Martial Art Styles
BCMA practices and teaches the following styles. Histories and descriptions of these styles abound on the internet, and I have linked to them where appropriate rather than rewrite them.
Yangjia Michuan Tai Chi Chuan
Many people are familiar with Tai Chi Chuan, at least by name. Commonly referred to as an "internal" style of martial arts, Tai Chi is characterised by slow flowing movements. Its emphasis is the "empty middle." But its appearance belies its essence, that of "an iron bar wrapped in cotton." Sometimes referred to as the "hidden" or "secret" branch of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan, Yangjia Michuan was the personal style of Yang Lu Chan. Traditionally it was passed on only to one other person, and went from Yang Lu Chan to Yang Chien-ho to Zhang Qinlin. During the cultural revolution, Zhang saw the demise of martial arts and knew the style would be lost if not passed on to many. Though Zhang was bound to only pass the style to one student, he told that student, Wang Yen-nien, to openly teach it in order to save it. The full story can be read here complements of grtc.org, and you can see Master Wang performing the first section circa 1975 here. Here is a link to a great article giving an overview of the main characteristics of the Michuan style. Master Hu and Scott Rodell are both students of Master Wang Yen-nien.
Ba Gua Zhang
Ba Gua Zhang, or Eight Trigram Palm, is another "internal" style of marital art, along with Tai Chi Chuan and Xin Yi Chuan. It is characterized by circular walking pattens and direction changes called palm changes, and its emphasis is the "changing middle." A good history of its founder and branches can be found here . We are studying the Cheng style as passed down through Sun Lutang. Ba Gua is excellent at developing evasive footwork and the ability to generate power at unusual angles to the body. It is generally practiced more quickly than Tai Chi, and develops lot of heat in the body and energy in the palm. Its twisting and coiling movements are excellent at stretching the body and strenghtening the joints.
Shuai Jiao is Chinese wrestling, much like Judo or Ju Jitsu. Its roots are in Mongolian wrestling and it is generally thought to have had a major influence on Japanese throwing arts. As it forms much of the foundation of Cheng style Ba Gua, learning Shuai Jiao basics and understanding its throwing dynamics adds a lot to the practice. Shuai Jiao fundamentals appear in several other styles as well, including Tai Chi, and its basic exercises are excellent for general strength, flexibility and balance. A history of Shuai Jiao can be found here , complements of David Lin's Combat Shuai Chiao website. David Lin and Master Hu were students together under Master Ch'ang Tung-Sheng.
Chin Na is the art of seizing and locking. Joint locks, pressure points and takedowns all contribute to the Chin Na repertior. Chin Na is not usually considered a style unto itslef, but rather a system of techniques that appear in many styles. Like Shuai Jiao, knowing the fundamentals of these techniques gives the opportunity to find new applications for common movements in various forms.
Northern Long Fist (Changchuan)Northern Long Fist is one of the earliest styles I learned, along with Tai Chi. This style is a lot of fun to practice and is excellent at building strength, endurance, coordination and good stances. It is characterized by long extended strikes (hence the name), large circulr and twisting movements, and acrobatic jumps and kicks. Much of modern competition Wushu is based on the Long Fist forms. Northern Shaolin is also often grouped together with Northern Long Fist in the collection of styles that came from Northern China. Though its primary focus would appear to be striking and kicking, Long Fist also incorporates Shuai Jiao and Chin Na techniques.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of being exposed to many other styles of martial arts, whether from my primary instructor Master Hu or other instructors I've been able to train with. Some of these I know and understand better than others and I list them as examples of my training background, but don't generally teach them.
Under Master Hu:
Seven Star (Northern) Praying Mantis
Under Other Instructors
Southern Praying Mantis