Sign in to follow this  
CloudHands

Fu Zhongwen interview

Recommended Posts

I found this document interesting, I thought it could be helpfull. This man has been one of the few disciples of Yang Chengfu. He talks about the best way to do the form, jing, and plenty of anecdotes about its master.

Edited by Guest
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. The daily six to ten sets in a row at about twenty minutes a set is at least doable. ;) The daily minimum of six sets in a row at twenty minutes for each set would be 2 hours, which could be done, but would require some real dedication. Still not so very easy when you are working full time and have all sorts of other responsibilites and committments, as many people do have. His comment that a couple of sets a day is fine for health purposes, is more suitable for most people. Many people practice tai chi chuan mainly for health these days anyway, although not sure how many people who do tai chi for health would regularly even do two sets a day. :)

 

Fu's comments that the Yang Chen Fu form is pretty much the original form which Yang Luchan learned from Chen Changxing is interesting. I have seen an apparently rare daoist form of tai chi which was referred to as the dragon style of tai chi, which has many movements which look quite similar to the Yang Chenfu form. This dragon style is supposed to have daoist roots however, and is not supposed to be based on the Yang style tai chi. There are some interesting implications there, but none of the actual origins can likely be proven to any degree of course. However, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Chen family originally developed their tai chi style based on some taoist forms or practices and merged those principles in with their own family martial arts to form the Chen style tai chi forms. It's anyone's guess however as little seems to have been documented way back in those times. ;) The fact that Fu Zhongwen insisted that the Yang Chenfu form is still pretty much the original form that was originally learned from Chen Changxing does raise the question of why the Yang form differs in many ways from the various Chen forms we see these days. This apparent puzzle is also mentioned in some info on Chen Changxing in wikipedia:

 

From wikipedia:

"Chen Changxing or Ch'en Chang-hsing (1771–1853) was a 14th generation descendant and 6th generation master of the Chen Family and was an influential martial artist and teacher of taijiquan (t'ai chi ch'uan).

Chen Changxing is a slightly mysterious character and much controversy surrounds him. He is most known as the teacher of the great taijiquan master Yang Luchan, but there is much disagreement over which style of martial art Chen Changxing actually taught to the family outsider.

Some schools of thought suggest that Chen Changxing was a maverick who practiced and taught a style of martial art that was not part of the Chen Family martial arts tradition, and that was passed to him either directly or indirectly from a taijiquan master known as Jiang Fa. Other schools of thought suggest that Chen Changxing re-worked two or more of the traditional Chen Family routines into his own style and then taught it to Yang Luchan and others. Both schools successfully explain why the taijiquan that Yang Luchan's descendants now practice is substantially different from the modern Chen routines, but neither theory can be completely substantiated and thus much controversy remains.

Chen Changxing is said to have been of an irreverent character and was given the nickname "Mr Ancestral Tablet" due to the directness of his posture. In the "The Genealogy of the Chen Family" he is noted as a martial arts instructor, but the detail of the style he taught is not present."

Edited by NotVoid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NotVoid you may want to read Sal Canzonieri's works on taijiquan research. He makes a convincing case that the majority of Chen family arts originated from Shaolin. More advanced sets which came about through Daoist knowledge exchanges at Shaolin most likely made up the "Daoist" origin of taijiquan. There are various sets from Shaolin that pretty much contain taijiquan. The 18 Arhat Hands, Taizu Chang Quan, the Soft (Rou) Boxing, and Mixed Circle (Chan Yuan) Boxing all allude to what could be integrated into the art we now call taijiquan.

 

 

 

 

 

Much of the "internals" come from more advanced lineages that Qi Ji Guang recommended in the 1500s. There is usually very little mysticism in some of the older arts such as Dai Family Xinyi. I see much "taijiquan" in the basics of Dai xinyi.

 

 

Also if you look at one of the "lost" sets from the Chen family you can see a greater Shaolin influence.

 

 

I would recommend to anyone wishing to truly study these arts to not to place too much faith into the stories of origin for many arts. Chinese culture is quite different from Western thought and much of the actual lineages are obscured by stories of heroes and families wishing to cement a future for their art.

 

EDIT: Edited for proper formatting and spoilers for videos.

