TSUNG SHIH TAI CHI CHUAN

by William Durbin, Soke of Kiyojute Ryu

CHUGOKU KEMPO

OF

KIYOJUTE RYU KEMPO BUGEI

           When I was in college I began training in Tai Chi, the teacher was a practitioner of the Yang Shih, Yang style.  I enjoyed the slow movements of Tai Chi and enjoyed the emphasis on form that was required in learning the art.

           Being the kind of person I was, I began researching the roots of Tai Chi, including it’s history and technical differences between the many styles.  Like most Tai Chi students, I learned the story of Yang Lu Chan and how he learned Chen style and then developed his own method, which became the Yang family style.

           I learned how other styles developed over the years, but was interested in what came before the Chen style.  I noticed when I compared the Chen and Yang style they were very different.  I wondered what would have been the original art.

 

CHANG SAN FENG

           Legend has it that a person by the name of Chang San Feng created Tai Chi after studying Shaolin temple style Chuan Fa.  It appears that by the time Chang studied Shaolin it was hard and rigid in it’s training.  Shaolin legend said that the original style was Jou Chuan, soft fist.

           Chang is reputed to have had a dream in which he was taught by a Taoist sage who showed him how to take the Shaolin and perform it in a gentle fashion, but when he awoke, while he immediately started training in the manner of his dream, he could not understand how he could fight with those skills.

           Once again legend has it that Chang went for a walk in the forest and turned aside to see what was causing a disturbance.  There he saw a snake and a crane battling.  As he watched them fight and saw their ‘soft’ movements as they fought each other, suddenly he began to understand what he needed to do in order to apply his skills.

           Chang then developed what was for him an unbeatable form of combat.  He then moved to the Wu Tang Taoist temple and began to teach students.  While an early date has been applied to Chang, it is believed that he actually lived as a contemporary to the famous Tai Chi master Wang Tsung Yueh.

           Wang was believed to have been Chang’s top student, though some place several generations between Wang and Chang.  Still the most common story of the spread of Tai Chi has Wang come to the Chen village where he taught the Chen family the art he called Tai Chi.

 

CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS

           When I joined Juko Kai back in 1978, I began learning all I could about the martial arts represented within the organization.  One of these arts was Tai Chi and so I worked specifically on the soft Chinese art, Rod Sacharnoski even coming to my Dojo to work with me privately on the art.

           I continued my research and discovered that a book called the Tai Chi Classic still survived to modern times and contained instructions attributed to Wang Tsung Yuen.  I studied this volume with great interest and found that many modern Tai Chi styles break some of the principles espoused in the writing.

           In 1982, when I was recognized as Soke of my own system, I required Tai Chi to be practiced as one of the Kata for the black belt rank.  I especially emphasized the soft Ki aspect of the training.

           I continued to study many of the Chinese arts of which Sacharnoski was expert.  During his years of study, mastering the Japanese and Okinawa arts, Sacharnoski also practiced the Chinese martial arts.  He did this because both Japanese and Okinawan arts claim a Chinese root to their arts and he wanted to be an overall master of the martial arts and thus felt like he needed to learn all he could of the Chinese, Japanese, and Okinawan arts.

           I have personally seen Sacharnoski demonstrate and teach all of the skills to which he possesses certificates of mastery and can unequivocally say that he is truly a master of all the martial arts of which he claims.

           When a Tai Chi teacher came to Frankfort and set up a class through the community education program then left town just before the class started, I was asked to fill in for the program, which I gladly did.

           I organized the material I had researched into a teaching curriculum and syllabus and used it to teach the program.  Afterward I had students ask to continue the training and so began teaching the program publicly.

           Sacharnoski then tested me in 199? and I was awarded my master’s rank in Tai Chi and made Tsung Shih Tai Chi Chuan Chugoku Kempo (Chinese Kempo) a branch of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei.

           I had noticed that several Japanese masters had included branch arts of Chinese training in their programs and taught them as branches of their Ryu and so chose to do the same with Kiyojute Ryu.

