TAIJIQUAN (T’AI CHI CH’UAN) Scott teaches three styles of Taijiquan, the Daoist art known for developing softness, sensitivity, flexibility, extraordinary balance, and effortless power as a way of unraveling personal fate. Chen style uses a big frame and is usually considered the most beautiful to watch, it is characterized by silk-spiraling movements. This is the original style, it was a form of physical theater for mime and storytelling. Wu style uses the smallest frame, its emphasis is on transformative power and healthy circulation. Guan Ping Yang style uses a medium to large frame, it is the easiest to learn and is ideal for practicing meditation. All three forms can be used for fighting and follow the same principles articulated in the taijiquan classics. Scott was the resident Taijiquan professor at the American College of Traditional Medicine, in San Francisco, before moving to Boulder, Colorado.
QIGONG (NOURISH LIFE) Qi Gong is the practice of circulating Qi in and around the body, over time creating Qi momentum. I teach virtually all the different systems of qigong which use gentle, soft, invigorating movements to encourage the revitalization of internal organs, balanced dynamic change, and the healing of old injuries. The basic types of Qigong and Neigong are:
- Daoist Purification Bathing (The quickest way to master the body-art of qigong)
- Zhangzuan/Yiquan (Standing Meditation)
- Wu Xing-Five Organs & 3 Dantians (The inner secrets of Cloud Hands)
- Muscle Tendon Lengthening (The art of power stretching!)
- 8 Extraordinary Meridians (Exporting the surface of the body at the moment of birth)
- Heaven & Earth (Micro/macro cosmic orbit, three dimensional pulsing & elasticity)
- Spine (Bend the Bow and Shoot the Arrow)
- Chan Su Jing, (Silk Spinning -- 36 joint releasing & spiraling movements)
- Immortals Dancing in the Clouds (Bone Marrow Washing and Ligament Integrating)
- Daoyin (Orthodox Daoist Lineage Hermit Practice)
- Daoyin (Circus style Animal Role Specialist Yoga for Enlightenment and Expression)
- Hunyuan (Return to Simplicity, Prenatal movement rediscovered)
- Jindan ("Golden-Elixir" the mother art out of which all the others were/are created)
Serious students are encouraged to read Qigong Fever before asking questions about the historical origins and development of Qigong. Those interested in even further depth should read Scott's article "Re-Imagining Daoyin" in the Journal of Daoist Studies 9.
YIQUAN is a style of internal martial arts that was invented by Wang Xiangzhai during the 1920-30s in China. He was a famous reformer who used the "modern" concept of studying with as many masters as possible in order to steal all their best stuff and make it into a new composite art. He was also famous for challenging everyone in China to either fight him, or sit down and explain their art in plain language. He was a controversial figure, who left behind a legacy that put Standing Still (called Zhan Zhuang) at the center of internal martial arts practice. Wang Xiangzhai taught Kuo Lien-ying, who taught my first teacher Bing Gong. Scott has been practicing Zhan Zhuang for an hour every morning since 1987.
BAGUAZHANG (PAKUA) is a martial art performed while walking or "skating" in a circle. Its movements embody eight different Qi qualities which emerge from and change into each other. It is a purely internal art which has its origins in a ritual dance for the protection of Beijing, China's capital which was built on a map of the eight armed baby god Nezha. "Bagua" means eight powers and "zhang" means hands. It can also be practiced for health, meditation or self-defense. Bagua uses soft flowing movement, yet it tends to be more dynamic and spontaneous than its cousin Taijiquan. It is a great choice for highly energetic people. Scott is working on a book explaining the martial-ritual-theater origins of Baguazhang.
NORTHERN SHAOLIN is the Chinese art of high kicking, springy legs, & soft spiraling stances especially created for youthful bodies. It is the basic training for Chinese Opera. Emphasis is put on flexibility, power, concentration, fun, safety, self-discipline & self-esteem. Students learn traditional 'forms' or sets which have been passed down from generation to generation with great care for hundreds of years. The Shaolin forms Scott teaches are:
- Tantui (Springy legs)
- Lutui (Lacy legs)
- Chaquan (Searching for the fist)
- Erlong (General Black Beard)
- Wuhudao (Five tiger sword)
- 8 Linking Staff
- Baxianjian (8 Immortals Sword)
- Lanshou (Chaquan internal/external) (Technically from the Shanghai region, so not "Northern")
PUSH-HANDS (TUISHOU) and SOFT-HANDS (ROSHOU) are fun two-person training methods and games used to develop sensitivity and a light-handed approach to "non-aggressive" fighting. This crazy idea developed specifically to transform fear motivated aggressive social-challenges into a self-aware, spatially aware, platform for spontaneous self-expression. These games are a great way to condition and infuse self-defense skills with moral responsibility. With origins in Tantric Enlightenment or Esoteric Buddhist traditions, these arts have a tendency to transform students at the emotional level, by pushing the boundaries of what we think we are. They open the heart to laughter and loving at the same time as they open the body to bruises and swelling (pain not damage!). There are tons of different ways of playing these games, from "tickle and blush" to "ground and pound."
