Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby Bao on Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:36 pm

xian89 wrote:Bao: What do you mean by "activating the spine"? A variety of interpretations (they can overlap) of activating the spine I have heard people use are:
1) stretching the spine up-down and opening the joints
2) bowing the back
3) expanding the ming-meng area (maybe the same as bowing, maybe not - can be a cue to breathwork also)
4) expanding the backside as a counter pull to expanding forward as a part of creating a spherical body quality referred to as "peng" by some.
5) "sinking the qi"


You can bend the spine, stretch, compress, whatever. Bending the spine stores jin for raising jin. Stretching stores jin for compressing and sinking jin. Kai can be accomplished by stretching/raising. He can be accomplished by compressing. In my Tai Chi form practice I use spine movement all of the time, for raising, sinking, gathering, releasing, open/close, etc.

What do you see (or not see) in Sam? I am very curious (sincerely so) to hear what you see and think about it :-)


I see nothing special except for maybe versatility and good sensitivity. He adapts to and guide movement in a quite basic manner with a quite neutral body method.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby C.J.W. on Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:17 pm

xian89 wrote:
C.J.W. wrote:
xian89 wrote:https://www.facebook.com/charles.jenks.12/videos/1681832938763204/

A video of Sam Tam i got reminded of. Posting it here with the rest of the Sam/Torben stuff for posterity and ease of finding.


I like this one as it shows some very classic Yang style applications and body mechanics.


C.J.W.: A common criticism of Sam is that he seems more flavoured by his Yiquan background (especially when issuing) and not really using any classic/standard taiji body mechanics (however defined - back bowing being one example). So I am curious to hear what you mean by taiji body mechanics, if you would care to unfold it a bit, and where you see it in Sam :)



2:21 -- The shoulder neutralization followed by brush knee is quite commonly seen in CMC's line of Yang Taiji.

1:46 -- The elbow lock and left-peng with (or without) the foot trap is a classic application for Grasping Sparrow's Tail taught in several lines of Yang style.

In the Yang style lineages I've been exposed to, especially Yang Chenfu's, one characteristic way of issuing explosive power is by using one foot as anchor and the other as the power source while the Mingmen rapidly expands. The Mingmen action, I suppose, is probably what they refer to as back-bowing, as shown in the two following clips:





P.S. Now that you've mentioned his Yiquan background, I do see some traces of Xingyi's drill/rise/overturn/fall power as well, like at 1:25 (drilling/rising) and 0:38 (overturning/falling).
Last edited by C.J.W. on Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby xian89 on Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:07 pm

Bao and C.J.W.: Thank you for your input.

I am curious if and where you (C.J.W.) see the ming-meng action issuing style in the video of Sam Tam?
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby xian89 on Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:12 pm



Grand Master Hong Junsheng performing Chen style Yilu. He taught Chen Fak´s son Zhen Zhaokui, whom in turn taught Torben's Chen teacher (He Gong De). Some people have asked why Torben's chen style looks the way it does (different from the usual village style stuff). This is part of the explanation, and I post it here for posterity mainly.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby xian89 on Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:16 pm

I did an interview with Torben where I asked him some basic questions about his approach to internal martial arts. This is the first part. I hope you find his ramblings interesting :-)

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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby Bao on Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:57 pm

xian89 wrote:I did an interview with Torben where I asked him some basic questions about his approach to internal martial arts. This is the first part. I hope you find his ramblings interesting :-)


Good interview, yeah he says like it is. Looking forward to the next part. 8-)
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby HotSoup on Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:39 am

xian89 wrote:Grand Master Hong Junsheng performing Chen style Yilu. He taught Chen Fak´s son Zhen Zhaokui, whom in turn taught Torben's Chen teacher (He Gong De). Some people have asked why Torben's chen style looks the way it does (different from the usual village style stuff). This is part of the explanation, and I post it here for posterity mainly.


TBH, Torben's Chen looks nothing like He Gongde's either.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby charles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:32 am

xian89 wrote:Grand Master Hong Junsheng performing Chen style Yilu. He taught Chen Fak´s son Zhen Zhaokui, whom in turn taught Torben's Chen teacher (He Gong De). Some people have asked why Torben's chen style looks the way it does (different from the usual village style stuff). This is part of the explanation, and I post it here for posterity mainly.


It's unlikely that is much of a contributor to the explanation.

It's quite likely that Chen Zhaokui did work some with Hong, but certainly Hong was not his primary teacher or major influence.

