The locally rooted transmission of Wu Family taijiquan: Seminar on « Internal skills and Mind Process »

Pierrick Porchet

This paper was first published in Chinese on the web platform shukanbao[i] as a transcript of a meeting held on September 6, 2020 in Wu Yuxiang Historical Residence Study Room located in Guangfu Township, Handan City, Hebei Province (河北省邯郸市永年县广府镇武禹襄故居书堂). During the meeting, Master Sun Jianguo (孙建国) – fifth-generation master of Wu Family taijiquan – and six of his disciples discussed their personal experience as taijiquan practitioners and more specifically as inheritors of the Wu Family taijiquan.

This contribution aims at providing the reader with direct insights concerning transmission channels of Chinese Martial Arts in general and taijiquan in particular.  Following a well-established tradition, Chinese Martial Arts are usually transmitted within the population – and outside state sponsored institutions – through a ritual initiation instituting a symbolic kinship between the master, often representing a father or mother figure, and the disciples considered as the symbolic children of the master.[ii] Here, the word “tradition” does not specifically refer to ancient ways of practicing martial arts but should rather be understood in its opposition to institutionalized practices as they can be observed in public schools, martial arts clubs or elite sport training facilities. As Hobsbawn points out: “`Traditions´ which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin [and] normally attempt to establish continuity with a suitable historic past.”[iii] In other words, this contribution will not explore the historicity of Wu Family taijiquan practitioners’ communities in the area of Handan City. The accepted historiography of this practice places its creation in the middle of the 19th century during the life of its founder Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880) – a rich and educated figure of Guangfu.[iv] However, according to oral accounts, the practice was confined to the immediate family circle of Wu Yuxiang. The values and behaviors that structure today’s community were probably introduced later in the development of taijiquan in Chinese society.

All participants of the meeting were native of the region of Handan City except for Pierrick Porchet, who is a native of Lausanne, Switzerland, and attended as a participant observer. The specific structure of martial arts communities – where individuals are bound by symbolic kinship – implies strong interpersonal relationship and proximity between members. As a result, these communities often exist within local boundaries as exampled by the meeting participants, whose network is rooted in the local context of Handan municipality. The anthropologist Anne-Christine Trémon problematizes the notion of “local” (and its counterpart “global”) by pointing out “the importance of avoiding the confusion between the delimitation of an analytical unit for the purpose of fieldwork and the [actual] isolation of the social unit that is considered, networks of socialization and exchanges reach far beyond the “local” of ethnographic inquiry.” [v] As Porchet discusses in previous publications,[vi] Chinese martial arts masters often navigate within heterogenous networks of different scales and natures. Institutional activities – often framed in national or international processes – can be intermingled with the traditional framework. Masters who usually transmit their art within a locally rooted network can expand their transmission framework by accepting disciples from other regions of China or even abroad. These complex processes are pushing ethnographers to navigate alongside with their research partners through these different layers and reach out beyond the specific site of ethnographic inquiry.

This contribution will highlight the local aspect of Master Sun’s transmission as the specific configuration of the meeting described above allows the reader to better understand motivations and values of individuals – natives from their master’s hometown area – who chose to go through the ritual initiation of the Wu family taijiquan.

Seminar on « Internal abilities and mind process » (内功心法)

Early in the morning, disciples gather at the courtyard of Master Sun Jianguo’s school (学校), waiting for the master to open the doors of Wu Yuxiang Historical Household – located right across East Street in Guangfu. At the sound of their master’s motorcycle engine, disciples head out through the courtyard’s gate to greet their master and the whole group walks down the alley leading to Wu Yuxiang Historical Household. Arriving in the study room – which the local government allows Sun to use for his activity – participants commemorate the ancestors of the lineage by offering incense to Wu Yuxiang’s statue. The ritual once performed, participants sit down around the meeting table and share one by one their personal story with taijiquan.

