For sake of simplicity, practitioners of Taijiquan access this method through a teacher who specialises in a particular ‘Form’ or ‘Type’ of Taijiquan – often inclusive of its own historical and ideological baggage – and which is wedded to a specific ‘Frame’ of reference, in this instance, quite literally! I was taught both the ‘Old’ Long Yang and the ultra-modern Yang 24 Step ‘Beijing’ Short-Form. To the mind of my teacher – Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - this combination represented the best philosophy from both ‘Old’ and ‘New’ China and re-emphasised the ‘flexibility’ of approach with the Yang Family conceived of and practiced Taijiquan (which built upon the ‘Chen’ Form Foundation and in many ways ‘Improved’ upon it – and I say this as a ‘Chan’)! Master Chan Tin Sang trained in Hong Kong with a visiting Yang Family member when young (prior to WWII) and I have inherited a ‘signed’ Taijiquan book given to our ‘Chan’ Family from the Yang Family.
Old ‘Long’ Yang Taijiquan is a truly magnificent Form that was developed in a feudal cultural milieu that was certainly very ‘martial’ in its manifestation and long-term logic. Training was related to Clan-Name and Clan-Association. within this, there was a bewildering system of layers of access all designed to ‘keep people out’ of the inner core of the organisation. What is often either ‘forgotten’ or ‘not known’ is that a number of versions of the style would be taught be different branches of the family, with junior males teaching a watered-down or incomplete version, and senior members teaching full the genuine method. As each version was treated as ‘genuine’ and of the ‘utmost value’ - the junior teachers valued their incomplete version often NOT knowing where they fitted-in in the over-all scheme of things in the Clan Association structure, as everything was designed to ‘protect’ the Clan and everyone in it. Some of these teachers of incomplete styles still managed to find fame and fortune because they naturally developed those parts of technical skill which were missing. Quite often, I am told, after a lifetime spent engaging in and winning numerous ‘honour fights’. It seems that psychological and physical evolution tends to ‘fill-in’ any missing gaps in a style – often generating ‘new’ styles!
All the ‘Snake Creeps Down’ within the Old Yang Long ‘Form’ is bias toward bending the right knee and straightening the left-leg! It was assumed (in the 19th century) that the only way for an Old Yang Taijiquan ‘Form’ practitioner to learn ‘Snake Creeps Down’ with a bent left-knee and a straight right-leg forward – is to also learn and master the single and double-straight sword (Jian) ‘Forms’ - within which all ‘Sneek Creeps Down’ stances are bias toward the right-leg being straight! This study is assumed to take at least 20-years alongside the Old Yang Taijiquan ‘Form’. Although we respect tis tradition – the Yang 24 Step ‘Beijing’ Short-Form contains (in its 24 postures) Snake Creeps Down left and right – speeds-up this learning process immeasurably! We must not fight progress – but find our place within it. What is important – and a lesson acquired from the Yang Family – is that a practitioner of Taijiquan should alter and adjust their practice by exploring different ‘Frames’ - which are ‘high’, ‘middle’ and ‘low’. A Taijiquan ‘Frame’ is measured by how far the elbows and knees are ‘deployed’ away from the torso.
With a ‘high’ Frame the elbows and knees are ‘close’ (but not too close) with the stance being ‘high’ (with the feet being perhaps three-foot apart). For a ‘middling’ Frame the elbows and knees are a little further away from the torso (with the feet being perhaps four-foot apart), whereas for the ‘Long’ Frame the elbows and knees are the furthest apart from the torso (with the feet being perhaps five-foot apart). Advanced Taijiquan practitioners often vary the ‘Frame’ they are using as they move through a single repetition of a Taijiqian ‘Form’ and experiencing no difficulty or contradiction. The ‘intention’ in the mind regulates the flow of Jing, qi and Shen as and when the situation requires – which requires the distance between the bones to be increased or decreased, etc. Of course, all this is approximate and a true measure of a ‘Frame’ is dependent upon a) the size of the body in question, and b) the development of inner and outer ‘awareness’ possessed by the practitioner. All types of Frame should be explored and eventually ‘mastered’!
