interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

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

Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Wuyizidi on Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:36 pm

edededed wrote:Hi Wuyiziyi,

How do you write "wei zhao" in Chinese? And could you give details about what the rules are? (I am too old to go to China and get thrown down hard now, I want to avoid it! ;D )


No prob :)

Like nicklinjm said, wei zhao 喂招: spoon feeding the skill

In the old days martial art training is a very formal process with long evaluation periods. So the apprenticeship usually start with long period (often a year) of training in something really basic that you can't use for fighting right away, like stretching and zhan zhuang.

The next step in this "useless" training is forms training. Form is a nice way of cataloging all the skills of the style. The major reason there are lots of forms, which people today can't naturally appreciate, is that you have to keep kids interested during this long period of training.

At this point, satisfied with the child's aptitude and character with hard, boring, but absolute essential training, the teacher start the Chai Shou 拆手 process. Breaking down each posture of the form into individual movements, and fully explaining all the attack/defense implications. This is where the idea of wei zhao 喂招 comes in. The teacher only go as fast as the student can absorb the lesson.

So until you go through this wei zhao 喂招, you can't really use it. Today people complain everyone who just does form can't fight, well that is by design :) To link a long sequence of movements together from individual skills, we are often forced to abbreviate the end of one movement and beginning of another using circular movement, so they can flow smoothly together. This had the side benefit of hiding the real movement (and therefore application) from any onlooker. This is also the reason why while doing the same form, some masters would insist the students to make the movement more "square", to show they understand the full movements/application intent.

This is where things get tricky:

1) teachers are conservative to start with. Also, unlike the Mr. Miyagi media stereotype, martial art masters as a group before 1949 are mostly illiterate, they are more like professional athletes - people with great skill, but big tempers. My own teacher told us one story from early days of training with Master Wang Peisheng: there was this one Bagua skill that was very difficult to understand, Master Wang showed it on one of them once, he and others around didn't understand. Fine, he's starting to get impatient, he does it again. Again none of the students understood. Finally he got really upset - he's a martial art prodigy, everything came to him easily, he genuinely doesn't understand why it's so difficult for others to understand. So he's like "okay, maybe you didn't feel it because my force is too small, i'm going to do it for real this time, so you can feel what the actual force feels like on the body." Bam, this time, because the movements are even quicker, no one saw anything. Master Wang now stands over the student "do you understand now?!" The student, who hit the back of his head against the ground really hard, his mind is completely blank, being 1) afraid of teacher's anger, 2) doesn't want another concussion, is like "oh yes, I think I got it now. I'll go home and practice it a couple of thousand times. Thank you, thank you..."

From this example we can understand how some great masters like Yang Banhou couldn't keep students around :)

In that particular instance, they went home, practiced a thousand reps within one training session, and finally got it. Before they went back later in the week, they coordinately beforehand who will just watch Master Wang's feet, who will watch his body movements, who will watch his hands, and who will follow his eye movements...

wei zhao 喂招 is also why trust was paramount to the traditional master-disciple relationship, because the teacher will open himself up to let the student try the skill on him. Because internal by definition is not something can be seen, only felt. And only by feeling it in his body can he tell if the student's neijing is right.

2) So here's why the not changing during the practice is important: if one party change his ongoing movement upon seeing the other person's reaction, then the other person will have to change as well, that often means you are no longer practicing that pre-designed defense skill. The only way for the defender to get enough reps in to practice a particular skill is if the attacker doesn't change. Unstructured, free for all fighting is end stage of fight training, to get there we have to go through the structured training stage first.

This is why Yang Chengfu, after his father passed away, sensing the urgency to improve as fast as possible, hired someone to be his training dummy. That person is super strong, but doesn't know anything about martial art, and Yang didn't teach him. He was hired just to feed Yang forces as Yang asked him to, so Yang could practice his response. The process was a huge success for him.

In every large school there are students who can't put their ego aside during practice, they have to win every encounter. Even after being told by everyone they still change the force when practicing with you. The only thing you can do is to avoid that person. Hence Chen Manching's famous saying "invest in loss". Until someone puts the ego aside, no learning can take place.



Today you rarely see those fake demos in external martial art, especially striking art, because they don't have those skills, and they don't need to do these kinds of Wei Zhao. For example: to practice any type of joint locking techniques, the attacker has to go with the force of defender right? Otherwise he could easily be hurt. I know - I have 2 wrist surgeries (torn TFCC) from practicing Shorinji Kempo. This is why Aikido is the one non-Chinese art with most fake demos right? If your skill don't include wrist lock throws, the attacker never need to cooperate, thereby short-circuiting the teacher-student mutual deception cycle. Same with internal martial art.

