Justin Flinner is a champion level martial artist, veteran competitor in both Modern Wushu and Traditional Fu Style Gong Fu. I caught up with him at Virginia University of Oriental Medicine where he was teaching Qigong. His practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine is in Washington D.C.
Our interview VIDEO here: (Pardon the air traffic: planes and helicopters)
Performance in China
1. Briefly list your martial arts history.
My martial arts career began with me practicing Taekwondo from Master Ron Mager in western PA. After going off to college, I began studying Chinese Wushu from Master Nick Gracenin. Sometime later, I became an indoor student (Tu Di) of his and was accepted into the Peng FeiWushu Association, for which he is the director. Under his tutelage, I studied Nan Quan, Chang Quan, Tai Ji Quan, Ba Ji Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan, Ying Zhao Quan (Eagle Claw), Drunken Boxing &Sword, Tang Lang Quan (Praying Mantis), weapons training (staff, broadsword, straightsword, spear, double and single 9-section whips, three-section staff, rope dart, and several others), martial Qi Gong, and many other styles.
Justin doing Double Whip Chain, “World Tai Chi Day” at the Washington Mall.
2. What competition awards do you have/accomplishments.
2005 was a big year for me in the martial arts circuit: I was U.S. Men’s National Champion in Internal Martial Arts at the U.S. Wushu Union Nationals in Las Vegas; Grand Champion at the U.S.A. All-Taijiquan Championhips in Winchester, VA; and Grand Champion and Black Belt Champion at Midland Martial Arts Tournament in Midland, Michigan. Also, from 2005-2006, I was selected to be a team member of the U.S. Wushu Union National team. During my career as a martial artist, I have competed in numerous martial arts tournaments and have been fortunate enough to have received dozens of awards and medals over the years.
Fu Zhen Song: Creator of Fu style gong fu
more about Fu Zhen Song
3. List some of the teachers and favorite seminars/teachers you have attended.
I have been extremely fortunate to have such great martial arts teachers throughout the years. Undoubtedly, the teacher who has had the most impact on me to this day is my current teacher and Shi Fu; Master Nick Gracenin. While under his instruction, I have had the opportunity to learn from other great masters such as Master Liang Shou Yu, Master Yang Jwing Ming, Master An Tian Rong,
Master Tony Yang, Master Fu Sheng Long, Master Sun De Yao, in addition to many others.
4. Education background
My education began with learning Electrical Engineering, but I later switched and received my Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Rehabilitative Science. In 2013, I received my Master’s Degree in Acupuncture. Also, from 2005-2006, I lived in Nanjing, China studying Chinese language at Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University.
Justin trained in Oriental Medicine at Maryland School:
Maryland Institute of Health
Justin also teaches Oriental Medicine at Virginia University of Oriental Medicine
5. How do tai chi principles help you in daily life?
The principles of Tai Ji are embedded in every human being. We just have to awaken them. Studying the principles deeply (i.e. Yin and Yang) without ever assuming that I ever understand its full meaning has opened doors for me every single day of my life. I have been fortunate enough to be in good health most of my martial arts career, and I certainly can tell the difference physically and mentally when I am not practicing. Overall, my life has benefited greatly from practicing martial arts and from keeping an open mind when studying the theories and philosophies of which it is grounded in.
6. What do you like the most about chinese medicine and favorite techniques?
I particularly enjoy seeing patients thrive. Sometimes, I never have to insert a single needle because the conversation provides a lot of answers they are searching for already. In general, most people just want to be listened to. I usually spend up to one hour or more with each patient as they deserve my absolute attention during every visit. Every word can act like a needle, but when I do have to break out the “big guns”, I use techniques that depend on the patient’s condition as well as his or her character and constitution. I have studied a lot of Five Element Style acupuncture, and I have also studied techniques revolving around the eight principles, Korean Acupuncture (i.e. Saam, Hand Acupuncture), and various other methods as well. I would say that my favorite technique is whichever one I am using in the moment of treatment, even if it turns out to be ineffective.
Liang Qiang Ya: Fu style Bagua push hands
Coach Nick Gracenin: Liang I Quan
7. Last thoughts and message to your audience?
Martial Arts and Oriental Medicine are two practices that have shaped my life and led me to where I am today. I will always practice these arts and continue to keep an open mind in order to see what doors they allow me to open in the future. However, because these are two things that have worked for me, it does not mean they will, or should, work for anyone else. It is of utmost importance that you, martial artist or medicine practitioner, never assume that you know what is best or worst for another person. Do not force your thoughts and beliefs on another individual, especially Oriental Medicine. The first thing you should do is “listen”. (Especially to children!)If you want others to be interested in what you have to share or say, you must first be interested in them. Just as my Shi Fu always reminds me, “the teacher opens the door; the student is the one who must walk through it.” Live your life this way and you will thrive, without a doubt.
Justin Flinner’s Youtube Tai Chi playlist