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Other Styles...

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:11 pm
by César

I am curious of something I read in this website: When you read the short biography of Yang Jun, you will find something like this: "...Master Yang Jun began his training with Master Yang Zhen Duo when he was only 5 years old. He is proficient in Tai Chi Chuan, Sword, Saber, Push Hands, AND MANY OTHER FORMS OF TAI CHI..."

Then, when you read the third rep "Snippets" you will find something like this: "...Shen Jiazhen learned taijiquan from Yang Chengfu for a protracted period. He once asked Yang Chengfu: As far as fajing goes, what's the best move to practice to improve strength and most easily increase ability (gongfu)? Yang Chengfu taught him a move: The right fist was lifted high, protecting the head...The energy was complete, crisp and quick, with hard and soft alternating. Shen was puzzled by it. The taijiquan that he had learned following Yang Chengfu did not include this movement, but he didn't dare ask more about it. Only later when Shen learned the second routine cannon fist from Chen Fake did he realize that WHAT Yang Chengfu HAD SHOWN HIM EARLIER WAS the Zuo Chong and You Chong (left and right charge) MOVES FROM CHEN STYLE CANNON FIST. This proves that the Yangs, up until Yang Chengfu, were familiar with Chen Old style second routine..."

As you guys can see, this two articles are related in some makes sense.
What do they mean with many other forms of Tai Chi?
I realize that Master Yang Jun would never teach any other Tai Chi Chuan style, I am just corious about it.
Have anyone heard something about this?


PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 6:21 pm
by JerryKarin
I will ask Yang Jun about this next time I talk to him. I think the short biography was something written up by Jeremy a few years ago when we first started the website. My guess is that he meant other aspects of taiji such as da lu, sparring, shaking staff, etc, not other forms like Chen style 2nd routine. While it would not surprise me if Yang Jun had learned other forms such as the 24 sequence or some of the other government promulgated forms (I think Yang Jun was a phys ed major), I doubt if he would describe himeself as proficient in these (at least in the sense that he practices them regularly).

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 7:11 pm
by JerryKarin
I spoke to Yang Jun about this. He has a passing familiarity with some of the government forms like the 24; these were required in school for phys ed majors. As I thought he has never really practiced these forms. Asked about other styles he answered that no he had never learned Chen style forms or Wu style forms or any of the other styles.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 5:06 am
by JerryKarin
I want to just add my own two cents on this issue. People tend to get preoccupied with the forms, caught up in notions that there are secret forms, special transmissions, or that somehow something is being held back and so off they go on a never-ending chase for the real deal. My own attitude, having learned from Yang Zhenduo, Yang Jun, Xie Bingcan, and many others over the years is that the real essence of taiji is not in the forms per se. When Yang Zhenduo instructs students the very first thing he teaches are the 10 essentials. He spends a lot of time on it. Then when he shows the various moves, one by one, for each move he returns to the 10 essentials and keeps pointing out how to get these principles into the moves. It seems to me now that the essence of taiji is these principles. The forms, wonderful as they are, are really only a framework to hang the principles on, an embodiment of the principles and a context in which to practice them. They are a routine, a convention, given to us to learn how to move our bodies using the principles of taiji contained in the 10 essentials and the classics.

At one seminar a few years ago I asked Yang Zhenduo very pointedly what Yang Shaohou taught: did he teach a different form? Somewhat to my disappointment at the time, Yang Zhenduo simply replied that what Yang Shaohou taught was basically the same thing as Yang Chengfu, only his way of performing the moves tended to be somewhat smaller and tighter.

This viewpoint has made me gradually come to see the various family styles as not being all that different. Yes they may differ on small form detailsm, applications, or even in some big ways in regard to the definition of moves or the emphasis in certain moves. And yet Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu, Sun, etc. - aren't they all pretty much the same thing in terms of teaching you to move according to certain principles? The vehicles they employ to teach the principles may differ but the principles seem identical to me.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 3:26 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Jerry,

Excellent post!

Take care,

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 4:34 pm
by Wushuer
Generally, a good post.
I must agree that the principals of each style are far more significant than the forms themselves and that learning the principals of each style will take you where you wish to go quicker than the forms.
Let us not forget, however, that some of the "ten essentials" or "principals" espoused by Yang Cheng Fu and currently taught by the Yang family are not considered all that essential or principal by other styles.
They have their own sets of "principals" for thier movements, some of them disagreeing with those of Master Yang Cheng Fu.
I wanted to point out that I agreed 100% with your post until I got to:
"The vehicles they employ to teach the principles may differ but the principles seem identical to me."
I have studied another style, I have asked several Sifu's from that style to critique the "ten essentials" and tell me what they think of them as they would apply to their forms. All of them agreed that on the whole they were very important principals and nicely laid out, for Yang family TCC, but that there was at least one, usually more,that did not exactly agree with their views.
As I have waxed poetic, and at length, and nauseatingly, about these things in the past on this forum I will leave the specifics out of it here and merely say that looking up past forum discussions about the ten essentials will take you to them if the issue is one that you wish to explore further.
Other than that the principals of the differing family styles are far from "identical", a most excellent and well thought out post.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 5:00 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Wusher,

It’s probably just a typo on your part, and I may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but it’s “principles,” not “principals.” If it were “principals,” we would be referring to “the most important or consequential,” or perhaps “the most influential or authoritative people,” as those playing the leading roles. Jerry was talking about principles, which refers to the fundamentals, or underlying operational structures that allow something to work, or a code or guideline for how to proceed in a certain endeavor.

