Thoughts on Robert Boyd's Snake Style
Tai Chi Snake style? Don't make me laugh!
A few words of thoughts on the alleged [Tai Chi] Snake
There is NO such style called 'Snake' style in Classical Yang Family
Tai Chi Chuan system. There are three forms and three frames. In my
opinion, the alleged 'Snake' style was created, most likely, by Robert
I met Ip SIBAK and Fong SISOU in Hong Kong, in April of 1993. Meeting
them was indeed an inspiration. To be in the presence of the two who have
appeared in Yang SIGONG's book was an awesome experience, and not to mention having a
memorable occasion to eat dim sum with them after having paid a visit to
Yang SIGONG's gravesite.
In the 90's, I did my share of the abundant Tai Chi Chuan fact
findings. The result...the findings have formed my beliefs s that I
still adamantly believe in today. Understand the internal
principles of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan in order to perceive any
deviated versions of Tai Chi Chuan.
Some anomalies about the 'Snake' style...
allegedly, it is reserved for the 1st disciple, but
the 2nd disciple.
it [Snake] is never mentioned anywhere in the entire history
of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan.
Yang SIGONG never mentioned it.
Ip SIBAK never mentioned it to my SIFU's son while he was
visiting Ip SIBAK in all those years, in Hong Kong.
Yang TAI SIGONG never taught it to his first disciple.
there is no record of the previous Yang masters having
taught it to any of their first disciples.
the ONLY person who ever mentions 'Snake' style is VT, and
conveniently, he is the only person who possess this suspicious secret
the explanation of 'Snake' style is entirely in body
mechanics, thus external and not internal.
no emphasis on the internal principles of the enrichment of
'Peng Kieng', the establishment of 'Chun Kieng', or the ascension of 'Neung'.
the lack of emphasis on 'Dynamic' push hand, 'Cham Jong',
and Tai Chi Fast Form, most likely, due to lack of understanding of the
internal principles of these curriculum.
the breaking of the tradition of the intended transmission
to the 1st disciple only (perhaps, because it was taught to the 2nd
disciple that the latter doesn't need to adhere strictly to the avow of
the 1st disciple transmission)...of course, there is some lame explanation
about sharing it with the world*.
the violation of the 1st disciple tradition by Ip SIBAK, and
the suspicious nature of the decision on the violation of the tradition.
Rooting, core muscle training, etc, are nothing new to the 'medium'
frame/tiger form'. In Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan training
repertoire, the rooting, the internal muscle training, and the other inner
mechanical trainings are done through 'Dynamic' Power push hand and 'Cham
Jong', and not through the external body mechanics of 'Snake' style.
Read my article on Yang
SIGONG's Tai Chi Chuan
*By the way, you too can represent and teach 'Snake' style immediately,
of course, after
having attended Boyd seminar just once, as he has approached one of my
students who happened to be attending one of Boyd's seminars.
Although Boyd was fully aware of the identity of my student, he nevertheless
made the outrageous proposition.
To correct the misinformation about the Youtube video of Yang Sau-Chung
SIGONG, by a snake stylist:
The video is NOT a shorter set of the traditional form. The reason the
form is shorter, in duration, is because he is performing the form at much
faster speed. That's all. At his level of understanding of Tai Chi Chuan,
it doesn't matter at which speed he executes the movements. He could have
chosen at much slower speed if he wanted to, or even at faster speed. The
reason for the slower speed is mainly because of his particular reason at
that time when he was making this video.
Fong Tou Yiu SISOU who is in Yang SIGONG's book and Mr. Fong of
Ip Tai Tak SIBAK's video are NOT the same person. With the help of some
misguided people on Internet, this misinformation of the two people as
being the same person has been widely perpetuated.
Wangchu, sorry to disillusion you, but that is not the Tai Chi staff
form. See Vincent Chu's staff form (short version) on Youtube if you want
to see what the real staff form looks like.
Wangchu has webpages that offer in-depth critique on Chu King-Hung
SISOU. Wangchu refuses to believe that Chu SISOU is the third
disciple of Yang SIGONG, while providing some interesting arguments.
