What’s this blog about?

As Wikipedia puts it used to put it, “jiang hu” is ‘not a physical place or geographic location but the wild and romanticized domain of secret societies, gangs, fighters, entertainers, prostitutes, assassins, thieves, actors, beggars, and wanderers that is roughly the Chinese equivalent to the English terms “bohemian” and “the underworld”‘. Influenced by the Temporary Autonomous Zone, I don’t look at jiang hu as a criminal zone; I see it as place for non-conformists; for bohemians;  for mystics; for those who are following their own dreams rather than what society tells them they should be dreaming.

So what’s the “martial arts and mysticism” about? This blog is about my journey through the Chinese Internal Martial Arts – baguazhang, yiquan, taijiquan, and the people I meet on the way. It’s about people who are seeking to use their body as effectively as possible, to calm their minds and strengthen their meditative powers, to connect with the Dao or attain enlightenment… in other words, who are seeking to discover their true self, not the mediated identity defined for them by what the Situationists termed The Spectacle.

Since both the martial arts and meditation deal ultimately with questions about our own nature and character as individuals, I’ll also write about issues involving identity and perception – as well as anything else I feel is relevant or vaguely interesting!


  1. I am just starting to learn Ba Gua, after a few years learning tai chi (currently still at it).

    This blog is great reference material.




  2. There’s this reference book by B.K. Frantzis “The Power of Internal Martial Arts – Combat Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi and Hsing-I”. It led me to work towards learning Ba Gua. I am glad I bought that book.

    The more I learn about the internal martial arts, the more reflective I seem to become. There’s something about the principals that are so relevant to daily life. 🙂



  3. Forget all the books and guides. I studied with Yao Laoshi when living in China. I also crosstrain in BJJ and Muay Thai. Books are written by people who are not the apple of the martial arts. And as your training with one so that kind of defies the point.

    I dont know how long you will be in China. To develop any skill in a martial art takes years. What you need is the right method. Forget everyone else in that place and focus on Yao Laoshi, and get hold of the right training method. Then your martial arts will get continually better with time even if you are not living close to him.

    I cannot say again just how exceptional I think the man is and since returning to Europe I have not met anyone who could hold a candle up to him. Btw in Yiquan there is both a long-stick and a sword (though this one is not used very much).

    Most people in all martial arts are limited because they do not know how to train effectively. Learn the right method.

    Wish you growth in your studies!


  4. Well said Alex. I give our friend the same advise every time we speak but Emlyn is like the wind always going somewhere but oft returning, he he. Good luck to him, as always.


  5. Hi-I’m new to Beijing (BLCU) and would be grateful for any gong fu school recommendations here. How is the Milun? And anyone hear of hulei tai chi? I’d like to take up either an internal style or a more internal shaolin like rou quan or xinyiba (unfortunately xinyiba is only taught by Masters Wunanfang and Shi Dejian in Deng Feng). At the moment I’m just doing zhan zhuang (hard enough for me!). I did some external m.a. as a teen and afterwards spent 15 years bicycle racing and distance running–but its taken a toll and now I’m looking to practice qi gong, etc., primarily for health. However, I’d still like to learn something with real practical applicability and that balances soft with hard. After 15 years of running, I still like a good work out! Many thanks.


    1. Well, of course, I’m going to suggest yiquan as taught by Master Yao Cheng Rong – especially as you’re already training zhan zhuang. It’s very easy to get to from BLCU as well.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s