why

why

Postby bamboo leaf » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:08 am

I have often wondered why, as according to popular history YLC first studied the chen style why he never called what he did chen style?

There are many references made on the web that seems to imply his accomplishments where based on the chen teachings instead of different and unique insights that he evolved. just wondered why he never at least from what i have read, refered to his style as chen village style or something like that instead of some of the other names he called his art before it became known as yang style taiji.

This question is asked out of curiosity nothing more.

david




[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 12-03-2004).]
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Postby Marc Heyvaert » Fri Dec 03, 2004 3:16 pm

There is no historically veryfiable answer to your question. I think that naming the style was not the issue at that time. Yang Luchan never made a secret of his stay at Chenjiagou. The exact circumstances and his exact status there is a topic of debate, but that is not important really. The important bit is that he had the genius, insight, talent, contacts, charisma, luck, etc. to bring this art to the capital and to teach the right people there.

If you are interested in the historical background of that era, you should read the books of Douglas Wile.

Marc
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Postby bamboo leaf » Fri Dec 03, 2004 4:34 pm

( The important bit is that he had the genius, insight, talent, contacts, charisma, luck, etc. to bring this art to the capital and to teach the right people there.)

thank you, I quite agree. Just wonder why some try to link the 2 styles when each are very distinct arts in themselves and should be recognized based on their own merits and practices.

david
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Postby Marc Heyvaert » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:09 pm

But both styles are linked, historically and by their movements and techniques. I practice Yang style and a bit of Chen style and I found doing both refreshing because it helps to understand the movements, places them into a wider context. Of course, when you want to climb onto the roof of a house you have to choose if you use a ladder or a rope. Using both at the same time is not a good idea, so I chose to concentrate on Yang style for the time being.

Marc
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:18 pm

Greetings david,

Until the nineteenth century, there was no “Chen style,” “Yang style,” “Wu style,” etc. These designations are later inventions used by various students and followers to clarify their affiliations and lineages. In fact, the art Yang Luchan learned and developed was probably not even known by the name taijiquan until long after he had left Chenjiagou and moved to Beijing.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:29 pm

This fits in with something I've being thinking about of late.. Lineage and ability.

I know it's kind of an over-simplification but it seems there are
four situations for a teacher...

(Preserve)
They either fully inherit the system they study and want to preserve it exactly as it is, or they don't fully inherit it and so preserve it by teaching only what they were taught as they don't want to mess it up.

OR

(Change)
They inherit the essence of the system and pass on their interpretation of it (naming it as such), or they inherit the whole system and change it's method in some (small or large way) and thus put their name to it.


I think that we could see Yang Lu Chan as fitting into either of the second situations.

Now-a-days we have a bit of a problem with this situation I feel. Providing the teacher is honest about their position it doesn't matter imo, but...

We seem to have people who start their own style having not inherited the essense of the old one (change)and people who validate their position when they have not inherited the essense of it (preserve)

It's a shame when people must feel insecure about their lineage and/or their ability and either reject it or use it as a mask.

anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Sorry to change the subject a little too!



[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 12-03-2004).]
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Postby Bamenwubu » Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:54 pm

I have no answers for you on your specific question. What I can add is that most "named" styles of TCC were not named by their creator, but rather by their students who named them AFTER their "creator".
The way this was explained to me is the naming of the differing styles is a natural progression from one "style" to the next based on the students of differing masters talking to one another and saying things like, "Master Yang's style of TCC is very fluid and graceful, yet powerful." and then having a response such as, "Yes, and Master Sun's style is so compact and versatile."
This lead to style names being attributed to the differing masters styles of practicing and teaching.
So now we have Chen, Yang, Sun, Wu, Wu/Hoa/Li, Tung, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Truth be told, it's all the same thing. What you have are, as the Grand Master so elegantly states the case, differing flavors of the same basic dish.
They all come from the same basic food type, but have been seasoned with different spices. The result is that while they look and taste slightly different, underneath they were all the same to begin with.
To give you a minor, modern, idea of how this works:
My form looks very different from my instructors forms.
Why?
We study the same form, further I study and practice the form as he taught me. You would think we would look just the same doing the same form side by side.
But we don't.
For various reasons beyond our control we all move in different ways. There are many reasons for this.
We are different heights, Bill is 6 foot something and I'm only 5'7".
Our legs are different lengths, our arms are different lengths, our torsos are different sizes.
For these reasons and more, we couldn't possibly move in the exact same way, we're not built alike.
Yet the TCC we practice is the same, down at it's root.
His skill is, of course, more advanced than mine in the Yang style, as he has much more experience with this flavor of TCC. He knows more of the subltle movements, more of the deep chi integration, that sort of thing. Therefor he is going to move in a more precise manner than I can now, and probably always will because he will always be that far ahead of me in the study and practice.
I'm from Detroit, I have no idea where Bill is from originally, but he's not from Detroit. Geographic location, things like urban settings vs. rural settings, are going to give you a differing viewpoint on life, a differing level of natural tenseness in your body, you will walk and talk differently and display a differing personality.
All of these types of things, and many more we can't even imagine, that make us who we are as individuals are going to influence our movement patterns and thought processes.
One more item I can think of, I practice TCC as a martial art, first and foremost, due to my mindset, background, interests. Others in the same classes as me, taking the same instruction from the same teacher, are not the least bit interested in the martial arts aspects of TCC and study and practice strictly to achieve the health benefits of the art. We are not going to perform the same form in the same way. I will be emphasizing the martial aspects, thinking clearly of the application of each movement as a martial movement actualy being applied against an opponent, they are going to be thinking of how to best move to generate and move chi to give them maximum benefit to their health.
Our mind intent for each movement is going to be completely different, so our external look is not going to be the same for each movement.

