People learn martial/combative arts for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, some serious and some rather childish. The energy which inspires an action determines its outcome. This applies to all martial systems as they were created and developed. The energy or the motive that drove their creation predetermined everything about what they became. Martial arts at its original core meaning refers to warlike arts, meant to harm or destroy an opponent in the context of armed and unarmed combat. The moral philosophy and the perspective background of the founders of each martial style determined the level of potency they were driven to develop and whether they had the impetus (Power) to follow through and make their vision reality.
TWFM comes from an intense impetus, driven by a highly philosophical and religious ethic about the value of life and the need for all people to be protected from senseless violence. The core ethic that governed the development of TWFM from a historical perspective is primarily eastern in origin, consisting of Daoist and Buddhist teachings. It is also supplemented in the modern iteration with Christian ethics and several other western schools of thought making it a unique east and west blend of philosophy and ethics. As a system we are committed to not getting hung up on making useless philosophical separations but rather to utilizing many opposites as compliments.
TWFM has 2 histories that are worth discussing, one relates to the history of the family behind 葛剑派 (gejianpai-Ge family sword system) which forms the primary contributing style for TWFM and the other relates to the modern members of the Tang Wei Martial Arts Association who carry on the tradition of the system now in a western host body of practitioners.
In this sense TWFM also represents a unique modern-ancient unification to go along with its unique east-west unification of culture. This is why so many of the members of the TWMAA have been able to devote decades to study in this system and still find it a seemingly endless source of growth both in terms of martial and philosophical progress.
Gejianpai Brief History:
Ge Jian Pai according to legend was a martial system that began as the family sword system of the wealthy Ge family. The Ge family was closely affiliated with the Imperial Family of pre-warring states China. They were given the task of guarding the imperial family and as such were given imperial permission and assistance to gain access to study the fighting systems of several other high ranking families which were renowned for their martial arts during that period.
The Ge family and their relatives the Huang family successfully studied and integrated these several fighting methods into a composite system which they used for protection of the imperial family. This composite system became Ge and Huang family traditions and legacies.
Above and beyond the Imperial mandate for their study, the Ge and Huang families decided to continue on their own to go out and seek training from as many sources as they could find. Their training originally solely focused on combative development which led quickly to moral imbalance and over aggression in the temperament of their up and coming family members.
In answer to this problem, training in philosophical, religious and spiritual disciplines were quickly included. As legend has it, this tradition of seeking knowledge, power, morals and skill from all origins was the family legacy that continued on for generations passing on in one form or another to present time (where Tom Garriga learned it from his teacher Dok Huang).
Many probably are thinking that this sounds too outrageous to be true and that there is no way that a system would be this potent and that the world would not have known about it. For those that think this, you should realize that you do not really know Chinese culture and real Chinese Martial Arts. The Chinese are notorious for keeping their advantages hidden, they do not show the advantage until it is truly needed. Secrecy is kept to a degree that is somewhat unthinkable to those in the west who have an insatiable need to show everything they know.
By comparison, let us consider another popular self-defense system of modern time. Krav Maga has become a well renowned self-defense and combat system. It is renowned because of its development in the Israeli armed forces which have been continuously dealing with hostile surrounding countries since its founding after WWII.
It is different because its proving ground has been in war. Systems that are developed or proved through war always develop differently than sporting systems. They tend to focus on quicker finishes and responses. Systems developed for war also tend to heavily emphasize the incorporation of weapons and weapons defense as core focuses. TWFM both from its ancient Ge Jian Pai origin and modern influence stems from the proving ground of real combat application and thus it has developed differently.
Anciently the warring states period was really the proving grounds and impetus for further development of the GeJianPai family system. 300 years of civil war was a brutal incubator for developing what actually works in combat and also a stern reinforcement of morals that tended to peace. The Ge family survived the warring states period learning much about the brutal nature of war and what it takes for martial arts to be effectively applied on a battle field. The family rose and fell through history in wealth and prominence but always continued its family martial arts.
***SideNote on “Closed Door” Chinese Martial Arts: For Chinese Families to have their own purely exclusive martial arts is true for many families in Chinese history. Having a family martial art that was only shared with family members was and still is a common practice. Usually masters of such arts will teach a watered down “Front” system for money, especially when they are located in western countries like the United States.
