Tung/Dong and Yang families

Tung/Dong and Yang families

Postby Shi Tianren » Fri Feb 27, 2004 6:39 pm

I have been practicing the Dong version of the Yang style for about 3 yrs now. But lately I have been looking at Yang Zhenduo movements and I see a lot of similarities and differences between the two families. For one, there is a lot more in the Dong repertoire. Fajin is much more apparent in their forms. I do tend to like the stretched out movements of Yang Zhenduo; however it seems that the body is more connected in the Dong version.

Is there anyone here who studies with Tung/Dong family? Have you also studied with the Yang family? If so what are the differences and similarities that you have noticed?

Thanks,

Tianren
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Postby wtracy » Tue Mar 23, 2004 10:51 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Shi Tianren:
<B>I have been practicing the Dong version of the Yang style for about 3 yrs now. But lately I have been looking at Yang Zhenduo movements and I see a lot of similarities and differences between the two families. For one, there is a lot more in the Dong repertoire. Fajin is much more apparent in their forms. I do tend to like the stretched out movements of Yang Zhenduo; however it seems that the body is more connected in the Dong version.

Is there anyone here who studies with Tung/Dong family? Have you also studied with the Yang family? If so what are the differences and similarities that you have noticed?

Thanks,

Tianren</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Your preference for the Dong style should not cloud your view of what Yang Style is. There are three major branches of Dong Style Tai Chi. (Tung is the Pinyin/Wade-Giles pronunciation and is used by Tung Kai-Ying.) Each of the Dong styles is different in several respects, and the students of each of these (families) teach a variation of the Dong style. This is not surprising, as Tung Ying-Jie created his style as a variation of what he learned under Yang Cheng-Fu.
I began instruction in Yang style in 1942 under Dr. Yung Chen who had studied under Yang Cheng-Fu and Yang Chung (Shou Zhong), and met both Yang Chung and Tung Ying-Jie in Hong Kong in 1956 and again in 1957. Both masters were kind enough to show me the way they had learned the set originally, and the ways they did it (20 years after their former master had died). Their postures were similar but not the same with both masters. The most treasured advice both Tai Chi masters gave was the same that Dr. Yung had always given: That no matter what they taught, or what others might teach, the standard for my postures was to be like those of Master Yang Cheng-Fu. I have learned six different ways of doing the Yang form since then, and Fu Zhongwen and Yang Zhenduo do the form the closest to what I was originally taught, which is also closest to the way Yang Cheng-Fu’s son and his senior disciple Tung Ying-Jie showed me how Yang Cheng-Fu did the set.
To my knowledge, there is no one today teaching the Dong style the way Ying-Jie taught it. All his students, including his sons, have modified the style somewhat. But having met Tung-Ying-Jie and having studied under one of his top students from 1958-1962, I am well aware of what he taught, and how it differs from his students, and his sons.
The standard for Yang Style is the Yang Cheng-Fu postures, and I would suggest you study them closely. I can only begin to tell you how Tung Ying-Jie differed from Yang Cheng-Fu, and from what I have seen of his students, this has been modified even more, going from the original Large Frame to Medium Frame and in some postures, Small Frame.
Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in all postures. This is not found anywhere in the Yang Cheng-Fu postures. Ying-Jie kept his head down or lowered in most of his postures and transitions yet he was strong.
The first major change in the style was the transition from Large Frame to Medium Frame, followed by Tung Hu-Ling changing the opening to have the palms face in toward each other as they raise and turned down only as they lower.
In ward off left the hands are not distinct, but rather both arms and hands are curved and not “Elegant Lady hands.” It should be noted that only Fu Zhongwen placed the right hand further forward than the left hand when facing right in ward of left, as Yang Cheng-Fu. But if you understand the way Yang Zhenduo is teaching, you will understand why he chooses to bring the right hand back by the right leg.
In Tung-Dong, Grasp Birds Tail, the hands rise higher than the head in rollback and the body bends forward and down in this motion and in the following push.
In Single Whip, the palms face out (away from the body) and are higher than the head as they move from right to left, instead of being “somewhat downward”; and, they go low, below the waist in moving from left to right, instead of across the front of the chest in a “semi-elliptical plane. This makes the movements Single Whip from Grasp Sparrows Tail similar to that of Single Whip coming out of Cloud Hands – The two were different under Yang Cheng-Fu.
In raise hands, Tung Ying-Jie had both hands moving down, instead of at chest height, while Dong Hu-Ling brought them to height – while others still do this as Ying-Jie did.
In Brush Knee (today) Dong makes a short sweeping motion from the center of the body with the brushing hand (as if grabbing) and the motion follows the arms, not the waist, while the pushing hand comes from high, by the head, making a somewhat circular motion. This means that the brushing hand is circling from the center of the body across the body and back while the pushing (striking) hand is circling forward in a somewhat straight motion. While this circle/straight arm motion is common with many Yang students, it is not the way the motion was taught by Yang Cheng-Fu, Fu Zhongwen or done by Yang Zhenduo.
I’ve omitted many of the other differences up to Brush Knee, as this should be sufficient.
There are several major differences in the way Yang Zhenduo does the set from what I learned, and from the postures of Yang Cheng-Fu, but I understand why Yang Zhenduo teaches this way, and I agree it is the way the form should be taught. Each move and posture should be distinct and the same for each student. That way, when the master looks at a class he will be able to see how each student differs from the standard. Yang Zhenduo uses the analogy of writing Chinese characters, which are learned with precision and elegance. But more to the point, if you don’t know the standard, you will never be able to duplicate it.
From a personal point, had I the opportunity to train with Yang Zhenduo from the beginning, I would never have trained under anyone else.
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Postby Michael » Tue Mar 23, 2004 2:13 pm

