Modern Martial Arts and Health Radio E07: Scott M. Rodell On the Practice of Yang Family Taiji Quan and Jian Fa


Scott M. Rodell has studied martial arts since the age of nine. He has dedicated the last four decades exclusively to study of Yang Family Taijiquan (T’ai Chi Ch’uan). Rodell spent many years traveling to find and study with the best teachers in this lineage to fulfill a person goal – renovating Yang Family Taijiquan. He sought out teachers known for certain specialties, pulling together elements of the system that have become separated and fragmented. Rodell has been privileged to receive instruction in Push Hands and Free Fighting from William C. C. Chen, Sword and Push Hands from T.T. Liang and the Yang Family Michuan Taijiquan, form, applications, push hands, fan, sword and spear, from Wang Yen-nien.

Rodell is the Director of the Great River Taoist Center. The Center was founded in 1984  and now is headquatered in Washington, DC and has branch and affiliated school across America, Europe and Australia. He began teaching internationally in the Russia at the request of the Soviet Wushu Federation in 1991. In 1992, the Moscow branch officially opened as a branch of Great River. For fourteen years, Rodell taught across western Russia before turning over the Russian Branch of GRTC to his disciple student, Albert Efimov. While in Russia, Rodell made TV programs about Taijiquan for Moscow’s learning channel and Sochi local Television and has been interviewed by various daily newspapers. Rodell is also the author of nine books on Historical Martial Arts, Chinese Swordsmanship – the Yang Family Taiji Jian Tradition, Taiji Notebook for Martial ArtistA Practical Guide to Test Cutting for Historical Swordsmanship, Traditional Manchu Archery of the Qing Imperial Guard, Shi Jian Pu – Manual of Ten Sword Skills – A Handbook of Chinese Swordsmanship, Dandaofa Xuan – Chinese Long Saber Techniques Anthology, Fundamentals of the Wudang Sword Method – Selected Translations with Commentary from a Manual of Chinese Swordsmanship, The Taijiquan Classics: A Martial Artist’s Translation, and Ming Chinese Military Swordsmanship.

Having been called the “Father of the Renaissance of Chinese Swordsmanship,” teacher Rodell is best know internationally for his efforts reviving Chinese Historical Sword Work. He is particularly has been reborn due to his work. Considered the leading authority on Chinese Swordsmanship, Rodell travels frequently to Europe (Estonia, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom), across the US and to Australia and Canada to lead seminars in this art. Currently, he teaches over 20 seminars a years. He has also recently founded an online Academy of Chinese Swordsmanship. Over the years Rodell has taught a wide variety of classes to a diverse audience including Vietnamese refugee children, jail inmates, seniors at the Library of Congress, in addition to his regular weekly classes.Rodell has appeared twice on the popular series, “Man at Arms Reforged,” in the episodes Green Destiny (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) S3, E8 and 400 Year-Old Dandao Sword S3, E15.

Rodell was one of the first ten Americans to enter the door of the Jin Shan Pai, a traditional school of Taoist Nei Gong.  Rodell, initiated into the Jin Shan Pai by Wang Yen-nien, is a sixth generation teacher in this tradition.

Purchase Scott M. Rodell’s cutting Jian and Dao:

Tournament Record
For Scott M. Rodell
USAWKF Northeast Regional Competition, June 24 & 25, 1995, NYC
Men’s Advanced Light Weight Restricted Step Push Hands Champion
Men’s Middle Weight Moving Step Push Hands, Third Place
International Taiji Quan Championship, Republic of China, Second Place, Men’s featherweight Push Hands, 1990
This is an incomplete list…

Follower of the Dao of Taiji
An Interview from Wushu Jian Shen magazine by Zhang Xinhua, September 1992, Beijing.

“I’m Lou Si Xiu, from Washington, DC.” Scott M. Rodell introduces himself in Chinese. Although we have an interpreter. He suggests not mentioning his English name in this article.

I wonder whether this 32-year-old American understand the deep meaning of his Chinese name or not. However, I get a definite answer after the 20-minute interview.

He is very energetic. He started to learn various kinds of Gong Fu at the age of nine, such as Western Wresting, Japanese Karate, Judo, Fencing, Archery and etc. But he wasn’t strong enough, and he doubted whether all these sports fit him or not. He learned, by chance, from his friend that one Chinese martial arts, that is Taiji Quan, is a kind of Nei Gong which doesn’t need intense muscle movement. He was very surprised and attended a Taiji Quan class.

He learned several forms at the first class. He moved back and forth in front of the mirror in the classroom. He did a Dan Bian, looking at himself from the mirror, the front hand pushing, while the back one hooks, the muscle growing strong. He had a very good sense of his muscle strength. At this moment, his teacher came to him. He shook his head and said,’No. No.’ Patting on his hard and muscle, he wanted his student to fang sung, and use mind instead of muscle strength.

He thought there was something wrong with his teacher. He couldn’t understand how to do the form while one’s muscle were soft. He tried to find the answer. After a period of hard practice, he found that Taiji, the soft Gong is more powerful than hard Gong. He became stronger than before. And his right, leg hurt in Wresting, was cured by Taiji.

“So, you find the most suitable sport to you finally.” I asked him. “No.Taiji is not a kind of sports. It is a way of meditation, a kind of Wen Wu Xing (Cultural-Martial Method of Self Cultivation). Some sports make your muscle strong, but without spirit and Qi. They can’t complete the human being. I practise Taiji not only for my body, but for my whole life. For instance, you can’t see the Qi in Taiji, but you can feel it. It is very interesting. There are some mysterious things in the world. Chinese try to learn it by their own ways. Taiji Quan is an outstanding way. The United States has advanced science, rich knowledge, but without the real way to understand Dao. This way is in China. If philosophy is just written in the book, or oral language, it would be meaningless.”

I have to admit all he said was very thoughtful. But Scott said he is only a beginner in Taiji Quan. He points to dozens of Americans who are following Master Yang Zhen Duo, and says, “It is not easy for all these Americans to come to China. Though there are many books about Taiji Quan in America, they come to China because they worry about Taiji Quan in the States being western style.” He hopes China will keep Taiji Quan’s traditional form. He even worries China will forget her own tradition after the current reforms. He says Yang Zhen Dou and other masters deserve to be called China’s priceless treasure.

Rodell has practiced Taiji Quan for 15 years, and is a professional Taiji Quan teacher. He has two centers in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and three centers in Russia. But he still says he is a beginner in Taiji Quan. He will never show off himself. He tells me many people in the U.S. try to make money by Taiji Quan, but he thinks it is shameful. He will try his best to teach his students who love Taiji all he learns. I think he has a humble and generous personality.

After the Taiji Quan training class, Scott will visit Lao Mountain and Tai Mountain, get some Dao spirit. He writes down his address on my note book ‘Great River Taoist Center’, and especially explains in Chinese.

I consider the deep meaning of ‘Great River’, and also the American’s Chinese name ‘Si Xiu’.

Music from “Eastern Thought” by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (

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