Edited by MithShrike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi MithShrike. I have read various accounts by people attempting to explain the origin of tai chi chuan, and in my view much of it contains a fair bit of speculation and leaps of faith. Anyway, whether the Chen family's martial arts originated from older Shaolin forms or not, it still wouldn't negate the possibility of whether there was some influence from taoist practices in the formulation of Chen style tai chi chuan forms or not, or in the origin of a particular form. I only commented about the original Yang style form since Fu Zhongwen mentioned it in the interview. Fu Zhongwen was no doubt influenced by the Yang family point of view passed on to him, just as various Chen family practitioners might be influenced by the prevailing point of view of their teachers. The exact origins of tai chi do not matter too much to me. What's important to me is whether it is beneficial or not, and I find that it is quite beneficial. ;) I am aware that there is little to no actual reliable documentation about the origins of tai chi, and that many stories in general about the origins of tai chi are not verifiable, and that is why I don't take the various 'research' into the origins of tai chi too seriously.

Edited by NotVoid
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aye, regardless of lineage if you learn from a skilled person you will be gaining knowledge. It cracks me up how much "medicine" is in the Chen lineages whilst almost every other lineage seems to emphasize that aspect. After my teacher started learning the martial side at an indoor level from Chen Xiaowang's group he started inquiring about the healing side of the art. He was told rather emphatically that taijiquan is a martial art and that any healing benefit gained is secondary and their art never has had it integrated well. Chen Xin's efforts were amateur at best in explaining the theory of the art and the book seems to have been edited by the publisher. The Chens eventually sent my teacher elsewhere to learn the medicine but from personal experience I can say that the chansigong exercises are quite helpful in physical rehabilitation when done CORRECTLY.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting to me how much the different students of Yang Chang Fu differed on particular elements of what they had learned. Some emphasized the coordination of breath, others distanced themselves from that sort of thing.

 

In this interview with Fu Zhongwen, I was struck by the comment about not getting hung up on focusing on the dantien when other students had emphasized the importantance of doing exactly that.

Beyond the arguments amongst the Yang folk, I have met a number of Chen practioners who also disagree about how the different elements should go together. Some Chen guys are as hard as wing chun, others softer than Yang.

 

I am in no position to make any judgement about the above observations. I will just muddle along the best I can. But I have become suspicious of the idea that there is some kind of good-to-go legacy that I only need to put my trust in to make progress.

Edited by PLB
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In this interview with Fu Zhongwen, I was struck by the comment about not getting hung up on focusing on the dantien when other students had emphasized the importantance of doing exactly that.

 

Hi PLB. Which students of Yang Chengfu do you think stated that one should focus on the dantian? Fu Zhongwen's comments about not focusing on dantian and not focusing on or doing any special breathing do not seem at odds with what other students of Yang Chengfu have stated or written, from what I have personally come across anyway. Also, coordinating breathing with the movements does not require focusing on the breathing. In my own experience, coordinated breathing should occur naturally when doing the tai chi forms for anyone who has been practicing for a while.

 

The main important principles of Yang style tai chi are typically described as follows. Notice that focusing on dantian or doing special breathing are not mentioned as requirements. Also 'Sinking the chi to dantian' is supposed to occur naturally if one is adhering to the 10 essential principles. This should not require any special focus. Styles other than Yang family style tai chi may possibly have some variation in views, but the essential principles for all styles of tai chi should be pretty close to what is listed below I think, otherwise it wouldn't be tai chi. :)

 

This excerpt is taken from:

http://yangfamilytaichi.com/about/study/#theory

 

Theory 1. What is the 10 essential of tai chi chuan ?

Following are the Ten Essentials of Tai Chi Chuan Orally transmitted by Yang Chengfu Recorded by Chen Weiming Translated by Jerry Karin:

  1. Empty, lively, pushing up and energetic

    'Pushing up and energetic' means the posture of the head is upright and straight and the spirit is infused into its apex. You may not use strength. To do so makes the back of the neck stiff, whereupon the chi and blood cannot circulate freely. You must have an intention which is empty, lively (or free) and natural. Without an intention which is empty, lively, pushing up and energetic, you won't be able to raise your spirit.

  2. Hold in the chest and pull up the back

    The phrase 'hold in the chest' means the chest is slightly reserved inward, which causes the chi to sink to the cinnabar field (dan1 tian2). The chest must not be puffed out. If you do so then the chi is blocked in the chest region, the upper body becomes heavy and lower body light, and it will become easy for the heels to float upward. 'Pulling up the back' makes the chi stick to the back. If you are able to hold in the chest then you will naturally be able to pull up the back. If you can pull up the back, then you will be able to emit a strength from the spine which others cannot oppose.

