neijia expert and esoterism

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

Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby GrahamB on Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:04 am

Bao wrote:
Steve James wrote:I think when the word "esoteric" is being used here, it applies to either the mystical, supernatural, magical or something non-physical. Sometimes, they're called the "woo woo stuff." But, that's not what the word means, and fwiw I'm pretty sure that SLT was not referring to those things when he (or someone) conceived the idea of neijia and waijia.

In fact, there has been no agreement on what "internal" meant to Chinese martial artists around the time of the Boxer Rebellion (c 1900). But, by 1915 --when Sun and others formed a martial arts society in Peking (maybe Jarek, Milo or Brian K will recall the specifics). That members of that society led directly to the creation of the Nanjing Institute in 1928.

...

Anyway, I think it'd be best to quote/cite what Sun and the other martial artists of his time meant by "internal." That doesn't mean that people today are wrong. One can choose to agree or disagree.


The best thing is to look at what is left in writing, I do agree. The problem is that people are not interested about reading and don't care about facts.

Fact: This is what Sun Lutang quotes from his teacher:

"Song [Shifting] said: “Breathing is divided into internal and external, but in boxing arts there’s no distinction between internal and external. If you are good at nurturing energy, then it’s internal. If you’re not good at nurturing energy, then it’s external. Consider the phrase [Mengzi, chapter 2a] “good at nurturing one’s noble energy”. Surely it reveals the deeper meaning of the internal school. When practicing boxing arts, seek stillness through movement. In meditation arts, seek movement through stillness. "

And:

"My teacher [Hao Weizhen] once told me: “Right from the start, this art is the same as the ‘primal gateway’ of the elixirists.” I have been studying this art for several decades, but I would not dare to say that I have a true grasp of it. However, when considering its origins, it is truly interconnected with Xingyi and Bagua in terms of theory. It is only different in its movements and the names of its postures, while as for its qualities of nurturing energy and developing spirit, there is not the slightest difference."

It's clear from what SLT writes that there was already opinions on "Internal" and what it was general meant in his time and that his teachers had learned the same things he was teaching.

The connection is the character nei from neidan and neigong, as well as Daoism and daoist practice in general.

The Biography of Wang Zhengnan from 1676 also makes a direct connection between Daoism and Neijia (well it states that Zhang Sanfeng invented it):
"Although Shaolin boxing prowess is known everywhere, it emphasizes attack, giving opponents something to take advantage of. Hence there is what is known as the internal school, which defeats movement with stillness."

We also know that Chen Wangting, from his own writings, studied Daoism and Daoist practices, so even if one would agree with the Chen family version of history, there is still a direct connection with Tai Chi and Daoist practice right from the beginning.

So if one studies what is actually there left in writing, things that anyone can read, there should be little doubt that Nei in Neijiaquan is the same as in neidan and neigong and that internal practice was meant. I.e. martial arts that focus on a kind of internal development that was originally developed in the Daoist tradition of exercises. And there should also be little doubt that the tradition of internal practice of IMA is not a merely one hundred year old tradition even though the names and packages have changed.


Sorry to use you as an example David, but I think your post is a great example of a typical Westoner's view of "internal" - you're just listing all the things written using the word "internal" and just taking them at face value without any deeper enquiry into the cultural and political movements of the times.

Luckily, Stanley Henning is here to rescue you!

"The Biography of Wang Zhengnan from 1676 also makes a direct connection between Daoism and Neijia (well it states that Zhang Sanfeng invented it):"

http://www.nardis.com/~twchan/henning.html

"We also know that Chen Wangting, from his own writings, studied Daoism and Daoist practices, so even if one would agree with the Chen family version of history, there is still a direct connection with Tai Chi and Daoist practice right from the beginning. "

I think you are talking about the recently discovered Li manuscripts. Take them with a pinch of salt. Here's Henning on the matter:

https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/ ... /download/

"The basic fallacy is that antiquity equals authenticity."

"The question of whether taijiquan is the product of Daoism creating
a martial art or a martial art absorbing Daoism is a critical issue in
Chinese martial arts historiography. If anything, Daoism is an even
more slippery term than taijiquan itself, but the issue has become highly
politicized, which is understandable in the context of Chinese history
and culture. However, for a Western scholar to stumble into this
minefield bespeaks a certain naiveté. The assertion of Daoist origins has
become associated with cultural nationalism and the search for Chinese
identity, often called ‘Chineseness’. Chinese scholars have built entire
careers out of championing either Zhang Sanfeng or Chen Wangting,
but it is very unseemly for Western scholars to insert themselves in
this politicized process of roots-seeking and competing attempts to
identify origin, creator, or birthplace as ‘transient points of stabilization’
[Laclau 2000: 53]."