However, when the words are spoken directly from Yang SIGONG that Chu
King-Hung is the third disciple, it ends all disputes or suspicions.
One of Wangchu's criticism is about the lack of time Chu SISOU might
have spent with Yang SIGONG and believes that Chu SISOU could not have
learned much from Yang SIGONG; thus, lacking in knowledge and skill.
Then again, he readily embraces Boyd's propaganda. How many years
did Boyd spend with Ip SIBAK, Wangchu never asks. Though Boyd's
visits to Hong Kong were very limited, Wangchu never addresses about how
many years or how much could Boyd have learned in those
Battle of two Tai Chi camps for the legitimacy .
One camp promotes the internal power of Tai Chi Chuan by a specific way
of doing the form, with a certain exotic name. The other promotes the
internal power of Tai Chi Chuan through the understanding of a specific
power training, called 'Dynamic' power push hand and how it subsequently
complements the forms.
The first camp speaks of cultivating 'chi', and the latter emphasizes
the enrichment of 'peng kieng'.
The first camp lists its curriculum that is, more or less,
average...nothing the second camp doesn't already know about, other than
its fanciful name given to itself. The second camp has a list of an
extensive curriculum, such as different forms, different levels of 'cham
jong', 'dynamic' push hand and variety of other push hands, an array of
solo exercises and drills, and how all fit into the internal principles
The first camp speaks of the principles of the body mechanics, rooting,
and core muscle training, promising that, one day, it will reward its
practitioners the famous internal power of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi
Chuan. However, the second camp presents the strengthening of the
ligaments and tendons to develop the 'nine pearls' throughout the forms,
by applying the internal power principle that is developed through
'dynamic' push hand; speaks of the internal connection of 'chun kieng' and
'peng kieng'; teaches the principle of 'stillness in motion' and how it
applies to the movements of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan forms,
The first camp's way of teaching is typically seen as a very external
and mechanical (of course, 'external' should not to be confused with a
hard style), with its use of body contractions and expansions, which
claims, eventually, to become internalized. The second camp stresses the
importance of minimizing the movements that are designed as an internal
exercises, which help the practitioners, eventually, to understand the
principle of 'motion in stillness' based on the super energy.
In the end, after all the saber-rattling of the words, claiming the
alleged superiority of one camp over the other, when it is all done, each
camp has to provide its result, that is, the attainment of the explosive
internal power of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. As for when that
end is, it could be anytime: after one year of training, a practitioner
should be able to show something of its system, for his one year worth of
training; after five years...no problem...should be able to show the five
years' worth; ten years...twenty years...so on and so forth.
In the course of many years, Tai Chi Chuan has suffered greatly from
its renown reputation that it once enjoyed. Many dubious tai chi
instructors have marketed their questionable systems, with the promises of
mind-boggling super power and the Tao enlightenment. When and how a
practitioner will obtain this power, one is constantly reminded and
conditioned to believe that many years of training is necessary. Thus, a
practitioner continues with his limp-noodle forms and the marshmellow push
hand, for twenty years or maybe more (I don't care, pick a number), hoping
and waiting for their tai chi Godot.
It's easy to promise in words, but time will tell which camp speaks of
This man truly doesn't know anything about Classical Yang Family Tai
Chi Chuan medium frame/tiger form, that Yang SIGONG taught to all of his
students, including this man's teacher, in Hong Kong. Instead of blaming
himself of his shortcomings, his inability to understand what was being
taught to him, when he was learning the medium frame/tiger form, he blames
on the system that got him where he is. Plus, I don't think he has a clue
what the medium frame is. How can he not know what Medium frame is;
surely, his teacher must have told him what it is? If he doesn't know what
the frames represent, then how can he possibly know what the circles are?
The medium frame and tiger form go hand in hand. Doesn't he know that you
cannot have a form without a frame? By the way, don't try to explain the
frame principle with a body size and a picture frame concept because that
is not what the Tai Chi Chuan frames represent; you'll give yourself away
more, by talking about principles that you don't have a clue; thus, giving
me further ammo to attack you. I know what kind of man you are. I know
what you did. Whoops...I'm sidetracked by an extreme desire to use ad
hominem fallacy to discredit you...shame on me, I shan't do that.
