Chen Bing Seminar 2019

As any martial artist can tell you, one can only progress in their training if they are actually training!  However, seminars such as the Chen Taiji Seminar led by Master Chen Bing can be quite vital to one’s progression.  Master Zhichao Ling owner and head teacher of Master Ling’s Oriental Martial Arts (based in Noblesville, IN) hosts this event each year.  They are in their year of putting on these events, and as a student who has been to each of these events, I can honestly tell you that my appreciation of taiji (and Chen form in particular) has grown exponentially afterwards.  However, my understanding and martial arts growth only happens when I actually train in these lessons upon my return.

I write this to note that you only get out what you put into any seminar.  And in this seminar there is a wealth of knowledge.  Students who are interested in taiji for the martial arts applications, meditation, flexibility, strength, and form can get what they seek from the seminar.  This recent event (May 17 – 19) was three days of training.  Friday was training with swords.  Saturday was Chen form.  We learned the He Xie form.  The following day was martial arts application.  

I came to tai chi roughly 9 years ago from an external background.  I had trained in Karate, Ninpo Taijutsu, and Judo.  I took tai chi to gain more experience in an internal martial art, plus I knew it was a good way to calm the mind (which I really needed at that point in my life).  With my sifu, Ray Shonk, I was able to learn more about moving from within to explodingoutward.  I was able to strengthen my balance and, probably best of all, I was able to manage my vertigo issues that I have been battling for years.  So, after nine years, I wasn’t a novice to tai chi, but no matter whether one is a novice or a veteran of tai chi, there was something for everyone to study and practice.    

Most of Saturday was spent training in the He Xie form.  Roughly six hours of standing on one’s feet and moving, only to restart all over again allowed for us to focus on how our body was moving.  Concept such as “being heavy” and “keeping the joints open” were focused on and we learned how our bodies felt while we were in an “open” state or a “closed” state.  After being on one’s feet for that long, and holding postures for minutes on end while Master Chen Bing corrected how we stood, really took a toll on our feet, but this was (in my opinion) one of the most rewarding parts of the seminar.  

Sunday was martial application day!  This day was probably one of the most fun simply because the group that I went with (Quest Fitness, of course) is all about application.  Learning how to use the He Xie form to defend against punches, how to parry, and ward off were all interesting since our training is a little different from this.  

All in all, direct transmission from a descendant of the famed Chen family was an honor.  With this being my third time attending these seminars I knew that the energy from these events come from the practitioners who are learning.  Every time I go to Master Ling’s Oriental Martial Arts, I feel like I am coming to a second home.  The people there are so welcoming and the conversations are enriching.  These are the times where I learn that tai chi means different things to different people.  This is something that Master Chen Bing knows all too well, and it is evident in the structure of the seminar.  

So to anyone interested, I would wholeheartedly recommend this event.  For as long as Dr. Ling and Master Chen Bing put these seminars on, you will see me there.  I hope to see you there, as well.

By Gerald Browning

World Tai Chi Day 2018

April 28, 2018, is World Tai Chi Day, and to celebrate we are opening Quest Fitness to the public for a one-day free tai chi demo and seminar starting at 8AM. You will get to see some of our instructors and students performing different styles of tai chi, the martial applications of tai chi as well as the meditative properties of tai chi. Snacks and beverages will be provided. I really, really hope that you make time to experience the ancient art of tai chi with us at Quest Fitness.

Have questions? Contact us.

Great Things Happening at Quest Fitness

There have been a lot of changes going on here at Quest Fitness, with our new trainer, Erica, adding massage therapy with Margaret, and evening yoga class with Danni. The newest feature we are adding in is the ability to schedule online through Schedulicity. With this feature you’re able to schedule or reschedule appointments online or through the free app at your convenience. You are still welcome to contact us with any of your questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to continuing to offer our professional personal training, massage therapy and group classes.

What Is Tai Chi

Taijiquan (or tai chi) can be many things to many people. For some it is an exercise, for some it is a meditation and others it is a form of self defense. However when you continue to practice and reach a higher level of training, the above reasons lose their importance. At this time, you need to find the real meaning of your practice or you may become satisfied with your training and lose your enthusiasm for the art. You must start to wonder what is the meaning of this meditative martial art? Daoist practitioners use tai chi in their strive to become immortal where many non-religious practitioners used tai chi to gain a peaceful mind and reinvigorate their lives.

What you need to understand is that Taijiquan emphasizes meditation both in your stillness and your movement. Practitioners like a Buddhist priest trains himself in this meditation to be calm and concentrated. In your training, it is possible for you to achieve a sense of peace and centeredness that will allow you to judge things and events in a neutral way without any emotional disturbance. When you can truly calm and clear your mind, the spiritual side will start to open up. You’ll start to see things more deeply. As a practitioner’s skill increases, they may be able to sense a person’s intentions before they are expressed and you become more capable at looking deeply into people and events in a non-martial way, as well. In the past, many martial art masters were considered wise man and were consulted for their insight into the meaning of human life this world and the universe. Because of their training they learn to live in the world without confusion or doubt and find peace and happiness and all of this comes through meditation and continuous pondering.