wtracy,

Thank you very much for your post. I hope to hear more from you. Your experience could offer much to the people visiting this board.

Thank you again,

Michael
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Mar 23, 2004 7:27 pm

Dear wtracy,

Thank you for a fascinating post, filled with good advice and useful observations. Since you commenced your taijiquan training some 62 years ago (you must have begun at a very early age!), you are drawing upon a considerable body of experience and knowledge. I certainly hope you will contribute more to the discussions here. I personally would be very interested to hear anything you have to share about your encounters with Masters Yang Shouzhong and Dong Yingjie.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:08 pm

Hello wtracy,

I don't know why, but your experience differs widely from mine. You seem to have a lot of small inaccuracies

> To my knowledge, there is no one today teaching the Dong style the way Ying-Jie taught it. All his students, including his sons, have modified the style somewhat. But having met Tung-Ying-Jie and having studied under one of his top students from 1958-1962, I am well aware of what he taught, and how it differs from his students, and his sons. <

Have you visited with Tung Kai Ying and seen what he does?

> The standard for Yang Style is the Yang Cheng-Fu postures, and I would suggest you study them closely. I can only begin to tell you how Tung Ying-Jie differed from Yang Cheng-Fu, and from what I have seen of his students, this has been modified even more, going from the original Large Frame to Medium Frame and in some postures, Small Frame.

In the long form Tung Kai Ying teaches Large Frame Yang Style. I believe there are Medium Frame and Small Frame movements in the fast set and Tung Family sets.

> Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in all postures.

The footage that I have of him doesn't bear this out.

> This is not found anywhere in the Yang Cheng-Fu postures. Ying-Jie kept his head down or lowered in most of his postures and transitions yet he was strong.

I see his head bow in only two places, where he emphasises "listening."

> The first major change in the style was the transition from Large Frame to Medium Frame, followed by Tung Hu-Ling changing the opening to have the palms face in toward each other as they raise and turned down only as they lower.

Tradition holds that this much earlier than Tung Hu-Ling. My footage of Tung Ying Chieh displays this.

> In ward off left the hands are not distinct, but rather both arms and hands are curved and not ?Elegant Lady hands.? It should be noted that only Fu Zhongwen placed the right hand further forward than the left hand when facing right in ward of left, as Yang Cheng-Fu. But if you understand the way Yang Zhenduo is teaching, you will understand why he chooses to bring the right hand back by the right leg.

