Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby HotSoup on Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:53 am

windwalker wrote:Before yang, chen or wu style was labeled as taiji what was it called?
why was it called taiji?


I was wondering about the same, recently. Reading this article http://practicalmethod.com/2012/02/from ... in-a-name/ I stumbled upon these words of Chen Fake:

My ancestors invented it. My great grandfather practiced it. My father practiced it. I practice it now. We do not call it Taiji. We do not have a name for it. You can call it anything you want, I will still practice it the same way I was taught. I don’t care what they put in the name!


Provided Chen Fake had really said that and Hong Junsheng remembered and retold it correctly, I can easy believe that it was the case. To my knowledge referring to family styles just as "Wuyi" or "Quanfa" was quite common among Chinese people who practiced their arts exclusively within their family circles. It actually made a lot of sense in the cultural context of that time.

"Taijiquan" seems to be an invention of Beijing upper class taught by Yang Lucnah and his students. This is a theory I found in Peter Lim Tian Tek's article http://www.itcca.it/peterlim/historg4.htm and which looks plausible and in line with Chen Fake's words.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby Steve James on Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:11 am

What is the conclusion? Should someone change or stop using the name taijiquan? Would it make a difference?
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby windwalker on Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:29 am

One can call what ever they do what ever they want.
But if they are seeking recognition for doing something within a given context, then it must fit within the context they seek to be judged by.

Taiji can be looked on using a couple of different criteria:

1. historical

2. anecdotal

3 philosophical

If one does not care about any of the above, then it mattes little what one calls it.
There is a body of arts who's practices are quite similar ie "internal / external" and sub bodies
whos practices can be traced to given point in time as to naming conventions.

What is now known as "t‘ai-chi ch‘üan" appears to have received this appellation from only around the mid-1800s.[14] A scholar in the Imperial Court by the name of Ong Tong He witnessed a demonstration by Yang Luchan at a time before Yang had established his reputation as a teacher. Afterwards Ong wrote: "Hands holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes.

" Before this time the art may have had a number of different names, and appears to have been generically described by outsiders as zhan quan (沾拳, touch boxing), Mian Quan (soft boxing) or shisan shi (十三式, the thirteen techniques).[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi

I like the name "touch boxing" or "soft boxing"
feeling for most its a little easier to understand
some of the core ideas presented for those I work with...

actually I call what I do " no name taiji"

for others it may be different.
Last edited by windwalker on Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby Steve James on Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:23 am

For others, it is different ;) But, it doesn't answer the tautological question what was "taijiquan" called before it was called "taijiquan." Of course, the answer could be that it didn't exist before it was called so. If it did, then what was its name?
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby yeniseri on Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:48 am

In the village, it was Chen family art. Obviously there were other influences which were "unified under the alleged Li (family/Chen (family) banner ;D
As Yang was the first to show it in Beijing (he got there before Chen adherents, it became known by other names ??? one can take one's choice of name
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby Steve James on Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:11 am

I think a more interesting question is when did Chinese martial arts start being named and why?

When it came to naming an art, what were the reasons? Why weren't all martial arts named after families? Then again, what does it really mean to "create" a martial art anyway? What exists that someone didn't do earlier or used a different name to describe?
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby HotSoup on Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:59 am

Steve James wrote:I think a more interesting question is when did Chinese martial arts start being named and why?

When it came to naming an art, what were the reasons? Why weren't all martial arts named after families? Then again, what does it really mean to "create" a martial art anyway? What exists that someone didn't do earlier or used a different name to describe?


