John Nieters began his studies of Chinese Internal Martial Arts over 30 years ago. John has been teaching Internal Martial Arts and related courses for over 20 years. He first became interested in Tai Ji Chuan (under earlier pronunciation systems this was spelled Tai Chi Chuan) as an alternative to surgery. As a student at U.C. Santa Barbara, John was nearly immobilized from high school athletic injuries. Two medical doctors prescribed back surgery as his only option.
Fortunately, John discovered Master Y.C. Chiang in the early 1970's as an alternative to back surgery. Master Chiang is a famous herbalist, internal and external style martial artist, teacher of Qi Gong and has a lifelong training in both Buddhist and Taoist philosophies. Master Chiang prescribed herbs, instructed John to study Tai Ji, gave him specific Qi Gong exercises and prescribed dietary and lifestyle modifications. His back condition improved immediately and 30 years later he has not had back surgery. In working with Master Chiang, John was first exposed to Chinese herbalism, Qi Gong, Taoist Energetic practices, Traditional Chinese medicated diet and meditation.
In the early 1980's John began studying Martial Arts and Contemplation with Master Peter Ralston. Ralston decisively won the World Martial Arts Championship of 1978, in Taiwan. He became famous as the first non-asian fighter to win this full contact tournament. He so impressed the judges that he won the "individual" Championship and also won the "team" Championship, even though he was the only member of his team. Ralston has commented that he fought in this tournament as a validation of his work, which he titled "Cheng Hsin." The power of this work arises out of a direct experience of "being" as opposed to just physical and martial training, Ralston teaches Tai Ji as a fighting art.
John studied and taught at the Cheng Hsin School for 13 years. During his time at the Cheng Hsin School he taught Tai Ji Chuan, Tui Shou, Boxing, Free Fighting and a variety of contemplation and Qi Gong techniques. John was the Master Apprentice Trainer at the Cheng Hsin School and in this position was responsible for the training of future Cheng Hsin instructors. He is Certified Degree III Instructor of Yang Style Tai Ji Chuan and Tui Shou from the Cheng Hsin School of Martial Arts. In studying with Peter, John discovered his love of Contemplation and Ontological study, using Martial Arts as a vehicle to maintain the integrity of his practice. He is a Certified Level V Instructor of the Cheng Hsin School of Internal Martial Arts and Ontological Studies.
Since the mid-1990's, John has taught and studied at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences, under the auspices of Sifu Wei Tsuei. Master Tsuei, although formally retired as a teacher, showed great patience and generosity in imparting skills and training. His teaching has enhanced John's understanding as an acupuncturist and helped him to integrate Tai Ji and Qi Gong as healing arts.
John appreciates and thanks his teachers at the Wen Wu school, the Cheng Hsin School and the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences for their time, attention and the opportunity to study these arts. He currently teaches Tai Ji and Qi Gong to acupuncture students at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences and is available for private lessons. Please see the calendar section to find a current schedule of classes.
Tai Ji, which can be translated as "Supreme Undifferentiated Absolute Fist," originated in China over 1000 years ago. Based on the Taoist philosophies of Yin and Yang, taught in the Book of Changes or I Ching, Tai Ji is a powerful blend of self-discipline, self-defense and healing. It is an art which has grown over the millennia to include hundreds of forms and variations, and can easily take a lifetime to master.
The basis of Tai Ji is incredibly simple. You may have seen people doing Tai Ji in the park, in the movies, or even taken a class. But the forms themselves are not Tai Ji. Tai Ji, as it was originally taught, had no form. Instead, what was taught were the principles. Based on the movements of animals, birds and other elements in nature, the forms of Tai Chi follow the principles of Yin and Yang (expansion and contraction, compression and extension, sinking and rising) through a simple series of exercises.
These principles, illustrated by the Yin Yang symbol, represent the interplay of all things, which is the way of the Universe and is carried within each of us. Light and dark are relative. Fast and slow are relative. In this paradigm, there are no opposites, only relationships. Movement leads to stillness and stillness leads us into movement. The Yin/Yang picture is a symbolic representation of the linear equation E=MC2. Einstein's equation states that energy and matter are equivalencies, and not separate.
Tai Ji is beneficial for all age groups and benefits many health conditions. Tai Ji has been proven, in major university studies and through centuries of practice, to be effective in managing osteoarthritis, lowering blood pressure, improving balance and coordination and many other conditions. Studies have shown that Tai Ji is superior at increasing bone density in post-menopausal women to any other treatment. When practiced daily, Tai Ji practice can promote a sense of well-being and prevent chronic ailments.
Did you know that the practice of Qi Gong can actually slow down the aging process? The words Qi Gong can be translated as "energy cultivation" or "energy practice." Qi Gong is a 2000 year-old discipline that strengthens and refines the body's life force by using breath, postures and visualization techniques. Many people practice Qi Gong to promote health and prevent illnesses. Qi Gong is also practiced to enhance one's mental capacities, improve memory and for spiritual development.
There are many forms of Qi Gong practice including exercises, massage, meditation and healing. Qi Gong exercises are the most well known form of Qi Gong today. In general, the Qi Gong exercises are comprised of slow, relaxing movements and can be practiced standing, sitting or lying down. There are also other types of Qi Gong exercises with forceful, vigorous movements that are specifically used to strengthen the internal organs, the muscles and tendons.
For maximum benefit, Qi Gong exercises should be practiced daily. For health maintenance, 20 to 30 minutes of practice daily is sufficient to strengthen the life force, promote circulation and calm the mind.
Ta Lu is a two-person form-based practice that trains the energetics and footwork of yielding, blending, leading and outreaching. The goal of the practice is to create non-resistance, yet superior positional advantage. Ta Lu is generally taught after the Tai Ji set and before San Shou.
The words San Shou can be translated as "free hand." San Shou is a two-person martial art that allows one to practice working with someone's body in a controlled, choreographed set. It is also referred to as the double Tai Ji set. San Shou movements include punching, kicking, throwing, joint locking and uprooting. San Shou is regarded as the third level in Tai Ji training. It is a dynamic, exhilarating, impactful training the bridges the gap between single person forms and sparring.
T'ui Shou in the Cheng Hsin style is free form Tai Ji practice. It includes elements of many arts.
"Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou -- or The Art of Effortless Power -- deals with the martial application of Cheng Hsin. It is mainly rooted in three traditional arts: T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Aikido, and Pa Kua Ch'ang, with influence from arts such as Judo, Jujitsu, boxing and others. T'ui Shou is an art of throwing and uprooting. The student learns to neutralize aggression, blend with forces, and disrupt the balance and power of attackers by projecting them through space or throwing them to the ground." - www.chenghsin.com