You actually think you have the goods, the internal power of Classical
Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, don't you? You sure sounds like it from the way
you talk about your newly discovered system, that alleges itself to be
'the family secret form', that was only taught to you and nobody else, so
obsecure that not a single word was ever mentioned about it anywhere in
the history of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan system. It's a huge and
a bold claim that dismisses all the rest of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi
Chuan system as a water-downed version. I'm now accused of practicing and
propagating an inferior tai chi system; according to you, it is not the
real thing. Indeed! I'm flabbergasted. This is so big that I find it
comical. Your claim ought to be dismiss as a joke, and that you are the
center-staged clown, but we shan't be so quick to dismiss without
examining some of your outrageous claims. So, shall we? I will give you a benefit
of the doubt to a certain extent of your claims. Let us see how
well your claims stand against extreme scrutiny...time to iron out a few
wrinkles of anomalies.
Now...about your internal power, where is it? I've seen a few of your
video of self-promotion, especially the one that tells of the tale of two
tai chis...slick, very slick, done well in using Youtube as a medium to
braodcast your intention...a lot of well-adorned words for him, her and
yourself...it's a very novelistic, indeed, the unfolding of your fiction
as a tai chi savior who comes from the foreign land of far beyond... Well,
with that kind of presentation, how can I not be interested in the content
of your sermons...after all, as you have self-proclaimed, you are now the
top-dog of Tai Chi Chuan, aren't you? Your ability is now superior than
all of us...I feel humbled. But now, I must ask your benevolent generosity
to show us of your exceptional skill that you have inherited from your
teacher. I'm not being unreasonable, am I? After all, I too have devoted
nearly 30 years in our system and thought that I was on the right track,
but now, you have made me realized that I might be on a misconceived path.
Let us please see this exceptional internal power of yours, I humbly
ask. As I'm a loud-mouth, I cannot think of a better way to keep my mouth
shut, for good, than have your understanding of the internal power shove
into my face...that would keep me quiet, at your service. Surely, your
teacher must have shown you something to exhibit in case there are
suspicious, lets say a slightly doubtful, people like myself who refuses
to believe in what you say. It seems there are a lot of people who have
accepted your claims and joined in on your federation, association, or
whatever, but I can't just jump in. However, by some crazy behavior
unknown to me, if I do jump in, will you be willing to accept me? Just
kidding! Sceptical as I am, without witnessing your internal skill or two,
I cannot swallow your sale's pitch wholesale. You see, when I first open
my school in NYC and in order to prove to people about the internal power
of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, I had to show them the power, in
number of different ways. Can you do that for me? Of course, you are not
obligated to do so since I or any one of my pupils do not have any
intention of becoming a part of your scheme. Who knows you might end up
recruiting some; that's a good bargain, isn't it? Nonetheless, don't you
want to convince us that you have the real goods, the sceptics that we
are? Of course, I'm not asking you to levitate or anything
unreasonable...just show me something that makes you uniquely different
and superior from the rest of us, who have also pledged ourselves to Yang
SIGONG's system, show me what your teacher has taught you. Convince me and
you shall have my allegiance, and that's not a bad thing. If you cannot
think of what to exhibit, then may I suggest some things for you to do.