So today the fake demo is actually a perverse indicator of group's past glorious history and authenticity - somewhere in the past, perhaps very recently, there were high level masters who can do something like that, some skill that is so incredible it looks fake/unreal, so the students tried to emulate that. If that didn't exist, because it looks so unreal, it would be beyond a normal person's imagination to even come up with a fake skill like that in the first place. They would just do an exaggeration - being knocked back 10 steps instead of 5, but not pop into the air, then fake hop a couple of times, or thrown without being touched...
Last edited by Wuyizidi on Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:02 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby C.J.W. on Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:37 pm

GrahamB wrote:Hmmm... demo against opponent offering zero resistance and holding his arm out in space without moving so he can do 3 strikes in return?

Not saying it's a bad demo, but one of your favourite CMA clips of all time???


Fav Tongbei clips of all time. Good Tongbei apps are rarely captured on film.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby C.J.W. on Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:02 pm

Wuyizidi wrote:
In the old days martial art training is a very formal process with long evaluation periods. So the apprenticeship usually start with long period (often a year) of training in something really basic that you can't use for fighting right away, like stretching and zhan zhuang.

The next step in this "useless" training is forms training. Form is a nice way of cataloging all the skills of the style. The major reason there are lots of forms, which people today can't naturally appreciate, is that you have to keep kids interested during this long period of training.

At this point, satisfied with the child's aptitude and character with hard, boring, but absolute essential training, the teacher start the Chai Shou 拆手 process. Breaking down each posture of the form into individual movements, and fully explaining the application implications. This is where the idea of wei zhao 喂招 comes in. The teacher only go as fast as the student can absorb the lesson.

So until you go through this wei zhao 喂招, you can't really use it. Today people complain everyone who just does form can't fight, well that is by design :) To link a long sequence of movements together from individual skills, we are often forced to abbreviate the end of one movement and beginning of another using circular movement, so they can flow smoothly together. This had the side benefit of hiding the real movement (and therefore application) from any onlooker. This is also the reason why while doing the same form, some masters would insist the students to make the movement more "square", to show they understand the full movements/application intent.

This is where things get tricky: teachers are conservative to start with. Also, unlike the Mr. Miyagi media stereotype, martial art masters as a group before 1949 are mostly illiterate, they are more like professional athletes - people with great skill, but big tempers. My own teacher told us one story from early days of training with Master Wang Peisheng: there was this one Bagua skill that was very difficult to understand, Master Wang showed it on one of them once, he and others around didn't understand. Fine, he's starting to get impatient, he does it again. Again none of the students understood. Finally he got really upset - he's a martial art prodigy, everything came to him easily, he genuinely doesn't understand why it's so difficult for others to understand. So he's like "okay, i'm going to do it for real this time, so you can feel what the actual force feels like on the body." Bam, this time, because the movements are even quicker, no one saw anything. Master Wang now stands over the student "do you understand now?!" The student, who hit the back of his head against the ground really hard, his mind is completely blank, being 1) afraid of teacher's anger, 2) doesn't want another concussion, is like "oh yes, I think I got it now. I'll go home and practice it a couple of thousand times. Thank you, thank you..."

From this example we can understand how some great masters like Yang Banhou couldn't keep students around :)

In that particular instance, they went home, practiced a thousand reps within one training session, and finally got it. Before they went back later in the week, they coordinately beforehand who will just watch Master Wang's feet, who will watch his body movements, who will watch his hands, and who will follow his eye.


Great story. This is exactly how TCMA was taught in the old days. My teacher had very similar experiences when learning from his masters back in the 60s and early 1970s. Every move was only demonstrated a few times, and applications were never really "taught," but rather had to be "stolen" from the masters.

He and his kungfu brothers would take turns acting as their masters' crash test dummies, so that while one of them was getting his butt whupped, the others would watch closely to see how the techniques were applied.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Trick on Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:58 am

Wuyizidi wrote:The design of Tongbei skills is like most advanced CMA's skills, it starts with a set up, in this case the "Luring Hand", if you block, that springs up the trap - setting up a series of clever follow-up skills. Since Roger is the one asking the question (normally a student can't ask a teacher to show him anything, but since he is a younger brother he can), by Shuo Shou etiquette he was supposed to do what comes naturally but doesn't change, and let the instructor show what comes next.

When Strider first went to China in the 90's he didn't know about this etiquette, and when a gongfu uncle was trying to teach him Ba Wang Xie Jia (an over the shoulder throw where the attacker arm is full extended with palm facing sky), he tried to relax and drop elbow to follow the uncle's motion, the uncle became alarmed right away, made sure he really locked up Strider (almost dislocating his shoulder and elbow) and threw him down very hard. He was really upset and other teachers had to explain to him Strider (18, 19 at the time) didn't know the unwritten rules. Even today that uncle still half-jokingly remind our teacher "you got to watch for that Strider, he tries to beat his uncle."

