Interview with Stuart Shaw and Ben Ng: Progressing Taijiquan down in Australia

I’ve met both Stuart and Ben on Facebook through the various forums there. The Fajin Project was designed to weed out that garbage of mystical Taiji bullshit to bring a light of truth as what is real and what works in real confrontation vs. mystical fajin and other non-sense. I was quite impressed with there push hands gathering that involved both Stuart, Ben, Joey Nishad, John Fung, and many others willing to test their push hands. More of these with video need to be done, especially with the ones who “talk more than do”. Having been friends on Facebook, I have had many good conversations and been involved with several forum discussions on future of competitions, and reality of using taiji kung fu for no-nonsense self defense.

Stuart Shaw

Where do you reside?
Toowoomba Queensland Australia.

How long have you been training in Tai chi chuan?
21 years.

Currently training under and how long?
Principal of my own school now, not directly affiliated with any other school, teacher, or lineage.
Trained through Yang style, but I have taken my work in more combat direction, fusing with Systema. My first teacher was from the CMC lineage … Yang style was down from Yang Sou Chung / Chu King Hung line …. but I have formally turned my back on that line because of their silliness. Silliness = delusional bullshit in believing in super powers.

Name the all styles you practice and teachers?
Taijiquan, Ziranquan (free boxing), Systema.

Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
I have kept a fairly low profile, a few fights here and there, recently took home a nice silver dragon at the Coffs Harbor Push Hands Bootcamp.

Please discuss the World tui shou forum and how it is going, the future of the sport and vision for the sport.
As I have said on the forum, I would like to see “push hands” comps become a meeting ground between Taijiquan and the rest of the martial arts community. Stand up grappling, take down wrestling as a competition format is unique and with the right rule set and promotion it could become a popular sport. “Hopefully” it will make the Taijiquan community step up their training; I know that it has for me since I have been playing more with it.

Here’s the reality … Taijiquan is a toothless tiger. Somewhere along the way, probably folks like YCF, the teeth and claws of Taijiquan have been systematically removed. From there each subsequent generation have continued that trend. The whole collective herd is about to run off the edge into the abyss of delusion and martial irrelevancy and a few of us are trying to head off that occurrence … perhaps we are doomed to fail, but that won’t stop me trying.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
MMA is what all martial arts should be anyway. Life is not insular and the only way “evolution” progresses is through genetic exploration adapting to the current environmental factors. If your art is only “great” in the past than it was never great … you either have to evolve or become extinct … superseded by newer models better fitted to the environment. Taijiquan as a martial arts is all but dead; filled either with delusional fuckwits pretending they have Dragonball Z superpowers, or with old foggies playing handsies in the park. Less than ½ a percent of Taijiquan schools in the world actually have anything resembling good combat skills.

Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc. Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
I have never much been into rankings and belts, though they certainly are a good way to get students motivated into staying in a school. The allure of “the next belt” is certainly a good way to build a school. My way of teaching is: Purify, naturalize, integrate, and temper. Purify your body and mind from conditioned thoughts, beliefs, and responses. Naturalize your body and mind until you are free and spontaneous. Integrate your body and mind to develop efficiency of power and movement. Temper your body and mind through pressure testing your skills and strategy.


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Ben Ng-
Name:
Ben Chon-Sing Ng

Where do you reside?
Sydney Australia

How long have you been training in Tai chi chuan?
I had first been introduced to Taijiquan when I was 9 years old and just came to Australia. My father tried to introduce me to Wu style, but for a youngster, I did not have the patience for it. I regained an appreciation for Taijiquan around 2001. It is now what I primarily practice.

Currently training under and how long?
I have trained with Master Alice Dong, (recognised lineage holder of Fu Zhong Wen’s Yang style) since around 2004. I have been her representitive in teaching and competition since 2005.

Name the all styles you practice and teachers?
By Chronological order: Yang style Taijiquan- Bret (not sure of his surname, he used to teach the FZW Yang style, but currently teach Hun Yuan style in Canberra Australia)
1993-2001 Rhee TKD- 1st Dan
2001-2002 Kyokushin Karate- 5th Kyu
2002-2007 Shorinkan Shorinryu Okinawan Karate- 1st Dan 2002 Shinkenryu Kenjitsu- 5mths unranked
2002-2007 Matayoshi Kobudo- 2nd Dan
2004- present Pei Lei Wushu Association (Master Alice’s School)- Yang Style Taijiquan, Youlong Baguazhang, Sanda.

Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
2005 AKWF Oceania Championships- Gold in Male Traditional Yang Style.
2005/6 Shorinryu Kenyukan Association Australia Championships- Open Male Continuous Sparring 1st place.
2008 World Traditional Wushu Championships (Wudang, China)- Silver x2 in Male Yang Style Bare hand and Taiji sword.
2010 World Traditional Wushu Championships (Wudang, China)- Bronze in Male Yang Style Taiji sword.
2012 KWA National Championships- Gold in ‘Male- Other Kungfu styles’, ‘Male- Traditional Yang style Taiji Sword’ and ‘Male – Other Taichi weapons’.

