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  • Articles on Shaolin

    Zhuangzi-Butterfly-DreamI read Meir Shahar’s book cover to cover. Every ten to fifteen pages I stopped to write an essay for Fightland outlining what I thought Shahar was saying. In some instances, I summarized his findings outright. I believe Fightland’s audience may not have had a chance to read a real in depth history of the Shaolin Temple, and maybe didn’t know they cared until they did read one.

    I for one had my mind blown. There is so much in Shahar’s book that led to other threads within the martial arts phenomenon. The essays I wrote for Fightland were something of an exercise in reading comprehension for me, and also helped to clarify a few areas of my own research I felt had clouded up in the past few months. As has happened many times in the last two years, my ideas changed, morphed, seemed insignificant, took on new meaning, were amplified and enhanced, and eventually crystallized into a new edifice from which to work forward from.

    Now I am slogging through “Thrown,” a solid book so far, but not as fascinating to me as Shahar’s book. Yet.

    Here are the essays for Fightland:

    Wild Monks: Origins of the Shaolin Martial Arts

    From Staff to Fist: Origins of Shaolin Martial Arts

    Kungfu and the Cult of Immortality

    Kung Fu and the China Dream

     

    May 26, 2015 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu Lore, Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places • Views: 1579

  • Chen Taiji Video

    Here is a video that Chen Jia posted on her Wechat feed. It features the four current masters of Chen Style Taiji, Chen Xiaowang, Chen Xiaoxing, Chen Ziqiang, and Su Jianping. It’s beautifully shot, but the music is horrible. The song, I believe, was written for this video. I will have a translation here in a bit of the song, just for kicks.

    For my take on Chenjiagou, the village where this style originates, check out “The Birthplace of Chen Style Taiji.”

    August 31, 2014 • Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places, Video • Views: 4027

  • 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.

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    April 18, 2013 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 21678

  • 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.

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    November 20, 2012 • Kung Fu History, Kung Fu People, Kung Fu Places, Modern Kung Fu • Views: 15960