Camp Jing!

Basic Chinese Internal Martial Arts 5-Day Training

Lafayette, CA

Session 1 - JUNE 11th-15th
Session 2 - JUNE 18th-22th

The internal martial arts are famous for the cultivation of qi and effortless power; however, the qi levels
and spirit levels can only develop from a physical base.  Without a solid base of practice the higher
levels are in accessible.  This class will focus on physical prowess and high-level body mechanics.  We
will use spiraling, lengthening, shrinking, and expanding to connect the whole body into a powerful
platform for spontaneous freedom.

Zhanzhuang - The practice of standing meditation also called yiquan or wuji.  No one ever got good by skipping this step.

Neigong - Internal power stretch and whole-body shrinking and expanding. This is all the soft stuff!  It develops the four corners of martial fitness -  Unliftable, Unsqueezable, Unmoveable, and Unstoppable.

Jibengong - Basic training for internal martial arts, which includes individual exercises to develop irreversible body art (shenfa), exquisite structure (xing), and refined power (jin). Taiji, xinyi, or bagua focus, depending on your experience.

Lecture-encounters will include a Daoist text studies introduction and history, along with group exploration of the experimental links between theater and meditation. All instruction will be given in the classical one-to-one naturally disheveled style in order to meet and match each person?s unique experience and insights.

Two Person Practices develop spacial awareness and technical spontaneity while systematically testing every part of our physical and emotional bodies. This includes everything to do with resistance, light contact, throws, rough footwork, tui shou, and roshou. How can we discard our social need to dominate or submit, and embody nonaggression without giving up marital prowess?

Begin in the parks around Lafayette, CA
6 AM  Zhan Zhuang
7 AM  Neigong
8 AM  Jibengong
*9 AM  Breakfast  (Optional: rice porridge made from bone stock with pickled foods)
10 AM Two Person Practices Training
12 PM Lunch - bring your own or eat locally.  Take a nap, drink tea...
2 PM Lecture/Encounter
4 PM End

*Breakfast will be based on Traditional Chinese Nutritional Theory.

There is camping in the area, hotels, youth hostels, and many other options. We will be walking distance from a BART train stop which means you can stay pretty much anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cost per session - $350

To reserve your spot send a check made out to:
Scott P. Phillips
953 Dewing Ave., Lafayette, CA 94549

Feel free to email or call 415.200.8201 to discuss details.



Applications, Not

When you get some time, look at this article (pdf) that proves convinsingly that teaching martial arts applications slows down or inhibits, kinesthetic learning!  It begs the question, are martial arts teachers consciously or unconsciously holding students back by teaching them applications?  Also, is Youtube in league with the devil?

wantfitness-Taiji Wrestling - Advanced Takedown Techniques-

I've been suspicious of apps since before I ever started teaching, my first teacher, Bing, didn't teach apps.  (Martial applications have become such a standard part of martial arts curriculum that people often refer to them simply as "apps" for sort.)

It is fascinating that apps have taken over.  If I had to bet, I wouldn't put the blame on teachers, aggressive students demand apps!  And teachers are probably seduced by the role of being the candy man--'hey, dude, they are paying me to keep them at a low level of learning --how can I say no?'

George Xu did teach us applications, but his theory at the time (and back then we had a lot of time...4 hours a day, 6 days a week) was that the student should have at least three applications for every inch of movement.  And after a while, the student will develop disdain for all technique and move on to a level of practice where any and all movement is an infinity of open possibilities.

After reaching that level, apps seem silly, 'though, as collectors, we might occasionally be stimulated by a novel or creative app.

But students love apps.  They're always askin' for them.  George Xu explained to us that in and around those dark days of the Cultural Revolution, if a person was unwise enough to asked his xinyi teacher about an app, the student would for sure walk home bloodied.  George told us this casually, but years later when his brother Gordon Xu came over to the States I asked him about George's xinyi teacher and he was like, 'Oh that guy was treturous, the skin on George's shins never had time to grow back.'

In the past, I have sometimes given in to my student's requests to teach them apps, and have lamented that iphones and microwaves have given us neither more free time nor a stronger sense of commitment.

