writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

Postby Robert Coons » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:42 pm

Hello, my name is Robert Coons. I am writing a short biography of Yang Chengfu for a fourth year seminar in the field of history and I am looking for some valuable sources to aid me in giving a level account of his life and influence in the world of taijiquan.
My basic premise is that Yang Chengfu is the most important player in the global popularization of taijiquan, in that he was the person to standardize form practice into an exercise which could be performed by almost any demographic, as well as popularizing taijiquan practice in East Asia and influencing students who would later go on to teach in Europe and North America.
I have a number of sources on GM Yang, but I was directed here because some of my contacts said that this was the official Yang family forum and that it may be possible to make contact with Yang family members as well as esteemed writers such as Louis Swaim. I have sitting next to me a copy of Swaim's book, which I have found to be a very good resource, however, many other resources have extremely limited biographical information (such as Cheng Manching's books among others) and I am having trouble getting a complete picture of Yang Chengfu's life.
Any help with this project would be greatly appreciated.
I am ultimately considering turning this biography into a book which would be one in a series of biographies of famous Neijiaquan masters.
Thanks in advance for any help with this.

Have a nice day and quality practice time!

Robert
Robert Coons
 
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Re: writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

Postby Louis Swaim » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:40 pm

Greetings Robert,

While I wouldn’t want to discourage you from engaging in such an admirable task, I would caution that producing anything approaching what could properly be called a biography of Yang Chengfu might prove to be a very difficult endeavor requiring an enormous amount of work. Do you intend to use Chinese sources? I ask because, as I think you’re beginning to discover, the sources in English on Yang Chengfu’s life are extremely meager, and tend to be more anecdotal than historical. I suspect that this is the case in Chinese sources as well, but delving into Chinese sources would at least give you a better grasp of his working associations, his involvement in early martial arts and physical education study societies and the like. I would begin by carefully studying the many Chinese sources appearing in the bibliographies of Douglas Wile’s Lost T’ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty (SUNY, 1996), T’ai Chi’s Ancestors (Sweet Ch’i Press, 1999), and Barbara Davis’ The Taijiquan Classics (North Atlantic Books, 2004).

It occurs to me that, for a start, a more manageable project may place more emphasis on “his influence in the world of taijiquan” than on “his life.” There are a potentially a lot of ways of going at the topic of his influence, but unfortunately a detailed and reliable account of his life might be a frustrating and years-long undertaking.

Good luck!
Louis
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Re: writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

Postby Robert Coons » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:08 pm

Hello Mr.Swaim!

Thank you for the suggestion.
What I am currently doing is a very short (30 p) biography of YCF and his place in the Chinese martial arts community, as well as his overall impact on the world. So in essence, I need to balance biographical information about him with the impact of his life and teachings.
For biographical information, I need dates, which I have many of, as well as enough information to make a rough sketch of his life. I've been able to dig up quite a bit of information thus far, and I think for the most part after I have the basics of his life written down, I'll just focus on his impact on the world. My level of comprehension in written Chinese is only at a novice level, but I have some friends who may be able to help with translation.
I truly appreciate your advice on this subject.

Robert
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Re: writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:28 pm

Robert,

For Yang Chengfu’s role in the Zhongyang Guoshuguan (Central Martial Arts Academy) in the late 1920s, you may want to get your hands on a library copy of When God comes to town: religious traditions in urban contexts, by Rik Pinxten and Lisa Dikomitis. There is a lengthy essay in it by a Belgian scholar named Dan Vercammen titled “Modernity Contra Tradition: Taijiquan’s Struggle for Survival.” It kind of scratches the surface of the kind of wider investigation that could be done on the importance of Yang Chengfu in the modern development of taijiquan. You can read some of the pages on Google Books, and search for taijiquan or Yang Chengfu, but you’ll really need to find a copy of the physical book to have access to the complete essay. I also recommend Brian Kennedy’s and Elizabeth Guo’s books on early martial arts manuals, and on the Jingwu training movement. There is also the excellent book, Marrow of the Nation: A History of Sport and Physical Culture in Republican China, by Andrew Morris. These books give some useful context to the social and educational climate in which modern taijiquan instruction and training began to take shape.

--Louis
Louis Swaim
 
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Re: writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university course.

Postby Robert Coons » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:47 am

Most excellent!! I even own some of those books :D

I'll certainly check out the ones I don't have.
Hopefully I can get them through my school's library system.

Thanks for the suggestions!!
Robert Coons
 
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Re: writing a biography on Yang Chengfu for university cours

Postby philipsteele » Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:28 am

you can make a better biography through great research about different sources...and you can refer some family essays and biography essay examples..it will be more helpful for your coursework.. :)
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