Perth Workshop 2019: Reflection on the TAO.



When Grandmaster Sam S.F. Chin presented his weekend workshop in Perth in 2019, he did some memorable things.

Discipleship most effective martial arts

First, he anointed three disciples: David May, Des Morgan and Bevan Castle. All three have been as loyal to the art as any master could hope for, having kept the I Liq Chuan flame burning in Perth for so many years, ever since Grandmaster Sam held his first classes in the art in Western Australia. Perhaps it was in Perth that the art first ventured outside its home in Malaysia.

Chinese Martial Arts

Philosophy and Concepts and martial arts training.

Second, he gave mental training. The formal title of the workshop was “Wrist Locks and Free Sparring”. But in classic Taoist style, the workshop was as big on what was physically taught as well as what was not, on the mental, as much as on the physical.

What Grandmaster Sam spoke about (to those who knew how to listen) got those present to reflect on the nature of physical technique and how it related to the nature of all things. In this, he spoke the language of the philosopher, rather than that of the fighter (though he was clearly a great fighter in his day).

Take a central theme that emerged for the author that sunny summer’s day. It was that the point of contact with the adversary is where one merges with the adversary, to become one, or unified with him or her. In seeking that oneness with the adversary, one is in effect seeking to experience, on this humble, human level, the oneness that was first written about over 2,000 years ago in ancient China about the Cosmic Tao, the way that nature is – an undifferentiated whole, a matrix to which all things belong.

Grandmaster Sam spoke about the philosophical and metaphysical basis of Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan in the same way that the Tao Te Ching described it – that from the One comes the Two and from the Two comes the Three and from that, the Ten Thousand Things (the Chinese metaphor for all things).

Is it not fascinating that these sorts of ideas have such strong parallels with the discoveries of famous scientists such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawkjng?  It is from them that we know that there are three things that make up the universe of all things: matter, energy and space. And because of the famous equation from Albert Einstein, E =  mc2, matter and energy are ultimately the same thing, therefore leaving only two elements required to create a universe ! Duality therefore exists in science and Taoist/Zhong Xin Dao/I Liq Chuan metaphysics……!

Tai Chi:

The Grandmaster taught that we can detect duality at the point of contact with an adversary. Of course, there is the most obvious physical duality of you and the adversary. But then, there is also the duality of the yin and yang elements of both in action in the traditional Chinese biomechanics: of projecting along the yang side of the body, through to the arm (or leg) to the point of contact, but also absorbing back along the yin side of the same body.  Then there is the yin and yang to be found at the point itself.

In linking these physical techniques to the metaphysical concept of the Three, the Grandmaster’s words became a revelation, a major learning. The learning was that it was not just the dividing line between one and the adversary that is the third element. It was also to be found in another aspect: namely, in one’s awareness of and at the point of contact. It was as simple and as complicated as that.  For if you only experience the differentiation (or duality) between yourself and the adversary, then you are limited to only responding using that experience. If you apply the third element – that of awareness (or as the author might put it another way – mindfulness), when experiencing it, then you are truly practising Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan as it is. 

Beyond applications in the techniques in the Grandmaster’s family art, there is a larger lesson here. This third element – awareness – is something that can be applied whatever the adversary is in one’s life at large. It could be a problem with tackling a home project, it could be one’s interactions with a friend or relative, or it could be some government bureaucracy that is giving you a hard time. The “adversary” could just be that other thing, place or person in one’s life.

Whether it is at the point of contact within I Liq Chuan or the wider world which we live in, the teaching that the element of awareness should be brought to bear, is a strategy not just for application in the martial arts arena, but also for Life in general.

So the greatest value of the workshop and its underlying ideas is in how we can go forward to unify with the numerous dualities that we make contact with in everyday life, and then bringing this awareness, or consciousness or mindfulness to the task in order to meet the challenges in those dualities.

Many thanks to Grandmaster Sam Chin !

Martial arts training






KE Qinghai


11 July 2020

2018 Workshop by Master Sam

Workshop by Master Sam Chin in Perth

January 2018

By KE Qing Hai

Perth I Liq Chuan practitioners were very fortunate to be treated to a workshop by Master Sam Chin at the YMCA in Leederville on the weekend of 6 and 7 January 2018.

Best martial art for self defence

Given the small but growing band of practitioners in Perth, it was a rare honour. Especially in the light of the fact that the Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan movement has been growing strongly in recent years in the rest of the world.

The Perth club in Leederville is the oldest in Australia. It is also the first school outside of Malaysia,  one of the oldest in the world, a happy result of Master Sam’s family connections with Perth.

About 25 people attended the two-day workshop over a weekend. It was a testament to the efforts of David May and Des Morgan that such a big group turned up on short notice.

