The ‘Way of Ten Thousand Things’ 萬物之道 is a Chinese martial art and way-of-life that has been handed down successive generations since the Warring States period (771-476 BCE) in Ancient China. The art was originally favoured by ancient assassins for its simplicity and flexibility. The living tradition of the art was transferred to Les and Noelle Conn from Master Guan Run Chang 關潤昌 (Kwan Yuen Cheong 關潤昌 in Cantonese) across their 20 year formal apprenticeship.
The ‘Ten Thousand Things’ refers to the philosophical concept of all living things found in nature. Contained within the name, is a hidden concept for the student of the martial art to discover on their journey. The key principle of the Art is to use anything we have at hand as a weapon. In ancient times that could mean a blade, a spear, or even a hair pin. In today’s terms it might translate into a machete, a screwdriver, or a pencil.
Skill Based Training
Zhan Shi Xin 戦士心 or ‘Warrior Heart’ is a skill-based institute of Chinese martial arts. That means we develop our skill through actual combat repetition and not through forms practice as is most common in the modern era. Our unarmed skills are tough and effective, while weapons training is done with real knives, machetes, hand-thrown projectiles, and so on. Of course, one may not have a weapon at hand so ultimately, all our skills are effective, regardless of whether we are armed or unarmed. Training is age appropriate, and ego’s are not allowed, so no need for concern.
Our warrior art is very specific in nature – It is a no-nonsense, practical art, that works with defined principles, precise footwork, and detailed body mechanics. Within the art we practice all four traditional body skills. That is: kicking, striking, throwing, and limb catching/twisting. We then use our body skills in conjunction with the opponents physical limitations to defeat them. Results are obvious and tangible. With all that said, we always remind ourselves to remain humble in the knowledge that even great warriors can die in battle.
The Way of Ten Thousand Things 萬物之道 utilises a simple framework of movement. This framework can then be used for long weapons, hidden weapons, improvised weapons, or unarmed combat situations. Using such a framework is also habit forming, meaning the exponent will respond correctly in times of need.
The response level of our martial art can also be scaled appropriately to suit the situation at hand. This keeps the art relevant in any culture and any era. The ability to respond to an attack with appropriate force is also extremely important for today’s legal requirements.
Our unarmed skills are harsh and cannot be used in sport competition. Limb breaks, tearing at tendons, eye gouging, and other such methods are only used when absolutely necessary. Interestingly, we develop our unarmed skills by using weapons first, and once the science of our martial art has been understood, then developing skills of unarmed combat is somewhat straightforward.