the wide stretches and rolling chansijin that I was enamored with that it seemed a waste of time until I had a greater control of my body again post-stroke. A couple of years ago I revisited the material and found it be an odd combination of Feng Zhiqiang's and the Wu Jianquan material. It's very interesting but I've been learning xingyibagua for the last two years and taiji doesn't much interest me at the moment.

 

William and I talked about how there seems to be the leaning quality of Diagonal Flying almost all the way through their flavor of Wu. Since it was a Yiquan meetup he was largely showing me partner drills to test the different stances and how to sink the opponent's force down to the lower abdomen and then down to the feet and "bounce" the person you're working with away. I had been using too much shoulder most of the time and he helped me be more relaxed and let me experiment with the different expressions of jin from the Yiquan standpoint.

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I've had the pleasure of viewing his Tai Chi Circling Hands videos and found them to be a good basis for a taijiquan practice. He's accomplishing much of the same goals as the chansigong sets from the Chens but with a slightly different flavor.

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It's fascinating to read all that. I'm still looking up some of these styles. Glad you made some progress with the stroke. I actually enjoyed bagua when I did it for a few weeks, many years ago. I only really did circle walking (solo and with a partner), but I remember it being a lot of fun. If I make more progress physically, I might have to check it out at a later point.

 

 

William and I talked about how there seems to be the leaning quality of Diagonal Flying almost all the way through their flavor of Wu.

 

 

It's very interesting to read your session with William. What's Diagonal Flying?

 

-----

 

That video is quite interesting as well. I was actually having a look on yt and discovered all sorts of partnered Wu videos. I always thought the most physical interaction you had with someone else in Tai Chi was push hands. I had no idea it could get so martial.

 

This is BKF's Wu version. I must have a search for other versions. I'd be quite interested to see how they all vary.

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I know very little about these things, but it has been my understanding that many traditional Chinese practices have been better preserved in the West than they were in China over most of the 20 Century (generally due to decades of war, revolution, civil war, more war, and most of all the evil Mao).

Yes i beleive that the arts have suffered in china too for a long time unfortunately due to events you mentioned. And with the resurgance of taiji in china iv heard it does seem to be getting more superficial. More focused on the external movements without internal. But im not qualified to say as i havent been there, just going off what my teacher told me about whats happening in his hometown. So it is hard to know if your teacher is in line with the classics no matter where he is from. I think its good to get opinions from different teachers at first so you can better judge this.

 

To morning dew, i know this video is really poor quality and old but this is my teacher's teacher doing the wu form that we practice. Let me know what you think.

 

https://youtu.be/SPo1U_gmOWs

Edited by Seatle185
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To morning dew, i know this video is really poor quality and old but this is my teacher's teacher doing the wu form that we practice. Let me know what you think.

 

 

Thanks for sharing this :) I found it fascinating to watch.

 

I was wondering how different styles of Wu were, and I was surprised how different this was to BKF's. Is this the right speed or is the old reel making it go faster? Either way, the whole thing seems a lot more flowing and martial and even dancing than BKF's. I can see some low crescent kicks (I seem to remember one appearing in Yang short form), and also dropping right down and stretching the leg out, which are all absent from BKF's version. The most interesting thing is this diagonal lean I keep seeing. I wonder if this was what GreytoWhite was talking about when he said diagonal flying?

 

My body couldn't take it right now, but I think it's something I'd like to check out at some point in the future. It looks a lot of fun.

Edited by morning dew

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Well in our class we do sometimes go that fast, but id say most of the time we are at a much slower speed. Im not really sure if the reel was sped up, its possible. I thought the bkf version of wu was kind of choppy and off balance at first glance but i dont know. Yeah we focus alot on the diagnal leaning like, the way my teacher described it is the head is always aligned straight with the unweighted foot so the back and neck are still supposed to be straight but leaning. Hope this is kind of clear haha. I think all of the wu styles do this. From what i was told and have seen these guys were all pretty good at the martial uses of the forms.

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There are also two Wus for taijiquan - Wu Jianquan and Wu Yuxiang derived. Wu Yuxiang derived is a small frame set that is influenced by both Yang Luchan and Chen Qingping of Zhaobao village. Sun taiji comes from the Hao branch as well. Hao is known for both fast and slow as is good Chen style and the Guang Ping Yang guys I've seen. If you don't train both fast/slow, hard/soft you will never be able to fight.

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Ah yes thanks, that is where there is some confusion as there are two different wu's. We are derived from the jianquan branch of it. Not sure if its the same as bkf version? Iv noticed that some of the other taiji practitioners in the area will stress going the same speed through the whole form always, never deviating. But my teacher explained the art is like music sometimes the tempo speeds and is "forceful" sometimes it is quiet and gentle. It changes and is never dull and lifeless. I agree that training fast is a really important part to actually being able to integrate this into combat, as a beginner i can see why they want you to start slow, but eventually i think theyll touch more on speed hopefully. Hope it helps.

