George Xu: Pioneer

Normally we reserve these weblog spots for a quick teaser, and designate the product pages for fuller reviews. However, since the works of George Xu often attract our special attention, we thought that this time, with his new DVD on Reeling Silk Energy, we would post our more in-depth interview along with our usual product information, here in kaimen.


“…and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

reeling silk energyWith few exceptions, I can see a very small group of people in these last  decades who have contributed as much to the spread and development of classical Chinese martial arts as George Xu (Xu Guo Ming).

His new double DVD, Tai Chi Silk Reeling and Martial Applications, shows a fuller face to the architecture he is designing. Everything about his approach over the last few years has been like a great painter opening another route of exploration; like Picasso’s blue period or Kandinsky’s dancing colors. That’s probably the reason he felt compelled to create his new style. (See last Xu post.)

Are you talking about traditional martial arts, or what?

Contrary to what so many think, following the old masters can be a source of tremendous knowledge. But you must be willing to own and change what they began, a task not many want to take up. None of this bothers teacher Xu at all. Tradition, in his case is, reborn fresh.

What is he doing, exactly?

First point, he is re-invigorating the spirit of martial studies. This double DVD uses the concept of python-like movement and tiger-like movements–but not as theatrical demonstrations, unlike the stylized and ritualized movements of, say, snake boxing. Instead, he brings the animal back into the art.

So, how does he do it?

With pure intentionality. Every type of movement demonstrated is immediately and obviously “natural.” This living practice blends with all of the previous discoveries found on his last few disks. Though structured, his movements–which sometimes barely resemble martial moves–allow for a kind of captured space instead of a set of actions, no matter how fast. He fills that space with a cloudburst of spontaneously generated actions.

Is this like doing basics?

More like discovering basics. He is whole-hearted in application. When he executes, I spot an energy like a weed cracking cement, barely visible until it has displaced any obstacle. George is a polyglot in the world of  energies. He easily switches from a technique like felling a tree, to threads weaving through all defenses without a sign of its sneaky path.

George Xu reconstructs methods which even dedicated martial practitioners have abandoned for meaning,  just practicing out of loyalty and, sometimes, laziness. In his hands they bloom again.

Because he wants to reclaim the power of Kung Fu, he is diving into the backload of martial movements, returning them to a state where they no longer pretend poses are power. His jellyfish-like shivering, or windstorm tree branches completely translates to his forms. That’s right, his most formless movements are drawn with the same brush as his fighting technique. There is no disparity.

There are flaws, of course. The camera work on this series is not exceptional, the helpers sometimes unable to follow Xu’s quick thinking and rickety English. It all has a minimalist feel. So, buy one or all of his DVDs, but take time out to listen carefully  and move in a manner that is unpunctuated, bringing power from the “somewhere else” we all know, but rarely find.

Note: Just to keep the record straight, except for a couple of short workshops, I have no connection with Teacher Xu at all. Just like the way he thinks.

2 Responses to “George Xu: Pioneer”

  1. DavidFromDenver says:

    I think it is wonderful & a compliment to Plumpub that under one “catalog” you have Masters George Xu, Adam Hsu & Porf Jou. Older, intelligent, searching men open to learning & disseminating information. Gives one hope for the future.

    O/T Do you think at least for CMA there are is or are meta-martial art[s]? Or is that El Dorado? These gentlemen seem to be dancing around the idea?

  2. S.A.W. says:

    At age 73 (well, as of Feb. 2018) my training horizons do not extend endlessly into the future. I consider myself a reasonably serious student of the internal arts: in my 24th year of practice, daily (and I mean DAILY) of about 3 hours. Many evenings, I also study DVDs and/or read relevant material for another 2 hours. Yet I still relish my daily training, and I value presentations which are consistent with both good energetic and martial practice……. like those of Adam Hsu and George Xu.

    I wanted to thank Ted for his sophisticated and accurate representation of the high quality of their work. The opportunity to learn from and train with their DVDs is priceless. I already have two of George Xu’s DVDs (#25158 & #25152) selected for purchase in Feb. based on Ted’s recommendation, without which these DVDs would have definitely passed below my radar……. my loss.

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