And on
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Bao on Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:07 am

GrahamB wrote:Sorry to use you as an example David, but I think your post is a great example of a typical Westoner's view of "internal" - you're just listing all the things written using the word "internal" and just taking them at face value without any deeper enquiry into the cultural and political movements of the times.


Well, I didn't write an essay about Chinese culture and politics, I merely used a few sources to make a point.

The typical westerner is not interested in sources or only reads a shallow portion of what is easy to find out there. They have not read a ton of Chinese classical literature (including Chinese thought) and they don't have academic degrees in the subject, so if you want to put me in that typical westerner bunch, I can not help being slightly offended. ;)

Luckily, Stanley Henning is here to rescue you!
http://www.nardis.com/~twchan/henning.html


I don't know how he could save anyone. There are many things in his texts that could be discussed, things that are way too much simplified and things I don't agree with, for example his appreciation about the status of Buddhism in China. Buddhism and Daoism has a mutual history and has walked hand in hand probably as early as from approx the 300s. The nationalism in the 19th century that led up to the Boxer rebellion was an anti-western movement, not an anti-Buddhism movement. Also a statement as "The first openly published work associating Zhang Sanfeng with Taijiquan was Taijiquan Classics (1912), edited by Guan Baiyi. " is a bit redundant as Tai Chi Chuan /Taijiquan is a 19th century term. And Tai Chi is not a Daoist term, so how he could believe that the name "Taijiquan" should be an anti Buddhist propaganda thing I have no idea about. But nationalism was indeed very strong in the turn of that century and obviously it had a strong impact on culture in general. But I cannot see how the names "Neijiaquan"or "Taijiquan" would fit in this picture.

"We also know that Chen Wangting, from his own writings, studied Daoism and Daoist practices, so even if one would agree with the Chen family version of history, there is still a direct connection with Tai Chi and Daoist practice right from the beginning. "

I think you are talking about the recently discovered Li manuscripts. Take them with a pinch of salt. Here's Henning on the matter:

https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/ ... /download/

"The question of whether taijiquan is the product of Daoism creating
a martial art or a martial art absorbing Daoism is a critical issue in
Chinese martial arts historiography. If anything, Daoism is an even
more slippery term than taijiquan itself, but the issue has become highly
politicized, which is understandable in the context of Chinese history
and culture....


I don't know the origin of these Chen Wangting facts or the quote I gave, but I would like to find out more about the sources. I merely stated that if you look at the Chen version of history or the Zhang Sanfeng version of history, Daoism and Daoist internal practice has a connection to the origin of Tai Chi Chuan.

I don't agree that Daoism is a "slippery" term. It means different but very specific things in different contexts. People tend to mix different connotations together and confuse them, but that doesn't mean that it's slippery. How the name Taijiquan should be remotely slippery I have no clue about.

Anyway, I have never claimed that Zhang Sanfeng has invented Tai chi or even that it should be a product of Daoism. And I certainly don't believe that the Chen style that is common today or can be learned in the Chen village is the original Tai Chi Chuan. When Tai Chi Chuan started is not important. But internal practice and Chinese martial arts has a long history that certainly doesn't start as late as the end of the 19th century. And today people associate Tai Chi Chuan with internal practice or Neigong and use Chinese terms and names that have a Chinese cultural specific context. If practitioners are interested about what different terms mean in a Chinese cultural and in a historical context, I believe that they have the right to be interested and that others with a bit of insight should give honest answers to questions. Dantian for instance is a Neidan specific term and belong to the Daoist neidan tradition that has a very specific view on qi inside the body. IME, if you mean other things with the dantian you should call it by other things. If you don't believe in the Daoist connection to internal practice, why bother about this term at all? People keep saying that there is nothing called internal, and that the historical connection to Daoism is fabricated and still they continue to use Daoist terms and concepts. It's dishonest and doesn't make sense.
Last edited by Bao on Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby GrahamB on Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:56 am

"I don't know the origin of these Chen Wangting facts or the quote I gave, but "

but? After that, you don't get a "but". You're just making stuff up.

