<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
Regarding your lineage chart inquiry, if I were able to address your questions, I would, but I’m not at all a party to, or conversant with the issues you bring up in that post.
Going back to the earlier discussion about Li Yaxuan’s interpretation of the Embrace Tiger form, and my remarks about your either/or statement—If I understand correctly, you make a distinction between Li’s “bottom line” understanding of the “heart and meaning” of taijiquan on the one hand, and the specific details of his critique of the presentation of the Embrace Tiger form in Taijiquan tiyong quanshu on the other hand. I appreciate that distinction, and I have no reason to question or characterize Li Yaxuan’s bottom-line understanding. .... Li’s critique of the Tiyong book should be accepted as right or wrong in whole cloth, because in my opinion there are problems in the specific case of his ‘eyebrow’ critique of Embrace Tiger. I offered only a few pieces of evidence, but there are more examples that show that Zheng Manqing was not misinterpreting or inventing something in the bao hu gui shan narrative. In fact, it differs little from the description in Yang Chengfu’s earlier book, written by Dong Yingjie, Taijiquan shiyongfa. That book also includes more detailed application scenarios, including one for Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain. The explanation for that sequence even specifically uses “embrace” (bao) as a verb for one’s arm contact with the opponent’s waist. Yang Shouzhong’s book, Practical Use for Tai Chi Chuan, is clearly based on those application scenarios, and he reproduces that narrative. The English translation, recently reissued, closes the instruction with the statement, “Indeed, this stance gives the appearance as if you are embracing your enemy.” (p. 12) Interestingly, in the Shiyongfa book, the narrative, besides using the Embrace Tiger name and specifically using “embrace” as a verb in the instructions, also has an interesting phrase that the form “is like a brave warrior capturing a tiger and returning it to the mountain” (ru zhuang shi zhuo hu gui shan). (p. 93) I think this could well be an allusion to a Chinese saying: “It’s easier to catch a tiger than to release him” (zhuo hu rongyi, fang hu nan). This lends strong support to my theory that the Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain name is based on the military strategy saying I mentioned “Release a tiger to return to the mountain” (meaning to invite future trouble). That is, “embracing” a tiger purposely contrasts with “releasing” a tiger.
My caution was not a challenge of Li’s understanding of core taijiquan principles, but a reaction to the notion that he was completely right or completely wrong in his critique of the Tiyong book. That just smacks of fundamentalism, and I resist that. It’s not my cup of tea.
Good Morning Louis,
It is a mystery of large proportion how a reference to Shaohou's son & his children & grandchildren could be made without follow-up or offer of more information. It may be time to approach this from a different side.
Regarding the Li/Cheng issue, certainly the notion that the name is correct & also quite old. It is true it appears in Chengfu's earlier work (actually written by Dong). I personally cannot dispute this certainly. It also appears in written descriptions of even more senior students of the Yangs, notably Tian, whose insights came from Jianhou & Shaohou.
But, the essence of the argument is being missed. It's not so much an argument about this or that name of a gesture, rather, it is a critique of what constitutes taiji boxing.
I acknowledge your point re my either/or comment. Probably your point is correct; ok, the point re merely the name is correct. But, the deeper issue is the use and of what he was doing by criticizing that.
At the risk of generalizing & oversimplifying, my reference to bottom line was intended to refer to Li's idea of the use of force against force, hard, external blocks & actions, rather than going along with or taking a neutralizing action. He argued that Cheng was too junior to have understood that concept.
BUT, as you say, it is well documented that indeed Cheng did write that work with the approval & complete input from Chengfu, himself.
Btw, Dong was originally selected to ghost write it. But the physically highly skillful Ye Dami convinced Chengfu that Dong's writing was coarse, used bad language, and would bring embarrassment to him (Chengfu). Based on that Chengfu directed Dong to return the manuscript from the publisher and assigned the task to Cheng. Cheng while being a junior student at that time was an educated person similar to the earlier Wu Tunan & Chen Weiming.
Also, allow me to say frankly that there is good evidence that LYX was actually not close to Chengfu. I believe I have already mentioned that Zhao Bin (who lived for a while in Chengfu's home & was close to him) described how Li became known as a close student. That also is significant in this issue. That coupled with the differences in Li's early large frame & the early Yang large frame may be sufficient to nail this coffin shut.
Still, it is well established that LYX was exceptionally adept regardless of the details of his exterior frame. The issue he really raised re force against force described as a defensive use by CMC flies in the face of what Chengfu, himself, has said about softness, etc, in other areas. TCC uses uses a method other than force against force, or so we are told by many.
So, if LYX truly said such a thing and, if CMC truly received input from YCF and, if Chengfu truly advised to use force against force, what is the significance, what does that mean? That is the issue to which I referred. Again, I acknowledge that definitely in some areas LYX had a problem in his criticism.