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I'm Chen, but I know a couple of Wu (Jiangquan branch, Beijing style) practitioners who are very high level.  One of them has been practicing Wu exclusively for close to 40 years and is a powerful fighter -- unbeatable in fact, except by his teacher. :)  The other one is not specializing in Wu, but teaches it on occasion, and the students are usually happy and style loyal.  Personally, I would choose Wu as my second best option if I wasn't a Chenster.  Just my humble. :)

 

Beijing style Wu was what the Imperial Guard were trained in when China still had an emperor.  The reasons for the destruction of the empire were geopolitical, not the Guards' fault.  Given a chance, I'm pretty sure they would fight quite efficiently.  

 

All genuine taiji is first and foremost martial, and there's lineages still in existence that were never diluted (except that not everyone will be taught everything) -- but it can also be practiced for many years without explicit martial applications being used, although I believe a teacher who can at least show how exactly each move is designed to be used in combat will definitely give a better understanding and a better structure to the student than someone who doesn't know.  That's because for absolutely all moves, the correct execution vitally depends on their meaning.  What they were designed for.  You can use this aspect to combat an imaginary foe -- an illness, a weakness, a problem -- without engaging in actual sparring, but it's always helpful to understand what it is that you're doing with your body and why when you're doing taiji.  

 

Good luck!  :)

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IIRC all Energy Arts instructors are affiliated with Kumar Frantzis as it's his organization.

I think so. I do wonder if the teachers actually get enough one on one training with him since bruce seems to be so busy (and expensive i assume). I personally think the private lessons iv taken outside of regular class were invaluable and am lucky to have a more "low key" teacher who has the time to offer it.

 

As for some more resources for wu style guys, if you havent already read it, this is one of the more comprehensive books iv read on the style.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Wu-Style-Taijiquan-Peisheng-Wang/dp/9622380158

 

Wang Peisheng is well respected by the Wu community around here. Here also is a link showing his short form, which is pretty close to the way we do it too:

 

https://youtu.be/EmqQ7y5Rqdk

 

Robert tangora, who also is affiliated with energy arts and wu style has a book called "the internal structure of cloud hands". While his specefic version of cloud hands is a bit different than my teachers, i was still able to benefit from the material. i think he does a great job of explaining the importance of "when one part moves they all move" and provides some simple excercises to get more into the full body connection. He also gets into some more advanced mechanics that can carry over to every move in your form. Heres the link if your interested.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1583944486/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492470738&sr=8-1π=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=cloud+hands&dpPl=1&dpID=519nTVfdNcL&ref=plSrch

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Honestly - I've found that most books and videos are of very little help until sufficient time has been put in with an expert teacher. Some videos are great at explaining basics but for the most part in-person correction and training is absolutely critical in the beginning years.

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Well in our class we do sometimes go that fast, but id say most of the time we are at a much slower speed. Im not really sure if the reel was sped up, its possible. I thought the bkf version of wu was kind of choppy and off balance at first glance but i dont know. Yeah we focus alot on the diagnal leaning like, the way my teacher described it is the head is always aligned straight with the unweighted foot so the back and neck are still supposed to be straight but leaning. Hope this is kind of clear haha. I think all of the wu styles do this. From what i was told and have seen these guys were all pretty good at the martial uses of the forms.

 

Yeah, I agree, BKF's version does look choppy and off-balance compared to your one. I don't know what's going on internally, though.

 

Yeah, that's clear. :) This whole thread has been very interesting and helpful. I think I'm in the right place right now, but I'm certainly open to exploring other schools and styles in the future once I become more physically able. I'm definitely not locked into a system. If the worst comes to the worst, in a year or two I will have a short five-minute form I can just add to the rest of my routine in the morning, and then I'll move onto something else.

Edited by morning dew
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Honestly - I've found that most books and videos are of very little help until sufficient time has been put in with an expert teacher. Some videos are great at explaining basics but for the most part in-person correction and training is absolutely critical in the beginning years.

I beg to differ, to a degree. There are excellent DVDs that explain every tiny detail; they have the advantage that you can watch them over and over again - something impossible with a live teacher's explanations.

 

You can use a mirror or video camera for watching yourself. Some DVD instructors even offer that you can send them your videos for feedback and sometimes ranking.

 

Compare this to an instructor having to cope with a class of thirty... It might take quite awhile before he sees that you are doing some little thing in a form wrong.

 

When I was training Karate, it even sometimes happened that an instructor 'corrected' me for mistakes that I knew actually weren't any, as I had always been doing a lot of reading, thus gathering knowledge that some of my instructors didn't have.

 

Studying a martial art is always self-study after all, IME. Instructors are only there to serve as an example and give you some guidance.

