Training in Ziranmen an interview with Rudy Ibarra

1. Can you give a resume of why you first started martial arts, what motivated you? Since about age eight, I had been fascinated with the Hong Kong movies playing on the "Sunday Kung Fu Matinee", but what really did it was the television series "Kung Fu". Not only was the protagonist able to defend himself at incredible odds, but he and his master said profound things that really struck a cord in me, of course later I learned it was all from Buddhist, Daoist and Asian philosophy.

Another cord that was literally struck happened when my parents made the decision to move from a tranquil rural community to the inner city at the beginning of my junior high years to find work. Within my own country this was a culture shock. I saw older kids being held back three years, I saw bullies, I saw gangs and I saw fights. This made a deep and a few times even painful impression on me. Having only two older sisters, a pacifist father who had never allowed me to play with even toy guns and the fact that this would be the fifth place I would live in, I had never learned to fight. So now the practical reason for learning martial arts was driven home and I decided at that time that I definitely had to learn martial arts not only for its artistry and philosophy, but more importantly to learn how to fight and defend myself. I had begged my parents yearly but because of the cost and the violence concern, they had constantly refused. Eventually at age sixteen I was able to get both a higher paying summer job and find a school that was actually walking distance from my home.

Has the reason changed after these years of training? Something interesting happened when I began training, after having spent most of my young life as a "visual artist" who hated sports, I discovered my body. I found it immensely cathartic and freeing at the same time so I trained everyday! Another benefit was that I started meeting people with whom I had common interests and through them I heard of remarkable people, which led me to travel to incredible places. I then became interested in martial art roots and history which led to an interest in general Asian history which led to Asian philosophy and religion which led to Chinese literature study which then led to language study so I could talk to masters without translators which in turn led to more martial arts! Eventually what had me continue was not only the practical idea of improving my fighting skills or the romantic idea of following traditions and going through training and motions that someone did 500 years ago, but what I got from it in terms of mind, body and spirit. Of course the deeper one goes the more one finds so personally this makes my entire Chinese martial art experience much more culturally enriching for me.

2. What was special about your first meeting with Master Lu that made you want to become his student? Master Lu Yaoqin lives in the Fuzhou City Hutongs (ancient type housing). I was led to his office where he sat surrounded by weapons and photos of his school and his teacher, the famous Wan Laisheng. He was slim, 5'7", wore dress shoes, slacks and the typical Chinese short sleeve collar shirt (Lacross). He looked almost fifty. No bulging muscles, calloused knuckles, swollen hands, furrowed brow or any other sign he was a martial artist. He did not stand and he remained very serious during our interview. I asked general questions about his school and his teacher and he asked about my training. Then came the moment I knew would come, when he asked me to demonstrate. I tried to politely decline but he insisted. So I got up and began the first Ziran Men form of Ying Yong Quan. After my demonstration there was a moment of silence, then he spoke and said it resembled his Ziran Men a tiny bit. He said mine looked more like a version of a hard Long Fist style. He then stood up and said he would execute the same form slowly, so I could see the differences more clearly. My companion and I stood shocked. The biggest difference was that he shrank so small and then expanded so large. It wasnt just using the "Yao" (lower back connected with waist) but using all from the ground to knees to waist to lower back to upper back to shoulders! There were truly no arms in his movements; it all came from his lower back and spine! He brought to life every single thing I had ever read or heard about Ziran Men and Wan Laisheng! He explained a few of the other differences in his art as we continued listening in shock. As I had planned from the beginning of this trip to the south, I asked about the possibility of coming from Beijing to train with him (even while knowing that new students usually required a formal introduction as opposed to the quick phone introduction from the Fujian Martial Art Federation). After he thought a bit, he explained that because I had been studying a "version" of his art for so many years, had come from the other side of the world and was learning his countries language, he would agree to teach me, if I returned. In case I decided not to return, he invited me to write or call with any questions concerning Ziran Men. In this he was very different from the other teachers I had met and demonstrated for around China. He did not try to convince me of how great he was or talk of lineage holding and he didn't go on about how incorrect I was or how very necessary it was for me to study with him! As we were preparing to thank him and leave (I was still in shock), my companion asked politely if he would mind giving me an introductory class. He agreed and we set the time for that night at 8pm.

