Heretical history of Tai Chi

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

Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Trick on Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:31 am

Probably too much to listen throug, have no time. And I’m not sure about your expertise as an historian
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:19 am

Well, that's a co-incidence! I have no time to write you long detailed replies to questions already answered in the podcasts and I doubt your ability to understand them anyway.

Have a happy fucking day! ;D
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby salcanzonieri on Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:58 pm

GrahamB

I have been looking into that even the story that Chen TJQ came from Qi JIGuang's military book isn't really true.
It seems that Tang Hao, as he always did, forced the 32 verses in Qi's book to fit his view point",
But 19 of the names he came up with were from a play about Zhang SanFeng from the early Ming era, which Tang Hao didn't want people to see, since he was bent on removing the religious and

Qi JiQuang's book has a 32 lines of verses in a poem (in the Chinese version), This poem does not specifically name 32 fighting techniques, they are embedded in the poem. Tang Hao "deciphered" the 32 lines of verse to "find" terms that were in common with Chen TJQ.

Example of some lines of the poem:

"Tie your coat and come outside
Single whip with sudden stride
Without the courage to advance
Sharp eyes fast hands will have no chance"
"Golden rooster stands on top
Present your leg then sideways chop
Rush in low then trip the bull
Then cry to heaven loud and full"

What Tango Hao didn't say was:
Qi JiGuang got the inspiration for his 32 line poem from a PLAY. A very popular commonly known play that most people in the 1500s or even earlier had seen (up until the end of the Qing Dyansty, plays were hugely popular everywhere and anywhere in all of China). The play was called "SanBao TaijiJian Xia XiYang Ji" ('Three Treasure's Journey to the West in a Boat'). The full play has 100 chapters, which around chapter 57 is a comical skit about ZHANG SANFENG, "how he beat up 24 guards in 32 Moves". This skit was taken from older plays featuring this scene.

Qi JiGuang had become a disciple of the sage Lin ZhaoEn, who claimed to be a direct student of Zhang SanFeng. Lin told Qi a story about Zhang fighting and the story was from this play. The Zhang SanFeng skit features a fight scene with 32 moves being done between Zhang and the Qing Brocade Guards (Buddhists). During the skit, one Quan (named technique) was followed by a counter Quan, which was followed by another Quan, from start to finish. Each Quan was done in pairs. Qi Jiquang's poem also connects items in pairs. 19 of the moves named in the fight scene are the same names as those used by Qi JiGuang, ha.

Before Qi died, he republished his book in 1584, but left out the 32 line martial art poem (why?)

Lin ZhaoEn was a famous healer in Fujian (where the pirates were) and in 1560 healed Qi JiGuang from a serious illness where he was about to die. They became very good friends and Qi became Lin's disciple. Lin preached the 3 Treasures, which merged Confucian studies, with Buddhist philosophy, and Daoist Golden Elixir meditation techniques. He did many magic rituals and was famous throughout the area, even the pirates brought him tributes. Lin claimed that Zhang SenFeng came to him at night to give him lessons. Lin promoted Zhang SenFeng heavily. Furthermore during that time such plays were put on by prominent men for the enjoyment of the troops and local peoples.

Scott Park Philips, who wrote 2 books about the subject, ""The connection between Lin ZhaoEn and Qi JiGuang invalidates nearly all 20th century commentators, who claim General Qi JiGuang's martial arts were devoid of theatrical and religious content."

Later, during the 1700s, the 3 in One religion was banned by the Qing Dynasty and so was the practice of the Golden Elixir,

Anyways, things are pointing to that these techniques already exist in the folk martial arts (Hong quan usually).
And that maybe the names of moves in the Chen martial art were retroactively fitted to movements in Chen martial art (which wasn't named Tai Chi Quan yet)
All the documents that can be found in Chen village never once mention that their martial art was derived or inspired by General Qi JiQuang's book.
Only Tang Hao claimed that.
But in fact most any references found in Chen documents mention Shaolin martial arts and Tong Bei Quan only.
The Shaolin system they do reference consisted of Lao Xiao Hong Quan, Da Hong Quan. Jingang Quan. 3 section Pao Chui, 6 section Rou Quan, and 2 Qigong sets and many weapons, such staff, sword, spear, da dao, and more.
Last edited by salcanzonieri on Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:31 am

My experience is that if you mention any connection between theatrical and religious content and martial arts then martial arts people (living today) get aggressively upset about it. They just don't like it. In one sense, it's irrelevant - it was so long ago that it has little bearing on today's martial arts - most Chinese martial arts have had the religious and theatrical elements stripped out now for over 100 years. But, I think it's an interesting angle and it's good to conisder the melting pot these arts came out of.