Now do you see how the differing "styles" of TCC came about and then got different names?
I don't know wether the Grand Master Yang Lu Chan referred to his TCC style by a name, maybe he did, maybe he just called it Tai Chi Chuan, or maybe he called it something completely different.
It makes no difference.
What is important is that his students called it "Yang style", we continue to refer to it as "Yang style", and so that is what it became.
I would imagine it wouldn't be that far fetched an idea that one day we may end up with a style known as "Ma" style TCC, from Master Ma Yeuh Liang. He practiced and taught Wu style, from the Wu Chien Chuan lineage. He was a disciple of Wu Chien Chuan, who was a disciple of Chuan Yau, who was a disciple of Yang Lu Chan and his son, Yang Ban Hou.
Wu Chien Chuan, as far as I've ever heard, did not refer to his style as Wu style TCC, but his students did. Wu Chien Chuan learned his art from Chuan Yau, who most definitely practiced Yang style TCC. Wu Chien Chuan, the son of Chuan Yau by the by, then modified the form to suit his own needs. While it still retained the underlying principles of Yang style TCC it was much more compact, smaller. He taught for a time with Yang Cheng Fu, and they had students in the same school. Their forms were different, but they taught the same principles.
Their students then, naturaly, began to refer to Master Wu's style or Master Yang's style of TCC, to keep them seperate.
There you have it, a "style" is born.
Wu Chien Chuan then taught Ma Yueh Liang, along with many other disciples and sons. Master Ma taught the Wu style to his students, just as he learned it from Wu Chien Chuan. Wu Chien Chuan's sons, Wu Kung Yi and Wu Kung Cho, then changed the form of their father and made a square, or articulated, version of TCC that is now still being referred to as Wu style.
Master Ma still taught the round forms to his students.
Both are Wu style TCC, but...
Now there is round, square, large and small framed Wu styles.
Since Master Ma taught only the round small frame forms, I would imagine his students might one day begin to refer to them as "Master Ma's style" to keep them seperate from those of the brothers Wu and another lineage may be born.

What I'm trying to get at with this long, rambling post is that it's the students and proponents of a style who name it, most of the time after the particular masters death who "created" his version of a TCC form, not the master himself.
Again, I don't know for sure, but I would imagine that Yang Lu Chan did not call his forms Yang style TCC, but that his students most definitely did.
Maybe Master Yang Jun would know?
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Postby Anderzander » Fri Dec 03, 2004 7:26 pm

Hi

That is very plausible.

Anything could be the case! as they say 'what's in a name?'

In my post I was speaking about martial arts in General and the deliberate renaming of systems when they are changed beyond individual interpretation.

As you say though, even in these instances it is probably more than likely that the students rename the style.

When martial arts were passed down through families they were at some point named as that families style - such as Hung Gar etc - when they must have learned it from someone else at some point

I even went to school with a chinese boy who was learning 'Wong Kune' his family had a style recorded in a series of books dating from 1780 something.

He and his family were very serious about preserviing it - I think this is/was a common theme. Evolution, Interpretation and under some circumstances revolution were perhaps also expected within the family.

For either evolution or revolution, staying within the family or going to someone new, it could be renamed or remain named the same!!

Another factor is lineage...

Lineage was used to denote authenticity with links to mythical/famous characters being made in a huge number of martial arts to do so.