Lü Wenxian 吕文贤:

I am from a rural village in Tongjiang County, Sichuan Province. When I was young, I used to move heavy stones and firewood across the mountains in my hometown’s area. I was also able to carry pigs that weighed more than one hundred kilos in order to sell them at the market town downhill. At that time, I felt very powerful. Besides, I was often watching martial arts movies. These films had a profound impact on my life and my dreams. So, from that time, I cultivated the dream of studying both martial arts and traditional medicine. I had already practiced some basic skills of Shaolin boxing in my hometown. When I had the opportunity, I went to Wudang Mountain (武当山) to seek training. There, I learned different styles of martial arts. I first practiced external martial arts.[vii] I trained with sandbags, flexibility, acrobatic movements, etc. In 1998, I met Master Sun Jianguo, the fifth-generation direct descendant of Wu family taijiquan and I have been practicing this style ever since.

Why did I change my study orientation for taijiquan? One day at Wudang Mountain, a coach, who had practiced Shaolin hongquan (洪拳) for 7 years, came our school to perform in front of us. I was thrilled! However, after having performed half of his routine, his pace slowed down; he was struggling to continue to move and was rapidly unable to practice. That night, I didn’t sleep… I was thinking: This coach practiced martial arts for such a long time and he performed like this? This broke my martial arts dream. I had spent 70 thousand RMB at Wudang Mountain over several years. From that day on, I was confused. I was torn between the fact that I didn’t want to stay in this place anymore and the fact that I already spent all this money.

So, I started to train myself to the zhanzhuang (站桩)exercise.[viii] After one week of practice, I really felt that there was qi and heat in my dantian (丹田).[ix] I told the headmaster and the coach that from now on I just wanted to practice this technic. After six months of practice, I heard that a good taijiquan coach – native from the renowned taijiquan hub that is Yongnian district in Hebei Province – was coming to teach in our martial arts school. When Sun Jianguo finally arrived, all of the students respected him as much as we respected our parents. I remembered everything he said while teaching.

When I first trained taijiquan, I didn’t like it very much. At that time, I had not performed the ritual to become Sun Jianguo’s disciple yet, so I was just a regular student and could only refer to him as my teacher. Teacher Sun taught us the 24 steps of taijiquan.[x] I was not the most brilliant student in my class. I didn’t learn a single movement for three days. But one day my interest grew because of an encounter between a classmate and teacher Sun. This classmate was from the northeast province of Heilongjiang and his family was very wealthy. He was tall, very disobedient and naughty. That day, he said: « Teacher Sun, if your martial abilities are so good, then try to hit me!” Teacher Sun walked over slowly and with a slight push, he made the student fall down several meters away. I was baffled. I have been wrestling myself for a while, but I didn’t understand what just happened. Teacher Sun would be very serious in class, but relaxed when the lesson ended, just like a friend.

One afternoon, I was wrestling with a few classmates, and I beat them, one by one. Then a classmate said: « Wenxian, do you dare to compete with Teacher Sun? » I said: « Okay, I dare! » I immediately grasped Teacher Sun’s arms. I used all my strength to throw him down. I don’t know what happened, but I was suddenly thrown out several meters away. One classmate said: « Do you want to try again? » I said: « Surely not ». Since then, I believed in the skills of Teacher Sun and I began to like taijiquan.

At Wudang Mountain, Teacher Sun taught us the traditional routine of Wu family taijiquan, which is composed of 84 steps. Teacher Sun said: « If you practice conscientiously for one minute, there will be an effect for one minute. Ten minutes will have an effect for ten minutes. If you practice according to the standards of previous generations, you will surely develop martial abilities! »

In 1998, Teacher Sun left Wudang Mountain and returned to his hometown of Yongnian in order to create an international taijiquan association. Many students were very sad when they walked him down the mountain to the train station. At that time, I decided to concentrate on the training of the Wu family taijiquan. I was continuously looking for the opportunity to go to Guangfu and reunite with Teacher Sun. Half a year later, this dream came true. Three of my classmates and I went to Fengfeng district of Handan City to perform the ritual through which we became Master Sun’s disciples and it allowed us to properly learn his craft. For more than 20 years, Master Sun has been guiding us patiently. And I followed my master all over the country to work and train with him.