Don't worry, they won't be too hard, considering what you are claiming to
represent and capable of. Perhaps, I'll have you play with 'the Beast' for
a few seconds? Too tough...how about tossing some of my top students
around? I'll promise you that they will behave in their best gentlemenly
What's with these people who have decided to embrace your system? How
are they convinced? You must have shown them something of your internal
power, haven't you? How else could they have accepted your system? Or, did
they just take your words for it? If you have shown them of your internal
power, it is one thing, but if they accepted your sale's pitch wholesale
without any evidence of your internal power, then these people are just as
unethical as you are, for they are collaberating on the same scheme that
you are promoting: misinformation to profit. You want to be placed on the
throne of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan realm, undermine the rest of
us, and monopolize and exploit the system without having shown any of your
understanding of the internal principles of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi
Chuan. Indeed...legitimacy is a bitch. You can try to take it if you so
greed for it, but as far as I'm around, I'll be circling you like a
vulture on a dead carcass. Perhaps, you did not anticipate such
unreasonable person like myself who just refuses to accept your words of
how you are the next torch bearer of our system. Yes, I will orate my
garbles until I am convinced of your gibberish. You will deserve every bit
of mud I shall be slinging, for I'm terribly offended, of which you
probably don't give a damn...ditto. Exhibit to all of us who have
dedicated to Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan that you have what it
takes. I have been doing my share of showing what the internal power of
Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan for a decade and a half now, and I
will continuously do so, though, according to you, mine is a water-downed
version, thus misleading the people. Surely, if I can do it with the
alleged water-downed version, then you can far outperform me with your
superior skill, couldn't you? So, let us see what you have.
Did you actually think that hijacking the throne would be as easy as
you've schemed? Did you actually think that your words that lack any solid
credibilities can effectively coup d'etat the system without any
resistence? Understanding Tai Chi Chuan requires knowledge, time and
energy, of which an individual has to 'EARN' it. In the other hand, you
seem to lack all the conditions that require it. Do you want the throne,
then earn it! I saw your the video of 'tale of two tai chis'; now, let us
see something of your actual knowledge and skill, along side of this
terribly misinforming piece of junk, on Youtube. You have allow your greed
to get the better of you, and now you have to deal with me. I will not
rest until your devious scheme and your lack of skill have been exposed
You have offended many people, including your former teacher. 'Expect
the unexpected', you've heard the expression before, haven't you?
I see now what Ip SIBAK has taught you. It's those exercises in your
video. He didn't actually teach you the 'snake style' form, did he? It is
your invention, isn't it? Ip SIBAK taught you those exercises of torso
turns and stretches. I know those exercises because Vincent taught them to
me when he came back from Hong Kong, on his occasional trips, having
learned them from Ip SIBAK. They are good exercises because they help to
stretch the torso joints and work the midriff muscles, which improve the
flexibility of the torso and hips. Of course, with all those intricate
inner muscles that connect through the pelvis and vertebrate, they offer a
decent body conditioning. I see why you would think that these exercises
work the core muscles. Moreover, having no understanding of how the
internal power is developed, you must have assumed that these muscles
generate the internal power. To a certain extent, your body probably did
get a bit stronger than others who have not done these exercises, and
being impressed with yourself with your misconceived progress, you went
bonkers, thinking that you are on the inner, secretive track of the
internal power, all by yourself, thus, the fanfare of the 'secret family
snake style'. Jubilent with your emotion and these exercises, you've
applied the concept of these exercises to Tai Chi Chuan form. That's why
you were trying to tuck and stretching of your neck while doing the form.
Ip SIBAK couldn't have taught you all the principles and finer aspects of
it because he didn't have enough time, and lastly, what he left out in his
teaching was his specialty: sparring. For Ip SIBAK's sparring method, you
would have needed much higher level of training and longer training
sessions. There is no way you could have learned any of this true skill,
the sparring push hand. He, therefore, must have told you to do those
exercises diligently, for they will greatly improve your 'internal'
strength. It's too bad that Ip SIBAK didn't understand the internal power,
as strong as he was, and that's what he has passed onto you: how to
develop the internal strength, and not the internal power. And for you,
you have hopelessly confused your internal strength with the internal
power! Then again, you have never felt the true internal power, so you
wouldn't know how to recognize it; thus, you've obliviously settled for
the next best thing, thinking you have discovered Tai Chi Shangri La...
