No one on this site really knows much about me and I do not train with the Yang family and to be honest I am pretty happy about that. But I am generally pretty open-minded when it comes to such topics. But I do not feel Chengfu is the Taiji god some make him out to be, but I do believe he was highly skilled. And I do feel, from what little I know about the style of Luchan that it is possible that I would like it better. But then one of the styles I train (and enjoy immensely) is Xingyiquan so higher might be better for me. But I have trained Traditional Yang as it comes from Tung Ying Chieh for many years (greater than 10) and I can say (sadly) without any doubt it works in a fight. Also my sifu is half my size and can throw me around quite easily and can hit damn hard if need be and all he has ever trained is Yang style Taiji (and I am aware that there are some that would say no he doesn’t because his teacher was Tung Ying Chieh, but I am not here to argue that, nor will I)
However I don't completely disagree with Earl either I have seen a lot of people out there doing taiji that have absolutely no idea there is a martial side and I saw a lot of those in China too. I have even talked with some in the USA that feel if you discuss martial arts in the same breath with taiji it is blaspheme. But then these are not real taiji people in my opinion. But then I believe that it was Chen Xiaowang (I know mentioning the Chen family on the Yang page is just wrong, but it is necessary for the point) that said he felt taiji as a martial art was very close to dead. He said there are so few people that do Taiji as a martial art today that the vast majority do not know anything about martial arts and by comparison it is dieing as a martial art due to this. In other words fewer and fewer people are learning the martial side as time goes on. And as a side note I do not think I would want to tell Chen Xiaowang he was not doing martial arts, it is likely a good way to get a demonstration you would not forget.
But is Yang Chengfu to blame for this, possibly... indirectly... but not likely. He was a good teacher with a lot of students so his style went further. Does this mean it was easier, possibly but not necessarily. His brother Shouhou also taught but was incredibly hard on his students and those that survived his training and stayed with him were generally good martial artists but not many did last long with him so he had fewer students than Chengfu. And of all the people out there claiming lineage to Chengfu I tend to feel that about 70 to 80% of them are telling the truth (or know the truth to be honest) and of those 70 to 80% not all were learning from someone that spent a lot of time training with Chengfu. My sifu had a student who learned just the long form and then went off without permission and started a school and called it the “Yang Chengfu Tai Chi School”. He was considerably upset by this and went to talk to the person and they stopped using the name. But they did not half to because this is America and basically the person could pretty much do what they wanted. And this sort of thing is contributing to the downfall of Yang Taiji. But what I feel has a lot more to do with it are the forms like Yang 24 form that does not really come from the Yang family and 48 form which to be honest is not really Yang style, it is a combination of many styles and both are forms competition forms. The forms do have application but few know them and many learn these forms and go off and teach others and call what they are teaching Yang style when in fact it really isn't
And yes Yang Cheng-fu changed his father's and his father changed his father’s form too. If I remember correctly Jianhou changed Luchan's form to medium frame. So if my old and feeble memory is correct the link to Jianhou claimed is not a direct link to the style of Luchan, as Earle seems to believe. Also in reference to Shouhou there is some speculation that he did not learn what he later taught from his father (Jianhou) but actually learned more from his Uncle Banhou who did teach his father’s (Luchan’s) form.
And to say that Taiji has lost its roots is just not correct it is a very general statement and it takes into it all taiji styles; Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao, Sun and Zhaobao styles. Maybe what Earle has seen does not make him happy; I can't fault him for that. Heck a year ago I was not all too happy about the state of Yang style taiji either and was going to quit and focus solely on Xingyi, but I can complain or I can train, I chose to train.
On the topic of Cheng Manching, ok I will admit I like the form, I do not train it, but I like it and I would not call it Yang Style but in reality it was an unapproved change to Yang style so I don't see how this applied to Chengfu other that Manching might have been a student of Chengfu. If I go off and start teaching a style and incorporate Xingyi, Yang style and the Tango into it and call it Yang style it is not the fault of my Sifu, it is my responsibility. But I feel I need to add having once had the honor of crossing hands with William CC Chen, as student of Cheng Manching, I can assure you the man is a fighter and a damn good one.
And since Earl is doing seminars and trying to make money from this, and there is nothing wrong with this, I have to ask myself is he really concerned about the state of Yang Taiji today or is he just trying to make money by advertising what he knows and belittling what is out there. But he is not the only one on the planet that knows the form from Luchan, Banhou or Shouhou, if in fact he knows it and if he is linked to Jianhou he likely doesn’t know it, but I have not heard this form any of those who do know it yet so I am not sure what the general consensus is as to their opinion of the Yang style of Yang Chengfu.
I am not saying Earle is entirely wrong but I do not think he is entirely right either and pointing the finger of blame s not going to make it better, it is just going to start a fight that cannot be won since the only people that could really answer any of the questions and or charges Earle put forth are dead it really can’t be answered.
As to understanding Chinese. It is rather important if you are going to study a Chinese martial art in depth and talk about it’s history and you really need a pretty good understanding of the older writing system as well. I recently ran into an issue with the character for “Subdue” being translated as “downward” and that simple little mistake made a BIG difference in what was being said. However I am not sure if that would apply to what Earle is saying. He appears to be just writing down his thoughts and not quoting from translated history. Or at least that is what it appears to be in the article I just read. (http://www.taiji-qigong.co.uk/Articles/demise.html
) If I missed the original article I would appreciate is if someone would point me to where the original is.
[This message has been edited by T (edited 02-24-2007).]
[This message has been edited by T (edited 02-24-2007).]