Company: ALC Productions
Tape Name: I - Chuan Chi Gong
Tape Cost: $ 39.95 ea. ( $109.95 for set of 3 ) plus $ 3 postage per tape
Length of Tape/Time: 43 min
Number of Moves/Techniques: 4 postures
Return Policy: Not Known
Experiences in dealing with this company:
The Instructor: Jane Hallander
Company's Address: P.O.Box 513, Novato, CA 94948
Company's Phone Number: 408-257-8716
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

1. Production/Tape Quality: 9
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 9
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 10
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 9
5. Score on delivery vs. hype: 9
6. Degree to which we'd recommend this product: 9
7. Wasted Time (The higher the number, the less "fluff"/repetition): 10
8. Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again: 9
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 9
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 8

Grand Total: 91%

1. 80%-100% = 91%
2. Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent 2.75 stars = Good
3. 0-5 stars = 2.75 stars

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Good
2. Intermediate benefit: Good
3. Advanced benefit: Good
4. Time to benefit: Varies with individual
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None

Written Summary:

Due to both the tens, if not hundreds of thousands , of internal arts practitioners out there and specific requests by some of our readership, we at MAVR will henceforth be bringing you reviews of internal arts videos, starting right now. In this instance, a short explanation is necessary. Although the title of this video ( i.e. Chi -Gong) suggests health exercise to many and although this material will benefit one in terms of health, within the parameters of the internal martial arts, this is a martial arts instructional video. I- Chuan is a martial art created by Wang Zhiang Chai , a Hsing - I master famous for his fighting ability in China in the 1930's to 1950's. Master Wang was the Bruce Lee of his day ( I personally prefer to see Bruce Lee as the Wang Zhiang Chai of his day, but no letter bombs , please), i.e. he took the internal arts "material" and chucked out 90 percent of it. Forms, out, they are stilted , artificial and in some cases, downright unhealthy. Weapons forms, also out - learn to move your body properly and to generate power and then simply adjust for the particular weapon's characteristics. ( He defeated 5TH Or 6th dan kendo master Kenichi Sawai , who was wielding a sword , with a shortstick or paintbrush - story related by Master Sawai in his book " Tai Ki Ken - The Essence of Kung Fu "). Deadly Dim Mak , the same, i.e. learn to generate power correctly and wherever you hit the opponent magically becomes a Vital Point. Anyway , having dumped most of what he considered inessential, he then obviously had to systematizise his practice as a teaching.

Holding awareness to be a basic principle, one first needs to become aware of oneself. In various meditative disciplines such as Zen or Yoga this is done sitting or lying down. For martial arts purposes this is obviously not the best solution, so standing meditative postures became the basics of his system. To a certain extent this is practiced in all the internal arts( the reviewer, in learning Hsing I, was first made to stand for long periods in the San Ti Srr posture), however, nowhere is it emphasised as much as in I - Chuan and in the other internal arts, there are then lots of forms etc. to be learnt. So, to summarise : First, become aware of yourself, your posture, your energy flow, areas of tension etc. whilst standing and not moving at all. Then do the same, not moving the feet, moving the arms whilst shifting weight from one leg to the other for instance. Then stepping, no movement of the upper body. Finally, combining stepping with full body movement .Eventually you end up with a free shadow-boxing type movement, the main thing being that your internal awareness is fully connected and unbroken, because of the step by step learning methodology. Often people learning from a "forms -mastery " perspective do not seem to grasp the internal, even after ten or twenty years of study. Doing it the I -Chuan way takes self discipline ( standing in one posture for an hour is not "fun", it can seem like days, sometimes, and you end up with a puddle of sweat around your feet, try it and see), but it does produce results. After becoming aware of oneself, one then practices awareness of an opponent through various partner drills and sparring. The sylabus can probably be "learnt" in a few months, but as always, real ability takes years. Interestingly, I - Chuan exponents have quite a reputation as fighters in China.

Right, now how and where does this tape, the first of a three part series , fit into all of this ? Material on I - Chuan is rare, the reviewer has less than ten instructional tapes on the topic, and some of these were bought in places as far afield as France, Japan and China. Jane Hallender is a well-known and very prolific martial arts journalist and a teacher of Tai Chi Chuan and of I - Chuan. She studied I - Chuan with Master Peng Si Yu, a direct student of Wang Zhiang Chai, so her lineage is excellent. In this tape she gives a basic introduction of I- Chuan and then goes on to teach four of the basic postures or exercises. These are : " Basic Standing ", "Leg - Bending" , "Pulling Chi" and the "Eagle form" exercise. The instruction of these postures is fairly thorough and competent, but definitely at beginners level and she leaves out a lot of the mind-stuff that could be used to promote greater ability, once the basic standing practice has been grasped. My first Sifu, for instance, taught more or less what is shown on this video but he brought in the use of the mind, so as to learn to direct the energy flow ( using certain types of visualisation) fairly quickly. However, if you do things the way they are taught on this video , you will probably stumble upon these things yourself - unless you have given up before you get there. This , and this is only my opinion , is yet another example of the crappy oriental policy of "teach them , but don't teach them too much ". Ken Cohen's Chi Gung video, which also devotes a large section to this method, is far more open in it's teaching, just to give a comparison. Jane Hallander gives you four fishes in this video , Ken Cohen teaches you how to fish. Anyway , as I said, the teaching is competent at it's level and there is also always a section on common mistakes that should be avoided. It is often difficult to learn from videos, but due to the nature of the material, anyone wanting to learn could definitely use these videos as a starting point.

The video closes of with a wonderfully comical demonstration of "kong jing", i.e. the ability to move another person without touching them. To quote Hallender "As a self defence method it's useless", although she does say later that "kong jing has a good self defence basis to it" (make up your mind, lady ). Basically , if one builds up one's chi and one's control thereof sufficiently one can eventually influence the energy field of another person who has similarly built up his energy field. So then one can test one's level, sort of by pushing each other, stronger energy wins. To absorb and neutralise the force, the person pushed back hops like a demented frog ( Kinda cute , might make a nice Duracell Energiser Bunny advert, you know, with Duracell you can do kong jing longer ).As Hallender says correctly, the applicability against an attacker on the street is nil, maybe he gets sick the next day, but if you're in the morgue, this does not help you much. Why am I so critical of this ? Firstly, no self defence value, as stated before. Secondly , the whole essence of I Chuan is to cut away the crap, and here is one of Master Wang's students making this stuff a central part of the teaching ( to quote Hallander : "..Peng Si Yue went one step further - he is the only disciple of Wang Zhiang Chai to have developed kong jing.." ). I'm guessing off course, but I have a feeling that if Master Wang had thought this important, all his disciples would have learnt it from him , unless off course the implication is meant to be that the student far surpassed his master , in which case it's a free country and Ms. Hallender has the right to believe whatever she wishes.

Anyway, to summarise, a video that competently shows the basic foundations of standing meditation practice, presented in such a way that one can learn from it. With a great ending that beats most of what you see on "America's funniest home movies".


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