Origin of Taichi Explanation

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

Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby pacman161 on Sat May 23, 2020 11:56 pm

This is one of the best explanations for the origin of taichi I’ve come across imo. What do you guys think? I know this has been a topic of much debate and I would love to hear your thoughts. (gets into the discussion around the 9:45 mark)


https://youtu.be/05CQXDC1_tM

Edit: So He actually addressed this thread in a video he just released where he answered a bunch of questions. https://youtu.be/Yr_Va9_KWfw

(19:35 mark where he starts addressing this thread)
Last edited by pacman161 on Thu May 28, 2020 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby GrahamB on Sun May 24, 2020 1:27 am

Too long and slow and I've got like 12 other things to catch up with, could you do a quick summary?
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 2:03 am

He has some good knowledge indeed. The first part is very good, liked very much that he brought up Yin Yong. However, some of the concussions in the second part I don't agree with.

First, he says that there are no reliable historical records of Zhang Sanfeng, which is just not true. I am not saying that he invented Taiji, but there are imperial records that matches descriptions from other sources. So there is no doubt that there has lived a daoist with the name Zhang Sanfeng. At that time there were many people, both Daoists and Buddhists, trying to interfere with the court and promote their exercises. So there is no reason to doubt ZSF as a real historical person, though there are many myths and strange things written about him.

Second, his overall standpoint is that Chen Changxings Taiji must have look like the Chen style today, which is something no body can prove. We can come up with just as many arguments against this view as well.

Third, the Sun Lutang stuff he talks about is a bit too simplified.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby HotSoup on Sun May 24, 2020 4:03 am

Bao wrote:Second, his overall standpoint is that Chen Changxings Taiji must have look like the Chen style today, which is something no body can prove. We can come up with just as many arguments against this view as well.


That depends on what you mean by "Chen style today" of course, but here's my attempt :)

1) Let's form a sample group of several representatives of Chen style (and related fractions) today:
Chen Peishan's small frame; Chen Yu's gongfu frame; He Baoguo's He-style Zhaobao; Zhang Suisheng's Hulei frame.

2) By applying the comparative analysis (a method widely used in many branches of science today, like Paleontology where it's used for determining which features the now extinct ancestors of currently existing species had, to Linguistics for re-constructing dead languages) we can identify the common traits of these four:
- the same sequences of movements in the form, that I would like to identify as the "Jingang" type, since they all contain Jingang Daodui unlike Yang Luchan's derived group of styles.
- strong emphasis on proper shenfa, that includes full-body connection, dantien rotation, and, as result, silk reeling jin.
- opponent's balance control used for joint locking, takedowns, and some striking in the applications.

3) Based on these established common traits we can reconstruct (to an extent, of course) how Chen Changxing's (and Chen Qingping's, for that matter) TJQ looked like, relatively easily.

4) What about the fractions tracing their lineage back to Yang Luchan, i.e. "Non-jingang"? "Surprisingly", there are several of them actually sharing these traits:





@1:53min

5) When did they lose Jingang, as an example of a form modification? What's the oldest mutual link? Apparently, Yang Luchan, at whose time the modifications was most likely to occur and stay in all derivatives to this day.

6) The whole ecosystem of Wen county, with both Chenjiagou and Zhaobao villages practicing an early form of TJQ supported the "conservation" of TJQ. When you have dozens of relatives proficient in the art, it is very difficult to change much — everyone is "kind" to remind you of the right way of doing things ;) When you're alone in Beijing and no one knows how TJQ is supposed to look like, the changes are inevitable and uncontrollable. Not like those changes make the art worse, it is not the point. It's just the probability of the art conservation was way higher in Wen county in those circumstances.

Ergo, how the "Jingang" styles look is closer to their ancestors than the "Non-jingang" ones. Does it make them automatically better? No, by any mean. Some may even claim that they're more archaic and less-developed. But that would be a different analysis ;)
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 7:45 am

HotSoup wrote: What's the oldest mutual link? Apparently, Yang Luchan, at whose time the modifications was most likely to occur and stay in all derivatives to this day.


I have recently shared my view on this and won't go into this again inn detail.

Wu Yuxiang learned from both YLC and CQP. The problem here is very much something is mentioned in the second vid, namely that Wu Yuxiang never said that what he learned from CQP was different from what he learned from YLC. He said that CQP filled in the gaps for him what YLC had left out. So why are not those Shaolin similar movements that only Chen (and some Zhaobao) has something WYX learned and taught? YLC could have changed his art, but if WYX learned them, how come he took them away in the exact same manner as YLC? It doesn't make sense. Wu style would have an expression much more similar to modern Chen style if that was true.

Examining the history closer, I believe that these movements and other changes to the Taiji taught by the Chen family happened one or two generations later. I would suggest that what YLC learned and taught did not look like modern Chen style but had an expression similar to the Old Wu (WYX) style, the same as in the video you posted and other videos. If you look at older zhaobao videos you can see that they share a similar expression as well.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Trick on Sun May 24, 2020 7:51 am

HotSoup, thats a nice logic take on this
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby HotSoup on Sun May 24, 2020 8:40 am

Apply the same thinking to CCX and CQP — their legacy is way more similar than either's and YLC's. Using Occam's razor the simplest explanation is, they inherited it themselves from the earlier generations.

