Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Bao on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:06 am

C.J.W. wrote: As for CMC's relationship with Yang Chengfu, I was told that when YCF's son Yang Shouzhong was asked about CMC, he replied, "Oh yeah, I remember him. He was a decent painter and doctor who cured my mom's illness and trained with my dad for a few months back in the days."
"Really? But why did your father let him write his book on Taiji? Doesn't that make him his top disciple?"
"No, not really. My dad just thought he was an artist and a scholar -- someone who would be good at writing books."

(It's also worth noting that Yang Shouzhong detested CMC's 37-posture Taiji, and refused to acknowledge it as an offshoot of the Yang style that CMC supposedly got from his father.)

---

The real reason that CMC came up with his own 37-posture Taiji was because that he only spent a short period of time with YCF, and didn't know his style well enough to teach it. CMC got most of his Taiji skills from Ye Daimi 葉大密, a high-level IMA teacher who opened a school in Shanghai where CMC went and trained for about 4 years.

windwalker wrote: accords with much I have read or heard about over the years. He did have other sources that I believe influenced the changes to his Taiji.


A few things... YCF was not CMC's first Tai Chi teacher. He was introduced to YCF by his teacher Liu. And he studied privately with YCF on and off for several years.

Also, other YCF students recognised CMC as a fellow student, you can just look at what they have written about CMC themselves. So there is no doubt that CMC was an official student, though he was not recognised as one his best ones. Later he studied with others, a couple of YCFs students mostly. He also lived in Da Liu's apartment for quite some time, so they probably shared knowledge. Da Liu's main teachers were Sun Lutang and Li Li Chou. Personally I believe that CMC adapted some from Da Liu. The small upright stance for instance. If you look at earlier pictures of CMC, he has a more outstretched frame. In later years, he has a much smaller, very upright frame. People believe that CMS taught Da Liu, but I believe that it was a mutual exchange and that Da Liu had much more influence on CMC than his students would acknowledge.

One of my teachers wrote on article about CMC in the middle of the 1960s for Black Belt mag after a meeting, you'll find it in the link below. He knew CMC as well as several of his students. He never spoke bad about CMC, and I think he recognised him as a skilled practitioner. But he also expressed some disappointment. He said that CMC already had a name and had built a good reputation in Taiwan, and expressed something like that could not understand why CMC constantly would seek acknowledgement and endorsement when he already had made a name for himself. He was a bit puzzled I guess...

On page 18 for those who are interested:
http://docshare02.docshare.tips/files/2 ... 036724.pdf
Last edited by Bao on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:15 am

C.J.W. wrote:Funny that CMC's name keeps popping up in this thread as an example of a "real deal" Taiji fighter.

My late maternal grandfather was a Taiji enthusiast, and learned Taiji from Gan Xiaozho 干嘯州, one of CMC's disciples, for about 10 years starting in 60s. Later on, my mother and uncle also got interested in the art, and trained under Wu Guozhong 吳國忠 -- another disciple of CMC -- at the 228 memorial park (called New Park back then) in Taipei when they were both in college in the early 70s. My mother once participated in a demo with both Wu and CMC, and actually had the opportunity to train with CMC at his home a couple of times. Furthermore, my Fujian White Crane teacher (over 100 years old now) was friends with Huang Shengshyan and also practices CMC Taiji. So needless to say, I basically grew up watching my family doing Taiji and have heard all the "inside scoop" about CMC, his Taiji -- and his private life.

The reason CMC managed to established himself as the top Taiji guy in Taiwan wasn't really due to his supposedly superb Taiji skill, but his connection to Madame Chiang. He was Madame Chiang's art teacher and, through her, became friends with Chiang Kaishek. At a time when Chiang ruled Taiwan in ways not unlike what Kim Jong-un does in North Korea today, it basically meant that CMC was untouchable, and no martial artist would dare challenge him and make him lose face.

As for CMC's relationship with Yang Chengfu, I was told that when YCF's son Yang Shouzhong was asked about CMC, he replied, "Oh yeah, I remember him. He was a decent painter and doctor who cured my mom's illness and trained with my dad for a few months back in the days."
"Really? But why did your father let him write his book on Taiji? Doesn't that make him his top disciple?"
"No, not really. My dad just thought he was an artist and a scholar -- someone who would be good at writing books."

(It's also worth noting that Yang Shouzhong detested CMC's 37-posture Taiji, and refused to acknowledge it as an offshoot of the Yang style that CMC supposedly got from his father.)