But putting all that aside, enlightened-genius-former-jail-guard Rory Miller solved this problem for me!  He articulated a point which, the moment I heard it, stopped my heart.  "What? Oh my gosh, it's so obvious, how is it that no one articulated this to me before?"  The insight is that we fight to established martial stances, not from them.  Once a student knows the given stance I can put them-- or myself-- in a seriously compromised I've just been surprise attacked position and from there, fight to the stance.   This allows me to point out, or for the student to spontaneously discover, target options, angle variations, or changes in orientation. This way the information goes into the correct part of the brain without becoming a technique to remember  or forget, and it doesn't inhibit learning.  Good angles are good angles, vulnerable targets are vulnerable targets, there is no good reason to link them to particular movements.

Since surprise attacks tend to leave people disoriented, it seems important to practice fighting from disorientation.

Aunkai Martial Arts in Japan

If you are a martial artist visiting Tokyo you will want to pay a visit to Akuzawa Minoru, he teaches an art he calls Aunkai which is a hybrid of Chinese and Japanese arts.
When I first found the studio, I looked in to see a bunch of guys in boxing gloves hitting boxing mitts.   My first thought was, oops wrong class.  But it was in fact the right class.  They use Sanda as a base for skills development and as a warm-up.

Akuzawa Sensei's website is worth reading, especially the Bujutsu section.  Towards the end of class he was kind enough to show his skills to me directly and let me test him in various ways.  He also partnered me with his senior student Miyakwa Kazuhisa for a significant portion of the three hour long class which gave me a good sense of what he has been able to transmit.

Although, I believe it is quite difficult for most students to grasp, Akuzawa Sensei is using an apophatic method,  "...[W]e aim to give our students the physical tools to forge a Bujutsu body able to bring its own imperfections to light, address them, and come to its own answers--all of this eventually leads the practitioner down their own path in the Martial Way."  While most people would read that statement in context as iconoclastic or individualist, to me it is simply explaining that the methods themselves primarily point to what you are NOT supposed to do.

Take for instance these two exercises:  sessyoku1_01sessyoku1_02Both have fixed foot positions.  The one top goes up and down.  The one on the bottom goes forward and backward.  They are both designed to take all arm and leg power out of the system as well as any size advantages or gravity/momentum/positioning advantages--  Thus leaving only "internal"  mind-energy changes of the torso for generating force.  What the practice reveals is all the possible things you could do that are wrong.  This is really important because all those "wrong things," like tension in the shoulders, might seem like they are giving an advantage in a more dynamic or volatile exercise.
No matter how much you simply copy the external shape, it is impossible to simply copy movement that happens internally. To add to this, the concept of bujutsu, unlike martial sports, does not adhere to rules, so you must be able to flip your perception and look at things in a completely different light.

Here I think he is suggesting that the mind limitations normally associated with social dominance also limit power and options.  To practice 'internal' arts is to fundamentally play a different game.
You must not get bogged down on the "shape" of things in practice. I also strongly believe that you should not create a method that is set in stone. Bujutsu itself is the ability to use the body in any situation, any environment, and as such is the embodiment of change. This means that training must be tailored to yourself by endless trial, error, experimentation, and adjustment if you want to understand the true essence behind movement.

Again he emphasizes the apophatic; make mistakes and learn from them.  Sure, there is a method here, but  the method is pointing to something.  When you figure out what it is pointing to, the method can be burned away.

Akuzawa Sensei is a warm, generous and open guy and his students were all welcoming.  The best test of his power I got was when he asked me to hold his arms down at his sides.  I was instructed to use any kind of force adjustments I wished to try and stopping him from lifting his arms up for the opening movement of Tai Chi.  I was ready, in position, holding his arms with all my creative effort, but he unconsciously decided to scratch his head!  His "head scratching" power was totally unstoppable, he took me with him.

He is clearly offering a method, it uses boxing gloves and some Shaolin and Xingyi type repeating lines, and a bunch of two person resistance/cooperation exercises that teach various things, and he advises students to do standing meditation practice on their own.  But he is also clearly saying, don't get stuck on the method, the method is all about limitations, the fruition is about freedom.

Tunnel Vision and the Perception of Density

pole-dancing-empowerment-embodiment-samantha-holland-hardcover-cover-artUnderstanding the nature of perception is profoundly important for the study of any movement art.  The martial arts have been particularly vulnerable to the modern dictum that, "what you see is what you get."  But perception just ain't that simple.

Kinesiologists and their fellow travelers have uncovered a plethora of experimental evidence that motor development, perception, and imagination, are all intertwined and interdependent.  For instance check out this upcoming workshop blurb from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen:
The senses are our organs of receiving information from ourselves and from the outer world.
Perception is the psycho-physical process of interpreting sensory information. This process begins as potential and develops in response to experience. The dynamics of perception explores how we filter, modify, distort, accept, reject, and use sensory information to bond, defend and learn.

