Martial Art of Awareness at Confucius Institute of China in San Marino – Italy!

Thanks to the Confucius Institute of San Marino and University of San Marino, an after school evening course of ZXD / ILC curriculum is now being offered to the first year students at the University!  Presented by instructor Alberto Benedusi, this program started in November and will continue into February of 2023. 

All the lessons are divided in 4 parts
1) Qi gong
2) Biomechanics (13 points.. yin and yang muscles/tissues.. )
3) Philosophy principles applied to life and martial art
4) Martial movements and then the 21 form by meditating the alignment, the 9 solid and 1 empty, the flowing and the movements in the 3 planes.
ZXD / ILC Martial Art of Awareness is an philosophy based art where students are encouraged to reflect within and to observe the self instead of building habits and memorizing certain techniques. 

Meeting with GM Fredia Gibbs – the “Cheetah”

Cabrini University Students Using GM Sam Chin’s ZXD “Beginner Mind, Zen Mind, Observer Mind” Curriculum Meet GM Fredia Gibbs, Hearing Her Story First-hand

Grandmaster Fredia “Cheetah” Gibbs (a Cabrini alumna) met with students in Dr. Nancy Watterson and Lan Tran’s “BALANCE Learning Community” on Wed. Sept. 28, 2022, before the celebrations honoring her life contributions with a bronze statute unveiling at Cabrini University. The Balance LC students are part of the full 3-credit academic class “Conflict & Cooperation” that integrates GM Sam Chin’s Zhong Xin Dao curriculum, specifically the inaugural version of the Beginner Mind, Zen Mind, Observer Mind lesson plan that incorporates the ZXD entry level track) The course also fulfills the University’s Ethics & the Common Good general education core curriculum requirement, so learning first-hand from Ms. Gibbs about her life-story, struggles, successes, and mindset offered a wonderful example of direct experiential learning in action—the cornerstone of Zhong Xin Dao / I Liq Chuan.


Photo credit: Emily Rowan
Balance Learning Community 

Darmstadt Germany Spring Workshop

A successful workshop was hosted at the beginning of May by the ZXD / ILC Regional Office of Germany in Darmstadt Germany with six different events in four days and over 50 participants. Many new people, also from other martial arts, were interested to meet GM Sam Chin and Hsin in person to feel the “neutral touch”. Sifu took the opportunity to give a rough overview over the whole system, showing all different training methods throughout the curriculum, so that the participants could understand the philosophy and the principles behind the training process better.

Exciting opportunities are on the way with new schools signed up to offer the art all over in Germany. If you are interested to find out, if there is already a school nearby, check it out on the German website: 

 Darmstadt Germany Workshop

Prior to the workshop, a special visit was organized for GM Sam Chin and Hsin Chin to meet TED Talk guest – Master Shi Heng Yi at the Shaolin Temple Europe. He gifted GM Sam Chin Chinese tea and shared their wish of building a Martial Art Academy. GM Sam Chin have much respect for the Master and everyone at the Shaolin Temple for their great effort in spreading Chinese Kung Fu. Thank you Klaus Bieber for organizing the visit. 

Exchanges between Flamenco and ZXD

ZXD Philadelphia instructors talk with Master Flamenco teacher Ms. Elba Cena

Zhong Xin Dao Philly instructors Lan Tran and Nancy Watterson talk with Master Flamenco teacher Ms. Elba Cena on May 19, 2022 at a Faculty Development Workshop that was sponsored, in part, by a grant from UISFL. The workshop was hosted by Cabrini University’s Center for Global Learning (CGL)’s Director (Nancy Watterson) with the assistance of Dr. Natacha Bolufer-Laurentie (Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies & Coordinator of Foreign Languages, who studies Flamenco with Ms. Cena. The event is part of the Center’s new “Llamada Series,” a Call to Centerfeaturing diverse movement traditions. GM Sam Chinwas the first master practitioner to come to campus this past December 2021 to lead an all-day workshop on the Martial Art of Awarness. The CGLfeature interactive cultural seminars that foreground mental-physical connections similar to the full-credit academic course that Lan Tran and Nancy Watterson teach, “Conflict & Cooperation,” as part of the Balance Learning Community for first year students.