The real reason that CMC came up with his own 37-posture Taiji was because that he only spent a short period of time with YCF, and didn't know his style well enough to teach it. CMC got most of his Taiji skills from Ye Daimi 葉大密, a high-level IMA teacher who opened a school in Shanghai where CMC went and trained for about 4 years.

Lastly, I'd like to say that I really have no reason to bad-mouth CMC, especially considering my family's connection to him. I'm just telling the facts as I've been told by those who were close to CMC and knew him personally because I feel that the Taiji community deserves to know the truth.


Thank you for the account.

I didn't think much of Cheng Man Ching, his form, or his fighting skills until I started to learn more about him due to the ubiquitousness of his fingerprints all over the lineages I've studied.

So it is entirely possible that all of the people that have written about seeing him fight were mistaken. It's entirely possible that because he was untouchable politically that people would challenge him and then just let him win to keep him from losing face. It's entirely possible that the students and grandstudents he produced actually gained their skills somewhere else and just credited him as their teacher because he was well known. All entirely possible.

I don't doubt at all that he spent some time learning from Ye Daimi, he was in poor health in Shanghai long before he met Yang Cheng Fu.

I will say that one thing that reading his writing suggests is that he was extremely arrogant and proud. In some places I swear his hubris radiates from the page as strongly as Allistair Crowley's.

What T.T. Liang (who studied with him in Taiwan, translated his first book into English for him, posed for photos of partner work used in that book and others, emigrated to the USA with and co-presented Tai Chi Chuan to the UN with, but did NOT practice the short form) said was that he was the greatest of the 15 teachers he was lucky enough to study with. This was after Cheng had essentially disowned him for reasons I'm not privy to, even refusing to look at him when he happened to run into him on a subway train in new york and kow towed, begging forgiveness.

He said that he was an accomplished fighter, "When Cheng would fight with someone who threw a lot of punches he would remain calm and wait for the real one, then neutralize and counter. Cheng would stand in Retreat to Ride Tiger and wait and tempt the opponent to kick, then he would catch their kick and push. He protected his groin by turning in the toes of his front foot." and "Cheng Man-ch'ing had a match with a Pa-Kua master named Liu. Cheng stood in the middle and followed him around, always on guard. As soon as Liu closed in to attack, Cheng found a defect and knocked him down." Lessons With Master Liang: T'ai-Chi, Philosophy, and Life

He also recounts how the director of the Huang-P'u Military Academy tested Cheng in private and after half an hour of him being unable to lay a hand on Cheng and Cheng didn't even try to counterattack, among other encounters and thereafter proclaimed his skill was genuine and didn't oppose his continued teaching of the Captains.

Regarding his learning, via Chen Wei Ming the claim is that he met Yang Cheng Fu in 1930 and studied with him until his death in 1936. He ghost wrote "Application Methods of Taijiquan" (1931) and "The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan" (1934) during this time. According to Patrick Kelley, Cheng Fu moved to Shanghai in 1928, which is where he would have met CMC, while Shouzhong was left behind in Canton to teach for him. Reportedly during this time in Shanghai, Cheng would answer challenges on behalf of Yang.

Sometime around during WWII (@1939?), Cheng fled to Chun King, where he met and studied with Chang Ch'ing-Ling, who learned from Chien Hou but was Cheng Fu's disciple on paper. He studied primarily pushing hands with Chang, and this is where he made the change from the vertical to the horizontal circle in the four corners pattern.

THEN in 1949 he moved to Taiwan, published his first book, and started teaching the 37 posture form. His standing with Madame Chiang may have shielded him from some challenges, but he had at least twenty years of getting beat, then beating others, under his 47 year old belt by then. I believe this was also when he started associating with Liang, a high-ranking customs official, so the encounters Liang claims to have witnessed would have happened after this time.

It's entirely possible that these people are lying or mistaken. I'm at a disadvantage, all I have to go by are known dates and facts and the written words of himself and those that knew him directly, not the supper-table talk of neighboring families who knew a friend of a friend who knew him in his later life. It wouldn't surprise me that Yang Shouzhong detested the short form, it essentially cuts the learning and practice time ostensibly in half and it's "not what my father taught". It's also worth noting that today the Yang family association teaches several different shortened forms that don't appear to follow the same internal logic or flow as the CMC 37 (which beautifully tracks the long form), for whatever that's worth.

