Work in progress
Noteworthy martial arts
Practical (Wudang) Tai Chi Chuan - a branch of this (presumably) ancient Chinese internal martial art that proudly embraces its martial origins and purpose. It is a broad, deep, and challenging study that spans from meditative forms to weapons to transformative exercises to nasty applications. This is my primary art and the other fighting forms that I study or have studied, such as Aikido or Thai boxing, I see only as subsets of and focus areas within the broad reach of Tai Chi Chuan.
Cheng Hsin by the Zen Body-Being author Peter Ralston is a work of contemplation, self-discovery, and increasing body-awareness to achieve “effortless power” - and enlightenment. Very deep, powerful, and inspiring. Ralston commented:
I worked to understand what it is to be skillful as a fighter from a global perspective, not restricted to any art. This included studying the role of perception, interpretation, physics, interaction, mind, strategy, force, physiology, psychology, social programing, and matters beyond human conventions. This isn’t common, that is why I recommend delving into what the Cheng Hsin Arts have to offer.
I Liq Chuan, The Martial Art of Awareness - founded in second half of the 20th century, this art inspired by Tai Chi Chuan and others takes a new approach and tries to teaches the essential principles directly (instead of letting the students discover them eventually through techniques training). The system’s foundation are exercises for experiencing the basic principles and body mechanics (relaxation, center of gravity, 3 planes of movement,…), accompanied by partner training (pushing hands, martial techniques, etc.), hand forms (i.e. orchestrated sequences), meditation etc.
Bob Orlando’s Kuntao - Silat school has quite a few interesting books, videos, and articles about the principles of the Filipino martial arts and MA in general, including Fighting Forms of Kuntao-Silat (with focus on application and multi-oponent fighting), Fighting Footwork of Kuntao and Silat (± 4h of video), Reflex Action - Training Drills to Fighting Skills that focuses on (primarily) partner drills, Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals etc. He has also some controversial and interesting articles. The Filipino MA are themselves interesting thanks to their triangular footwork and focus on the destruction of the opponents’ upper and lower limbs.
Systema - interesting because it focuses on principles over techniques, focuses a lot of correct breathing, and is a complete fighting (destruction) and health (self-restoration) (and possibly spiritual?) system. But I hear the quality of the instructors may vary a lot.
Practical Hung Kyun - a school of a widespread, traditional kung fu that stresses practicality and fully integrates application drills, sparring, full-contact fighting, and self defence scenario drills.