Kung Fu People
Category

  • The Birthplace of Chen Style Taiji Quan

    Chinese Martial Arts

    A billboard of Chen Xiao Wang and sons in Chen Jia Gou

    Last month I went to Chen Jia Gou, just outside of Zhengzhou, Henan, to visit the birthplace of Chen Style Taiji Quan. I went with Chen Jia, a young lady who studies under the style’s current, most famous master, Chen Xiao Wang. She also opened her own school in Shanghai.

    Every year in March, Chen Xiao Wang takes time out from his travels around the globe to return home and pay respects to the temple, school, and village where he was born and raised. Students from around the country – and the world – come to Henan during the last week in March to join him, participate in seminars, and train with other taiji enthusiasts.

    My primary interest in traveling out here was to learn more about Chen Jia, more about her master Chen Xiao Wang, and to take a good look at a “birthplace” of a style. I know Chen Jia, and consider her to be a very sincere and talented martial artist, and in conversations we had we often spoken of the level of “realness” in martial arts these days. We talked of the rise of Wushu – the competition style Wushu – and the decline in students of what we both understood to be real kungfu.

    It’s easy to agree on a definition when you agree with the person you speak to. So much can be left unsaid. Hence the trip: I wanted to see what was real in Zhengzhou and what Chen Jia considered to be real kungfu.

    I was, in all, pleasantly surprised.

    Continue Reading

    April 18, 2013 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 22116

  • Dichotomies and Princesses

    The last remaining gate of Hong Yan Temple, which housed the secrets of Emei Kungfu. There were once 48 gates, according to legend, and hundreds of monks.

    I recently traveled to Emei, again, and to Shanghai to meet with a disciple of Chen-style Taijiquan, Chen Jia. There were some highlights that I will try and talk about below, but what these trips also did for me was help crystallize the framework for this story I am writing.

    One thing that has come clear to me over the past few weeks (and years actually) is that 武术 is so deep and so broad that I have literally no hope of understanding a large portion of it unless I dedicated myself to a life of scholarly research – and I actually just imagined finding Ming Dynasty contemporary accounts of the training that mountain-bound monks did in preparation for battle with rebels, and I literally teared up. What a beautiful thing, an old text illuminated again … but I digress.

    Continue Reading

    December 12, 2012 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 3490

  • A few thoughts on Emei Mountain Kung Fu

    Emei Kungfu

    I am busy transcribing interviews and translating them for a deeper post on Emei Mountain, but I thought I would lay down a few surface thoughts before they escaped into the ether, enjoy:

    I went to Emei Mountain last weekend and visited with some kung fu masters there. Two to be exact. One has been a high school gym coach for the past 25 years and the other teaches wu shu performance classes to small children.

    I met them at the Grand Buddha Temple, a massive, beautiful new temple built by the Emei Buddhist association to promote tourism and the Buddha. The Emei Wu Shu Alliance has a small office in the corner of the temple. Pictures of the officials responsible for the creation of the alliance line a large carpeted room where Zhang Shifu performed some tao lu for us. That was without question the first time anyone practiced any martial arts in that office.

    Continue Reading

    November 20, 2012 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 16454

  • A Meeting with Liu Sui Bin

    The other day I met Liu Sui Bin at a teahouse in west Chengdu, The Green Well, opposite the Shiren Park main gate. The district around Shiren Park looks like the rest of Chengdu looked 10 years ago: fly in the wall eateries sandwiched between crimson lit barber shops and lotto dispensaries; families wandering around chewing on sunflower seeds; men in dirty clothes and badly combed hair sitting on motorbikes eyeing the girls and smoking Baisha brand smokes.

    It’s not the district I would imagine to find Liu Sui Bin in. And the Green Well is just a mahjong parlor above an old style KTV/brothel joint, not the venue I would expect to be discussing Taoist philosophy in either.

    Continue Reading

    October 15, 2012 • Kung Fu People • Views: 9824

  • Kung Fu Kids

    Students at a Hanyuan Daishimen Gongfu School (photo by Andreas Muller)

    September 26, 2012 • Kung Fu People • Views: 13205