Physical training traditions – whether martial or health oriented – are not learned from books, but rather through hands on physical contact and instruction by those who have walked the path ahead of you.
In this way, a physical teaching is a direct connection to the earlier adepts in a method or tradition and is the living gate through which one needs to enter a pathway to begin to understand what the old masters sought.
While every teacher is different and learns and embodies the arts in his or her own manners, it is important for the student to discover his own truth by learning the essence and details of the art, testing the methods and practices, and arriving at a personal understanding.
The words of Basho, the Japanese poet, capture my philosophy:
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the old men/
Seek what they sought.
Seeking is the work of a lifetime.
The following people have guided me through my various practices and I thank them for their time and honesty and for providing the gates through which I have been able to explore:
Allen Pittman The base art from which I explore all other arts is the Gao Bagua system that Allen learned from the Taiwanese master Hung I Mien. Allen’s teachings (through seminars, private training, and conversations) have created a framework for exploration that while grounded in the physical and the combative, expands to healing, philosophy and the development of the whole person.
Steven Yip The world of push hands was the entry point into Steven’s Taoist influenced taiji style. Central to his teachings are working with the mind/intent and using forms and push hands as the frames from which to explore the idea of emptiness.
Maijia Soderholm My most recent training has been in the escrima blade work of Sonny Umpad through Maija. The random flow training, which in many ways is like push hands with blades, is the prime method to develop the escrima body and to explore the ideas in a contained environment. A key part of the training is learning to see.
Hal Mosher My introduction to the hands on aspects of the internal arts came through Hal. His close instruction provided a great base from which to explore the internal arts of bagua and xingyi. Through Hal, I learned my foundation in the Gao bagua and related xingyi, as well as Chen Pan Ling’s versions of these arts. My time with Hal whetted my appetite for “eating bitter” in my practice.
Laurel Houghton The world of Indian yoga traditions was brought to me through my study with Laurel. Her precise and insightful instruction provided me an opportunity to explore the similarities with Chinese internal martial arts traditions, especially as it relates to the breath and posture.
Kenn Chase My first taste of the internal martial arts came through the study of taiji with Kenn and set me on a path of near daily practice since first studying with him. He also introduced me to the Feldenkrais Method, which began me on my ongoing study and exploration of somatics
Additional folks whose workshops and classes I have attended for briefer training periods, include: Qian Zhao Hong, Li Tai Liang, Fong Ha, George Xu, Leo Gaje, Bruce Frantzis, and Ricardo Kayanan. I also spent time training with the Stanford Kenpo Club, the Stanford Judo Club, East West Bok Fu, and judo as a youth.
I also want to thank those who have shown up to spar, push, and share their knowledge including: Troy, Hal, Koa, Ghislan, Davis, Bill, Jake and many others in the San Francisco Bay Area.