In order to perceive clearly, our attention, concentration, motivation or desire must actively focus us on what it is we are to perceive. This aspect of perceiving, pre-sensory motor focusing, patterns our interpretation of sensory information.  Without this active focusing our perception remains poorly organized.

Sensory information comes to us through multiple channels.  Touch and movement are the first of the senses to develop. They are registered throughout the whole body and establish the baseline for future perception through the sensory structures of the head: mouth, nose, ears and eyes.  Sensory information from these structures is transmitted via the nervous system through cranial and spinal nerves...

[This workshop will explore:]

  • The perceptual-response cycle.

  • The developmental sequence of the senses and perception.

  • The mouth as the first extremity to grasp, release, measure, reach, and withdraw.  It sets the foundation for the movement of the extremities (head, tail, hands and feet).
    The mouth and nose as the first initiators of movement of the head and spine.
    The inner ear as it registers vibration, movement, auditory tone and body postural tone.

  • The eyes as they are dependent upon all the previous senses and, the role of the eyes in helping to integrate the other senses into more complex patterns.
    Cranial and spinal nerves from a cellular and nervous system perspective.

The perception of space outside our bodies is thus built on a foundation of both movement and feeling.  So for instance if I look at a tree, or just for fun, a guy named Hulk, I'm going to be using my eyes to determine his size, shape, motion, and density.  90% of that is not what I actually see, it is happening in my imagination.  My imagination happens to be very accurate for this task.  Even though Hulk's back is not visible to me, I've incorporated it into my visual comprehension.  If one of Hulk's legs was obscured by a trash can my mind would still imagine the leg and would be quite surprised if suddenly the trash can was gone and there was no leg there.  A very large part of this imaginative process develops through touch.  Hulk's density is frankly not visible at all, our perception of density is built on our experience of touching, squeezing, biting, lifting, pushing, bouncing and poking similar objects.

Embodiment is the new catch word being used to sell everything.  The packaging on my toothpaste tells me that it will leave me feeling more embodied, so does the flier for 25 Hour Fitness, and the meditation class down the street.  All of this embodiment hoopla is just the perception of density from the surface of the skin inward. The opposite of "Embodiment" then is disassociation.  I don't really know what disassociation is, but I'm guessing it is a failure of imagination.  Many drugs, especially the illegal ones, cause some kind of dissociation which probably temporarily damages the basic functioning of the imagination.

In Chinese internal martial arts, Tai Chi, Xinyi, Bagua, we take a different route.  I suppose we could say, "We do Embodiment inside out!"  The higher levels of practice are all about the cultivation of emptiness which is the feeling of zero density from the skin inwards.

As we discussed above, density is perceived through various forms of touch.  Every inch of the body is capable of perceiving density.  The feeling of cultivating Qi is hard to pin down but at least part of what we call "feeling qi" is the perception of density from the surface of our bodies outward.

If you just do a quick glace around the room, you probably aren't thinking much about density.  But now find an object like a vase or a can of deodorant, ask yourself, "Can I feel the density of that object by just looking at it?  Can I feel its density from a distance with my belly?  How about with my elbows?"  Most peoples imagination can do this quite easily.  When a cat is stalking its prey in a forest, it keeps its eyes on the prey but it is testing the ground for density with each step.  If you walk into a darkened room your perception of density suddenly goes on high alert so that you won't ding your shin or otherwise smack into something solid and unexpected.  That perception seems to reach out into space.  This is what we are doing when we practice internal martial arts.

If you hit someone, basically you are trying to make them feel more embodied.  The more they feel the pain inside their body, the more effective your strike was.  The more their perceptive faculties are focused inwards, the less they have available to find a way to hit you back.  So the opposite is also true, the more my faculties are focused outwards, the better my opportunity to fight.  This is true for the entire surface of my body and also for my ability to imagine out into space.

Along the same line of thinking, stare into the center of this image.  After a while the lines on the edges will start to straighten out.grid-optical-illusion

This happens because we basically have tunnel vision all the time, it just seems like the whole world is in focus because our imagination makes it so.  But if you are in a fight for your life with an adrenaline surge, part of your imagination shuts down and you get tunnel vision.  This Wikipedia article suggests that there are pharmacological reasons for this, in other words they don't call it a loss of imagination.  But in fact it is both.

cb2e25378ca3545bc8ca7ef82365f1fcTheater ritual and martial arts are closely intertwined.  Masks have been used since ancient times to create altered states of consciousness.  If you want to know what it is like to experience the tunnel vision associated with being attacked, just put on a mask with narrow eye slits.  Mask work done with tradition and sensitivity has the ability to profoundly change the way we move and see.  It can change the way we feel and perceive both space and time.  Most traditional Chinese martial theater and ritual was done with elaborate spacial perception altering costumes and either heavy mask like make-up or actual masks.