 

CHUGOKU KEMPO

           Chugoku Kempo, meaning Chinese martial arts, is a term used in both Japan and Okinawa to reference Chinese training.  Most of the time this reference is in regard to various forms of Chinese Kempo combined in the respective country.

           I use the term Chugoku Kempo to reference my system of Tai Chi Chuan called in Chinese Tsung Shih.  But Tsung Shih follows the legend noted above in its preservation of the Chinese art of Kempo.

           In learning Tsung Shih, the student is first taught a unique thirteen postures of Tai Chi from the perspective of Tsung Shih.  Then they are taught how to put the thirteen postures together in a free style manner to create a Tai Chi form, as expressed in the Tai Chi Classic.

           In regard to application of self defense techniques, the Tsung Shih method is to teach the five animal interpretations of Shaolin, the root of Tai Chi Chuan.  These interpretations include what could be called the Chuan Shu, striking art, and Chin Na, grappling skills.

           Also taught as part of the Chugoku Kempo, Tsung Shih Tai Chi Chuan, program is Wu Chi Fa, the weapon art.  The four specific weapons of Tsung Shih are Pang, Chien, Tao, and Chiang, meaning the staff, double edge sword, broadsword, and spear.

           According to some sources Pa Kua and Hsing I derived from Tai Chi and are also internal arts.  Therefore Pa Kua is used to further the Chin Na understanding of the Tsung Shih practitioner and Hsing I is used to teach the power of focus to the Tai Chi student.

 

ROOTS AND MEANING

           Rod Sacharnoski has always said we need to understand our roots to better understand our martial arts.  In the Okinawan arts I have studied there was a reference to Tai Chi as one of the roots of Okinawan Karate.

           You can see certain aspects of Tai Chi in those Ryu that derived from the Naha Te lineage, as well as, Uehara’s statement to the fact that Tai Chi influenced the royal arts of Okinawa.

           Thus the reasons I put so much effort into learning Tai Chi was to better understand the roots of my Okinawan heritage.  I must admit that I feel that my Karate skills have benefited greatly from my continued study of Tai Chi and I want the same for my students.

           Kempo is strong because of the strong roots from which it flows.  Kempo of Okinawa and Japan both flow from the roots of China.  In the Chinese arts are the foundations of all martial arts, but each individual country added it’s own genius to the development of Kempo thus creating the derived arts, which have become subsumed under the titles of Karate, Jujutsu, and Kobujutsu.

           My study of Tai Chi, from its roots in Shaolin to the unique developments of its own existence has helped me understand some of the deeper principles of the arts of Kempo Bugei.

 

IN CLOSING

           Let me say in closing that Tsung Shih Tai Chi Chuan is the Chugoku Kempo branch of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei.  It is made up of three overall arts that come from the Chuan Fa; Tai Chi Chuan Shu (striking art), Tai Chi Chin Na (grappling skill), and Tai Chi Wu Chi (weapons).

           In the study of Tsung Shih a person studies three specific methods.  The first is, Tai Chi Hsing, the grand ultimate form, free style method of putting moves together with the idea of visualizing attacks and moving in order to neutralize the attacker.  All moves must have self defense applications or they are not practiced in Tsung Shih.

           Tai Chi Wu, grand ultimate dance, is the second method, which is a free style method of putting, moves together extemporaneously, allowing the moves to flow spontaneously.  The mind is kept empty and the flow is allowed to manifest itself in seeing applications as they spontaneously appear in the practitioner’s mind.

           The final study is in the Tai Chi Li, grand ultimate principles, which include Yi, mental intent, Liu, flow, Chi, internal energy, and Lian, continuous movement.

           For a person to be a complete master of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei they need to learn Chugoku Kempo as expressed in Tsung Shih Tai Chi Chuan.  For those who are interested only in Tai Chi, Tsung Shih is one of the most complete systems of Chinese martial arts, which teaches Tai Chi in the original manner based on the Chinese Classic of Wang Tsung Yueh.



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