The first thing he asked was if I presently trained Nei Quan Shou. To his surprise I didn't know what that was. He explained it was the first and most important Nei Gong practice in Ziran Men, to cultivate Qi, work Yi, improve blood circulation, create the feeling of whole body unity, make ones eyes clear and sharp and basically what made our initial "external" looking forms, internal. It was basically our Zhan Zhuang or pile stance qi gong. The difference is our pile stance is not a stance, it is slow motion stepping where every joint is rotating, turning or bending slightly, arms moving in circles, while you also simultaneously step in a circle. At first glance people confuse it with Ba Gua Zhang for its circular stepping or Taiji for its slow speed. Like those two arts, Ziran Men is also linked in Daoist traditions. Many people have heard about the circular stepping meditations of the Daoist monks that Ba Gua incorporated within its practiced. Ziran Men also has its version.

The second thing Shifu Lu Yaoqin taught was an external to internal "Shen Fa" (body method, biomechanics) exercise that worked the inter-coordination of the entire body, rooting and structure, awareness of the center, expansion-contraction of body, substantiality and insubstantiality and Yi (Intention).

The third thing he taught was how to punch with the entire body for explosiveness and snap. This was one of the direct applications of the previous exercise. The entire body moves in circles that start big and get smaller. This was the first time I had seen a traditional Chinese art use this type of punch. From a distance it almost resembles a boxer's punch but far from it. It uses the entire torso in both horizontal and vertical movement. Another difference was that when Ziran Men boxers punch they also always cover with the other arm and this cover easily becomes another punch, deflection or other appropriate move. So, as far as the rumors that Ziran Men has only Nei Gong and Ji Ji Fa (combat methods), this is somewhat true at the beginning and advanced levels of training. In other words elder Gong Fu brothers worked forms as much as combat and Nei Gong at the intermediate level where as my teacher at his advanced level and I at a beginner level concentrated more on Nei Gong and basic Combat related drills. After class I was soaked in sweat and had an extremely comfortable and energized feeling all over my body. Before he left he told me that if I was still in Fuzhou the next night, I was welcomed to come by again. Of course the next night I was still in Fuzhou.

The second night he checked and corrected the previous night's lesson. His correction method was impeccable. He was very patient and if I didn't understand something he was able to break it down until I was able to understand. When that was over, he asked what form I liked and wanted to work. Thinking myself too advanced for the first form, I asked for the second form. So then he had me re-start what I had previously learned and in every move he added much more body work (expansion and contraction of the torso) and waist work (horizontal rotation) to maximize power. Every movement became full, meaning intention in everything, especially transitions, what happened in between moves, which were very important in Ziran Men. After the first six moves I was mentally and physically exhausted, meaning my mind could not absorb everything and my body could not endure the pain of the postures. I stopped the class, apologized for my ignorance and over eagerness and asked him to start at the very beginning with the first form. He smiled for the first time and re-taught me the entire first form, which only has 12 techniques. Once again I was in total awestruck! I had heard "More Body!" and other martial poems on how one should move while practicing Chinese Martial arts many times before, but Shifu Lu Yaoqin not only spoke of it and demonstrated it, but he also taught exactly HOW to move in this way. He explained teaching this was especially important in the beginning stage so one would understand not only how but also why and the method to instill and allow it to become natural. This led to him explaining the concept of "Bu Ziran Dao Ziran", from the un-natural and un-spontaneous to the natural and spontaneous. After my second class, as a parting gift, he gave me a copy of the very rare 1928 reprint of Wan Lai Sheng's book, "Wu Shu Hui Zhong" (The Common Basis of Martial Arts) which was a treasure I had been seeking for years, out of print since the 80's. He then wished me well and once again reminded me whether I returned or not, not to hesitate to call or write with any questions.

Can you describe his special skills, and some story of your time with him? Training with Master Lu Yaoqin is always intense. He lectures, he explains, he corrects, he leaves no stone left unturned. If something is difficult to grasp he breaks it down. If still not understood he will break it down even further. Nothing is just "Higher! Faster! or More Body!" He teaches exactly how and why your doing something. As he says, Gong Fu has to train your entire body and mind, otherwise you�re not doing anything except moving your limbs around. Once as he was demonstrating a movement from a two-man form, one of my Gong Fu brothers asked if it was similar to a certain fighting drill we had been practicing the night before and Master Lu Yaoqin paused. Other students who were working on different things came over as he began to give a lecture about form and combat being complimentary and how the forms, two man forms, weapon and combat training are and must be connected and similar. Even our Nei Gong has similarities to everything else we do. Master Lu Yaoqin explained that because Ziran Men was not an empty art for beauty sake, what we were working on was an internal to external connection and natural feeling that eventually becomes completely spontaneous. So the answer to the student was�Yes, the two man form is and had better be similar to the hand drill, not only in theory but in practice, otherwise we were wasting our time. Everything in the art is connected. He had heard of certain new styles in the west that had discarded forms in their training and he explained that the way certain styles practice their forms, they may as well discard them, because they were really getting nothing out of them. Robotic heavy vulgar moves or empty flowery moves were really not going to train one for internal health, strength and conditioning of body or combat. He reminded us forms traditionally were much more than just a glossary of offensive and defensive fighting techniques. Contained within are also methods of strengthening, balancing, coordinating, internal exercises, strategies, principles and training ones force.