Defeat All Dirty Power!

IMG_1497Below is the text of the flyer for George Xu's latest public offerings in San Francisco.  It's poetry, of a sort.  The first time I met George was around 1990.  My first teacher, Bing Gong was making a formal introduction on my behalf.  George was briefly delighted and then went into a wild rant about how everyone was doing Tofu Tai Chi.  He proceeded to define and contrast Tofu Tai Chi with the other cosmological possibilities and then began demonstrating maximum spring shaking power as the antidote to all this squishy food practice.  I was hooked.

In case you are wondering, "dirty power" is anything generated from a body which does not conform to the principle of "Dead physical body"  --Also known as XU, which was the topic of my last post.


2011 Seminar with Master George Xu

Seminar 1: Master George Xu will teach Chen Style Tai Ji , secret of max gravity, 3rd level of internal power, pure and large internal power, form and Tai Ji push hand principles, and Wu Tang Qi Kung. Unit empty pure force will defeat all dirty power force and weak force.

Seminar 2: Master George Xu will teach Xing-Yi Six Harmony - Ten Animals, Xing-Yi 10 principles, 10 different circles, Seventh Harmony to the enemy and Eighth Harmony to the universe, 3 level of 10 Dan Tian training (small internal, large internal, space spiritual Dan Tian), and Qi Kung training.

Seminar 3: Master George Xu will teach Ba Gua basics and dragon eagle form, Ba Gua snake, dragon, tornado, three different power, Ba Gua principles and usage. Dead physical body follow intelligence internal power and pure internal power follow space spiritual power.

Seminar 4: Master George Xu will teach new secret from Europe, Tai Chi form and principles, two men training, test your internal power perfection, intelligence and purity. Tai Ho of Tai Chi, Natural style secrets. Teach you to be as powerful and wild as tiger, fast as lighting, large like ocean, spiral as tornado, heavy as mountain, light as feather at the same time.

Fee:  $120 one day, $180 both days

Please register in advance.


1. Feb. 12-13 Sat & Sun 9-5pm

2. March 5-6 Sat & Sun 9-5pm

3. March 26-27 Sat & Sun 9-5pm

4. April 30 - May 1 Sat & Sun 9-5pm



Also: Rory Miller will be in the San Francisco Bay Area again Feb. 18th-20th.  Check it out!

Me & friends at Rory's workshop in last September Me & friends at Rory's workshop in last September

Turn off the Thumbs!

fonzi1They say we use only a small portion of our brain, and that of the small part we do use, about 90% is devoted to the functioning of our eyes, tongue and thumbs.  I'm not sure of the actual percentages of brain mass we are talking about here but thumb control uses up one of the biggest chunks.  Thumbs are a huge source of tension because they are full of impulses.  Thumbs carry impulses, intentions, desires, giving, taking, and holding on, they are the root of acquisition.  We use our thumbs for almost everything.  No other species really has thumbs.  If you’ve ever done rock climbing you know that you need thumbs for tying knots and setting anchors, but for climbing itself they don’t add much.  I’ve been cutting back on thumb usage lately and I’m functioning well at about 50% of normal thumbing action.

I’ve also been napping and sleeping with my thumbs folded into my palms and wrapped by my fingers.  This is the first type of fist babies make.  Martial artists never make this type of fist because they say you will brake your thumb if you try to punch something with your thumb on the inside.  It is however used in daoyin for 'closing the channels,' but I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Sometimes meditation itself is described as 'closing the channels' too.

There are so many inventions that fall under the title meditation.  Often they are described as something one does or doesn’t do with the mind.  The problem is that mind has so many possible meanings, heck mind is often thought of as the source of meaning.  In the Daoist tradition I practice and teach, the term dantain is used to transmit the method of meditation.  Dantain literally means ‘cinnabar field.’  It is a spacial description.  The dantian is the space of meditation, it is like a giant square stage (with no corners) in which or on which 'experience' performs.  This method of meditation is simply a posture of stillness.  This stillness is defined less by any particular experience of mind or body, it simply rests on the stability of the dantian stage.  Thus no priority is given to thought or image, sound or sensation.  No priority is given to the heart or the head, nor to the inside or the outside.  The spleen, a passing car, and one’s thumbs are all doing meditation.

