om Zhao BaoVillage
Taijiquan is like a ball. No matter what forces come to it, it will turn to reduce the power and then return it. If the force comes from the right, then the Taiji ball will let go to the right and then go to the left and return energy back to the opponent. If the force goes to the left, it will let go of the left and then go to the right and then back to the opponent. If the force comes to the top, it will let go of the top and hit back from the bottom. If the force comes to the bottom, it will let go of the bottom and hit from the top. This is how He Style Taijiquan master Yang Bin, from Xian, China explained Taijiquan.
It is very simple and gets straight to the point. Are we doing Taijiquan like that? Are we still using a lot of force in self-defence and Tui Shou (pushing hands skill)? If so, then we do not yet understand the Taijiquan principle.
There is a famous Taijiquan saying that says, 'Four ounces pushes one thousand tonnes.' Are we applying that principle on our Taijiquan yet?
Master Yang Bin always likes to talk about the principles of Taijiquan. His father, Yang Feng Chun, was one of the revolutionary soldiers who were against the Qing Government. He fought many wars, knowing it was the time for the people. He knew that to bring up a strong China, then they needed to bring up the young generation and make them healthy and strong so they could maintain the whole country. Under the rule of the Qing government, people suffered and were treated as low class citizens.
As a father, Yang Feng Chun certainly wanted his son, Yang Bin, to be a good Chinese citizen to help the new China. So when Yang Bin was seven years old, his father took him to begin studying martial arts underthe famous He Style Taijiquan master, Sun Mao Yun. Yang Bin had always wanted to study martial arts. He dreamed about being a martial art hero, like those in history, able to fight for his country and save people's lives.
Even when the Cultural Revolution came, he did not stop practising his Taijiquan. He always liked to compete with other styles of martial arts to improve his skill. Today Master Yang Bin is almost seventy years old, but his Taiji power is still strong and he likes to do pushing hands with anyone. He said, "It is only this way that we can know how good is our Taiji skill is. Also, Tui Shou can help us keep up our skill so we will not go backwards."
Master Yang Bin demonstrated many forms for me when I visited and even when he was holding a very heavy spear, he performed it powerfully and without being out of breath. Taijiquan has made him strong and healthy, just as his father had wanted. Taijiquan also made him understand Dao, nature and human relationships. He now has his own school for He Style Taiji-quan. He is giving back the treasure so new generations can benefit, and not just Chinese people but everyone in the world.
H e s t yl e Taijiquan is one of older styles of Taijiquan. I n Ta ij i q ua n hi story, there are many stories. All date back a very long time, the longest goes back to the
Tang dynasty around the 8th century. There is a story about, Du Xuan Ping, who was believed to be an immortal. People claimed to have seen him in many places at the same time. Some people believe he created Taijiquan.
Around the 12th century during the Song dynasty (around 1101-1126 BC), there was a Daoist called, Zhang Shan Feng, who lived on Wudang Mountain. At that time, Wudang mountain was not as strong and as popular as it was during the Ming Dynasty, when they built a beautiful temple and organised everything well. When Daoist Zhang lived there, it was just a ordinary Daoist temple. Everyday he would study to develop his Dan, which means crystal and is the concentrated essence of Qi. During this time, some people think he created Taijiquan.
Later, in the Ming dynasty, also on Wudang mountain at about 15 century, there was another famous Daoist Master also with the name, Zhang Shan Feng. Some claim it was he who had created Taijiquan.
At the end of the Ming Dynasty, around the 1 7th century, there was a man called Chen Wang Ting who was very famous for his martial arts. He was a scholar and a warrior. He commanded the troops who defended Wen County, Henan province, against bandits or robbers. In the old days the problem of bandits and robbers was very serious. Even the Government could not do much to help the situation. In addition to the robbers being bad, the Government was very corrupt. People said at the time, they preferred the robbers to the government officials, because robbers only stole once and then waited a long time before they come back again. But the government officials would come to take taxes and bribes from families every day until they died.