The Ten Essentials are all, to my knowledge, founded on principles enunciated in earlier Taiji Classics, and are not exclusive to any particular style.

Take care,

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 6:35 pm
by JerryKarin
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Wushuer:
I must agree that the principals of each style are far more significant than the forms themselves and that learning the principals of each style will take you where you wish to go quicker than the forms.</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, I wouldn't go quite that far. I think it's hard to learn the principles unless you practice a form. It's like saying learning to balance will teach you cycling faster than riding your bike. You have to ride in order to know what balancing is.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2004 9:43 pm
by César
Thanks a lot for your answer Jerry!
That was very clarifying
By the way I totally agree with you, "the real essence of taiji is not in the forms per se".
Take care

PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:55 pm
by Wushuer
You are correct, I was typoing all through there.
Like I've said, many times, don't try to teach me chinese because I can barely be coherent in English and I've been being using that language, incorrectly, my entire life.

No, you've got that backwards and I have to stick with my original statement.
To use your bike analogy:
Falling off the bike happens as you practice applying the principles of riding one, but someone has to teach you how to ride one if you wish to learn to ride one well. (Can you learn to ride a bike by yourself? Of course. You can also teach yourself TCC. It will take you much longer and you will get a lot more skinned knees along the way, but you can teach yourself both if you want to.)
A teacher will teach you the principles of bike riding, which you will have to learn before you succesfully ride. You will have to practice the principles of riding to learn them, which means you will have to get on the bike and try.
You will be told or shown how to ride, you will listen to what your instructor tells you, and watch what he shows you, then you will try to do it yourself. You will, of course, hit the ground quite a few times because you will not be applying the principals of riding a bike correctly, if at all, the first few times.
You will get up and go back to your instructor and say, "What did I do wrong?". He will explain the principles to you once again, you will try again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
You will eventually get one or more of the principles closer to right, you may actually stay on the bike for longer, but you will still be wobbling, still not doing it correctly because you don't know all the principles, and you will eventually fall down again.
When you do your teacher will tell you why, which principle he thinks you violated that lead to this fall, and you will try to correct that principle and get up and try again.
Correcting that principle throws off another principle, either in your mind or because you are physically over-correcting, or both, and you fall down again. Your teacher shows you another principle that ties in with the first two and you practice that until you get them all closer to correct and so you stay up longer this time.
You're still not doing it exactly right, but you and your teacher have taken you to a point where the bike stays up and you can now ride it for a while, at least in a straight line, without falling down.
Now, you must learn to turn that bike if you wish to go anyplace, you get cocky so you turn the handlebars thinking you understand the principles now, and flip right over the front of the bike as it crashes to the ground.
Your teacher then explains the principles of turning the bike, you try a few times and become succesfull enough at that so you can wobble around in a circle.
Eventually you will learn to go faster, turn smaller circles, do wheelies, handstands, whatever tricks it is that people do on bikes nowadays.
These are your "forms". The things you do on the bike. But the principles of riding are going to be there throughout and are what enable you to do the "form" of bike riding in the first place.
Once you get the principles of bike riding down, and then you practice them all time, you will eventually be able to figure out the tricky forms on your own and make that bike do what you either want it or need it to. Your teacher will go by the wayside and you will be on your own to create all the "form movements" on your bike that you could wish for.

Do you see where I'm going here?
At first we all simply mimick our teacher, but once we learn the principles we are doing "form". You can no more be doing "form" before you learn the principles than you could ride that bike before you learned those principles.
The principles first, the rest comes later. You can only learn the principles by trying to do them, and you do that by trying to do the form like your teacher does, but until you learn the principle behind the form you're not doing the form correctly.
If you were riding your bike, you'd fall off. But we're doing TCC so we don't fall down too much until we start free style sparring. After that... Well, you're on your own.
As one elderly student I used to practice with at the old Academy used to say "I have been learning TCC for over sixty-five years".
This "student" was one of the best players of the game I ever had the privilidge to meet and yet he said of himself that he was still only learning TCC, more each day.
I have done my best to remember this as my time has gone on in this strange art. I'm still the merest beginner at this art form, I'm still learning TCC because there are still principles, and principals, that I have yet to learn.
If I ever do learn all the principles, I will likely fall over dead from shock that instant and no one would ever know.
I'll be smiling though.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 09-08-2004).]