This website is a work in progress so I urge the reader to continue checking back in as I add content to each page. By the time I am done there will be enough material here for a novel. I will be populating it with photographs and video as well, as time goes on. I am updating my computer hardware soon so that doing this work, particularly the videos will not be so onerous for me like now with my stone-age computer and old Sony camera. This page specifically will be a general internal arts overview and synopsis in part, of what I teach and a general catch all page for overall non-specific martial arts information.
Doty L9H Wu Tao is dedicated to spreading the knowledge of the Little Nine Heaven Internal Kung Fu System by offering instruction in Hsing-I, Ba Kua, Chen Tai Chi, Little Nine Heaven (Hsiao Chui Tien, the oldest known Taoist system), Tzu Men Chuan, Splashing Hands (Zahn Zhou Chuan) and Iron Hand Training for people of all ages; to further personal development, longevity and self defense.
I believe that I have a unique and valuable approach due to my depth and length of study and experience. Some of what I teach is of my own development drawing from an eclectic base of knowledge utilizing disciplines both traditional and modern. I have designed an approach that preserves the knowledge imparted to me by our great teacher and his teachers before him while combining these styles with modern training and fighting tactics to benefit any style and any level of practitioner. I offer instruction and refining guidance in Hsing-I, Ba Kua, Chen Tai-Chi, Splashing Hands, Tzu Men Chuan, Shih Shui Kung, Chi Kung and Iron Hand. Each page will have an extensive account of my background with each style and things I learned along the way with
details pertaining to that particular style as well as videos demonstrating different aspects. I will also include personal experiences that my brother, Gary and I had while learning that particular style as well as stories about our times with Lao Tzu McNeil and his teachers. For example, I believe I am one of very few afforded the honor to train directly with Master Chin and I, in fact, learned all three Tzu Men Chuan forms and Five exercises from him in Taiwan; although Master McNeil’s guidance has been instrumental in my efforts to perfect them.
I would recommend checking back with the website frequently as I document my infamous and sometimes quite embarrassing exploits while trying to determine what would work on the unforgiving streets of Los Angeles. I don’t sugar-coat anything to make myself look better and many times I have done things I am not proud of but I have literally saved a few lives along the way as well.
Along with private personal instruction I will also be offering online instruction to subscribers using two different methods. The first will be a video series based on two different training manuals I have written; one is called “Splashing Hands Fighter Training Manual- The Skills and Drills to Integrate Splashing Hands to the Instinctive Level” and another one that is the class training manual for a system I developed for weapon retention and disarm called The RAD System (Retention and disarm) a little corny I know but it fits so perfectly that I don’t care, I like it. Each of these has a dedicated webpage that goes into great detail but in short; the Splashing Hands manual is a step by step outline of my teaching and personal training method which inoculates the student’s movement technique against the stress of a real life and death encounter.
Your practice is not truly instinctive unless you can react to any variable with any technique in your arsenal without thinking. This manual is the template which you can use to judge the merit and effectiveness of any technique so that no variable is left unpracticed. This takes a measured methodical approach that may not be for everyone but I believe it is a must for anyone that fancies themselves a fighter. Remember that under stress of life or death the practitioner will revert back to their most basic level of training so the building block techniques must be perfect in any circumstance or condition. The manual contains drills and training methods that I have developed over three decades, with private instruction from Lao Tzu McNeil, many that I guarantee have never been seen before.
The RAD System is a weapon retention and disarm program designed for anyone who carries a gun or may be threatened with a gun or knife and is mainly a combination of Splashing Hands, Little Nine Heaven and Ba Kua blended into an effective brutal close-fighting system. While intended mainly for law enforcement and military I believe it is essential knowledge for all in this rapidly changing increasingly violent world.
These two video programs will be an ongoing online tutorial series available to subscribers that will follow the syllabus in each manual step by step while I instruct a student at my home studio. I will also offer an online coaching/teaching service for a nominal fee where the client can send me video of their practice and I will study and critique it within a video response. This is a much more economical way to get some private instruction that can benefit anyone regardless of achievement level. Knowledgeable partner observation is one of the Nine Aspects of training form and this service is a good way to accomplish it.