A fictitious first person narrative:
"[I] should have known myself better than to announce a new system
without any concrete evidences: to promote the system with a new name, the
qualification of my understanding and skill, and the scheme to undermine
others and their skills. I just took it for granted that my teacher's
reputation gave me this privilage. But, with his name, what's there to
prove? The world doesn't actually want me to prove my skill, does it? It
doesn't mater how many years I trained with him or how I became his
discple, does it? The fact of the matter is that I'm on the top of the Tai
Chi Chuan world because of his name. It's quite simple, isn't it? Come on,
you too can become just like me. It doesn't matter that I just met you
because, remember, I too became my teacher's disciple over a weekend. I
just used my dashing charm on his daughter, and she decided to help me
convince him. Hmmm...do I have any daughters whom you can charm?
Beautiful, isn't it? This is the way to do the things these days if you
want to accompish anything in Tai Chi Chuan. The old school way of earning
and proving yourself is so archaic and boring, don't you think? Let your
charm and money do the talking. These people are so jealous of me because
I managed to do it and they couldn't. Gather around, and I'll show you how
it is done.
Sometimes, I do have to admit that there is a complication or two. I
did not anticipate that there might be a person(s) who vehemantly disgrees
with me and my way of doing things. I've tried to keep it quiet about my
affair, but this person seems know a few things that I'm not even aware
of. I've been trying to promote my teacher and his skill, but he
stubbornly keeps saying that I ought to prove myself. But why? I thought
that my teacher's name had a good enough credential. If he was the top-dog
of Tai Chi Chuan, then I must be as well, don't you agree? His skill will
eventually become mine, though I hardly spent any quality time with him in
training. But, no matter. I know some of my teacher's exercises that got
me stronger, and being strong is the indication of the Tai Chi Chuan
internal power. I shall incorporate these exercises to the form and call
it with a unique name; and, no one will be able to dispute against me
because of my teacher's reputation. If I could only get rid of this one
person; he is such a pain in the a$$. Now, he has slander me and even
against my teacher. What should I do? Maybe, I'll produce more video for
Youtube. Youtube, what a splendid, propaganda medium. I'll talk more about
myself, my teacher, and my wonderful system. Then, perhaps, no one will
remember about this person's insistence, and bother to ask about my
By the way, I wonder what this 'peng kieng' that this person talks
about all the time? No matter, my teacher never mentioned it to me, so I
don't need to know these things called 'peng kieng', 'chun kieng', 'nine
pearls', etc. What's with the hard 'peng kieng' and the soft 'peng kieng'?
He's probably making them up. I've never heard of the internal strength of
the hard 'peng kieng' and the internal power of the soft 'peng kieng'.
Again, my teacher never talked about them. I'll just ignore his garbles,
for I have my teacher's reputation which is more important than anything
else that concerns Tai Chi Chuan. People wouldn't know the difference
Am I suppose to be impressed because you (directed to a person from
Ireland) trained with Tian Zhao Lin's
son, Tian Yin Jia? You want to impress me? Show me your understanding of
the internal skills by demonstrating your internal power of Tai Chi Chuan.
I have seen Tian Yin Jia's form. I hate to disappoint you, but it's not
even close, though very elegant, just like many of the typical mainland
chinese styles of tai ji quan...all very elegant and misinformative, and
no internal power.
More fabrications for the purpose of self-promotion from Robert Boyd. A
book. He is truly relentless in his self-promotion, isn't he? I only wish
he was as relentless in showing his internal power, instead of him playing
patty-cake without any power in his floppy hand with his students and writing insignificant books. More videos
of IP SIBAK, but where is Boyd's videos. If he wants to promote how
powerful his dubious system is, then wouldn't it be more convincing if he
had shown some videos of his power, instead of having them hidden away in some
remote vault in Vermont? I wait for that moment, to be enlightened by his
knowledge and skill. Instead of letting the public perceive his internal
power, what we see now is Boyd's NEW book, as if we need more taichi books
to further confuse already mislead taichi hopefuls. But, it doesn't
surprise me, as it is expected from people like him. More of
self-promoting taichi mumbo-jumbo, like so many of his unconvincing
Youtube videos. Obviously he is cashing in on his teacher's legacy; maybe,
he needs to pay off the monetary debt for what he had promised.
Perhaps, he can send me a copy of his new book; then,
we'll really have some fun picking it apart.
