Techniques vs Principles

Every month I receive one or two letters asking me to print more articles on Ba Gua Zhang fighting techniques or applications. One problem with doing such a thing, besides the fact that it is difficult to learn from written word and photographs, is that Ba Gua Zhang is not a technique oriented art. The moves in Ba Gua Zhang forms, especially the circle walking forms, are not technique specific. In fact, many of them are far to complex to really be applied efficiently in a fighting situation....

Xu Hong Ji at his school in Taipei wearing his Japanese style uniform

Body and being a little more rigid and using the fist form techniques. He thought that was important for people to grasp and understand. Then they can understand and appreciate when the hand and the body changed. Foundation training was important. You have to understand that Xu Hong Ji was brought up in Taiwan at the time of Japanese occupation. The Japanese had been on the island since about 1910, or so. His family was very prominent and somewhat wealthy and they learned to speak Japanese....

After studying San Soo for so many years what was it that attracted you to the internal arts

San Soo is an excellent combat oriented style, but I was hearing stories about qf ( 1) and other kinds of internal power and that interested me. I studied a lot of external and I wanted to see what that internal was like. I could see the eventual limitations of something that was more externally oriented as you got older. I wanted to understand more about the internal and one of the things that attracted me to Xu Hong Ji's school when I learned about it was that they were very combat oriented....

Background

In order to fully appreciate the method and progression of study developed by Hong Yi Xiang, it is necessary to look at the backgrounds of both of Zhang Jun Feng's teachers, Li Cun Yi and Gao Yi Sheng, and gain an understanding of how other Xing Yi Ba Gua practitioners of their generation were brought up in the martial arts. The first fact to consider is that the large majority of the Xing Yi and Ba Gua practitioners of this generation grew up in rural farming villages. This fact tells us that...

And then where did you go

After studying with Lin Ah Long, I met a man surnamed Xu. I was interested in studying with him because I wanted to learn more of the Chen style of Tai Ji. Xu was an older gentleman who had been a colonel in the Guo Min Dang Army. Near the end of the war he was in Hong Kong and through his connections had met a spy there who was a Chen from the Chen village. My teacher learned the old frame and Pao Chui forms of the Chen style from him. I studied with him for a year. Next I went and studied...

Mike Bingo teaching pi quan form at the 1995 North American Tang Shou Tao instructors conference

Hong taught more traditional than most, because he knew he had something good and he was looking to have a lot of people, but he was very judicious in giving out instruction to people. He showed something one time. If you were not paying attention, didn't pick it up the first time, or you turned the other way for a second, you missed it. It wasn't shown again. Hence a lot of people from Hong's school took a long time to pick up anything. When Xu Hong Ji was...

Zhang Jun Feng 1902 1974

Before moving to Taiwan in the late 1940's, Zhang Jun Feng (see Pa Kua Chang Journal, Vol. 3, No. 5) studied Xing Yi Quan from Li Cun Yi and Ba Gua Zhang from Gao Yi Sheng in Tianjin, China. Zhang Jun Feng brought his martial arts to Taiwan and began teaching a group of ten students around 1949. Hong Yi Xiang was among the best of Zhang's original group of students, and was one of his best fighters. Prior to studying the internal arts with Zhang Jun Feng, Hong had also studied Shaolin and had...

Conducted by Tim CartmelF

I first met Xu Zhen Wang - also known as Ahney in 1984 while I was studying Xing Yi Quan with his father, Xu Hong Ji If At the time Xu Zhen Wang was teaching classes of his own in several universities in and around Taipei. I immediately took to Xu Zhen Wang. He was a very open and honest individual and despite his considerable skill and successes as a full contact tournament fighter, he was friendly and unassuming. Unfortunately, after I had been with Xu Hong Ji for just a few months, he passed...

When did Xu Hong Ji split from Hongs school and start teaching on his own

It had to have been in the mid-sixties. I would say as early as 1966 and possibly as late as early 1968. I don't know. When he split he brought a couple of Hong Yi Xiang's other black belts with him, Chin Ming Shan and Li Ching Xiang also known as Black Snake to the Americans . There may have been a couple other guys too. After he left Hong, he was on the shitlist of a lot of people, but the old guys around Taiwan who really had a lot of good kung fu would still teach him....

