More thoughts on the future of Chinese martial arts

10 Feb

I have written before about the difficulties in organizing truth, and thus how over organization can actually cripple martial arts practice. With all that being said, Chinese martial arts in general has an appalling lack of organization and in my experience is in fact a reason why it has had problem producing quality students.


I consider myself lucky that my first formal martial arts training was under the late Pong Ki Kim. He taught Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo and Sin Moo Hapkido with (often unacknowledged) influences from Praying Mantis kung fu that he had also studied. Korean martial arts are less structured than Japanese training, yet compared to Chinese martial arts they are highly structured. We had ranks, set material for each rank, set warm ups, set class structures, rotating curriculum, etc.

Again, as I have already stated previously, when I entered Chinese martial arts I found a lot of good teachers and a lot of good technique. But I found almost no organization. I heard about Taiwan’s “Tang Shou Tao” but it only influenced me conceptually, since I did not have access to anyone directly from the lineage. I still recommend that anyone interested in organizing traditional Chinese martial arts follow Tang Shou Tao people like Mike Patterson (

public class

When I became responsible for Chan Tai-San’s public classes, my experience teaching Taekwondo was a template. I also had the “luxury” of spending a lot of time with Sifu Chan, slowly teasing out more drills and ideas from him. Which, however I must note, a casual student would not have gotten access to. In fact, certain people who studied with Chan Tai-San NEVER got the basic drills form him!


Though admittedly a “loose structure” (which I have explained vis-a-vie my thoughts on “truth” previously), having at least some structure allowed me to effectively cross train. I cross trained to “flesh out” areas that required it. Or I cross training to give me different perspectives, different drills, etc on existing material. Thus, it was an “outline” that helped me in my training.

Learn more about Lion’s Roar Martial Arts (click here)


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