As I worked in the mountain’s village to chop firewood and cultivate the land for many years, it had bad consequences on my body posture. As a result, my body wasn’t compatible with the practice of taijiquan. Through the years, I have changed my posture and the way I keep my body upright. My body is now very strong and healthy. Moreover, the inner feeling of qi makes me very comfortable.

Although I have been training for more than 20 years, I haven’t accepted any disciple yet because I don’t think I’ve reached the right standard in regard of my martial abilities. I want to continue to improve my internal skills. I will consider enrolling disciples once I have acquired proper abilities.

That being said, I already taught taijiquan in different places such as in my hometown and Shanghai. All the people I have taught are very thankful. For example, I taught a Party Executive in Sichuan province. After training for a while, he felt improvement in his body, and he now practices every day. He often calls to thank me for my teaching. I also taught several entrepreneurs in Shanghai. Their physical condition has greatly improved. In the future, I hope I can settle in Guangfu Township alongside my master and help him to train even more predestined peers. Or spread the culture of Wu lineage taijiquan all over the country in areas where our destiny leads us. I want to combine the Daoist medicinal culture I learned at Wudang Mountain – including massage, cupping, acupuncture, scraping – with taijiquan culture in order to cater to the needs of the population.

Wu Ziliang 武子良:

My name is Wu Ziliang, from Yongnian district. I am a small business owner. We produce screw fittings / standard parts for boats.

I started to learn taijiquan with my wife in Yongnian public square five to six years ago. We practiced “mass taijiquan[xi] for several years. On August 16, 2018, I met Teacher Sun Jianguo during a meeting of the Federation of New Social Strata Individuals of Yongnian Area (永年区新社会阶层人士联合会), Handan City. During the meeting, Teacher Sun’s talk was about the history of the development of taijiquan in Yongnian and its prospects for future development in society. I was very touched to hear his speech. I wanted to learn the essence of authentic taijiquan. Therefore, on August 19, 2019, I officially took Sun Jianguo, the fifth-generation direct descendant of Wu family taijiquan, as my master. I am honored to be the sixth-generation successor of Wu family taijiquan. Since the beginning of my apprenticeship, I have practiced taijiquan from 5 to 7 o’clock every morning. I come to Guangfu to seek master’s teaching whenever my busy schedule at the factory allows me to. I have a feeling that authentic taijiquan is very deep. I would like to practice hard and study hard in order to contribute to the development of Wu family taijiquan.

Yang Zihai 杨自海 :

I was born in Cixian, Hebei Province and I work at Handan Agricultural Bank.

I saw the movie “Shaolin Temple” when I was a kid. At that time, I wanted to practice martial arts, but my family’s economic condition was not good, so I didn’t. When I was in college, there was a wushu team. The coach taught us boxing, Shaolin boxing, Baji boxing, all kinds of boxing techniques. This experience gave me a solid foundation in martial arts but I didn’t practice much after I graduated.

In 2009, I went to work in Handan Agricultural Bank. A lot of old people were practicing taijiquan in the public squares of the city. In 2015, we held a sport meeting at work. At that time, the office hired a taijiquan coach. As I had practiced 24 Style taijiquan in the past, I took part in the training class. Then, I started practicing Wu family taijiquan in 2016. From then, I went to the town squares to practice by myself. I also had the opportunity to meet a teacher who practices Yang family taijiquan. I practiced with him for another two months. Now I practice three forms of taijiquan every day.