On one night instructing us in combat and observing us sparring back and forth, Master Lu Yaoqin stopped us and began to give a lecture on the Ziran Men theory of being "no beginning or end of movement, no beginning or end of stillness and no beginning or end of changes". To demonstrate he, for the first time, started sparring with one of the taller disciples. I had seen him demonstrate beautiful forms, single applications (where I felt the pain!) and even linked combat techniques during instruction, but never had I seen him just go at it with someone else. Once again, this somewhat slim, 54 year old, average looking mans eyes flashed with spirit and intensity and he began to shrink, expand, sink and at the same time move as if he was floating around so nimbly! Master Lu Yaoqin totally coordinated with the disciple, constantly changing hand formations, body distance and height, not only to match the disciple's attacks but also his pre-attack or post attack. The disciple tried to attack but before he could launch anything or as he recovered after trying something, Master Lu Yaoqin was there right on him! It was spectacular! A moment later he suddenly stopped and we were all spellbound. Master Lu Yaoqin continued the lecture explaining he had demonstrated to show how the hands changed, foot work changed, distance changed, body height changed but his Yi (intention) stayed constant. He kept coordination with the opponent and never allowed him an opening. Once again he brought to life everything I had ever read or heard about Ziran Men and Wan Laisheng.

3. Do you think the old relationship of master-disciple has a place in modern world, what does it mean to you, and being a teacher what do you try to convey of the tradition? I believe the relationship of master-disciple definitely has a place in the modern world. Next to parents it has always been the closest type of relationship in Asia and as traditional martial arts traveled abroad so did the relationship. It's through this relationship that our precious arts are transmitted and handed down. And similar to parents, there is care, trust and a general feeling of family - a feeling of belonging and/or being part of something. So like nurturing parents, your Master knows your strengths and weaknesses and strives to build you up, physically and mentally. On the flip side, like abusive parents, there are also abusive masters as well, those through secrecy and withholding, make sure their students never outgrow or surpass them in skill.

Also like family, this is a reciprocal relationship. On the disciple side of the equation, like a son or daughter we help with money, time and other ways of assistance, especially as the Master ages. But as disciples we also do more because through us similar to parents, masters see a continuation of their school's legacy, name, and they understand they make a difference and a mark on the world. I've seen this relationship with many other friends and their masters in various styles, most of them never having gone or trained in China. How many people actually go back to see a coach or a teacher? I go see my Master every year and in recent visits he has tried to refuse my tuition for instruction. However, in the big picture, I see it as he is helping my life and passion for martial arts by sharing his hard earned lifelong art with me, so the least I can do is attempt to help his life anyway I can.

Some martial arts teachers turn their passion and art into a full time occupation, which, in turn, forces them to rely on their students in order to pay for rent, bills, and in general, make a living. However, all the money, gifts, begging, and waiting out in the rain is not going to make a difference so long as one's Master refuses to teach him the "good stuff" and the traditional master-disciple trusting relationship is simply not present. I try to convey this tradition, not in a cult-like elitist and exclusive manner, but rather in a form that instills an appreciation of the art. It is very important to me to make sure that students understand this thing we train in everyday for health, self defense, and artistic expression is handed down through a long line of people to get to the student. Therefore, the students know that they are a part of a rich history and tradition and that they are the inheritors of this tradition today.

4. Can you describe Ziran Men training methods you have undergone, and the challenges of these? With Master Lu Yaoqin, we worked three things everyday, Nei Gong, Taolu (Form) and Jiji Fa (combat). Never before had I seen these three elements complement and supplement each other so harmoniously. There is a direct relationship between the healthful, artistic and combative aspect that I had never felt before. Not only do the theories, principles and the way in which we train them link the three, but as mentioned they even physically appear similar!