You openly dare to undermine the system, do you? Do you expect me to
idly standby and let you get away with your rubbish? Did you really expect
the other practitioners of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan to have a
shallow understanding like yourself once had, not that you now have any
better understanding of the internal principles of Tai Chi Chuan than
before? Do you really think that what you know now is the true
understanding of Tai Chi Chuan? If you did, you would readily perceive
that the things you talk about are not the truly advanced principles of
Tai Chi Chuan. What you know is merely external, mechanical explanations
of body movements; furthermore, your explanations are not even that
profound because they lack the basic principle of 'stillness in motion'.
The glimpses of the exercises that are shown in those videos are no big
deal, by the way, because I know them as well, though not all. So, don't
think that you have some awesome, inner secrets of the family treasures.
Until you are capable of understanding what 'Neng' is, you should really
restrain yourself from embarrassing yourself with your misguided, limited
knowledge. Then again, I don't think you understand even what 'Peng Kieng'
is. I'll even bet that my students understand 'Peng Kieng' more profoundly
than you ever will.
I do not doubt that Boyd had
a beautiful father/son relationship with Ip SIBAK. More power to
Boyd for having done so. My issue with Boyd has not been about this
relationship. But rather, it
is about Boyd’s low-life way of undermining the entire Classical Yang
Family Tai Chi Chuan system and its practitioners, and subsequently,
usurping the position of a sole inheritor of Yang family system, with his
begotten disciple status of Ip SIBAK.
Whether Boyd realizes or not, he has, hence, declared a war on all
Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan practitioners, by self-claiming
himself to be the heir-apparent of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi chuan,
among the 6th generation practitioners, through his website and
his Youtube videos. The other
snake stylists, on the other hand, are totally oblivious of Boyd's
declaration and intention, having been utterly intoxicated by the
self-delusions of the glory days of Tai Chi Chuan to come, per promised by
Boyd, thus not quite understanding why I would go on a personal crusade to
defame Boyd. Thus, in their glory, Boyd and his deluged followers
strut as if they are the chosen ones, exemplifying all the arrogance of a
fool. Like a frog (a big fish) in a well (a very small pond), Boyd
has shown a complete lack of wisdom, totally lacking in perception that
there might be other Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan practitioners who
might have achieved much different and higher understanding.
The madness of Boyd and his followers, sort of, remind me of the days of
Cheng Man Ching in NYC, back in the late 60s and the early 70s, when he
and his followers were in absolute delusion, thinking that CMC was the 4th
generation successor of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, only to be
discovered as a fraud later on, by the chinese community who had sponsored him; hence, the result: the dejected CMC had to leave NYC for
Taiwan, due to lack of visa. Of course, Boyd is more legitimate in
lineage than CMC, but his attempt of the megalomanical hijackings of the
throne of Classical yang Family Tai Chi Chuan draws a remarkable
similarity. Just like CMC lacked credibility in his days, Boyd lacks
his credibility in our time. What we have is Boyd’s words, just
like the words of CMC, that the former is the sole recipient of the secret
teachings of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. Based on Boyd’s
words, and of course, the possession of a few of photos and video clips,
and nothing more, he wants you to believe that he is the next torchbearer
of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. For Boyd, it would have been
much more convincing if Ip SIBAK detailed and documented Boyd’s claim.
But, nothing of the sort exist other than a few meaningless Boyd’s
claims. If Ip SIBAK mentioned something about the snake style to
someone other than just to Boyd while he was alive, Boyd would perhaps
maintain certain credibility, though that would raise other questions of
Let us, for a moment, give Boyd a bit of the benefit of
a doubt that he has the real thing. Classical Yang Family Tai Chi
Chuan is an internal martial art that possesses an explosive internal
power that is attained through the understanding of the energy
cultivation, enrichment, and revelation. What we have is
Boyd’s words that he allegedly has the secrets of the internal power,
but the example of it is nowhere to be seen. As much as I want to
give him the credit, Boyd’s claim doesn’t seem hold up very well.