You also seem to be getting your time periods mixed up. The boxer rebellion happened over 200 years after the Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan was written attributing an internal school of boxing to Chan Sanfeng.

In fact, all your points could be answered by simply reading the Henning articles more carefully, so I see no point in adding anything.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby robert on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:03 am

Tang Hao was a martial arts historian who went to Chenjiagou to research the roots of taiji.

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

Tang Hao has been referenced by Douglas Wile and others.

He found a poem written by Chen Wangting -

Sighing for past times when I was strong and sharp,
Sweeping away dangerous obstacles without fears.
My gratitude to the emperor for his kindness,
Allowing me to live till my ripe old years.
Now I only have the Classic
of the Yellow Palace to accompany me.
In times of leisure I invest martial arts,
In times of activity I farm the fields,
And teach children and grandchildren to be strong
and healthy to meet life’s expediencies.
...


https://taijiquan.org/general/chen_wang_ting_and_chen_style_tai_chi_chuan.html

So in old age he farms, practices martial arts, and studies the Classic of the Yellow Palace - a Daoist manual of meditation and physiology. There is a reasonable and believable connection to Daoism. That doesn't mean that Chen Wangting was a Daoist, just that he was interested in physiology and/or Daoist meditation. In the Classic of the Yellow Palace, the Yellow Palace refers to the dantian.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby GrahamB on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:12 am

Thank you Robert.

Douglas Wile on Tang Ho:

"In the arena of martial arts scholarship, Tang Hao (1887-1959)
emerged as the leader of the modernizers, and his 1931 Study of Shaolin
and Wudang (Shaolin Wudang kao) sent reverberations through the
conservative martial arts world, reverberations that are still felt today.
For some, he is the founder of modern martial arts scholarship; for
others, he is the anti-Christ of traditional Chinese culture. He was
for modern martial arts scholarship what Lu Xun was for modern
Chinese literature, a left-wing intellectual who carried the May Fourth
Movement torch for reform. His attempts to apply modern research
methods to martial arts history won him admirers but also made
him a lightning rod for conservative attacks. The first generation of
martial arts literature, while patriotic in tone, indulged in what Tang
called ‘inventing mythic origins and romanticizing the biographies of
historical masters’ [Deng 1980: 69]. In 1928, Tang was arrested for
‘inciting peasant violence’ in Jiangsu, and after his release the following
year, fled to Japan, where he studied Japanese language, law, and
bayonet. It was during this time, according to conservative scholars,
that he fell under the spell of Japanese anti-Chinese propaganda and
became the archenemy of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.
Returning to China in 1930, he joined the Central Martial Arts Institute
in Nanjing, and in his capacity as head of the editorial department,
visited Chen Village in Henan, where, based on certain knowledge of
Yang Luchan’s study with Chen Changxing (1771-1853) and references
in family documents to Chen Wangting (1597-1664) as ‘creating martial
arts forms’ and ‘keeping the Yellow Court Classic by his side’, declared
Chen Wangting the creator of taijiquan. Tang presented his findings
in A Study of Shaolin and Wudang, seeking to disprove Bodhidharma
and Zhang Sanfeng’s roles in the development of Shaolin gongfu and
taijiquan: ‘Chinese martial arts were already highly developed in ancient
times, and there is no reason to fabricate myths about Bodhidharma
and Zhang Sanfeng’ [Tang 1931: 7]. Since the Central Institute’s official
classification of the martial arts into Shaolin and Wudang, pitched
battles between the two ensued, and Tang Hao’s studies managed to
anger both camps. In 1931, he resigned from the Central Institute
amidst increasing controversy, admitting, ‘I realize I may have offended
some people’ [Tang 1931: 8], and returned to Shanghai, where he
practiced law and wrote for the Guoshu tongyi yuekanshe (National
martial arts unification journal). For Tang, scientific scholarship
was a prerequisite for modernization and self-strengthening; for
conservatives, this struck at the heart of China’s cultural self
confidence, precisely as Japan was invading Manchuria. He was arrested
by the Japanese occupiers in 1941, and after his release moved to Anhui,
and then, in 1945, following Liberation, to Shanghai, where he joined
the Commission of Sports and continued his groundbreaking work in
martial arts studies until his death in 1959 [Judkins 2014].

