Yang-style History

Yang-style History

Postby Mike » Mon Feb 19, 2001 1:48 am

In every reading by members of the direct Yang style, I have seen a straight-forward explanation that Yang Lu Chan studied in Chen Village, returned a couple of times, etc.

People outside of the Yang family tell different stories though. Some of these stories seem to come from Wu Yu Xiang and relate that Chen Village learned its art via Jiang Fa and Wang Tsung Yueh. The problem is that the history from Wu Yu Xiang places Jiang Fa (there was a Jiang Fa, but he was a contemporary of Chen Wang Ting)some 200 years after he actually lived.

I wonder if Yang Jun is aware that these sorts of histories are actually a bit of an insult to the people in Chen Village who were kind enough to teach Yang Lu Chan?

I have seen the Chen people diplomatically step around the history question and I realize that it is a matter that Yang Jun might not like to discuss, but I would like to hear his comments about Jiang Fa and Wang Tsung Yueh.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby Mike » Mon Feb 19, 2001 4:38 pm

I've had a flurry of private conversations on the side about this topic. I could have taken more time and made my question more diplomatic, but I think it's a good question that takes a step toward reconciling the various styles of Taiji.
A very strong worst-case scenario of not reconciling the various "histories" can be seen in the case of one person who used to post here and his "lineage" fervor. Despite fairly honest and straight-forward histories from Yang family members their are factions who are determined to carry on with the "my sect is best" baloney.

In fact, not only does that person subscribe to the long-discredited "Southern Transmission" story (which is an insult to the Chen's who took the time to teach Yang Lu Chan), but he (and others) now publicly attack the Yang family heads as "not having the real stuff". So by letting the wild histories grow unchecked, the Yang family has created its own set of monsters who now turn on them.

That's fairly succinct, I think. It would help to have the true history acknowledged and the fact that all the styles, Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu Yu Xiang (Hao), Sun, etc., reconciled as simply aspects of each other ..... WHEN they are done correctly.

Personally, I plan on meeting with Yang Jun at some time in the near future and learning from him. When I am as knowledgeable as Yang Jun is, THEN maybe I will make pronouncements about who is good and who is not good... until then, I will keep my place and not make pronouncements about heads of styles.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

<B>Note: I have edited a name out of Mike's posting because we are trying to establish a tone on the board where we avoid personal attacks. I have tried to alter as little as possible.
-Jerry</B>



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 02-19-2001).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Feb 21, 2001 9:44 pm

Yang Jun has given me a fairly extended reply to this question, which I am now translating into English. I hope to post it within the next day or two.

Jerry
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Postby Mike » Thu Feb 22, 2001 12:21 am

I agree with Jerry's editting both as an administrative function and the correct thing to do. I should not have used someone's name to make the point I made, so my apologies to the list. Image

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Feb 23, 2001 1:03 am

Yang Jun's reply in Chinese can be found here .

Here is a translation:

From the point of view of objective history, there is no conclusive explanation of the origin of taijiquan. There are many theories, and those involving Jiang Fa are relatively common. Jiang Fa lived during the same period as Chen Wangting. Jiang Fa was a native of Hongtong county, in Shanxi province. He excelled in tongbeiquan (literally 'through the back boxing'). Tongbeiquan is still very popular in Hongtong, Shanxi area even today. Chen Wangting was a famous military leader at the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing dynasty. His barehand and weapon skills were very good, and he is known for having cleaned up the bandits in the areas of Henan and Shandong. There is a tradition that because Chen Wangting saved the life of Jiang Fa, Jian Fa owed him a debt of gratitude and so followed Chen Wangting. According to one story Jiang Fa taught tongbeiquan to Chen Wangting, so that his relationship to Chen Wangting was both friend and teacher. Another story is that Jiang Fa was a disciple of Chen Wangting. There is no definitive explanation or proof of their true relationship. I have discussed this matter with a famous teacher and representative of tongbeiquan, and according to him, in the the current Chen style second routine Pao Chui (cannon fist) there are many moves which very much resemble tongbeiquan. In the Chen family they have a painted portrait, the subjects of which are Chen Wangting and Jiang Fa. This confirms that a person named Jiang Fa existed and that he had some position with regard to the Chen family. That Yang Luchan studied with the 14th generation Chen family member Chen Changxing is well established and not disputed. Yang Luchan went to the Chen village 3 times and spent a total of 18 years learning their art, and was one of the most expert practitioners of Chen style at the time. The linkage between the Yang family and the Chen family runs very deep. My grandfather is entered into the Chen family records as a member of the 18th generation and has very good relations with the current Chen style representatives Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei. Whenever the two of them encounter my grandfather they refer to him as 'shi shu' (senior fellow disciple) and whenever I see them, I also call them them 'shi shu'.