The art of Kung Fu, in particular, the Internal Wu Tang Branch, goes deeper than most people can imagine. It is comprised of Hsing-I, Ba Kua, Tai-Chi and the largely unknown system of Little Nine Heaven Wu Tao, the oldest known Taoist martial art, that through recently discovered records has been traced back unchanged to 5,000 years ago. These Internal Arts encompass everything from the physical to the spiritual, from fighting to love making to the possibility of achieving immortality, they are a special treasure given to us by the Chinese people and are indeed a National Treasure to them. The true origin of these arts is largely unknown; records have been lost and destroyed over the course of China’s turbulent war-filled past and much of what we know is apocryphal. The Yellow Emperor Huang-Ti is well known as being instrumental in the spread of the Internal Arts.
In Kung Fu when we refer to External we are talking about the muscular structure. When we say Internal we are referencing the inside of the body; tendons, bones and ligaments, the internal organs, the inside of the bones (bone marrow), the breath and an intrinsic energy called Chi. It is the “God Particle” that modern physicists are searching for, the formative energy and life force for all things inanimate and animate. This force exists within and without and can be controlled or interacted with by all of us but the ability has gone dormant from disuse in most. You may feel chi move naturally at times, usually triggered by an emotional event, felt as a tingling “rush” or warmth, most commonly in the hands or crown of the head. Imagination is the key at first, in combination with harnessing the subtle but amazing power of proper breathing, patterns of breathing and retention of sexual energy; but Chi can be developed and accumulated into a true physical energy that can be emitted from the body to be felt by others at very advanced levels; it can be used to heal as well as destroy. Note I said emitted not fired out like a laser beam like some charlatans profess.
This energy combined with training the mind leads the willing and dedicated, the truly lucky few, down a slow but steady path of rejuvenation and transformation where the mind harnesses the Chi, which is used to change the physical body into psychic, then spiritual energy as the practitioner merges with the Tao, the limitless void that is filled with the energy of creation. The mind controls the will, the will moves the Chi. In combat the mind must control the emotions, in particular fear and compassion; both deadly enemies of efficient and purposeful movement. The heart must turn cold in order to take a life, much easier said than done. The hesitation that most people show when it comes to killing other humans is well documented by military historians. Check out the work of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a psychologist and Army Ranger.
Compassion for the opponent will cause hesitation that may prove fatal. Mental training, meditation and Chi Kung can be used to control and dissipate the release of adrenaline as well as slowing the perception of movement time, making even speedy movements appear to be slow. Movement and time slowing is part of the sympathetic nervous system response to life or death stress but the effect from meditation is different and allows fine motor control. Even the U.S. Military is using ‘tactical breathing’ to help control the effect of adrenaline on fine motor skills in combat although I know from personal experience that they don’t have the technique quite right from an Internal Arts standpoint although the method they have adopted is effective for the purpose. This method is detailed in Grossman’s books.
Another usage of the terms Internal and External is when referring to styles of martial arts. As mentioned before there are literally hundreds of External styles such as boxing, wrestling, grappling/jujitsu, karate styles and the many different styles of Kung Fu; Northern, Southern, etc. with every animal style under the sun and moon. They can be further divided into “hard” styles and “soft” styles. My purpose of is not to denigrate other styles. On the contrary, all styles and types of Martial Arts are good and have literally shaped and saved lives by trying to instilling solid character traits and offering alternatives to those at risk in many different ways. The goal of this writing is to show the benefits to be had from the Internal Arts by any practitioner, regardless of what style you have learned or are learning. Hard styles such as karate, or Shaolin on the Kung Fu side of the Arts, typically involve the use of muscular size and strength as well as forceful muscular contraction to gain power. Soft styles like Splashing Hands and Tzu Men Chuan remain more relaxed and use speed and timing to develop power, with a forceful contraction at the moment of impact which is immediately relaxed again, like a whip, in accordance with yin and yang theory; this is more in line with Internal principles.
