The Chinese system of martial arts can be broadly broken into two main categories, internal training and external training. The core difference being the building of power from the inside to be led out or from the outside to be led in respectively. In this section we will outline the Lau Kune Do way of internal training offered to students.
As you can imagine, the need for internal training is greater than ever with our increased levels of stress and information overload, many begin to lose the ability to focus and simplify life for clarity, understanding and meaning. Add to this a declining movement practice brought on by stagnating behaviors (bed/car/desk/car/bed) and we have built a recipe for near and long term suffering.
Taijiquan offers students a set of tools to penetrate these many challenges and helps to reverse the maladies created in mental, physical and spiritual aspects of modern life. With its many therapeutic values of stress relief, energy regulation, organ health and maintenance, balance, coordination and many more, it is no wonder this has become the most valued of the internal arts practiced today for all ages and needs.
TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI)
Taijiquan or Tai Chi, is a Chinese internal martial art based on the principles of Yin and Yang and Taoist philosophy that is devoted to internal energetic and physical training. This training allows for healing the body from within through specific energetic (Qi Gong), breathing and movement practices that promote health, vitality and overall wellness in practitioners.
Tai Chi is in itself very comprehensive in meaning as it is derived from the actual Taiji Philosophy from the I-Ching (book of changes) which was written several thousand years ago. In the philosophical sense, Tai Chi is the observation of "the way the universe works". Taoists call this the "Tao", and is often translated by Westerners as "the way". Tai Chi was derived from Taoism and its main concern is the unity of yin and yang, the tranquility of mind and improvement of temperament in the practitioner over time.
The martial art of Tai Chi is based on the concepts of the Yin/Yang relationship. Tai Chi possesses two parts that are different in nature, one is called Yin and the other Yang. Yin and Yang are opposites, but require one another to exist and may be interchanged in their use depending on your intention and understanding. This philosophy guides one deeper into their understanding of the art by pondering and practicing its many intricacies with attention and focused effort. Tai Chi considers the Yin energy to be the yielding force and the Yang energy to be the unbending force. When fighting, we use the yielding force of Tai Chi to counteract our opponents attack by allowing or leading that energy into our control to then use the unbending force to counterattack our opponent. Characteristics of the style include fast stepping, low kicking and "sealing/trapping" of the opponents arms to offer access to counterstrike vital areas of the body.
Those who practice Tai Chi gain a healthy body as well as an alert mind. With the improvement to their health, they are able to concentrate better and to make decisions more effectively. As a philosophy practice, it can also help with interpersonal skills in modern life as the Yin/Yang concept applies to all things and all people. If observed, one can learn to detach from outcomes and become calm internally not allowing others behaviors to penetrate your center. In many ways Tai Chi is a motion meditation to harmonize and balance your mind, body and spirit.
BAGUAZHANG (BA GUA)
Baguazhang literally means "eight trigram palm" and is one of three main Chinese styles classified as an internal martial art from the Wudang school. There are many different versions of its origins, some believe it was first formulated in China by Fu Xi in 2800 B.C., but the most common version today is from the early 19th century in rural China with Dong Hai Chuan being given the honor of being called the art's founder. It is not the softest of the internal arts, Taijiquan, nor the hardest which is Xingyi but rather Baguazhang is a harmony of the two energies with internal Qi cultivation being the main focus of the training.
What distinguishes Bagua from the other internal styles is the practice of "walking the circle" also known as the eight trigrams. The basic form of training focuses on holding the upper body static in a fixed posture, developing stability in the lower body and power in the waist from stepping and leg movement. Like riding a wave, Bagua remains stable on a constantly shifting, unpredictable environment with fluid footwork transitions and ever changing palm positions.
Baguazhang fighting strategy is focuses on circular movements not only in its stepping but in its attack and defense applications as well. Many of the traditional internal strategies of sticking, adhering, yielding, neutralizing and coiling are represented in the style but are used in conjunction with the round movements of the style.
Beyond the combat applications are the energetic benefits. As an internal art, Baguazhang has a unique characteristic of near constant spinal rotation which dramatically increases the Qi production and mobility in the body along with massaging many of the internal organ systems with even basic practice. This art is a unique treasure on its own merits and a special addition to the Lau Kune Do training system for students.