In your practice and meditation, you need to concentrate your whole attention in order to develop the higher levels of the art. This concentration and dedication will carry over to the rest of your life and the strive for perfection becomes the real meaning of Taijiquan.

Have questions? Contact us.

Ready to take your own calisthenic quest?

The Truth In My Fitness

I get a lot of comments on photos and articles that I post claiming that, of course I can do the things that I do because I’ve been fit my entire life. But, I can tell you that is not true. In high school, and my much younger years, I was very active and outdoorsy and constantly exercising, but there was a point in which I fell out of it, and through a good portion of my 20’s I was completely off the fitness bandwagon and started putting on a bit of weight and body fat. I came back onto the fitness scene with studying Taijiquan, and not long after I got into weight training. My primary goal, at first, was to start losing that weight that I had put on. And it was a struggle a lot of ups and downs in my diet anger over not seeing results right away and wanting to give up on more than one occasion. But with a lot of hard work, and a few years of busting my butt, I lost about 20 pounds. At this time I was doing a combination of weight training as well as calisthenics. And when I was doing this calisthenic training I will tell you firsthand that I could not do one single pull-up. After continuing to work for a few more years those pull-ups started coming along as well as hitting those crazy numbers on push-ups. It is honestly been within the last four years that I’ve become more calisthenic focused and it’s not because I dislike lifting weights. It was because I found calisthenics just work better for me. Now looking at some of the crazier calisthenic moves that I’ve been doing I want you to keep in mind that for a lot of those I train for well over six months just to do it for the first time and in some cases it took close to a year just to get it for the first time. So what I’m really trying to say is that this was all achieved through hard work not something that I have always been able to do I’m still striving for new goals just like everyone else, I even continue to watch my eating habits. If you have a goal you need to push for it and there will be ups and downs, but there are people out there that are more than willing to support you towards your goal.

Have questions? Contact me.

Get info on my up coming book.

Internal Martial Arts & Calisthenics

Like a lot of people, I started martial arts training in an external martial art such as Muay Thai, and weight training worked great for excelling in that art. I got stronger and hit harder. Now, there is nothing wrong with external martial arts, I respect each art, but they were not for me and I didn’t realize this until my 20’s.

After a small hiatus, and watching late night Kung Fu movies, I gave Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) a try. The art fascinated me with its flowing movement and hidden power. I had to reverse all of my study, and focus on my internal self. I picked up on the weight training and noticed the weight training actually hindered my movement. In the last few years I dropped the weights and went to calisthenics. My movement, quickly improved. But I didn’t really pay attention to the change.

Recently, I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, a Grand Master in Yang Style Taijiquan, and after his lectures and expectations of movements, it clicked! Calisthenics is extremely beneficial to internal martial arts. Let’s look at the meaning of calisthenics, exercise to achieve fitness and grace of movement. In TaijiquanTaijiquan you need to have every part of your body to flow as one, calisthenics teaches full body control. This is a beautiful match to improve your internal martial art performance. I would never say you should give up your weight training if that is what you love to do, just make sure your training matches what your current goal is.

 

See my story here.

Have questions? Contact me.

Martial Art Training Program 

I’m currently working on a martial art training program.

This will be a 3-phase-program focusing on stability, flexibility, speed, agility and power.

The main focus will be for Tai Chi but could be used in other martial training. The program will also be focused on calisthenics over weight training so minimal equipment will be required.
Each phase will be published separately. The release date is yet to be determined.

Have Questions? Contact Me.

Want to see how I’ve progress? My Fitness Journey.

Taijiquan or Tai Chi Chuan

Quest Fitness Personal Gym | Grand Rapids, MI
Ray and student practicing martial arts

Tai Chi Chuan in an ancient martial art that can be traced back hundreds of years to Chen Village where, for a long time, the teachings were secret and only taught to members of the Chen Family.

In the 1800’s, Chen Chang-Xing taught art to the first outsider, Yang Lu-Chan. Yang Lu-Chan was responsible for developing the Yang style of Tai Chi and was called Yang the Invincible.

Tai Chi Chuan was originally developed as a martial art but over the years has also been found to have many healing properties such as aiding in cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance. It has also been known to help with high blood pressure, stress, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and respiratory ailments. The slow paced low impact workout helps build strength in the legs and core muscles, as well as the stabilizing muscles.

The martial applications of the styles are taught through an exercise called Push Hands. Push Hands trains the student by improving the understanding of forces, balance, intentions and Qi involved in practice with a partner.