For this member, the workshop was an eye-opener. It is natural for most people to equate speed, strength and over action with “getting somewhere” or “achieving something”-whether that be fitness, skill or experience in life in general. But Master Sam reminded us of the true nature of things when he sat everyone down at the beginning of the workshop.

I am sure that a few of us thought, “Uh oh, are we going to spend this weekend listening to a lecture?” when Master Sam began to speak. However, as he spoke, all those present were drawn into the mystical foundations of this martial art.

He linked the stillness at the heart of the universe as imagined by ancient Daoists to the stillness that we need to seek at the point of contact with our adversaries. He connected the ancient Chinese idea of the yin and the yang to the balance that we seek when we engage with an opponent. He drew the analogy between the ideas of time and space as explored by mystics and the strategy within I Liq Chuan of seeking to occupy space to remove an opponent’s threat, thereby conquering the time that opponent has to mount an attack.

After a talk befitting of a spiritual guru, Master Sam then got us all into physical action. He covered a wide range of technical topics within the art, reminding all of us that the topics were many and subtle. We experimented with junction points, vector forces, pivot points, skimming, structure, cycles, quadrants, spheres, alignment, “first touch” and much more.

When Master Sam put us through various exercises, he got us thinking about combining the I, the Qi and the Li as well as the strategies of “2 to 1” and ‘’1 to 2” plus the relationship between the point of contact and the direction of energy.

Many moves that sounded familiar to us participants from experience prior to the workshop were reviewed and refined by Master Sam and his son, Hsin who was an able assistant. What seemed like basic moves took on deeper and deeper meanings.

The highlights of the workshop were of course when Master Sam demonstrated some stances and moves. He was quietly spectacular, whether in being immovable when participants tried to push him over (at his request), or controlling a student by using one finger to dominate her forearm, or laying hands on another person and directing his energy to the part of that person’s body at will.

The weekend was not long enough for the participants. But all were left inspired to dig deeper into an art that is both deceptively soft, yet founded on solid principles, techniques and a profound guiding philosophy.

The general mood was that all participants went away satisfied and inspired. We all resolved to practice more, with key teachings by Master Sam high in our consciousness, including the idea that we students of Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan strive to learn how to ”not fight”, but instead to learn how to cultivate the self and apply the principles of the art to other areas of one’s life. David May, Des Morgan and Bevan Castle successfully went through high level grading for instructor and student levels in separate training with Master Sam.

The excellent response to this workshop has encouraged the organisers to think about planning another workshop by Master Sam, in Perth.

External v Internal martial arts

Quite often different martial arts are described into 2 different categories, Internal and external martial arts. On a simple level, a typical external or hard style is arts such as Karate, Muy Thai, Boxing etc. Internal arts are typically Tai Chi, Hsing-i, Ba Gua, and of course our very own I Liq Chuan.

External Martial Arts

External arts are about using the power from muscular strength and developing power generated by the body, typically a conditioned external practitioner will develop their power from conditioning training to build the body up through tension and physical training. External usually suits the younger person where they get to burn up a lot of energy and get fit, build the body up to be strong and powerful looking, in fact you can say the by-product of external arts training is a buffed up and developed body. Typical a martial artist that trains in external practices alone will find as they age they will struggle to keep the training up unless they incorporate some of the internal training methods in their training.  externernal martial arts Perth

Internal Martial Arts

The internal practitioners develop their power from internal energy. These people train to move in a slow, relaxed, soft and fluid motion, the body or Adrenalin is not their source of power. This is seen from the less experience as being for health and can not possibly be for fighting however when trained correctly can be more effective study than a technique based art. The internal arts are quite often associated with health cultivation due to the breathing and meditation however this is not their primary purposes despite popular belief. The internal arts definitely focus on developing the mind and the Chi or energy. Chinese martial arts, Perth


Is categorising that simple

Describing an art as being external or internal is a lot more difficult than our explanation above, some of the arts can be viewed as being both external and internal. The definition is not as simple as stereo typing an art one way or another. For example some Internal martial arts train very hard on conditioning the body despite paying a lot of attention towards developing the internal energy, meditation and the fluid movements and Chi breathing commonly found in internal arts. Some of the arts typically defined as a hard style have evolved over time to incorporate the focus towards internal practices. It is also common that training for beginners start with external training techniques but as the practitioner progresses towards a higher level, or as they age, their training becomes more focused towards the qualities found in traditional internal styles. So the difference between external and internal has now become very blurred and down to the individual practitioner.

I Liq Chuan is very much defined as an internal Chinese martial art. It’s aim is to understand the inner feel and express that outward. Relaxation is also an essential component. Relaxation contains looseness, softness and elasticity. It is based on Tai Chi and Zen principles.

Come down and find out more about internal and external martial arts.