Tong Bei Studies, Translations

通备武艺 马越- Tongbei Wu Yi- by Ma Yue

Translated by Chad Eisner- September 2019 (Additional translation and assistance by Dr. Jared Miracle)

This is a piece by my teacher Ma Yue. This is a basic explanation of the core principles and qualities that make Ma Shi Tongbei Wuyi (Ma family Tongbei Martial arts) what it is. It is the following that forms the basis for my love of this art and its influence on Terra Prime, and the development of sports based on sword and weapon combat. The focus of Tongbei is of providing a well rounded and “comprehensive” training regimen. One that includes material from all manner of combative practice into a single whole. This includes the historical aspects, the scientific and physical aspects, the performative aspects, and, of course, the fighting aspects. 

Ma Laoshi is uniquely qualified to speak on such topics. Not only his this his family style and tradition. His father, Ma Xianda was instrumental in the formation of the sport of modern Wushu. Ma Yue, himself was of the first graduating class at Being Sports university with a martial arts degree. He holds multiple championship titles in both forms and fighting (san da and duan bing). He embodies this system to the core. 

I have added some explanation where it seems prudent but these are concepts that will be returned to often. Also, some other information as provided by Jared Miracle who assisted me in the finishing touches to the translation.

Tong Bei Wu Yi–By Ma Yue

运动 2018-3-13 187阅读7点赞1评论

通备武艺——马越  侵删

“通备武艺”是融通兼备的武术体系,在拳法上主要吸收了劈挂、八极、戳脚、翻子四大部类及螳螂、太祖等传统拳法的精粹,以“通备劲”为核心贯通熔铸形成的一种长短相兼、刚柔相济的武术文化流派,它既包含古典武艺内容,又吸收了大量现代体育(武术)内容的一门综合性的拳种,历史悠久,源远流长,融通古今,兼备内外。它的理论基础是“通备”,它的技术核心是“通备劲”,它的宗旨理念是“通神达化,备万贯一,理(拳理)象(形势)会通,体(健体)用(实战)俱备”,它是中国传统武学百花园中的一朵奇葩。

Tong Bei Wuyi” is a martial arts system that both integrates and combines many styles of martial arts. It has included, Piqua, Baji, Chou Jiao, Fanzi as its four major methods,  and also (other) traditional methods such as Taizu and Mantis. This is a kind of Wushu Culture that includes long and short range as well as hard and soft methods. It contains traditional arts as well a variety of modern sports and (martial arts) to form a comprehensive training method.  It has a long history. A history of integrating different martial arts methods both ancient and modern, internal and external. Its theoretical basis is to be comprehensive (Tong Bei), its technical core is to display comprehensive power (Tong Bei Jin). Its philosophy is “Through dedication of mastery, prepare 10,000 to use as one”, “Logic” (logic of fighting), “Form” (the context), cultivation of  the body (fitness), and application (its use in real combat). It is a wonderful flower in the garden of Chinese Martial Arts. 


(一)理论基础——通备学说。

“通者,通达也。非神而不能通,非化而不能达;神化之功,方得通达之妙。备者,备用也。备为概之全体,用为动之总旨。得其全体之宗旨,通达之神化,方应通备之名。知善之至妙而不虚耳。”通备武学的中心思想突出一个“变”字,“变”既“博采众长、发展创新”之意。通备武学的传习者始终遵循清初起源于河北的颜(习斋)、李(恕谷)学派文武兼能、全面发展的武术思想,在生活实践中主张精神与形体的统一,理论与实践的结合;倡导强身与防身,文事与武事的结合,修身炼心和陶冶性情的高度统一,最后达到“通神达化,备万贯一;理象会通,体用俱备;文通武备,身心和谐”的理想境界。

