Position of Yang family regarding ITCCA?

Position of Yang family regarding ITCCA?

Postby Knuckles » Thu Jan 10, 2002 12:34 am

Hello,

this is my first post to this very interesting forum. I have practised Taijiquan for 4 years at the International Tai Chi Chuan Association (ITCCA), which is supervised by Master Chu King Hung. The ITCCA traces its lineageto the eldest son of Yang Cheng Fu, Yang Shou Chung (Shou Zhong), who founded it in Hong Kong in 1953. As probably many people know, Yang Shou Chung didn't have surviving sons, so in addition to his daughters he took 3 disciples, Ip Tai Tak, Chu Gin Soon and Chu King Hung. Chu King Hung now lives in London and supervises the ITCCA in Europe.

I have recently started to also learn about the theoretical and historical background of Taijiquan, and there are some topics I couldn't find any information about. Therefore I thought I'd ask you. Please note that I don't want to start a style war or am calling for the Yang style police. I'm genuinely interested in filling these holes in my knowledge


Now to my questions:
I own Yang Zhenduos book "Yang Style Taijquan" (Morning Glory Publishers, Beijing 1996). While the sequence of the form demonstrated here on the whole is more or less the same as ours, execution in some stages differs quite much from our form. E.g., in the transition from Grasp the Bird's Tail to Single Whip our movement (which we call "Yin Yang Fish") seems more accentuated (for lack of a better word): in the transition from Fig. 19 to 21 (in Yang Zhendou's book) we first (approx. at the time of Fig. 20) put the tips of the left hand to the inside of the elbow joint of the right arm and during the shifting of the weight backward to the left leg bend both arms in front of the face, while executing an "open" rotation of the arms (so that the palms face away from the face in the end position). Only then do we turn the body (Fig. 21) (I'll omit the rest of the movement here, it shall just serve as an example).

Since the ITCCA claims that "The ITCCA teaches the family style for the first time in totality" and Master Chu claims that "He learned the complete tradition of the Yang family and was then authorised by his master to teach the Yang style in its original form" I wonder about the relationships of the Yang family to Chu King Hung: 1.) Do you acknowledge his authorisation by Yang Shou Chung? 2.) How do you judge the relationship of Yang Zhendou's and Chu King Hung's form? 3.) How important do you consider Yang Shou Chung's contribution to Yang style?
This questions arise especially since Yang Shou Chung's 3 disciples are not mentioned on the Yang family lineage page on your website at all (just the family members). Vice versa, the ITCCA webpage does not mention your branch of the Yang family, and Yang Zhenduo is not mentioned in their Famous Masters section. Also Yang Shou Chung is rarely mentioned in other literature, e.g. Douglas Wile, which seems strange.

Thanks for your patience and maybe even answers to my questions.


[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-09-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-09-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-09-2002).]
Knuckles
 
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Jan 11, 2002 6:15 am

I replied to this topic last night, then thought better of it and deleted my post, but Knuckles got the better of me - he set up the topic so he would be notified when someone replied and wrote me asking what was going on!

OK, I'll take a shot at it. Hopefully Yang Jun will also give his response.

As I am sure you know, in Chinese families, especially highly traditional ones like the Yang family, the eldest brother is treated with special respect by the younger brothers. Yang Shouzhong is held in the highest esteem by Yang Zhenduo and his descendants. The family is a close-knit one and the Chinese side still maintains contacts with Yang Shouzhong's daughters in Hong Kong. There is no argument or conflict between the Hong Kong and Chinese sides of the family.

Why are there differences between different disciples of Yang Chengfu? There are many reasons for this and often the differences do not represent irreconcileable contradictions so much as differences of emphasis. Yang Zhenduo often mentions that part of the reason for the form differences is that Yang Chengfu himself performed his form differently at different stages in his life, and the early students naturally learned something somewhat different from later disciples. As Yang Jun has pointed out elsewhere on this board, everyone comes to Tai Chi with a different martial arts background and so slight differences may creep in. Yang Jun also mentioned that the art is not static, it's natural for talented players to develop along their own lines and thus diverge from other players. I would bet that among your fellow students, Knuckles, all of whom learned from the same source, there are some differences in the performance of the form. Personally I think the details may not be as important as the principles, the ten essentials. I remember noticing a couple of years ago at a seminar that Yang Zhenduo, when walking around a room correcting people, sometimes did not correct some obvious flaws in the details but instead concentrated on communicating something about the principles to students (sometimes he can be very exacting about the details, too).

Whenever Yang Zhenduo is asked why he performs the form differently from some other teacher, he always says something to the effect that he cannot answer for others - you would have to ask them why they do what they do - and that he is merely teaching what he was taught.

