primal Movement and connection
The Yuan Gong Institute promotes reaching the primal through movement and connection. While it was inspired by the "Ape Power Journey"
(猿力之旅 ), a traditional Taoist gong fu style, the formal technique in this art isn't as important as embodying the "essence of the ape," as the old masters say. Something as simple as walking through the woods, making a pot with your hands, whittling a stick, or, for children and able adults, stretching, jumping, reaching, rolling... all these things are movements we have made for millions of years, and people have become disconnected from those recursive enactments in modern life, which makes for missed opportunities to activate the blueprint for wholeness that connects us to all living things. We tend to sit in front of a screen, or facing the same way, holding still, at school or work, and live far away from nature and our evolutionary heritage. Our dynamic memories slowly fall away.
Rupert Sheldrake, the world-renowned Cambridge biologist, has advanced a theory that memory is part of the environment and not just a "stored brain trace" -- there is a critical feedback loop that occurs when we physically participate in the active memory of movement, and ancient movements connect us to an even deeper and richer ocean of living webs. That enactment becomes a dynamic system of connection, awareness, and living context. People that move in primal ways become connected not just in the moment of action, but those connections grow and become a new platform for thinking and feeling differently in very positive ways.
The Yuan Gong Institute, an international endeavor, uses the integrated approaches of Eastern movement arts schools of an earlier age, and brings an equal focus to the nexus of healing, scholarship, community service, and spiritual development in the belief that this combination has a unique and singular power for human advancement. We understand from our personal and professional experiences that a connection with the primal -- our inner archaic essence -- is at the heart of all worthwhile endeavors. It teaches how to harmonize with and learn from natural connections all around us.
Our interdisciplinary approach to the cultivation of these connections not only instills health in the individual, but in the living systems surrounding them as well. While the world's challenges are much greater than in those former days, nothing has changed about the dynamism of coming together to become more than the sum of the parts in order to bring new insights, progress, and harmony.
All of us working through the Yuan Gong Institute have been in the vanguard of our various disciplines with a common aim: to bring better human understanding through connection. Some of us have studied the connections between higher primates and humans, some have studied the connections between culture, daily life, family, and various modalities of therapy and service, others have studied the long line of hominid evolution. Still others of us have studied the connective nature of the movement arts. All of us, in one form or another, have explored the relationships between humans and their environment, and the importance of rich and holistic contexts for the development of all living things.
Our belief is that by working together we can help to heal the universal wounds caused by disconnection: violence, pathology, environmental decline, the endangerment of our natural animal teachers, and widespread physical and mental distress.
In our efforts to understand and find the best passage to the future, we come full circle; through the path of our evolution, in harmony with our ancient anthropoid ancestors and living anthropoid cousins, through wisdom of ancient Eastern understandings of the Way, through the best of current academic, artistic, and social insight, and back once more into the revitalized primal within.
Yuan Gong, the way of the ape...
Yuan Gong was disseminated during the Qing Dynasty in China. Like most kung fu styles, it was modeled on observations and embodimentof animals in the natural world.
Why take the ape power journey?
Apes are vibrant, feeling beings, just like us. We are closely related to them, sharing a common ancestor, but where we have often forgotten our connection to the natural world as an essential part of our evolution, the ape can remind us of the way.
Isn't kung fu for fighting?
There is substantial evidence that kung fu (which simply means mastery with time and practice) was originally intended as a complete meditation for the body, mind, and spirit. Real students of kung fu rarely, if ever, find themselves in a situation where physical force is necessary. The real art is the application of integrated skills that ripple out in positive ways.