Christy Marx's martial arts page
The first place I ever saw Tai Chi was in the movie, EASY RIDER, of all things. I had absolutely no idea what the young man on the screen was doing, but I knew it was something beautiful and fascinating.
While living in L.A. in the early 1970's, a friend asked me to come along with her to try out a karate class. We both started training, but she dropped out. With me, it took hold.
I think part of it is that I've had the good luck to find exceptional teachers. This was especially true when I began this first class, since I knew absolutely nothing about martial arts.
My first Sensei was Daniel DiVito (no relation to the actor) who taught me Tae Kwon Do. His sensei was the Korean founder (whose name escapes me 20+ years later). He pushed us hard and gave us good discipline. I advanced to blue belt (intermediate level).
But I was never entirely satisfied with Tae Kwon Do. While it is certainly a fine style, I found it blunt and hard and not as ideal for a woman as other styles might be.
A very long time later, I began training in Shotokan with a fantasic woman black belt named Taryn Seidel. Shotokan is a form of karate that originated on Okinawa. It reminded me slightly of Tae Kwon Do, but had more circular movements, more rotation and torque. I wish I could have trained with her far longer than I did. When Taryn had to leave the area, I continued in Shotokan with a couple of other Sensei and advanced to brown belt.
Unfortunately, in this small mountain town it's hard to maintain a dojo and it closed. More years passed when I was unable to train.
Then luck came my way again. A wonderful Sifu, John Arteaga, began teaching Taijiquan (T'ai Chi Chuan) and Northern Shaolin Praying Mantis style. Mr. Arteaga grew up in Okinawa and began training when he was 7. We're talking the very tough, hard discipline traditional training. He has studied a great many different forms and styles, and incorporates elements of Bagua and other techniques to convey to his students the underlying principles of various martial arts. He seeks to raise our understanding of what is happening with every move, to make us aware of the infinite levels of application that come with understanding as the first step on the long road to mastery.
I studied with Sifu Arteaga until he also had to move away, so I am once again on my own without a teacher. I continue practicing and training alone to retain as much as I can of what I learned until I'm able to find another teacher.
I have written a book about the life and wushu of Jet Li. I was hired by an educational publisher who is doing a line of such books for kids age 10-13, called MARTIAL ARTS MASTERS. Those to be covered in this series are Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
My Jet Li book was released in Feb. 2002. You can order it on amazon.com.
One of the interesting pieces of data I picked up from researching for this book is that "kung-fu" doesn't mean what I thought it did, or what most Americans think it does. Kung-fu originally referred to the time and energy spent in learning something. It means "skill from effort". So if you spend time and energy learning to dance, dance is your kung-fu. If you spend time and energy learning to write, writing is your kung-fu. Anything can be your kung-fu.
The misunderstanding occurred when Bruce Lee would talk about his about his fighting style, and used the term "kung-fu" (though he actually spelled it "gung fu"), meaning it was something to which he had devoted his life's time and energy. Instead, it came to be attached to an overall name for the type of Chinese martial art that is now so commonly, and incorrectly, called "Kung Fu".
There is a vast wealth of information on the net about martial arts. The trick is finding good material written with a good attitude. Though I can hardly claim to be any kind of expert, these few websites below struck me as being worthwhile. My sifu personally recommended Peter Lim's site to me.
For some of the best information I've found on the web about Taijiquan, I highly recommend Peter Lim's Taijiquan Resource Page.
Qi: the Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness has information about Taiji, Chinese Culture, Qigong, acupuncture, herbs and other topics of interest.
The American Chinese Martial Arts Federation has a website about Praying Mantis Style Kung Fu.Richard Tsim's Lau Kune Do is a website covering Kung Fu and Tai Chi.
There is some fascinating history and information about Ba Gua Zhang (and Taijiquan and other styles) by Tim Cartmell and his Shen Wu School of Martial Arts.
Numerous other links to Chinese styles and culture can be found from this Chinese Culture page.