1) Theoretical basis – – Tong Bei theory

1) Theoretical basis – – Tongbei theory

“The one who integrates, integrates mastery”. No spirit, no knowledge,  no change no understanding; achieve spirit and change, and the mysteries of “mastery” will be yours. The one who ‘prepares’ is prepared to use [what has been cultivated]. Cultivation is the sum and total of ones training, application is the general purpose of those actions. Only when the integration of the whole is obtained, and the dedication to mastery is in place,  can this be called by the name of “Tong Bei”.  To know the most subtle of virtues is not in vain. The central point of Tong Bei martial arts is to highlight a “transformation”. “Transformation” means not only to take in the general ideas of others but also strive for development and innovation.  Students of Tong Bei martial arts always follow the martial arts thoughts of Qi (Xi Zhai) and Li (Shu Gu) schools that originated in Hebei in the early Qing Dynasty, and advocated the unity of spirit and form in daily life. The combination of theory and practice; advocating physical fitness and self-defense, literary and military affairs, a high degree of unity of self-cultivation and temperament, and finally reaching the goal of [the embodiment of the saying] “Through dedication to Mastery, Prepare 10,000 to use as one, when the mental image is realized, the body is readied for use.”; The “scholar warrior” is the ideal state of preparation of physical and mental harmony. 

[The two characters, 通 tong and 备 bei, are used in a kind of mnemonic word play here and can be confusing for English speakers. As such, some liberties with translation are needed to convey the ideas correctly. The term Tong Da通达 we are translating as “mastery”. The idea that is important here is a complete and thorough knowledge and skill that one cultivates in earnest. Bei备,meaning to prepare, is alternately translated as “cultivate”. Cultivation is the sense of the word that indicates a concerted effort to build skills for the future. The two concepts work together in forming the single idea of “Tong Bei”.

“The Scholar Warrior”武文-Wu wen, is a concept common in the Chinese Martial arts. It is someone embodies the Confucian ideal of a harmony between complementary yet seemingly opposite ideals like, martial and civil, theory and practice, etc. ]


(二)技术核心——通备劲。

通备劲就是按照六合(内三合和外三合)八法(拳、掌、肘、肩、胯、膝、足、头)的原理,在练习中人体躯干一系列劲道高度统一、协调的综合表达,这种高度协调的劲叫“整劲”,而这种“整劲”就是“通备劲”。它分上、中、下三盘劲道,上盘为“劈挂劲”和“滚勒劲”,中盘的“吞吐劲”和“开合劲”,下盘为“拧转劲”和“辘轳劲” ; 归纳总结为十六个字,即:“大开大合、猛起硬落、辘轳反扯、如珠走盘”。通备劲讲求一切力量的使用要通畅、通舒、圆通,要有通透感,要使练习者深刻感受到痛快淋漓。在实用技法上,它表现为以最大力量(优势兵力)、以最快速度(神速)一股脑(全面彻底)力达对方最薄弱的部位。通备劲要求在练习中躯干如弓、四肢如箭,上下肢任何打击手段必须在躯干的一张一弛中击发出去。把身体躯干用弓作比喻,重点在三个地方(上端为颈椎,下端为尾椎,中为腰),中轴的运转(前俯、后仰、大开、大合)带动四肢的运动, 在练习中要求做到含胸拔背,拧腰切胯,溜肩合腕,双臂交错,纵横相兼,力贯膀臂。

