An Ultimate School to Learn Internal Martial Arts and Qigong in the Greater Chicago Area
Chinese Taoist Martial Arts Association
Martial Arts Styles Taught at CTMAA
The mission of the Chinese Taoist Martial Arts Association (CTMAA) is to promote the major Chinese martial arts styles originated from the Taoists for health and self-defense. The styles taught in the school include the following:
Our curriculum covers a wide and complete spectrum of the four styles including empty-hand forms, weaponry forms, and applications. The most unique feature of our curriculum is the use of the Pre-Heaven Power Method in these four styles. The Pre-Heaven Power Method is a systematic, comprehensive, and revolutionary approach to acquiring internal power. It is our belief that without the embedded internal power, any movement is reduced to just a superficial external movement without much substance. You can visit the site of the American YiZungYue Internal Martial Arts Association for more details on the Pre-Heaven Power Method. In addition to the martial arts programs, we offer weekly qigong classes and summer qigong workshops for health and spiritual enlightenment. We welcome those pursuing authentic, in-depth, and thorough Chinese internal arts training to join us.
Taoism and Martial Arts
Taoism is the foremost indigenous philosophical thought of China. The name Taoism comes from Tao, a word that means “road” or “way”: a way to follow, a way of thought, a method, and a principle. The Tao is seen as the everlasting principle at the origin of the universe. It permeates and transcends all beings; it is at the origin of all transformations. At its most fundamental level, the name Taoism does not refer to a god or a founding figure, but to a universal principle.
According to Taoist cosmology (the study of the origin and structure of the universe), in the beginning was the Tao, conceived of as an empty void of infinite potential. Then over a period of many eons, out of Tao emerged qi (vital energy; pronounced “chee”). Taoists believed that all things are made of qi, which is the smallest element in the universe. Originally the universe was in a state of chaos, but eventually the light qi rose and formed the heavens, while the heavy qi sank and formed the earth. Taoists believe that physical matter cannot be distinguished from its basic substance, qi, and thus matter and energy are interchangeable.
The major objective of training and cultivation for a Taoist is to achieve longevity and even immortality. The meditative practice known as Inner Alchemy (Neidan) was designed as a means to create the “Golden Elixir” in the body and achieve individual spiritual perfection. Since most of the methods require the practitioners to sit for a long time, there is a need for some exercises (such as dynamic qigong) which require the practitioners to move and are complementary to the still methods. The Taoist martial arts were created by adding the component of self-defense to these methods. They are the natural extension of the dynamic qigong.
But, why do the Taoists need martial arts skills if their ultimate objective is enlightenment and immortality? This is because they have recognized the existence of evil force in the world and it is necessary to learn the skills to protect the good and regulate the evil force. Not only do they have to practice but they also strive to achieve the highest level. Their philosophy is that one may not have to use it in a hundred years but one cannot lose the skill even a day. The disciplines also require the cultivation of one’s moral integrity and spiritual purity; without these, all the training and other efforts would be in vain. Therefore, the Taoist martial arts are only used passively in combat situations and their strategy is always based on the principles such as “wait until the opponent initiates the attack”, “attack later but arrive earlier”, and “emphasize neutralization than resistance.” In sum, the Taoists view martial arts as “indispensable but least important” in their training curriculum.
Characteristics of the Taoist Martial Arts Systems
After hundreds of years of evolution, the Chinese Taoist martial art systems, including Tai Chi, Ba Gua, Xing Yi, and Wu Dang, become well-known not only for their effectiveness in self-defense but also their benefits to physical and mental health. Also referred to as the internal style martial arts, these systems are characterized by their emphasis on
(1) well-aligned body structure,
(2) generation of power through sudden contraction of muscle and tendon and by “borrowing the earth energy”, and
(3) coordination of the body components connected to the spine, and thus are capable of combining the normally separated areas of body power into one integrated, unified, and synergestic whole.
In Chinese martial arts, the styles of Shao Lin, Xing Yi, Tai Chi, and Ba Gua are considered as the "four major styles". On August 8, 1997, the Post Office of the Chinese government in Taiwan published four stamps featuring these four styles to promote the Chinese martial arts (from left to right: Shao Lin, Xing Yi, Tai Chi, Ba Gua).
From the point of view of sports, the Taoist martial arts are superior to other sports and martial arts for the following two reasons:
1. The movements in the forms are designed to be consistent with the qigong principles for absorbing qi (the vital energy) from the universe and circulating qi in the body;
2. Since the training emphasizes the use of spine and alignment of skeletal structure rather than the muscle power, a practitioner can still maintain his/her ability and skill at old ages.