This is a common thing in traditional circles - there are lots of rules regulating when you can fight with people outside the group. So one the classic ways to make a name for yourself then is to defeat an uncle. Since no one can formally or casually challenge an uncle, they often do it sneaky - like pretending to asking their uncle a question "can you just tell me if I'm doing this right" - you just do the movement yourself. Sometimes you deliberately do it wrong. Then pride get to the best of them, and they show on you what the skill should be like, and you "accidentally" (it is second nature now, I didn't mean it) beat them.

So yeah, it may look strange, but that's how it goes in traditional teaching. Within our group we're actually very careful about this. As Strider's uncle Zhao Zeren like to say "today teachers need to do a lot more da shou (uncooperative fighting), not just shuo shou (demo like this one here). In Shuo Shou the student is supposed to cooperate, so over time in all situations, they cooperate with teacher out of habit. In Taiji this is bad, as this is how many 'masters' demonstrate empty force throws to their student in the beginning, and over time, because it seems to work all the time, they really think they can do it. It starts with teacher deceiving the student, and ends with student deceiving the teacher."

Thanks for this explanation. Now I understand why a taiji teacher here in China got very angry at me even though it was just my reflexive response to one of his “attacks”, but it made him stumble, probably too visual.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby edededed on Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:26 pm

Thanks Wuyizidi - your explanations are always very informative! Does chaishou mean "breaking apart applications/techniques?"

In my own classes, I guess that none of the students ever dared to move while being the "dummy" side of applications learning. (Maybe it is cultural in Japan to follow the teacher.) Also, if you move, you have a higher chance of getting injured, so I think people wanted to avoid that, too.

I like how in your description students cooperated with each other to learn the skills - I think I would have learned a lot more if I and my fellow students did that, too.

Regarding Strider, I love how he is always so nonchalant and calm. Shi style tongbei looks like great stuff - would love to learn some someday (I learned just a bit of tongbei). Also curious about the bagua taught in Wang Peisheng's line (besides the 64 hands, which I have seen on YouTube). But it would be great to learn something from you guys someday in any circumstance!
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Wuyizidi on Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:15 pm

Does chaishou mean "breaking apart applications/techniques?"

Yes. Cha: taking apart. Shou: short for Shou Fa (technique). So Chai Shou means taking apart a per-designed skill (Grasp the Bird's Tail), break it down to all its component movements, and identify all the offensive/defensive intent within each movement, and all possible variations. In a real fight one rarely gets to do a complete skill like in the form, we are often forced to use use maybe just one of the many movements that make up that formal skill.

A big part of this is showing the student what the full movements are:
1. As mentioned before, the string movements together, we often abbreviate or omit some movements that would disrupt the flow, like going in the opposite direction. A classic example of this is Dao Nian Hou, popularly, and erroneously translated as Repulse Monkey. The full skill is taking a step back, pivoting 180 degrees, then throw the opponent in the direction he's already heading. This crucial pivoting around movement is omitted in the form. Perhaps that's the major reason it's incorrectly translated as "repulse" - which in English means beating the opponent back to the direction he came from. Nian means chasing. Like if you're trying to work, your dog or cat comes in want to play, you gently turn them around, and with your hands gently but firmly, shush them out of the office. That's the feeling of Nian, whereas repulse it like someone serve your the ball, and you smack it back directly.

2. Sometimes the application is intentionally hidden. Like in the Taiji Dao form, in one of the postures you withdraw the sword to the side of the body several times. In actual fighting that frees up the other hand to, in one smooth motion, take out the flying dart and throw it. You do it 3 times in that skill. For people who work for security companies, dao and flying dart is a popular combination. Since flying dart is a secret weapon, the motion is omitted from the official form. But in Chai Shou and individual skill practice, you'd do that.

edededed wrote:Thanks Wuyizidi - your explanations are always very informative! Does chaishou mean "breaking apart applications/techniques?"
...

Regarding Strider, I love how he is always so nonchalant and calm. Shi style tongbei looks like great stuff - would love to learn some someday (I learned just a bit of tongbei). Also curious about the bagua taught in Wang Peisheng's line (besides the 64 hands, which I have seen on YouTube). But it would be great to learn something from you guys someday in any circumstance!


That's because of his iron-palm training. Usually if you do quick, light movements, they're not very powerful. The opponents need not respect them. In Tongbei they want their hands to be like mace. The average mace in China and the west are only 2 - 5 pounds. But because of its hardness it does a lot of damage. Also Strider's like 6'4", he's very good at shifting his weight during the strike. So he may look casual, his hands are super heavy.

