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 Style...from VT.

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 Boyd.

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 Boyd is 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 style.

  • 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 years.             

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 (vise versa).

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, etc.

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 problem...should be able to show the five years' worth; ten years...twenty 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 the truth.

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'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 about tossing some of my top students around? I'll promise you that they will behave in their best gentlemenly manner possible.

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 completely.

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. 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 internal power.

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 anyway."

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 doubts.

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.

Now 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.       

Boyd's Bio-Mechanical Interpretation of Three Essential Yang Principles...does it really offer the famous internal power of Classical yang Family Tai Chi Chuan?

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