Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Friday, December 06, 2019

Aikibujutsu Demo

Toshishiro Obata's Aikibujutsu is clearly derived from his long study of Yoshinkan Aikido. Obata was a student of Kushida Sensei's Kenshuu program at one point. He once visited the Ann Arbor dojo and told stories of training under Kushida Sensei back in the old days.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Synchronous Way

Today we have a guest post from Jonathan Bluestein, an old friend of Cook Ding's Kitchen, informing us of his newest enterprise. Enjoy!


The Synchronous Way
This week was announced the establishment of a new international martial arts organization. The new organization is called Blue Jade Martial Arts International (see here:  www.bluejadesociety.com ). I, Jonathan Bluestein, am the head of that organization. We have schools in Victoria BC, Hollywood LA and Israel. In our schools is taught a unique curriculum of martial arts, called ‘Tong Bu Dao’. The name Tong Bu Dao can be translated as ‘The Synchronous Way’ or ‘The Way of Synchronicity’. But what is it, really?




Tong Bu Dao is a systematic and coherent curriculum for teaching martial arts, of my own creation. The curriculum of Tong Bu Dao includes materials from the following martial arts:  Xing Yi Quan, Pigua Zhang, Jook Lum Southern Mantis and Bagua Zhang. Of these four martial arts, Xing Yi Quan makes for the greater bulk of the curriculum. The system is not one of ‘mixed martial arts’. The styles are not taught together, but in succession based on the student’s progress. Their methods and techniques and unified and streamlined in a way, which is meant for the practitioner to recognize and assimilate them as a single body of knowledge, rather than as separate entities. Some would consider Tong Bu Dao to be “a new martial art”. While I do not object that idea, I also do not feel that we offer a lot which is “new”. Nearly all of the ideas, methods and skills taught in Tong Bu Dao were already conceived and taught prior. I have merely arranged these in a format which I personally feel is more efficient for our goals and purposes.

The core motivation behind the creation of Tong Bu Dao was to create a curriculum for the instruction of an internal martial arts, which would be more approachable to the average Western practitioner. The original framework of traditional Xing Yi Quan had several challenges and difficulties to it, which were addressed by the creation of Tong Bu Dao. 




Footwork
Traditional Xing Yi Quan is noted for lacking in complex footwork dynamics, for the most part. Tong Bu Dao solves this problem with several additions to the system. Many types of stepping methods and patterns are used, most of which are either absent from Xing Yi Quan or not commonly utilized originally in that martial art. Among these are:   Sìjiǎo Bù (Four-Corner Step), Gōng Bù (Bow Step), Mǎ Bù (Horse Step), Sān Tǐ Shì (Three Bodies Momentum), Bàn bù (half-step), Fúhǔ Bù (Tiger-Taming Step), Māo Bù (Cat Step), Xiè Bù (Crab Step), Hóu Bù (Monkey Step), Qīxīng Bù (7-Star Step), Sì Bù Pán Gēn (Four-Step Coiling Root), and several more variations and combinations of these and others. 


The four-corner step was borrowed from Southern Mantis, the four-step coiling root from Bagua Zhang, the 7-star stepping is from Pigua Zhang, etc. Though the steps are different, they all use the same structure. All the while, Bagua Zhang, Pigua Zhang and Southern Mantis were missing the essential stepping method of San Ti Shi, which was already emphasized in Xing Yi Quan. There are even evasive stepping patterns borrowed from Western Boxing.
All seasoned practitioners of the martial arts tend to agree, that the footwork makes for the biggest difference in combative efficacy, which is why this element has been expanded in Tong Bu Dao, and is the first aspect of the curriculum beginners are expected to study and practice well.