There are three "outer" requirements in Ziran Men training. The first is, Ruan Gong, Soft and Flexible skill. To be very flexible with your entire body, particularly your legs, basically to be able to go into and out of whatever position is required at that time such as being able to put your legs anywhere on the opponent. Master Lu Yaoqin demonstrated this by executing a "heart center" kick to a student standing less than an arm's distance away, his knee came up and the foot popped upwards an inch from the side of his jaw and then snapped it back down as if nothing happened. Stretching everyday and relaxation techniques works this aspect.

The second is Ying Gong, Hard Skill. This is the necessary ability to strike the opponent so he really feels it while having the ability of being able to take his strikes. This is slowly developed through two man contact drills and Pai Da Gong which are conditioning practices where one develops external force and special skills through the use of unique equipment such as sandbags, bamboo, iron balls, iron arm rings, and wooden post. These practices are designed to strengthen the ligaments and bones for striking and are done very softly and repetitively without the use of hard force.

About Ruan and Ying Gong, Master Lu Yaoqin says in the old days everyone had a special skill that would take hours of everyday and years to develop. In these modern times, only a basic level is required so half an hour everyday on each is enough. He also commented on how certain schools mistakenly take one or the other to extremes. For example a certain teacher that refrains from exertion or teachers of styles that over condition parts of the body to the point of deformity.

The third outer requirement is Qing Gong. Light and Agile skill. It consists of practices to work lightness, agility, coordination, and smoothness, which includes Ziran Men's very important body method and stepping method exercises. Qing Gong is also developed with the use of forms, fighting drills and sparring. Qing Gong is so when an opponent strikes not only are you not there but you have already naturally counter attacked. As martial artist, this of the three outer skills we want an advanced level of. If half an hour a day of Ruan Gong and Ying Gong is sufficient, Qing Gong one should work everyday for the longest time of at least two hours.

As for the challenges, I think the first of the training method challenges would be physical Pain. Pain one will get from initial Ziran Men training until whatever weakness is strengthened and developed, whether its arms, upper body, waist or leg work. For example, after more than a decade studying martial arts I had my leg basics down from the deep stance work training most Chinese styles have, but I had never felt the soreness in the lats, the upper back and the shoulders that lasted for a few months. There were days when I couldn't pick up my chopsticks. For another student who hadn't done as much stance work, his primary issue was stance work and it was killing him. Sometimes the pain involved endurance, for example doing whatever form three or four times in a row with no break on Master Lu Yaoqin's count was a daily routine.

Another challenge would be Patience. Patience to do the same form, weapon, two-man set, fighting drill or Pai Da Gong (Conditioning) until you derived what you were supposed to derive from it. Master Lu Yaoqin always set a goal for you and was looking for specific results or an acquired level of understanding and naturalness when he taught and corrected. When it comes to correcting and taking one to the next level he is relentless and never gets tired of telling and showing you the same thing. And you do the same thing until your almost sick of it. There were many times when I thought I would never move on from a form or drill and just when I was sick of doing it and even dreaming about it in my sleep, Master Lu Yaoqin would say, "At a basic level you have it, but you must continue training it." Then he would start teaching me the next thing. Unlike the compliments I received in Beijing, Master Lu Yaoqin rarely gives them.

Next on the list would be correcting previously trained bad habits and being receptive to them. Entire sets, fighting techniques and even certain basics like Pu Bu, had to be forgotten and relearned. Many a night Master Lu would ask me to demonstrate something previously learned and afterwards tell me to forget it and we would start new. This happened in combat, forms and Nei Gong. For example, in Shen Fa, discovering, studying and instilling natural instinctive motion as part of my body method, getting rid of tension and self resistance, and allowing it to become totally natural.

Another challenge would be our very important Nei Gong work. Our basic and most important is Nei Quan Shou, Inner Circling Hand. First was the initial pain of the low posture with the relaxation of the upper body. Next came the repetition of the same step and circling hand motion. And last the complete focus of intention and mind that starts off with a couple minutes and by adding another minute every few days ends up at the eventual goal of at least one hour. The amazing thing was Master Lu Yaoqin would always know when I hadn't practice Nei Quan Shou. He usually would start off, "your body seems extra tight", or "you look very heavy today, did you practice Nei Quan Shou this morning?" Every time he was right that I hadn't.

Of course another difficulty was Language. There are five tones in Mandarin Chinese (including the neutral tone)! If your tone is off you may be saying light instead of stool or horse instead of mother. My Chinese had been sufficient for basic Gong Fu instruction but in Ziran Men, I had to learn a completely different language of movements and theories. So besides my morning class at the university, I was studying in the afternoons and hanging out on the weekends with my Chinese friends.