Apparently, popularity was the reason. MA names are not different from other kinds of names in this regard — the main name's function is to differentiate one entity from another. As long as there was no need to differentiate a family art from some other arts (because nobody did or even knew much about other systems, except that there were other people practicing MA out there), there was no need to create fancy monikers. But when different styles went out of their respective circles of practice, such a need naturally arose. And poetic nature of Chinese culture and language was fertile soil for coming up with colorful allegoric names for those arts.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby HotSoup on Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:04 am

yeniseri wrote:In the village, it was Chen family art. Obviously there were other influences which were "unified under the alleged Li (family/Chen (family) banner ;D
As Yang was the first to show it in Beijing (he got there before Chen adherents, it became known by other names ??? one can take one's choice of name


And even for "Chen family art" there must be some people other than Chen to call it that. It wouldn't make much sense for the Chens to call their art "the Chens' art" by themselves, right? But it would make perfect sense to people from, say, ZhaoBao village.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby Steve James on Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:35 am

It's not really apparent because it's doubtful that most of the martial arts we know today were even known before scholars wrote about them. Afa original names, I think all martial arts are named after a person, place or thing/concept. "Chen family art" is just a description of who is practicing, not necessarily of what is being practiced. It's apparent that the Chens did not call what they did taijiquan; but, that doesn't mean that it is not.

Imo, calling the art "taijiquan" was a way to describe an art in terms of a concept or principle that is independent of any martial art name. So, using Zhaobao tjq makes sense, whether or not there was ever a Jiang fa, because that is the way the principle was expressed in Zhaobao village. It's the same for Chen village.

Unless one can show that the Chens created the idea of yin/yang or taichi, then it is clear that the Chens (and others) applied the taichi idea to things they were already doing. I.e., the martial art/s they were already practicing.

Windwalker brought up some interesting ways to look the matter. Anecdotally, all cma were traced back to the Shaolin monastery. And, all their martial arts were named after animals or animal movements. The next period of development for cma would have taken place within the military (but this is historically documented). After that, the need for civilians to protect themselves from criminal activity would lead to paramilitary organizations and societies. It's likely that our fairly modern conceptions of martial art schools comes from these societies, whether criminal or self-defense.

I think relatively open martial art training to the public is maybe 100 years old (going back to the Peking institute of 1915 and the Chinwoo societies, etc.). I think the practice of naming schools began around then, too. The political situation that resulted in the Boxer Rebellion led to the nationalism that encouraged the propagation of martial arts. After that, the problem became trying to describe them. Of course, all of them needed a good history, almost invariably with a legendary founder.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby everything on Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:44 am

It's really interesting because without the label, would people be that interested in this particular art? Maybe, maybe not.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby HotSoup on Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:00 am

everything wrote:It's really interesting because without the label, would people be that interested in this particular art? Maybe, maybe not.


And furthermore, the name influenced a lot of research on the philosophical concept called "TaiJi" in attempt to find hidden gems of the art that most likely never existed. One more step, and people are adding new ideas based on the traditional philosophy to the art due to the name. Likely, it had a mixed effect, since some of the ideas could be good, but statistically not all of them.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby windwalker on Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:12 am

everything wrote:It's really interesting because without the label, would people be that interested in this particular art? Maybe, maybe not.


considering

What is now known as "t‘ai-chi ch‘üan" appears to have received this appellation from only around the mid-1800s.[14] A scholar in the Imperial Court by the name of Ong Tong He witnessed a demonstration by Yang Luchan at a time before Yang had established his reputation as a teacher.

Afterwards Ong wrote: "Hands holding Taiji shakes the whole world, a chest containing ultimate skill defeats a gathering of heroes.


The art or demo apparently exemplified some concepts outlined by the book of changes / I-ching. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching

The same could be said with the other three arts xingyi, bagua that would allow the names to stick and be used to describe what for the time
was very different in form and function.

Naming conventions are IME important in China, and chosen with many factors in mind.

for example

The Republic period was a time of extreme nationalism and few instructors wanted to claim to be teaching a foreign system, especially one the Qing royal guard had practiced. For this reason, Wong Yan-Lam's number one disciple, Wong Hon-Wing, adopted the name Hop Gar / Haap Ga (Knight Family Style) based upon his teacher's nickname and the recommendation of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

However, most of Wong Lam-Hoi's students did not accept this new name. They simply refused to give more credit to their Si-Baahk (elder uncle) than to their own teacher. In response, Nhg Siu-Chung established the White Crane style (Pak Hok Pai).