Then I met Teacher Sun Jianguo, I was introduced to him by a colleague who is native from Guangfu East Street.  After exchanging with Teacher Sun, I realize the deep cultural content embedded in the Wu family taijiquan. After having performed the ritual to become Master Sun’s disciple in 2019, I trained the Wu family taijiquan routine for one year and I felt a lot of progress. It is a long process to become familiarized with the movements and be able to perform flawless body technics. However, I haven’t fully experienced the internal skill yet. In the future, I will slowly develop mental and martial skills. Right now, I need to train with full power. One has first to train right and only then can one pass the knowledge on. Through the practice, my physical condition improved significantly. I can climb the six floors to my apartment in a row without feeling tired. I want to continue to improve the mental and inner martial skills as taught in Wu family taijiquan and hopefully enroll disciples to contribute to further develop this art.

Feng Xiaotong 冯晓彤:

I’m from Handan City, Hebei Province. I work as an administrator in Hebei Engineering University. As a kid, I used to watch martial arts movies and TV dramas and they had a great influence on me. I have been fond of martial arts since my childhood. When I was young, no one around me practiced martial arts, so I had no chance to learn. In 2016, I came to Guangfu for a tour. I was lucky to meet Teacher Sun Jianguo in the study cabinet of the Historical Household of Wu Yuxiang. After sitting down and talking with Teacher Sun, I had the impression that Teacher Sun was very modest, friendly and approachable. Therefore, I bought a lot of Teacher Sun’s taijiquan books and DVDs. After I came back home, I watched the DVDs and read the books carefully, practicing by myself every day. The more I would look at these materials, the more I would be interested in taijiquan – discovering its profound cultural connotation. This persuaded me to perform the ritual to become Master Sun’s disciple. I started to train under his guidance in 2019. I come to Guangfu twice a month. I also practice at home by myself. In the past, I have been focusing on the movements routine, but now I would like to focus more on the training of static stances (站功).[xii] In the future, I will strengthen the basic skills and the overall corporal technics in order to master the technics in my own body. Since I haven’t developed any technical foundation as a kid, I must now stretch my tendons as well as improve the mobility of the joints and bones. I feel my legs and feet being rigid. I need to practice basic skills and only after that will I be able to practice routines, push hands[xiii], strength and explosive power. I think that only when you have certain skills, can you teach others.

Li Xiangxian 李向先:

I am from Nanyan village, Handan City. I own a small shop selling leather shoes. When I was a child, I enjoyed watching the movie “Shaolin Temple” (少林寺). I’m from the countryside. Seeing many people practicing taijiquan in the village was an entertainment and I liked it very much. I learned a bit with my grandfather, Li Jinfan (李锦藩), when I was in middle school. Because my family’s economic condition was not good, I stopped training. After graduating from school, I ran a business and my economic conditions greatly improved. Now, both of my children are married and have work. I finally have the opportunity to learn taijiquan and pass on the cultural heritage of our ancestors.

After a long time of searching and investigating, I finally found Sun Jianguo – the disciple of my grandfather Li Jinfan – who is now my master. After having performed the ritual to become Master Sun’s disciple in 2012, I started practicing at home every day. When I train and feel uncomfortable or not smooth, I would head to Guangfu to seek Master Sun’s teaching. After having trained movements routines for a while, I felt more at ease with my body. Since then, physical exercises have been an important part in my life. Taijiquan body technics can be applied for daily life and work. For example, when working, sweeping the floor, moving things, standing, sitting or lying, we can use taijiquan body technics to perform these actions. In the future, I want to continue to study Wu and Li taijiquan culture under the guidance of Master Sun and do my contribution to society.

Porchet Pierrick [Liang Dingyuan 粱定远]:

I am from Switzerland and I grew up on my parents’ farm in the countryside near Lausanne. Since my childhood, I have watched martial arts cartoons and I have liked Asian martial arts culture. During high school, a young man in the village was teaching Taekwondo to children. One day he said he would go to China to learn Chinese martial arts. When he left, I went to a Chinese martial arts club in Lausanne to learn it. I began to practice the standardized elementary changquan (长拳). At that time, I met a coach who graduated from Beijing Sport University. After I graduated from high school, I worked in the village for a year and went to Beijing Sport University to learn the competition routine of changquan and cudgel. When I came back to Switzerland, in order to learn more about Chinese martial arts culture, I chose to study Chinese at the university. From 2004 to 2011, I studied martial arts routines while attending university in Lausanne and Geneva.

