Wing Chun, translated as "Eternal Sunshine" in Cantonese and originating from the 17th Century in Guangdong Province, is an extremely popular, close-range style that formed the basis of Bruce Lee's fighting arts and philosophy. According to legend, it was invented by a Buddhist nun who taught the system to Yim Wing Chun, a young Chinese woman from the south who had been offered the opportunity to fight against a local warlord; if she won, she would gain her freedom, would not be forced to marry him, and could choose her own suitor. Surprisingly, she did win the fight, married her childhood sweetheart, and taught him the system. He went on to teach it to a number of other people and named it "wing chun" in her honor.
There are many different forms of wing chun, but most include six forms: three empty hand, one wooden-dummy form, and two weapons forms (butterfly knife and long staff). The underlying principle is economy of movement, and practitioners are encouraged to feel their way through an opponent's guard and exploit targets with rapid-fire punches and finger thrusts. Slapping and deflecting movements are used to disorient opponents and to shift their guard away from the center line.
When fighting, practitioners deflect or intercept strikes and then go on to trap or strike an opponent. The wing chun punch is quite unique - it is thrown from the center of the chest, as opposed to all other styles, which are thrown from the hip, the waist, or the guard.
Softness and relaxation are stressed throughout training and practice. Brute force should be avoided, as it is believed that stiff limbs allow the opponent to gain an advantage: he will be able to anticipate movements, divert the force, and use it to his advantage.
The "muk joong", or wooden dummy, is a great aid in helping students understand the system and its 108 movement forms. The art's great advantage is that it can be practiced without the use of a training partner, and the dummy serves to condition hands, fists, arms, and feet through repeated quick-fire strikes and blocks against its heavy, wooden body. Training this way with the muk joong also encourages students to think deeply bout angles of entry and attack.
Pictured Top: Grandmaster Ip Man and his illustrious student, Bruce Lee.
Pictured Bottom: Grandmaster Ip Man training on a "Muk Joong" wooden dummy.
Tai Chi, translated as "Supreme Ultimate Fist" in Mandarin, originating from the 12th Century in Hubei Province, is a martial art and health regime with an underlying Daoist philosophy. It is practiced by millions of people in China and around the world. It is characterized by slow, fluid and graceful movements, which conform to the Daoist notion of naturalism.
In China the art is seen as a way of restoring health or curing illness, as well as a form of socializing, particularly for the older people. Although the exact origins of this martial art are not clear it is a widely held belief that the original 13 postures of tai chi were invented by the Daoist Master Chang San Feng, who resided at the famous Wudang Mountain, a center for the study and practice of Daoist arts. It is said that the master took refuge at Wudang while being pursued by bandits and, in a dream one night, learned the method of tai chi. Putting it into practice, he was able to defeat hundreds of attackers.
What we can be more certain of is that Chen Wang Ting, a successful warrior and a garrison commander in the 1640's choreographed much of what we recognize as tai chi today. His original chen-style tai chi forms the basis of the art's most popular form. Over the last few centuries different styles have emerged although they follow Daolist principles there are some striking differences in the forms, most notably the removal of quick, powerful, thrusting, and twisting actions that are found in the original chen style.
More recent styles of the art employ a higher stance and focus less on fighting, joint locking, and throwing, and emphasize the cultivation of health through slow, rhythmical movements that increase the flow of "qi," or energy, throughout the body. The four major schools are chen, yang, wu, and sun style. Each school has a number of variants; yang, which is taught here at Golden Phoenix School, has a number of subsets that range in terms of complexity; yang 24 step, also known as Beijing style, is the most popular and simple to learn.
Typically, classes emphasize the three main aspects of tai chi, which are health, education, and martial art. The stances and the degree of concentration required when exercising movements correctly regulate blood pressure and develops muscular strength, coordination and balance to a higher degree than when the movements are executed quickly. In addition, each action must be visualized, which enhances strategic thinking. A major characteristic of this style of martial art is its self-defense aspect. The pupil is taught how to divert and change the direction of opponents' force, rather than directly opposing the force head-on. The daily practice of moving the joints slowly in a circular fashion greatly helps their mobility, while the qi-building movements built into the form are relaxing and refreshing.
