Willow Moon Internal Arts Curriculum
The Chinese language is one of great beauty and poetry, with its imagery and metaphor creating multiple layers of meaning in each word.
The willow moon is another description of the crescent moon. The crescent shape itself follows the graceful bending of the willow tree. It honors a specific shape, as do various postures and hand shapes in the internal arts.
According to the theory of Yin and Yang, the yin energy of the moon is cool, calming, and peaceful.
Standing alone, the willow image deeply reflects many aspects of the internal martial arts. The willow tree stands firm and rooted while being able to withstand a gale force wind. It is flexible yet resilient; when force is applied to its branches, it will yield until the force is absorbed, than snaps back powerfully releasing this pent up energy.
The best way to think about the curriculum of Willow Moon Internal Arts is to consider three skill sets across four specific internal arts.
The skill sets are:
- empty hand form
- weapon forms
The four arts are:
- Liu He Ba Fa.
As a student progresses through the curriculum, he will learn, beginning with simplified taiji, an empty hand solo set or form to develop the basic skills and energies of that art; a weapon form to further learn to extend chi or energy via that art; and an interactive (two person) form associated with that art to deepen one’s understanding of the actual energies and martial applications being employed.
Let’s briefly look at the arts in our curriculum;
Taiji (tai chi)
is certainly the best known among the internal martial arts styles. It is rooted in the philosophy of yin and yang and the theories of the five elements. Over the years it has been discovered that the practices that develop internal martial power are also beneficial for health and rejuvenation. Consequently, many know taiji for its health benefits. The foundation of our curriculum is the “24 form simplified taiji”.
is the next art in our learning sequence. Xingyi is known for its explosive, powerful, apparently linear movements that imitate the fighting movements and spirit of 12 animals. Although the movements are aggressive, the practitioner learns to avoid emotional excitement, making the power very refined and the movements orderly.
is the next art in the curriculum. Some consider Bagua to be “graduate school level”. Bagua is based more on the “Book of Changes” for its philosophical underpinnings. It is most known for its circular walking and coiling and spiraling. In application it is constantly moving and changing, always circular, ever turning.
The capstone of the curriculum is the beautiful Liu He Ba Fa
also known as water style boxing. It is said to use “the power of Xingyi as its center, the stepping patterns of Bagua for its turning and spinning, and the neutralizing power of Taiji for its variations”. Just as floating clouds and flowing water are sometime calm and sometimes surging, so are the movements of Liu He Ba Fa…hence the common name of water boxing.
Qigong Training at Willow Moon
With all internal arts, Qi (chi) follows the mind (intent) and the body follows Qi. Qi is a Chinese term used to refer to energy of all types. The practice of energy movement within the body around pathways or channels is called Qigong. Qigong can be seen as the art and science of using intention body structure, breath, movement and/or sound to cleanse, refine, accumulate, and circulate Qi. At WMIA we learn simple yet powerful Qigong exercises to prevent illness, improve overall health and well being, and support our martial training. Qigong training can also give one a deeper sense of inner peace and harmony.