But beyond all of this, the reason CMC keeps coming up is because I keep bringing him up, because there have been many different accounts of his skill at fighting and the fact that he only ever learned Taijiquan as a fighting art.

Was he an "real deal" fighter? I don't know what that word really means in this context. All evidence I have seen suggests he merely accepted and issued private, friendly challenges. He got beat regularly until he didn't. So I would simply call him a skilled fighter. He was an accomplished teacher (and innovator) of Taijiquan, doctor, painter, calligrapher, and poet.
Last edited by oragami_itto on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Steve James on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:21 am

Well, I doubt there were any weight categories or limits. One reason the 1928-style competitions were stopped is because people got hurt. That was counter-productive to the whole point of promoting and spreading martial arts. People weren't training for empty-hand combat then. They were using martial arts for training. To really fight, they'd use weapons.

Oh, and I doubt that many modern cma practitioners will ever really use a halberd, jian, dao --or even staff-- to fight. Sure, a tcc guy might get attacked and find a stick at hand, but that's true for anyone. There are many benefits to doing weapons forms, but fighting ability with them is only incidental and unlikely to be needed. I.e., the object is improving health. Fighting inevitably breaks things and is not "good for health."
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby windwalker on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:26 am

echos what some mentioned about connections.
also shows that he may have changed how he practiced when
confronted with a master level teacher in training.

Because Zheng Manqing had a lot of connections he was able to use a military plane to fly Zhang Qinlin from Shanxi to Shanghai.

In those days, the people used those round coins on strings, and the plane trip cost one string (about $100) and another string (or two) was given as a gift to Mrs. Zhang for her use while Zhang Laoshi was away.

A string of money in those days could buy quite a lot. After Zhang Qinlin arrived in Shanghai he said to Zheng, "You already know taijiquan, so we are not going to work on that. Because you are so interested in push hands, we will concentrate on that."

For about three months, Zhang Laoshi lived and worked with Zheng Manqing. Some people say that Zhang Laoshi stayed with Zheng Manqing for three years, but it is not true - it was about three months. So, of course, Zheng Manqing did not learn Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan.</p>
https://www.facebook.com/notes/david-le ... 084882079/

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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby everything on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:29 am

These are very good stories I don't recall reading before. If we're supposed to conclude that maybe a famous taijiquan guy who supposedly learned from a more famous taijiquan guy isn't just about some push hands, that would be something good. I guess I'd feel happier about it because there are really 4 underlying ideas and experiences we can collectively get from all of this, I think:

- push hands context: totally unbelievable results. you can't push me so why talk fighting. yeah, I get this one 100%. but it still leaves you wondering about the other stories.
- fights: lots of people from a lot of backgrounds and arts have won a lot of fights. some of them are for some reason more interesting than others.
- put the two together: is there something really, really interesting. one hopes so.
- what the hell happened since then? (we cover this one all the time)
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby windwalker on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:44 am

everything wrote:- put the two together: is there something really, really interesting. one hopes so.
- what the hell happened since then? (we cover this one all the time)


Of those I've met and know its not possible to "push" with them as often shown on
the clips. At first touch its over depending on what level and the intent of the encounter is.
With a very small movement one can be tossed quite far....getting tossed is being kind,,,normally it would be meeting
the ground with no chance of recovering on the way down.

Not a fan of push hands, but have worked with those who teach taiji in helping them address
problems with what they feel push hands is.....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkBYkBhM-QQ
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby robert on Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:30 am

oragami_itto wrote:Regarding his learning, via Chen Wei Ming the claim is that he met Yang Cheng Fu in 1930 and studied with him until his death in 1936. He ghost wrote "Application Methods of Taijiquan" (1931)

This manual is available on Brennan Translation and has Dong Yingjie listed as a co-author. I don't see CMC even listed as a student. Is there evidence CMC ghost wrote it? If CMC wrote it why give credit to Dong?

https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... hiyong-fa/
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:35 am

robert wrote:
oragami_itto wrote:Regarding his learning, via Chen Wei Ming the claim is that he met Yang Cheng Fu in 1930 and studied with him until his death in 1936. He ghost wrote "Application Methods of Taijiquan" (1931)

This manual is available on Brennan Translation and has Dong Yingjie listed as a co-author. I don't see CMC even listed as a student. Is there evidence CMC ghost wrote it? If CMC wrote it why give credit to Dong?

https://brennantranslation.wordpress.co ... hiyong-fa/


Ghost wrote might be a strong word for that one, I was speaking collectively of them both. Patrick Kelley says he "helped write" both books. The second was written specifically because of how bad the first one was written as far as I know, and that one he definitely did the heavy lifting on. This Brennan link is the first time I've actually laid eyes on that one.

