Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby johnbecker on Fri May 20, 2016 7:20 pm

onebir wrote:
johnbecker wrote:Having spent many hours walking around the city, it can be deeply moving to think about what has disappeared and the money grabbing race to the bottom of the cesspit that has replaced it.


Know the feeling. Too many malls, too many Maidanglao. :(

Between that, the pollution & the prices, I don't see much need to be there.

(& BTW Thanks for the info on the Temple & pre-Cultrev 'modernisation' - I didn't realise. Even if you don't feel inclined to engage in a Liu Hongjie goosechase! :)


Indeed, and the Disneyfication of the more traditional areas is spreading like a cultural wildfire around the Drum and Bell tower area. When I first went there around 2010, the main street had many shops selling hotpot and other kitchen equipment. I saw only one this Spring Festival, and a large chunk of the street being 'renovated' for what looks to be some mall type set-up...The historic South Alleyway was fairly pleasant, the main attraction seemingly a traditional food shop (some kind of yogurt I think-I didn't try it). Now it would fit nicely in one of Dante's circles of hell: http://english.cctv.com/2016/04/30/VIDE ... 0430.shtml . This Spring Festival I saw some student age tourist girl with a telescopic lens camera nudge open a private gate so she could take pictures...

Beyond this year, I don't see myself staying. It gets more crowded and more stressful. Spring Festival, usually the nicest time of the year here, saw the place swarming with tourists (many locals now traveling rather than spending time with family during that period).

All the above said though, I love the White Cloud temple. It has a very peaceful feel to it and outside of Spring Festival is usually fairly quiet. Dongyue also has a peaceful feeling to it. Definitely worth visiting on their own merits.

Liu has been dead a number of years, so there is no guarantee of finding anyone that knew him back then at the temple now. Even supposing there is someone around, there is no guarantee that they would be willing to talk about it to strangers. After the Cultural Decimation, Tienanmen Square and the student crackdown, then the Falun business of 1999, many teachers are understandably wary. The current regime is not an open or tolerant one.

I realized a few years ago I could spend time training or spend time reading and researching, but that time could only be used for one thing. What was more important; attaining some skill or attaining knowledge? Some people have the rare talent of being a scholar and adept but for me just trying to improve is a full time job.

With the above in mind I prefer to spend my time on practices that I hope will benefit me and finding teachers able and willing to pass on this kind of knowledge. To me, and I hope for everyone, the most important thing is not so much what the ancestors could do, but what level I can bring my own level up to?
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby johnbecker on Fri May 20, 2016 7:38 pm

JessOBrien wrote:Hi John, sounds like you've been around for a while. And yes BKF made quite a splash back in the 80's. He, as well as others, was been pretty critical of the level of Tai Chi in the west at that time. He has always spoken highly of Feng Zhiquang and other guys he met in Beijing when he was training there back in the day. I've never heard him say he was the last source, but then again Chinese martial arts teachers rarely go out of their way to emphasize how good other schools are, lol.

Clearly the White Cloud Temple has been through a lot. Liu met a guy there in the 1930's who helped him further his training in western China. Kumar said that he used to go meditate at the White Cloud Temple back in the 80's at times, but I don't think he went there for instruction.

The history of modern China and Taoism is a really vast and fascinating story, filled with almost unbearable tragedy and loss. On the other hand I suppose Taoism has survived worse things in the past, so perhaps it will experience another renaissance in the future?


Hello Jess,

Some mornings I think I can feel most of my incarnations ;D

Bruce did a long interview in the old 'Fighting Arts International' magazine way back then. He was promoting himself so I understand where he was coming from, though I don't agree with the ethics of it. Back in the 80s and 90s some amazing masters were teaching Westerners openly. I think this attitude stemed in part from the events of the Cultural Decimation-the locals had persecuted, reviled and murdered teachers and here were Western students with a completely different attitude. I was told of one qigong master who refused to teach locals and who would ONLY teacher Westerners because of what had happened to him. Yang Yuting, Wang Peisheng's master, never taught again after the Cultural Decimation, and there were likely others the same.