You read that right, thumbs meditate. In fact, this seems like a good way to explain what Chinese internal martial arts are.  In taijiquan, baguazhang, and xingyiquan we also begin with the dantian as a stage.  Our bodies move on a platform of stillness, a platform of limitless stability.  Normal activity is turned off.  Any localized impulse is turned off.  Intentions, desires, concepts, and visions, are not rejected anymore than movement itself is rejected--but they are also not fed, they simply come and go.  The method itself is an experiment.

In this experiment all experience takes place on this ritualized mind stage, which we call the dantian. The dantian is not a location in the body, it is not a center.  It is a space larger than the body, usually quite a bit larger.  If it is smaller than the whole body or even the same size as the body, then whole body movement will be impossible, relaxed integration will be impossible.  The mind here is posited to be a spacial experience rather than a perspective.  A perspective of the stage could move from the performers, to a prop, to the sky above, or to an audience member.  Whereas space remains constant and stable.  Focusing the mind on either a technique or a part of the body disrupts the stability of this dantian.  A disrupted dantian doesn’t disappear, it just becomes focused and full.  Fullness in movement is like a fantasy in meditation.  A fantasy requires effort and focus to maintain.  Maintaining a fantasy for an extended period of time is exhausting and it tends to harden our views, leaving us less flexible.  In fact, fullness and fantasy are the same thing.  They are like noise.  There is nothing wrong with noise, noise just obscures everything else and leaves us feeling burned out.  When perception is obscured we have fewer options.  For a martial artist, being empty on a platform of stillness is a state of potent openness--dark power-- like an owl flying in the night.

Thumbs are symbolic of preferences.  The thumbs up button on Facebook is truly the antithesis of meditation.  In martial arts, tension in the the thumb is like a preference which won’t go away.  A lingering desire to control the future.  Thumb work has become such a huge part of our modern lives.  How can we claim stillness, or emptiness, or awareness, or even relaxation if our thumbs are full of impulses, efforts and desires, full of half cooked stratagies, misunderstood text messages, and unexamined preferences?
I say empty your thumbs.  Turn off your thumbs.


Unity and Harmony

The Chinese Character "ping" The Chinese Character "ping"

How is this for dark irony?  The Chinese civil war which took place in the 1850's and 60's was call the Great Peace Rebellion (Tai Ping) and is ranked the world's second bloodiest war of the last 500 years.  The Chinese character 'ping' is a common tattoo in the San Francisco.  I suppose it would be stating the obvious to point out that the term 'ping,' which is usually translated into English as 'peace,' doesn't really mean peace.

The idea of peace resists description because it is so deeply ingrained in the most basic concepts and metaphors of our civilization.  "Peace is, ....peace man, you know?"  Because of this it is easy to unconsciously project our notions of peace onto other cultures.  The Chinese idea of peace as best I've been able to glean, is a combination of yi (unity) and he (Harmony).  And naturally that is the name of another Chinese War, the Boxer Rebellion which is known as the Yi He Uprising.

starchartWhat is going on here?  Could this unity harmony thingy explain why Google was able to find the compromise of moving it's operations to Hong Kong?

Yi and he are the two most important concepts in Chinese Martial Arts.  But before I get into that let's examine them more generally.  The Chinese calendar seems like a good place to start.  It is thousands of years old.  Chinese governments have been publishing a calendar for the whole country almost continuously since the Han Dynasty (1st Century B.C.E.).  At first glance it is extremely complex because it is a composite of 10's perhaps 100's of local and ethnic calendars.  To name just a few, there is the lunar calendar, there is the stem-branch system of 10's and 12's that make up a 60 day cycle, there are the 28 Lunar Mansions which are also called constellations and since 7 goes into 28 they track with our 7 day weeks, there is the Islamic Calendar subsumed inside the larger calendar, there is a 72 day Yijing divination sequence which reverses its direction at the solstice and equinox, and there are many many more.