"And that maybe the names of moves in the Chen martial art were retroactively fitted to movements in Chen martial art (which wasn't named Tai Chi Quan yet)"

I think that's my guess. When the Chen family (via Chen Zhaopi) encountered the commercial Beijing martial arts scene in 1928, which had been going for 70 odd years at that point, they probably realised they'd stepped on a gold mine. I can imagine it now: 'so, all I have to do is make my martial arts look a bit like this "Tai Chi" stuff you're all doing and you'll pay me all this money to teach you forms? And I dont' have to fight any bandits???? OK....' ;D

Hong Quan gets a mention often as a possible thing Yang LuChan had learned before Beijing. You can find Yang style Tai Chi Quan postures in it for sure.

This is all speculation, of course.
Last edited by GrahamB on Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:38 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Trick on Tue Aug 18, 2020 2:51 am

GrahamB wrote:Well, that's a co-incidence! I have no time to write you long detailed replies to questions already answered in the podcasts and I doubt your ability to understand them anyway.

Have a happy fucking day! ;D

Yes, too overly intricate your writing(and history theories) ....a simple “have a happy day” will do just fine for me thank you.

Same to you!
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Trick on Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:00 am

salcanzonieri wrote:
Example of some lines of the poem:

"Tie your coat and come outside
Single whip with sudden stride
Without the courage to advance
Sharp eyes fast hands will have no chance"
"Golden rooster stands on top
Present your leg then sideways chop
Rush in low then trip the bull
Then cry to heaven loud and full"



.
does it rhyme so beautiful in Chinese too ?
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby salcanzonieri on Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:04 pm

Trick wrote:
salcanzonieri wrote:
Example of some lines of the poem:

"Tie your coat and come outside
Single whip with sudden stride
Without the courage to advance
Sharp eyes fast hands will have no chance"

"Golden rooster stands on top
Present your leg then sideways chop
Rush in low then trip the bull
Then cry to heaven loud and full"



.
does it rhyme so beautiful in Chinese too ?


Most martial poems rhyme, I know all the Shaolin ones do.
Here, you can hear that it rhymes when you read the pinyin (same lines as above):

懶扎衣出門架子變下勢霎步單鞭對敵若無膽向先空自眼明手便
Lǎn zhā yī chūmén jiàzi biàn xià shì shà bù dān biān duì dí ruò wú dǎn xiàng xiān kōngzì yǎn míng shǒu biàn

金雞獨立顛起裝腿橫拳相兼搶背臥牛雙倒遭著叫苦連天
Jīnjīdúlì diān qǐ zhuāng tuǐ héng quán xiāng jiān qiǎng bèi wòniú shuāng dào zāozhe jiàokǔliántiān
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby salcanzonieri on Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:08 pm

GrahamB wrote:My experience is that if you mention any connection between theatrical and religious content and martial arts then martial arts people (living today) get aggressively upset about it. They just don't like it. In one sense, it's irrelevant - it was so long ago that it has little bearing on today's martial arts - most Chinese martial arts have had the religious and theatrical elements stripped out now for over 100 years. But, I think it's an interesting angle and it's good to conisder the melting pot these arts came out of.

"And that maybe the names of moves in the Chen martial art were retroactively fitted to movements in Chen martial art (which wasn't named Tai Chi Quan yet)"

I think that's my guess. When the Chen family (via Chen Zhaopi) encountered the commercial Beijing martial arts scene in 1928, which had been going for 70 odd years at that point, they probably realised they'd stepped on a gold mine. I can imagine it now: 'so, all I have to do is make my martial arts look a bit like this "Tai Chi" stuff you're all doing and you'll pay me all this money to teach you forms? And I dont' have to fight any bandits???? OK....' ;D

Hong Quan gets a mention often as a possible thing Yang LuChan had learned before Beijing. You can find Yang style Tai Chi Quan postures in it for sure.

This is all speculation, of course.