What has been the big change in your body and mind after this? Certain physical changes happened as I trained with Master Lu Yaoqin. First there was the feeling of "Chen", a rooting and sinking which created a strong structure to move from. The feeling not only was in low stances, but in high stances and during movement as well. This was a direct product of our Nei Quan Shou nei gong practice, correction of the joint positions called Nei Kou (closing of the joints) typical of internal arts, proper alignment of the spine and correct postures in forms and drills.

Another was the feeling of the outer "Liu He" or Six Harmony, which means shoulder goes with the hip, elbow goes with the knee and hand goes with the foot. This was basically coordination in the entire body. One has to unify every single part of the body, so when one part moves, every part moves and when one part stops every part stops.

Then there was the "Shen Fa" or body method that changed. This one is almost one of Ziran Men's trademarks. Just about every Wan Laisheng disciple, no matter how different they look, has incredible movement in the spine. This was the understanding of Ziran Men's Tun (contracting), Tu (expanding), Fu (floating), and Chen (sinking), which trained the body to react naturally and correctly to offensive and defensive situations and work with ones body's natural instinctive movement. It is a type of "in and out", "now you see me, now you don't" body method which basically was the ability to reach your opponent while he cannot reach you.

Another major change was the new found Bu Fa or footwork. This was a very important aspect of Ziran Men. As far as I've seen, only Ba Gua Zhang gives as much attention to foot work having as many drills and patterns that work stability, agility and speed. The first nei gong Nei Quan Shou has low stepping. The first non-contact partner drill has circular stepping. The first contact partner drill has linear stepping. The first sparring drills have angular stepping and so on and so forth and all have different levels to them.

The last major change to mention was what I derived from Ziran Men's major "Ying Gong" (hard skill) practice of Pai Da Gong or conditioning. Pai Da Gong are intermediate level practices where one develops penetrating force, works on ability to withstand strikes and other special skills through the use of unique equipment such as sandbags, iron bags, bamboo, iron balls, iron arm rings, posts and rounded blocks of wood. When practicing Pai Da Gong, one simultaneously practices nei gong. Once again, as in combat, all the principles of our "Nei Quan Shou" are used during conditioning as well. Intention, breathing and rooting all are involved. These practices are done very softly and repetitively without the use of hard force are designed to strengthen the ligaments, tendons and bones for striking. After returning from China, my longtime sparring partner and Gong Fu brother, Pedro Martinez, confirmed that my body seemed heavier and harder on contact, particularly when our arms connected.

Mentally I see Ziran Men theory and principles in everything now. I read a Tai Ji, Ba Gua, Xing Yi, Ba Ji or Chang Jia classic, and I see mostly Ziran Men and how they all relate and start to become a little more similar with time. I see those arts and other martial arts and I see Ziran Men's infinity circles (or figure eight the body makes). I look for principles instead of techniques and now understand more thoroughly the importance of nei gong and basics. Above all the awareness and sense of mind and intention in all movement along with an applicable understanding of Yin and Yang leading to the Ziran Men principle; Movement and stillness have no beginning or end; changes have no beginning or end. Real attacks and false attacks are not fixed; they unfold naturally and spontaneously to the circumstances.

5. We know that Du Xing Wu and GM Wan had some special skills such as qing gong, do you think these have died out now? Many things have been exaggerated and embellished upon, starting with the old Chinese martial arts novels which led to the romanticized Hong Kong Kung Fu films. As far as what is physically humanly possible, I do not think that these skills have died out. I do believe that the skills among the fantastic and unrealistic genre have always been just that. With regards to the skills that I believe do exist, the reason why they seem to be non-existent today is twofold because of secrecy of correct instruction and lack of persistence with people taught. The fact remains that acquiring Gong Fu is derived through time. Acquiring these special skills in particular add on a LOT more time. Who walks the Bagua circle for the required time? Who stands in Xing Yi's San Ti for the required time? And in Ziran Men, who does Nei Quan Shou for the essential amount of time? In the early stages of his school, Wan Laisheng required beginners to practice Nei Quan Shou for three years before he taught them anything else. It is a funny contradiction I have heard in some martial art circles one needs to be smart to learn and absorb but not "too smart" to overly question or get bored quickly. Obviously the smarter the better but what this implies is perseverance. In Ziran Men, we work on light skill and I'm sure Gu Ru Zhang's lineage disciples are working iron palm and others are working their specialty.