Splashing Hands Kung Fu (Zahn Zhou Chuan) and Poison Fingers Kung Fu (Tzu Men Chuan) are examples of External soft styles that closely adhere to Internal principles and are therefore suitable for inclusion in the Little Nine Heaven system. They are very effective for developing overall fighting skill when combined with one of the true Internal styles and Internal exercises in order to develop intrinsic Chi. All External systems share certain attributes; reliance on muscular size, strength and/or speed to develop “power”. This is a type of power that can fail to penetrate a properly strengthened internal body. It is a mechanical power where the larger or stronger rule the smaller or weaker. Internal power comes from the mind using the Chi as a moving force to give weight to the hands and that can be emitted from the palms and eyes at advanced levels. This same Chi will give strength to the External and Internal body against traumatic blows and will literally change the body from the inside out as opposed to just the outside as in most External systems. It is the great equalizer that allows the perceived lesser individual to rise up against someone seemingly more powerful.
Most External systems stress and break down the body, making it weaker as it ages. The Internal Arts nourish the body from the inside out. This is combined with principles that are trained through drills and forms that were designed and passed down through the centuries by the greatest geniuses and powers of the time, to teach the body how to move and how to “feel”; how to root to the ground and bring force from the ground simultaneously in a chain of lightning, from the foot out to the fingertips.
Forms are the building blocks of movement and also moving medicine for the body, the motions working Chi meridians as the body twists and turns through the specific moves. Proper forms practice combined with special breathing techniques will keep the body flexible and strong, working both aerobic and anaerobic aspects of the cardiovascular system. Unhindered Chi flow will help prevent and even cure some diseases and is especially useful as exercise for those with cardiovascular and pulmonary difficulties. The reason perfecting the forms is stressed in traditional Internal Kung Fu is to maximize this energy flow and development.
If the body is disconnected by flaws in the form that has been perfected and handed down by Masters over the ages, or the form itself is flawed due to changes made from the original, the Chi will not flow efficiently or sufficiently to allow accumulation. It is very difficult if not impossible without a teacher to observe your performance objectively until one learns the essence and principles of perfecting form and the forms become self-correcting to a certain extent. Learning how to make a form self-correcting is a difficult process that must be learned from a competent teacher.
Internal styles teach you to root and strike out with force simultaneously, with proper body mechanics and the use of Chi to move the body to allow close range strikes of great power. We have what we call a “no inch” punch, requiring no interval and no wind up and no set up to develop power, making it to our advantage to close with strikers and grapplers alike and step close enough to “kiss” as in the principle of “touch, go, kiss”. This is our world, up close and personal, over-whelming the opponent with powerful, pinpoint close range shots, while smothering their power by cutting off the distance they need to develop it. Although requiring dedicated practice and pinpoint timing, as well as the ability to execute fast inside combinations, this is a much more effective technique at stopping takedown than “sprawling” which is still useful to know if you get caught out. It is true that all fights end on the ground but in our system it is the opponent on the ground with the Internal fighter crouched over the top finishing him with strikes.
From this position of dominance we would break the opponents’ root by splitting their legs with our leg or stomping the instep to lock them down and initiating takedown, continuously striking points on the way down. Many “stand up fighters” can be over-whelmed and bowled over by strong, fast, aggressive grapplers and wrestlers because they don’t know how or are hesitant to step in and meet the charge by rooting and exploding out. Instead they try to back up or shoot the legs back (sprawl) to avoid grapple, which breaks the root and makes punching or kicking nearly impossible or ineffective. You have no power in a strike if your feet are off the ground. At best a fighter will try to time it and only execute one ineffectual strike and get bowled over anyway.
The better MMA fighters try to move to the side and some have very good boxing style footwork that can be improved using shuffles. Most MMA fighters, especially the professionals, are physical beasts and great athletes; without proper technique, moving to the side usually fails and trying to back up will just get you taken down. But most lack the ability to accurately hit a specific point or have intimate control of their bodies; just watch some slow motion film if you don’t already see this. This is due in part to a lack of form.
If I do make a mistake, because everyone does, we are only human, and I end up on the ground, I don’t say “Aww, shucks, I better start grappling now”. No, I am still a “striker”. It is still the quickest most efficient way to end a fight and, in self defense especially, is that not the goal? I know enough about grappling and wrestling to weather the storm and I will use the same sensitivity that is used standing to “feel” what the opponent is doing, find the opening and strike with knockout power even from flat on my back using a simple to learn yet difficult to master technique from Hsiao Chui Tien while at the same time regaining control back to my feet. This is an important aspect that is trained by using and feeling with the whole body when pushing hands. This is the power of the Internal Arts.