CZK taught what he did to those in Chen Village, the origin of "Xin Jia" in Chen Village. The Xin Jia by those in Chen Village is quite different from Hong's "Practical Method", both in concept and in implementation (e.g. forms). In short, it is unlikely that students of CZK were influenced much by Hong's teachings via CZK. Similarly, Torben's form does not exhibit the characteristics that distinguish Hong's style from other Chen variants.


I liked your interview questions and I liked Torben's answers.
Last edited by charles on Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:17 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby xian89 on Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:05 am

HotSoup: Not disputing your claim, but do you mind being a bit more explicit about the way Torben's Chen looks nothing like He Gongde's to get a better understanding of your point? Is it something about the gross movement/choreography, (internal) bodymechanics, movement "flavour" etc.?

Charles: Thank you for your astute comments as always :) I am curious if you think that Yilu as performed by Hong Junsheng in the above clip and He Gongde (posted earlier in the thread I think) exhibit (some of) the same characteristics? Or do they seem like completely different performances to you?

I am glad that some of you find the interview relevant. Here is a new part:
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby charles on Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:58 am

xian89 wrote: I am curious if you think that Yilu as performed by Hong Junsheng in the above clip and He Gongde (posted earlier in the thread I think) exhibit (some of) the same characteristics? Or do they seem like completely different performances to you?


Here is a more "visible" video of Hong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj33KYkgHuQ

Here is a video of He: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35-JgbYks9U

You can compare them yourself.

Despite the video of Hong being labeled (by someone) as "Xin Jia", Hong didn't do "Xin Jia". He did "Yi Lu" and "Er Lu" reportedly based on what he learned from CFK and then modified. There are a number of "rules" specific to Hong's "Practical Method", which can be seen in his performance. (Most of these "rules" aren't explicitly found in other variants of Chen style Taijiquan.) One of those is "out with the hand, in with the elbow". Performing in accordance with those "rules" gives a characteristic appearance (and application) to the style.

By contrast, what I see in He's clip is pretty similar to what is practiced now, by those in Chen Village. and students of CZK, as "Xin Jia", reportedly based on what they learned from CZK.

In short, they appear to me to be different.

That said, lots of people change their forms for whatever reasons they chose. A good example of that is Feng Zhiqiang. He and CZK were training partners. Feng eventually took his form work in a very different direction than CZK and other of CFK's students.

If the basis for assessing skill or "correctness" is adherence to looking like your teacher, Feng, for example, wouldn't likely pass. An argument could be made suggesting that once you "own" the material you've learned, it probably shouldn't look exactly like your teacher. One the other hand, not moving similarly to one's teacher can be an indicator that one didn't "get it". For that reason, attempting to judge the skill level of a practitioner solely on the appearance of their from can be difficult.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby charles on Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:17 am

I found the second part of the video interview imparted wisdom clearly learned from hard-won experience.

It echos my experience that to progress one must ask questions but the questions must be focused and be the right questions to ask. The questions one asks must be practical and be based on what arrises from having done the work. One must be smart in one's practice and in formulating one's questions. Being "smart" is different from being "academic".
Last edited by charles on Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby HotSoup on Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:24 am

xian89 wrote:HotSoup: Not disputing your claim, but do you mind being a bit more explicit about the way Torben's Chen looks nothing like He Gongde's to get a better understanding of your point? Is it something about the gross movement/choreography, (internal) bodymechanics, movement "flavour" etc.?


Mostly, the way Torben was moving in his Chen vid. He Gongde was sunk in Kua, relaxed in his waist, sitting quite low, stretching all his arm joints to have the connection, and so on. In his turn, Torben was moving in a sort of structureless super-relaxed manner.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby xian89 on Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:38 am

Thank you that overview charles. It is nice to have the input of someone more versed in the different chen styles (IMA in general, too) than myself.

I agree with most of the things you see HotSoup. Unfortunately the video isn't available anymore it seems. He Gongde was Torben's first real teacher with internal martial arts so he was still a raw beginner in the video - and he was still bodybuilding at the time, much to the detriment of his development of internal bodymechanics.
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby nicklinjm on Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:56 pm

Just to add my .02 - the form practiced by He Gongde looks very close to the standard Xinjia which is practiced in Shanghai - which all eventually comes from Chen Zhaokui anyway. Can't see any influence from Feng Zhiqiang (IMO, obviously).
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Re: Torben Bremann: Chen style, Huang Taiji and Sam Tam

Postby charles on Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:08 pm

nicklinjm wrote:Can't see any influence from Feng Zhiqiang (IMO, obviously).


Agreed.
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