So after looking at it, I guess the most generous way to see it is that at the time he may have known him but not been a student of any note, and may have given literary advice but no significant contribution.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby oragami_itto on Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:26 am

windwalker wrote:
everything wrote:- put the two together: is there something really, really interesting. one hopes so.
- what the hell happened since then? (we cover this one all the time)


Of those I've met and know its not possible to "push" with them as often shown on
the clips. At first touch its over depending on what level and the intent of the encounter is.

I agree 100%. It's all about level differential. That's why generally between high level and low level the most productive practice is within the specific patterns, in my opinion. You can specifically calibrate the force the junior has to deal with to help keep them on the edge of their comfort zone, which is also rewarding for the senior.
With everybody else in the middle it sort of gets more into who can trick the other one into error, or simply brute forcing past.
With a very small movement one can be tossed quite far....getting tossed is being kind,,,normally it would be meeting
the ground with no chance of recovering on the way down.

Well, you can be gently lead to the ground, that can be kinda nice. :D
Not a fan of push hands, but have worked with those who teach taiji in helping them address
problems with what they feel push hands is.....

I definitely have some thoughts on what I try to practice versus what I wind up working with, and the differences and similarities between that and what I see in video clips of various sorts. And then there's what I believe ideal training would be within that context. In short I think that "Push hands" is essentially now almost as general a term as "Tai Chi". There's a lot of ground covered under that one umbrella.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby DiaitaDoc on Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:57 pm

Just curious - where does Wudang Taijiquan fit into all this?
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Trick on Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:29 pm

DiaitaDoc wrote:Just curious - where does Wudang Taijiquan fit into all this?

Ye Dami was mentioned previously as teacher of ZMQ, he had learned the wudang sword and was close friend with SLT and son who also learned the wudang sword. Da Liu also mentioned previously as friend(teacher?) of ZMQ and as student of SLT but also learned from an Daoist immortal!!??in Sichuan province......So Wudang taijiQUAN is probably a fairly new invention
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Bao on Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:44 am

"where does Wudang Taijiquan fit into all this?"

It doesn't.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Bao on Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:59 am

Trick wrote: Da Liu also mentioned previously as friend(teacher?) of ZMQ and as student of SLT but also learned from an Daoist immortal!!??


Liu Da is listed as a student of CMC in a 1964 publication of the T'ai Chi Ch'uan Academic Research Committee, Taipei. But at this time of the publication in 1964, CMC lived in NY renting a room from Liu Da. CMC taught Liu Da his form as well as other things as a friendly gift as he was aloud to live there. Liu Da was never one of CMC's formal students, and as I have understood, they were friends that had a mutual exchange of knowledge. Liu Da learned things like CMCs short version and added that to his repertoire.
Last edited by Bao on Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Trick on Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:53 am

Bao wrote:
Trick wrote: Da Liu also mentioned previously as friend(teacher?) of ZMQ and as student of SLT but also learned from an Daoist immortal!!??


Liu Da is listed as a student of CMC in a 1964 publication of the T'ai Chi Ch'uan Academic Research Committee, Taipei. But at this time of the publication in 1964, CMC lived in NY renting a room from Liu Da. CMC taught Liu Da his form as well as other things as a friendly gift as he was aloud to live there. Liu Da was never one of CMC's formal students, and as I have understood, they were friends that had a mutual exchange of knowledge. Liu Da learned things like CMCs short version and added that to his repertoire.

i find it interesting how ZMQ, Da liu and their seniors Li Yaxuan and possible Zhang Qinlin all seem to have resided to a lesser or extended period of time in Sichuan province and possible around same location
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Re: Thoughts about Chen - Yang TJQ and so on

Postby Bao on Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:03 am

Trick wrote:i find it interesting how ZMQ, Da liu and their seniors Li Yaxuan and possible Zhang Qinlin all seem to have resided to a lesser or extended period of time in Sichuan province and possible around same location


They and many others moved south to Siquan and further down to Yunnan in 1937 after the Japanese invasion and Nanjing. As it was more likely that the Japanese would go north and for Beijing, moving down to the south was the logical choice. Many stayed in Chengdu as it was a highly populated city with possibilities for finding jobs.
Last edited by Bao on Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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