  3. Relax the waist

    The waist is the commander of the whole body. Only after you are able to relax the waist2 will the two legs have strength and the lower body be stable. The alternation of empty and full all derive from the turning of the waist. Hence the saying: 'The wellspring of destiny lies in the tiny interstice of the waist. Whenever there is a lack of strength in your form, you must look for it in the waist and legs.

  4. Separate empty and full

    In the art of Tai Chi Chuan, separating full and empty is the number one rule. If the whole body sits on the right leg, then the right leg is deemed 'full' and the left leg 'empty'. If the whole body sits on the left leg, then the left leg is deemed 'full' and the right leg 'empty'. Only after you are able to distinguish full and empty will turning movements be light, nimble and almost without effort; if you can't distinguish them then your steps will be heavy and sluggish, you won't be able to stand stably, and it will be easy for an opponent to control you.

  5. Sink the shoulders and droop the elbows

    Sinking the shoulders means the shoulders relax open and hang downward. If you can't relax them downward, the shoulders pop up and then the chi follows and goes upward, causing the whole body to lack strength. Drooping the elbows means the elbows are relaxed downward. If the elbows are elevated then the shoulders are unable to sink. When you use this to push someone they won't go far. It's like the 'cut off' energy of external martial arts.

  6. Use Intent Rather than Force

    The taiji classics say, "this is completely a matter of using intent rather than force'. When you practice taijiquan, let the entire body relax and extend. Don't employ even the tiniest amount of coarse strength which would cause musculo-skeletal or circulatory blockage with the result that you restrain or inhibit yourself. Only then will you be able to lightly and nimbly change and transform, circling naturally. Some wonder: if I don't use force, how can I generate force? The net of acupuncture meridians and channels throughout the body are like the waterways on top of the earth. If the waterways are not blocked, the water circulates; if the meridians are not impeded the chi circulates. If you move the body about with stiff force, you swamp the meridians, chi and blood are impeded, movements are not nimble; all someone has to do is begin to guide you and your whole body is moved. If you use intent rather than force, wherever the intent goes, so goes the chi. In this way - because the chi and blood are flowing, circulating every day throughout the entire body, never stagnating - after a lot of practice, you will get true internal strength. That's what the taiji classics mean by "Only by being extremely soft are you able to achieve extreme hardness." Somebody who is really adept at taiji has arms which seem like silk wrapped around iron, immensely heavy. Someone who practices external martial arts, when he is using his force, seems very strong. But when not using force, he is very light and floating. By this we can see that his force is actually external, or superficial strength. The force used by external martial artists is especially easy to lead or deflect, hence it is not of much value.

  7. Synchronize Upper and Lower Body

    In the taiji classics 'Synchronize Upper and Lower Body is expressed as: "With its root in the foot, emitting from the leg, governed by the waist, manifesting in the hands and fingers - from feet to legs to waist - complete everything in one impulse." * When hands move, the waist moves and legs move, and the gaze moves along with them. Only then can we say upper and lower body are synchronized. If one part doesn't move then it is not coordinated with the rest.

  8. Match Up Inner and Outer

    What we are practicing in taiji depends on the spirit, hence the saying: "The spirit is the general, the body his troops". If you can raise your spirit, your movements will naturally be light and nimble, the form nothing more than empty and full, open and closed. When we say 'open', we don't just mean open the arms or legs; the mental intent must open along with the limbs. When we say 'close', we don't just mean close the arms or legs; the mental intent must close along with the limbs. If you can combine inner and outer into a single impulse*, then they become a seamless whole.

  9. (Practice) Continuously and Without Interruption

    Strength in external martial arts is a kind of acquired, brute force, so it has a beginning and an end, times when it continues and times when it is cut off, such that when the old force is used up and new force hasn't yet arisen, there is a moment when it is extremely easy for the person to be constrained by an opponent. In taiji, we use intent rather than force, and from beginning to end, smoothly and ceaselessly, complete a cycle and return to the beginning, circulating endlessly. That is what the taiji classics mean by "Like the Yangtze or Yellow River, endlessly flowing." And again: "Moving strength is like unreeling silk threads". These both refer to unifying into a single impulse*.

  10. Seek Quiescence within Movement

    External martial artists prize leaping and stopping as skill, and they do this till breath (chi) and strength are exhausted, so that after practicing they are all out of breath. In taiji we use quiescence to overcome movement, and even in movement, still have quiescence. So when you practice the form, the slower the better! When you do it slowly your breath becomes deep and long, the chi sinks to the cinnabar field (dan tian) and naturally there is no deleterious constriction or enlargement of the blood vessels. If the student tries carefully he may be able to comprehend the meaning behind these words.

