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

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

Postby allen2saint on Wed May 04, 2016 3:39 pm

I know some of his very long time students and I looked up a great deal of his background. His main teacher, that Ba Gua guy, has very shaky creds. The rest of his bio from the Internal Power book, read with a little bit of healthy skepticism, could and should take him down a notch or two from being the guru you think he is to just another moneyed hippy American screwing around in Asia to find himself. Where has he really proven himself, other than by telling his stories?

He might have developed some skills, but spiritual awareness? He's an awful person and everyone in the MA community knows it. He's rude and narcissistic. He alienated his senior students and has hurt unsuspecting people as well. Not a nice man.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby JessOBrien on Wed May 04, 2016 4:29 pm

Hi Allen,

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. But I just don't see how you and I in 2016 could have the slightest clue how to go to back to 1930's China and research this guy's credentials. So pardon me if I take Kumar's word for it, as he met the man in person and neither you nor I did. But maybe you've been to Beijing and looked deeply into this, carefully investigating the Chinese martial arts community for traces of this old man, I have no idea.

When did I say Kumar was a guru? I've learned some good stuff from him as well as others. But I've never put him nor any of my teachers on a pedestal. I just speak truth about people I have trained with in person, rather than talk about people I've never met.

There are lots of people who don't like Kumar. They may have very good reasons for doing so. Maybe you do too. I don't agree with everything he does. Personally I just wanted to learn good martial arts. And that's what I got. I don't have the "credentials" to judge who is an awful person and who isn't. More power to you.

EDIT- since you know many of his senior students it sounds like we probably know a lot of the same folks. Shoot I might even know you, is Allen your real name? Maybe we've met before.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby nicklinjm on Wed May 04, 2016 6:50 pm

Not much I can add on BK Frantzis as I have never met the man. But if we are discussing his teacher Liu Hung Chieh (Liu Hongjie, 刘洪杰), then I don't think there is much doubt that the man existed and was a teacher of bagua in Beijing at the time. This can be corroborated by Liu's other student Bai Ye, who AFAIK is still teaching in HK, and also by Zhu Baozhen in Beijing, who studied under the same teacher (Liu Zhenlin). A friend of mine who at one time was studying under Zhu asked him about Liu and he said Liu was one of Liu Zhenlin's long-time students.

So I don't think there's any doubt as to whether Liu existed. As for how long and what Kumar studied from him, for that I guess we only have Kumar's own account.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby allen2saint on Wed May 04, 2016 7:51 pm

Jess,

My understanding was that BK claimed Liu Hung Chieh was a champion of tournaments of his time and it was later revealed that he never competed. Since BK has been quite the master salesman, it does give me a little tingle in the back of my neck that a young American with a few bucks and not great Chinese manages to unearth a master and become his lone disciple and then his fighting record is disproven.

As far as your accusation of me talking out the side of my neck, I have met BK and tried to learn from him. I was in a small, private seminar he did in NYC some years ago and it confirmed the bad reputation that preceded him.

I did also say his applications looked interesting, remember. So, this is not a grudge or a hit. If I am disproven about LHC, so be it. About BK's status as a "spiritual person," ain't nobody changing my mind about that one.

And I am sure we know some of the same people, but I don't drag friends into things like this. We're sharing views and opinions here and we're grownups.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby jimmy on Fri May 06, 2016 8:23 pm

I DO have the "credentials" to judge who is an awful person and who isn't... wrote:

y'all suck... :-*
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby Thunderwave on Tue May 17, 2016 2:59 am

Liu Hung Chieh attendance in the tournament in 1928 or 1929 is confirmed by Alex Kozma in the book "Warrior Guards the Mountain: The Internal Martial Traditions of China, Japan and South East Asia"
All participants are listed there, and the event got cancelled after numerous injures if I remember correctly.
Couldn`t get access to my kindle , so I am unable to provide more details, but Kozma is a legit source, I believe.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Tue May 17, 2016 5:09 am

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

Postby JessOBrien on Tue May 17, 2016 10:14 am

onebir- yes you are right, the conditions of the Cultural Revolution in Beijing were horrible, and one wonders how Liu was able to survive as a prime target. From talking with Kumar, he said that Liu returned home to Beijing from western China where he had been studying in 1949. Unable to get his family to Taiwan with the diaspora of the KMT, he stayed in Beijing to protect his loved ones. He refused to go to the countryside when ordered. He had some connections in the government that enabled him to not be executed, but he was not issued a ration card, essentially he became a non-entity, ignored by the authorities and confined to house arrest. So he was living a starvation diet for decades and was clearly emaciated at the end of his life. Just another tragedy during those very dark times, but many got it worse than he did.
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Tue May 17, 2016 11:44 am

Thank Jess - come to think of it, that actually explains why Liu got used to living 'like a hermit'; keeping a low profile. I read that some of the temples in Beijing were saved by senior CCP people, so it's not implausible someone with connections might manage to be left alone.