"He began to study martial arts under the famous He Style Taijiquan master, Sun Mao Yun"
This was a horrible time. People ate people, fathers sold their daughters and sons, husbands sold their wives and this continued until the Qing dynasty began. Chen Wang Ting had defeated over one thousand bandits with his martial art skill. His famous weapon was the Spring and Autumn Big Sword also known as the Guan Dao. Today people in Chen village still practise this weapon. When the whole of China was in chaos, Chen Wang Ting went back his home village in Wen county, Henan Province. There he began to compile his martial skill with his Daoist knowledge and Chinese Medicine theory.
He then created a relaxing and safe way of doing movement. When the practitioner became good enough and reached an advanced level, the movements could then be practised quickly. This skill was named Chen style Taijiquan.
Although there are many stories about the history of Taijiquan, we do know that the style of Taijiquan created by Chen Wang Ting is one of the most powerful, containing lots of fast and spiralling movements.
Today many people study Taijiquan and the most popular style is Yang Style Taijiquan, which was created by Yang Lu Chan. He was the founder of Yang Style skill but everybody knows that he learnt the basis of his skill from Chen Chang Xing. Chen Chang Xing was the 14th generation of Chen village and Chen Wang Ting was his ancestor, from the 9th generation of the Chen family. The Chen family has a very clear history of their ancestors and has a record of anyone in the family who was involved with martial arts. Today the Taijiquan skill that most people practise is based upon the Chen family style. We can see names of movements, such as Lazily Tie the Coat, Single Whip and White
" Later he developed the skill to become He style Taijiquan or Zhao Bao Style t-w-1 • • • 33
Crane Spreads Its Wings, in other types of Taijiquan and the movements are very similar. Of course it is not completely the same, just like the accents of different languages. The words sound different but the meaning is the same. So although there are different styles of Taijiquan, the principles are the same.
When Yang Lu Chan learnt some of the Chen family skill, this was the first time on record that Chen style Taiji had passed out from the
Chen family. Yang Lu Chan taught Taijiquan in Beijing to the Government officials and some nobles of the Qing rulers. He changed his Taijiquan so it was little bit different to the original Chen style Taijiquan. It has even been said that the Yang Taijiquan was not the same as the Chen family Taiji fist. Both skills were called Taijiquan and both followed the form and principles in the Yijing. So the name is not that important.
Just like myself, my Chinese name is Tse Wei Jing. However, I changed it to an English name for the Western people. So even though I am now called Michael, I am still the same person. Taijiquan became popular because Yang Lu Chan began to teach in public. So the Taijiquan we learn and see today originally comes from the Chen family Taijiquan. However, I also believe that there are more than the five major Taiji styles, which are Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (same pronunciation but different Chinese
writing)- and Sun. There are also some people, though not many, who study Wudang Taijiquan that Zhang Sang Feng passed to his student Zhang Song Xi. People call this Southern Style Taijiquan. There are many other different styles we can study today and these are more or less connected with Yang Style Taijiquan.
In the 14th generation of the Chen family, there was another person, called Chen Yu Beng. He was also very good at his family's Taijiquan skill. He developed the Old Frame skill into what is known as the Small Frame. This brought the skill to another level fit for more people. Then he passed the small frame of Taijiquan to his family. In the 15th generation, Chen Qing Ping studied the Small Frame. Later he followed his father when he moved ten miles away to Zhao Bao town to set up a business. Chen Qing Ping then began to teach Chen Style Taijiquan in the town. People knew he was a very famous martial artist and it was a very good opportunity to study with a famous master from Chen village. Chen Qing Ping had a few, very good and talented students. One of these was He Zhao Yuan who stayed in Zhao Bao Town to study Taijiquan. Later he developed the skill to become He style Taijiquan or Zhao Bao Style Taijiquan. There were also other students:- Li Jing Yan, Yang Hu and Zhang Kai and also Wu Yu Xiang. Wu Yu Xiang came to visit Chen village but he stopped at Zhao Bao Town and began to study Chen Qing Ping's style of Taijiquan.
