(Arranged in order of most recent at the top - scroll down for earlier news items)
Sal Ebanez Seminar (11 March 2006)
Above: Ashley Lau, Shihan Sal Ebanez and Nenad Djurdjevic
Intensive Training Course: taiji and Kata (30 January - 3 Febuary 2006)
Hot on the heels of Shihan Dan's Chen Pan-Ling Course we held an intensive training course this year focussing on taiji and single and two person karate kata and Chinese "bridging" forms for the senior students.
on Chen Pan-Ling Course (9-14 January 2006)
By Shihan Dan Djurdjevic
It has taken me a while to get down to writing a report on the Chen Pan-Ling course, but this has not been for want of words!
For the better part of 2 decades it has been the objective of our college to move students slowly from what is essentially a "hard" or "external" school of martial art to the "soft" or "internal" arts of China, namely taijiquan, baguazhang and xingyiquan. In particular we have for some time wanted to study the styles of those arts taught by the late, great Chen Pan-Ling, one of the most reknowned masters of all time. In particular we were intrigued by his style of taijiquan which is a highly respected synthesis of the 5 major schools of taijiquan. To give you some indication of the level of respect it has, it was taught by 2 of the legendary strongmen of Taiwan, Wang Shu Jin and Hong Yi Xiang (who taught our instructor, Bob Davies).
So when the opportunity arose to train with none other than the son of Chen Pan-Ling, Chen Yun-Ching, in country Victoria, I jumped at the chance, notwithstanding the fact that my health had been quite poor for quite some time. It was simply not something I could miss.
I arrived at Melbourne airport in the afternoon on 8 January to be greeted by James Sumarac, a senior karateka and internal arts practitioner who runs the Wu-Lin retreat at the foot of the Macedon ranges where the course was held. I was to find out later that the retreat is only 15 minutes drive away from where Picnic at Hanging Rock was filmed, however I was so absorbed in the training that it never crossed my mind to have a look at any of the sights. James was a wonderful host, as was his partner Shou Mei. Thankfully Shou Mei is from the same town (Taijung) in Taiwan where Master Chen lives so she was able to translate for him (he speaks very little English - more of that later). Shou Mei is also a wonderful traditional Taiwanese cook, and I thoroughly enjoyed every meal during the week. James and Shou Mei were always on hand as assistant instructors and their own depth of knowledge contributed greatly to the success of the event.
The retreat itself is modelled on a Chinese village - a central courtyard bounded by the entrance, 2 ensuite rooms (very comfortable) on either side and the main hall which is a minature of the Shaolin temple. The hall itself was grand, with high ceilings and a wonderful hardwood sprung floor. James and Shou Mei had their living area on the other side of the hall. During some breaks we would congregate in their dining room, have Chinese tea and discuss the martial arts - a very cultured way to pass the time.
When I arrived at the Wu-Lin retreat I discovered that we were privileged not only to have Master Chen Yun-Ching teaching, but also his elder brother Chen Yun-Chow (or "Willy" as he preferred to be known, although we called him "Lao Tze" out of respect). While his younger brother had inherited the mantle as head of the system, Lao Tzu had been looking after his elderly mother, the wife of the late Chen Pan-Ling, who passed away recently aged 101. Lao Tze is also a producer in Taiwan's largest radio station. He felt a little embarrassed at not being in optimum shape, however he was still supremely agile - particularly for a 76 year old (he does a mean "snake creeps through grass")! His presence at the course was invaluable in that it shed a slightly different light on the legacy of Chen Pan-Ling.
I found Chen Yun-Ching to be an absloute gentleman and a true master. Even though he is in his 60s he showed the athleticism and power of a man at least 20 years younger. What was most inspiring was however his dedication to his students and the generosity with which he gave out his profoundly deep knowledge. We had something like 8 hours of structured training per day, although some of the students (including yours truly) continued training through the breaks and even after dinner, so it ended up being more like 10-11 hours. During all this time Master Chen would sit at the sidelines watching and correcting. As I mentioned earlier, his knowledge of English was limited - principally to 2 phrases: "Beautiful" and "NO Beautiful". Despite the language barrier I found that we had no real difficulty understanding each other. When some technical issue did require a more elborate translation, Shou Mei was on hand to help.
