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Why a Phoenix? (凤凰 Fèng Huáng)

I chose the symbol for my martial arts business carefully and for a number of different reasons. Even though I know only one very short Phoenix form (from linear Sun style Bagua) this ancient mythical bird from Chinese mythology is very close to my heart.

What is a Phoenix?

The Phoenix is a mythological Chinese bird that rules over all the other birds. Dating back over 8000 (yes 8000!) years to the Chinese neolithic period, the phoenix has been a constant symbol throughout the Sinosphere. Originally there were male (Fèng) and female (Huáng) phoenixes, but with the rise of the dragon as the dominant Yang/male mythical creature in Asian the phoenix took on the Yin/female role. Just as the dragon came to represent the Chinese emperor over time, the phoenix came to represent the empress.

Look at this awesome Phoenix sculpture from Nanning city, Guangxi, China (Picture used under creative commons licence BY-SA 3.0,

Like many Chinese (and Western actually) mythological animals it is a composite creature; she has the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag and the tail of a fish! The fenghuang's body symbolises the celestial bodies: her head is the sky, the eyes are the sun, the back is the moon, the wings are the wind, the feet are the earth, and the tail is the planets. Just like the Western/Arabian phoenix she is associated with the fire element and is supposed to have originated in the Sun.

The phoenix like the dragon represents harmony and union. It represents both the union of Yin and Yang as well as the harmony of the 5 elements.

What does a phoenix mean to me?

Just like my own history, experience, training and life has been a fusion of east and west the phoenix combines both the Eastern and Western connotations for me.

From the Western point of view the Phoenix represents renewal and rebirth. Having gone through a very difficult period in my life, struggling with depression and other mental health issues, I had lost my way. I was wasting my energies in a job I hated and was ruining my health and relationships. Rising Phoenix was represents that rebirth ad renewal, returning to my passion for Chinese martial arts and returning my mind and body to health.

From the Eastern point of view I chose a Phoenix for its association with my little girl. Sophie-Ling was born in the year of the Chicken and is also Fire element. Chinese children who are fire Chickens are often called Phoenixes! When I worked as a data science consultant I worked all hours of the day, was unhealthy, unhappy and had no time for my own little Phoenix. I chose this path so that I could spend time close to her and help her flourish and spread her wings.

The final point is that the Phoenix reflects my personal training philosophy. She combines the Yin and Yang harmoniously together in balance. Martial arts practice shouldn't be all sparring and fighting or all meditation and mindfulness but a mix of both. From our values section:

"Through the combination of yang external training and yin internal training we elevate our martial discipline to an art. We are neither thugs and cage fighters nor monks, hippies and priests. We are men and women connected and grounded, rooted in the real and yet guided by the heavens, we are martial artists."

And finally because of course Phoenixes are awesome! To finish here is: Phoenix Dances with Raindrops (or me playing the Bagua Phoenix short form in the rain)

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