You can try this:
- sit in a chair,
- raise your right hand up as if to touch your right ear,
- then just let the hand drop naturally,
- at the same time raise your left hand to slap (left palm up) the falling right forearm just above the wrist,
- the right forearm continues forward with decreased speed, naturally stops when the arm straightens,
- now the left hand is high above the right hand, near your chin
- now left hand drops, and the right hand moves straight up to hit the falling palm with inner forearm (which now faces ceiling), so that
- at the end of the movement, both hands are where they started

This is the most simple iron-palm exercise. It just do it completely relaxed. Don't even go for power. Just start with 50 reps on one side, then switch. And do 3 sets a day.

In our group we have a student, over 70, who just did this for fun, 3x100 reps on each side per day. After 6 months of this, he went for another tongebi lesson was our teacher, who mostly does Taiji these days. They started doing Shuo Shou, and my teacher had to stop after a few minutes, because he hadn't done iron palm in decades, and he already he's going to hurt himself if he continues to smashes his forearm again this 70 year old's at near full speed.

It seems really simple. But if you really do it, the results are pretty incredible. I have seen another student of Strider's casually hitting the corner of a wall with the back of his hand while we're taking a break from Taiji training. Again, he's not an advanced Tongbei student, but it's amazing how much impact his hands can withstand. It's a really unfair advantage when your opponent dare not make contact with your forearm or back of the hand.
Last edited by Wuyizidi on Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby edededed on Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:18 pm

Hi Wuyizidi,

Many thanks for the tips and explanations! My (Wu) taiji is not so great, always working to understand it better. (I did not know the application for daonianhou.

The iron palm exercise I will try! It is similar to the limited tongbei that I learned - is it like shuaishou (backhand slap downwards) or like pizhang (chopping hand downwards) in terms of hand orientation? Interesting that it is to be done with no power - tongbei skills are very interesting indeed, it definitely gives me food for thought!
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Aqui on Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:42 am

To all the Tongbei experts here on the board:

At 24:24 onwards Strider speaks about the arms being connected and the energy flows from one arm to the other.
How is this done?
Are there videos online showing the specific methods?
Are we talking muscles, fascia, energy...?

Thanks,

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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby vagabond on Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:39 am

Arm swings
Touch bag
Standing
Scoopin beans
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Bao on Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:25 am

the arms being connected and the energy flows from one arm to the other.
How is this done?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLg5VDzsz6M


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLg5VDzsz6M
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Aqui on Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:14 pm

Bao wrote:
the arms being connected and the energy flows from one arm to the other.
How is this done?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLg5VDzsz6M


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLg5VDzsz6M


I don't want to sound (too ;) ) stupid, but could you explain to me how armswings create connection and energy flow?
Is it by opening the joints or stretching the tendons...?
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Aqui on Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:15 pm

vagabond wrote:Arm swings
Touch bag
Standing
Scoopin beans


Thank you very much :)
How is standing done in Tongbei? What postures do they use?
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby zrm on Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:42 pm

Aqui wrote:I don't want to sound (too ;) ) stupid, but could you explain to me how armswings create connection and energy flow?
Is it by opening the joints or stretching the tendons...?


By transferring energy from the legs through the waist, up the spine and into the arms like a whip. When you do these exercises you try to use the minimum amount of muscle power from the arms to move them around and to change the direction of power. Some of these are also exercises in energy change, how to use sideways turn movement to power a forward strike for example.

Of course, the best way to understand is to simply try out some of the exercises Bao posted.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Trick on Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:55 pm

Aqui wrote:
vagabond wrote:Arm swings
Touch bag
Standing
Scoopin beans


Thank you very much :)
How is standing done in Tongbei? What postures do they use?

I’m no Tongbei expert, but here’s my experience ……I asked my teacher about standing practice when I just had begun my study with him, he though half a second and showed a stance that is more of a ready/guard stance then we continued with the basic jibengong’s, and I learned the five fists and so on………we never did any standing, and I never saw anyone doing it either. But I was advised to do some quiet sitting from time to time.
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Re: interview with Strider Clark--August 2018

Postby Trick on Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:07 pm

zrm wrote:
Aqui wrote:I don't want to sound (too ;) ) stupid, but could you explain to me how armswings create connection and energy flow?
Is it by opening the joints or stretching the tendons...?


By transferring energy from the legs through the waist, up the spine and into the arms like a whip. When you do these exercises you try to use the minimum amount of muscle power from the arms to move them around and to change the direction of power. Some of these are also exercises in energy change, how to use sideways turn movement to power a forward strike for example.

Of course, the best way to understand is to simply try out some of the exercises Bao posted.

Yes. Just standing still and swinging the arms will not do it. There got to be forward, backward, sideways, upward and downward body moves to get the arms going in the proper relaxed way. This one usually learn pretty quick since the shoulder muscles tires quick if just doing isolated arm moves/swings.
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