Structure and Power      
Jook Lum Southern Mantis, an art which I studied, specializes in the generation of formidable explosive powers (fa jin). These are manifested by using a body structure which can coil internally in a similar way to complex Asanas in Indian Yoga, then releasing such tensions with combative utility. These ideas exist in Xing Yi, Pi Gua and Ba Gua, but were not heavily emphasized in these martial arts. In Tong Bu Dao, these ideas pervade throughout the system. A related concept is that principle of releasing three short explosive powers in quick succession – a skill which was adapted into a few Tong Bu Dao techniques.

Movements and Forms 

Xing Yi Quan and Bagua Zhang emphasize the practice of single movements or single combinations. Jook Lum Southern Mantis and Pigua Zhang emphasize the practice of medium and long movement forms (and Taiji Quan, even more so!). Both modes of practice have much merit. In Tong Bu Dao, they are combined.                

The system is comprised of 18 levels. The first 8 of 18 levels are the beginner levels, dedicated mostly to the practice of single movements and single combinations (with the sole exception of a partner form which teaches joint-locking skills and counters to them). During the first 8 of 18 levels, the practitioner engages with the qualitative study of basics (Jiben Gong), understanding different steps, strikes, circles and spirals. That is, alongside standing practices (Zhang Zhuang) and additional internal cultivation methods. Emphasis during levels 1-8 then, is on free-form study of personal expression via a limited amount of a few dozen ‘options’.                       

During levels 9-12, the practitioner then studies a long form called ‘Hun Yuan Quan’ – The Fist of Smooth Roundness’. It is Tong Bu Dao’s equivalent of the Taiji Quan long forms. This form, which takes about 20 minutes to complete at a walking pace, summarizes the entire curriculum and principles of Xing Yi Quan as I understand it. Xing Yi Quan makes for about 80% of the movements and methods in the Hun Yuan Quan form. The rest, intertwined, is composed of materials borrowed from Bagua, Southern Mantis and Pigua. Emphasis during levels 9-12 then, is on condensing one’s understanding through rules and boundaries.                 

The next levels, 13-18, are dedicated to the study of orthodox Bagua Zhang and weaponry. It is also expected that people of advanced levels who be well-read on martial arts literature. During these levels, personal expression and rules for expression find a balance.
 





Philosophy and Morality    
      
In the world of martial arts, we see a lot of people abuse the power they had gotten from their teachers. As the idiom goes: “When one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. But one can be taught how to use a hammer for countless constructive purposes as well. So why is it, that in the traditional Chinese martial arts, we see so much aggression, anger, deceit and political bickering?...           

My thoughts are, that this has to do with education, first and foremost. The majority of martial arts teachers see themselves as instructors of a craft. They leave the educational, cultural and philosophical aspects of life, to be dealt with by parents and school-teachers. 

This is not the approach we take at Blue Jade Martial Arts schools. The study of traditional Chinese philosophy, culture and morals are inherent to our Tong Bu Dao system, and these systematically taught, especially to those who wish to become instructors.

Moreover, that it should be noted, that traditional Chinese martial arts cannot be fully comprehended, without the study of Chinese culture, philosophy and morals. To understand such martial arts, it is essential to deeply resonate with our ancestors who created them. 

Who were these people? How did their lives look? How did they think and why did they think in such ways?... Today, many could not care less. People erroneously believe that living ‘in the future’ provides us with a license to neglect the past, and reject thousands of years of Oriental wisdom. At Blue Jade International, we hold the opposite point of view.

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These are just some of the many ways, in which I endeavored to make our organization and martial arts better. The Tong Bu Dao system is thus a body of knowledge for the service of our students in class, and of humanity at large. To learn more, you can visit our official website, which includes ridiculous amounts of mostly free information about the traditional Chinese martial arts, in the form of short essays, articles, books, videos.


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You may also subscribe to Shifu Bluestein's youtube channel, which is regularly updated with rare and fascinating martial arts videos:


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR0VUbThdexbXJb9BBSKMbw

All rights of this article are and the pictures within it are reserved to Jonathan Bluestein ©. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission, in writing, from Jonathan Bluestein.