After receiving information that came directly from Jianhou & Shaohou, not via Chengfu - as a kind of corroboration of things attributed to him, it appears that indeed, tcc uses 'relative' strength. Not hard blocks, nevertheless, simply comparatively lesser strength. At times it may 'appear' to be hard when it is not the hardest just a lesser degree.
This may be corroborated by the attorney who following Yang Zhenming in HongKong in his book entitled "secrets of yang's taiji". Also, it is kind of corroborated by descriptions of Luchan's weight work.
So, again - I simply thought that students could gain by reading this fascinating argument. Either LYX was correct in his criticism of using hard strength against incoming hard attacks, or the book description was correct in advising to us that. I may have been incorrect in generalizing the either/or, or may be not;-)
Previously, I mentioned Mr. Qu ShiQing. He was a student of a high level student of Chengfu during those times & in his last days.
Qu read the Li eyebrow comments & wrote 2 or 3 articles in response, attacking LYX's criticisms. In doing so (attacking Li) he also provided the world with an invaluable glimpse into the scene at Chengfu's household in those days & in the last days of Chengfu's life.
Incredibly & breathtakingly he described how Tian was pushed aside by Gu & Fu (this of course was way before the Yang boys reached even puberty let alone adulthood) as the model of the Yang practice. He also described the interaction & bickering of some of the inner circle - witness Ye Dami vs Dong. Finally, in a rough translation I post here, he described the reason his teacher - a close student of Chengfu & good friend of Cheng Manching - Master Huang left the practice. The straw that broke Huang's camel's back was the behavior of the "distant relative". Guess who this was
Read on ...
"Commemoration of Teacher Huang Jing Hua
By Qu Shi Jing
In 1944 my father invited teacher Tian Zuolin (note: Tian Zuolin was not a relative of Tian Zhaolin - leroy) to instruct hospital staff in “Penetrating Arms Boxing”. I started to learn together with the staff and there developed an interest in the martial arts. Unfortunately, when that year ended, Teacher Tian Zuolin’s contract was not renewed. My father did not renew the contract because of the behavior of certain hospital staff after learning a bit of the boxing art.
Then in 1950 I was able to watch another demonstration performed to raise funds for the hospital. In this fundraiser, the great master Tian Zhaolin gave a special performance showing very clear launching of opponents. Suddenly, right in front of everyone, a shaolin boxer jumped up on the stage. He wanted to fight Tian right then and there.
Mr. Dong Zhong Yi, a relative of the famous Tung Yingchieh, was on hand and was able to reconcile the two fighters. He said later he knew Teacher Tian would have destroyed the shaolin boxer if allowed to fight him. Then Mr. Dong and Ms. Dong Pei Yun demonstrated swords.
My brother’s classmate, Ji Xiang, had practiced tai chi before. He took me to Wai Tan Park to watch Master Tian Zhaolin’s push-hand practice.
In 1951, my father was the chief instructor at a seminar for Chinese doctors to learn western medicine. Dr. Huang Jinghua, an acupuncturist, happened to be in his class. There used to be a good bed in the classroom. It was used for medical demonstrations. Now my father noticed that it was badly damaged. He discovered it had been damaged by boxing practice. A student who practiced external boxing often asked Jinghua to spar. Jinghua always refused, repeatedly.
One day after right after the seminar class, that man suddenly closed the door and attacked Jinghua. Jinghua retreated and finally was cornered and forced to transform the incoming force. Jinghua launched that person into the air. He fell onto the bed. The force of his fall broke the bed. My father recognized Jinghua as a talent and invited him to my father's hospital to do intern work and to teach me tai chi at the same time. After I learned from him for three years I became healthier. Then in 1954 my parents prepared a banquet and two paintings as gifts for Teacher Jinghua. They formally asked him to accept me as his tudi.
Jinghua said the gifts were unnecessary. He said I may just bow to him three times. After I entered that door (entering the door refers to being accepted as a close student, a disciple - leroy), I first practiced standing stake inner gong. This was accompanied by training of intention and breathing. Differing from my previous boxing training, Jinghua separated every movement into left and right gestures, defining the body, hand, and foot methods. He told me to repeatedly practice. Slow boxing required that the kua match the knees. Quick boxing (Note: Yang’s of course) required exhaling with vocalizations. He advised me to practice the spear 400 reps, 200 time on the left side side and 200 on the right.
My physical condition was weak and after 20 times on either side, I sweat and felt tired. Jinghua shook his head and told me, “I have no children. I accepted you as my only tudi. We share many hobbies but your physical condition is too poor and can only be half literate (Note: meaning half civil) and half martial.”
