Many of our Board members have their own individual projects that use our connections to the natural, primal world and one another. Sarah Boysen's work has illuminated new connections between humans and great apes. Michael Bakan's work has used basic, free form percussion to encourage self expression and social ties in children on the autism spectrum. Nick Walker combines his lived experience of neurodiversity and his advanced martial arts skills as tools for bringing people and larger issues together. Olga Soloman, Teresa Kuan, and Melissa Park have all followed the webs of primal connectedness and their applications in regard to our identities, living contexts, and the world as a whole.
As a group working together in the Yuan Gong Institute, we hope to inspire one another to continue exploring the insights that interdisciplinarity offers, and apply what we learn to a world that needs connection.
Currently, the main outreach program of the Yuan Gong Institute is Snow Monkey Martial Arts, a program that uses a gentle, supportive, holistic approach, based on the play of snow monkeys with a martial arts underpinning, to help women and children who have survived trauma. Snow Monkey Martial Arts is also promoting the art of Yuan Gong Wudang as an advanced class for students to take their journey to the next level. Our students, who have come from contexts of domestic abuse, substance abuse, sexual assault, bullying, and physical and emotional disability, thrive in the school's environment.
Future programs and projects are in the preliminary stages.
The Institute hopes to producing a package of materials that includes primal Yuan Gong movements, outlines the theoretical and practical approaches each of our international team has successfully taken toward helping people understand and appreciate the world from a creative and integrative approach, and illuminates the powerful potential inherent in the admixture of music, movement, occupational therapy, psychology, environmental and species awareness, and scholarship. We are exploring ideas of ways to use such a package in a variety of educational, social services, and program settings.
We plan to pursue research on the links between Yuan Gong, Taoism, and prehistory, so that we can make further connections between primal movement, spirituality, and health. We are interested in contributing to a better understanding in the West of the ancient roots of the movement arts and there original intentions. We will use ethnographic narratives, historical material, archaeology, and paleoanthropology to study these connections.
We will develop research into the primal roots of martial arts in general, while focusing on Yuan Gong. In regard to the latter, there are many sources in Chinese that are being translated into English, the first English examples that we know of. With experts, we hope to detect style influences on forms captured on video, as well as make determinations about what material is best representative of the art.
Furthering our understanding of our ape cousins, who gave us Yuan Gong, is also a goal of the Institute. For example, we are planning a study that brings together deaf native sign language users, advanced sign language interpreters and great apes in the hopes that new nuances in movement, facial expression, and culture will be seen. Other researches, like Francine Patterson, have done tremendous and invaluable work in this area with gorillas. We would like to build on that work.
Check back for progress on these programs, and emerging ideas for more.