After you left the Tang Shou Tao school where did you go to study

Cao Lianfang Taiji

Next I studied with a teacher named Chen Zuo Zhen I met him through his senior student, Tom Harbough, who had been in Taiwan many years and lived in the same place that I did. Chen Zuo Zhen grew up in the central part of Taiwan and was an inner door disciple of a very famous White Crane teacher who invented his own branch of the White Crane called Xu Xi Dao, a combination of the Southern crane and Tai Ji Quan. Later on, when Chen moved to Taipei, he studied Xing Yi Quan with Cao Lian Fang t M ,...

So from the Kung Fu San Soo had did your ideas about practicing and studying martial arts change after you went to

One of the most important concepts in San Soo is the element of surprise. This means that when you are confronted on the street, the opponent does not know that you know anything about martial arts. When the opponent moves, you quickly attack or counter-attack. San Soo has no sparring, San Soo practitioners don't go to tournaments, there is no sportive aspect whatsoever. When I went to the orient, I would often be challenged by other people who knew I was a martial artist and so they were hands...

Ten Years in Asia Tim CartmelVs Martial Arts Journey

Ted Sias Kung San Soo

Tim Cartmell has lived what, for many of us, would be the martial artist's dream Starting at a young age, Tim had the opportunity to study one of the most practical styles of Chinese martial arts for street fighting ever taught in this country, Kung Fu San Soo. After twelve years of intense study in this art, Tim moved to Taiwan and spent another ten years refining his skill in the internal martial arts. During his time in Taiwan Tim had the opportunity to study Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Tai Ji, and Yi...

What was your fathers background in martial arts

When he was young, my father studied Western boxing, but he saw that many people who boxed ended up with scars and injuries and he thought there must be a better way to train translator's note Ahney literally said that his father was afraid of having his nose broken . He started training with Hong Yi Xiang, practicing Xing Yi Quan. After he had reached a certain level in the art, he taught at Hong's school. My father could speak Japanese and English and he helped Hong interpret for the foreign...

How did your originally meet Xu Hong Ji

By virtue of what I did working with Special Forces in Vietnam, Studies Observation Group, I was able to go to Taiwan with the Chinese Blackbirds. These were classified missions. On that particular occasion, we had just executed an NVA prisoner snatch behind enemy lines, a successful one I might add, and we flew down and dropped off the POW in Saigon. Then we stayed on the plane and flew to the base in Taiwan. The hotel safe house, that we were staying at was right down...

Gao Liu De shown above taught Tim Wang Xiang Zhais Yi Quan method and Xing Yi Quan

Hsing Internal Power Exercise

San Soo does not have many hand trapping drills or things of that nature and the internal martial arts did. That was one major difference. When we fought, there was no element of surprise. Those experiences gave me a little more well rounded martial education. Also, San Soo has a little bit broader base of technique. San Soo has a great number of fighting methods, including ground techniques and sacrifice throws, that most of the internal style don't have. Also San Soo had a lot of...

David Nicoletti Vince Black Mike Bingo and Tom Bisio left to right all students of Xu Hong Ji posed together at the

Vince Black Martial Arts

Because he had a lot going on there in Taiwan. He was working to develop his credibility at the time and the covey of top students he had were gaining a reputation for being about to kick ass and take names. He couldn't just take off. I think that in 1974 or 1975 he was able to take his first trip. That was primarily to go to Price's location and bolster him. He wanted to see what he could do to get something rooted in the States. After Vietnam, I had returned to Colorado, but by the time Xu...

Tim Cartmell demonstrating Tai Ji Quan in Tokyo Japan 1990

Ted Sias Kung San Soo

I subsequently studied with Ted for about twelve years. The last three years I also studied in the instructor's class with Jimmy Woo. So I stayed with San Soo from the time I was 12 until I went to the orient when I was about 23. What can you tell us about San Soo in general I was looking for a style of martial arts which was street self-defense oriented. At the time I noticed that in a lot of styles, especially the Chinese styles, people did a lot of forms and exercises and prearranged...

Xu Hong Ji demonstrates Xing Yis Beng Quan Smashing Fist during a visit to the United States

Xu Hong Ji teaches his skill at Chinese bone setting at Vince Black's school in Yuma, Arizona. All of Xu's students were required to study Chinese bonesetting and manipulation. of Taiwan, He wanted the school to grow up, and be many. So he began to set up schools in Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States. Xu Hong Ji came to the United States, predominantly the West coast, on a number of occasions to teach here, but he was never going to immigrate here and never spent a lot of time here. There...

