Masich Internal Arts Method
(Maxiqi Neijiaquanfa 馬希奇内家拳法)
The Masich Internal Arts Method is an approach to Chinese internal martial arts centred in Full-curriculum
Yang-style Taijiquan, The 5 Section Taijiquan Program, xingyiquan (形意拳), baguazhang (八卦掌), and
other internal arts practices. Highlighting the distinctive teaching and training approaches developed by
Master Sam Masich in his nearly four decades of research. The Masich Internal Arts Method is rooted in an
eighty-five year old, multi-generational Yang-style Taijiquan transmission.
To follow are some of the unique features of the Masich Internal Arts Method curriculum.
1. Full-curriculum Traditional Yang-style Taijiquan (Yang-shi Taijiquan 楊式太極拳)
Regimens of practice found in nineteenth and early twentieth century taijiquan styles were designed to take the learner through a wide range of experiences, equipping him or her with a complete set of skills and an understanding of principles that could be employed under many circumstances in both daily life and martial arts. No single part of a curriculum can be fully understood until the learner has experienced and embodied it in the context of other aspects of the work. The Masich Internal Arts Method takes a full-curriculum approach to Yang-style Taijiquan providing a process for personal transformation. At each new stage the player is stretched further toward his or her potential. As with the making of a sword, where each beat extends the block of raw steel outward until it can be folded back on itself, taijiquan players are extended, redoubled, strengthened and made malleable by the forging powers of full-curriculum training.
2. Thirteen-power Complete Method (Shisanshi Taijiquan 十三勢太極拳)
The shisan shi or ‘thirteen powers’ and accompanying theory are regarded as the energetic and conceptual core of taijiquan training. How the theory is interpreted affects every aspect of the art including its philosophy, methodology, practices and values. Taijiquan masters have long considered the shisan shi to be the wellspring of the many stylistic variations of the art, as well as the universal key to unlocking its secrets. Uniquely, the Masich Internal Arts Method respects the thirteen powers ‘four-square,’ ‘four-diagonal,’ ‘five-phase,’ (‘4-4-5’) structure in every aspect of the Yang-style Taijiquan curriculum, including: bare-hand (quan 拳), dagger (jiandao 尖刀), sabre (dao 刀), sword (jian 劍) and spear (qiang 槍).
3. The 37 Essential Forms
In his 1931 book, Taijiquan Method and Application (Taijiquan Shiyong Fa 太極拳使用法), Yang Chengfu (楊澄甫) describes the thirty-seven essential forms that constitute the postural core of Yang-style Taijiquan. The Masich Internal Arts Method approach to traditional Yang-style Taijiquan employs the martial applications that Yang presents as well as a unique and progressive approach for thirty-seven essential form study which explores the forms in the context of thirteen families.
4. The 25 Energies
While taijiquan can be expressed through various forms and practices, it is fundamentally an energetic art. An important aspect of this is the study of the '25 Energies' which starts from basic connection at the point-of-contact with a partner and progresses through body/strategy studies, finally reaching what can be called 'consummate' energies. The Masich Internal Arts Method seamlessly integrates this classical 25 Energies theory with other aspects of the study including the thirteen powers.
5. Innovative stance training
Stance training is at the core of traditional internal martial arts. Factors such as stance type, stance proportion, angle of step, angle of base, orientation of step, weighting of stance form a basic part of all traditional work. Innovative approaches to stance training based on the wubu theory of taijiquan and the ancient tai-yin/tai-yang concept make the Masich Internal Arts Method approach unique.
6. Deep-sticking method based on 'sensing-hands' (jue-shou)
In the early stages of push-hands study the martial aspects do not come into play in an overt manner. Instead, a prerequisite understanding of zhan-nian jin (adhere-stick energy) must be developed in order to achieve deep-sticking mastery. ‘Sticking energy’ makes possible the ability to ting (listen), dong (comprehend), zuo (receive) and hua, which means to ‘transform’ or ‘neutralize’ energy. This allows one to ‘sense energy’ and sets the conditions for the study of taijiquan as a martial art. Push-hands at this stage is better described as jue-shou—‘sensing-hands’ and is concerned with how to make and maintain contact, how to find proper structure through relaxation and how to appropriately generate movement while adapting to the movement of another person. Sensing-hands provides the platform for more distinct martial studies regarding the neutralization of hostile force and issuing of power.