6. You have researched the art in China, can you say something about your meetings with other ZRM experts? I am very interested having seen his films of Du's grandson (if this is correct?) and he looks so relaxed but with a clear penetrating power...did you get to feel this? And what about the push the brick over, did you see this and what does it mean? In 2001, after having studied a semester of Chinese Language at Qing Hua University in Beijing, I traveled between Hunan and Fujian province. My goal was to research Ziran Men, it's different teachers and find a strictly traditional master who knew the complete system to study with.

Du Fei Hu lives in a small rural town in Hunan. It was pretty tough getting there and they obviously received few westerners. At the designated time, I went to his school and there waiting with him was a local government official, a reporter and a photographer. He was about 5'2". We spoke about Ziran Men, his grandfather Du Xinwu, and the skills for which he was famous. He spoke of what Wan Laisheng had inherited as the lineage holder and what he inherited as a family member and the differences therein. He then proceeded to demonstrate his "skill" of electrical shock. He touched us all on the forearm one at time and was able to give a mild shock at will (felt similar to static electricity). He said he was able to generate even more of a shock to an opponent. He then had his children demonstrate various basic training including walking handstand across the entire training grounds. His son also demonstrated the Ziran Quan form. As a finale, he demonstrated toppling a brick from a yard away. We continued the interview and then as we had asked Master Lu Yaoqin, I asked if he would give me an introductory class to which he agreed so we set the time for the next morning.

The first thing he showed me was his version of Neiquan Shou, the beginner high version that was done quickly, then the advanced squatting version. Next he showed a standing post exercise where the arms are extended in front of the body with the palms facing each other to feel the Qi flow between and then other variations of it. After that he ended class. The whole lesson was about 20 minutes. I had come to see him move, research his Gong Fu, and look into the possibility of studying with him. While his art seemed somewhat magical, I needed something different at that time.

Wu Ming Hui is the headmaster of a large boarding school in Shishi, a suburb of Quanzhou city in Fujian. He had a huge office with many old pictures of himself with Grandmaster Wan in his office as well. He was a lot more formal and seemed older than Master Lu Yaoqin. He asked me to demonstrate so I once again went through the first form. Unlike Master Lu Yaooqin, he was quite polite and full of praises. He then demonstrated a small segment of Zhang San Feng Taiji Quan and once again a little of that famous Wan Laisheng body method came out from somewhere deep inside.

Chen Yun Xiang is the head trainer at the Shi Shi school. I mention him because he would have been the one mostly instructing me had I chosen to study there. He was a very warm and friendly 5'5" powerhouse that exhibited somewhat of the Ying aspect of Ziran Men. During the premises tour, I had asked about the conditioning equipment I saw and with immediate joy, he preceded to demonstrate all the Ziran Men conditioning methods! These tools included wooden post, wooden dummy, iron ball, iron rings, pushing/striking cart and many others. I had heard of or seen all except the pushing/striking cart. It looked like an ancient wooden wagon and was filled with huge slabs of stone. I could not move it but he was easily able to move it with explosive "Tui Shou" type pushes or knee and elbow strikes!

I had a fifth Ziran Men teacher to go and see in Xiamen City, Fujian, but once I heard he was Master Lu Yaoqins disciple, I decided not to seek him out. In summary, what I felt then after meeting many masters is that although they all had their strengths, Master Lu Yaoqin as a direct disciple of Wan Laisheng for 26 years, is one of the most well rounded in his knowledge with an amazing teaching method that completely harmonizes the cultural, healthful and fighting aspect of Ziran Men.

Once I had been studying with master Lu Yaoqin, I later met and saw demonstrations from Liang Chao Qun, who was one of Wan Laisheng's last disciples. He currently teaches at the Wan Laisheng Martial Arts Association in France. I met and sat next to him at the Wan Laisheng 100th Birthday Celebration Commemoration where he demonstrated Ziranmen free flowing shadow boxing. Also as part of the commemoration, videos were released on Wan Laishengs teachings and Liang Chao Qun has a few on form applications and fighting. I also met Feng Wu, who is a disciple of Master Lu Yaoqin. At the time we met, he was instructing my gong fu brother in the mornings on basics. He currently is researching various other styles of Chinese martial arts and writes articles that are translated for the American magazine, Kungfu Taichi. Lastly I had the opportunity to meet and see many other Wan Laisheng disciples and their students demonstrate at the Wan Laisheng 100th Birthday Celebration event.

From Alex Kozma's "Ziranmen and the Taoist Internal Fighting Arts," 2008

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