The White Cloud temple has a special feel to it. From what I've been told Wang Peisheng had connections to the place around that time as he had studied Longmen practices. I think some of his old students still do, though I don't know for sure.

I don't believe there will be any kind of renaissance on the mainland anytime soon unfortunately. The politics simply would not allow it and with the growth of technology, central control becomes more and more a reality. The arts are within the true practitioners and always have been.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby grzegorz on Sat May 21, 2016 11:57 am

onebir wrote:
JessOBrien wrote:Are you talking about Liu Hung Chieh, his teacher in Beijing 1981-86? The guy was a freakin hermit, so I suppose his "credentials" would be shaky.

I always wondered about that; when I've been in Beijing, it's never struck me as an obvious choice for hermitude. If you had a courtyard house (sihe yuan) all to yourself, you could practice there. Or maybe you could sneak out to practice in a nearby park at dawn and dusk. Otherwise it's pretty much people everywhere, all the time. European cities can seem like ghost towns by comparison.

But by the 2000s it seemed like the hutong housing was really overcrowded & run down - wandering around you could often peer in and clearly see that. And as we're being reminded these days, the Cultural Revolution ran until 1976 - not long before BKF arrived. In Beijing, the epicentre of the Cultural Revolution, Liu, a living embodiment of the Four Olds, 'should' have been a prime target for Red Guards.

So I really wonder how Liu managed to even survive apparently (?) unscathed and maintain a remotely hermetic lifestyle - or even adopt one by the time BKF turned up in Beijing. Family connections? Acting as personal doctor for influential people?

(I actually think BKF clearly had excellent access to high-level IMA teachers, so not really questioning his/Liu's credentials here. And even if his character is problematic now - from the sound of things he would have turned out far worse without studying what he did. So really I just find this aspect of the story puzzling.)



I really don't a a horse in this race, my belief is do what works for you and respect the rest.

BKF has some interesting material and his breathing is world class and something I continue to go back under extreme conditions. Hell! It probably saved me my job when corporate was trying to screw me over. I did the belly breathing and let them play their game which probably saved me job, well that and the union.

Saying all that as a history nut I too have to wonder about some claims made so while in China I met and talked with westerners in Beijing bagua circles and their Chinese training partmers don't recall Liu being a hermit, in fact they say he was actively teaching until he passed. I have no doubt that at one time or another Liu may have disappeared from the public but to me and what I know about the Chinese I can't imagine a hermit living in the middle of Beijing. To me the Chinese are probably the most social people in the world unless you're a complete stranger or they don't trust you of course.

Anyway, BKF has some good and interesting stuff but I also think that the martial business is tough and sometimes people will say what they have to say to make a sale, the Gracie are not that different.
Last edited by grzegorz on Sat May 21, 2016 12:39 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby Finny on Sat May 21, 2016 9:35 pm

In one of my first posts on the old eF, well over a decade ago, I noted that for all the talk of training under famous folks in his book (Power of IMA) - I'd heard from another source that WSJ was decidedly unimpressed with him, and basically ignored him.

But more importantly for me, he claimed to have trained for years under Liu.. who was supposed to have been a master calligrapher, on top of everything else.

Yet the three little hand scrawled notes, that looked to be scribbled in pencil on paper by Liu, stating that BKF had come to Beijing ('this summer'.. IIRC) were all dated within a couple of weeks of each other.. and the dates written on some of the pics of BKF and Liu together. In other words, it seems pretty clear that he did not spend years or even months training with Liu.

Of course my query went down like a lead balloon at the time.. understandably, given that there are a few BKF students around who are unlikely to appreciate it. Regardless, I'd be interested in hearing more about the relationship between the two. The clip of Liu on YouTube clearly shows he had spent a long time training bagua.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Sun May 22, 2016 5:28 am

Finny wrote:Yet the three little hand scrawled notes, that looked to be scribbled in pencil on paper by Liu, stating that BKF had come to Beijing ('this summer'.. IIRC) were all dated within a couple of weeks of each other.. and the dates written on some of the pics of BKF and Liu together. In other words, it seems pretty clear that he did not spend years or even months training with Liu.