Has BKF hinted at where/why Liu was in Western China? (I remember Sha Guozheng was from Shandong, but ended up in Kunming, Yunnan.)
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby JessOBrien on Wed May 18, 2016 9:19 am

In Kumar's book he describes the Liu got interested in Taoism after hearing a priest at the White Cloud Temple in Beijing. So he split for western China and spent 10 years studying as a monastic out there. He said that Liu claimed to have studied the same circle walking meditation methods that Dong Hai Chuan had learned and later developed into Baguazhang. Interesting! :)
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Wed May 18, 2016 11:40 am

JessOBrien wrote:In Kumar's book he describes the Liu got interested in Taoism after hearing a priest at the White Cloud Temple in Beijing. So he split for western China and spent 10 years studying as a monastic out there. He said that Liu claimed to have studied the same circle walking meditation methods that Dong Hai Chuan had learned and later developed into Baguazhang. Interesting! :)

"Western China" covers a pretty huge area & I guess Liu might have recognised aspects of those circle walking meditations picked up there in Bagua learned somewhere else, and surmised that they were what Dong Hai Chuan had learned.

Seems like the origins of Bagua are pretty mysterious overall* - if BKF could be a bit more specific on what/where Liu studied it might help pin things down. Given the remoteness of much of Western China & the hermitic tendency in Daoism, there's a chance of practitioners of whatever Liu studied still being around somewhere out there.

*eg see viewtopic.php?f=3&t=21288
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Wed May 18, 2016 12:09 pm

Come to think of it, I visited the White Cloud Temple* in about 2003... The monks were very friendly even though my Chinese was pretty ropey at the time. & it's near a metro a few stops west of Tiananmen. So if anyone's in Beijing it might be worth taking along some pics of Liu, or related documents, and asking around. IIRC he was recognised as liberated by a Daoist sect, so he could be well remembered there.

(I'll be in Beijing in a few weeks, but exhaustion & a tight schedule that day almost certainly rule me out.)

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Cloud_Temple
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby johnbecker on Fri May 20, 2016 8:14 am

onebir wrote:I read that some of the temples in Beijing were saved by senior CCP people, so it's not implausible someone with connections might manage to be left alone.


The White Cloud temple was used as an army barracks during the Cultural Decimation. Dongyue (where John Blofeld, during the late 1930's when he lived in Beijing, visited on a Daoist practitioner friend) was housing until it was converted back to a 'temple' in 2003, complete with plaster cast deity statues... Praise be to the IOC, because getting the Olympics no doubt had a huge impact in getting a number of cultural sites restored. The eyes of the world and the potential tourist bucks spoke louder than anything else.

It's important to remember that 'superstitious nonsense' was being condemned long before the PRC was founded and that many temples fell into disrepair after the fall of the Qing in 1911, when imperial patronage stopped. From the 1950's the old Beijing largely ceased to exist. The old practitioners were persecuted viciously, some murdered, during the decimation. 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.

Present day, the place in best repair I've seen in the city is Yonghegong Lama temple. There's money in Buddhism for sure and lots of expensive cars have shiny golden prayer wheels stuck to their dashboards. There's a rebuilt monastery in the Western hills that has had serious cash spent on it. I'm not aware of any Daoist sites that have had the same kind of patronage.

As always, it doesn't matter if your teacher, or your teacher's teacher, flew around on a pink cloud, could summon an army with a handful of nasal hairs and had a penchant for concealed weapons that could be gotten past the metal detectors on the metro system around here. Not one bit if you can't deliver the goods. If people like BKF and his stuff they will go to him. If not, then they can go elsewhere. You pays your money and you makes your choice. Don't however look to BKF's words, because he is a bullshitter and self-promoter who was claiming back in the 1980s that all the old masters were dead and he was basically the last source of the good stuff. Bet he never made that comment during his later visits to Feng Zhiqiang...
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Re: Bruce Franzis - Hsing I & I Chuan - 11 CD set...

Postby onebir on Fri May 20, 2016 9:17 am

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

Postby JessOBrien on Fri May 20, 2016 10:18 am

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?
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