IARI
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THE INTERNAL ART

The internal art is a term of ancient Chinese tradition connected first of all with internal styles of Chinese martial schools which were formed on the base of Taoist tradition to XVI-XVII centuries. Using of "internal" or "long" effort is a peculiarity of the internal styles.
The aim of training is healing throughout cleaning the spirit, energy and internal power. The internal art is an art of cleaning and accumulation of these three true men's treasures.
The origin of Chinese martial art dates from antiquity. However the most wide spread legend about Wushu origin, as a school with continuous line of passing knowledge from teacher to pupil, connected with Shaolin monastery built in 495 year in Honan province not far from saint Songshan mountains.
Just here came from India (i.e. from the west for China) in VI century 28th patriarch of Buddhism Bodhidharma becoming the first patriarch of Chinese's contemplation school and legendary creator of shaolins wushu. His mission consisted in correction the situation with Buddhism in China where internal understanding was substituted for superficial ritual.
A legend says that neither emperor seeking for the enlightenment and investing means in monasteries, nor shaolin's monks who exhausted themselves by long reading of holy texts and theirs mechanical learning by heart didn't realized Bodhidharma's ideas about direct and intuitive contemplation of true as a base of consciousness' nature.
Bodhidharma had to seclude himself in a cave not far from monastery for 9 years. By the end of this long seclusion the monks had been imbued with respect to the strength and spirituality of a teacher and accepted his method.
After 9 years of sitting ascetic's legs lost an ability to move. But he, using a special complex of exercises restored it. Also he taught the monks to practices in which contemplation and physical exercises took turns. Some part of those exercises consisted of the movements which mimicked the animals' habits and martial movements as combination of maximal energetic activity and calmness of consciousness and spirit.
Gradually shaolin's school of martial art and enlightenment of consciousness was being formed. There exist two texts attributed to Bodhidharma - "Treatise about changing of muscles and tendons" and " Treatise about washing of marrow and brain " in which was revealed an internal essence of exercises, leading to enlightenment and disclosing the special abilities of a men.
According to the legend Bodhidharma taught, it was necessary to calm completely controlling the circulation of energy in the body, obtain clear condition of consciousness- so called empty. Then the deepest relax comes. A person comes to the principle of embryonic breath returning it's primary condition, becomes clear as a child.
"A person practicing embryonic breath returns his energy and improve his heart. When energy calmed all the illnesses leave the body. When energy achieves perfection, heart also achieves perfection. A person following Tao hasn't turbid thoughts and if he acts so day by day that's called true enlightenment. "
The centuries passed and the natural selection of the best fighters and methods of combat leaded to the creation of an unique system which part exists even nowdays.
It's possible to watch until now in shaolin monastery the demonstration of human abilities- breaking of solid things, passing electric current through a human body without any harm for it. Legends and fair tales also tell about others levels of human's abilities these are increase or decrease of weight, transformation of physical body into invisible, overcoming of space and time. The legend also has a power and sense because it attracts a new followers coming to believe in the possibility to achieve perfection.
















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In time the shaolin's training system of spirit and body developed up to it's limit and turned to the next level of development. The legend tells about a shaolin monk Zhang San Feng - XIII century. The hermit was witnessing a fight between a snake and a heron. A bird was attacking impetuously but a snake evading it's blows by soft circular motions.
The movements of a snake and bird suggested an idea to the hermit about such combat's form in which the attacking and defending, soft and hard, quick and slow movements would combine in one harmonious unity. It can be supposed that just then an idea of internal power's training (instead of external, muscular) and the techniques of circular and spiral movements which are specific for a new combat's system were born.
It was qualitative change in the system of knowledge about martial arts-from using an ordinary muscular effort to the application, so called long or stretched effort which connected with using of the whole body's strength as unit system on the base of bones and chords.
Of course the method opened by Zhang San Feng was connected with training method of taoiste hermits and mystics who represented a proper Chinese tradition differed from shaolins one, which had been based on Buddhism i.e. Indian - external for China. It's sure there happened interchange of both systems. But the legend ascribed the creation of internal Taoists styles to Zhang San Feng as the shaolin ones- external to Bodhidharma.
Just internal, Taoists schools prepared theirs followers to the comprehension of timeless aspects of existence, to the immortality. Training was based on the theory of 8 miraculous channels and three centres forming the structure of internal human's cosmos. The united energy revealed in the three true human's treasures such as spirit, energy and internal power moves in this system, created in accordance with the principles of the dynamic of macro universe.
It's known, in accordance with the Chinese tradition that imperfect but all the more frankly mean and bad person cannot move perfectly i.e. he's unable to reflect harmony and beauty of the Universe. Also it's impossible for him to realize an ancient wisdom of tradition. So it's senselessly to teach unprepared person. First of all he must change himself or even admit his imperfection and the necessity of changes.
Because of that there exist ethical norms and serious limits of passing on the knowledge. It's said in the ancient precepts what had to be a master of martial art:
- irreproachable in his manners and appearance,
- behaves cordially and politely
- he's comprehensive and lofty in spirit
- he's frank in learning to others
- he's a noble person even in rivalry.
