Pudaoquan: Way of Authentic Living

By Master George Lawrence

Pudaoquan (POO DOW CHWAN), or Pu Dao Kung Fu, is the product of my more than fifty years in Chinese martial arts and physical culture. Pu Dao Kung Fu is the culmination of what I have learned from those years of training and experience; it is not a combination of the arts in which I have trained, but a distillation of them. Not simply a fighting art, Pu Dao Kung Fu is a comprehensive teaching, a way of life for authentic living.

Xingyiquan.Most of us live our lives in silent fear. Imagine who or what you could be if you were able to live life without fear. Pu Dao Kung Fu is freedom from fear. Freedom from fear does not come from an accumulation of physical skills, but from within.

A clear mind and calm spirit are your greatest assets. Theoretically all martial arts training is supposed to produce these states through the training itself, but they don't. Hierarchical atmospheres, competitive environments, and focus on belt ranks and winning tournaments negate the development of these states. Chuang Tsu wrote, "Men cannot see their reflection in running water but only in still water. Only that which is still in itself can still the seekers of stillness."*

The movements we practice are plain and directly to the point. Simple, logical movements--repeatedly practiced until they become autonomic--are far more effective than a myriad of fanciful techniques. This is the hallmark of the internal Chinese martial arts, and the rationale of Pu Dao Kung Fu. As Sherlock Holmes explained to Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet

I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order.**

However, much of the junk in our mental attics comes from within, manufactured by ourselves, constructs of the ego. Success in everyday life and in conflict depends upon the whole person--body, mind and spirit--being fully present and integrated in the moment. Therefore, meditation is at the very center of our practice. You become intimately and fully acquainted with your essential self, all pretensions falling by the wayside. What remains is the unencumbered spirit, spontaneously in the moment, fully awake to life. This is the core of our practice, Pudaoquan (or Pu Dao Kung Fu). "Pu" means "simple, plain." "Dao" means a "path" or a "way." "Quan" means "fist" or "boxing."

Pu Dao Kung Fu is an art of self-cultivation that is also available for self-defense. We begin with meditation, to quiet and unify the mind and integrate it with the body. Our base art is Xingyiquan (Hsing-i Ch'uan), a martial art of great simplicity, but profound internal development and aerobic benefit. All movement comes from the earth, beginning in the feet, generating in the body, and manifesting in the extremities with nimble and speedy footwork. Xingyiquan is a conceptual martial art, teaching body movement rather than specific techniques for particular situations. The emphasis is on cultivating and directing qi.

Master George Lawrence practices on the wooden dummy.In addition to the empty-hand forms of Xingyiquan we practice qinna (CHIN NAH), the Chinese art of self-defense. Much attention is also directed to neigong (NAY GUHNG), internal work, more popularly known today as qigong (ch'i kung).

We also train in and teach the Chinese cultural weapons of staff (three lengths), sword (jian), saber (dao), knife (xiao dao), and spear (qiang).

Five thousand years of Chinese culture animates all that we do. It is the roots of the tree which is Pu Dao Kung Fu. Without the nourishment of the roots the tree is just a dead, empty shell. Much attention is paid to Chinese culture, philosophy, and history.

Training in Pu Dao Kung Fu will leave you with a relaxed, fit, healthy body; a clear and tranquil mind; and the calm confidence that you are able to handle any situation that comes your way in life. In the end, as hard as we train, we train primarily to master ourselves, and to improve our physical health and spiritual well-being. Training in Pu Dao Kung Fu will transform you and change your life.

*Chuang Tsu (Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, translators), Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters, New York: Vintage Books, 1974, p. 95.

**Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet," Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., n.d., p. 21.