2) The core of the system- Tong Bei Jin

Tong bei follows the principle of Liuhesix harmonies” (inner triad and external triad) and the Bafaeight methods” (fist, palm, elbow, shoulder, hips, knee, foot, head), the human torso must be highly unified and coordinated in practice. The comprehensive expression of this kind of highly coordinated strength is called “whole jin“, and this “whole jin” is “Tong Bei jin.” It is divided into upper, middle and lower, or three basins. The upper basin is “chopping and hanging jin” and “rolling jin”, the middle part of the “swallowing jin” and “spitting jin” and “opening jin” and “closing jin”, the lower part is “twisting and rotational jin” and “pully and lash jin”; It is is summarized into sixteen words, namely: “Big open and big close, violently rise and solidly fall, smash and reset, walking like a pearl in a dish.” Always strive to use all forces as to be smooth, comfortable, tactful, and to have a sense of transparency, to make the practitioners feel saturated in it. In terms of practical techniques, it manifests itself in the most powerful level (maximal strength), at the fastest speed (shen su), in the brain (regulating everything) to reach the weakest parts of the opponent. In the practice of Tongbei Jin, the torso is like a bow, and the limbs are like arrows. Any means of attack from the upper or lower limbs must be launched with a stretching and relaxing of the trunk. The torso is compared to a bow. The focus is on three places (the upper end is the cervical vertebra, the lower end is the tail bone, and the middle is the waist). The movement of the central axis (forward, backward, big opening, and coordination) drives the movement of the limbs. In the practice, one is required to carry the chest out with the back, twist the waist and cut [hinge] the pelvis, glide the shoulder together with the wrist, the arms are staggered, the longitudinal and transverse phases are combined, and the force is applied to the upper arm.

[Liuhe六合 and Bafa 八法 are not to be confused with the martial art of Liuhebafa but rather the principles of that name found in several Chinese martial arts. The Six Harmonies are split into inner and outer aspects. The 3 outer harmonies are; hand with foot, elbow with knee, and hip with shoulder. The inner harmonies are , mind to intention, intention to Qi, and Qi to strength. The 8 methods are essentially the parts of the body used in striking.

劲/勁 jin or jing, is a word that is difficult to concisely express in English. like all words in Chinese, it has many possible translations depending on context. For our purposes we can use the term “power”. e.g.Twisting power, is simple enough to understand, but the idea of “Tong Bei Jin” has a different meaning. While ‘power’ does work to an extent, ‘jin’ is often used in the martial arts meaning “quality of movement” or “signature aesthetics and forces”. It can also be a catch all of the unique techniques and methods employed by the style. I am translating it, as “The things that make the style what it is.”]

Ma Yue training in Ma Shi Tongbei, one of the most prestigious Muslim Styles of Kung Fu.
The traditional quatrain expositing the Tongbei ethic by Ma Feng Tu


三)宗旨理念——“通神达化,备万贯一;理象会通,体用俱备”。

3) The traditional concept; “Through dedication to mastery, Prepare 10,000 as one. When the Mental image is realized, The body is readied for use.”

       “通神达化”

是指修炼通备武艺所要达到的一种理想境界,也可视为武学爱好者在练功实践中所追求的最高目标,即达到融会贯通、随心所欲的“化境”。 通者,通达也。非神而不能通,非化而不能达;神化之功,方得通达之妙; 

“Through devotion to Mastery,”

This refers to an ideal state that must be achieved by practicing Tong Bei martial arts. It can also be regarded as the highest goal pursued by martial arts enthusiasts in practice. That is, to achieve a “transformation” of integration and freedom of action. It is a milestone, Tongda. If you do not have the spirit, you can’t cultivate it, if you do not change you cannot master it; The power of spiritual transformation, can only be obtained by subtleties of mastery ;

[Tong Da通达 is left untranslated at times as a way to convey the point that it is a subtle and intangible thing in the context of martial arts. This line could be rendered “Through dedication to Tongda”

A mention of the use of the word Shen or “spirit” is in order. In the Chinese literary and scholarly idiom, a divide is drawn between the “divine” or “spiritual” and the “Profane” or “ordinary”. The word ‘Shen’ refers to the divine, the spiritual, the religious, but also the mysterious, the profound, and the subtle . Here it is used to denote a deep and almost transcendent knowledge of things. Or, at least, the devotion to such a gain such knowledge.]

       “备万贯一”

           是指融会贯通的效应,可以理解为重加熔铸,由博返约,唯精唯一。备者,备用也。备为概之全体,用为动之总旨; “贯一”就是孔子的“吾道以一贯之”的意思。

“Prepare 10,000 to use as one”

This refers to the effect of integration, which can be understood as like re-casting and returning to the simple from the complex, so that the unique Jing is all that remains. The one who ‘prepares’ is prepared to use [the unique Jing]. This is intended to be the general purpose of the whole, and it is used as the general form of the movement; “One” is used the same as in Confucius,  meaning, ’”I have always been as this.”.