One way to check things is the Taiwanese version that came from Chen Yanxi's students that went there, such as Du.
I know that in Taiwan this lineage does the forms pretty different than those of Chen Fake students. Being that the Taiwan version is an older version, since it is descended from Chen Yanxi.
The form looks even more Shaolin like then even the mainland version of Chen.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:16 am

Who knows - I think you need to be careful of a purely lineage-based view of things. I think the place and time are equally important in what they were learning and what was happening culturally and politically in China at the time.

Chen Yanxi was 81 when he died in 1929. So I'm unsure how long Du could have learned from him for. When Chen Yanxi went to Shandong as a martial arts teacher around 1900, he was teaching the entourage of General Yuan Shikai. Chen FaKe would have been about 14 at this time. The important thing is that he goes there as a "martial arts instructor" not as a "tai chi instructor". (or at least there is no evidence he went there as a tai chi instructor). I don't know how Du fits in there, or when, and where and how he learned. Was he part of the family of Yuan Shikai?

Chen Yanxi is discussed in episode 6 of our podcast:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/5 ... ernisers-v

People also list Chen Ming Biao as his teacher. I'd have to do more research to find out where he learned, and when, but it doesn't seem to be easy to find.
Last edited by GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Bao on Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:22 am

GrahamB wrote:Chen Yanxi is discussed in episode 6 of our podcast:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/5 ... ernisers-v


That link goes to part 5. Seems like no part 6 is uploaded yet.
Last edited by Bao on Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:44 am

Sorry, my bad - we're recording part 6...... tonight....!
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:48 am

Two more blog posts have been written to answer questions from listeners:

Where were the Wu Brothers really when Tai Chi was being created? (Or when did Wu Yuxiang meet Yang LuChan):
https://thetaichinotebook.com/2020/08/1 ... chi-chuan/

and

Are we denigrating Chen style?

https://thetaichinotebook.com/2020/08/1 ... hen-style/
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Bao on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:32 pm

GrahamB wrote:Are we denigrating Chen style?

https://thetaichinotebook.com/2020/08/1 ... hen-style/


You wrote:

On the second point – I agree – the Chen style moves differently, especially the silk reeling, and it that very well might be because Yang LuChan never even went to Chen village. That explains so much.


Today's "standard" in Chen style, if there is one, as well as the most common silk-reeling exercises, comes from Chen Xiaowang. The government asked him to make a standard. However, as Xiaowang had no knowledge of applications of practical use of TJQ, he studied chuai chiao and adapted all of his applications from there. Which means that his whole use of the dantian, as well as his silk-reeling, is something he adapted from Chinese wrestling. So to compare what Yang Luchan presumably could or could not have learned from Chen boxing with the modern chen tai chi standard of silk reeling (from CXW) is a bit, how to say... cant find the right word... , but kind of like trying to hit a goose flying in the sky by shooting its reflection in the water. :P

(Yes, I know that there are other standards today: Feng Zhiqiang, Beijing Chen, Small Frame etc. I am pointing out CXW as Mike wrote the comment and he tends to refer to him as THE standard.)
Last edited by Bao on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:43 pm

I have no idea what Chen Xiaowang did or didn't know - he was initially taught by Chen Zhaopi (the last member of the Chen family clan to actually fight bandits) and I presume he was taught applications, push hands etc. I've no idea why he wouldn't have been.... Zhaopi made it his mission to pass TJQ on in the village.
Last edited by GrahamB on Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Heretical history of Tai Chi

Postby Bao on Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:04 pm

GrahamB wrote:I have no idea what Chen Xiaowang did or didn't know - he was initially taught by Chen Zhaopi (the last member of the Chen family clan to actually fight bandits) and I presume he was taught applications, push hands etc. I've no idea why he wouldn't have been.... Zhaopi made it his mission to pass TJQ on in the village.


The odd thing is that I can't even find CXW in any of the lists of CZP's most important students. Looking at the birth of CXW and death of CZP, as well as CXW's overall history, he could not have studied exceptionally many years with CZP. CXW studied with his father, between seven and thirteen before his father died. That's not many years. Traditionally kids learn mostly Jibengong the first years of studying. Later he focused on tournaments where he won three gold medals in the early eighties. It was not until this period he was asked to standardise Chen Tai Chi. It is said that he started to study quite late with Chen Zhaokui and CZP. CZP died 1975. He might spent more time with Chen Zhaokui (he died 1981). But still, for how many years and was his focus the traditional style or for modern competition?
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