The search for jibengong

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: The search for jibengong

Postby cloudz on Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:44 am

The first one is something (similar) by way of foundational basics that master He taught in Uk seminars, (amongst other things) - Duck walking. . Although come to think of it, it may well be a variation on what's shown here, where the knees don't come down like that -= you kind of walk around in a squat.

Is this part of or similar to the type of material you're speaking of Dr. Fish?
As master He has quite a lot of online clips I'll see if i can find that crouched walking I'm remembering..

At least they are starting young:


Last edited by cloudz on Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby kenneth fish on Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:01 am

From an orthopedic point of view I watched that clip in horror.

Yuen-ming actually gave a very good description of the nature of many of the jibengong. Jinbengong should not be confused with jibendongzuo - the latter are the basic movements of a system. The jibengong are the foundation exercises that concentrate on specific aspects of strength, balance, fine motor control, generation and expression of force, and optimal angulation of weight or force bearing joints.

Sometimes the two meet - basic exercises employ basic stances. Sometimes they do not - some of the exercises involve strengthening small muscle groups held statically or dynamically. One exercise that I will describe as an example is the iron broom - one should stand on one leg (leg straight, knee locked), the other leg is held out parallel to the ground. Hands are at the hips or by the side of the chest, elbows pulled back, chest lifted, shoulders pulled back towards the spine and down towards the hips (rhomboids, latissimus dorsi major movers here). You should try to feel as if you are retracting your extended thigh into your hip - without moving your hip. The top of the head pushes up, the bottom of the spine is pulled down, the area below the navel is pulled in towards the spine. This is the starting position. Without moving anything else, contract your illiopsoas to raise your leg one inch, then lower one inch - slowly, with control (count of 3 up, 3 down). Repeat and work up to 100 repetitions on each leg.

That is the basic, beginners level version of the exercise.
Last edited by kenneth fish on Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby jonathan.bluestein on Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:27 am

Very intriguing exercise. Just tried that one and pulled some 50 to gain the feel. You're right - pretty much unlike any other exercise I've ever tried. Also, without basic knowledge of anatomy it's very difficult to understand what's going on.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby cloudz on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:26 pm

I'll give that one a try, thanks Dr. Fish.

Do you have any comments regards the Mike Martello clip as a point of reference?
Last edited by cloudz on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby kenneth fish on Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:21 pm

For the most part those are not the exercises I am talking about - but the narrative is accurate. Some of what is shown on that tape are from the 108 Lohan Gong of Praying Mantis (which I think was his mainstay).
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby WongYing on Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:05 pm

The Leg standing lifting exercise as described by Ken Fish

Being a student of both Ken Fish and Gini Lau who both have totally differing back grounds in styles and systems - Both taught me the above same exercise in the almost exact same way and method detail to a T.

Considering SiFu Gini Lau is Eagle Claw from hebei, Ken Fish is Hsing Yi, LoHan Shaolin and Wu Xing Tong Bei - Differing styles but so many over laps in the J Ben Gung. The methods being discussed or proposed change everything with regard to body method skill and ability.

Thanks Ken for talking so openly about it, looking forward to seeing you in June and later in the year in the UK
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby kenneth fish on Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:13 pm

Hi Sifu Dale. I was not aware that Master Lau had worked you on this material - that speaks volumes about her teaching. Of course, she herself had this inculcated by both her father and her years at the Peking Opera School, where she learned along side Jacky Chan, Samo Hong and Wu Ma. This kind of training is a real gift to the right student.

Looking forward to seeing you when you are here - I'll fly out that way.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby edededed on Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:50 pm

Thank you Dr. Fish for the description! It definitely helps in trying to identify what parts of what systems may be what you are referring to.

It is interesting to look at my own bagua line and see who may have learned such things before joining the bagua school - for example, my teacher's teacher had a strong foundation in his family Shaolin system (which seems to have had few or no sets, mainly only jibengong) before starting to learn baguazhang from Li Ziming; another of Li's disciples, Zhang Huasen was a Beijing Opera performer, and so of course he would have learned similar exercises since childhood. On the other hand, Li Ziming seems to have started with baguazhang (since he learned originally to cure his sicknesses). There are some special jibengong exercises in baguazhang as well, of course, but I am wondering how unique they are (or not) to that school...

If they are indeed 90% common among CMA (even north vs. south), that is very remarkable!
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby neijia_boxer on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:36 am

The shortcomings of the present generation of Chinese Martial Arts practitioners is on the hands of the previous generation. When a individual is guided by a Master with the knowledge of these JiBenGong, then the teacher who takes responsibility to pass it on needs to be sure that the knowledge is going down into the next generation. The blame can not be put on the present generation, and with the globalization of information, these methods needs to go out and and not be so "secretive" if that. I have had some very strict teachers who stress Jibengong as the foundation to practice as "Your only as good as your Basics, so you need to have good basics to be able to progress in the art."