Wu Yuxiang first studied with Yang Luchan. Later he went to the Chen village in hopes of becoming a disciple of Chen Changxing, but because Chen Changxing was already very old at that time and did not wish to take on any new disciples, he sent him to the town of Zhaobao to become a disciple of Chen's cousin Chen Qingping. Wu Yuxiang and Jiang Fa did not live in the same time period.

Wang Zongyue (lived during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty, approx 1736 to 1795) was a native of Shanxi. He lived in Henan in the vicinity of Kaifeng, Luoyang. His profession was teacher. He was a plain person who greatly loved martial arts. He was expert in taijiquan (it is said he learned taijiquan from the Zhang Sanfeng lineage of the Wudang school), spear, and sword. He authored a book called Taijiquan Pu (Manual of Taijiquan). Wang Zongyue and Chen Wangting did not live in the same time period.

In regard to origin and history of taijiquan, in China there are many historians and amateur scholars who have tried to sort this out, but up until the present, there are still no definitive conclusions. In recent times the most popular tradition is that taijiquan no doubt originated from the Chen family. The matters that I have related above are not definitively proven by historical fact or documents, but I have provided them for your reference.
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Postby Mike » Fri Feb 23, 2001 2:03 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Here is a translation:

[/B]From the point of view of objective history, there is no conclusive explanation of the origin of taijiquan. There are many theories, and those involving Jiang Fa are relatively common. Jiang Fa lived during the same period as Chen Wangting. Jiang Fa was a native of Hongtong county, in Shanxi province. He excelled in tongbeiquan (literally 'through the back boxing'). Tongbeiquan is still very popular in Hongtong, Shanxi area even today. Chen Wangting was a famous military leader at the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing dynasty. His barehand and weapon skills were very good, and he is known for having cleaned up the bandits in the areas of Henan and Shandong. There is a tradition that because Chen Wangting saved the life of Jiang Fa, Jian Fa owed him a debt of gratitude and so followed Chen Wangting. According to one story Jiang Fa taught tongbeiquan to Chen Wangting, so that his relationship to Chen Wangting was both friend and teacher. Another story is that Jiang Fa was a disciple of Chen Wangting. There is no definitive explanation or proof of their true relationship. I have discussed this matter with a famous teacher and representative of tongbeiquan, and according to him, in the the current Chen style second routine Pao Chui (cannon fist) there are many moves which very much resemble tongbeiquan. In the Chen family they have a painted portrait, the subjects of which are Chen Wangting and Jiang Fa. This confirms that a person named Jiang Fa existed and that he had some position with regard to the Chen family.[/B][QUOTE]

I think that this is a pretty fair and accurate position on what is known about Jiang Fa. He was a contemporary of Chen Wang Ting and supposedly the two of them had something to do with developing or modifying the Chen Family art, whatever it was. There is an oral history (i.e., is any history all that reliable; for what it is, I have a copy)of the Chen Family from the time of Chen Bu when the Chen family was forced to migrate from Shanxi Province to Chenjiagou. In that history there is an indication that the Chen Family had a powerful family martial art when they came from Shanxi. Whether this art was similar to, the same as, etc., the current art is hard to say. The Chen family maintains that it was much the same and that Chen Wang Ting "modified" some things. My opinion; I am not trying to assert anything as fact.

The main thing Yang Jun's commentary does is to dispell a number of "histories" which say that Yang Lu Chan studied with Chen Chang Xing but that Chen Chang Xing was taught by Jiang Fa. That is impossible, since they were 200 years apart.


[QUOTE] [/B]
Wu Yuxiang first studied with Yang Luchan. Later he went to the Chen village in hopes of becoming a disciple of Chen Changxing, but because Chen Changxing was already very old at that time and did not wish to take on any new disciples, he sent him to the town of Zhaobao to become a disciple of Chen's cousin Chen Qingping. Wu Yuxiang and Jiang Fa did not live in the same time period.

Wang Zongyue (lived during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty, approx 1736 to 1795) was a native of Shanxi. He lived in Henan in the vicinity of Kaifeng, Luoyang. His profession was teacher. He was a plain person who greatly loved martial arts. He was expert in taijiquan (it is said he learned taijiquan from the Zhang Sanfeng lineage of the Wudang school), spear, and sword. He authored a book called Taijiquan Pu (Manual of Taijiquan). Wang Zongyue and Chen Wangting did not live in the same time period.

