Born in 1972 in Valais (CH), I started martial arts at the age of 8 with judo. Even though I only practiced 5 years, those years of judo gave me good foundations for falls, close-range fight and ground work (see a demonstration from that time here).
At 23, I felt a great desire to get back to martial arts, desire motivated by the deeper aspects of philosophy and work on oneself. I was not just looking for a fighting art, but rather a way of life. I dreamed of finding a practice that includes these aspects and so I started Kung-Fu lessons given by Joseph Pinto, in Bex in 1995. Through his words and his reading at the end of the course, Joseph did awaken my passion for the practice and philosophical ideas. It was he who introduced me to the Taiji Quan and encouraged me in this way. Thank you Joseph.
Taiwan 1999, in Master Wang Yan Nian's dojo
Taiwan 1999, dans le dojo de Maître Wang Yan Nian
After 6 years of practice in Switzerland, an one month in Taiwan in 1999, I decided to go to the source, in China. I took a sabbatical year to realize this dream. I spent my first 6 months of training in the city of Kunming, in a kind-of "renowned" school where I alternated each night Taiji and combat (Sanda). Nevertheless I still did not find a profound link between the nice principles, beautiful theories, and practice itself. I was considering my practice a bit empty, just "technical", and I was not able to find an understanding about this hidden dimension that seems so important, the so called "internal work (Neigong)", which very often consisted of only breathing exercises. After visiting different schools, I was ready to give up Taiji .... And it is finally in that city that I met a little man in 2001, looking too young to be a "Great Master", moreover unknown in this field outside of his hometown, Yang Chenglong. It was for me a revelation. I consider him somehow the embodiment of the principles put forward in the Taiji Quan classics, which he knows deeply just like any related traditional Chinese literature from which he drew his expertise. To date, in his sixties, he is very healthy and awesome martially speaking. I consider him a "master" not to use pompous words, but because he actually has a master-level of his subject. From 2001 to 2011 I spent about five years there to follow his teaching, without leaving my job, taking extended leave (2 sabbatical years, 6 months , 5 months, etc. . ). There I devoted myself entirely to practice with periods of workout session from 3 to 6 hours per day, and learning Chinese in parallel. I am grateful for his patience and passion, and continue to visit him 1-2 months per year to continue my training and not lose my "way" (which is very easily done). Also I can see that he does still progress himself, and that is very motivating.
In Valais (CH), after animating for a few years a relatively traditional Taiji class, I propose since 2011 a course called "Taiji Martial" plunging the practitioners in profound principles of Taiji right from start. The sligthly physical approach is suitable for all ages, and is based on exercises with martial connotation and two people exchange, against the background of meditation and calmnes work, cultivating mental and physical relaxation. "Taiji Martial" for me is simply the translation of Taiji Quan. All aspects of Taiji that fascinate me are raised: meditation, inner work, philosophy, health, martial work and applications in self-defense or free fight, etc..
Concerning my personal practice including the different aspects which I describe on this site and more specifically on the page the form of Taiji: an inner journey, a first feeling of the "internal flow" manifested during my last days of training in KunMing during the summer of 2014, after 13 years following the teaching of Yang Laoshi and a regular practice, I was then 42 years old. When I mention these 13 years for a feeling of internal flow (it took 10 to Yang Laoshi), it is not to discourage, but to encourage anyone to practice with patience and confidence. This first feeling of internal flow signifies nothing particular and of course no "great achievement". This is an intermediate step, as a grade in other martial arts. I would compare that level to a second or third dan black belt (taking into account my thousands of hours of practice and what such level means in other martial arts). A black belt does not represent a culmination (unlike popular thinking on the subject), but for many masters it is "the end of initiation", usually a dozen years of serious work. My feeling of internal flow in 2017 is present but still timid, especially when it is necessary to combine the inner unity (based on this internal flow), and the unity with a partner (in tuishou for instance). This combines different nervous systems that must be harmonized, the way is still beautiful and sinuous. In short, the purpose of this paragraph is not to congratulate myself, but to present an objective view of my progress, in case someone is asking the question and given that there is currently no established means to evaluate the internal flow.
For fun, I participated in the Tuishou contest CTND in Stuttgart (De), in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Thang got a second place in fixed step and myself a third in fixed and moving steps. In 2013 I won a first place in fixed step and second place in free step. An interesting comparison for my first contacts with sportive tuishou was the moving steps exchange with one of the favorites of my category: in 2012 I did not score any points against him while I won the exchange in 2013, for various reasons.
I want to sincerely thank Roan (Morand) for giving me the opportunity to organize my course through his Karate club, and thus benefit the entire structure that goes with it. Moreover Thang (my wife) and I have benefited from his teaching (as well as other teachers of his school) following during a few years free fighting and self-defense classes.
Thank you Michael (Jacquemet) for offering me to give a workshop at the Martial Arts Show Case of 5 October 2013 in Conthey (Vs), ainsi que la Martial Arts Valais Association (MAVA) qu'il a mené durant quelques années. Here is a link to his website.
Thank you to Cornelia (Gruber-Bilgeri) for inviting me to give workshops at the international Tai Chi-Tcho meeting of Taiji Quan and Qigong of the 2013, 2015 and 2017 editions.
Thank you to Nicole Henriod, Daniela Bellotto Turra and Claudine Carette for inviting me to give workshops in Lausanne, Chateau-d'Oex and Fribourg in 2015 and 2016. Here are some testimonials and videos.
I took the risk of naming people, of course this list can not be comprehensive. I like to enrich my practice by attending courses and workshops of all the teachers and friends I meet, regardless of their passion. During these exchanges I take everything that is in line with my vision, leaving aside what could be contradictory, thus allowing me to grow without loosing my way. I feel gratitude for all these guides and teachers, even when that is only one hour exchange in a park on the other side of the world.
三人行 We have to learn from any other 必有我师
(my interpretation of that sentence)
Fabian 韩瑞 / 明德