Thus, the given benefit of the doubt very quickly ebbs away. My
understanding is that Boyd wants people to blindly accept his claims,
without anyone questioning the validity of his claims. In Vermont,
it seems that the people of his camps have embraced wholeheartedly without
a morsel of doubt. I guess mere words of Boyd were good enough for
them. In matters of academics, people do not blindly accept
hypotheses. Any intelligent person will observe, perceive, and
analyze the findings, the claims, and the postulates. Whereas in the
discipline of Tai Chi Chuan, Boyd has neither proven nor offered any
evidence that can convince of his glorification. Only individuals
who are extremely desperate or obdurate will accept certain assessments
while lacking the solid evidences. Such obliviousness seems to exist
in the Boyd’s camp, as if they are all involved in a massive conspiracy.
Boyd has just published a book, and I've just read it. It is a piece
of junk! This book is a disgrace to the legacy of Classical yang
Family Tai Chi Chuan and Ip SIBAK. Of all the materials that he has released thus far, this book
is the worst. It is laughable to even suggest that the internal
power of Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan derives from the
bio-mechanics of 'core' muscles situated along the spine, but Boyd swears
by it. According to Boyd, this will eventually opens up the meridians,
thus bringing the internal power to the center of one's hands.
With Boyd, the power doesn't come from the power training, but rather, the
secret of it comes from the alignment of the muscles and the connective
tissues, that are, of course, incorrectly
interpreted by Boyd, naturally from the lack of understanding of certain
principles. Again, we are witnessing an emergence of another Mickey
Mouse trying to become Mighty Mouse without putting in the effort of the
power training. As expected, the book contains abundance of
misinformation and contradictions, but what's more puzzling is the strange
pictures he has in the book.
Bio-Mechanical Interpretation of Three Essential Yang Principles...does it
really offer the famous internal power of Classical yang Family Tai Chi
We endeavor to understand the taoist philosophy of 'stillness in motion' by a way of 'minimizing the motion' in tai chi chuan form. By understanding the concept of 'stillness of motion', it offers the Tai Chi Chuan practitioner an opportunity to attain the formidable internal power, by experiencing and understanding the presence of the super-energy called 'peng kieng'.
The nature of 'peng kieng' prefers to be in a state of stillness, so that it can be well-connected throughout the body, by a way of the connection of the joints (the nine pearls). This connection of the joints is established by their inner strength of the tendons and ligaments. When the joints are strong, then the muscles can relaxed so that 'peng kieng' can flow unimpeded, metaphorically speaking. Of course, to understand how any of these methods can be done correctly, a practitioner must train properly under a knowledgeable and skillful instructors, as you are already well aware. Thus, the perception of the internal principles is of the utmost importance. Only a few possess the internal principles and their applications. Without them, any practitioner will struggle against the overwhelming odds of arduous training, thus unnecessarily wasting the valuable resources. Though the past Yang family masters have put in their shares of a hard training, for they had to sustain their family legacy, they also knew the specific methods of efficiency, the means to attaining an immediate result without any wastefulness of resources. As there are the family form and the public form, there are also the specific family method of internal power training and the regular internal strength training. Thus, understanding the 'dynamic' power push hand is extremely important. As I have said elsewhere, training the 'dynamic' push hand without the understanding of principles will assist the practitioner with the internal strength, and conversely, training the 'dynamic' push hand with the understanding of the principle will accelerate the attainment of the internal power. Thus, Tai Chi Chuan becomes practical when there is the presence of the internal power. Who, when, and how much the internal power the practitioner will have depends totally upon the relationship and the interaction of the practitioner and the master.
