In 1957, Master Chen Fake passed away and a serious problem presented itself to the members of the 18th generation of the Chen Style Taijiquan; who would pick up the heavy burden of promoting the art of Chen Fake and the advancement of Taiji? At that time Feng Zhiqiang was working in Beijing for an electric motor company. It was the time of the "Great Leap Forward" (a political movement). He was very busy at work. Not only did he not teach publicly, he also did not make appearances in front of other martial artists. He was very worried though about the art of his master and about his fellow brothers. Whenever something came up he always volunteered himself. He and the other brothers who were teaching publicly at the time set up three rules: 1.) Do not cause trouble; 2.) Do not engage in fighting; 3.) If pressed by a challenger, Feng would be the one to fight on behalf of the style.
One day a descendant of a famous master came to one of the places where Feng's brother was teaching Chen Style Taijiquan. He openly asked "to compare martial arts in order to become friends", which is a synonym to a challenge. He said that Taijiquan looked good but was useless; it was probably good for health and digesting food only. According to the rules Feng had established, Feng's taiji brother arranged a challenge date and informed Feng Zhiqiang. When the day arrived he came with several people. When he saw Fen Zhiqiang's brother he wanted to fight. Feng Zhiqiang stepped in front of him and said, "There is no need for my senior brother to take your challenge. Let me try first." The man took a stance, circled around Feng several times and then charged. As soon as he charged, he flew out, landing heavily on the ground. He could not even breathe. Feng Zhiqiang hurriedly went to him to massage his body to revive him. When he woke up he saw Feng still touching him, he backed away and said, "Let's fight again in three days". Then he left in a hurry.
Another time a famous martial artist came from outside of the Pass (from Northeastern China). He openly demanded to fight Feng Zhiqiang. Feng complied happily. After the challenge he felt that Feng Zhiqiang's kung fu was superior. He raised his thumb in praise. Feng Zhiqiang just smiled.
There was also a qi gong master who challenged Feng Zhiqiang to a fasting duel. The two of them sat down with closed doors in lotus position, without 44
eating. Only allowing them a little water. Three days later, Feng Zhiqiang trained with his steel staff of 38 jin (which is over 40 pounds). The challenger did not even have the power to walk.
Among the brothers, Feng Zhiqiang and Chen Zhaokui were the best of friends. They were often seen together in public. During Master Chen Fake's last days he had asked Feng to look after Chen Zhaokui. Feng Zhiqiang took his master's last words to heart. He often practiced with Chen Zhaokui, in front of people and behind the scenes. Chen Zhaokui in return also respected this senior brother of his. Every time he went out of town to teach, he would come to Feng Zhiqiang to plan teaching strategies, etc. Upon his return to town, he would head straight to Feng to exchange information and ideas. Till today, Feng Zhiqiang still feels very upset about Chen Zhaokui's death at such a young age. He blames himself for not looking after Chen Zhaokui well enough. Every time he talks about this he becomes very emotional.
In 1981 when the news of Feng Zhiqiang's early retirement spread, Feng's Taiji brothers recognized that there was hope for their style. His brothers, fellow martial artists and others in relevant government offices contacted Feng. Feng resumed his work of promoting Chen Style Taijiquan. He started from the ground up, with the organization of people, location, news releases and training. In 1983 the Beijing Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association was established. Master Feng Zhiqiang was voted Chairman unanimously, making him the head of the Chen Style Taijiquan. From this point on, Chen Style Taijiquan spread from Beijing to the rest of China. It further extended outside of China into the world. A new era in promotion of Chen Style Taijiquan began.
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