 

To illustrate: When I was doing Aikido in schools in Japan, I felt that the only way to really get somewhere was taking notes after class and reviewing what I had been taught.

 

That said, I would still recommend to supplement home study by in-person instruction, but in cases where this is not available to you in the art you would like to study, good DVDs, combined perhaps with a private training partner or two, are a viable option.

 

I am currently learning the old Yang form on my own. It does take time to assimilate all the details, but I'm in no hurry. Simply doing the form over and over to the best of my current ability is its own reward.

Edited by Michael Sternbach
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There are also two Wus for taijiquan - Wu Jianquan and Wu Yuxiang derived. Wu Yuxiang derived is a small frame set that is influenced by both Yang Luchan and Chen Qingping of Zhaobao village. Sun taiji comes from the Hao branch as well. Hao is known for both fast and slow as is good Chen style and the Guang Ping Yang guys I've seen. If you don't train both fast/slow, hard/soft you will never be able to fight.

 

Aha! Very interesting. I had no idea there were two different 'Wu's and so many different schools. I had a little look around and found this quite interesting and helpful:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Wu-style_t%27ai_chi_ch%27uan_lineage_tree

 

 

Ah yes thanks, that is where there is some confusion as there are two different wu's. We are derived from the jianquan branch of it. Not sure if its the same as bkf version? Iv noticed that some of the other taiji practitioners in the area will stress going the same speed through the whole form always, never deviating. But my teacher explained the art is like music sometimes the tempo speeds and is "forceful" sometimes it is quiet and gentle. It changes and is never dull and lifeless. I agree that training fast is a really important part to actually being able to integrate this into combat, as a beginner i can see why they want you to start slow, but eventually i think theyll touch more on speed hopefully. Hope it helps.

 

BKF's lineage is:

 

Frantzis studied for a total of three years with Grandmaster Liu Hung Chieh, who was in his 80s. Liu had an intriguing past.

He had lived and studied with the founder of Wu style tai chi, Wu Jien Chuan, and he had been the youngest member of the original Beijing Bagua Chang School. When he was only in his 30s, Liu was declared enlightened by the Tien Tai School of Buddhism, after which he spent ten years studying with Taoists in the mountains of Western China. He was a lineage holder in tai chi, hsing-i and bagua as well as an adept in Taoist qigong and meditation practices.

 

http://www.energyarts.com/bruces-frantzis

 

I'm assuming 'Wu Jien Chuan' is Wade-Giles and 'Wu Jianquan' is Pinyin for the same person?

Edited by morning dew

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I think so. I do wonder if the teachers actually get enough one on one training with him since bruce seems to be so busy (and expensive i assume). I personally think the private lessons iv taken outside of regular class were invaluable and am lucky to have a more "low key" teacher who has the time to offer it.

 

As for some more resources for wu style guys, if you havent already read it, this is one of the more comprehensive books iv read on the style.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Wu-Style-Taijiquan-Peisheng-Wang/dp/9622380158

 

Wang Peisheng is well respected by the Wu community around here. Here also is a link showing his short form, which is pretty close to the way we do it too:

 

 

Robert tangora, who also is affiliated with energy arts and wu style has a book called "the internal structure of cloud hands". While his specefic version of cloud hands is a bit different than my teachers, i was still able to benefit from the material. i think he does a great job of explaining the importance of "when one part moves they all move" and provides some simple excercises to get more into the full body connection. He also gets into some more advanced mechanics that can carry over to every move in your form. Heres the link if your interested.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1583944486/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492470738&sr=8-1π=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=cloud+hands&dpPl=1&dpID=519nTVfdNcL&ref=plSrch

 

Yeah, I would imagine Bruce is incredibly overbooked for one-to-one time. I've done private lessons in the past many years ago when I used to do martial arts. I also find them very useful.

 

Thanks for the book recommends; they look very interesting. :)

 

I'm going to sit down this week and have a look at that video properly. I also discovered some practical martial arts applications for Wu on yt that looked quite fascinating. I'll have to post some to see what people think once I've gone through them.

Edited by morning dew

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No problem the wang peisheng book was the only book my teacher ever recommended as a beginner, he also gave me a dvd of himself going over the form. I only used them to go over moves we had covered in class to refresh my memory because as a beginner i wanted to practice all the time at home but would forget certain details so in that situation a dvd did help me but i agree it is most useful to use just as a supplement to your class. It wasnt until much later when my teacher encouraged me to branch out a little and try studying some material or take classes from masters of other taiji styles to try better understand the essence of the art and how even though some styles can look vastly different they all should follow some basic principles and achieve similar goals. He wants us to stay critical of ourselves and our practice and humble and open minded so none of us fall into the "my style is way better than your style" trap that some practitioners fall into. This way we can make use of some of the great practices that our teacher may be lacking in.

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