Other possible explanations:
    BKF didn't think to get some documentation from Liu until pretty soon before he was due to go
    Liu wasn't willing to 'certificate' BKF until he'd reached a certain level (I think in CMA circles that could cover having a photo taken with him)
    BKF had a whole load of stuff to bring back, and culled early documents that showed some lower level relationship with Liu, not realising this destroyed evidence of exactly how long he trained with Liu.

So the dates on the documents just tell us the minimum time BKF spent around Liu (if anything). OTOH BKF was spectacularly rich* by Chinese standards of the time; it might also have taken some connections or political influence just to get him into the country. Given this context the documents may not be as definitive as they seem.

So... yes, it would be good to get more independent info on Liu &/ the Liu-BKF connection.

*eg from his wiki page: "Choosing to forgo an ivy league education in favor of pursuing Japanese martial arts". Ivy league education didn't come cheap even then...
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby lazyboxer on Sun May 22, 2016 9:12 am

Finny wrote:In one of my first posts on the old eF, well over a decade ago, I noted that for all the talk of training under famous folks in his book (Power of IMA) - I'd heard from another source that WSJ was decidedly unimpressed with him, and basically ignored him.

That is an understatement. Mr Wang was disgusted with him.

Bruce is clever and people are stupid. They believe what they want to and he exploits them well. As the old saying has it, God wouldn't have created sheep if He hadn't wanted them to be fleeced.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby JessOBrien on Sun May 22, 2016 12:48 pm

Hi Finny, sounds like you've been waiting a decade on answer! From my conversations with him and in his book, Kumar describes his trips to China as lasting for months at a time in the years between 1981 and 1986. So, no, he didn't stay in Beijing for that full time. He added up the time with Liu during that time as something like 3 years, I'd have to look back in the book to be sure.

As for the calligraphy, I've seen some gorgeous calligraphy over at his house that was from Liu, but I'm no aficionado so I can't speak to it's quality. I thought it looked amazing though. None of that is in his books. As for their relationship, Kumar describes it in the book but if you want to know more you'd have to ask him directly.

onebir, yes there is much more to the picture, and at times in the past i was able to check out some of the stuff he brought back from China. But obviously I'm not going to talk about somebody's personal family albums and relics here on an internet site, and neither is Kumar. His life is of interest to many people but some privacy and decency is certainly in order.

-and yes he told me he spent a ton of dough trying to get into China, to travel in China, to stay in China and to get out of China during that time period. Money can help open a lot of doors in any culture I'd imagine.

As for his relationship to Wang Shu Jin, I've only heard a little bit about it, you'd have to ask him directly. It did sound like they got off on the wrong foot by at the end of their relationship it was hardly one of disgust.

And yes, Lazyboxer, there are sheep in this world, hardly unique to Kumar's school. But I have learned quite a lot from him over the years and it's helped me in sparring many times. So I consider it quite effective. As we've discussed before, that wasn't your experience.

In the long run I guess for me it's a matter of pragmatism. Is the teaching useful or not? Being obsessed with a guy as a guru or as a villain is hardly a good use of one's time. But to each their own.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby Finny on Sun May 22, 2016 4:10 pm

Hey Jess - yeah I suppose so.. I think it stuck with me because it was the first query I ever posted here, and the response was quite defensive/hostile. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - as I said, it's clear that Liu was experienced in bagua, and I certainly don't have any reason to disbelieve that he was a master calligrapher also, I just thought it seemed strange that for the talk in the book of Liu being the final, ultimate teacher BKF had, the documents in the book were all dated within a couple of weeks of each other

I certainly have no horse in this race, it's mere curiosity - I have seen a couple of the Xingyiquan videos BKF made (featuring cameos by yourself iIRC) and he seems knowledgeable (though I can see where some of the criticism comes from, his style of presentation seems a little. . ah.. self involved?)

The idea that Liu (and now BKF) taught the original taoist walking methods is a fascinating one - I have no experience with bagua but am very interested in it

Thanks again Jess - your level headed contributions here do your practice credit (and your book is cool too!)
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby lazyboxer on Sun May 22, 2016 4:46 pm

JessOBrien wrote:...As for his relationship to Wang Shu Jin, I've only heard a little bit about it, you'd have to ask him directly. It did sound like they got off on the wrong foot by at the end of their relationship it was hardly one of disgust.