In regard to origin and history of taijiquan, in China there are many historians and amateur scholars who have tried to sort this out, but up until the present, there are still no definitive conclusions. In recent times the most popular tradition is that taijiquan no doubt originated from the Chen family. The matters that I have related above are not definitively proven by historical fact or documents, but I have provided them for your reference.[/B]</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is interesting in the sense that "Wang Tsung Yueh" was described by Wu Yu Xiang as a famous martial artist and scholar, yet there is apparently no record of him. Regardless, there are aspects of the story that could be argued, but Yang Jun has carefully not asserted any awkward things as truth, simply as possibles. I have no intention of needlessly engaging in a waste of time or in being impolite enough to argue things which were stated so well and forthrightly.

My thanks for the commentary to Yang Jun and to Jerry for taking the time to translate. I'm sure all of us deeply appreciate the efforts and consideration.

Regards,


Mike Sigman
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Postby Mike » Fri Feb 23, 2001 2:27 am

Postscript:

Incidentally, despite all the factionalism and the "My Style is Best" that has developed in the West, I think that at the higher levels of the Yang, Chen, Wu, etc., styles, it is obvious that they are simply espousing variants of the same Taiji. There are no quarrels at the higher levels..... there seem to be only quarrels at the lower levels.

So when you see people trying to force their own self-serving truth on the Yangs, Chen's, Wu's, etc., etc., and telling the Yang's, Chen's, Wu's, etc., how they don't know the truth, then you are seeing the low levels raise their heads. There are no quarrels at the upper levels of the styles, as far as I can see.

So for those of us who are simply trying to find the truth of Taiji, I think there is no need to engage in anything but honest questioning and search. And we shouldn't think too quickly that because we beat our buddy up we happen to be an expert in Taiji. :^)

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Postby Ming » Thu Mar 01, 2001 1:49 am

Well, I thought the history question was over since Yang Jun has been pretty specific in stating (1.)that the Yang style evolved from the Chen style and (2.) Jiang Fa lived during the time of Chen Wang Ting, approximately 200 years before Chen Chang Xing who taught Yang Lu Chan.

Even with unavoidable statements like this, I still got private questions and statements of belief from several readers who believe the typical story as found posted by Peter Lim on his website. The thrust of the story is that Yang Lu Chan learned a special art from Chen Chang Xing which was not Chen family, but a special art that Chen Chang Xing learned from a man named Jiang Fa, who in turn supposedly learned from the mythical Wang Tsung Yueh.

Anyway, to make a long story short, here is an excerpt of a popular "history" on the internet. This "history" is probably the main one many people have read in various sources for a number of years about how the Yang family Taiji is not really derived from the Chen style art. Perhaps Yang Jun can comment on the contents?

************


"The classification of martial arts into external
and internal came about because of the new method of combat devised by
Chang San Feng, a Taoist which resided in the Wu Dang Mountains. It
stressed overcoming external techniques using calmness and appropriate
action and from external form this martial art often looked weak in
comparison with external styles but could defeat them easily.
Internal Boxing was passed down through the generations with noted
practitioners like Chang Sung Chi, Huang Zhen Nan, Huang Pai Jia, Gan Feng
Chi and Wang Tsung. Wu Dang Internal Boxing still exists at the place of
its birth though it has been diversified into many different styles in the
course of the centuries. But still present in its syllabus is a form
called Wu Dang Taijiquan. This bears only a little resemblance to the
popular Taijiquan of today but has common theories.
We know that the Chen family was famous for generations for their Pao Chui
art which was a Shaolin form. It was only after Chen Chang Xin that the
art was considered an internal one and specifically from the lineages
stemming from Yang Lu Chan the founder of the Yang style of Taijiquan.
****
According to Chen Xin, Chen Chang Xin learned part of his art from Jiang
Fa. ****
Chen Chang Xin had been practicing his boxing when Jiang Fa who was
passing by saw him practicing and burst out laughing. Realising that he
was observed Jiang Fa hurried away but Chen Chang Xin caught up with him
and angrily challenged him as Jiang had slighted his Chen family art. Chen
grabbed Jiang's shoulder from behind, Jiang simply turne around and Chen
was thrown out and lay on the floor. Realising the superiority of Jiang's
art Chen asked Jiang to be his master. Jiang who ran a Toufu shop in Xian
was passing through villiage after visiting his mother in Honan. Jiang
said that he would return after three years to teach Chen and he indeed
returned at the appointed time after which Chen Chang Xin brought him home
and learnt Taijiquan from him.
Chen Xin also said that because Chen Chang Xin had studied with Jiang Fa,
the Chen family did not permit him to teach the family art of Pao Chui."
Ming
 
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu Mar 01, 2001 2:41 am

Ming,

I think this amounts to the same question Mike posed, with more of the legendary details supplied (and given that your IP is the same as one frequently associated with Mike, I guess it is no wonder!). I don't see how Yang Jun can add any more to what he has already said. Personally, I think this whole area is pointless to pursue further, since there is no evidence of historical fact or document which could substantiate these legends.

Jerry



[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 03-09-2001).]
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