The teachers of the day, IMO were the mma guys of their day who created unique skill sets based on answers needed for the challenges of their time.
The main difference was that the style itself was thought to give one the main advantage over the practitioner him/her self. Some might view this as marketing 101 "branding" although as mentioned the Chinese take naming of something differently.

If what YLC practiced was not distinctive and very different along with effective, chances are that it would have not become as famous as it was and continues to be so although not for the same reasons. The problem IMO is that it's morphed beyond its original design intent.

The main families apparently are not concerned with modernizing their families art feeling that its historical relevance has already been established.
A departure from the historical founding of the art and its early days.

His abilities and skill of 'flexible' attack and defence enabled him to overcome the very strong impressed all at the palace. It was there that he was first referred to as "Yang the Unsurpassed" and "Yang the Invincible", while his fame spread for his boxing skills. Yet in all his bouts he harmed no one.

Master Yang could also demonstrate the advanced skill of sticking energy and could make it impossible for a bird, once caught, to leave his hand when placed on his palm.


In this day and age we are left with those claiming to teach "yangs" art able to demo the bird demo, and yet unable to put the art to use as it was once was.
I guess by now the word is out for the birds,,dont mess with people who practice taiji. ;)
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby windwalker on Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:24 am

There are many legends surrounding the creation of Northern Praying Mantis boxing. One legend attributes the creation of Mantis fist to the Song Dynasty when Abbot Fu Ju (福居), a legendary persona of the historical Abbot Fu Yu (福裕) (1203–1275), supposedly invited Wang Lang (王朗) and seventeen other masters to come and improve the martial arts of Shaolin.[5]

The Abbot recorded all of the techniques in a manual called the Mishou (祕手 – "Secret Hands") and later passed it onto the Taoist priest Shen Xiao. This manual supposedly disappeared until the Qianlong reign era when it was published under the name "Arhat exercising merit short strike illustrated manuscript" (Chinese: 罗汉行功短打; pinyin: Luóhàn Xínggōng Duǎn Dǎ).[5] Some sources place the folk manuscript's publication on the "sixteenth day of the third month of the spring of 1794".[6] The manual records Wang Lang "absorbed and equalized all previous techniques" learned from the 17 other masters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Praying_Mantis

The naming conventions within Chinese MA, are quite interesting with long histories in a period of time where the arts were tested and codified into the systems that survive in today's time. This is why linage is very important helping in insuring what one is learning has some connection with what one is actually learning. A teacher like a coach has to have the knowledge but may not be necessarily be the best exponent of the style.

I'm hoping "Marrtensfs" might add his thoughts as he is in the process of testing and building his own unique CMA style.
It might interesting to read what went into choosing the name for his art and why it was chosen over others.
https://maartensfs.wixsite.com/shanzhaiquan
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby Bao on Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:08 am

Unless one can show that the Chens created the idea of yin/yang or taichi, then it is clear that the Chens (and others) applied the taichi idea to things they were already doing. I.e., the martial art/s they were already practicing.


There are proofs that Chen Wangting read Taoist classics and studied "soft" martial arts. The Taoism and the philosophy is there already in the beginning the art of Chen Wangting. The names of sanshiqi and shisanshi though are older than Chen Wangting.
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Re: Taijiquan's name before it was even called "Taijiquan"

Postby everything on Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:59 am

ww, Bao, thanks a lot for the history. fascinating topic. I always wonder about the "taiji" vs. the "bagua" MA interpretation of these Taoist views and concepts. Especially when you try to map not only yin/yang/taiji diagram but trigrams to MA moves, techniques, feelings, "energies", etc. I like "abstract" more than most people seem to, but maybe not quite that much.
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