The family left China when communist Mao Ze Dong began to conduct the brutal “cultural revolution” which consisted of eliminating many of those powerful and prominent Chinese Families who were leaders in the former Republic of China. Various members of the family fled to various locations around the world including California. Dok Huang and his family ended up in Los Angeles during the same time that Tom Garriga was teaching Kenpo Karate for Ed Parker at the Pasadena Kenpo school.
Dok Huang like many immigrant Chinese taught portions of his martial arts to the general public. Dok was known by many as a renowned master of the Shaolin Animal Fighting Styles. Dok also taught the family system of GeJianPai to his family members only. Through a series of extraordinary events, Tom Garriga provided chance assistance to one of Dok’s children and was officially adopted into the Huang family by Dok and was the first outsider given the chance to study the Ge Jian Pai composite system.
This decision displeased many within the Huang and Ge families and many refused to associate with Tom as he was an outsider. Although Tom displayed unprecedented devotion to his training, sacrificing much and making it to their highest ranking of 5th step at a blistering pace of 8 years, he was still not accepted by many of the members in the Ge and Huang families.
For many years until just prior to Dok’s death in the early 1990s, Tom was only given permission to teach GeJianPai in conjunction with the mixed system that he was teaching at the time in Salt Lake City, Utah, but not officially. Just prior to Dok’s death, he gave Tom permission to officially teach what he had learned with the family.
After Dok passed away, except those Tom had directly trained with and were close to in Dok’s immediate family, the main parts of the Ge family no longer associated with Tom and so Tom Garriga with all those he has taught were positioned in a strange place in the martial arts community as we officially belonged to no organization or style.
Because of this Tom and many of those he has trained have formed our own unique martial system (Tang Wei Fighting Method) and organization (Tang Wei Martial Arts Association). While claiming our own unique place as a system we admittedly carry on many of the traditions that Tom learned while training in Ge Jian Pai and acknowledge that their system is the overwhelmingly predominant influence upon what we teach and train.
TWFM Modern Influence-Transitioning from Ge Jian Pai to TWFM:
One might think that with a system as potent as GeJianPai as the basis, why would you need to add to it? The answer is that everything evolves or gets left behind. There are no secret overriding advantages just because you study a system with a long history.
Often in marksmanship, the phrase is used that if you can shoot to the actual level of the weapon you would be the best marksman to have ever lived. This is true of the human organism as well, if you can fight to the level it is actually capable of, you would be greater than any system ever conceived of. This is the focus of TWFM. It is about developing the generic, universal martial skills which go beyond style and are applicable in each combative situation and can be modified for symbolic application for success in life endeavors.
Ultimately the Tang Wei Martial Arts Association at its core is an open source organization, with a fervent belief in the perish-ability of skills and perspectives. We continue to train and to seek out new learning from styles in the modern era. The tradition that Tom Garriga always has taught is that we use the best methods we are aware of and we are ALWAYS looking.
The modern history that forms the other half of TWFM’s founding comes from Tom Garriga’s relevant life experiences and experiences training in the Martial Arts for nearly 6 decades. This is combined with and life and training experiences from several other ranking members of the Tang Wei Martial Arts Association.
We are a somewhat unique organization that really up until the past few years intended to stay small and relatively unknown to the world. This website and a book which is in the works is meant as a big “Hello” to the martial arts community, we intend to rejoin you officially.
Tom Garriga had an official school that was open to the public until 1998 and after that we have been a somewhat underground system. We often joke and say that “the first rule of Tang Wei is that you don’t talk about Tang Wei”, in reference to the fact that we have been a rather closed system up until very recently that in jest often resembled an underground fight club.
The reason for the decision to expand our profile is very simple. It seems that violence is escalating in the world, and we want to do our part to help contribute to those who are already warriors and those who will become so in the years to come. As things get worse, you need empowered people who can and will do what it takes to protect themselves and others.
Most of us in the TWMAA have police and military backgrounds, and one thing that we have learned is that no matter how many military and police personnel you hire, they will still almost certainly not be present when assaults actually take place. They serve as a great deterrent but they often can only react in the past tense to violence. Further the option of creating a police state where police are always present everywhere, in our estimation of history seems a “cure” that is worse than the “disease” of violence itself.
What you can always guarantee is that there will be regular everyday citizens present. Thus, if a citizen body wants to remain safe and free then it is the responsibility of citizens to learn to protect themselves, to learn to be fit and ready for what may come, to be warriors. What we teach can help such citizens to be effective warriors, who contributing members of society, who build lives worth protecting, and who are highly capable of protecting themselves and their families. Out mission in short, is to help harden the target.