Most of the training consisted of Chen Pan-Ling taijiquan, both the open hand form and a sword form. Those who had previously studied the open hand form opted to concentrate on the sword. My group chose to focus on the open hand form. It was gruelling, not so much in a physical sense as a mental one. It is also quite demanding to be in deep stances for most of the day. The afternoon was capped off with the study of Chen Pan-Ling's xingyiquan and baguazhang. Again, we were divided into 2 groups and I chose the former as it was most similar to my karate background. Unlike taiji, xingyi is physically very demanding - both aerobically and in terms of stress on the body. It is a very dynamic and explosive art. Master Chen continued to impress us with his ability to demonstrate the techniques with full power. Towards the end of the week I found my knees and ankles aching (probably from poor form!). Thankfully each afternoon rounded off with an hour or so of push hands drills which gave the students a chance to wind down as well as mingle.
I found the "mixed bag" of students a the course to be a very friendly and approachable bunch. James' senior students (some of whom have been with him for 30+ years) were also very knowledgeable, not to mention effective, martial artists.
The course ended officially on 13 January, although I stayed on an extra day, most of which was, again, spent practising.
I would summarise the experience as one of the most intense and intellectually stimulating in my life. I don't think I have learned as much in one week at any other time. My deepest appreciation goes to Master Chen and his brother for all they gave to me. I must also thank James and Shou Mei for their hospitality and assistance. I came away with a mountain of knowledge, but more importantly I established a bridge to yet more "higher learning". Lastly, I made some lasting friendships with some very open (and like) minded martial artists.
Congratulations to our new Black Belt: David Zimmermann (14 January 2006)
UK-based Wu-Wei Dao student and instructor, David Zimmermann (see pic below) recently returned to Perth for a holiday and more training with Kancho Nenad and Shihan Dan Djurdjevic. During this visit he completed a black belt promotion course (his 3rd!) and passed a black belt grading and written instructors' exam thus qualifying for his Shodan (1st Dan Black belt) ranking on 14 January 2006. Congratulations to David on his achievement. The milestone of black belt is however a good time to reflect on the dojo kun "Persevere in your training". As the master said "before enlightenment, hard work. After enlightenment, hard work" (!)
Update on Lao Tze Bob Davies' 88-temple pilgrimage (20 December 2005)
Good news is that Lao Tze Bob completed his pilgrimage on Shikoku Island, Japan, doing the 88 Temple Route. For good measure Bob (who celebrated his 60th birthday on the trail) included the 20 Bangai (unnumbered) temples on the route bringing the number of temples visited equal to the symbolic figure of 108. He arrived at Mt Koya at about lunch time on Tuesday 20 December. He walked an amazing 1609km over 65 days in mountainous country and in the cold and snow (for more detail read the earlier news article).
Above: Lao Tze Bob serving tea at the free tea station near the main temple at Koyasan Dec 20, 2005
Above: Snow on Mt Koya
When reflecting on this achievement I would urge the reader to ask themselves why have only a very small number of special people completed this challenge in 1300 years - and what makes them special?
Most normal healthy people could train up their bodies for such a task, but as one US Navy Seal instructor said: "Your body can take it, but the main question is, can your mind?"
As with elite soldiers, serious martial artists should be aiming to develop into people who, to again quote the US Navy Seal instructor, "just won't quit under any circumstances". Lao Tze Bob is one of those people and an example to all martial artists.
Here is an interview with Lao Tze Bob Davies after his successful pilgrimage.
Another Wu-Wei Dao student in China (posted 8 December 2005)
Ashley Lau has followed in the footsteps of Tim Brown, Natalie Djurdjevic and Trevor Aung Than in making his way to China to train and experience life general in the land where martial arts were born.
Ash is simultaneously learning Shaolin kung fu and training with an Okinawan goju-ryu school as well as studying the Mandarin language.
He will be there for 3 months.
Below are pics of Ash "striking a pose" in front of the Lanting temple in ShaoXing.
Edged Weapon Seminar (27 November 2005)
Sword and edged weapon expert Peter James assisted by Mannie de Matos recently held a 3 hour workshop on a hot November Sunday afternoon. Kancho Nenad, Sempai Jed Handmer and Juniors Jonothan Lau and Elliot Bannan attended. The material covered included Avoidance, Passive defences, "Hit and Run", Dynamic Engagement, Restraints, Holds, Locks, Breaks and Disarms.
The whole group of instructors and participants.
The Wu-Wei group (Jono Lau, Kancho Nenad, Sempai Jed Handmer and Elliot Bannan) with the workshop instructors Mannie De Matos (far left) and Peter James (far right) and some of the senior martial artists that attended the workshop.
London dojo opens!
