The Earth Dragon Canon Method of Mindfulness Martial Arts
The Earth Dragon Canon Method of mindfulness martial art practice teaches the functional practices for the internal martial arts of baguazhang, taijiquan, xingyiquan, and yiquan. You will learn about the history of these arts and the cosmological concepts that give them their names.
Mindfulness martial art practice is more than the study of physical movement. It is an exploration of the mind through the body, and conversely the body through the mind. The Earth Dragon Canon Method stresses that connection to fulfill practical and spiritual growth.
There are two types of students that will find this method of practice useful: Those seeking a fitness program that is more than just running and jumping about, and those seeking to improve their martial art practice.
The first type of student is interested in a fitness program that encourages self-evolution. This student has tried fitness programs before and abandoned them as boring repetitions of strenuous activity. For this student, this method of practice presents a complete program that you can apply at your own pace.
The Earth Dragon Canon Method of mindfulness martial art practice is a lifelong program of self-evolution that will not grow stale or become trivial. Space and time will not be a factor because you can practice anywhere, anytime, and define your own development.
The second type of student is familiar with the internal martial arts and seeks improvement or a better understanding of their practice. For this student, many of the concepts are already familiar, but they may be unsure of their growth, overwhelmed by material, or frustrated at violence first methods of internal martial art training.
Selling martial arts as a method for self-defense has been popular in the West—especially in the United States—for the past 50 years. The time and training needed to apply the martial arts in fighting is greater than the average student is ready to undertake. A casual scan of the day’s headlines reveals that violent crime involves deadly weapons that even the legendary figures of the past could not overcome.
Readers looking for a good fight will find benefit in this method of practice, but only if they are ready to explore beyond the physical aspects of martial arts.
The Earth Dragon Canon Method
As the name implies the Earth Dragon Canon Method has three components. Each component illustrates an aspect of internal martial art training.
Earth Dragon Canon (Di Long Jing) is a popular phrase in martial art training that commonly refers to ground fighting. Dragon (long) implies fighting forms and Earth (di) meaning on the ground. Canon (jing) means a general principle by which something is judged. So, earth dragon canon would be the general principle of ground fighting.
The internal martial art of xingyiquan associates earth dragon canon with a circle walking practice called the twisted root. Here, earth dragon implies a circle walking practice that teaches balance, rooting, and fighting skill.
My method of practice borrows from both definitions but deemphasizes fighting skill for ground exercises that highlight key internal martial art training concepts.
The Earth components are marked with the above graphic. These are isometric and traditional exercises that will help you understand key concepts from internal martial art teaching. These exercises are more than esoteric, they will also improve your general fitness.
I combine some of these exercises into the Earth Dragon Canon Internal Power Set that I formulated from the taijiquan classics. This is not a traditional qigong sequence, but an isometric set that will remind you how the muscles of the body work together to perform the most amazing feat in the natural world, walking upright.
The Dragon components are marked with the above graphic. Here I present the classical training of baguazhang, taijiquan, xingyiquan, or yiquan practice.
Standing practice is common to all internal martial arts. Therefore, the Earth Dragon Canon Method has four simple postures that illustrate functional alignment, hand and leg positioning, and key traditional teaching. I reference these postures in most of the lessons so do not ignore this standing practice.
After you learn how to stand, you can proceed with learning any of the internal martial arts with confidence.
Each of the internal martial arts has unique foundational practice methods included in those course outlines. For baguazhang, this includes three stepping patterns for walking around the circle and the eight Standing Palms. For taijiquan this includes silk reeling and eight gate stepping practice.
The Canon components are marked with the above graphic. Canon also means a literary or artistic work considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality.
Buddhism and daoism blended into Zen Buddhism between the first and sixth centuries CE. Both philosophical systems played an important role in the development of Chinese thought.
The Canon components present a historical survey, and a summary of daoist, confucian, and dharma principles that compose the moral character of martial art practice. These sections are introductions for your further study, and I encourage you to look beyond the physical forms to develop a deeper understanding.
Lineage trees are important to understanding the development of a martial art, but after a few generations they become irrelevant. Animal breeders use lineage trees to act as a means of selecting characteristics. Monarchs use lineage trees to prove that their bloodline is pure enough to assume the throne. Unfortunately, many martial art teachers fall into the trap of the latter use and neglect the importance of the first.
Students who are more concerned with the development of a martial art than the legitimacy of a particular teacher’s practice, can follow the lineage tree of certain teachers and see how the martial style developed.
Unfortunately, martial artists that use lineage trees to legitimize their practice are known to exaggerate, or even falsify their lineage. Others become so insistent that a certain lineage is the only one of worth, they will denigrate the practice methods of other lineages. This makes legitimate research of some martial styles difficult, if not impossible. That is why my efforts center on the work of Sun Lu Tang.
Sun Lu Tang is a constant in martial art study. First, we have his published works. Second, his daughter continued his work and openly shared facts about her father’s life, study, and practice. Finally, three separate sources, each with a historical record, identified Sun Lu Tang as a master of three martial arts.
You can draw similar conclusions about many of Sun Lu Tang’s contemporaries. Sun Lu Tang, however, was unique in his efforts to legitimize the boxing arts as self-evolution programs for both the scholar and ruffian.
Teaching and Learning
Teaching and learning are like flowing water that can nourish or destroy. Some teachers, or masters, represent martial practice as a path to invulnerability through the magic power of qi. These teachers are like a raging river that should be avoided and not crossed.
Others are only interested in their own learning or make their practice hard to understand. Others use flowery terms, with changing definitions, or even claim the real meaning cannot be known. These teachers are like a wide river that is hard to cross. You may gain understanding, but only with great cost and effort on your part.
There are no secrets in martial art practice. Martial arts are not a path to invulnerability or superhuman powers. Teachers that share the building blocks of proper physical and mental functioning give you the tools for self-evolution. These teachers are like a bubbling spring, nourishing all who come to drink from it.
Lessons from the Earth Dragon Canon Method have a recommended amount of practice time, but these recommendations are not binding. I want you to develop your own rhythm of practice instead of imposing artificial limits. I encourage you to read ahead and peak at upcoming lessons, so you can determine how your practice will develop as you move through the lessons.
The internal martial arts intertwine the philosophical concepts of yin and yang, bagua, wuxing, and qi. Understanding a posture’s purpose, and the sequence of training includes the study of those concepts and you should not neglect this added study. The Canon sections of the Earth Dragon Canon Method are a steppingstone to your further study.
This is YOUR PRACTICE, take what I give you and make it your own.
There are many books covering martial art practice, few of them present the arts as a cohesive mental and physical practice with supplemental exercises. In that respect, I think my Earth Dragon Canon Method is unique and an evolutionary effort on my part. I humbly ask for your feedback on errors and encouragement to continue.