So,Tang Ho (who had an agenda to disprove the Zansanfeng myth) was visiting the village 300-ish years after Chen Wangting was alive... and "found a poem written by him".... hmmmm.... how convenient ;D
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby GrahamB on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:13 am

This is the full article by Wile - well worth a read:

https://orca.cf.ac.uk/103201/1/729-1835-1-SM.pdf
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Bao on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:19 am

GrahamB wrote:"I don't know the origin of these Chen Wangting facts or the quote I gave, but "

but? After that, you don't get a "but". You're just making stuff up.


What did I make up?

You also seem to be getting your time periods mixed up. The boxer rebellion happened over 200 years after the Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan was written attributing an internal school of boxing to Chan Sanfeng.


Maybe I wasn't clear. Yes, of course. The Boxer rebellion was between 1899 and 1901. "The Epitath" was written in the 17th century. (https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... a-quan-fa/ ). Henning also mention Shaolin popularity and nationalism in the 19th century. I can't see how anti-buddhism fits in to the picture of anti-nationalism. He names Shaolin texts published in the beginning of the 1900s. But there are good evidence that Daoist practice was connected to Tai Chi Chuan and before these publications, so these publications is no reason to invent the San Zhangfeng connection. (For instance, Sun Lutang's martial arts group called their arts with the collective name Wudangquan already in the 1890s)
Last edited by Bao on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:23 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby robert on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:26 am

GrahamB wrote:Thank you Robert.

Douglas Wile on Tang Ho:

"In the arena of martial arts scholarship, Tang Hao (1887-1959)
emerged as the leader of the modernizers, and his 1931 Study of Shaolin
and Wudang (Shaolin Wudang kao) sent reverberations through the
conservative martial arts world, reverberations that are still felt today.
For some, he is the founder of modern martial arts scholarship; for
others, he is the anti-Christ of traditional Chinese culture. He was
for modern martial arts scholarship what Lu Xun was for modern
Chinese literature, a left-wing intellectual who carried the May Fourth
Movement torch for reform. His attempts to apply modern research
methods to martial arts history won him admirers but also made
him a lightning rod for conservative attacks. The first generation of
martial arts literature, while patriotic in tone, indulged in what Tang
called ‘inventing mythic origins and romanticizing the biographies of
historical masters’ [Deng 1980: 69]. In 1928, Tang was arrested for
‘inciting peasant violence’ in Jiangsu, and after his release the following
year, fled to Japan, where he studied Japanese language, law, and
bayonet. It was during this time, according to conservative scholars,
that he fell under the spell of Japanese anti-Chinese propaganda and
became the archenemy of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.
Returning to China in 1930, he joined the Central Martial Arts Institute
in Nanjing, and in his capacity as head of the editorial department,
visited Chen Village in Henan, where, based on certain knowledge of
Yang Luchan’s study with Chen Changxing (1771-1853) and references
in family documents to Chen Wangting (1597-1664) as ‘creating martial
arts forms’ and ‘keeping the Yellow Court Classic by his side’, declared
Chen Wangting the creator of taijiquan. Tang presented his findings
in A Study of Shaolin and Wudang, seeking to disprove Bodhidharma
and Zhang Sanfeng’s roles in the development of Shaolin gongfu and
taijiquan: ‘Chinese martial arts were already highly developed in ancient
times, and there is no reason to fabricate myths about Bodhidharma
and Zhang Sanfeng’ [Tang 1931: 7]. Since the Central Institute’s official
classification of the martial arts into Shaolin and Wudang, pitched
battles between the two ensued, and Tang Hao’s studies managed to
anger both camps. In 1931, he resigned from the Central Institute
amidst increasing controversy, admitting, ‘I realize I may have offended
some people’ [Tang 1931: 8], and returned to Shanghai, where he
practiced law and wrote for the Guoshu tongyi yuekanshe (National
martial arts unification journal). For Tang, scientific scholarship
was a prerequisite for modernization and self-strengthening; for
conservatives, this struck at the heart of China’s cultural self
confidence, precisely as Japan was invading Manchuria. He was arrested
by the Japanese occupiers in 1941, and after his release moved to Anhui,
and then, in 1945, following Liberation, to Shanghai, where he joined
the Commission of Sports and continued his groundbreaking work in
martial arts studies until his death in 1959 [Judkins 2014].

