The Martial Art Meihuazhuang in Canada

Background of the Canadian Meihuazhuang Association

The Canadian Meihuazhuang Association was established by Raymond Ambrosi and Alice Lee in January 1993 in Regina Saskatchewan. As language students at Shandong University in the early 90's, both were fortunate to begin studying the art under the direct supervision of renowned Meihuazhuang master Yan Zijie, a professor of Mathematics. Following a two year period of intensive physical and theoretical training — and extensive documentation of Meihuazhuang practice methods, martial theory and philosophy — the two were accepted as formal students and charged with teaching the art and its unusual, highly innovative methods to Canada.

Ray Ambrosi & Alice Lee with Meihuazhuang master Yan Zijie visiting Chen style Taijiquan teacher Hong Junsheng in 1992.

In the years since, the Meihuazhuang Association of Regina has worked to introduce the style to the public and record the remarkable health benefits and self-defense skills that are the result of regular practice. Association members have made many trips back to China to study meihuazhuang from master Yan and from rural masters. The Canadian Meihuazhuang Association is operated by volunteers who recognized the value of Meihuazhuang training for improved physical and mental/spiritual development. The Association has introduced hundreds of Canadians to Meihuazhuang and maintains a close relationship with master Yan Zijie's International Meihuazhuang Organization based in Jinan, China.

What you can expect to learn

The Association teaches meihuazhuang in the same spirit in which it has been taught for centuries — through disciplined physical training and careful explanation of the theory and principles which guide the practice methods.

Meihuazhuang is said to bestow four benefits to its practitioners — improved health, self defense skills, the ability to cure illness, increased mental acuity and wisdom. While Meihuazhang can be practiced as a martial art, or as a heath exercise, the greatest benefit comes by training with both purposes in mind.

As a martial art

Ray Ambrosi works with other practitioners on weaponry techniques. Regina, Canada 2000.

Meihuazhuang training can be adjusted to suit the ability and goals of the practitioner. Studying Meihuazhuang as a martial art involves training which is physically very rigorous and demanding. Students are gradually introduced to increasingly refined and difficult training methods. They begin by studying the "jiazi" basic framework set, followed by various drills. After several months, students may begin to study "chengquan" a two-person fighting routine. The movements are choreographed at first, but later are assembled according to the will of the practitioner. Qinna, locking techniques and various weapons are also taught. We generally study staff and spear sparring during the summer months, while swordplay is studied in the winter. All training methods emphasize legwork which includes very low stances and powerful kicks. This rigorous training is crucial and forms the basis for the student's martial skill and increases flexibility, strength and endurance as well as teaching the correct fashion in which to generate and transmit force. Emphasis on correct posture and alignment through balanced technique ensures that the body, limbs and mind become strong, flexible, coordinated and nimble. All training methods emphasize the central principle of creativity springing from freedom from restrictive movement and thought patterns.

Zhang Guozheng at a rural Meihuazhuang clinic.

As a health exercise

For people interested in studying primarily for the health benefits of Meihuazhuang, a diverse range of training methods meet their needs. Similar to the way taijiquan can be used to improve the health (but in no way resembling taijiquan) meihuazhuang's basic training routine, the jiazi, is practiced in a slow concentrated fashion which emphasizes correct body alignment. Meihuazhuang tones the body, prevents illness, helps with recovery from illness and brings great strength and flexibility. Most importantly, it teaches practitioners methods to attain mental and physical relaxation. Freedom from restrictive, troublesome or brooding thought patterns, muscular tension and stress result in greatly improved overall health and vitality. Throughout all stages of Meihuazhuang training, this union and freedom of both the mind and the body is a core concept which guides the training methods.

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