Tung Ying Chieh and Tung Hu-Ling did this like Fu Zhongwen describes, and Tung Kai Ying teaches it this way as well.

> In Tung-Dong, Grasp Birds Tail, the hands rise higher than the head in rollback

This isn't true either - the hands rise as high as the eyebrows.

> and the body bends forward and down in this motion and in the following push.

Tung Ying Chieh did a sort of bow, but Hu Ling didn't and Kai Ying doesn't.

> In Single Whip, the palms face out (away from the body) and are higher than the head

The hands arc like a rainbow with the top of the arc as high as the eyes.

> as they move from right to left, instead of being ?somewhat downward?; and, they go low, below the waist in moving from left to right, instead of across the front of the chest in a ?semi-elliptical plane. This makes the movements Single Whip from Grasp Sparrows Tail similar to that of Single Whip coming out of Cloud Hands - The two were different under Yang Cheng-Fu.

Yes, but one of the 'Single Whips' in the Tung set is the more lateral version.

> In raise hands, Tung Ying-Jie had both hands moving down, instead of at chest height, while Dong Hu-Ling brought them to height - while others still do this as Ying-Jie did.

'Raise Hands' in Tung's form matches the photos of Yang Chen Fu. And, except for the foot turning in less, the form matches Fu ZHongwen's descrption.

> In Brush Knee (today) Dong makes a short sweeping motion from the center of the body with the brushing hand (as if grabbing) and the motion follows the arms, not the waist, while the pushing hand comes from high, by the head, making a somewhat circular motion. This means that the brushing hand is circling from the center of the body across the body and back while the pushing (striking) hand is circling forward in a somewhat straight motion. While this circle/straight arm motion is common with many Yang students, it is not the way the motion was taught by Yang Cheng-Fu, Fu Zhongwen or done by Yang Zhenduo.

The footage of Tung Ying Chieh that I have shows 'Brush Knee' virtually identical to Fu Zhongwen's description in Louis Swaim's translation. Tung Hu-Ling's and Kai Ying's form have the left hand in 'Brush Knee Left' cross to the right at eye height, but the rest is the same as Fu Zhongwen.

Done correctly the left hand motion follows the waist. If you had learned the Family fast form you would perhaps understand this more clearly.

Regards,

David J
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:32 pm

Hi wtracy,

A short note.

On the Photo Comments thread Jerry Karin wrote, > The way Yang Chengfu executed many of the moves seems to have changed quite a bit between the two sets of photos. Hand placement in White Crane, for example, is quite different. The orientation of the fists is different in a number of moves. The positioning of the legs in left and right strike tiger changed. Those are just a few examples. Overall it seems to me that Yang Chengfu's later pictures are vastly better than the earlier ones. He seems to have integrated the principles better and looks more graceful and powerful. His arms in particular had improved, and the neck and head alignment as earlier noted. <

I'd like to point out that Tai Chi Chuan is not in the forms, it is in the principles. Variation in form is allowed.

Like his Father and Grandfather Tung Kai Ying teaches 65 degrees in the back foot, which is what is shown in many photos of Yang Chen Fu. Fu Zhongwen and Yang Zhenduo teach 45 degrees, do they not?

Tai Chi Chuan is a growing art.

David J
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Postby wtracy » Wed Mar 24, 2004 6:48 pm

David J

My post was in response to a query asking for someone (who had studied both Yang and Dong styles) what the differences were. It was not intended to be disparaging towards the Dong style, nor do I believe it was. Rather I gave my observations as to a few of the differences I have observed. I’m familiar with Tung Kai-Ying. However, I have no interest in arguing what you see or do not see in your footage of Tung Ying-Jie. Further I have no interest in confrontation. Since I cannot be of help to others without being accused of stating things that are not true, this will be my last post in this forum.

Again, I have only stated my observations. I had the privileged of seeing Tung Ying-Jie perform the set the way he taught it in 1956-57, as well as having him demonstrate the way Yang Cheng-Fu taught him. And while this was a long time ago, I remember the differences fairly well, so I stand by my statements, with the following exceptions:

>Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in all postures.