But most importantly the Internal requires the use of and seeks to maximize the power of the mind and the proper alignment of the body. The Internal Arts combine the External strengthening of the body through physical exercises (Yang), with the development of Internal power through Chi Kung breathing exercises and meditation to train the mind (Yin); thus balancing oneself through yin and yang. Internal Kung Fu forms themselves when performed with proper breathing, are moving Chi Kung exercises with self-defense applications. One translation of the name Hsing-I is mind-body boxing.
Much of what we do can be of great benefit to those interested in MMA. I do not profess to be an MMA trainer but there is no doubt that what the Internal Arts offer can be adapted and utilized in sport fighting although whether they could devote the necessary training time to enjoy the fruits is debatable. MMA, especially the UFC, contrary to popular belief, is rife with rules, most of them take away all the advantages of striking and do not allow the most effective techniques of counter-grappling; a phrase I coined that means any technique that defeats or prevents grappling or take-down. The most significant restriction to strikers is, of course, the use of gloves which negates significantly the advantage of Iron Hand training and the taping of the hands beneath the gloves, in my opinion, is the number one cause of hand injuries in MMA (they all get them).
This forces the fighter to strike with an opened fist because the tape prevents them from making a proper fist in the first place; if you can’t close your hand all the way you cannot make a proper fist. The gloves and wrapping also allow fighters to strike without regard to proper wrist position giving artificial support and protection to the hand and wrist, more so than to protect the one being hit. Some fighters don’t know how to make a proper fist to avoid damage to the hand which is the first thing taught in the Internal Arts. The gloves actually protect their hands from being damaged as they probably would be if striking bone without Iron Hand training. Without proper formation of the hand the Internal striker would destroy their own hand due to the power being transferred through it. This is one reason Iron Hand is so important and with a properly strengthened hand the gloves no longer are necessary to protect the hand and are now only a detriment to giving pinpoint strikes.
This also brings up the fact that the open hand slap is also rarely used and is superior to the fist in many ways, is legal and somewhat negates the disadvantage of wearing gloves. The tape job doesn’t affect the strike as much and there is little to no padding on this area of the glove. This is true for the hammer-fist as well, which is never used except for when mounted on the opponent and then it lacks the real power that can be generated from standing, at least the way they execute. The reverse shuffle/kick/hammerfist jab and punch from Splashing Hands, uppercuts with fgootwork from the clinch used by a proficient practitioner and the vertical elbow strike could take MMA by storm.
Of equal importance is the restriction on using the fingers to rip and tear (gouging they call it, but tearing at vulnerable areas and gouging of pressure points and is THE number one way to escape from any grapple. I wonder why it is illegal?) and the disallowing of strikes to certain areas, namely the groin and throat. What sport fighters call “dirty tricks” in self defense I call the scientific and tactical destruction of the human body using its natural vulnerable points.
The litany I teach for street-fighting is “eyes, throat, nuts, knees”. The throat is a primary striking point in true self defense so it is hard to justify including it in sport fighting. It is very easy to kill someone. But it is okay to choke the throat? The fact that deaths are rare is a testament to good referees, doctors and the rules. Strikes to certain areas of the groin can be fatal as well but we routinely train using a cup and striking to the groin in sparring and technique practice to condition somewhat the impact of strikes to this area. You learn to move with it and we teach a technique for near instant recovery if you do take a debilitating shot. But, without drilling it in training, you won’t have the instant reaction to use it when the situation is real.
The ability to root and strike simultaneously adds great power to arm-locks of all types, turning them into breaks/strikes instead of locks, constrictions or take-downs; the take-down force is converted to pull in/strike out, multiplying the power, or pull one way and reverse to break in another direction. One advantage that can be developed through Internal Arts is close range power or “close-fighting” as I call it. I mentioned above we have the “no inch” punch. This is the manifestation of the principle of simultaneous rooting while transferring power from the ground and is the basis of close-fighting. The ability to do this effectively and simultaneously “chokes or jams” the opponents movement, effectively denying takedown and initiates what Bruce Lee called “attacking into the attack”; smothering the ability of the opponent to use distance to develop power while dealing devastating strikes of your own and using your attack to stop theirs.