In 2016, the Confucius Institute of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, invited me to carry out a doctoral research project on Chinese martial arts. In order to carry out this project, I compared traditional folk martial arts and competitive martial arts practices in different parts of China. In August 2018, while in Guangfu, I visited the Historical Household of Wu Yuxiang. There, I had the honor to meet Teacher Sun Jianguo, the fifth-generation direct descendant of Wu family taijiquan. I had the opportunity to interview him in the study room of Wu Yuxiang residence. I realized that he was an authentic descendant of Wu/Li traditional taijiquan and has mastered the essence of taijiquan technics. Later, in December 2018, the Confucius Institute of the University of Geneva invited Teacher Sun to teach taijiquan in Switzerland. Through learning and communicating with Teacher Sun, I discovered new aspects of taijiquan that I didn’t know previously. Later, in August 2019, I went back to Guangfu and performed the ritual to become Master Sun’s disciple. At that time, we were six new disciples who joined in the apprenticeship. I was ranked in the fifth position.

Currently, I am investigating the historical background of taijiquan in the old city of Guangfu and learning Wu family taijiquan at the same time. I hope I will be able to master movements routines as well as the internal power and mental skills of Wu family taijiquan. I hope I can carry forward the excellent traditional martial arts culture of the Chinese nation, not only in the field of Sinology but also among the Chinese martial arts community.

Sun Jianguo 孙建国:

I’m from Guangfu West Street, Yongnian District. Guangfu is a city of water, an ancient city and the city of taiji. It has long history and rich cultural background. It is also the birthplace of the Yang and Wu families’ taijiquan. Four of the six taijiquan lineages originated from Guangfu, namely Yang, Wu, Wu[xiv] and Sun. Due to the special geographical environment I grew up in, I was fond of martial arts since my childhood. In 1972, when I was in the third grade of primary school, I started to study taijiquan with Uncle Li Jinfan, the fourth-generation descendant of Wu family taijiquan and our neighbor in our work unit. As my master didn’t have a son, I often went to his house to help his household sweeping the floor, chopping wood, carry water, farming, etc.

At that time, he was denounced and criticized as a rightist intellectual, so he did not dare to teach boxing boldly and therefore could only secretly teach at night behind closed doors. There was no electric light at Master Li’s house so we would light kerosene lamps and candles to practice. A few years later, after Chairman Mao died on September 9, 1976, in order to commemorate Chairman Mao’s teaching: « do gymnastics, play ball games, run, climb mountains, swim, and practice taijiquan« , I started to train taijiquan even more seriously. I took the ritual to become Master Li’s disciple the same year. After the ritual, Master Li’s teaching was very strict. One movement needed to be practiced for about half a month – learning a whole routine took about a year to complete. Eyes, hands, body flow, footwork as well as the principle of “coordinating three elements both internally and externally”[xv]. Master Li often said: « You should be able to endure what ordinary people cannot. You should shed the sweat that ordinary people don’t. You have to achieve what ordinary people can’t. Only this way can you get better results than most people. » That is, only through bitterness can we have sweetness.

