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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 11:59 pm
by JerryKarin
If you click the profile link at the top of the page there is a default view dropdown, which allows you to filter the posts by age. There is a similar dropdown choice when you click on a subsection of the board, ie barehand, push hands, etc.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:47 am
by tai1chi

fwiw, I look at this more as a literary-historical question than a political debate.
I've never questioned, or really mentioned, the validity or authenticity of Michuan or Wang. My main question was about the terminology used by the living members of the Yang family.

I understand that YCF is considered the popularizer and standardizer of TCC. I didn't mean to suggest that he invented anything. I meant to ask the obvious question. Why would an 'inside the family' form/art die within the family and almost die out completely?

Well, I have to say that my question is partially inspired by the number of forms that have come to greater prominence recently. It seems that a profusion of frames and indoor styles have become prominent in the last 20 years or so.

Steve J

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 8:26 am
by Linda Heenan
Thank you for that information Jerry.

Steve, from my limited knowledge of history, it seems more likely than not that much has been lost or come very close to extinction. It seems that past masters chose only a very few people to transmit their best and most complete training to. They were fairly picky about who they gave it to and the students had to prove themselves over many years to convince the masters they were serious enough to learn it well and pass it on.

All it would take for something to be lost would be the death of the chosen student before he had time to train others. If something such as the MiChuan was given to a son or daughter, and also to a promising student who wasn't a family member, it would only take the family member to be prevented from passing it on, by one of a multitude of circumstances. In this way, it might never be known that such a thing existed until students began to share it more freely, as is the case with forms in our society.

Surely there must be standards and pointers in the system itself that would make it obviously Yang Luchan's. I don't know what these would be, but it's a thought.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:18 am
by Fred Hao
In cotton is a needle. Is a needle Michuang?
Draw in and empty the opponent and hit back at the good timing. Is this theory Michuang?

Good teachers will teach us, but the teaching is not necessarily enlighten us and make us a needle used at a good timing.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:13 am
by Linda Heenan
All good taijiquan is based in the classics. Michuan certainly is. I've not heard the steel wrapped in cotton interpretted as a needle before. It would be nice to hear some learned opinions on that thought.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:01 pm
by tai1chi
Hi Linda,

well, I don't want you to take my comments and/or questions as criticism. Yes, it's true that it's very easy for something to be lost. However, once we get to the "last" possessor of an art, it's hard to tell if the art is not "his" alone. After all, in the end, imo, everyone wants to make the TCC he practices "his own." I am not making a "political" argument, merely a logical one on that point.

I'm not saying that any of the claims are untrue. I don't doubt the circumstances; I only question some of the conclusions.

Ok, if I understood you correctly, you've been practicing TCC for a few years. Congratulations! And, I would sincerely urge you to ignore the 'politics', but don't stop using your head because your heart seems satisfied. Ignore the politics because, imo, they're not important to the practitioner's progress. I have met skilled and unskilled practitioners from all the styles. Any benefit that you get from a particular style or teacher will be the result of your own effort.

Well, that's been my experience. Anyway, in the last 2 decades, I have suddenly seen many terms spring up. But, it's the "meaning" given to those terms that has interested me. Ok, I'll admit, it seems to me like advertising, "market differentiation," and status-seeking.

It's like "old Yang". I understand the concept, but there are so many. Google it

The same holds true for the concept/idea of "frames". There are various definitions of "large", "middle", and "small" given with great authority and conviction. But, not all of these definitions have a history in the literature.

Otoh, I guess this is just normal for Chinese martial arts. I suppose it would be nice to hear from the remaining family members --just to get their take. At some point, they'll be gone and even more explanations will emerge.

Steve J

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 6:54 pm
by Linda Heenan
Hello Steve,

Feel free to say whatever you are thinking. I'm not so sensitive to take offence. I was more concerned that it was my comments that might offend others, since I'm new here.

Six months ago, one of Earle Montaigue's students asked to come and visit our group since he would be up our way. I took the opportunity to have him demonstrate the Old Yang Style form while he was there. I'd never seen it and wanted to know if it had anything in common with Michuan.

It was immediately evident this was not the case. It was based on bow stance and not back weighted. He performed it well, as someone with many years of training. Old Yang has been known in Australia, where I live, as a more martial style of taijiquan. However, after comparing notes with the student and demonstrating a few things, I would have to say the Michuan is far more strongly martial. Overall, the two forms are very different. I had been wondering if it was two names for the same thing, but this is clearly not the case.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:14 pm
by Bob Ashmore
Do not judge a styles martial factor by the look of its form. You'd be surprised by what some very non-martial looking forms can come up with in terms of application martially.
I made that mistake once upon a time. I learned my lesson.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:46 pm
by tai1chi
Hi Linda,

I didn't really intend to single out Erle M. Look at some of the other links that the google search resulted. However, if two groups claim to represent the last vestiges of a particular tradition, can both be correct? Well, how does one choose? I don't know; but, as there are several who claim to represent an "Old Yang" style, I have to rely on my common sense.