Given that WYX could afford to stay with CQP only for three months, he might've not even learnt any form, but asked instead to explain to him the principles in order to apply them to YLC's form. The founders of He style and Hulei spent years with CQP and their heritage carries way more weight with regards to QCP's method and form than that of WYX. Both these lines' forms retained an extreme level of similarity with Chen. How come? Again, the easiest explanation is that those elements were present from the times before. "Happened one or two generations later in Chen family" does not make any sense. Did they also go to Zhaobao two generations later and told them to change their form, too? I can only imagine what would Zhaobao guys' reply be to such an "edict" :)

As for the expression, that's another can of worms. What's more essential, the expression or the form? If expression, the expression of older Zhaobao looks very close to modern Chen Xiaojia. Does it qualify Chen Xiaojia as the most original, having both the oldest expression and the form? Then what YLC learnt is the most closely resembled by, wait, "Chen style today", exactly what Chris Wang claimed in his vid ;) Because Chen Xaojia is also "Chen style today", not only what Chen Xiaowang and Co. do (their expression is very idiosyncratic in each case, this is why I didn't even include them in the sample group above).

And finally, re "Shaolin movements" — the fairytale about Shaolin vs Wudang is as vulgar nowadays, as the relationship of Zhang Sanfeng to TJQ. Using it in a discussion is an indication of missing all the historical research (like, in "scientific research" with facts, sources, logic, and peer-reviewing. In other words, the whole scientific framework.) happened during the last couple of decades in both East and West. The days of uninformed naïveté are gone, time to raise the bar.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 9:08 am

Using Occam's razor the simplest explanation is, they inherited it themselves from the earlier generations.


I am using the simplest possible solution, Occam is my friend.

WYX didn't inherent modern Chen style's most apparent traits.

the fairytale about Shaolin vs Wudang is as vulgar nowadays


Who is talking about fairytales? Modern Chen has postures taken directly fron Song Taizu Changquan. Neither YLC or WYX have those movements. This is fact, not fiction.

That both of them chhanged their tjq exactly the same way doesn't make sense, so I can't see Occam's razor in your logic.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby HotSoup on Sun May 24, 2020 10:18 am

Bao wrote:I am using the simplest possible solution, Occam is my friend.

WYX didn't inherent modern Chen style's most apparent traits.


Among CQP's students were WYX, He Zhaoyuan (He style), and Li Jingyan (Hulei). In the lineages of the latter two, those elements were preserved, but not in WYX's. Why WYX did not learn them from CQP? Once again: lack of time; he was OK we YLC's form and wanted to focus on more important things, CQP didn't want to teach his form to the outsider, who knows? And it doesn't really matter actually, what's important is that their preservation in He style and Hulei proves their existence at the time when CQP was teaching. Their co-existence and preservation in a parallel lineage of CCX proves that those elements were there before these two teachers and they had came from a common root — the older version of Chen style.

You may want to get to know your friend Occam better ;)

Bao wrote: Who is talking about fairytales? Modern Chen has postures taken directly fron Song Taizu Changquan. Neither YLC or WYX have those movements. This is fact, not fiction.


I will tell you more. Almost all techniques of all TJQ no matter style/lineage do exists in one form or another in other northern styles. It's no secret that TJQ is rooted in older Tongbei/Changquan styles ;) A few things here:

1) What exactly then makes some of them "Shaolin" but not the others?

2) You use it as a derogatory term that is supposed to lower the credibility of Chen style to the point when it's no longer TJQ ("it has Shaolin elements => it must be Shaolin"). I heard a certain Wu Tunan authored this demagogy technique, but fortunately to no avail :) Does demagogy has a place in a serious discussion?

3) The fairytale is that Song Taizu Changquan is "Shaolin". Nothing is proven to be "Shaolin" per se. The only documented and undisputed record of MA in Shaolin describes the staff techniques. The rest is just legends, tales or, in best case, something the historians have serious reservations about. Likely, there actually was something else, a lot of styles trace their history to Shaolin. But so what? A lot of southern styles trace theirs to Southern Shaolin, which existed only in a popular novel of the time. What we know for sure is that in the whole area there was a lot of MA-related activity. The actual relations with the monastery are still a subject of a deeper research. Not this one ;)

Bao wrote:That both of them chhanged their tjq exactly the same way doesn't make sense, so I can't see Occam's razor in your logic.


They hadn't had to and they didn't. One was the teacher, the other was his student. One changed, the other learnt. If you don't see Occam's razor in this, well, I don't know..
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 11:10 am

Almost all techniques of all TJQ no matter style/lineage do exists in one form or another in other northern styles. It's no secret that TJQ is rooted in older Tongbei/Changquan styles


Yes if course. But still Chen Taiji has influences that isn't there in either Yang or Wyx.