The five-animals style is a popular form of martial art that is commonly found in southern China. The style includes elements of tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon kung fu. The five-animals style has its roots in the Shaolin temple in Henan province. In the 13th century, one of the temple's monks, Jueyuan, started with the "18 luohan hands"-the original 18 techniques of Shaolin martial arts-and expanded them to 72 forms. Seeking to develop his art further, he traveled and met Li Sou, a master of hong quan. They both traveled back to Henan province, and Li Sou introduced Jueyuan to Bai Yufeng, a master of the internal arts. Together, all three expanded Jueyuan's 72 forms into approximately 170, and organized them into the five-animals style.
As a martial-arts style, five animals can be categorized by its use of palm, fist, and claw techniques, and by the effective way in which power is generated in the waist, before being whipped violently into the hand against opponents. "Qi gong" breathing exercises are also commonly found in this style.
An introduction to the five animals:
Leopard-style kung fu is known for its quick, penetrating strikes and is based around observations of the movements of the leopard. One of the main characteristics of the style is its unique leopard fist-an unusual fist that mimics the leopard's paw as it is thrust into an opponent's ribs or throat. Another feature of this kind of kung fu is aggression, combined with repetitive strikes with little regard being paid to one's own welfare. Consequently, it contains fewer blocks than other styles. However, despite it being primarily an external attacking style, some of the attacks do in fact contain blocks within them, blocks that will not necessarily be noticed by the untrained eye. Deflecting an opponent's moves is another common characteristic of the leopard style. The system relies on speed to be effective at close quarters. Rhythm, deftness, staying low, and attacking the "soft" areas of the opponent's body, are all essential ingredients.
Unlike most other kung fu animals, the crane style does not rely on a stand-and-fight strategy in order to prove successful against more predatory opponents, but one of evasiveness developed to remove the body out of the line of direct assault. Wings actually parry incoming force in defense, often employing enough centripetal force to double as a strike with palm or backhand. The crane's beak, formed by contacting the thumb with all four fingers, make pinpoint strikes, and the crane's wing, a finger rake. Graceful maneuvers and evasive footwork forces the opponent to work harder to target in on the Crane practitioner, who in turn has the opportunity to tire his opponent before launching a definitive counterattack.
Inspired by the clawing motions of tigers and said to strengthen the bones, the tiger style focuses on quick attacking movements aimed at resolving a conflict swiftly, but places no emphasis on blocking or evasive defensive techniques. Traditional practitioners rely solely on deadly and shocking power and do no stamina training. This vicious system is characterized by direct movements, grabs, chokes, scrapes, and punches, combined with straight, side, and crescent kicks.
This style is characterized by its adoption of the fluidity of the snake in both offensive and defensive maneuvers. Its fluid motion is in line with internal martial-art theories and its different hand postures, with the fingertips typically acting as the primary striking weapon, imitating movements of the cobra and the python. Power is generated from the spine through a whipping action that flows to the fingertips. Jabbing and poking strikes are aimed at vulnerable areas of the opponent, such as the groin, eyes, and throat. The feet need to be solidly placed, but their movement must be fluid in order to get into the correct position. Many other Asian martial arts have adopted these thrusting-like movements of the fingers toward opponents at unusual angles, and there is a strong possibility that the origin of these actions lies in the snake-style movements of this particular style of kung fu.
