Nei Jia Quan/Internal Family Boxing
Those three styles evolved and kept developing independently for many years and each resembles its story and special features. The first time that those three arts were combined under the name Nei Jia Quan was in 1894 when the Ba Gua Quan teacher Cheng Ting Hua and his friends Liu De Kuan, Li Cun Yi and Liu Wei Xian were united and created a small martial arts organization.
They have observed that even thought the three styles were build on a different central idea, those ideas were of equal importance and essential in order for the trainee to develop his/her martial ability.
In order to improve the level of their arts, to achieve a harmonious coexistence of different styles and teachers and to increase the level of their trainees they have considered it right to teach those three styles together as a unity.
In that “fraternity”, Tseng Ting Hua was the representative for the art of Ba Gua, Liu De Kuan for the Taiji, and Li Tsun Yi and Liu Yuei Siang for the Xing Yi. Those teachers after the creation of the union decided that when a student would chose to follow one of them could freely follow the rest.
With this cooperation those teachers improved their teaching abilities, created famous students and reached the conclusion that despite the specific features of each of their arts, they are governed by common principles rendering them to belong in the same family. They wished to give a name to this family and they named it “Nei Jia Quan” (Internal Family Boxing).
This is how those arts were related into one group and this is the reason why those three styles are known as internal styles.
Martial arts comprise in their core, arts that negotiate the defeat or extermination of the opponent. They are violent by nature. Before the 19th century people who were practicing those arts were mainly poor peasants learning martial arts in order to protect themselves and their families and also to find work as guards, soldiers and caravan companions. For those reasons, they were mainly practical and as a result there was no connection between those arts and philosophy.
The connection between Nei Jia Quan and the Chinese philosophy and more specifically the Taoist theory of the five elements, the I-Ching and Yin-Yang was made officially for the first time through the publication of books by the famous teacher Sun Lu Tang, in the beginning of the 19th century.
The following years, this connection deepened and as a result in our days Nei Jia Quan system is a carrier of the Chinese cultural heritage and culture.
The love for nature and life of the ancient Taoist teachers, that permeates their philosophy, soothes the brutality of martial arts and renders them more acceptable as a mean for training into the modern peaceable today’s societies. In counterpoint, reciting by heart those theories during training doesn’t help at all to the development of “magical” abilities not to mention the martial ability itself.
Nei Jia Quan that we are practicing in our club has its roots in those teachers.
Following, as an indication of respect, we refer to the ancestor teachers and some features of their lives that are mainly related to their art. At the same time, whoever is interested can trace the origin of the practicing methods of the Chinese Wushu we are teaching.
Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)
Sun Lu Tang was a “rare breed” in the circles of the Chinese martial arts of his era since he was combining incomparable martial ability with deep knowledge of the Chinese philosophy and literature.
He was taught the art of Xing Yi first from Li Kui Yuan and later on from the famous teacher Guo Yun Shen. When he completed his education, his teacher encouraged him to continue the practice of Ba Gua, and for this reason he took him to his friend and teacher of Ba Gua Zhang, Cheng Ting Hua.
After he completed his education in Ba Gua Zhang, the teacher Cheng Ting Hua, understanding there is a connection of Ba Gua and the Taoist philosophy, encouraged him to travel to the mountains Emei and Wudang, where many Taoist hermits were living, to study the book of changes and the Taoist philosophy. Indeed in 1894, Sun Lu Tang went to Sitsuan province and was taught the theory of the book of changes and Emei Qi Qong from the monk Zhi Zhen. After that he continued his studies in Wudang Mountain where he had practiced Taoist longevity techniques from the abbot of the temple Jing Xu.
In 1914 he learned the Wu Hao Taiji Quan from Hao Wei Zhen (1849-1920). After years of studying the “internal arts”, the teacher Sun Lu Tang, combining Ba Gua walking and the power of legs and waist from Xing Yi, with the receptiveness of Taiji he created his own Tai Ji style known as Sun style Tai Ji.
The books that were published the following years were the first in history to explain the relation between Chinese martial arts and the Chinese philosophy and contributed to an increase in popularity of those arts and the establishment of many organizations throughout China in order for people to the study them. Many books have been published in the past in relation to Chinese martial arts referring to that relation, but none of them presented and explained that theory in such a direct and clear way.
The relevant biography is following:
1915, Quan Xue: The Study on Xing Yi Quan.
1916, Quan Xue: the Study on Ba Gua Zhang.
1921, Quan Xue: The Study on Tai Ji Quan.
1924, The True Essence of Boxing.
1927, Gien Xue: The Study on Ba Gua Zhang Sword.
Li Yulin was one of the top students of Sun Lu Tang. Master Li was a standout and respectful personality in martial arts during the first half of the 20th century. He was taught from many teachers. The first two were Hao En Guang and his teacher Li Cun Yi. Both of them became famous by working as caravan companions. He started his training with the Saolin fist and then apprenticed in Xing Yi. His first teacher Hao En Guang was murdered in a trap by robbers he was chasing after, deep in China.