This should be, “Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in the transitions to some postures.”

> In ward off left the hands are not distinct, but rather both arms and hands are curved and not “Elegant Lady hands.”


This should be, “Today in Ward Off Left the hands are not distinct, but rather both arms and hands are curved and not ‘Elegant Landy Hands’.”

Also, with regard to brush knee, I wrote of “today” and your criticism dealt with Tung Ying-Jie.

>I see his head bow in only two places, where he emphasises "listening."

My understanding of “listening” is somewhat different as Tung Ying-Jie told me in effect that I would not know Tai Chi until I had learned that in Tai Chi “You do not listen with your ears.”

Now in response to the Yang Cheng-Fu postures: Yang Cheng-Fu appeared to have established his 1931 photographs as the standard for his style. There is no doubt that he modified his style somewhat between the time the photographs were taken and his death in 1936. But the 1931 pictures are the best (and perhaps only) visual record we have of the Yang Cheng-Fu style; and, both his son, Yang Shou Zhong, and Tung Ying-Jie advised to first emulate these postures.

Of course variation is allowed in Tai Chi. That’s why there are so many different versions of the Yang Style. However, in the same way that anyone with a little practice can pick up a brush and write Chinese characters, Wang Xizhi is the standard, just as Yang Cheng-Fu is the standard for the Yang Cheng-Fu Style.

The essence of Tai Chi is not in the postures, nor the techniques. Tai Chi is a state of being. It cannot be taught, as Yang Shou Zhong, told me, “Tai Chi can only be learned.” Master Yang wrote a letter of introduction to Master Yee in San Francisco, who had studied under Yang Jian Hou. However, Master Yee would not even see me for ten years. He was ninety-two when he did meet with me in 1967, and he gave me very good advice, which I have tried to follow. He told me, among other things, that if I was to be as Yang Cheng-Fu, I must learn as Yang Cheng-Fu did. Then before dismissing me he held a dove in his open palm, and asked me to frighten it so it would fly away. The bird could not leave his open hand, no matter how much it flapped its wings. He told me that Yang Cheng-Fu could do the same thing, and after giving me the dove, he told me to return when I could hold it the same way. I returned six years later, a month before he died, to tell him I had not yet learned Tai Chi. I am still trying to learn Tai Chi after sixty-two years, and I prefer to continue practicing so I can hold a bird rather than argue.

I had just finished this when I was shown the Dong Family Tai Chi tape, which Alex Dong sells, and I believe the readers can obtain a copy from him and come to their own conclusion as to what I have written.

It should be noted that this video omits (film incomplete) the beginning upward movement of the arms and begins with Tung Ying-Jie lowering his hand from the beginning position, so it is impossible to tell whether he raised his hands facing in – as you state tradition has it. I know when he demonstrated the set with me, his hands rose palm facing down, and that is the way his student taught. It’s possible that he changed this after I met him but I know the first time I saw this change was with Tung Hu Ling.

Also, the video does not support your assertion for Ward Off Left:

> Tung Ying Chieh and Tung Hu-Ling did this like Fu Zhongwen describes, and Tung Kai Ying teaches it this way as well.

The video shows the same as I saw in person, that Tung Ying-Jie’s right hand does not “pluck” to the warding hand and moves back closer to his right hip when facing right.

I wish you all well in your training.

wtracy
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:21 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by wtracy:
<B>David J
Further I have no interest in confrontation. Since I cannot be of help to others without being accused of stating things that are not true, this will be my last post in this forum.

</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oh dear, Wtracy, I hope you won't let this misunderstanding put you off posting on the board. I think you have a unique viewpoint to share with us and I hope you will continue to post often. We are very curious to hear what you have to tell us about your experiences with Yang Shouzhong, Dong Yingjie and your other teachers, as well as your own experiences and the understanding that you have gained from decades of practice. Do please continue to favor us with your knowledge and experience.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Mar 24, 2004 8:28 pm

Dear wtracy,

I would like to add my sentiments to Jerry’s. I sincerely hope that you will continue to join in the discussions.