DAOIST MEDITATION - ZUOWANG means sitting and forgetting. This "non-conceptual" from of meditation is the core or essence of all Daoist practices and ritual activities. Often compared to Zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation) or Dzogchen (from Tibetan Buddhism); it can be done sitting or standing. Without this practice students do not develop "emptiness" or "stillness" which are essential for all traditional Chinese martial arts.
QI is probably the single most misunderstood term in conversations between East and West. ( It is also transliterated KI or Chi.) It is polysemous, meaning it has many meanings. To use it in English one must define it for the specific context, because in Chinese it could refer to the weather or to the bubbles in soda pop.
JING-QI-SHEN are three interlocked terms used in Daoist cosmology and Chinese martial arts. They refer to an order of action between imagination, feeling, action, perception and substance. JING is the felt body without animation, just the flesh bag. QI is the animated part of the felt body. Of course, most of the time these two are mixed and we make no distinction between them. However, in stillness, JING and QI distill from each other while remaining in contact--like muddy water which separates into silt and clear water--QI can float off of and surround JING like a cloud. The experience of JING and QI distilling comes from practicing meditation, but the experience can happen other ways too. If I get slapped in the face, I can feel my face (JING) but I can also feel heat rising off the spot that was hit (QI). SHEN is the imagination linked to an experience. In this example, SHEN will determine whether I laugh at being slapped, suddenly punch back, or visualize the QI turning into purple mist and floating away.
HOW DO THE INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS WORK? They work by first developing good structure in motion, called refining JING. There are many ways to do this, for example in Chen style Taijiquan each individual part of the body can be trained separately to move in a beautiful spiraling way before being re-connected to the whole. Once the physical body has been re-established, coordinated, and well shaped through training, games, and performance, it is then emptied of all intent. This can take as little as a year or as much a ten years to accomplish. In order to do this one must be still enough for JING and QI to distill from one another. Once QI has surrounded the body (JING), which is now empty of intent, the spatial imagination (SHEN) is recruited to initiate movement from outside the body. This creates an illusion of extraordinary power. It would be fair to say it is a kind of magic trick. It also allows the practitioner to access the simplicity of pure physics--mass, momentum, vectors, etc... Moving using the simplicity of pure physics is normally inaccessible to people because our character and identity restrains and confuses us. This is because people are normally socialized away from their innate predatory nature. We all went through this process as children to enable us to live in close proximity with other predators (ie. our families and friends). Freeing our "inner" apex predator is a great responsibility and has often been compared or equated with a state of enlightenment. To be "martially enlightened" is have access to our innate abilities, and to see things as they actually are.
GONGFU (KUNGFU) literally means meritorious action. Long ago it described anything good a person did for the community. Building a bridge, caring for old people, or training in martial arts to defend the village, were all called gongfu. It can also refers to any skill of great quality which takes time to develop. Children who trained to defend their village were often asked by friendly neighboring villages to come and perform their gongfu on a stage. This is one of the roots of Chinese Opera. In modern Chinese, all martial arts are considered gongfu. It was also a term used in Fujian to mean, the complete training of a Daoist Priest--but generally we can think of it as meaning really good martial arts training.
XINYI is an internal martial art based on the movements of ten wild animals: Bear, Horse, Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Snake, Eagle, Hawk, Rooster, and Swallow. The term XINYI refers to the potent empty space in between a lightening-bolt and a thunder-clap. The full name of the art is LIUHE XINYI. LIUHE means "six harmonies," a prefix used to distinguish XINYI from XINGYI (HSING-YI), a similar art many people think developed from XINYI. XINGYI means "shaping space." XINYI basic training develops extraordinary leg power. Originally it may have been the physical training for playing the popular theatrical hero General Yue Fei. The story is that the giant bird-king, Garuda was listening to the Buddha give a lecture when a Bat-Girl farted very loudly. Garuda killed Bat-Girl for the insult and was forced to be reborn as the human general Yue Fei, so he could re-accumulate enough merit (gongfu) to become enlightened.
JIBENGONG Simply means "the basics." It is a way of teaching, one to one, that insures the student reaches the highest level of skill. This is the challenging stuff that is totally worth doing because it changes everything.
TUINA is the traditional term for healing bodywork, it literally means push (tui) pull (na). Some hands-on TUINA is taught as a way of helping students deepen their understanding of traditional physiology.