Practicing this, coupled with developing the ability to stick to the opponent through sensitivity drills like push hands and to change lines by feeling the opponents movement instead of seeing it makes a very effective combination that can blend seamlessly into an MMA fighter’s routine and doesn’t take years to gain proficiency. Splashing Hands in particular would be of great advantage to MMA strikers to increase hand and foot speed and for increased mobility forward (close the gap, reverse shuffle), backward (back shuffle and side shuffle-back spin which allows a quick move to the rear while still maintaining the ability to quickly root), and to the sides (side shuffle and variations) through use of Splashing Hands footwork. Good ability can be obtained in as little as 6 months depending on time spent practicing of course, and on the person, because everyone is different.
Iron Hand strengthens the entire body, not just the hand, making the fighter less susceptible to injury and greatly increasing the heaviness of a punch even with gloves and wraps. Basic proficiency can be had in 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, for 100 days, although advanced Iron Hand requires a life long dedication. This could be coupled with the ultimate system for Internal development, Shih Shui or bone marrow washing, the ancient Little Nine Heaven system for longevity and rejuvenation that involves, among other things, the lifting and swinging of weights with the genitals. There is a method for both men and women that involves harnessing the sexual essence and converting it to Chi energy and suffusing the body with it down into the bones to effect the Internal alchemy that converts the physical material body into energy and then spirit on the path to evolution.
The practitioner gets stronger with age rather than weaker and it is truly the fountain of youth. It contains a method of training called Iron Body that helps drive the Chi deep into the body into the very bone marrow and strengthens the body against punishment and disease from the inside out. Basic Shih Shui, while also a lifelong pursuit, can show results in 100 days as well and could be done in conjunction with Iron Hand. Great results would be seen by MMA fighters in only two hours or so a day, five days a week and would benefit every aspect of their training and lives.
It is an unfortunate fact that the Internal Arts have a somewhat undeserved reputation depending on the style and teacher, for being easy and lacking power as in some styles of Hsing-I, Tai Chi and Ba-Kua because what is going on is Internal and not readily seen; or sometimes the styles themselves are diluted ghosts of their former selves. There are many fakers out there. In Splashing Hands the speed and explosiveness are obvious but it is not a true Internal style. With Hsing-I and Little Nine Heaven style (Hsiao Chui Tien) the power is more visible than with Tai Chi and Ba kua but all of them focus on control of the breath while moving the Chi.
This misconception about a lack of power and being ineffective for fighting tends to attract people that are not really interested in fighting or those that think it will be the next trendy new easy workout for them. Those types are usually vetted out pretty quickly. Those who make this judgment either haven’t tried an Internal Art or had one of the disreputable teacher that will be discussed shortly. Indeed the opposite is the real truth; that Internal exercises are much more difficult to master than External exercises and they never really get easier because as your strength increases so does the capacity to push further and most of them deal with breath control which is difficult for many people.
The phrase, “Internal Kung Fu is the simplest martial art to learn but the most difficult to master”, means the movements and techniques are simple in form and instinctive to learn but difficult in the proper execution and most don’t put in the time required to gain proficiency. The original Tai Chi style that all others came from, Old Style Chen Tai Chi, looks like a flowing beautiful exercise, and it is. But few realize that hidden in the form is great power and very effective fighting techniques and fewer still know that the power and method to use these techniques for fighting are contained in the second form, Pao Twi or ‘Cannon fist’. The power that can be achieved far outshines anything External styles can offer alone but the Internal and External must be combined.
As said before, many styles have changed over the years and lost the true Internal way or the practitioner had a good teacher but failed to achieve a high level and taught students anyway; passing on the teacher’s mistakes to the students and diluting the style into a shadow of the original. Many things have been lost over the centuries due to the simple fact that if every teacher dies with one secret, and they all do; multiply that over ages and you can realize why physical flight, among many other truly miraculous abilities may be no longer possible.
The Chinese penchant for secrecy has brought about the near loss of several of our systems and this is the reason these precious teaching are being made available today; to preserve what is left and spread knowledge of the amazing things that are still possible. In our system, student brothers and sisters, while training hard with each other, try to train with a spirit of cooperation and put ego aside. We learn to critique someone with the intention of improving them and ourselves instead of boosting our own ego by tearing someone else down. You don’t have to win at all costs in training, only when it is life or death.