Lineage is (still) used to reflect authenticity but by linking to real people who were known to still hold the real skill

... and I can't imagine any of my students calling my Taiji Moore Family Taiji Image



[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 12-03-2004).]
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Postby bamboo leaf » Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:55 pm

(Until the nineteenth century, there was no “Chen style,?“Yang style,?“Wu style,?etc. These designations are later inventions used by various students and followers to clarify their affiliations and lineages.)

Thanks all, this pretty much accords with my own feelings and those of the people that I have met who say there is only taiji.


I have read that at one time his art was refered to as cotton fist boxing
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Postby Anderzander » Sat Dec 04, 2004 1:04 am

Oops

I missed Louis' post until just now - kind of a definitive answer too.

Thanks Louis
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sat Dec 04, 2004 6:31 am

Greetings,

By some accounts, the art was not called taijiquan before Yang Luchan moved to Beijing to teach. I don’t by any means think that this implies that taijiquan did not incorporate principles associated with the philosophical concept called “taiji” prior to acquiring the name. After all, the principles of yin and yang permeated the culture. People made decisions, ranging from what crops to plant to what soup to eat, based upon their monitoring of the daily workings of yin and yang. Martial arts and military theory already had long drawn upon correlative theory, the language of empty and full, overcoming the opponent’s strength while conserving one’s own, and the like. There would likely never have been the boxing art of taijiquan had there not already have been taiji theory.

Here’s my translation of a story recounted by Yang Zhenji in his book, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_, which may in fact pinpoint the event that solidified the name of the art of taijiquan.

~~~
After my great grandfather [Yang Luchan] was forty years old, he received someone’s recommendation to go to Beijing and teach boxing. During this period of time in the capital he was unbeatable wherever he went (suoxiang pimi), and a great clamor of fame followed, so that he came to be nicknamed “Yang the Invincible” (Yang Wudi). The teacher of the Guangxu Emperor [reign, 1875-1908], the learned scholar Weng Tonghe [1830-1904], witnessed Yang win in a martial competition, and afterward said these words of praise: “Marvelously quick in advance and retreat, unfathomable in emptying and filling, body like a nimble monkey, hands like moving spheres, as one body with the primordial taiji (taiji zhi hunyuan yiti).” Then he personally wrote this couplet, presenting it [that is, a calligraphic scroll] as a gift:

“Hands carrying taiji contain the entire world.” (shou peng taiji sai huanyu)
“Heart-held consumate skill quells a gathering of heroes.” (xiong huai jue ji ya qun ying)

Thereupon many of the Qing nobility became students of the master. Afterward, [Yang Luchan] was appointed martial arts instructor to the imperial banner battalion.
~~~

So, the story brings up the possibility that this event marked the naming of taijiquan sometime in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Previous to this time, the art was known by a number of other names, including mian quan (cotton boxing), and hua quan (transformation boxing). I don't think the art was referred to as taijiquan in Chenjiagou until after it acquired the name in Beijing.

What is fascinating to me is that the figure in the story who evidently 'named' the art, Weng Tonghe, was a very important social and political figure in Late Imperial China. He was an imperial tutor, and served in other official capacities. He was a late convert to consitutional reform, and was more than a minor player in the failed reform attempt known as the "hundred days." He was a rather famous calligrapher, and specimens of his work are still highly valued. Calligraphy itself, when highly developed, is a mind-body discipline, so his remarks in response to Yang Luchan’s art could probably be taken, not as being those of a dilettante, but rather as a visceral recognition of true mastery.

Given the paucity of references to taijiquan in the official historical record, the Weng Tonghe connection may be a useful one. Weng is a very well documented figure because of his participation in some fairly momentous events in the last years of the Qing government. In addition, Weng kept very thorough diaries, which were published in a multiple volume set. The possibility that he may have made reference in his writings to Yang Luchan and his art is rather tantalizing.

Incidently, Weng Tonghe’s name was in the news a number of years ago. His descendants live in the US. They moved here in the early 1900s, and secretly brought with them Weng Tonghe's huge personal library. It is reported that they reached an agreement with the Shanghai municipal government whereby over 700 volumes would be returned to China. Many of the books in the collection are quite rare, and were long thought to have been lost or destroyed.

Louis
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Postby Bamenwubu » Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:20 pm

Louis,
Yet another excellent post!
Again, many thanks for your wisdom.

Maybe I'll start calling TCC by it's name of Mian Quan, just to be trendy!
Though I like Hua Quan just as well!
Maybe both, depending on my mood...

Nah.
At least TCC as a name is beginning to be recognized, if I call it something else I'll just get even funnier looks than I do now when people ask me what I'm doing.
Cool names though.

Bob
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