So,Tang Ho (who had an agenda to disprove the Zansanfeng myth) was visiting the village 300-ish years after Chen Wangting was alive... and "found a poem written by him".... hmmmm.... how convenient ;D


So you ignore Wile's assessment of Tang Hao, For Tang, scientific scholarship was a prerequisite for modernization and self-strengthening; , and go for a Fake News argument? :(
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Bao on Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:02 pm

There was an earlier Shaolin and Bodhidharma craze already in the last decades of the 19th century. For instance, the first time Yijinjing is ever mentioned in a publication was in 1875. And the first time Bodhidharma was mentioned together with the name Baduanjin was in 1881. Around this time people suddenly started practicing Yijinjing and the Baduanjin and it was said that Bodhidharma had invented them. So in the later half of the 19th century there was already reasons for re-inventing Zhang Sanfeng and use this figure for marketing, and not later in the beginning part of the 20th century as Henning claims.

"‘Chinese martial arts were already highly developed in ancient
times, and there is no reason to fabricate myths about Bodhidharma
and Zhang Sanfeng’"


There was Shaolin boxing in the Shaolin temple before Bodhidharma and much of what is called "IMA" today is found already in old Shaolin forms, so Tang Hao got that perfectly right.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby GrahamB on Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:09 pm

robert wrote:So you ignore Wile's assessment of Tang Hao, For Tang, scientific scholarship was a prerequisite for modernization and self-strengthening; , and go for a Fake News argument? :(


I am simply suggesting a healthy level of scepticism.

The fact is, there is simply no tradition of Taoism in the Chen village.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Trick on Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:09 pm

To much to read through in those links for now. But if I understand it right, “established western scholars on the history of TJQ” say that all that we have been told is bogus ? ……So then are these scholars offering another/their clear history lesson of TJQ’s origin ?
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Steve James on Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:45 am

I don't think Wile ever suggests a Daoist origin of tcc in Chen village. I can tell you that he is a scholar, and has no dog in the fight.

The research into the origins of tcc really took off in the 80s when Chen style was promoted by the PRC. People in the west knew about Yang-derived styles, and there were plenty of books about them. Their history and origin stories used Chang San Feng and even Lao Tse. When the Chen style was "discovered" --because it was never the major tcc style in China-- with its counter-narrative, research began to discover the real story. That's when the earlier research by scholars that contradicted the Yang stories was published.

One can argue the truth or falsity of the stories, the fact is that they supported the Chen claims of origin. But, then people like Wile published texts (such as General Qi's manual) that showed movements looking a lot like tcc, and with no connection to Chen village or to Daoism.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby robert on Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:58 am

In Tai-Chi Touchstones Wile presents two types of theories regarding the origins of taiji - the mythic and the humanistic and he cites Tang Hao as being representative of the humanistic approach. The humanistic approach being a process of cultural evolution.

... It (taijiquan) combined and developed the various boxing styes that were popular among the people and the army during the Ming and added to this the ancient tao-yin and breathing techniques, absorbing classical materialist philosophy, yin-yang theory, and medical knowledge concerning circulation of blood and qi to form a martial art, that trains both the external and internal.

Tang Hao cited in Tai-Chi Touchstones

The mythic approach presents the idea that taiji originates in Daoism, the humanistic that it is a synthesis of various cultural elements. The idea that taiji incorporates Daoist health practices certainly doesn't mean it has a Daoist origin only that there is a Daoist influence.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby Peacedog on Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:55 pm

I would add to not underestimate the Chinese reliance upon precedent when creating something new.

In my experience, most Chinese will go to some pretty extreme lengths to justify a novel decision off of something that was done in the past no matter how tenuous the link. I don't think this is a new phenomena either.

A lot of writings I've seen on marital arts and their origins always struck me as a complete fabrication in light of this tendency. The same is true of meditative technology as well.
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Re: neijia expert and esoterism

Postby wiesiek on Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:17 am

so,
today I may came up with THE news , I get it yesterday, that what I had chance to taste recently - is direct transmission of the Musaschi Miamoto techniques .
Wow,
I will keep you informed.
Trying to dig out Zen brochure about contemporary >Dharma sword< in Korea . There was exact description of re-materialization Musaschi`s double swords fencing in Korea...
Story was little too "fare out"for my taste, back there -it was more than 30 years ago,
but
now, I`m know more, became less skeptical and history is comin` to my city directly. :o
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