And yes, Lazyboxer, there are sheep in this world, hardly unique to Kumar's school. But I have learned quite a lot from him over the years and it's helped me in sparring many times. So I consider it quite effective. As we've discussed before, that wasn't your experience.

In the long run I guess for me it's a matter of pragmatism. Is the teaching useful or not? Being obsessed with a guy as a guru or as a villain is hardly a good use of one's time. But to each their own.

I know the backstory: why and how Draeger set up Bruce in Japan with one of his all-time great practical jokes (Donn, who studied for years with Wang in Japan, was notorious for this kind of thing), how long Bruce stayed with WSJ and what he did/didn't learn, exactly what Wang told his closest Chinese friends and foreign disciples about his views, even the words he used; what Bruce himself told me about the episode thirty years ago (very different from what he wrote later in his book - he was very scared and was right to be; Wang could have killed him), etc. etc. etc. One of my Chinese teachers from Taiwan who was very close to Wang was utterly appalled when I told him I'd been studying with Bruce, and repeated to me exactly what he'd heard about the episode from the man himself.

So I do know everyone involved and heard it from the horse's mouth, except for Wang whom I never met. When I used the term 'disgusted', I did so because it best describes Wang's indignation and shock at Bruce's bad behaviour - although, as I said, Draeger put him up to it. But Bruce never needed much encouragement in that department.

And I never said I learned nothing from Bruce. I took rather a lot of private lessons with him which did initially achieve their intended purpose, although what he passed on contained errors which I discovered later. He was a different person then, with a different curriculum from his later modifications and inventions.

Neither guru nor villain, but when I hear the usual uninformed and plentiful babble about this sort of thing I usually keep schtum. On this occasion I'm feeling a bit friskier. It must be getting near to closing time.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby JessOBrien on Mon May 23, 2016 3:34 pm

Thanks for the reply Finny, yes many people have strong feelings about BKF. His books were well-written and able editing by Stuart Kantor made them sound quite exciting to those of us in the world of Chinese martial arts.

As for the Taoist teachings, they are pretty much similar to what you'd read about in Taoist books- feeling various energy layers of the body, feeling and breathing into the organs, working with the spine, brain, 3 tan tians, etc. Except that you do it while walking the circle, sometimes quite quickly. Obviously it takes enough concentration to meditate while sitting, the walking simply makes it that much harder. I've not gotten far with it being a family man busy at work, but I hope to get focused and become enlightened sometime in my 80's. :)

Lazyboxer, thanks for the deeper look into things. I'd love to talk to you about Chinese martial arts in Taiwan in person some time. So many interesting characters and systems from them.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Tue May 24, 2016 12:31 am

Lots of interesting info in this thread - though I guess most of the mysteries remain... mysteries. Despite differences of opinion & the odd poke at BKF, I think people have been pretty restrained too (hats off in particular to Jess I think!)

One further mystery: Dragon & Tiger qigong. Has anyone seen this practiced in China - I've only ever seen a few meridian tracing moves in parks, nothing approaching this set - or have any more info on the lady BKF learned it from?
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby Overlord on Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:58 am

JessOBrien wrote:I was there for this class, it was pretty good stuff in my opinion.
As for "suspect" not sure what you mean. He spent a lot of time and money seeking out the best teachers he could find, and he trained hard.
As for wanting to be a guru, he did spend a couple of years doing yoga in India so...???
Here's an old picture from his time in Taiwan back in the 70's:
Image


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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby grzegorz on Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:32 pm

onebir wrote:Lots of interesting info in this thread - though I guess most of the mysteries remain... mysteries. Despite differences of opinion & the odd poke at BKF, I think people have been pretty restrained too (hats off in particular to Jess I think!)

One further mystery: Dragon & Tiger qigong. Has anyone seen this practiced in China - I've only ever seen a few meridian tracing moves in parks, nothing approaching this set - or have any more info on the lady BKF learned it from?


That's a good little set. I haven't thought about that one for years.
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