That's why there was very strict selection of pupils in old wushu schools. For example:
- it's prohibited to be disrespectful to teacher,
- it's prohibited to say spiteful things about friends,
- it's prohibited to loose trust,
- it's prohibited to adopt the art stealthily,
- it's prohibited to deceive people,
- it's prohibited to be arrogant,
- it's prohibited to be greedy,
- it's prohibited to be reserved,
- it's prohibited to speak ill etc.
There called categories of persons prohibited for passing the doctrine. For example it's prohibited to pass the doctrine in taiji-quan Yang school to those who:
- confess another doctrine,
- doesn't realize the relation between teacher and pupil,
- lacking in virtue,
- unable to learn,
- stops on the half of way,
- forget about teacher after becoming rich,
- doesn't want to take in the doctrine,
- gets angry and often becomes furious,
- cannot moderate his wishes,
- commits outrages etc.
A person, following the way of martial art to perfection, has to revise his relations with the world, with the other people and with himself. An experience shows that wushu exercises by themselves render considerable support in correction of emotional and spiritual qualities.
The old masters says:
"A body will be improved after training fist art one hundred times. A true will reveal itself after training one thousand times."
There is considerable difference between wushu tradition, which units naturally and organic martial and sanitary practices, philosophy and faith, knowledge and life, and physical "culture" and sport which are usual for our generation.
One can imagine all the depth of tragedy of old masters, traditional wushu schools' patriarchs in the period of culture revolution.
wushu was reformed after 1949 year. The aim of reform was to eradicate harmful ideological influence of mystic and metaphysic ideas, which are alien to communist and materialistic outlook.
People' republic of China offered the wushu conception without any spiritual content which was a base of art of previous thousand years.
Here is a characteristic definition:
Wushu is a sport. It's based on using of attacking and defending techniques of hands and legs' punches, captures, throws, thrusting and slashing movements applying in taolu-complexes and combats realized by bare hands or with the armsIn China wushu has a wide, mass character. It's a traditional kind of physical education having characteristic national peculiarities.
Naturally all the training came to ordinary using of physical and muscular strength. And wushu become a part of gym. However, in some time, it become understandable that wushu could be an object of trade and influence for the West, from where arrived more and more admirers of this art.
The period of culture revolution was difficult and tragic for wushu masters as for all Chinese culture.
That time the masters, the bearers of tradition, were exiled, deprived of possibility to teach and train legally and frequently of the freedom and even life. For some of them the ruined stock's history and theirs own lives were unbearable. And it was the reason of suicide. Nevertheless many of them found a possibility to train and pass the knowledge secretly.
Now People' republic of China keeps one of leading places in the world on the rate of economic development. Contemporary China builds a new life quickly and qualitative. Let's take for example a city construction. Practically each city "grows for one floor during a day." We were witnesses of it time and again. Coming back after training in the evening we watched the sky-scrapers which are built around becoming higher for one floor than in the morning. The relation in others life spheres also develop very quick.
Quite modern International Institute of Taiji Chen style studying has been existing about ten years in the vicinity of 300-years buildings of traditional China village and the graves of school's founders in Chenjiagou, which is a historical center of Wushu's variety- taiji-quan origin. About 2 thousand participants of traditional International Taiji-quan Festival meet there once in two years.
The school is led by the descendants of school and Chen family founder in 19th generation. Among them there are four grand-masters Chen Xiao Wang , Wang Xi An, Chen Zhen Lei, Zhu Tian Cai and a legendary Chen Fa Ke's pupils having become a living legend themselves.
They are 57 years now. Their sons are about 30. They are adopting baton gradually and have own pupils. The last, twenty first, generation is rather young. Some of them cannot go on theirs own yet. Although some tens of thousands of people from all the continents participated and going on to participate in Chen Xiao Wang's seminars, none of the European are admitted to the family except Jan Silberstorff (Germany). He became the first non Chinese entering the Chen family's chronicle as a master.
Some hundreds of Chineses learn annually at the Institute. Also a boarding school works there. The children beginning from the age of six years study an ordinary school program and wushu there. In September of this year one more Taiji-quan centre of the same scale has been opened. It's directed by grandmaster Wang Xi An.
May be one must be born a special man to bear the daily waking up at 6 o'clock a.m., 3-4 daily training and school lessons for ten years.
The famous master and actor Jacky Chang described in his autobiography the same strict routine at the school of Beijing's opera where he was sent at six years old.
Isn't it here the main secret of kongfu - to begin every day at 6 o'clock for 10,20 yearsfor all the life?
The same situation in the contemporary Shaolin.
Now it's a big sport and cultural centre attracting thousands admirers of wushu from different countries.
It's a system of boarding school type of different levels including preparing courses for children. Also there is a department for foreigners. One can take there some or another course of shaolin wushu for appointed payment. It can be monthly or weekly courses, for example.
The Shaolin's Pearl remains the territory closed for foreigners. Chinese monks devoting all their life to adopting Buddha's doctrine and shaolin wushu are in training there.
Even thousands of tourists passing by the ancient walls of monastery and annual shaolin international tournaments, in which the hundreds of participants from all the parts of the world take part don't bother them.
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(c) The Internal Arts Research Institute