2022 UK Retreat Photos

GM Sam Chin starts his 2022 Europe tour in U.K. with a week long retreat. Along side with his son Master Hsin Chin, they were joined by special guests Ven. Jiru. Master of meditation, Ven. Jiru is the abbot of the Mid-America Buddhist Association in St. Louis, and also a childhood friend of GM Sam Chin. They used to train I Liq Chuan together under the founder Chin Lik Keong in the late 1970s. 

Integrating exercises for the mind and body, participants practiced meditation and daily Qigong as part of the program at this retreat, followed by intense Martial Art training of Zhong Xin Dao / I Liq Chuan.  


Special Guest at UK Retreat – Meditation Expert : Master Jiru

Special guest at the U.K. I Liq Chuan / Zhong Xin Dao week long retreat : Master Jiru and his assistant Ven. Kongyan!

He’s a childhood friend of GM Sam Chin, and they used to train I Liq Chuan together in the living room of the late founder Chin Lik Keong. Years later, GM Sam Chin became a great master in Martial Arts while Ven. Jiru became a great expert of meditation! He’s been a Thai monk and lived alone in the deep forest in his early monk hood exploring and observing his mind and body. He was later appointed the abbott for Chuang Yen Monastery as well as the Temple of Great Enlightenment in the Bronx before building his temple (literately!) in St.Louis.

Together, they are leading the week long UK retreat happening right now! Guiding participants the way to the “mind” over “matter” — Yi Dao 意到, Li Dao 力到, Qi Dao 氣到 meaning: with mindfulness, your strength is present, and followed by your energy!

Wishing you all an insightful adventure, enjoy the retreat!

Abandoning : The “How” of ZXD Approach

“Abandon concepts, realize all. Encompass Emptiness, and dissolve all duality.” That was the message at the end of the 2nd edition of the System Guide and placed at the start of the 3rd edition of the System Guide.

It was also a subject of discussion on one of the recent Instructors’ zoom session (26 February 2022).  Instructors shared some of their interpretations of the message and its intent. There seems to still be some confusion. Some said it is part of our philosophy and some said it’s a mental state—part of the process of our training. Others brought up that the message is like the Buddha’s raft parable. While these ideas are not wrong, they are incomplete.

Zhong Xin Dao transcends that very message: it is the HOW of our Approach. The ever-changing present moment, the balancing moment, IS the abandoning moment.  The action of balancing itself will solve this puzzle! 

Reflection—the direct experience of the changing moment, or seeing what is happening as it happens—IS the kind of “knowing” that in our art we call Being WITH. This kind of ‘being’ IS the ‘action’ of the moment—it is the very process of abandoning.  

So, ‘knowing the moment’ is through direct experiencing of it, In CONNECTING (meeting and matching, linking), there is no more ‘conceptualizing,’ no naming, labeling, thinking. Connecting, meeting, matching, linking are all aspects of being with. 

“Abandoning,” in Eastern philosophy, doesn’t mean like dumping something away (it’s not that you don’t like it and get rid of it); and “embracing” doesn’t mean you grab it and hug it because you like it—that’s still the 2 dualities. *You can only abandon by balancing, using the neutral approach from within— by connecting, linking, stretching you are encompassing. 

 This is our APPROACH—the foundation of Zhong Xin Dao—Being with the balancing point, the present point, means encompassing and seeing/sensing the conditions as One.

— Transcribed by Dr. Nancy Watterson

How do you ‘Go’ about learning?

Linking the past to present and future: Ancient wisdom still applies in modern learning.
Have you experienced these ancient learning progressions in your martial art journey?

Written by: CD Lin and Jeffrey Wong

WeiQi (圍棋), also known as Go, is a traditional strategy board game that was invented over 2500 years ago in China, and believed to be the oldest board game that is still being played at the present day by tens of millions of people.

Before the modern numeric nine “Professional Dan” rankings was used, terminologies from Buddhism and Chinese traditional philosophy were incorporated into ranking title names, and this write-up is meant to explain what they mean, and how we can relate them to our personal development in any field.

