Yin Cheng Gong Fa has published a new book:

The Taiji Quan Classics - The Essential Translation and Explanation with Commentary on History and Culture by Zhang Yun, David Ho, Peter Capell, Susan Darley. YCGF North America. (ISBN: 978-0-578-17886-8)

For the last ten years, Zhang Yun and three of his senior students have been working on a translation, with commentary on history and culture, of the Taiji Quan Classics, which are core writings detailing the philosophy, principles, and practice of Taiji Quan.

I have been avidly reading this book since I received my copy and recommend it without hesitation to practitioners of Taiji Quan regardless of lineage or level of experience in the art. It contains English language translations of a number of important classics with detailed expository content.

You can order a copy at the Lulu.com print on demand service. Here is the description from that site:

Taiji Quan is one of the most widely practiced and least understood martial arts in the world. Many people no longer practice Taiji Quan as a martial art. Of those who do, few outside of China have had the opportunity to read and understand the Classics of Taiji Quan as the canon of the art. If there were scriptures pertaining to Taiji Quan, the Classics would be those. The Taiji Quan Classics serve as a fundamental reference for all serious students of Taiji Quan. For non-Mandarin speakers, this book is the first complete compilation of the Classics in English, including clear and precise explanations of the essential concepts of Taiji Quan. The Classics provide deep insight into Chinese culture generally, with descriptions of the teachings of Daoism that have guided a people over millennia. We hope that readers of this material will appreciate the depth of its content and the effort that was required to bring it to the level of clarity provided within.

I recommend the book highly!

Taiji Spear & Bagua Saber

I have been working a great deal on bagua and taiji lately, including sections of the Yin Bagua curriculum. I learned the sixth portion of the Eighteen Interceptions dao form the last time I visited Pittsburgh, and received detailed corrections on my basic Taiji spear practice.

Spear practice is an excellent way to develop stability, posture, and power – the art of relaxing and maintining internal integration of the mind and body when moving an eight pound wooden spear is something that has to be felt to be understood. Understanding how to relax and remain smooth, yet focused, while manipulating such loads is at times a daunting task, but the repetitive nature of the practice calms the mind even as the body fatigues.

I was talking with a friend recently about internal martial arts and I mentioned to him that Xingyi was my favorite martial art due to its elegance and simplicity, and he was taken aback. He had always viewed me as primarily a Bagua person. That gave me some pause, because I do love Bagua. I started to wonder how one defines a martial arts practice when multiple, compatible, arts are practiced. Bagua, Xingyi, and Taiji are known as the internal family of martial arts for good reason. In terms of who I am, I have been training in Bagua for 12 years, Xingyi for 10 years, and Taiji for 10 years. I trained in modern jujutsu (really a mix of Kempo and Aikido) for 16 years before leaving active training. So, am I a modern jujutsu person or a Bagua person or what?

I think at my core I am a Bagua person who also does xingyi and taiji, to round things out, and has a jujutsu background useful when performing grappling applications. I think, in conflict, I would resort to bagua most readily, but the xingyi and taiji would be there, in lesser measures. I think, overall, I have much to work on in all three arts, and in the general task of combat-oriented body development from a Taoist perspective.

When talking to one friend, is a bit confused about my practicing different styles of Bagua. Bagua is a single art, passed down from students of Dong Hai Chuan. Learning different variations of Bagua is like studying under different teachers or schools of the same art. This is very different from koryu jujutsu, where different styles of jujutsu may have vastly different underpinnings.

There are two primary styles of Bagua: Cheng & Yin.

I find doing both has value, and I am very fortunate to learn both as part of YCGF, especially Yin Style, as that is quite rare. The Gao bagua I learned first should be considered one lineage within Cheng style – it maybe should more properly be called Gao Lineage versus Gao Style. Learning Cheng-style bagua has helped me understand more deeply the Gao Lineage circular bagua I was taught. Interestingly, learning Xingyi has helped me understand the Gao linear tactics better, as there are elements of Xingyi (I believe) blended with Gao linear tactics. I currently only practice a subset of the tactics, as my understanding of some are limited. This is in contrast to what I have learned in YCGF, where principle and application are passed down very directly.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to the upcoming Taiji seminar with Zhang Yun and Zhao Zeren, because the more often you encounter persons of high skill in their respective arts, the more chances you have to deepen your own understanding, so long as you keep a beginner’s mind.