Jianhua then told me, “In order to practice boxing, first one must have a good teacher; secondly, one must have awareness; thirdly, one must practice hard, and fourth one must have a practice companion(s). You do not have companion students so you may see me as your companion and launch energy on me.”
I thought, 'how could I hit my teacher'. I refused to do so. He shook his head again and then took me to see another teacher, intending to let me practice with his students. At time, people in the park practiced tai chi only for health (Note: literate or civil practice) and I found no good companion.
In the 1970’s my wife's brother and his friends came to me to learn tai chi. I used them as practice companions and was able to make some progress. Unfortunately, I was stricken with cancer in 1983. The X-ray treatments damaged my body. Thereafter, I stopped doing push-hands and the stick and only used slow tai chi to try to enhance my health.
Teacher Huang Jinghua was born in 1909. He went to Shanghai to learn painting in 1925. There, in that art college he befriended Cheng Manching. They became close friends. In 1926 the two of them learned tai chi boxing and sword from Ye Dami. In 1928 they met Grandmaster Yang Chengfu. During this time, Jinghua used Ye's students as practice companions. Later Jinghu learned boxing from Chengfu. Teacher Yang emphasized to Jinghua that he should do the big stick 400 reps per day in the daily practice. Jinghua's art college had a tai chi teacher named Guan Jie San. Guan Jie San had been a student of a student of Wu Jianquan. Jinghua launched this fellow Guan three times. Guan then left. Teacher Yang Chengfu became very angry. Chengfu said, “When practicing with your fellow students, it's okay to use the whole energy, but, if you practice with a person from another branch, never break their bowl!”
In 1931 Jinghua graduated from the art college but was unable to find work. Teacher Chengfu, therefore, invited him to the Yang's family home to help his teaching uncles as a practice companion. With that, Jin Ren Lin raised the question of why Jinghua received free lodging and food since he could never be compared to Tian Zhaolin or Zhang Qinlin. Actually, Tian ZhaolLin by that time, 1928, no longer lived with the Yang family.
In fact, there were several people living in Yang's family home at that time. Jinghua was responsible for the chores around the house. Chengfu suffered an illness causing swelling with water and invited some doctors to come for treatment. Jinghua received the medical doctors and sent them off.
Yang Chengfu was poorly skilled at writing, therefore, Jinghua often helped the great master with his correspondence. The work entitled, “Complete Body and Application” was not only recorded by Jinghua, and Zheng Manqing, but was also edited by him at the publisher’s facility. I described this event in a previous article .When Chengfu’s illness became grave, with his sons far away, Jinghua did all the servicing and all the care taking.
In 1933 Grandmaster Yang Chengfu, believing he had learned the true skill, recommended Jinghua as a martial art coach at a university. On the first day of Jinghua's class a student laughed at his accent. This student had a background in western boxing. He proposed to fight. Jinghua accepted his challenge. Teacher Jinghua used “carry-stop hammer” to respond to his opponent’s attack. That person was launched out with such force that he hit and broke a nearby tree. After that event many universities invited Jinghua to become their coach.
During the Anti-Japanese war Jinghua stopped teaching publicly. That was in 1940. After 1949 he only practiced medicine and no longer taught boxing. One day in 1957 he spoke with me and told me not to tell anyone that I was learning boxing from him. He also told me to never over-comment on the push-hands of others. He also told me to
not openly show cleverness.
Jinghua used to visit Tian Zhaolin and Chen Weiming often to discuss tai chi
skills. But from this point on, he seldom discussed boxing skills. Nevertheless, at home he still practiced the big staff and boxing continuously without stopping. He often created paintings and calligraphy.
Once when he was 81 years old, he climbed up on a ladder to better appreciate his own paintings. He fell off the ladder and broke his hipbone. His physical condition deteriorated after that. He died in Jan 6, 1993, at the age of 84.
Before dying Teacher Jinghua explained to me why he changed after 1957. When the book entitled, “Complete Body and Application”, was reprinted, he explained, he was invited to discuss that work. During the meeting, a distant relative of Chengfu made the accusation the photos of Jiang JieShi and Zheng Manqing were “counter-revolutionary”. Huang became very upset. He then told them to delete his name as well (as those accused of being C.R.). With that Teacher Jinghua decided to leave the martial art field. Jinghua said, Teacher Chengfu had many students, however, out of all of them only four students were allowed to write for him: Chen Weiming, Tung Yingchieh, Zheng Manqing, and Huang Jinghua. Tung and Zheng lived overseas, Chen was severely criticized by Tang Hao to the point where it seriously affected his health. I was the only one untouched. I needed to learn a lesson. Reader, should you have the opportunity to meet students of Manqing or Yang Shouchung, please greet them for me. Today (1993), my situation again becomes a bit better."
* Note: Mr. Qu suffered cancer.