Six Harmonies Tai Zu?

October 10, 2008

I found an old article I wrote with my friend Carlos Aldrete-Phan. It was published in the March 1993 issue of “Black Belt” magazine and was on a style we thought was called Six Harmonies kung-fu. In actuality, the style is Taiwanese Taizu. Here’s the behind the scenes…

Carlos and I met while we both worked at a martial arts supply store called Asian World of Martial Arts, in Philadelphia, around 1985. After work we used to hang around with another friend and trade martial arts knowledge. I was big into eskrima and wing chun and Carlos was into Yang Tai Chi, Northern Mantis and the so-called Six Harmonies kung-fu. He took me to meet his teacher, James Wu, who was newly arrived from Taiwan. I watched their classes and went to their sifu’s home several times for food and kung-fu talk. Carlos kept trying to impress upon me the depth that was in these styles, but I wanted nothing to do with them, feeling I had enough. My loss.

Fast forward 10 years and I became hugely involved in Ngo Cho Kun, making 13 trips to Manila to train with my Sifu, Alex Co. By this time Carlos was out of his traditional training and doing more of a mainstream “style” to pander to children and keep his school open. He was also following MMA. Me, I was head over heals for Fujian kung-fu and wanted to study every style I could… especially those associated with Ngo Cho Kun… of which Taizu is one.

I kept telling Carlos that he should review his old system, since I wanted him to teach me, and also because it was so much richer than what he ended up doing. He disagreed. Oh, how the tides turn! I told him I had seen a video put out by Liao Wu Chang, the Monkey boxer from Taiwan. The video was on Taizu and the forms and two-man training, to me, looked exactly like what James Wu had taught him. Carlos disagreed, passing off my comments as impossible, since Wu Sifu had said many times that his style was called Southern Six Harmonies, and not Taizu!

Jump ahead to two months ago. I invited Carlos over to my home for some beers and kung-fu talk. We had Carlserg, in honor of Eric Ling! I showed him the Liao Wu Chang footage, now on Youtube. Carlos jumped and shouted, “That is exactly my old style I learned from James Wu!” I offered a knowing smile. He worked out the movements again, taught me a form called Tsui Chien, and is now relearning everything from nearly 25 years ago… Victory!

I just felt like passing on this vignette to show how at certain times in our martial arts paths, we accept certain ideas and reject others. Then as we grow in the arts and expand or contract our views, our ideas often change. And in the case of Wu Sifu and his styles I now fondly call “Six Harmonies Taizu”… well he is back in Taiwan and I missed the boat. I wasn’t prepared for his teachings when he was around the corner. And now that I want them, he is oceans away. LOL.

Anyway, here is a copy of that articles Carlos and I wrote so many years ago. I hope you like it.

Mark

Update from Colorado.

April 7, 2008

Okay, let’s see what have I been up to these last few days 1 mile above sea level – besides fighting the cold and taking care of my sinus…

Well, I have been to Wayne’s school twice, met his students and had a super time introducing some finer points of Fuzhou Crane Boxing. Wayne is a student of mine and these last years, have been passing on some of the White Crane that he got from me.

What can I say, plant a seed and you see a tree and now it’s down to ensuring that the tree grow big and strong. With the dedicated following that Wayne has got in his school – no biggie. I am really pleased to see the art propagating here in Colorado.

Then there was also one evening that I spent some time at the “Colorado School Of Wing Chun” to play with some old friends.

Sifu Phil, Ron and Chad; the latter 2 also White Crane students of mine plus a group of new faces showed up and we were just totally having fun on the training floor.

Observing a minute silence at the end of training for our dearly and very untimely departure of Sifu Bart Mann kind of bring home the message; Wing Chun, White Crane…..we are all good friends of Wulin – we are family!

And this morning, Wayne, Chad and I again spent time at the Wing Chun school to go through some more White Crane fighting concepts and forms.

The weather was brilliant and after the session, we decided to hop over to the famous “Mile High Flea Market” for some turkey legs, burritos and cold beers.

Sunshine, cold beers, turkey legs, burritos and good company – what more do you want ?

Pic – Wayne in black and Chad in white tees.

All in the family?

December 4, 2007

Now that Russ is on-board, this weblog should start seeing a clearer “theme”; comparison of Karate and Southern Fukien Boxing.

 

If our time together in Penang and Kuching is anything to go by, I think we should be covering a wide spread in this blog.

Personally, I think to just look at White Crane alone is myopic; the net should be casted to include Southern Fukien Shaolin, TaiZu and WuZhu.

 

And also, not everything is clear cut at the Chinese end, as far as I am concerned.

 

You take a form like Sanchin or Babulien and you are likely to see many variations even within White Crane families – so which is the right reference?

 

Maybe, it’s like what they say; this whole thing is like an onion, you got many layers to peel in order to get to the bottom.

 

For me, with so many inconsistencies in oral histories, expression of forms and even essential concepts within the systems, I think we got only “signature techniques” and maybe “paradigm” to base studies on.

 

So maybe that where we should start; signature, idiosyncratic moves, gestures…something non-generic…..

 

Maybe ……

 

Here’s Sifu Xiong doing an intermediate WuZu form – “Virgin Child Praying to Kuan Yin” …. To me, so White Crane-ish…..