Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

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

Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby nicklinjm on Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:40 pm

Storm - as far as I know Jarek continues his practice of at least Xinyi Liuhe, Zhaobao taijiquan and Shi style bagua. Am sure Jarek himself will chime in soon.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Jarek on Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:52 am

Hi Storm,

I have not given up the styles I have studied, apart from those I learnt before I came to China and most of Liang style Bagua (actually from time to time review Liu Dekuan's 64 Hands and Single Techniques - Dan Cao). Each style offers different stategies and methods - Xinyi Liuhe focuses on short distance, Bagua teaches you the methods of dodging, Tongbei prefers long distance, and Taiji is great for refining and fine-tuning the body mechanics... Hence I practice all these styles - it would be a shame and disrespectful to the teachers to throw anything away - especially that all of my masters are gone.

Cheers,

Jarek
Last edited by Jarek on Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby edededed on Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:48 am

Great that you are continuing the practice - it must be a huge amount of material to review/practice though!

I am quite interested to hear how Shi style bagua is similar/different from Liang style bagua, in your experience. (At least visually they seem more similar than with Cheng, Yin, etc. branches.)
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Wanderingdragon on Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:00 am

There was mention of Wu Yihui’s son Yinghua in the search for info on tong bei. Maybe Wu Yinghua can elucidate on the connection tong bei has to Liu He Ba Fa, I know it is mentioned as being originated by the same founder, in legend.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Storm on Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:23 pm

Hello Mr. Szymanski,

thank you for the explanation. It made me reconsider my perspective on my training. I can very much understand your arguments. If our teachers invested so much in us it would be indeed dishonorable to forget all their efforts.
What I find hard is to excel in one style because I train more than one, so sometimes this feels also like I am not putting enough effort in each.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby taiwandeutscher on Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:27 pm

Storm wrote:Hello Mr. Szymanski,

thank you for the explanation. It made me reconsider my perspective on my training. I can very much understand your arguments. If our teachers invested so much in us it would be indeed dishonorable to forget all their efforts.
What I find hard is to excel in one style because I train more than one, so sometimes this feels also like I am not putting enough effort in each.


The old question: One style only or cross-training in several.

Surely no problem for Jarek and others, with a decent basic foundation in one style. Later on, one can and might want to look into other styles.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Jarek on Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:06 pm

Ed,

Circle walking is different, Shi style uses shorter steps, there is no extra glide forward. Center of gravity is always controlled. On the other hand I think Liang style has this method as well, probably one of many, but am not sure, probably depends on the branch. Shi style walking is basically developing two leg techniques - hook when the leg is behind the supporting leg, and low kick - when its to its front. DI Zhaolong would encourage us to keep the feet on the ground when walking, with the friction between the ground and sole it would turn into a slow grinding - and great workout for hips and muscles around them. However in studying movements the walking would be natural.
Regarding technical part - Shi style has a straight line routine called Zhiluquan - "Pointing the Way" - which is a compilation of free fighting, generally simple, movement, so that one can learn some fighting material while working on circle walking. There are no bare hand routines in Shi style - 64 palms as just short sequences, that can be combined and merged together. Mental aspect is important - learning to never resist a force - hence Bagua Push Hands - which are not really Push Hands, practiced with partner.
Weapons are based on empty hands movement - basically exact copies. Hence studying weapons develops empty hand material - and vice-versa. One of the reasons I like it - everything is an integral part of the whole.

Storm,

Time is limited, obviously one cannot review and practice all the material and sacrifices must be made. I have studied various styles under many teachers for a couple of reasons - I liked the system and wanted to learn it; I admired the skills of the teachers and wanted to learn them; when I had the opportunity I simply did not want to reject it - some of them came with a lot of difficulty (especially Heyi Tongbei). At the end of the day you develop your body and mind/reflexes/responses, and you can use it various tools to achieve it. None of my teachers was a purist - Li Zunsi had studied Guandong Boxing, Qi Shi (Seven Postures) Boxing, Cha Quan and XYLHQ, and he would practice all of them, focusing on Cha Quan and XYLHQ. Di Zhaolong had studied TJQ, XYQ and Baguazhang and Chu Guiting and Sun Lutang, before he focused completely on Shi style Bagua. Liu Rui did Xiyang Palm before his physical condition deteriorated (due to the work in poisonous enviroment) that he was only able to practice TJQ.
Generally there is a saying in CMA: 人过三师武艺高 - one needs to study under three teachers before developing high skills. Its not only a matter of the system itself, but also personal preferences, character, each teacher has different understanding, body type, mental disposition. Through the practice of different styles under various teachers you not only develop skills, but also discover your own "MA personality".

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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Jarek on Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:10 pm

taiwandeutscher wrote:
The old question: One style only or cross-training in several.

Surely no problem for Jarek and others, with a decent basic foundation in one style. Later on, one can and might want to look into other styles.