Occasionally discussions on this forum get a bit contentious, but overall, I think the level of civility remains high. I can only speak for myself, of course, and I confess to sometimes challenging the remarks or statements of fellow participants in an effort to seek clarity. I aim to do so respectfully, and hope that it comes across that way, but electronic bulletin boards are a somewhat artificial means of engaging in discussion, so sometimes statements that are not intended to be gruff or uncivil appear to be so. Even my friend Jerry and I have traded a few barbs, but it’s always been congenial, and with the goal of learning more. Jerry, I might add, does a splendid job of keeping discussion on point when the heat rises.

I think we have a unique opportunity to share questions and experiences about a subject we all care about, shall we say, passionately. The contributions of elders in the art should be especially welcomed and respected.

Sincerely,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:25 am

Hi wtracy,

You wrote, > Since I cannot be of help to others without being accused of stating things that are not true, this will be my last post in this forum. <

The idea was not confrontation. For me, people agreeing and disagreeing with one another is part and parcel of discussion.

Having been taught within the Tung school that the long form is Yang Large Frame, and having learned from them and many others some of what constitues large, medium, and small frames, I see that what I was taught is true. How may I state what I was taught without disagreeing with your assertion, >I can only begin to tell you how Tung Ying-Jie differed from Yang Cheng-Fu, and from what I have seen of his students, this has been modified even more, going from the original Large Frame to Medium Frame and in some postures, Small Frame.< ?

Naturally, I am curious why you think Tung school doesn't do Large Frame.

My post, citing inaccuracy, seems to have led to this correction by you:

> >Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in all postures.

> This should be, ?Tung Ying-Jie had a very low crouching movement in the transitions to some postures.?

Where I come from people are not expected to be perfect and complete; mistakes are allowed.

My style may seem abrasive because it is sometimes terse. While I am curious as to why there are differences, at no time do I wish to discourage you from posting.

In Tung's school, in 'Rollback' and 'Single Whip' the height of the hands is specified in the very first lesson and they do not rise higher than the head. What you said disagrees with a specific oral teaching. As such, how can I agree with you?

Yes in 'Brush Knee' you said 'Dong' and 'today,' but the theme of your whole post is Tung/Dong style and the differences between them and Yang Chen Fu, Fu Zhongwen and Yang Zhenduo forms. Was I mistaken in thinking that you gave that example in that spirit?

Regarding 'Brush Knee' I refer you to figure 5 on page 30 of "Mastering Yang Stlye Taijiquan" by Fu Zhongwen, translated by Lois Swaim, and the accompanying text. Though "pluck" is performed a little closer to the body than generally done in Tung's school, FZ description seems to agree with what I was taught.

I understand that "listening" in this case isn't with the ears. My comment was ironic, as I find TYC's body English to be humorous in that regard.

You wrote > It should be noted that this video omits (film incomplete) the beginning upward movement of the arms and begins with Tung Ying-Jie lowering his hand from the beginning position, so it is impossible to tell whether he raised his hands facing in - as you state tradition has it. I know when he demonstrated the set with me, his hands rose palm facing down, and that is the way his student taught. It?s possible that he changed this after I met him but I know the first time I saw this change was with Tung Hu Ling. <

OK. I'm not contesting your account of meeting him.

I know that the History tape does truncate the first movement. However, I have a copy which shows Tung Ying Chieh performing the entire first movement. The film was made in the late 1950s, fairly close to the time you said you met him.

Regards,

David J
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Postby tccstudent » Tue Sep 06, 2005 6:16 pm

I came across this post while looking for information on Yang Sau Chung. I'd be very interested to know if this poster (wtracy) has every posted again or shown up anywhere else?
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Postby cheefatt taichi » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:05 am

My sifu is one of the inner student of Dong Ying Jie and later Dong Hu Ling. I did asked him about the differences of form as performed by DYJ and DHL, his advise to me as told to him by both masters was to stick to Yang Cheng Fu's 10 Essentials. Neither of the masters required him to follow exactly the way each perform their forms. However, heavy emphasis is put on ensuring the postures are correct i.e knee doesnt exceed toes, shoulders in line with hip etc.
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