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Art Forms Taught at ACCS
The five major art forms studied at American Center for Chinese Studies are:

 Shao-lin Kung Fu
 Tai Chi Ch'uan
 Meditation (Buddhist & Taoist Philosophies)
 Shuai-Chiao
 Hsing-I and Pa-Kua
Shaol-lin Kung Fu

Shao-lin Kung Fu refers primarily to those martial arts that originated in the ancient Shao-lin Temple in China. The monks at the temple were concerned first and foremost with cultivating their minds and attaining enlightenment. The combat skills were integrated into their spiritual quest, but the spiritual quest remained the focus. Because of their intense mental and spiritual training, as well as combat training, these Shao-lin priests became nearly invincible fighters.

The martial art forms and methods of the Shao-lin Temple have survived the centuries and have been passed down from teacher to teacher. Shao-lin systems can be divided into Northern and Southern styles. Both are still studied today. The fighting is characterized by animal fighting forms, bold kicking and hand techniques, and a variety of sweeping and throwing movements. The style is very physical, building a strong, flexible body that can withstand a great deal in combat and remain healthy in daily life. Because of its emphasis on physical strength and skill, Shao-lin is refered to as an external fighting art.

Affiliation with the Society of Shao-lin Temple

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tai chi book
Grandmaster's book on tai chi, Ch'ang Shih Tai Chi Ch'uan
Tai Chi Ch'uan

Tai Chi is the graceful, health-giving art form practiced daily by millions of Chinese, young and old alike. The form has a slow-motion, dance-like quality that hides its true combat origins. Through the gradual building of one's inner energy, known as chi, one discovers how soft truly does overcome hard and how in combat, an ounce of energy can defeat a thousand pounds of force. Tai Chi is known as an internal art because of its emphasis on internal chi power, rather than on external physical power. Tai Chi is referred to as "the grand ultimate" fighting form.

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Meditation (Buddhist & Taoist Philosophies)

Meditation is perhaps the most powerful method used throughout the world to train the mind and cultivate the spirit. While a trained mind is essential for a martial artist, meditation can benefit all people from all walks of life.

The meditation taught at ACCS is based on the traditions of Buddhism and Taoism. Emphasis goes beyond the physical and mental benefits of meditating and into the higher spiritual awakening that can be achieved.

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chang shuai
"Ch'ang Tung Sheng (right) in a classic Shuai-Chiao form, Shor Twzo,
with student Ma For Ren
Shuai-Chiao

Shuai-Chiao is the ancient Chinese art of throwing and wrestling. One of the oldest fighting forms known, it builds a strong body and shows how to integrate one's internal and external powers in the midst of combat. Many believe Shuai-Chiao is the root system from which the Japanese art of Judo was developed.

Because of its demanding training and physical toll on the body, it is said that a year of training in shuai-chiao is akin to years of training in other martial arts.

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Hsing-I and Pa-Kua

Whereas Tai Chi teaches one how to ward off and redirect an opponent's force, Pa-Kua shows how to circle around an opponent's energy, and Hsing-I teaches one how to use one's internal power to directly attack an opponent. The Hsing-I and Pa-Kua are complementary arts, and coupled with Tai Chi Ch'uan, they comprise the major internal fighting arts of China.

The Origins of Hsing-I

Hsing-I Ch'uan means 'Mind Form Boxing'. The form is based on the 5 elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. In this art form one goes directly into the opponent to attack, and comes out from the attack on guard. Even though Hsing-I looks like an external art, it is an internal art. Many call it 'The Bridge Art' because it is on the line between an external and internal style.

As in Pa Kua history, there are many theories about the history of Hsing-I. Some say that Hsing-I dates back to the Shao-Lin Temple, around 550 AD.

Others argue that it originated in the Wu Tang Mountain Temple, where Chang San Feng founded Tai Chi. Marshal Yuen Fei is credited with founding Hsing-I Ch'uan there. Another theory says that he was traveling and was taught Hsing-I by wandering Taoist monks in the Shan Sein Mountains and passed it down from them. In any case, Yuen Fei proved himself to be a great soldier with Hsing-I. He trained his army in two new styles of wushu. He taught them his internal style of Hsing-I and then taught them his own external style of Eagle Claw. He and his troops won many battles. He was ultimately poisoned at the age of 38, by an agent of one of his defeated adversaries.

A few martial artists have used Yuen Fei's secret book on Hsing-I, Jong Nan Mountain. It was passed down and then studied by many.

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The Origins of Pa Kua

Pa Kua Ch'uan means 'Eight Tri-gram Boxing.' Pa Kua Ch'uan is an art form that moves in circles. It enables one to stay on the outside and behind an opponent. Pa Kua is based on the I-Ching, or the Book of Changes. It dates back many hundreds of years. It's original name was Zuang Zang (Turning Palm). It was not till, the early 1900's that it was called Pa Kua Ch'uan.

There are many theories of the origins of Pa Kua. The most popular one attributes its origins to Dong Hai Chuan. It is said that he was invited to the emperor of China's Feast. The emperor noticed that it was crowded in the hall, but one man was adept at getting around others. Dong countered, dodged, parried, and basically circled around everyone. When the emperor saw him, he made him the martial arts instructor of the palace. It is said that his skill was fantastic. He was also a master in the 18 Lo Han Patterns, and the Tai Chi, also called Wu Tang. Some people say, as a youngster, he learned the Pa Kua from a Taoist monk. Others say that he learned Pa Pan Ch'uan (Eight Circular Palm) and combined it with the Lo Han and from these created the Pa Kua Ch'uan.

Another theory is that the founder is unknown, but he taught two students named Pi Yueh Hsia and Pi Teng Hsia. It is said that they are the two that taught Dong Hai Chuan.

The next theory is about an author and master, named Jen Chi Cheng, who wrote a book called "Yin and Yang Pa Pan Ch'uan Maneuvers." There were two people who learned these methods, Dong Hai Chuan and Lee Chen Ching. These two students learned it from Master Tung Ming Len, which would make him the founder.

The last theory is about a young dedicated student named Fung Ke Shan. He learned Kung Fu from a master named Wang Saing. Another boxer named Nui Liang Ch'en came along and observed Fung's eight square steps, much like the Pa Kua stepping. Fung's expertise was in the style of Li Kua (Falcon and Fire) and Nui's expertise was in Kan Kua (Snake and Water). Both exchanged arts and collaborated to create Pa Kua Ch'uan.

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The Hsing-I and Pa Kua Connection
By Matthew DeMaria

Despite their extremely different fighting strategies, Hsing-I and Pa Kua have had a close relationship ever since the late 1800's. One reason Pa Kua students and Hsing-I students learned each other's styles is that both were taught in the province of HeBei. People say there are also other reasons for their connection.

An old story says that the originator of Pa Kua, Dong Hai Chuang and a famous Hsing-I boxer, Guo Yun Shen, engaged in a fight in Beijing. Guo kept on attacking while Dong kept on maneuvering and attacking. Because Hsing-I goes straight in and Pa Kua spins and turns, the fight was long. It lasted three days. On the third day Dong slipped a hand in and struck. After the fight, each thought so highly of the other that they agreed to study one another's art form.

Many Pa Kua and Hsing-I practitioners say that it may not have happened quite this way. Some say that Guo actually did go to Beijing to fight Dong, but his friend, Cheng, who was well versed in Pa Kua, tried to dissuade him. Guo wouldn't listen. They began to argue fiercely, and Guo attacked Cheng. Cheng used his Pa Kua and evaded the straight attack. Knowing that Cheng was skilled in his art, Guo then backed away from the fight with Dong -- He knew that Dong was even more skilled.

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