I dont find it very comforting to be told about some basic Jibengong that I am missing, having had gone out and sought some of the best teachers out there. Its teasing me with knowledge with "hey look what I got that you don't" .

Of some of the teachers I have had, very few used the terms JiBenGong. It was usually in the Wushu circles, but what is Jibengong to them is apparently, JiBenDongzuo to others.

Of the strict teachers I have had in relation to JiBengong:

Weiqi: We did Taiji Jibengong practice for at least 2 years before she turned on teaching more in volume, it was like a test. She never mention her background for many years as well. Unlike many teachers who say, "I am so-and-so's disciple, or ______ is my teacher" When we went to China to "meet her teacher" she took us to Fu Zhong Wen's place, little did I know he was one of the top Yang teachers at the time.

Park Bok Nam: probably the strictest teacher I've had who stressed "Slow and Exact" and taught one thing per class that was worked on that entire class time. You learned more after he was satisfied it was engrained in your body/muscle memory.

Zhou Jian Hua: Longfist basics and stretching, this guy was the "Yoda" like teacher as we had to beg him to teach us. If we were not scared with the training we had already been through, we were going to be scared for the work we had asked for. It was true, the pain of stretching, the amount of attention on basics was pretty damaging to body and ego.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby GrahamB on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:04 am

I think Neijia Boxer makes some good, valid points. But I also don't doubt Mr Fish's sincerity in writing his post on Jinengong, so that leaves me somewhere in the middle.

I don't really have an axe to grind, I just like reading this thread and have got some interesting information out of it.

I have to admit to not buying into his idea that there is a common set of exercises called "Jibengong" that are universally known to an older generation of martial arts practitioners and not being passed on. China being vast and martial arts springing from various unconnected lineages, I don't see how such a statement can be made. Sure there will be some crossover, but the idea of a unified and 'known' system like this I find a bit incredulous.

I'm trying to think of recognised masters of the arts:

Did Dai Long Bang of XinYi and Gou Yun Shen of XingYi fame know the same "Jibengong" as Ku Yu Chang of Northern Shaolin fame? Did they have the same set of exercises as Tam Sam of Choy Lee Fut? Did they have the same set as Dong HaiChuan of Bagua? As Yang Cheng Fu of Yang style Tai Chi?

This idea just doesn't logically make sense. But that's not to say that these exercises aren't everything Mr Fish says they are - I'm sure they are. I'm sure they give you an amazing conditioning of the body - they sound gruelling, and I'm sure they'd improve whatever else you were doing.

Personally I was trained/am trained by two very traditional martial arts teachers, (both of whom are the dreaded "Westerners trained by Chiense"!), but who are both the 'real deal' without doubt. (Perhaps the best proof that they are real traditional teachers is that money has never been part of the equation with either of them, just a desire to pass on their knowledge and skill freely to those that took it seriously enough to train it hard). Neither of them uses the word "Jibengong", and neither of them have asked me to stand with my leg parallel to the ground and raise and lower it two inches. Does that mean that their kung fu is not real? Hell no. It's as real as it gets. Anybody I've seen who has met them has realised it instantly - you just have to get a touch or be on the end of something and you can feel it (normally it involves pain and realising you're looking up at the sky ;) ). Did they ask me to do lots of other very difficult stuff? Yes.

Do I feel I cannot practice my arts by following my teacher's instructions and without knowing Mr Fish's exercises? Hell yes.

Anyway, interesting discussion.

P.S. Duck walking - Sifu used to make my teacher do Duck Walking as part of his Tai Chi warm up - it was a traditional warm up/conditioning exercises ('Jibengong' I guess...) he hated it and thought it was very bad for his knees. He stopped doing it as soon as he was able to without his teacher objecting too much, and hasn't regretted it and never done it since. He doesn't make me do it - some things get dropped for a reason :)
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby Coiled_Spring on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:14 am

Tongzigong is the most fundamental and decisive set of exercises that was taught to every new novice in Shaolin temple. Only young virgin guys could practice and benefit from it though. But once one practiced Tongzigong for a few years in childhood, the benefits would remain for the rest of the life. Practicing Tongzigong could significantly increase the potential of developing the skills of any style many times over.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby Shooter on Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:09 pm

[/quote]


The footwear some of those kids are practicing in, certain exercises combined with the flooring, is not good. For each person who benefits, there are numerous casualties...but they were just the weak ones afterall ::)

It might be better if they were practicing on grass or sand. But even then,...