7. Bygone practices
As taijiquan evolves new methods develop and, in many cases, these represent real progress in the art. Sometimes in this development process old practices that are of value become replaced or are discarded. The Masich Internal Arts Method traditional Yang-style Taijiquan curriculum includes several important, but nearly forgotten practices, including:
Yang-style Taijiquan ‘Eight-section brocade’ (Yang-shi taijiquan baduanjin 楊式太極拳八段錦)
Pre and post-heaven heng-ha qi circulation breathing method (xiantian houtian heng-ha qizhou huxifa 先天後天哼哈氣周之呼吸法)
37 essential ‘single form’ training methods (sanshiqi danshi lianfa 三十七單式練法)
Eight disc-framed fixed-step push-hands (bapan jiazi dingbu tuishou 八盤架子定步推手)
Integrated method of ‘Four-corners’ Large-rollback’ (dalu 大扌履)—including variations and extensions
Taiji 'linking-fists' (tàijí liánhuánquán 太極連環拳)
'Mix' of 88 movement taiji ‘sparring’ form (bashibashi taiji sanshou 八十八楊式太極散手)
Yang Chengfu’s 37 essential forms (Yang Chengfu sanshiqi danshi lianfa 楊澄甫的三十七單式練法)
32 movement solo taiji sabre form (sanshier shi taijidao 三十二式太極刀) (‘Chen Yanlin’ form)
Taijidao applications form (taijidaofa shiyong lianxi 太極刀法实用练习)
Taiji spear (shisanshi taijiqiang 太極十三勢槍) (solo and partner training)
Taiji halberd (taijiji sanfa 太極戟三法) (solo and partner training)
Thirteen-power method of bare-hand, sabre, straight-sword and spear
8. The 5 Section Taijiquan Program (Wuduan Taijiquan 五段太極拳)
Forms and practices from 5 Section Taijiquan Program have been adopted by taijiquan schools around the world. This modular program has been designed to meet the needs of contemporary recreational taijiquan groups and to prepare committed students for traditional full-curriculum taijiquan training. Practitioners trained with 5 Section Taijiquan forms, connection work and principles training are well prepared for the more rigorous intensity of traditional taijiquan programs which are focused more seriously on martial arts training and self-cultivation. Mastering the basics of taijiquan via the Wuduan Taijiquan Program can accelerate overall taijiquan development by many years. The Masich Internal Arts Method employs the 5 Section Taijiquan Program as preparation for traditional Yang-style Taijiquan and other internal martial arts.
9. Connective work within traditional drills
Traditional drills used to teach internal martial arts can be enhanced greatly when properly linked to one another. Standard and improvised transitions between the exercises within the eight disc-framed push-hands (1-8), 'four-hands,' dalü, sanshou and the thirteen powers weapons exercises make the Masich Internal Arts Method particularly dynamic. Push-hands drills are entirely connected between one another allowing practitioners abetter grasp of taijiquan theory.
10. Descriptive Language
Many concepts in traditional taijiquan are difficult to understand and describe. While maintaining a clear reference to original language used by the past masters, Sam Masich has originated many descriptive terms that are now widely used. 'Deep-sticking,' 'full-curriculum,' 'hip-track,' 'core principles,' 'open-side gazing,' 'closed-side looking,' 'movement tendency,' 'resting in and supporting,' and 'generating movement by relaxation' are phrases used in the Masich Internal Arts Method to more easily describe neijiaquan concepts.
11. The Five Words of Self-composure
The words ‘breath,’ ‘calm,’ ‘centre,’ ‘root,’ ‘energy’ are used universally in taijiquan but only in the Masich Internal Arts Method are these used in this specific sequence following a precise theory. Use of the ‘5 words’ can help practitioners to identify and correct dysfunctions that inhibit freedom of movement and expression. The 5 Section Taijiquan ‘internal practice’ (neigong 內功) called ‘The Five Words of Self Composure Five Section Brocade,’ (Wuci Tairan Wuduanjin 五詞 泰然五段緞), also known as the ‘Five Words Brocade,’ is built around the ‘5 words’ concept.
12. Indoor Student Path
Learning a full curriculum of forms and practices provides the first glimpse into the traditional art. Curriculum mastery alone, however, does not guarantee the trainee great ability or profound understanding. Achieving the essence of the art requires full disclosure from the instructor to the student, usually in the context of a formal master-disciple relationship. This relationship is established when an instructor accepts the student as a ‘disciple’ (tudi 徒弟) and takes on the role of ‘master’ (shifu 師傅). The master-disciple relationship exists to ensure the continuation of a body of knowledge and the passing on of a wisdom tradition and is typically formalized during an ‘honouring ceremony’ (baishi 拜師). After the baishi the student is considered to have ‘entered the door’ (rumen 入門) can now be described as an ‘indoor student’ (menren 門人) or tudi of the master and the school. Sam Masich accepts students for indoor training through the Masich Internal Arts Method Indoor Student Program.