Thursday, November 04, 2004

There is only one type of Tai Chi

According to Yang Cheng Fu, the teacher of Professor Cheng Man Ching, he taught the same type of tai chi that had been handed down from the Chen family. Wu Jien Chuan, the son of the founder of Wu style Tai Chi, also expressed the same idea. You may be wondering how that could be possible, as students and teachers alike, from different styles of Tai Chi such as Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun, and Dong, are promoting the differences between the styles and even the idea of one being superior to another. Wu Jien Chuan best explains the difference in his book about Wu style Tai Chi as the following:

“This is like learning Chinese calligraphy and Chinese painting. In the beginning, we have to imitate the technique and method of the old masters. Once we are getting better and have our own understanding of the art, we will perform the same art differently without even knowing about it. However, even when their techniques have reached the highest level of the art, each movement still adheres to the same basic tai chi chuan principles.” (The Tai Chi Chuan of Wu Jien Chuan, 1935)

In fact, all great Tai Chi masters of the old time have had a close relationship with each other. Sometimes, they would even voluntarily take on challenges from other schools of martial arts for their friends.


Anonymous said...

Hmm.. for some reason I have a hard time believing that YCF was teaching what was passed down from the Chen's. From what I've gathered, only YCF's oldest brother learned a style more similar to the chen's (small frame). I also heard that YCF never really learned from his father as he did not really get interested in taiji until his father's death. But maybe I'm mistaken.

However, I do see a similiarity between the chen laojia yilu (old frame, first routine) set and the traditional yang 103 set. While the choreography is similar, the execution definitely is not.. kind of hard to believe that he was teaching the same set as taught by chen family. If "type" or "principle", then that's possible since all taiji generally adheres to the same set of basic principles.

-- wuji @

neo said...

Hi, Wuji. Welcome back.

According to Master Gu Liu Xin, who was a student of both YCF and Chen Fa Ke, YCF's long form was developed from the Chen old form. In addition, YCF's brother changed his form in his later year to the Yang Sha Hou style that some tai chi player claimed to be more original and powerful nowadays.

One more thing I would like to point out is that YCF changed all the fast movements into slow movement after he moved to the southern part of China. Many people believe that this was mainly for health purpose. However, according to Chen Xin (1849-1929), Tai Chi has three levels: (1) slow but alert, (2) fast but correct, (3) slow and real soft. When you have reached the third level, you are soft but extremely strong. Chen Xin also mentioned that Tai Chi is formless. The form is just a way to learn how to use the intrinsic energy. YCF has reached the level that only the great master of his time can understand.

Erik Mann said...
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