"Panther Crawls" is the only one that readily addresses the kinds of body-building being discussed here. It's being done too quickly and with varying degrees of improper form and function, though.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby jonathan.bluestein on Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:27 pm

Shoes with heels and/or "air bags" should just be banned from most sports and martial arts altogether for the vast majority of people. I'm so glad I gradually moved to training with heel-less shoes with minimalistic (3mm) soles in recent years. It was like being physically reborn. The whole "feel" of the world around me had changed.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby kenneth fish on Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:09 pm

Matt: This thread is not intended to taunt you - I have already explained my motivation.

Interestingly enough, I have gotten a number of PM's from people who read but seldom post here who have described to me exactly the sort of work I have been alluding to - they are mostly from different and disparate traditions/lineages - Bagua, Xinyi, Shaolin, Praying Mantis - but they are all doing pretty much the same foundation work. I found that encouraging.

Graham: I am afraid your view is frankly parochial. There are many exercises and traditions which are nearly identical across the board in China - as Sifu Dale mentioned, his teacher Master Lau showed him material that was not merely identical, she explained it in the same fashion. Throughout Northern China there is remarkable uniformity at this level of instruction - there is some variation in Southern China. The same goes for Opera training - there are various schools of Martial Opera training from far flung areas of China. The styles of opera have little in common in terms of music, vocals, and visuals - but the physical training for the acrobats, tumblers, and martial performers are all nearly identical. The same goes for Tongzigong - it is the same throughout China. (My former father in law showed me what he had learned in Hankou in Hubei- it was the same as what Master Liang told me was taught in Foshan in Guangdong). BTW I am not referring to a form or a set - I am not sure where you got that idea. In the traditions that I learned in there are even exercises that are prerequisite to really doing a horse stance properly - and I know that at least one teacher is teaching them openly in Taiwan as part of his Bagua instruction.

Lastly, the idea that there is material which is still closely held should come as no surprise to anyone. The concept that says "we have this wonderful tool for sharing information with everyone so lets get this out in the open" is very much born of a Western mindset - it is very foreign indeed to not only Chinese, but Middle Eastern traditions as well. On more than one occasion I have had members of the older generation of Chinese martial arts teachers tell me "these exercises are the real secret - if you are taught properly you will get the real skill. When you have trained this way you can tell just by looking what someone has (when they are demonstrating)."

There is another facet to this as well - when Chinese teachers teach the younger generation, more often then not they find themselves "teaching to the exam" - in other words they are teaching what they think the students want. I have asked teachers in Taiwan and China why they are not teaching the various jibengong - the answers range from "nobody wants to do that anymore" to "they will get bored - I will teach the better ones later" to "I didn't think anyone would be interested in doing that kind of work - they all want to look good fast". I have even had students (in China) say things like "why should I do that? I am not getting paid to work like that - what is the point?"

Still, as I said, in the smaller towns and cities there is still very strong instruction - but it is mostly behind closed doors.
Last edited by kenneth fish on Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The search for jibengong

Postby Bhassler on Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:27 pm

kenneth fish wrote:In the beginning they tend to focus on a single action to train a single muscle or group of muscles, are generally calisthenic (think planks or pilates), and as Andrew pointed out, seem counter intuitive. The training is progressive, both in terms of intensity and difficulty - an example would be the a deep flexor exercise done in a "pistol" stance. It is not merely the difficulty and specificity of the exercises - the corrections made as one progresses have a direct bearing on having the fine muscle control to hold, move through, and generate power with stability in stances. The exercises run the gamut from seated, standing, laying down, to moving, using weights, bricks, metal bars and other training aids.

A few of these exercises are demonstrated by Madame Fu Suyun in "Sunset in the Forbidden City". Trying to copy the movements will not get you anywhere though - you need to know what you are supposed to be doing mechanically in areas that are not easily discerned.

It may seem strange to say, but I think you will know you are getting the real stuff when you have it presented to you and you begin getting instructions about what to do inside your joints as you do them.

BTW the list that Matt "neijia_boxer" made is a good list of jiben dongzuo (basic movements) - but not jibengong.


Thanks for the reply, and thanks for the description of the exercise you posted later on. One of my teachers has shown that exercise as well as others, but as you might expect it is not part of the regular classes. He has, however, gone into pretty significant depth as far as what should be happening inside the joints, etc. within the context of teaching other stuff. I've come across the concepts in other systems like Feldenkrais, Pilates, Gyrotonic, etc., but I do think those other disciplines lack a certain rigor that's undoubtedly present in the traditional kung fu exercises. I'll ask my teacher about them the next time I see him.
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