[贯一 wan yi is an expression of connectedness and linkage. It is taken from the old Chinese coins that would be strung together through a hole in the middle. The saying and image are of separate things strung together into a single whole].

“理象会通”

“理象会通”,理,拳理。象,拳势。拳理和拳势要融会贯通。

“The mental image is realized”

“The mental image is realized”, [means] logic, the logic of martial arts.   The images are the postures. Martial art theory and practice must be integrated to achieve comprehensive mastery.

        “体用俱备”

          体,身体。用,招法。强调达到强身、育心和技击、防身的多重作用。得其全体之宗旨,通达之神化,方应通备之名,知善之至妙而不虚耳。在通备的宗旨理念体系中,是基础和前提,“通神达化”是目标和境界,二者相辅相成,互为因果。在这个理念中,“通神达化,备万贯一”是广义的、抽象的,“理象会通,体用具备”是狭义的、具体的。

“The body is readied for use”

Concerning the body, the physical body. Apply the methods. Emphasize the multiple roles of achieving physical strength, nurturing martial arts, and self-defense. It is the purpose of all of it, the deification of “Tongda”, the the true name of “Tongbei”, there is benefit to this knowledge and seeking it is not in vain. In the general purpose of the Tong Bei system, this [phrase] is the foundation and the premise. The phrase “Tong Shen Da Hua” is the goal and the realm. The two complement each other and affect each other. This concept, “Tōng Shén Dá Huà, Bèi Wànguàn Yī” (Through dedication to Mastery, prepare 10,000 too use but one) is broad and abstract, and “Lǐ Xiàng Huì Tōng, Tǐ Yòng Jùbèi” (The mental image is realized, The body is readied for use) is narrow and specific.

[神化 shen hua, which means “deification” relates back to the issue of spirituality. In this context it can mean to raise the act of learning and training and treat it as sacred. ]

        (四)核心内容——通备武学分为长拳、短打两大类型,包括劈挂、八极、翻子、戳脚四个支系。

 (4) Core Contents – Tong Bei martial arts is divided into two major types: long and short-handed martial arts, including four branches: Pigua, Baji, Fanzi,and Choujiao. 

通备大架子为其母拳,劈挂拳一路、二路,三路、四路以及溜脚架子、十路弹腿等是通备武学的原有内容;八极、翻子、戳脚、螳螂、太祖九手等招法和相关的长、短、双、软等器械内容则是通备武学在不同发展时期、不同发展阶段科学吸收其它门派精华,经过几代通备武学大师的扬弃、熔铸、心悟、染化和加工,而成为有其原形影子但在技法上精于原形、在形体上美于原形、在速度上快于原形、在劲道上猛于原形的通备武学体系的补加重要组成部分。

Tong bei has as its foundational barehanded routines; Pigua road one, two, three, and four , and in order to train smooth leg technique, ten road Spring Legs,These make up the original content of  Tong Bei’s martial arts. Baji, Fanzi, Coujiao, Tang Lang (mantis), Taizu, and related long, short, double, and soft weapons are the martial arts that have been incorporated (into Tong bei).  The essence of other sects are used to progress different stages of development (in students). After several generations of comprehensive martial arts research, the style takes on the processes of other traditional crafts like casting, dyeing, and refinement of the original form.  But in the technical aspects (of the original form), it is as beautiful, yet faster and stronger than the original. This an important part of the comprehensiveness of the Tongbei System. 

The Author

Ma Yue is the 6th generation of Ma Shi Tongbei under his father the great Ma Xianda. Ma Yue has worked tirelessly to bring his family style to the world, teaching extensively in Europe and Russia as well as the USA. Today he lives in Xi’an China with his wife and continues to practice and expand Tong Bei.

Ma Yue with his Father Ma Xianda

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