Our very own expatriate Australian in London, David Zimmerman has announced that he has opened a branch of Wu-Wei Dao in central London. Currently David holds trainings twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. At this stage his dojo has only been going a few weeks but there are already a number of regulars. Otherwise, David sends his regards and trusts that everyone in the Perth dojo is going well. He will be back in Perth for a holiday in January 2006 and looks forward to sweating with everyone then.
Here is a "press release" from Sempai David:
Wu Wei Dao has now graced the shores of England with the opening of a new dojo in Central London and Canary Wharf. After living and working in London for the past 18 months I, in conjunction with my wife, Felicity, and through discussions with Kancho Nenad have undertaken the task of setting up a new Wu Wei Dao dojo in England. We are holding training sessions twice a week in the evenings and teaching the broad and exciting syllabus that is Wu Wei Dao. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and am sure that we will grow into an important part of the College.
Wu Wei Dao has many close links with our cousins in Karate Do and we intend to maintain these always and look forward to sharing in much sweat on many training courses and Gashkyu's in the future. We will keep such events posted on our website and invite all students of Karate Do to attend these events.
Special thanks must go to my wife Felicity for being willing to let me undertake this task and has even commenced training in her own right. Also Amelia and Roger our founding students for their continued enthusiasm during the start up phase of life if the our dojo, without the support of these two individuals, especially Amelia, the London dojo would not have gotten off the ground. And finally thanks must go to Kancho Nenad and Shihan Dejan for their continued support, enthusiasm and development of martial arts without which none of this would be possible.
For details of training locations and times please refer to the information posted on www.wuweidao.com . All students of Karate Do are welcome at our dojo so if your in London and looking for somewhere to train please give me a call on 07760 483 102 or drop me an email at email@example.com
Train hard and stay strong!
Click here for training times and locations in London.
Left: David Zimmerman at an international gashuku in Hungary in 2004.
from Sensei Nenad's and Sensei Dan's instructor
Lao Tze Bob Davies (posted 26/8/05)
Lao Tze Bob and his partner Shaz
Sensei Nenad's and Sensei Dan's principal instructor, Lao Tze Bob Davies continues to be an inspiration to them. Never one to go easy on himself or others Bob continues to be an inspiration to his students: current and past as he continues to further his knowledge and challenge his mind, body and spirit.
In October this year he plans to follow up his earlier March-April trip to Japan to train again with his instructor in the classical art of the sword, Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. However this training will supplement his main reason for this visit to Japan which is to undertake a two-month solitary walking pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku, known as the 88-temple pilgrimage. This pilgrimage, with a total distance of around 1500km, is recognised as one of the two most significant on the planet (the other being the Camino de Santiago from France through Spain- about 800km) and is known to test body, mind and spirit to the extreme.
For those who have not heard of this pilgimage: it is done at a speed not dissimilar to running a marathon every day. In addition, one must rely on the kindness of the local populace for food and shelter (when available). There little time for sleep; as failing to stick to the itinerary/schedule means that the pilgrimage cannot be completed in the allotted time. It is for these reasons that only a very small number of special people have completed this challenge in 1300 years. "Pilgrims of this circuit are called henro or o-henro san in Japanese," said Bob.
Lao Tze Bob, who will celebrate his 60th birthday on the trail, will also be including a further 20 temples known as the bangai temples as well as following two different pilgrim routes to get to the island. He will return again using the top of Mt Koya near the southern tip of Honshu as his starting and finishing point. Mt Koya (Koyasan) and its remaining one hundred temples out of the original nine thousand dating back to 816 AD, is recognised as being the most important spiritual retreat in Japan.
Lao Tze Bob pointed out that his interest is not driven by any religious significance of this pilgrimage. He pointed out that his interest is not driven by any religious significance, but by the need for a deep spiritual journey to foster his personal growth and better equip him to mentor others.
Lao Tze Bob however makes it clear that he doesn't want to rush the experience. He plans to spend time at each of the temples, to experience the energy of the temples, to meet and interact with the people and to enjoy particular vistas of nature that catch his attention without the thought of how much time is being consumed or how much time is left to get to the next one. Thus when on the road, he will need to move as fast as physically possible to compensate for the time spent enjoying those special places and meetings to their fullest. In other words he will probably end up doing more than a few extended running stints to fulfil his double (equally prioritised) objectives - total experience of the journey; and completion within the allotted time. He feels it will be a case of investing the maximum physical performance, at the right times, to achieve the maximum spiritual experience 'at leisure'.