When I think of all the little local and ethnic calendars subsumed in the big calender I think of a story I heard about Californian Indians having a calendar which reminded them when it was time to go pick wild onions.  By picking onions in particular locations at particular times they loosened the ground and initiated the growth of more onions. They were making gardens in the wilderness.  (But of course it wasn't the wilderness to them.)  These sorts of ritual cycles are embedded in the Chinese calendar along with innumerable locals celebrations and sacrifices to gods, spirits and ancestors.  It was all in one calendar thus we could say there was unity (yi).  Harmony is a broad concept, but in a basic sense, harmony is achievable through not scheduling a mandatory meeting for work or school on either of the first two nights of Passover!  (To give an example from my own life.)  Harmony is achievable because our conduct, our activities, and our rituals, take place with awareness, sensitivity, and responsiveness to a bigger context or environment.

Any attempt by diplomats or corporate representatives to negotiate with the Chinese government must begin with some understanding of unity and harmony.  Sitting down at a negotiating table with a powerful Chinese representative without incorporating the concept of unity and harmony would be like meeting an American representative without bringing along the concept of "sitting down at the negotiating table!'  It's that basic.

I know I said above that I would explain the importance of unity and harmony in martial arts, but it's not easy to explain.  I fear words are likely to fail me but here goes.

Unity means inclusiveness.  Harmony means simultaneous individuation.  They work together.  But in trying to explain them I get stuck.  I could go to Daoist cosmology and say that huntun, totally undifferentiated chaos, approaches unity.  When everything is undifferentiated we could almost stay it's a single thing. But it is not quite unity because unity can be conceived of as having boundaries, like a country or an egg, whereas huntun has no boundaries.

yinyangAnd of course the Taiji symbol itself is the most ubiquitous image of harmony.  It graphically dipicts simultaneous individuation--two distinct things working together inside of each other.  But that just starts to sound weird, so lets have an example.

Imagine just an egg, without air or ground.  Make it a mammal egg so that the shell is soft.  Unity is the egg, the totality of your awareness is the egg.  The egg is all there is.  The egg can have a distinct shell, yolk and white, or it can be scrambled.  It's still just an egg, it's still a unity and it's still all there is.  In Daoist meditation there is this notion that we can map stillness as a transition between two types of experience which are actually one--the egg with a shell, a white and a yolk, and the egg scrambled.

In the internal martial arts, taijiquan, xingyi, bagua, we are an egg.  The totality of our awareness, our sense of where we are and the boundaries of our perception, is an egg.  Our physical mass is the yolk (jing).   The egg white is clarity and movement, it is what animates us (qi).   We could almost say that the egg white is inspiration and motivation; however, in Daoist cosmology this egg white is just the medium for animation--inspiration comes from Dao, it does not have any apparent origin.

-1The shell of the egg is the boundary of our perception.  When we practice internal gongfu the shell is the sky and the horizon--as we see, feel, hear, smell and imagine it.  We call this shen (spirit) in martial arts.  It contains the yolk and the egg white.  In basic training we develop the yolk (the body) so that it is smooth, round, and able to shift and change like a thick liquid which can expand and condense in all directions.  Then the yolk itself becomes so quiet that we forget it!  We forget it like we would forget our own body in the presence of a beauty beyond words.  We move only the egg white, shifting and swirling within an enormous shell, and the body follows without effort or inhibition. That's harmony.

Animal Flavor

Back when I was in my early twenties and training all the time with George Xu he would go on theme jags for months at a time. At one point, everything we did had to have "Animal Flavor."

I know what you're thinking, and yes, this is when I decided that I was going to give up being a vegetarian. If all my movement had to have animal flavor, than so did my diet.  But I had three rationales, the first two were nutritional; 1) My joints were too flimsy for the type of training I was doing, George told me that something about eating meat thickens the joints, 2) I was prone to sinus infections, 3) I decided that the arguments for no meat were mostly local, and that most people in the world wanted more meat, not less--I wasn't going to convince very many people to join me--since meat tastes so good.

But when George used the expression Animal Flavor he wasn't talking about eating. He was talking about dynamic twisting and wrapping usually to one side or the other. During this period everything we did was twisted up to one side, ready to pounce, strike, or evade. We also watched videos of wild animals and of various martial arts masters to analyze their movements for Animal Flavor. Usually animal flavor was off center with one eye a little more open then the other.

Animal flavor is a great example of an aspect of martial arts which is equally useful for performance and fighting. Animal flavor makes movement much more interesting to watch, it's bold, disheveled, and tonic! For fighting, Animal flavor brings out a kind of 'do what needs to be done' mentality, it makes you appear more dangerous, and more serious. From a power point of view, it allows you to pull your 'bow' back a little further.

Here are some videos of Liuhe Xinyi (the style I do), performed at a high level with animal flavor: