Wu-Tang Center in Philadelphia
Welcome! The Ba'z Tai Chi and Kung Fu studio was started by Sifu John C. J. Chen in 1996 in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. It is now located on the second floor of 5235-43 Ridge Avenue (intersection of Ridge and Manayunk Avenues) in Roxborough. The school is a branch of the New York Wu-Tang Kung Fu Institute.
Sifu John Chen offers classes specializing in the Wu-Tang system of martial arts, as described in the section below. Each class starts with a Qigong exercise set, a stretching and warm-up set, then proceeds to various form, training, and conditioning practices. Beginners tend to start with Yang-style Tai Chi or Long Fist/Tan Tui before moving on to other major forms. With this foundation, students learn a range of body movements and styles that develop coordination and self awareness. Weapons training is gradually introduced only after a firm foundation in footing, turning, and weight-shifting is established.
At the Wu-Tang Center in Philadelphia, it is our belief that we have every right to protect ourselves. Training in this regard can only make us stronger, safer, and more intelligent in life's unpredictable, high pressure, real-life situations. Our studio extends an invitation to all people who wish to join us on this journey of self-improvment through martial arts.
Internal Training in the Chinese Martial Arts
Not only does The Wu-Tang system require grounding in the external aspects of martial arts, it also stresses the importance of its internal conterpart. This internal training concentrates on the basics i.e. breathing, stance, and energy-generation in order to create outward form and movement. In the West, the most popular example of this is Tai Chi (Taijiquan) and it is widely known to elicit tremendous healing benefits and martial power to the disciplined practicioner.
To develop this gift, our traditional method of internal training puts heavy emphasis on tendon/ligament usage, whole-body structure, and energy projection. In chinese martial arts, this is greatly prefered over isolated muscle development. Through our training programs, practicioners may become introduced to a new and exciting awareness of one's self and one's physical ability. But, first and most importantly, our internal method relys heavily on proper cultivation of one's strength, health, and confidence through four complementary practices and techniques.
Qigong: "energy work" which revolves around breathing exercises to circulate oxygen and blood from organs to extremities. Although Qigong can be practiced alone, it is actually an on-going component of the three exercises discussed below.
Stretching: opening joints, muscles, and tendons to create pathways for directing energy and creating movement. This open flow of energy (oxygen and blood) also nourishes the skeletal structure and body tissues. Stretching develops flexibility, endurance, and improves range of motion and posture.
Standing Postures: both a form of physical discipline and standing meditation, holding the body in a static form for periods of time causes the mind to settle down and concentrate on itself, thus calming it down for the work at hand. The mind becomes aware of and learns to direct the body's position through physical adjustment and mental concentration. This integrates mental and physical endurance into a simultaneous discipline.
Moving Forms (whole-body movements in self-defense techniques): Forms train the body to respond reflexively to threatening situations. Form practice improves balance, coordination, and memory. The Wu-Tan system teaches five major forms detailed in the CURRICULUM page.
The Wu-Tang System
The Philadelphia studio traces its lineage to the teachings of Grandmaster Liu Yun-Qiao (1909-92) who was born and raised in Hebei Province (province surrounding Beijing). Grandmaster Liu began martial arts training at age 5, served in the Chinese army against the Japanese invasion of the late 1930s, and fled with the Chinese Nationalists to Taiwan in 1949 where he continued to serve in a military role. Grandmaster Liu became the Safety Advisor of the Presidential Palace and trained bodyguards for the presidents of Taiwan. Grandmaster Liu passed away at age 83 in Taiwan on January 21, 1992.
While in Taiwan, Grandmaster Liu gathered what he considered the most effective martial arts forms into a training system that embodies the best of internal and external conditioning, physical and mental discipline, and Chinese philosophy. This system was named Wu-Tan, sometimes literally translated as "martial platform" but bearing the meaning of a "place where the martial arts are revered". The Wu-Tan system revolves around 5 major forms: Baji-Quan, Tai Chi, Pigua Zhang, Tang-Lang, and Bagua Zhang. The fighting form which sets the Wu-Tan school apart from all other schools is Baji-Quan.
The Baji (8 extremities) form originated in Hebei Province and was known to exist since at least the beginning of the Ching (Manchu) Dynasty (1644-1908). It is a very practical and powerful style designed to intercept and cut down an opponent as quickly as possible. This is one of the reasons that it was often adopted as the fighting style for bodyguard troops of the imperial palace and subsequently, protection of Chiang Kai-shek and other government officials in Taiwan. Its outward appearance is hard and explosive, but its underlying source of power is generated from internal cultivation of energy.
Grandmaster Liu's system has spread to the Western hemisphere with former students teaching in Flushing New York (Marlon Ma), Akron, OH (Tony Yang), New Jersey (Charles Chen), Cupertino, CA (Adam Hsu), Toronto, CANADA (James Guo), Montreal, CANADA (John Hum), and Brazil (Su Yu-Chang) to name a few.