North American Tang Shou Tao


“Hsu Hong-Chi said that you are only half of a Gongfu teacher if you don’t know the medicine. Anybody can learn to fight and anybody can teach some one else how to fight, but the ability to put people out there and be responsible for the physical and mental well being requires that the teacher understands their students on a much deeper level than just showing them fighting techniques.”
Vince Black

It is a fundamental philosophy of the North American Tang Shou Tao that medicine and martial arts go hand in hand. We believe that without preserving the traditional medical systems of thought and practice that developed along side our martial traditions much will be lost from both.

It is also a fundamental philosophy that an understanding of the basics of TCM is not a medical specialty, but can be used by anyone to improve their lives and their understanding of the world in a practical manner. In addition, with a repertoire of simple and safe techniques many common health complaints can be effectively dealt with by lay people with minimal cost and stress. With an understanding of the capabilities of TCM, referral to qualified professionals can save much further cost and stress when more serious illness or trauma arises.

The core of North American Tang Shou Tao healing arts is formed by the foundational theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These are simple yet profound ways to view the world, the place of humans in the world, and how health and illness arise from interactions between people and their environment. These theories form the underlying rational for all the training within our Association and we believe are of great value to individuals and to society at large. All certified North American Tang Shou Tao Instructors and Assistant Instructors are required to have sufficient skill and understanding in Chinese Medicine to safely guide people through the sometimes rigorous training in our internal boxing systems. Many are licensed and practice Chinese medicine professionally. Within the membership at large, the study of Chinese medicine is optional although strongly encouraged and there is a wide variety of involvement.

The theories of TCM can be applied through the modalities of herbology, acupuncture, bodywork and physical culture. Physical culture and bodywork are the primary modalities taught within our Association. We teach two styles of bodywork, Chinese massage, called tuina and Traditional Thai Massage. Either of these can be practiced easily on fellow classmates, friends, and family, to the great benefit of all. The massage training is very compatible with the martial training, each providing many experiences and skills which compliment the other. The North American Tang Shou Tao is able to offer certification in Jin Shou Tuina through the AOBTA, and a number of our instructors have been certified by ITM in Chiang Mai, Thailand to teach Thai massage.

Physical culture, of course, encompasses all of our boxing systems but also includes Qigong routines focused more specifically on the health building aspects of proper exercise. The division is somewhat artificial since all of our training is consistent with the principles of qigong, however, some routines are better suited for the use by the sick, injured, elderly or frail. qigong is also used to give students an experiential understanding of many of the key theories of Chinese Medicine such as Five Phases and Meridian Pathways.

Instruction in trauma remedies, called Di Da in Chinese and adjunctive therapies such as moxabustion, cupping, guasha, and herbal poultices and liniments are also offered to those with sufficient interest and dedication.