Wahnam Taijiquan?

Sifu Joko Riyanto of Shaolin Wahnam Indonesia using mind to direct energy to move his Taijiquan patterns

The following discussion is reproduced from the thread What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan? started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 5th June 2006.

"We aspire to the scholar-warrior ideal. This includes that when someone comes into our forum and publicly tells our students and the public that we do not practice what we claim to practice, we are duty-bound to right wrong. On a personal note, I am sure all my Shaolin Wahnam brothers and sisters will join me in wishing Kaitain all the best in his endeavour."

-- Sifu Robin Gamble

Robin Gamble Sifu Robin Gamble
Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam England
8th June 2006


I was disappointed that Kaitain did not want to meet Jamie, Ronan and me for free sparring. I was more disappointed that he did not want to take part in a debate or discussion on what genuine, traditional Taijiquan is, especially after he came to our forum with such gusto telling our students that our Shaolin Wahnam techniques were useless and that our Wahnam Taijiquan was not Taijiquan.

Nevertheless, I respect his decision as well as the way he chooses to practice and teach his version of Taijiquan. I sincerely want to thank him for his posts because they have set me thinking deeply of our own Wahnam Taijiquan philosophy and practice. I have spent many hours preparing my posts for this thread and shall continue to post on why we in Shaolin Wahnam believe our Taijiquan to be genuine, traditional Taijiquan with special reference to Kaitain's version and our Wahnam Taijiquan. If Kaitain wishes to pop in to comment, he is certainly welcome.

I would like to categorically state that the difference between Kaitain and Shaolin Wahnam is purely professional, and nothing personal. We aspire to the scholar-warrior ideal. This includes that when someone comes into our forum and publicly tells our students and the public that we do not practice what we claim to practice, we are duty-bound to right wrong. On a personal note, I am sure all my Shaolin Wahnam brothers and sisters will join me in wishing Kaitain all the best in his endeavour.

Calling a Cow a Horse

While form is not everything in genuine, traditional Taijiquan, it is still very important. It is the visual aspect, and often called the “body” of the art. Just as your physical body is not everything you are (your mind and how you conduct yourself are also important parts of your personality), it is usually by the appearance of your physical body that you are known.

In our school a common theme we talk about is that many people merely practice the outward forms of Taijiquan but miss the essence such as Taijiquan internal force and Taijiquan combat application. For convenience we call this Taiji dance.

Kaitain's case is different. I have no access to his solo Taijiquan forms. In another public forum, EmptyFlower, which Kaitain has said he goes for confirmation of his views, a poster warned Kaitain not to show any video of himself performing his forms to avoid being labeled “low-level”. Whether Kaitain heels this advice is of course his choice and privilege, but I would hope he may post a video here showing how he performs his Taijiquan forms so that we can compare whether his forms or those of Wahnam Taijiquan are closer to genuine, traditional Taijiquan.

Meanwhile, for the purpose of discussion here, I would use his forms in the video he posts here where he seems to be very proud to have hurt his student. As Kaitain has said that he trains the way he fights, it is reasonable to presume that it is also how he trains his version of Taijiquan.

For the convenience of forum members here, I have extracted some pictures from that video and reproduced them below.

Ordinary standing position Ordinary standing position Ordinary standing position

I am really at a loss as how anyone can call what Kaitain demonstrates as Taijiquan.

In an earlier post Kaitain said that forms were not important, it was the principles that made his art Taijiquan

Originally Posted by Kaitan:
"I think it comes down to how you perceive taijiquan. For me it is a principles based system. Whatever the outward appearance, it is the internal aspects that make it taijiquan. Consequently I have no issue using sprawling against a shoot - if my strikes, chin na, throws and grappling skills are all borne of taijiquan, then Im using taiji. If my body, breath and mind are all unified then Im doing taijiquan - according to my definition. I accept that there are many different approaches - this just happens to mine."

Hubert replied succinctly:

Originally Posted by Hubert
"Most fighters could then claim to do taijiquan. I believe that indeed naturally good fighters have achieved body, breath and mind unity. However surely there is more to Taijiquan than that."

To which, Kaitain said.

Originally Posted by Kaitan:
"I can perform a sprawl and still be doing taijiquan. Hell, I can do a flying knee and still be doing taijiquan. Taiji is a grappling system - it trains at grappling range (push hands is grappling no?). If I have to go to ground I am still using taiji principles - even if the submission techniques are mostly BJJ/sub-wrestling, all of my defensive work on the ground is taijquan."

Kaitain may point to a cow and say that it is a horse, but we don't, we say it is a cow. Kaitain performs grappling, BJJ and sub-wrestling and calls them Taijiquan, but we don't, we call them grappling, BJJ and sub-wrestling.

Kaitain may say that although its appearance is a cow but if it performs the functions of a horse, he calls it a horse. But the fact is that Kaitain's cow does not perform the functions of a horse. His grappling, BJJ and sub-wrestling techniques use grappling, BJJ and sub-wrestling principles, and not Taijiquan principles.

In fact it would be unwise to apply Taijiquan principles in grappling, BJJ and sub-wrestling techniques or vice versa. Kaitain probably does not realize that Taijiquan principles, or principles of any art for that matter, are derived from the actual application of Taijiquan techniques in combat. From their actual fighting using Taijiquan techniques over many centuries, generations of Taijiquan masters generalized the essence into Taijiquan principles. Instead of trying to work out fighting techniques ourselves from scratch, we benefit from the experiences of past masters by using their time-tested techniques and principles.

Kaitain may not be aware of it, but he is actually insulting Taijiqian masters of his own lineage, implying that these past masters from his lineage were “stupid” (to quote the word he used on a master from his lineage, Sifu Chu King Hoong), not knowing that the sprawl he now uses against the shoot was less effective than the Taijiquan counters they used.

Our philosophy and attitude in Wahnam Taijqian are different. We honour past masters of our lineage as well as of other schools. We believe we can learn a lot from them. Hence we use Taijiquan counters — not grappling or wrestling counters — against the shoot or any other attacks. We have no doubt that these Taijqiquan techniques, which are a manifestation of Taijiquan forms, are effective. Our only question is whether we ourselves are skillful enough to apply them effectively. I am ready to test my skill in using Wahnam Taijquan counters against Kaitain's shoots if he wishes, and I would like this to be recorded in video which can be released here for forum members to judge.

One can easily find many Wahnam Taijiquan forms in my Sifu's webpage on Taijiquan at For the convenience of forum members, I am posting here some random pictures of Joko performing Wahnam Taijiquan at a recent course where I also attended. It may be interesting to add that these forms were performed by Joko while in continuous chi flow; they were not forms taken from individual choreographed poses.

Clearer pictures can be found at

I shall leave forum members to decide whether Kaitain's Taijiquan forms or Wahnam Taijiquan forms are closer to genuine, traditional Taijiquan.

Wahnam Taijiquan Wahnam Taijiquan Wahnam Taijiquan

What is Genuine, Traditional Taijiquan?


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