In fact it is also a way to see how the material you have learnt already works in the environment of the new style, what you should work on harder, about finding your own weaknesses and getting a look at the older material from a new perspective. Besides why not go for it and learn the new style when the opportunity comes - when living in China the temptation is strong.. :)
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Trick on Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:09 am

Absolutely agree. also eventually one will find more and more common themes between the “different” styles
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Bao on Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:48 am

I like learning styles, or testing things to learn about them as their basic strategies and concepts. I am fascinated by the diversity, the complex nature of Chinese martial arts, and how they all have their logical reasons to do things differently and developing unique features. Testing and learning different things has been really helpful in several ways. But on the road I've found that it's better for me to focus on one art alone. Trying to become good in one art and a few skill sets is better than trying to grasp around many things. Yes, I know, much of the principles are the same, if you can cut away the superficial and boil down the surface to a few principles, you should be able grasp many different things. But to become really good at anything takes time and effort and Martial arts are complex in nature. Knowing or playing around with something is different from be good doing the same thing. You need to understand what you want with your practice, your goals and how to focus to get there.

Generally there is a saying in CMA: 人过三师武艺高 - one needs to study under three teachers before developing high skills. Its not only a matter of the system itself, but also personal preferences, character, each teacher has different understanding, body type, mental disposition. Through the practice of different styles under various teachers you not only develop skills, but also discover your own "MA personality".


Beautiful saying and very well explained. I do agree with the statement and for the reasons said here. I believe that this is a stage everyone need to go through, testing different things from different teachers.

Even looking at the same art, every single person understand it from his or her own perspective and POV. Teachers focus on what they believe is important and they have their own way of teaching. You can both judge what you already know better, and also learn knew things better, if you have had input from different teachers who look at the world in different ways. Like learning to look at the same things in new ways, like looking at something with different lenses and from different distances.
Last edited by Bao on Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby edededed on Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:28 am

Jarek - thanks, very interesting about Shi style for sure! In Liang style as I know it, there is not much glide - certainly not as much as some Cheng lines - but maybe more than Shi style.

Also curious what you meant by styles that came with lots of difficulties?

I agree that opportunity only comes some times, and if you miss it - it never comes back...
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Jarek on Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:11 am

Bao,

I've been in China for over 28 years now - and in all this time met many teachers, and learnt from those I had most respect for. They are all gone now, all of them. My Bagua teacher was the oldest of all, and he was the one I learnt first from; next one was XYLHQ teacher, so studying Bagua and Xinyi overlapped, however one was in southern Jiangsu, and I could only study when either I travelled there or when he came over to stay with me in Shanghai. On the weekly basis I would study XYLHQ, because the teacher was in Shanghai, and he became like a second father to me. Then I was lucky to meet and learn from a Tongbei teacher - but it took only a couple of years before he passed away. I left TJQ as the last system to study as the teacher was the youngest of all of them - but he passed away last year... So some choices were mine, some were just destiny and life. I did not want to miss the opportunities to learn from great teachers, but I agree that focusing on one system under one teacher, patiently digging into the deeper layers of skill and not starting from scratch - which is necessity when you begin with a new style - is more efficient.

Ed,

Bao Guanyuan, my Tongbei teacher was the one who had only several disciples. He did not keep many relations with other MA teachers in the city, MA authorities, lived a comfortable life focused completely on mastering his system. My XYLHQ brother, who happened to work in the same factory as Mr Bao in the 60s and 70s, and became Bao's disciple, spent half a year trying to convince Mr Bao to meet me. In fact he also had to tell me into it as well. True brother, who thought we two should meet, and I should have the opportunity to study the system. That's what I call a system that came with a lot of difficulties...:) Nobody would like to miss the opportunity to study under Mr Bao - whose disciple Wu Maogui had been enjoying quite a fame in Shanghai (at least equal to that of Qian "Chainsaw" Zhaohong - who was also Bao's disciple) - and who had been considered the sole inheritor of the Heyi Tongbei system. Hence in spite of studying XYLHQ at that time I also took up Tongbei. Now, when Mr Bao is gone, I realize it was once in a lifetime opportunity.

Jarek
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Storm on Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:42 pm

Thank you for the insights Mr. Szymanski.
Considering that, as yourself have said, you met these outstanding teachers and had these unique opportunities, do you consider that teaching these arts are part of the heritage? Do you intend to teach sometime in the future?
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby edededed on Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:11 pm

Hi Jarek - studying with Mr. Bao definitely sounded like a lifetime opportunity, and one that required hard work to obtain! Your many years in China, studying with exceptional people sound like it was a wonderful experience - although I am sure it required sacrifices of other types as well. Amazing how destiny and life is sometimes! Interesting how these opportunities seem to come to one in some way.
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Re: Interview series with Jarek Szymanski

Postby Jarek on Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:26 pm

Storm,

I plan to teach when I'm back home. My masters would be happy to see their teachings spread far beyond China, and actually suggested it - so why not? :)

Ed,

Indeed. I had heard of Tongbei Xiao Wu as one of the best fighters in Shanghai, read articles by Yang Shangeng about Heyi Tongbei in Shanghai and... the destiny knocked at the door. Strange indeed.

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