The Dragon style is known for being both aggressive and defensive, somewhat a blend of the other four styles. While the Dragon practitioner will do everything to avoid confrontation, it will employ an absolute and totally determined effort to overcome a potentially stronger opponent when the fight becomes unavoidable, relying on spinning, floating and sinking movement, withdrawing and curving its body inwardly to absorb or neutralize incoming attack. During the opponent's attack, the Dragon practitioner will simultaneously intercept and break-through their defense, taking advantage of their tension or laxness by launching a strike from an unexpected direction or to an unexpected location. If the opponent's power is too great, the Dragon practitioner will step off line, to counter an opponent's open area, then "bounce" him or her out using many large zig-zag stepping movements while constantly extending and contracting thier body.
While the origins of Chuan Fa, translated as "Fist Method" in Mandarin, remain unclear, some experts trace its roots back to Shaolin kung fu and the Henan Province. Others credited with founding the art are the physician Hu'a To (190-265CE) and Sung dynasty general Yue Fei (960-1279CE). Chuan Fa, which is commonly known as Chinese Kempo, is a no-holds-barred system of offensive and defensive methods that emphasizes striking with the hands and feet, immobilization and control, takedowns, weaponry, and spiritual and healing arts such as "qi gong." There are may styles of chuan fa, but the five animals of Chinese martial arts-tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon inform the basic techniques of the system.
We accept students from all walks of life who share the simple desire to learn an ancient martial art.
Students are enrolled into four divisions; each with its own age-appropriate material, instruction style and program offerings, as follows:
Click on each Scroll to learn more about that System!
-Martial Arts Basics
-Balance & Coordination
-Foundations of Good Character
-Martial Arts Basics
-Techniques & Forms
-Martial Arts Basics
-Conflict Management Skills
-Martial Arts Basics
-Techniques & Forms
-Life Skills & Leadership
Our youngest students have a special program all to their own; one that introduces a blend of basic punches, kicks, blocks and stances from each of the styles we offer to older student divisions, ensuring a smooth transition to the Phoenix Kids class in the future.
Tiny Talons train in semi-private (max of 4 students) and full-private lessons only, which allow for more one-on-one guidance than with traditional group classes.
With each engaging session, our Tiny Talons learn to listen carefully, respect their surroundings and others, perform moves and tasks in repetition, hone a variety of gross motor skills and memory, and have a lot of fun in the process!
Tiny Talon graduates are certainly at an advantage, not only in the continuation of their martial art programs, but also in other settings such as home life, public school, and sports activities.
Students enrolled in our Phoenix Kids program are granted the opportunity to focus their training in any of the four styles offered, but most popular with kids and parents alike is the Chuan Fa system with its easily digested segments and patterns of material, making for quick recall and self-defense application.
A belt ranking system is also employed, which is useful in measuring progress and as an effective motivational tool.
In addition to semi-private and full-private lessons, group classes are also available twice a week for all styles to train together and sharpen one another.
Character development is stressed early and often, with students expected to perform their best on and off the training floor in all areas of their life before earning the privilege and responsibility of learning new material.
While more students trend toward diversity in choice of training styles as Phoenix Teens, most still prefer Chuan Fa and its respective belt system, especially if recently transitioned from the Phoenix Kids division and working toward a goal.
At this juncture, however, students will be introduced to a more in-depth and technical look at the body mechanics, physics, and philosophy behind each system and expected to demonstrate a working-knowledge of such. At every opportunity, a deeper appreciation and respect for their chosen art is instilled and self-directed personal growth encouraged..
As with their younger cohort, Phoenix Teens have two group classes offered during the week, in addition to their scheduled lessons.
This program is designed to point young martial artists toward mental and emotional maturity through mindful practice.
Ranging from youths just experiencing their first taste of independence, to retirees seeking to maintain it, (and everyone else in between): the Phoenix Adult student body is one of great diversity and unique needs.
No doubt this is due to the health-oriented nature of these systems, which increase the over-all vitality of the practitioner through full-body and breathing exercises. And regardless of the system studied, each student will be equipped over time for practical personal protection.
Semi-private and full private lessons can be scheduled when convenient. Two co-ed group classes and a Ladies' Tai Chi class are available to attend.