Please discuss the World tui shou forum and how it is going, the future of the sport and vision for the sport?
I was invited by Stuart to contribute to the forum due to my background in both competitive and traditional martial arts practices. Personally, The most that I gain from competition is meeting other practitioners of the craft, and seeing the large varieties of styles. I think that if we want to turn heads towards Taijiquan and other Chinese styles as a practical martial art, then we need to go to the most watched combat arena and do well there, which I currently think is MMA. Yang Lu-Chan gain fame that way and his style is now the most practiced Chinese physical activity in the world. BJJ is now currently enjoying the same attention. If we only compete amongst our selves, we won’t get very far.

What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
Status is in the eye of the beholder. MMA fans would say that traditional martial arts are useless because most their practitioners need specialised training to do well in the MMA arena. Traditional martial arts practitioners look at MMA and think that its just brutal nonsense. Its one of those debates that can never be won and there are merit on both sides. In my humble opinion, from one who has done everything from forms, full contact sparring and friendly matches with local level MMA guys, people have to look at ‘why’ they want to train and find the thing that suits them. You need to find a ‘style’ that has the same goal as you. One should have a realistic idea about what they are doing. One who does Wushu as a cultural activity, health and character development, should not delude themselves or others that they can chuck a Yip-Man and take on 10 guys on the street. One who goes into stuff like MMA and/or Sanda training need to accept that there are risks and a price to pay on your health from hitting and being hit on a regular basis. I think the best way for Taijiquan to be put back on the map as a combat art, is to take it back to the most watched arena and prove its worth there (which I think, is currently MMA). That was how Taijiquan came to fame and right or wrong, is now the most widely practised style of ‘Chinese martial art’ on earth. When people start going to Taichi schools asking to be taught ‘real combat’ and walk away when they can’t, will naturally raise the level of practicality in Taijiquan.

Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc.
Rankings and certifications are like picture frames. A beautiful work of art should naturally have a fittingly well crafted and beautiful frame. You can take an ordinary painting and make it look more valuable than its worth with a nicer frame. Sometimes people discover in their basement, a dusty unframed painting that happens to be worth millons. Regarding teaching, a good teacher teaches for the good of the students. Not every student who walks through the door can be trained to become a proficient fighter or even do forms properly, but as long as they are better this week than they were last week, every week, they have already won.

I think its not about what the hands or posture is in a school, but whether they have a reasonable reason for doing things the way they do it. So to me, any school any style can be good or bad. I don’t follow a style, I follow a good teacher And don’t worry so much about the ‘levels’. No one else really gives a shit about them. Don’t sweat too much about “testing”. They are only valid in their system. The most important thing is that you are doing what you know is the ‘real’ way. It would not do you justice to end up mis-representing yourself.

Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
Don’t find a style that you like, find a teacher that you like and do whatever style that they teach. Do what you love. Don’t waste time arguing with people. Being happy and successful is the best validation for what you do.

On Standing gong:
I do standing first to ‘build the frame’. In my school of thought, all of the other movements are different expressions of ‘the frame’.
Warm-ups and stretching:
Now-a-days neck circles are not done anymore as a continuous rotation, as it puts a lot of strain on the neck joints. I would just do the front half then look up, push the chin back and look down, then turn left and right. Also with stretches, instead of bouncing on them, take a deep breath and the stretch down on the exhale, hold it for 5 sec, then take another deep breath, and stretch further, hold for another 5 sec and do that total 3 to 4 times. You can do that for the neck as well.


Please tell me about your training in TCM, how long you have been a practitioner? what are some of the types of treatments you mostly do? how has TCM helped your Taijiquan?
I graduated in 2001 as a Bachelor of Health Science in Acupuncture, from the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) Australia. UTS has always had a foundation in scientific research in TCM.
I have been practicing full time since then. I have been treating musculoskeletal problems (aches, pains, injuries, etc.) primarily, but also have a reputation for my work in fertility enhancement.
I feel that I use the same perspective to study Taijiquan as I do with TCM, which is to try and ‘decode’ what the ancients mean, instead of taking all the ancient writings at face value. I think that a lot of seemingly magical stuff in Taijiquan, such as Fa-Jing and Qi cultivation, can be dissected and explained scientifically. But even if things can be explain scientifically, still requires mental concentration, visualization and sensitivity to make it work.

About Administrator

Coach Matt Stampe is a Database Administrator and I.T. professional. In the world of Bodywork, he has been a Massage Therapist licensed under the Virginia Board of Nursing, and is currently a student at Virginia University of Oriental Medicine (VUOM.edu). He has taught hundreds of people Authentic Yang Tai Chi Kung fu for over 25 years. He was President of the Virginia Commonwealth Universtiy (VCU) Martial arts club, Secretary and Treasurer of USA chapter of Yongnian Association under Sifu He Weiqi. Experience includes: Kung fu schools: Omei Shaolin (Sifu Lu Xiaoling) 3rd degree Black Sash, Chinese Martial Arts Institute (Sifu Clarence Burris), United States Wushu Academy (Coach Christopher Pei), and Qi Elements (Sifu Nancy Bloomfield), Former Head Coach: Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation centers(Adults Tai Chi), Hope Chinese school (kids classes), NOVA MMA gym in Arlington (kids classes), and VUOM Martial Arts Tai Chi club (Fairfax). He has positively impacted peoples lives whether for health, sport, strength, combat, and spirit. As a true combat athlete, he teaches methods so people can be confident to defend themselves.
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