Later Wu Yu Xiang developed his own style, which is the Wu style we know today.
In Chen village there is a very clear history about their martial art practise. Every generation had its famous master who was well-known in the village or outside the country or even famous in history. Of all the styles, the Chen family skill has more written history than any other for us to study. So today the Chinese Government officially accepts that Chen village, Wen County, Henan Province is the source of Taijiquan. There are a lot of Chen family genealogical records that the Government is keeping to protect as a record of this history. However, Taijiquan has such a long history that someday we might later find some more proof that the origins of the skill date back further.
Personally, I believe the Taijiquan which we practise today has come from Chen village, from the Chen family At that time, however, since the skill was only taught inside the family, there was no need to name it as Taijiquan. They just called it Chen Family Fist. So I believe that the name Taijiquan developed after Yang Lu Chan opened the skill to the public. But the Chen Family Fist follows the principle of Taiji.
Taiji originally came from the Yijing (The Book of Changes) which is all about the principles of the universe and which dates back over 5,000 years.
In the Yijing it says, "Nothing creates Taiji, Taiji creates two elements." That means everything begins with nothing; nothing creates something. This something we call Taiji. From Taiji comes two things. Taiji means one, from zero to be one, from one to be two, and then three, four, five and to infinity.
The famous 14th generation Chen Taijiquan master, Chen Chang Xing, said "Taijiquan changes in many situations. There is no obvious coming and going and no strength can be seen. It does not look strong and powerful but all the body's strength and power will be united and become one object. This means the whole thing is one." We can also say that this means that Taiji should be one from the top of the head to the bottom of feet. Everything should be all together and can not be separated. Every small and soft movement to the big and powerful ones should connect the whole body together. This is the principle of Taijiquan. It is as simple as that.
It is like nature. A tree cannot grow by itself without water, sun, food and other natural elements. It is the same in other styles of martial arts. We cannot punch or kick without the rest of the body supporting and balancing. Otherwise we will lose balance and even injure ourselves. I always find it a pity when people doing physical training, just concentrating on certain muscles or certain parts of the body and forgeting the rest of the body Eventually they will have all kinds of joint and muscle problems because they have separated the internal from the external and not treated everything as a whole.
If we follow the principle of Taiji, we should move the whole body together. This means that many martial arts such as Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Shaolinquan and Wing Chun Kuen, etc., can also be called Taijiquan. This is because it is just a name. It is the skill itself that is the most important thing. Who can develop the good skill is the person whose Taijiquan is better. I think all skill comes from other knowledge, but the most important thing is when the skill becomes mature and is accepted and then it will benefit more people.
If anyone can take the Taiji principle and not only apply it in the form but in their life, then this is a true Taiji Master. Some people can do the form very well, but they do not know how to handle the difficulties in their life or communicate with other people. If you want to be good, you need to learn to use the Taiji principle, like Master He, to live a long and healthy life. When your heart is right, your skill will be good, everything will be smooth and the energy will flow in your form and in your lifeB
by Michael Tse
Remembering simple stories that embody wider principles is a way in which I like to learn. Simply because after the failure to apply the principle in life, the story always comes back to remind me like a picture in my brain. Songs, jokes and anecdotes have a similar effect
Iy teacher told me a simple story which was really about luck, attitude to change and expectations in life. I repeat the story here for those who have not heard it. Once there was a young boy who was told by his father to catch a hare for supper. As he was looking around the wood for the best spot to set the trap a hare broke from the undergrowth running at great speed. Startled by this he watched the hare run across the opening and crash straight into a tree knocking itself unconscious. All he had to do was pick it up and take it home for supper. For many years after, the young boy went to the same spot and waited near that tree for more hares to do the same thing but without any luck.
Many of us, without realising it, are like the little boy, because something happens and exists in a certain way we hope that it will be that way forever. Letting go of old beliefs and ways of doing things and changing be-h a v i o u r patterns once established is one of the hardest things to do in life, certainly without the feeling of fear or loss. This story is over two thousand years old and was first penned by a philosopher called Han Fei Tzu who died in 233 BC. It always amazes me how these tales travel across time and still retain such relevance.