Everything that needs to be said can be seen in this photograph. Those who are suitably 'aware' and who have developed genuine self-respect - will treat others with respect and understand the true 'essence' of Hakka Gongfu! We train in old warring arts that would not work on the modern battlefield simply because they are out of date. Great martial skill could be wiped-out in a second even by a stray bullet! We train to uproot greed, hatred and delusion, so that warfare does not arise a) in the mind, and b) in the environment. This means we train to create, establish and maintain genuine peace in the world! Chinese culture evolved out of the requirement to 'fight' on the one hand (in 'self-defence') and develop the personality to the highest psychological, emotional and spiritual level possible. This is why Confucianism and Daoism include warriorhood within spirituality. Technically speaking, Buddha advises that ALL violence be given-up but the reality of the matter is that if certain groups of Buddhist monks and nuns had not 'defended' their temples from external attack - their temples (and very probably 'Buddhism' as a whole) would have been wiped-out in China! This is not to say that violence is 'right' or 'preferred' - but rather an acknowledge that Chinese society (and most societies in the world) need to evolve to a higher level of reality so that violence can nolonger exist or flourish!
ORIGINAL CHINESE LANGUAGE ARTICLE BY: QIANFENG DAOIST MASTER ZHAO MING WANG (赵明旺)
(TRANSLATED BY ADRIAN CHAN-WYLES PHD)
A few days ago, a venerable 70-year old man came to visit me in Beijing (at the Qianfeng Hermitage) from his hometown of Weihai in Shandong province! His name is ‘Jiang Daochang’ (姜道长) and he is a Disciple in the ‘Wudang’ (武当), ‘Sanfeng’ (三丰) School of internal martial arts practice and mastery! Indeed, Jiang Daochang has dedicated his life to the pursuance of Daoist gongfu (功夫)!
In his search for genuine Daoist self-cultivation knowledge and technique, he has travelled far and wide over many mountains and across numerous rivers! He is a Master of the ‘Taiji’ (太极) ‘Long-Sword’ (剑 - Jian) ‘Law’ (法 - Fa)! Eventually, he has settled in the ‘Wudang Sanfeng School’. However, he has also been aware of the Qianfeng Pre-Natal School and has attended a local study group for many years. It has been his positive experience with this group that led to him taking the decision to travel to Beijing and visit the Headquarters of the Qianfeng School.
He is a straightforward person who understands that usually a student must study with a Master for at least three-years (usually after three years of visiting other Masters) before being accepted as a ‘Disciple’ - but this situation is a little different due to Jiang Daochang already training in the Qianfeng School and the fact he is a Taiji Sword Master of many years standing! As is his right as an enquiring student – he requested that I ‘prove’ the efficacy of our School.
I first explained the ‘Essential Life Mind-Body' (性命双修 - Xing Ming Shuang Xiu) self-cultivation method as preserved within the Qianfeng School. I then assessed the health of his mind and body – and immediately ‘opened’ ALL of his energy channels throughout his body. As the transformation was ‘immediate’ - Jiang Daochang stated ‘This is the genuine Daoist self-cultivation! Without this method, the essential nature (精 - Jing) cannot transform vital force (炁 - Qi) in the mind and body!’ After experiencing this – Jiang Daochang immediately requested ‘Discipleship’ and he was formally accepted into the Qianfeng School!
Jiang Daochang is very concerned for the health of those who have practiced Taiji martial arts all their lives but who have also reached middle-age. When this stage of life is reached, it is important to replenish the ‘jing’ and ‘qi’ (精炁) so as to nourish the bones and inner organs. This is the same advice for ‘internal’ or ‘external’ martial arts practice! These activities consume a lot of ‘Jing’ (精 ) and ‘qi’ (气) - and this foundational store of energy needs to be replaced. This is a primary issue for athletes and people who like to keep-fit. Of course, this is also the same issue for everybody else – but at varying levels of use and replenishment. Many just burn themselves-out wasting their internal energy on frivolous pursuits! It is the ‘Essential Life Mind-Body' self-cultivation technique that can easily remedy this situation!
Qianfeng Pre-Natal School
Qianfeng Hermitage: Zhao Ming Wang
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2021.
Original Chinese Language Source Article: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_64e533c90102yssx.html
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.