Tim is shown here with another of his Yang Style Tai Ji teachers Lin Ah Long

Artists that I had met who had been in many knockdown drag-out street fights and every time he had knocked his opponent unconscious at first contact. He didn't teach publicly at the time, but because he was good friends with my Tai Ji teacher, I had the opportunity to study a little bit of Xing Yi in addition to the Yi Quan system with him. After that, I was ready to go back to the states, but I was very interested in studying Ba gua. I had studied for a short period with a teacher who was...

After studying with Chen where do you go

After studying with Chen Zuo Zhen, I went to study with another Tai Ji teacher named Lin Ah Long WIsL . Lin is the best Tai Ji Quan fighter that I have ever met. The only thing he had ever studied was Tai Ji. A lot of people I met that did Tai Ji and knew how to fight had also done other things as well. Lin Ah Long had only practiced Tai Ji and had started that when he was in his teens. He was very soft and very relaxed. He changed a lot of my ideas about how to generate power and opened my...

Hong Yi Xiang with his second and third sons Hong Ze Han right and Hong Ze Pei in March 1993

Hong Yixiang

Book on Ba Gua includes a whole chapter on Xing Yi's five element fists. So, although Gao was primarily known as a Ba Gua man, he definitely had a Xing Yi influence, and that influence is predominant in the 64 straight line forms of his style. Although Gao Yi Sheng claimed that he learned his 64 straight line forms from a mysterious Daoist, most Ba Gua researchers have concluded that Gao devised these forms himself based on his background in Hong Quan, Ba Gua, and Xing Yi, and the straight line...

Tim Cartmell studied Whte Crane and medium frame Yang Style Tai Ji Quan with Chen Zuo Zhen shown above in Taipei

Shang Yun Xiang was Li Cun Yi's top Xing Yi student. I studied White Crane and Yang style Tai Ji with Chen Zuo Zhen for about five years. His teaching was also very combat oriented. His Yang style Tai Ji was the medium frame, pre Yang Cheng Fu li style of Yang Tai Ji. I learned the Yang form, various two-person exercises, and fajing ftWj exercises, these exercises were lacking with a lot of the other Tai Ji practitioners that I had come across. I studied with Chen for about...

Xu Hong Ji teaching students in the United States

Ba Gua and when he taught fighting skills, the Ba Gua techniques were there. Shortly before he split from Zhang and started his own school, Hong Yi Xiang took a trip to Japan and was very impressed with the way martial arts instruction was organized there. He liked the uniforms, the belt system, and the systematic approach to training. Subsequently, he adopted many of the Japanese style martial arts school characteristics when he opened his own school. They had belt ranks, wore Japanese style...

An Introduction to Tang Shou Tao Internal Martial Arts

Chinese Martial Arts Banners

Investigating the history of Ba Gua and Xing Yi's instruction in the United States, one will find that during the 1960's and 1970's, when these arts we first being introduced in this country outside of small groups practicing in the Chinese communities, the majority of what was being taught in the United States was being brought back by servicemen, government employees, and various other martial arts enthusiasts who had studied in Taiwan. A large portion of these individuals starting with...

The Teaching of Xu Hong Ji An Interview with Mike Bingo

The following interview was conducted with Mike Bingo in February at the 1995 North American Tang Shou Tao instructor's conference in St. Louis. Mike Bingo, a thirty-three year veteran of Army Special Forces, was one of Xu Hong Ji's first American black belts, having studied with him starting in 1968. Mike Bingo was appointed by Xu Hong Ji to be the President of the United States Tang Shou Tao Association, however, due to his military career and frequent travel overseas he has kept a low...

Tracing the Lineage

Over the past several years, Vince Black and I have traveled to Taiwan and mainland China on numerous occasions visiting with Xing Yi and Ba Gua instructors who are associated with this lineage of internal martial arts training in an effort to piece together its history, theory, method and practice. Vince Black was a ten year student of Xu Hong Ji and naturally had a deep interest in investigating the roots of this material. During our investigations we have interviewed Xu Hong Ji's early...

The Integration of Ba Gua and Xing Yi

As we discussed in detail in Pa Kua Chang Journal, Vol. 4, No. 3, the fusion of Ba Gua and Xing Yi began with the friendship between Li Cun Yi and Cheng Ting Hua f M. . Research indicates that Cheng Ting Hua was probably the first Ba Gua man to study Xing Yi and Li Cun Yi was probably the first Xing Yi man to study Ba Gua. Cheng Ting Hua and Li Cun Yi had been good friends since they were very young and they shared their martial arts training as well as their martial arts students. Many of...