Lao Tze Bob will need to walk approximately 30km a day - every day, for more than 55 days to complete his journey within the allotted 8 weeks. As he will be walking during the period between the end of October and the end of December 2005, he will encounter snow in the mountainous areas and temperatures well below freezing most nights. He will be venturing deep into rugged mountains to reach the top of the two highest peaks on the island, plodding along sandy beaches, rocky coasts, through fields and hills, villages and towns. But with characteristic undefeatable optimism, Bob pointed out that the plus side of a winter pilgrimage is that "there will be very few others on the mountain paths" [to slow him down]! His pilgrimage will be completed when his partner, Shaz, joins him on the top of Mt Koya (Honshu) so that they can see in the new year together.
"One ends where one begins, completing a full circle," said Bob, "Yet this will not be the last day of my pilgrimage - just another day on the henro trail of life".
We wish Lao Tze Bob all the best for his quest and feel immense pride at the challenge he has set himself.
Postscript: After reading the above Lao Tze Bob wrote: Your news announcement makes the pilgrimage sound so challenging that even I was feeling sorry for the person about to undertake such a mission :-). I think I better step up my preparatory training even more.
Above: Photos from Lao Tze Bob's dojo
New Black belts! (22 August 2005)
Congratulations to Sempai Tim Brown and Sempai Jed Handmer on achieving their Shodan (1st Dan Black Belt) rankings after many years of steady progess (Tim commenced training in 1997 and Jed in 1996). Their path was long and hard and but it is a sobering thought that Shodan is just "the first step" of the martial arts journey. Well Done Tim and Jed! Keep up the good work guys!
Above: Tim Brown and Jed Handmer in sparring action at the final phase of their black belt grading.
Kancho Nenad's Europe 2005 Seminars (May/June 2005)
The Chief Instructor and Principal of the Wu-Wei Dao Martial Arts College, Kancho Nenad recently held a series of training seminars in the UK and Europe in May/June 2005. The seminars covered goju-ryu karate as taught by the Wu-Wei Dao Martial Arts College and focussed on areas such as Tuide (kata-based grappling flow drills) and embu (two person kata).
Here are some photos, from the New Forest Karate seminar:
The New Forest group at the start of the 5 hour seminar (wondering what's in store for them!)
Kancho Nenad demonstrates yoko geri jodan with assistant instructor David Zimmerman.
Kancho Nenad demonstrates ushiro geri with assistant instructor David Zimmerman.
[Many thanks to Sensei Dave and Sensei Ellie for inviting me to hold a seminar and for their incomparable hospitality! - Kancho Nenad]
Click here for photos from the London seminar.
Here are some photos from the Lucern, Switzerland seminar:
Saifa kata practise at the Kushido Lucern, Switzerland dojo of Paul and Juanita Bauman.
Kancho Nenad demonstrates "Tora guchi" (tiger mouth hand).
[Many thanks to Shihans Paul and Juanita for inviting me at such short notice and for their hospitality - Kancho Nenad.]
20th Anniversary Festival (7 May 2005)
Click here for report and photos
Jeff Speakman Seminar (16 April 2005)
We were fortunate to have action film star and Kenpo Karate Master Mr Jeff Speakman visit Perth recently. In a world of "McDojos" and high-ranking "masters" who just don't live up to the hype surrounding them - this guy is the real deal! The seminar was fantastic - not only were the techniques convincing but Sensei Speakman personally came across as a man who really is "The Perfect Weapon" (as per the title of his 1991 action movie). To cap it off, he gave us a great workout without wasting valuable seminar time doing endless bunnyhops and other high impact exercises as has been the case with some seminars we have attended in the past.
To summarise the seminar: After a brief warmup, Sensei Speakman took the group through various self defence drills -first demonstrating each drill in its base form and then adding extensions and follow-ons later - including how to deal with "what if?s". Only one side was taught/practised at the seminar so as to allow participants to get a handle on the techniques as quickly as possible (plenty of time to practise both sides later).
Unfortuately only 3 of us were able to attend as a result of our club having had a big week (see Intensive Training Course report - below). It is however, a sad indictment on Perth martial artists (and the state of martial arts in general), that so few people attended not just this excellent seminar, but also other recent seminars. I can only surmise that they are either: 1) afraid to leave their comfort zones, 2) afraid of a little hard work, 3) insecure about their own abilities or, worst of all, 4) arrogant enough to believe that they have nothing worthwhile to learn outside of their own dojo/kwoon. No matter - it's their loss. The important thing is that Wu-Wei Dao students continue to learn, gain experience and improve their karate by exposure to a wide variety of martial arts and martial artists.
Left to right: Sensei Nenad, Sensei Jeff Speakman, Tim Brown and and Ashley Lau.
Earlier News - click here