Li Yulin sold his property and with that money he transferred his teacher to be buried in his hometown, as the moral codes of the era indicated. In Tienzin he stopped and all the known teachers of that period went to pour tributes to the dead teacher. Among them was the famous Sun Lu Tang, who was touched by Li Yulin’s loyalty and took his as an internal student.
In 1924, when he was 36 years old, he begun learning Tai Ji, Xing Yi and Ba Gua with Sun Lu Tang. In 1929 he was seated as a higher trainer of the Wushu Union in Santong province. Head of the union was the famous general Li Jing Lin, who has been a student of Yang Jian Hu – Yang style Tai Ji and famous all over China for his abilities in Wudang Sword. Li Jing Lin taught Li Yulin the Yang style Tai Ji and the Wudang sword. He was also taught Taiji from Yang Cheng Fu with whom he had a friendly relationship and not the one between teacher and student.
Li Yu Lin was very strong and invincible in pushing hands.
He passed all his knowledge over his son Li Tian Ji.
Li Tian Ji(1913-1996).
Master Li Tian Ji, was taught Nei Jia Quan, Wudang Jian, Shaolin Quan, Shuai Jiao and Sanda from his father Li Yulin and his father’s teachers, Sun Lu Tang and Li Jing Li. He graduated from the Wushu Institute of Santong, he became a college professor, an officer in Wushu Federation of Harbin and first head coach of the China’s Wushu Team.
Li Tian Ji, is mentioned as one of the “Ten best Wushu teachers in China” (Zhongguo Shi Da Wushu Mingshi).
In 1956 he created the simplified Tai Ji Quan taolu of 24 movements and the simplified Tai Ji Quan taolu of 32 movements for sword. Both taolu opened the doors of Tai Ji Quan to beginners and non athletes, while today they are very popular throughout the whole world. For this reason, he gained the title “Father of the modern Tai Ji”.
Before the Teacher Li Tian Ji pass away, he passed all his knowledge over Niu Sheng Xian and stated that his Kung Fu has passed in the body of his student.
Niu Sheng Xian (1938- )
Niu Sheng Xian was born in Qinghe of Hebei province in China on 1938. He has obtained the 8 level in Chinese Martial Arts.
He inherited the traditional knowledge of his family and from his childhood he was trained by his father Niu Jinbao also known as Xuan Jinzi in the Taoist technique for the Preservation of Health from the Dragon’s genealogy Daojiao Longmen Pai. He has mastered the 4 levels, the 16 steps the marrow breathing formula and the basic rules for Health Preservation in Taoism among many others. He has also created unique therapeutic and practicing methods.
In 1951, Master Niu began learning Tai Ji and combat techniques by the general Yue Fei (Yue Shi San Shou) from the Master Yang Feng Xiang.
In 1959 he met Master Li Tian Ji to whom he bowed at and studied with till 1966. The following years during the “cultural revolution” Li Tian Ji quitted teaching. From 1975 he start learning again from Master Li Tian Ji, the arts of Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Ji Wudang Sword, among many others, while he stayed close to him untill his death in 1996.
He was a champion in China in 1982 in Taiji and pushing hands and later on he became the coach of the Beijing pushing hands team for ten years.
Master Niu has reached the highest level in the arts of Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Ji.
The trainer of A.C. Kerameikos Doukas Dimitris is an inside student(Tudi) of Master Niu Sheng Xian. He has learned from him the following:
Xing Yi Quan:
San Ti Shi,
Wu Xing Quan, Shi Er Xing, Wu Xing Lian Huan Quan, Ba Shi, Ba Shi Lian Huan Chuan,
Shi Er Hong Chui, Shi Er Lian Hong Chui, Za Shi Chui, Zhong He Xing Yi, Wu Xing Gien
Practice for two persons: Wu Xing Sheng Ke, An Shen Pao,
theory and history of Xing Yi Quan.
Ba Gua Zhang:
Tang Ni Bu (walking in a circle), the 8 mother palms and the changes.
Ding Lian Fa, Huo Lian Fa, Bian Lian Fa Ba Gua,
Long Xin Gien, the 64 hands of Ba Gua,
theory and history of Ba Gua Zhang.
Tai Ji Quan:
24 movements taolu, 88 movements taolu, 42 movements taolu Zhonghe Taiji 66,
Taiji Gien 32, Taiji Gien 56,
analytic theory and practice in the 24 powers of Taiji Pushing hands of the Yang family,
Qi Qong, Zhan Zhuang,
theory and history of Tai Ji Quan.
Wudang Sword, Taiji Wudang Gien.
Meditation: the 4 steps (first level) of the Dragon genealogy (Long Men Pai).
D. Doukas has the blessing of Master Niu Sheng Xian to teach Kung Fu in Greece.
In our club we continue the tradition that wants those arts to be taught together. However, someone may choose to dedicate to one of them if he wishes so.