The nine ranks (品 Pin) are divided into three tiers (Lower, Middle, Upper), and each tier has another three levels (Lower, Middle, Upper).  Following is the list of ranks in order of the lowest to highest, where 9th Pin is the lowest rank, to 1st Pin as highest, and including the vernacular interpretation by a Ming Dynasty 16th-Century WeiQi strategy book called 石室仙機 (Shi2 Shi4 Xian1 Ji1) “The Divine Prophecies of the Stone Room”, and also another book named 弈薮 (Yi4 Sou3)

9th Pin: 守拙 Shou3 Zhuo2 (Lower-Lower Tier)
Literal translation: Defending Shortcomings
Vernacular interpretation of the rank criteria from classic books: 不知攻守,隨手而應,以圖自全,乃守拙之徒也

One may not yet know when to attack or defend, and simply react as situations arise.  One who is simply hoping to stay alive can only seek to defend his unrefined acts.

8th: 若愚 Ruo4 Yu2 (Lower-Middle)
Literal: Seemingly Foolish
Vernacular: 暗與弈理者,愚也。今則局勢已敗而不覺,豈不若無知之愚人耶!

One who is not yet well-versed in the principles is foolish.  Being unaware when the game is trending towards a loss, is an ignorant fool.

7th: 鬥力 Dou4 Li4 (Lower-Upper)
Literal: Tussle with Force
Vernacular: 受饒五子,動則必戰,與敵相抗,不用其智而專鬥力。

Usually given a five-stone (game pieces) handicap by the top ranked player.  The player seeks to battle with every move, and compete with the opponent with only brute force instead of using wits.

6th: 小巧 Xiao3 Qiao3 (Middle-Lower)
Literal: Little Cleverness
Vernacular: 受饒四子,不務遠圖,好施小巧。

Given four-stone handicap by top player. The player does not plan far ahead, and relies on some clever tactics.

5th: 用智 Yong4 Zhi4  (Middle-Middle)
Literal: Apply Wits
Vernacular: 受饒三子,未能通幽,戰則用智以致其功。

Given three stones.  Not yet understand all the intricacies, but uses wits in battles to achieve his goals.

4th: 通幽 Tong1 You1  (Middle-Upper)
Literal: Thorough Understanding of Intricacies
Vernacular: 受高者兩先,臨局之際,見形阻能善應變,或戰或否,意在通幽。

Receives two stones from top ranked.  One is adaptable with intricacies of the game; knows whether to fight or flight. Able to see the complexity of the situation and have control of initiative.

3rd: 具體 Ju4 Ti3 (Upper-Lower)
Literal: Well-Rounded Structure
Vernacular: 入神饒一先,臨局之際,造形則悟,具入神之體而微者也。

One handicap from the top ranked.  Able to comprehend and apply upon seeing the shapes and formation in situations.  Posses the overall necessary composition of a top rank player but just slightly below.

2nd: 坐照 Zuo4 Zhao4 (Upper-Middle)
Literal: Sit and Reflect

Half stone handicap from the top ranked. Able to achieve the right result without much effort; able to see the right path without much pondering. Adept at changes from embraced emptiness.

1st: 入神 Ru4 Shen2  (Upper-Upper)
Literal: Within One’s Spirit
Vernacular: 變化不測,而能先知,精義入神,不戰而屈人之棋,無與之敵者。

Can change unpredictably, and has great foresight.  Knows the essence of the game within one’s spirit, and can conquer without fighting.  Thus skill is unrivaled.

So summarizing and relating this progression to our practices: when we are beginners, we tend to rely on what we already know, but maybe very uncoordinated.  So we act by hiding what we are not good at.  Slowly we entered the “dumb-dumb” stage as Grandmaster Sam Chin calls it, we still do not know many things.  The practices will give us some physical improvements which we may come to rely upon, but mainly still brute force.  We go on and learn some techniques, and start to know when to use those tricks to get an advantage.  As those knowledge are obtained, we begin to apply them in witty ways.  With enough knowledge and experience, we start to see more intricacies and consequences of each action.  Soon, we developed into a much well-rounded practitioner and mastered most of the necessary qualities. We can then not depend on past experience, and instead focus on the current moment to change with the changes, just as a mirror can simply reflect on the actions.  From there, we will truly have reached the top level in our system with immeasurable and unrivaled skills.

Would you agree, or do you see some stages differently?