Before I talk about the internal work and mind skill, I should first talk about body movements requirements for the internal work. For each action, the body should move according to the following essentials: shrink the ribcage and straighten the back (含胸拔背), loosen the shoulder and drop the elbow (松肩坠肘), lift up the head and push forward the pelvis (提顶吊裆), wrap up (secure) the crotch and protect the stomach (裹裆护肫). This body structure constitutes the basic requirement to perform the three-external coordination (外三合), that is: hand coordinated with foot, elbow with knee and shoulder with hip. Reaching progressively these requirements, the practitioner can then focus on the three-internal coordination (内三合), that is spirit (神) coordinated with intention (意), intention with qi (气) and qi with physical force (力). Internal skill is the focus point of traditional taijiquan. The main goal is not to achieve esthetical appearance and beauty, but to develop internal abilities: stepping on the ground like a tree growing its roots, training muscles and bone power to the fullest, training to activate qi flow in the dantian area.[xvi] The theoretical framework of the training of internal skills as it has been transmitted in the Wu lineage includes the five characters formulas: 1. calm mind (心静); 2. body fluidity (身灵); 3. deep breathing (气敛); 4. overall power (劲整); 5. spirit focus (神聚). This theory also includes Li Yiyu’s (李亦余) secret formula in four characters: hold in balance (擎), lead (引), relax (松), let out (放); as well as the Wu Yuxiang’s four-characters secret formula forbidden to transmit: feel (敷), cover (盖), face off (对), swallow (吞), which is a way to translate with words processes related to qi. I inherited the previous generations’ teachings: “It is impossible to know without many years of oral transmission and body education…”

There are many sets of exercises in Wu Family taijiquan. There is a total of 18 training routines including the first median frame set (一路中捋架), the second explosive set (二路炮锤), the third small frame set (三路小架). Then, there are taiji sword (太极剑), taiji broadsword (太极刀), taiji pole (太极杆), first and second sets of pole (一路杆二路杆), first and second sets of pole combat (一路二路对练杆), four poles combat (四杆对练), four broadswords combat (四刀对练), broadsword versus sword combat (刀剑对练), thrust pole (通杆), stick pole (宾杆), tumble pole (摔杆), pushing hands without steps (定步推手) and pushing hands while moving (活步推手) as well as static stances exercises (桩功). Every routine has very strict requirements to apply when performing. As the previous generations said: « Weapons are extensions of barehand routines ». In Wu family taijiquan, weapons and barehand technics stem from the same principles. Routines and push hand exercises also stem from the same principles. Routines serve as training to develop basic skills for pushing hands. Pushing hands is a process to verify whether boxing skills and body flow are correct. I followed my master for almost 20 years to complete the training of all routines. From 1995 to 2007, I have been actively publishing this content in various specialized journals such as: Wudang Journal, Wuhun Journal, Boxing Journal, Jingwu Journal. I also published a monograph with the People Sport Press as well as a VCD with Guangzhou Qiao Jiaren Film Company. I also participated in the DVD series (Chinese Martial Arts Collection) combined and published by the Chinese Wushu Federation and the National Sport Administration.

Although the series of routines have been published in various forms, it requires a teaching method through language and body in order to grasp the essence of the internal skills and mental abilities. Therefore, I’ve accepted nearly 200 disciples. I hope that I can transmit to my disciples the essence of taijiquan and that they will eventually get better than me. Our goal is neither to perform nor to compete, but to avoid the loss of Chinese Traditional Martial Arts culture. We will carry forward the cultural heritage of our ancestors.

 

This contribution was reviewed by Sylvia Trieu & Sun Jianguo.

Pierrick Porchet «The locally rooted transmission of Wu Family taijiquan: Seminar on « Internal skills and Mind Process ». In Blog Scientifique de l’Institut Confucius, Université de Genève. Lien permanent: https://ic.unige.ch/?p=1398, consulté le 05/25/2024.

 

References

[i] http://www.shukanbaoxw.com/a/6/72/1040.html (last access: 16.03.2021). The content of the meeting was recorded through hand notes by Pierrick Porchet, then edited by Sun Jianguo and finally translated and edited by Sylvia Trieu.

