This weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh for additional training in neijiaquan. I attended Zhang Yun’s taijiquan class and met up with several of his senior students I had not seen in a while. It was great to train with everyone and get pointers on my body organization. I also had a chance to get further correction of my Yin Bagua Zhang and also learn the remaining sections of the Hebei Xingyi Quan Za Shi Chui (mixed skills) form.
Sunday Zhang Yun taught a long seminar on the Tian Gang Dao, 36 star form of long sabre. It is a form passed down within Baiyuan Tongbeiquan and this weekend was the first time he has taught this form publicly. It has 36 techniques taught in 13 sections and dates from the mid 18th century. Zhang Yun’s Tongbeiquan lineage includes Li Shusen (1902-1975), who trained with Li Zhendong (1882-1977). This Tian Gang Dao form is the form taught by Li Zhendong, who taught members of the Chinese 29th Army sword skills during the Sino-Japanese War.
Tongbei is a very practical and agressive style of martial arts, and is considered a mixture of external and internal approaches to martial arts. Traditionally, Tongbei was only taught to indoor disciples, so is rarer to encounter than other arts. My focus of practice is Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji but I take a special interest in weapons practice, as I am continuing to practice Japanese koryu kenjutsu. By praciticing both Taiji Dao and Tongbei Dao I am beginning to develop an understanding of the common roots and structure of Chinese Dao and how the individual arts such as Taiji and Tongbei express their own ideas and principles within sword practice.