What exactly then makes some of them "Shaolin" but not the others?


It's another influence that Y and WYX doesn't have. Period.

2) You use it as a derogatory term that is supposed to lower the credibility of Chen style to the point when it's no longer TJQ ("it has Shaolin elements => it must be Shaolin")


No, you might believe it is derogatory. I've learned a Shaolin tradition that is just as internal as, and very similar to, Taijiquan. So why would I use it deragotary? I didn't want to go into details and names.

Another influence doesn't mean Chen is worse or better. It makes it different. The taiji of ylc and wyx is stil there in Chen and it also has something else. Also, the chen village could still be the be the birth place of tjq.

The only thing I sincerely doubt is that the tjq in the time of ylc looked like modern Chen and that the body mechanics are the same as what we usually see from modern Chen.

All other tjq and many other arts have changed a lot over the generations. That Chen tjq should be the only art that didn't change is also something that doesn't make sense.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby HotSoup on Sun May 24, 2020 11:42 am

Bao wrote:It's another influence that Y and WYX doesn't have. Period.

Well, I did my best to show that it is unlikely that it was an "influence", since it's very probable that it was there before YLC and WYX. Why YLC decided not to pass it further is a different question. From his point of view not doing so might be an improvement, not a simplification, which sounds fair to me.
Bao wrote:The only thing I sincerely doubt is that the tjq in the time of ylc looked like modern Chen and that the body mechanics are the same as what we usually see from modern Chen.

All other tjq and many other arts have changed a lot over the generations. That Chen tjq should be the only art that didn't change is also something that doesn't make sense.


To be clear, I do not question this. Everything does evolve, plenty of examples of this in the nature. But like with the nature, the speed of changes is not the same. Some descendants are closer to the ancestors than the others. Spanish is closer to Latin than French. Some people may believe that French has changed and therefore evolved more. Others would see more value in the Spanish closeness to Latin. All this is very subjective. My attempt was more about showing that there are certain factors that increase probability of Chen style being closer to the common ancestor. Can't do more than that.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 12:38 pm

there are certain factors that increase probability of Chen style being closer to the common ancestor.


Those factors are what people usually bring forward. There are also certain factors that increase probability of Yang or Wu (WYX) style being closer to the common ancestor. The facts behind them are often not brought forward and mostly hidden away. IMHO, regardless what you believe in, it's better to take a sincere look at both sides. You ('general you') should never believe something just because the majority does.
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby HotSoup on Sun May 24, 2020 1:10 pm

This is why I built a whole framework for proving the postulate that I put forward ;) If anything, my postulate is not about "believing", it's about analysis of the factual information and putting forward the most probable hypothesis. It is "Zhang Sanfeng" and "Shaolin" that are about believing. Emotional responses like "it is such and such. Period." (with no intelligible argument given) are not a proof of anything, it's a belief and the callousness of mind.

Bao wrote:There are also certain factors that increase probability of Yang or Wu (WYX) style being closer to the common ancestor.

I'm yet to hear the reasoning supporting those factors. Something that can be analyzed (technical material of currently existing styles and branches, their Quanpus, documents written by 3rd parties, etc.) not just illogically believed into.

We live in a time when all sciences, even those researching liberal arts are supported by tons of logical, mathematical, and technical methods of research. Extinct dinosaurs are reconstructed by the treats of the birds and lizards. The industries are regulated based on the mathematical models factoring in conflict of interest of the involved actors. Heck, people are discovering the abandoned cities by using drone lidars (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/archaeology/lasers-lidar-driving-revolution-archaeology/). And what do we have for the historical research of the arts some of the RSF members invested their whole life into? Sluggish attempts to use as an argument the mystical beliefs created by illiterate people two centuries ago for attracting more students? Really?
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby Bao on Sun May 24, 2020 3:20 pm

I'm yet to hear the reasoning supporting those factors. Something that can be analyzed (technical material of currently existing styles and branches, their Quanpus, documents written by 3rd parties, etc.)


I believe that most of it is all open and available for anyone who wants to find it. But because people already have made up their minds, they are looking for things to prove their own point of view.

And what do we have for the historical research of the arts some of the RSF members invested their whole life into? Sluggish attempts to use as an argument the mystical beliefs created by illiterate people two centuries ago for attracting more students? Really?


Some people have done a brilliant job laying out facts and information so that they are all available for anyone interested. What kind of conclusions a reader wants to make is up to the reader.

No one needs to agree with me, I don’t care. If someone finds what I do or what I teach valuable I’ll be happy. But the probability that the writers on the Chen camp is going to be happy (that people will enjoy what they write) is in their favor, and much higher for them than for me. So if there’s someone you should be concerned about, then it’s me. ;)
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Re: Origin of Taichi Explanation

Postby GrahamB on Sun May 24, 2020 11:04 pm

I always think it's a good idea to watch this video to remind ourselves that Chen Lao Jia and Yang are fundamentally the same form:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HRaAIdkqiY

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