As to the family tree on yangfamilytaichi.com, well it is a family tree. One wouldn't expect to find anyone not named Yang in there. In publishing a family tree on the web we certainly had no intention of slighting the many, many skilled and talented players and disciples out there who do not belong to the Yang family.

Yang Zhenduo always emphasizes that Tai Chi is one great family. In a family no one is exactly the same, yet all have a great deal in common.

You might want to read Yang Jun's post which touches on this subject:

http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/ubb/Forum14/HTML/000004.html
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Postby Knuckles » Sat Jan 12, 2002 12:40 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JerryKarin:
OK, I'll take a shot at it. Hopefully Yang Jun will also give his response.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks very much, I appreciate it.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As I am sure you know, in Chinese families, especially highly traditional ones like the Yang family, the eldest brother is treated with special respect by the younger brothers. Yang Shouzhong is held in the highest esteem by Yang Zhenduo and his descendants. </font>


This is of course the answer you always get if you ask the questions I did. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but to my ear, which is not too acquainted with Chinese politeness, it always sounds as if you would never get another answer in any case.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Yang Zhenduo often mentions (...)</font>


All true of course.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Whenever Yang Zhenduo is asked why he performs the form differently from some other teacher, he always says something to the effect that he cannot answer for others - you would have to ask them why they do what they do - and that he is merely teaching what he was taught.</font>


Of course I have to accept that. However, this is the point where it seems to me that the politeness not to critize other's forms contributes to obfuscation. To me it would seem enlightening if an authority for a given form explained the reasons for his preference of a special movement over another in terms of chi flow, body mechanics or application. I can't believe that an authority who has dedicated most of his life to Taijiquan only depends on what he has learned initially. I'd believe that a special way of executing a sequence by another famous player would be adopted if it where considered better in some way. From this I'd conclude that not adopting it hints that the authority considers her own way of execution superior in some way. And I happen to believe that these reasons could be expressed in words if one wanted to.

<I> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
As to the family tree on yangfamilytaichi.com, well it is a family tree. One wouldn't expect to find anyone not named Yang in there. In publishing a family tree on the web we certainly had no intention of slighting the many, many skilled and talented players and disciples out there who do not belong to the Yang family.</I></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I understand that reasoning. OTOH, it's alway said that Yang Shouzhong has "adopted" his three disciples (Chu King Hung at the age of twelve), so I would also have thought it reasonable if they were included. Also, often the "family trees" given for particular styles include the standard bearers regardless of actual family membership, making them more a sort of form lineage trees. Of course strict family trees are a equally valid approach. He who does things gets to choose how they are done.

Again I want to thank you for going through the troubles to try to answer my questions. I hope you don't consider me a nuisance :-)

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-12-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-12-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-12-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Knuckles (edited 01-12-2002).]
Knuckles
 
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Jan 12, 2002 10:12 pm

Knuckles wrote:

"Of course I have to accept that. However, this is the point where it seems to me that the politeness not to critize other's forms contributes to obfuscation. To me it would seem enlightening if an authority for a given form explained the reasons for his preference of a special movement over another in terms of chi flow, body mechanics or application. I can't believe that an authority who has dedicated most of his life to Taijiquan only depends on what he has learned initially. I'd believe that a special way of executing a sequence by another famous player would be adopted if it where considered better in some way. From this I'd conclude that not adopting it hints that the authority considers her own way of execution superior in some way. And I happen to believe that these reasons could be expressed in words if one wanted to."

Good question. Yang Zhenduo justifies some of what he does by testing the end position with opposing force. He will show a generalized application to explain the intent. Or he will make reference to one or more of the ten essentials to show why thus and not thus. He occasionally refers to how others do it, but only in a very generalized way. For example, he once remarked that you3 de ren 'some' pay particular attention to kao4 as they begin to do the white crane move. 'Actually this kao is found all over.' he will say. Or going between Step up deflect parry and punch and right ward off, he himself emphasizes a left ward off first. Some people, he says, only turn the left arm. Does he mean other teachers? Some students? It's never clear. He is intent on teaching what he teaches and relatively little on comparisons to others.
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Jan 12, 2002 10:21 pm

One more thought vis-a-vis your questions about recognition by Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun of your own teacher and school. As far as I know they have never met or had any communication. I can't speak for them, of course. Personally, I'm not sure what it would even mean, under these circumstances, for them to venture an opinion about your teacher. Knowing Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun, I would expect them to make supportive noises in regard to a student of Yang Zhenduo's older brother. With no actual personal knowledge what else could they do?
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Postby HengYu » Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:10 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge! I have noticed how various masters/practitioners manifest their Qi in different ways - through more or less the same movements - of course, this does have the tendency to 'adjust' the form slightly. Anyway, I value anyone's practice - as it adds to humanity's deep knowledge of the universal energy.
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