The Internal Arts and the miraculous things that can be achieved has always given rise to and a stage for the charlatan and the evil man. Many teachers claim great Internal power but perform stunts at best. Most really know nothing. Very few have the dedication to stay with a regular practice long enough to achieve real results but pass themselves off as masters anyway. The importance of sexual energy in developing Chi and health in the Internal Arts has been used by evil men to advance their perversions, taking advantage of the trust bestowed upon them by the innocent that only want to learn what they think is a true way. Criminal acts have been perpetrated under the guise of “receiving Chi from the Master”.
Make no mistake, in no Taoist practice is this acceptable or necessary and the only Chi a student needs is that within their own bodies. There are advanced levels of Shih Shui and meditation where sexual energy is commingled to mutual benefit but this is between legal consenting adults. This potential for abuse is not exclusive to Internal Kung Fu, although the emphasis on sexual energy to develop power makes it even more susceptible to the stronger taking advantage of the weaker. The hopeful new practitioner must be wary of false claims and promises; beware any teacher who tries to force you to do something you don’t want to do.
Internal Kung Fu encompasses all possibilities, some that would stretch the belief and imagination of many. Most will lack the imagination to realize the possibilities. It contains a myriad of aspects that can benefit people from any walk of life. I will outline and detail some of the benefits to be had from Internal training and how it can help anyone with the will to make the decision to start along the path and has the fortitude to stay with it. There are basically five categories of students although there is cross over between categories; as in the same exercises will be beneficial to those with different motivations for learning. These practices are true life-ways in that the benefits will be felt and accrued well into the “declining” years and keep the dedicated practitioner flourishing into old age and beyond.
The most obvious types, and two that have similar goals, are the self defense student and the student that wants to compete in fighting and forms. These are classic motivations for learning martial arts. While similar on the surface, these are two very different goals that can be achieved with similar methods by applying variations according to the requirements necessary to attain that goal. An easy example is a fighter cannot practice forms all the time and stay sharp for fighting. But the forms teach the body how to move and must be included in order to gain real power.
On the other side of the coin (yin and yang), a tournament forms competitor cannot focus his primary effort on sparring and still work toward perfection in the forms. But some sparring and contact is necessary for the student to understand how the technique being displayed actually works, or if it even does. Not every technique will work for every person. It is necessary for the competitor to be able to display the spirit behind what they are doing. Again the two approaches must go hand in hand although by nature they are opposite. Forms practice, fighting drills, and sensitivity drills will help both types of student, as well as Chi Kung and other Internal exercises and meditation in order to train the mind, the Internal body and the Chi.
Two other types of student are those interested in Internal development, spiritual attainment and longevity and those looking for general health and weight management. The same Chi Kung exercises, Kung Fu forms and meditation will work for both. Kung Fu forms are ideal for cardiovascular exercise because they allow you to tailor your effort to meet the goal; from exercise recovery level effort with a low heart rate (e.g. Tai Chi, when done with the legs in a high posture) to high intensity power endurance (Splashing Hands), there is a style to fit the situation or physiological system being trained.
For those interested in spiritual and Internal development, forms are essential for pumping Chi through the body and feeling the body down to its core with the mind. For fighters, it is much more specific to what they do than running, although running is a great exercise as well although it tends to skew the muscle fibers away from maximum strength, the true governor of the external system. Running can be hard on the skeletal structure as you age. If you are a runner that is in a situation where you cannot run, forms will keep your cardiovascular health, at the very least, maintained and vastly improve general health.
The last two main categories I have identified are also somewhat related in needs and goals. People in high stress corporate work environments need stress relief and wellness programs and they, along with drug and alcohol rehabilitation program patients, are seeking to protect their minds and bodies from the ravages of an outside force. Stress anxiety is a very real killer and drug and alcohol addiction is one of the great problems in our country and around the world.
Both require solutions that heal the mind and body as well as provide another outlet on which to focus their personalities, something to empty the mind and take the thoughts away from the next board meeting or deadline or craving while providing life stimulating exercise. Forms, Chi Kung, meditation, mental healing techniques that are an advanced form of self-hypnosis, all these ancient methods can work to great effect toward balancing the lives of modern people in need.