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The Unique Journey of this Gong Fu System

For my part... the short answer is that I had a near brush with extreme violence that shook me to my core when I was around 11 years old. I was lucky, the event did not coalesce into actual violence, but in short, my father and I were almost victims of a knife attack. Despite the fact that we were not killed and that we lucked out, it shook me, I realized clearly that everything in our lives that we build can be decided in an instant. My victim mindset blinders were taken off and it set me on a path to be intensely interested in practical methods of dealing with violence, particularly against armed attackers. I also have been blessed and cursed depending upon the year to look much younger than my age which invited attempts at bullying during my adolescence. I was a scrapper from a young age to counter the bullying but I always remained concerned that I had no real answer for what to do with the encounter I had when I was young. I studied boxing, wrestling, some Karate when I was young. I found some things I liked but it would all need to be so heavily retrofitted to be applicable against an armed assailant and did not answer the question of how to cope when fighting out of your weight class or against multiple attackers, etc.

I also had a very troubled and unstable childhood, I dealt with abuse from some people close to me, I was not happy to say the least. When at age 15, my parents signed me up for 3 months of martial arts classes at the Tang Wei Martial Arts Institute I was not excited in the least. When I heard the name "Wu Ji Quan Fa" I thought I was in for some crap to share the edited version of what I said. What I found there was the opportunity to learn what I had been looking for, there were practical physical skills for how to deal with larger assailants, how to counter armed attackers. While I did not realize how much I needed it as well, the system had an approach to personal mastery that allowed me to to transcend a myriad of childhood traumas and issues to be as though it had never been. The personal mastery aspect of the system set me free and taught me to develop and repair my most important asset - MYSELF.

My teacher at the Tang Wei Institute was Master Tom Garriga. With some shared commonalities in his past, he had set out on the same path to learn the things I was interested in, but 40 years earlier than me. Meeting him allowed me access to an approach that would rocket me forward on my quest. It was truly life changing and I have never looked back. I excelled at the system and began teaching at age 18. I earned a senior instructor ranking at the age of 21 and have been teaching ever since either full time or part time. I earned my 5th Step Ranking in 2012 under Master Garriga and I have shared the system directly with hundreds of students and intend to make this system available on a broader basis for those around the world who have eyes to see it.

For the long and complicated story...

I count myself fortunate to say the least that I have had the rare opportunity to study Master Garriga's system he calls Wu Ji Quan Fa (WJQF). His system is a composite of numerous martial arts styles focused on practical fighting application and on personal development. WJQF is primarily influenced by an ancient system he had the opportunity to study which we will refer to as Ge Jian Pai (GJP). GJP had been a closed door family heirloom system unavailable to outsiders for over 2000 years. I said above that we will refer to it as GJP because in truth it never had an official name and the family that developed it simply referred to it as their "Family System". The system developed and evolved slowly over centuries of refinement and accumulation focused on the the same practical application that Master Garriga was looking for. The story Master Garriga was told by his teacher was that GJP began in the late Zhou Dynasty at the beginning of the Chinese Warring States era. One of the high ranking families had an advanced sword fighting method (Ge Jian Pai 葛檢派 Ge Family Sword Fighting Method). The family was was given a special charge to protect the imperial family and with that charge their family received special permission to be allowed to study with a number of other high ranking families to absorb their martial arts.

This began a family tradition to continue seeking out training with other martial arts to evolve their fighting method and gong fu practices. As the system evolved they continued to hide the true nature of their system in the name GJP although it evolved far beyond the scope of a sword fighting method. The family taught several front systems to the public which were pieces of their full system but only taught their full system to "inner door" students typically inside their own family. To them it never had an official name and they just called it the family system or would hide its true nature when communicating with outsiders as just referring to it as a sword fighting system. Its core tradition though was to be open to all origins, to be seeking the best methods they could find and to always be looking.

When Master Garriga got the opportunity to train in Ge Jian Pai he was already an accomplished master and practitioner of several martial arts. Despite being a black belt in multiple diverse arts when he began studying the system in 1967, he immediately recognized that the system was the most complete and advanced art he had ever encountered by leaps and bounds. Master Garriga was benefited in his training with GJP because he had studied other martial arts emphasizing striking, kicking, grappling and weapons work. What he found so unique was the integration of these approaches in GJP was far beyond how he learned them as separate arts. Also, the subtle power and motion concepts were absolute game changers. He dedicated himself to mastering it and spent a decade of devoted rigorous training to mastering the system and reached the highest ranking of 5th Step (5th Duan). The opportunity to train in Ge Jian Pai had only became available to Master Garriga through unique circumstances where one of the high ranking masters of the system took him in. Essentially all of the other masters in the system disagreed with the decision to teach an "outsider" and so when Master Garriga's teacher passed away, Tom became an exile from that family. In 1994 he was given permission by his teacher near the end of his teacher's life to teach GJP in full to the public and has continued to teach it to the public integrated into his own evolving system (Wu Ji Quan Fa) ever since. Master Garriga chose the name Wu Ji Quan Fa (All Origin Martial Method) in honor of the core "All Origin" tradition of Ge Jian Pai which his teacher had taught him.

In the modern times there is a thought that anyone with something to offer will be clamoring for fame and attention through the internet and modern media. This simply was not the case with the family behind the development of this system. They prize their anonymity and thus required Tom to not advertise their family as he offered the system to the public. It put him and those of us that learned from him in an interesting situation as exiled masters of a martial art we love and prize but with no current ties to the family that created it. In the end, none of us have ever really cared and those we teach quickly don't because what we do works, and it works well. Results speak so we focus there. The story of how we got the system is certainly improbable, it is hard to explain, but it is what it is, we love it, we drive on from there.

The instruction provided here is one of the valuable windows in modern times back to the highly refined skills and old world ideal of Chinese Gong Fu. Modern Chinese culture and their martial arts are very young, really less than 100 years old where the government has basically picked and chosen what parts of their older culture will be allowed in and where they deliberately have sought to water down the effectiveness of martial skills and the martial spirit since 1949. Much of the incredibly advanced concepts and practices from the storied Chinese culture simply are not taught there and moved outside of the country during the murderous "cultural revolution" and "re-education" efforts. Ironically this system and other aspects of old world "authentic" Chinese martial arts and culture is being preserved by a practitioner base of "outsiders" and "westerners" to be sustained and re-spread out to the world.

Chinese Martial Arts in their original true form are practical, diverse and life changing but they are highly misunderstood and misrepresented in the west. The unique practices, skills and culture in this Gong Fu system have been an uncalculatable blessing to my life and to hundreds of those I have had the privilege to teach and associate with over the years. I feel it an obligation to share this system and way of life on a much broader basis through the means of modern technology. This system is to be used to help people to "live their lives on purpose, with the purpose of being happy and at peace while helping others to do the same". It is about being a part of the solution in every situation you find yourself a part of. That is the ethic.

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