Ok, what is that? I think it's pretty clear that we divide TCC into "pre-YCF" and "post-YCF" periods. There is no consensus, and it is highly unlikely, that YCF created a "new" form. I think his relatives expressed TCC in their own way; similar to the way YLC's TCC differed from Chen style --or, more properly, his teacher's Chen style.

I think, fwiw, that terms such as "Old Yang" or "Laojia Yang" and so forth are neologisms created to differentiate the various practices of individuals. They are not "family" designations; but they all assert a connection to the "family tradition" that is stronger than that of actual members of the family. I feel that people cling to the particular stories fore reasons other than historical accuracy.

Iirc, the person who started this thread also asked about the Tung/Dong style. Imo, whether Tung, Tian, Wang, Zhang, Li, or Cheng style, the TCC is equally valid. There's plenty of TCC to go around. There's little need for any to claim more authenticity than any other. However, the assertions of the present family should have at least as much authority as the claims others.

Steve J

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:11 pm
by Linda Heenan
Hello Bob,

You are so right. In looks, the other form appeared more martial. There is a lot of visible power built into it and lots of powerful, fast movements. My comment came from experimenting with martial applications from the Michuan afterwards, with the other student. I took my comment from the surprise he showed and comments he made.

Any power in the Michuan form - at least in 1st Section, is hidden. It looks slow and gentle, flowing and calm. Then, when you apply it with a duifang, the techniques are surprising. The first time I attempted one of the brush knee applications against a roundhouse kick to the floating rib, the fit young male duifang ended up on his backside on the ground. Then we tried it again, after he knew what to expect and got ready to defend. The result was the same. If the timing is good and the body mechanics even close to right, no muscular strength is necessary.Most of the applications lead the duifang's strike into emptiness and put him in a position where he is easily controlled, or use his energy in a powerful return. That, to my mind, is what steel wrapped in cotton, is talking about. I still want to know if the needle interpretation is true though. It would give things a different shade of meaning.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 12:40 am
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Linda,

You wrote: "I've not heard the steel wrapped in cotton interpretted as a needle before."

“Taijiquan is the art of softness containing hardness, of a needle concealed in cotton.”
—Yang Chengfu, Discussion of Taijiquan Practice

“The arms of those who are proficient in the skill of Taijiquan are like iron within cotton, and extremely heavy.”
—Yang Chengfu, Ten Essentials

“When he [Yang Chengfu] put out his hand it had the softness of cotton but seemed to contain a bar of steel.”
—Gu Liuxin

Both phrases—“iron within cotton” (mian li tie), and “needle within cotton” (mian li zhen) appear in taiji writings. They are fairly interchangeable in ordinary Chinese usage as metaphors for something hard (and/or sharp) concealed within something soft. (I think it can also be used somewhat like "a wolf in sheep's clothing.") I think that “iron within cotton” may have originated in writings on calligraphy and painting techniques.

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 09-01-2006).]

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:11 am
by Kalamondin
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">They are fairly interchangeable in ordinary Chinese usage as metaphors for something hard (and/or sharp) concealed within something soft. (I think it can also be used somewhat like "a wolf in sheep's clothing.")</font>


I wonder if the "needle in cotton" also describes a quality of internal strength, such that the more you compress it, the harder it is? MYJ once used this description of the strength of cotton: if you shoot a bullet into a bale of cotton, the cotton will stop the bullet. Even though cotton is entirely soft, still it is hard enough to stop a bullet.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:03 am
by Linda Heenan
Louis, thank you for that explanation. It makes me want to research it further. Since the needle analogy is as valid as the steel one, it suggests that the duifang could hurt himself in his attack. The more force he throws in, the more dangerous it is for him.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 12:06 pm
by Fred Hao
When your inner jin can go through and out from the foot to index and middle finger or a fist, the opponent in an unfavarable or falling situation can feel the fingers aiming at him as a needle and a fist as an hammer.

True or not, it takes real experiences.

Those who can give a needle and a fist had better hide them and be kind to the partner.
Now, it's better to control than shoot even though we can shoot.

PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:54 am
by leroyc
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by shugdenla:
Large frame is so called because Chengfu was a 'large' man compared to others of the day. He did not create it. His taijiquan expression was because of his frame/size i.e. large. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


This is not correct. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding is quite widespread. This is because few understand the essence of his family's art. Master Yang Chengfu, himself, and certain other notables, explained the meaning of the term and concept to a student of his 'brother'. Even another of his students, Master Tung Ying Chieh, alluded to the meaning and significance near the end of his 1948 work entitled, "Taijiquan Explained". It has nothing, but nothing,
to do with the person's physical size - unfortunately this is a result of a misunderstanding of the original practice, to say nothing of the history of the art.

It is the case that he did not create it. His father and grandfather used it similarly to the way Chengfu did. But, he is credited with finalizing it. His second son, Master Zhenji, in his book, credited FZW as being THE best model of his father's taijiquan (large frame). His late form, mostly settled by 1926 and painstakingly kept by FZW, is what I like to call 'developing toward' the middle frame taught by his father. His sons teach the large frame set.