Edited by NotVoid
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been told that way, exept on the very necessity to perform the form in 20 mn (2mn +/-) it seems a very normal duration to me but doing it slower and faster you have differents effects.

I read somewhere than Yang Chengfu has been seen performing solo form for 1 hour many times... so... :) dunno !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NotVoid,

 

I would make no argument against the importance and consistency of those ten points you cite.

 

On the breathing coordination matter, I was thinking of statements like that made by Li Yaxuan:

 

 

You concentrate your energy on an inhalaton and issue it on an exhalation. Coordinate your movements with your breath. In doing this your body must be completely relaxed, otherwise you won't be able to align your movement with your breath and then issuing energy is completely hopeless. That's why we train for relaxation first and foremost in all taijiquan postures. relaxation

 

 

I take your point that how one gets to this place is mostly taught as something that happens naturally after enough time. I have also learned from accomplished teachers who say that such a close relationship between breathing and fa jin gives an opponent too much of a read and the two energies should not be fixed together for other reasons.

 

The references to the dan tien are harder for me to dig up or link to from what I have read. I will try to come back this after some time when I have more time. Apart from what can be found in writing, I am struck by how much or little is made of the connection amongst the different teachers I have had. The 'pulsing' involved in point number 8, matching up inner and outer is taught and sought after through different steps taken by different people.

 

In the classics, the destination is well described and you are told to work hard to get to that place. The language leaves room for many sorts of maps that will have to be made on the way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been told that way, exept on the very necessity to perform the form in 20 mn (2mn +/-) it seems a very normal duration to me but doing it slower and faster you have differents effects.

I read somewhere than Yang Chengfu has been seen performing solo form for 1 hour many times... so... :) dunno !

 

My take on that comment by Fu Zhongwhen is that he wasn't saying that the form should not be done slower than a certain speed but that people doing the form should not slow it down more than they are capable of keeping a continuous thread of energy spinning while it is happening. Yang Chengfu could do it that slow because he was really good at it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi PLB. I personally don't take anything by any particular teacher as if it were written in stone, as of course much of the stuff said or written about tai chi can be a bit obscure or open to varying interpretations, and different teachers do often seem to differ somewhat in what they emphasize and in their point of view. I did see something in one of the 'songs' of tai chi about keeping awareness of dantian, but not sure off hand who that particular song of tai chi is attributed to. Anyway, Fu Zhongwen was a very notable student of Yang Chengfu and was known for his own high skills in tai chi, so his views about tai chi should probably not be taken lightly in regards to Yang ChengFu's style of tai chi anyway. Also Fu Zhongwen's style of tai chi is probably about as authentic Yang Chengfu style as you can get since Fu Zhongwen says he made no attempt to change his tai chi from the way he learned it from Yang Chengfu. Regarding the length of the tai chi set, Fu Zhongwen seems to be of the view that practicing tai chi too slow is not beneficial, but yes, maybe the higher the level you are the slower you can go without restricting or hindering your qi and blood circulation. Anyway, I think it is always interesting to hear or read comments from a master on different aspects of their art. :) If statements by different masters didn't cause at least some confusion amongst students, then it wouldn't be internal martial arts. :D

Edited by NotVoid
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found this document interesting, I thought it could be helpfull. This man has been one of the few disciples of Yang Chengfu. He talks about the best way to do the form, jing, and plenty of anecdotes about its master.

 

This document is no longer present at the original link.  What did it refer to?  Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting That the Taoist of Wudang Mountain had the emperors seal which is written on a huge stone tablet (literally written in stone) on top of a massive stone turtle protecting the Taoist from any interference like being  drafted to war and more.

 

Once the mongols took over government The Taoist lost the seal, some Taoist left the mountain. Historical records show one such Taoist arriving in Chen village.

 

If we look at Yang Chen Fu's brothers they retained more of the fighting style of their father but many could not endure the training.

 

Yang Chen fu had no interest in Tal Chi until his father passed and was taught by his uncles. His angle with the modern use of the gun for killing was to say Tai chi has much more value then just fighting skill alone. 

 

Yang Lu Chan put Tai Chi Chuan on the map before not ever taught publicly and defeated all challenges with his amazing skill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's an interview with Fu Zhongwen (in fact one of the 3 disciples of Yang Sau Cheung) and its son. I have reuploaded the file, I still had it on my HDD. Enjoy :)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this