[ii] De Grave, Jean-Marc. « L’initiation rituelle javanaise et ses modes de transmission : Opposition entre javanisme et islam ». Techniques & Culture [En ligne] 4849 (2007): 128. Patrikova, Veronika, et George Jennings. « The Kung Fu Family: A metaphor of belonging across time and place ». Revista de Artes Marciales Asiaticas 13, no 1 (2018): 3552. Judkins, Benjamin, et Jon Nielson. The Creation of Wing Chun: A Social History of the Southern Chinese Martial Arts. State University of New York Press. Albany, 2015. Zhang, Guodong, Thomas A. Green, et Carlos Gutierrez-Garcia. « Rural Community, Group Identity and Martial Arts: Social Foundation of Meihuaquan ». Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology 16, no 1 (2016): 1829. 吕韶均, et 张维凯. « 民间习武武共同体的提出及其社会文化基础 ». 北京体育大学学报 36, no 9 (2013): 48. 吕韶均, 李向阳, et 彭芳. « 非物质文化遗产传承人群体的“关系”研究:基于民间习武共同体的“关系”建构及维系机制研究 ». 民俗研究 3 (2020): 5362. 张兴宇. « 从梅花拳“拜师礼“看近现代华北村落中礼俗互动 ». 文化遗产 4 (2018): 11321. 龚茂富. « 民俗生活中民间武术的权力实践与狂欢精神 ». 成都体育学院学报 1 (2017). 龚茂富. 中国民间武术生存现状及传播方式研究. 人民体育出版社. 北京, 2012.

[iii] Hobsbawm, Eric, et Terrence Ranger, éd. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge University Press., 1983. p. 1.

[iv] Wile, Douglas. Lost T’ai-chi classics from the late Ch’ing dynasty. University of New York Press. Albany: State, 1996.

[v] Trémon, Anne-Christine. « Que faire du couple local/global ? Pour une anthropologie pleinement processuelle ». Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 20, no 3 (s. d.): 25066. p.250 (translated by the author)

[vi] Porchet, Pierrick. « Processus d’adaptation des pratiques martiales chinoises au Sport de compétition: L’exemple du style baji ». TSANTSA 23 (2018): 11520. Porchet, Pierrick. « The transmission modes of taijiquan: Traditional martial art, competitive sport and the political reappropriation of culture in modern China». In Fan Hong et Lu Zhouxiang. The Routledge Handbook of Sport in Asia. Routledge. London, 2020. pp. 45-53

[vii] The notion of external martial arts (as opposed to internal martial arts) is a normative category used by Chinese martial artists to sort out the numerous styles into two main categories, namely internal and external. This distinction is based on technical particularities and especially the body mechanics involved in the production of striking power. For an account of the historical origin of this notion, see: Shahar, Meir. « Ming-Period Evidence of Shaolin Martial Practice ». Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 61, no 2 (2001): 359413. p.366

[viii] This exercise can be translated by standing 站 like a stake 桩. It is a common exercise in several branches of taijiquan as well as other Chinese traditional calisthenics. It consists of standing still in a specific body posture which allows the practitioner to develop her/his internal energy.

[ix] Qi (气) etymologically refers to the steam produced by boiling rice. In Chinese martial arts, it represents an energy that flows in the world and the practitioner’s body. Dantian (丹田) is an internal area of the body, situated around 10cm below the navel.

[x] A standardized and simplified routine created under the supervision of the National Sport Administration in 1956.

[xi] 大众太极拳. In this context, the notion should be understood as the kind of practices that can be observed in parks around China, where the focus is toward health and community building rather than martial abilities like the Wu Family.

[xii] 桩功 :  This notion refers the abilities developed through various type of zhanzhuang introduced earlier in Lü Wenxian discourse.

[xiii] Push Hands (推手) refers to an exercise where two practitioners try to unbalanced the opponent by pushing hand on hand.

[xiv] The first Wu (武) is the one that Sun Jianguo belongs to. The second Wu (吴) is an homophone but refers to the lineage of Wu Jianquan (1870-1942).

[xv] 内外三合 : this notion will be presented in details in the part of Sun’s discourse.