Coincidentally, I had read this story previously in a book called "Watching The Tree" by a remarkable lady called Adeline Yen Mah who, in her life has overcome many difficulties and setbacks. In her book, she recounts how her grandfather told herthis tale in order to help her to accept that things change
"This story is over two thousand years old. "
and to move on. She was telling this tale 40 years after being told it herself so it proves that a simple story at the right time can help to rationalize more complicated feelings and emotions. In her book, she conveys to me an image of someone who had every right to be bitter and cynical but managed to retain a love and faith in life and the goodness in people. This approach no doubt helped her to transcend her circumstances. She explains many stories and traditions and offers advice from her own experience, which is considerable. I recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in Chinese philosophy without the time for wider reading; it will help your appreciation of Chinese history and tradition.
It is probably naive to attribute too much weight to simple stories. Genuine understanding of life and people is difficult to achieve even for those who a re sincerely dedicated to the task. For me, searching and serious study is the domain of the philosopher who examines in great depth the ideas and mot-ivating beliefs that shape the minds and philosophy of nations handed down through the ages.
For me a 2000-year-old tale that survived the passage of time and told to me by my teacher and through a book, made me stop and think for a while. Isn't that what the philosopher tries to achieve?^
by John Hayes. [email protected],qimagazjne.com
Many articles have been written about respecting your teacher and general discipline, but how many people have really thought about it in today's terms?
When you talk about discipline, it is generally thought of as a punishment as it is forced upon someone. Many martial art styles and schools do indeed follow this regime. Their students must comply or be beaten. We have all seen films depicting a class full of martial arts students standing in lines and performing drills like a team of crack military troops, but is this really necessary for today's free-thinking student who obviously wants to be there?
There is another kind of discipline - self discipline. This is a sort of unwritten code, which exists in some classes. In these classes, no one is shouted at or forced to perform. Yet these students do their best and push themselves to improve. Perhaps there are two reasons for this, one is for themselves -to train themselves to be good. The other, and probably the main reason, is for their teacher. This is partly because the teacher has their best interests at heart and wants them to achieve their potential and partly out of respect just because they were asked to do it.
So from discipline we progress to respect. Naturally, respect is something to be earned. The teacher has spent many years learning and developing their skill in order to be able to pass it on. So new students should be respectful when approaching a prospective teacher. After all, it is not really a case of the student deciding to attend a class but the teacher choosing to teach them.
You should always respect your Sifu (teacher) and senior students, as these are the people who will look out for you and help you in any way possible. Even if you disagree with them sometimes, maybe it is better to let it go and bear no grudge, as this will only come back to be your problem in the end. Over the years I have met many people at classes and seminars, some of whom have disappeared and some of whom are still around. From this I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of student.
The first are the bounty hunters. All they really want is the skill and the glory. For these, the classes, seminars and even their Sifu are just a means to an end, a stepping stone to that trophy of skill. They don't understand the concept of loyalty
and drift in and out of class, often deciding to study various styles at the same time from various teachers.
The second kind, however are the more genuine. Maybe they started off as type one (maybe we all did?), but they became something priceless. These are the people who do not need to be told how to behave. These are the people who can display a genuine loyalty and put the happiness and needs of their Sifu and seniors above their own. A class should become like a family, a group of people who share a common interest, who can get together socially. Whose loyalty to each other is a shining example of their own unwritten code.
Going to class should not just be about learning the skill, it should be about seeing your brothers and sisters (your class mates).You should think about your behaviour and actions and the results they may have upon you and elder brothers/ sisters as these are the people who will support you in times of need. Too many people only think of themselves and in the end let themselves down as well as their seniors and their Sifu. Maybe these people have not yet progressed from the bounty hunter stage, but hopefully, in the future they will by Mike Baker
In early times moving large items and belongings was quite an effort, you either had to drag or push them along or you would have to carry them.
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