Back to Boyd's snake style...from what I can gather of the available information, the snake style was created by Boyd. His concept of the body wriggling is implemented by his effort to get the most out of the interior muscles, such as iliopsoas, longissimus, etc. What he doesn't understand about these muscles is that they are not as voluntary as he thinks. These muscles obviously have to be strong in order to maintain the structure of the postures, connecting the upper limbs to the lower limbs; thus, the trunk becomes the fifth bow. And in Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, the ways these muscles are conditioned are done through the proper executions of Tai Chi Chuan form and 'dynamic' power push hand. When the form is done correctly, a beginner practitioner will experience a certain degree of lower back aches, a condition which is normal. This is the signal of the interior muscles, that were once weak, going through the transformation, of the growth pain. 'Dynamic' power push hand then further takes care of the upper back muscles, vertebrate joints, and the posterior rib joints. As for Boyd, however a shyster as he may be, he has nonetheless introduced a few exercises that are helpful in conditioning and strengthening the interior muscles, one can see the glimpses of these exercises in his youtube videos. Incidentally, I know some of these exercises because Vincent Chu has shown them to me when he returned from Hong Kong, having visited and learned them from Ip SIBAK, on many occasions, (back then, as Vincent was learning them, there wasn't any reference to the snake style, either by Ip SIBAK or Vincent.) They are good exercises, but they are only supplemental and by no means only conditioning exercises. However, in his book, Boyd puts forth his beliefs in these muscles as the source of the internal power. For him, the attainment of the internal power is strictly bio-mechanics. If a such argument is absolutely valid, then all the superbly conditioned, world class athletes of the world should all have the internal power...hmmmm. As an example, my daughter who is a junior level figure skater goes through one of the most rigorous, physical conditioning, including the core muscle conditioning and strengthening training I have ever witnessed, and sometimes, of which I now and then supervised, is not an internal artist. She understands how to use these core muscles to execute her triple jumps, spins, and other elements, but she doesn't have the internal power that we the Classical Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan practitioners constantly allude to. For my part, in my younger days, before the days of Tai Chi Chuan, as I have indicated in one of my thoughts, I was quite fit; even though I have done all sorts of external conditional training, I can hardly call myself as an internal stylist. If an internal power can be only attain through the superior conditioning of the exterior and the interior muscles, then why don't the world-class athletes, my daughter, or my younger self have internal power, and then again, what makes Boyd's snake style's training so internally special that they have the internal power? According to Boyd's argument, when the core muscles are conditioned, then all the world class athletes and others should then be classified as the internal artists, should it not? I think not. Then, why call the snake style an internal martial art if it is all bio-mechanics? Many other martial art systems have similar conditioning and strengthening training, but they don't call themselves as internal martial artists. Then, why should Boyd call his style an internal art when it is not much different from the external style training? Are his method so radically different, though very external in nature, that he can classify his style as an internal style? Again, I think not, having personally done some of Ip SIBAK's exercises.
Boyd readily dismisses the very power training methods that develop the internal power? For Boyd, he thinks that 'dynamic' power push hand is misnomer, and in my opinion, he has completely went off his rocker, and totally missed his mark. This is an indicative of his total lack of the knowledge and the skill of Tai Chi Chuan. He must have been an awful student when he was training with his former tai chi teacher, not to have even a morsel of an understanding, which is, by the way, rather quite pathetic, and then, he comes forth with the presentation of the "cultivation of spinal force, twisting, and coiling so that [a snake stylist] can utilize the core[?] of the body and a subtle working[?] of the ligament connection...," thus, introducing his suspicious snake style. In fact, Boyd's explanation of bio-mechanics reeks the suspiciousness of plagiarism, from a particular Chen stylist's explanation of the bio-mechanics of a cheetah running at a full speed, of Chen style body-mechanics. Which brings me to another interesting speculation, that Boyd secretly sought out the Chen style principles in order to customize it to his dubiously misleading style.
Any serious student of Tai Chi Chuan cannot and should not take Boyd's slick packages seriously. If you scrutinize his claims of how and what he possess, a keen observer will quickly realize that he and his presentation are riddled with far too many fallacies, thus becoming laughable at best.
As for your inquiry of the hardcore training...can one become a world class, classical concert solo pianist, by practicing by him/herself, for an hour or two a day, two/three times a week? Highly unlikely...but, in Tai Chi Chuan, never!
In true Tai Chi Chuan, there is no such thing as weak people! Power comes from having done the power training.
To Be Continued...(Review of Boyd's book)
Critique on Robert Boyd's Book: Snake Style
Tai Chi Chuan