Daqingshan Stories (2)

by Zhu Dongsheng on 2011/10/05

One

Before talking about Master Chen Zhonghua’s Daqingshan Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method Seminars, it is necessary to discuss the historical significance of Practical Method of Grandmaster Hong Junsheng.

It’s common knowledge that Hong Junsheng was a favorite disciple of Grandmaster Chen Fake. Hong’s Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method already took shape and was approved by Chen Fake when he passed away in 1957.

From the 1980s to the 1990s when Hong passed away, it was Hong’s era as the Cultural Revolution in China martial arts were persecuted in China. Hong’s taiji was unparalelled in both theory and practice. His achievements were closely linked to his lineage, personality, knowledge and practice. According to historical accounts, Chen Fake was a martial art of high level with an honest character. He taught students patiently with demonstrations. After dozens of dilligent practice, Hong achieved high level skill in Chen Style Taijiquan.

The establishment of his Practical Method has tremendous ramifications for those in the future who wish to master the real Taiji. Why say so? We must start with the intention of his method and its characteristics. From historical record, folklore and legends we know that martial artist in the feudal society were conservative. We heard things such as “Teach the routine but not the theory”; “Teach the form but not the gong”; “Teach the form but not the steps. Those who know the steps will beat the master.” These reflect that in the past masters were heavily influenced by their education, poor social status and backward outlooks. As a result there was a separation of form, theory and practice. Many people studied for many years but did not have a graps of what taiji was. 

Because of this, Mr. Hong combined the theory and routines together for the benefit of students in the future. This way the form is exactly the same as application. Thus creating Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. In his his article “Three stories of my learning” he said, “Upon approval by my master, I put the applications he taught me into the Yilu routine.” He also made scientific explanations on the topics of silk reeling energy, center of gravity, double heavy, movement and tranquility in “Complete Works of Hong Junsheng Chen Style Taijiquan”. This book is a landmark in taiji history and has long term ramifications for future generations. This book is a furtherment to Chen Xin’s “Illustrated Book of Chen Family Taijiquan”. Chen Xin’s book is abstract without many training details. It is rather useless to beginner students. We all know that even with the master showing the student hand in hand, it is very difficult to achieve any taiji skills. Abstract writings are unapproachable for new students.

Of course late comers like me have no business commenting on the masters. In his “Critique of Chen Xin’s Illustrated Book of Chen Family Taijiquan” Grandmaster Hong Junseng gave this his full treatment. It is fair to say that no masters in the past have ever devoted their entire lives to taiji in scientific research, true to all the facts, with details and dared to publish all findings in public. His selflessness is something that deserves respect of all.

Two

Mr. Hong adopted Grandmaster Chen Fake’s teaching style:strict and detailed; precide and careful; no reservations. Those who have attended Chen Zhonghua’s lecture will remember these words: “This form is next to impossible to learn even when the teacher tries very hard. If the teacher wants to keep some secrets, the students will be misguided and the lineage will be corrupt.” These are Mr. Hong Junsheng’s words. Because Hong was like this himself, most of his students also teach truthfully. In the taiji world in China, this is regarded as a fact.

Mr. Chen Zhonghua is one of the best as the International Standard Bearer for Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. When he went to Canada in the 1980s, he became a professional educator. With his education and knowledge gained, he also accumulated a lot of teaching experience. On the one hand he inherited the teachings of Grandmaster Hong Junsheng, on the other hand, he used his own teaching experience in his promotion of the art, making it much easier for students to learn. For example, he systematically organized the teaching of Yilu. A specific example is that the first move “Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar” is separated into 7 moves. This way it becomes easier to learn and remember.

Mr. Chen repeatedly talked about the importance of know the learning stages. He said that Yilu is the learning of the choreography so one must practice dilligently and recieve as many corrections as possible. The energy alignment, direction and angles must be precise so as to be applicable later on in push hands. The next stage is push hands. Like Chinese calligraphy, Yilu is printing style (楷书),each stroke must be done correctly. Push hands is like handwriting (行书), only with solid printing foundation can one writing freely and fast without violating any rules. The third stage is Cut Hand (San Shou), and its real fighting applications. At this stage it is likened to be free cursive writing. At this point, one is totally devoted to writing contents. Writing as a tool is forgotten. This is the stage we call Bod and the Mind has become one. There is no method but nothing is outside of the fixed rules. This is “all methods are one.”

On the subject of “Gong and Fa” (Skill and method), Mr. Chen Zhonghua said, “There is a method but it is not a fixed method. There are a miriad of variations but there is a universal theory behind every move.” This theory behind everything is called “one”(all methods are the same). It is called skill only when it becomes part of you. In real fighting situations, we can interpret the relationship betwen Gong and Fa as: Gong is like a large missle, no matter what the guerrila warfare techiques in the local area, the bomb will destroy everything. Therefore we focus on the importance of Yilu.

One of the common pitfall in learning is impatience. An impatient teacher will misguide the students. An impatient student will harm his own learning. He will also develop mistrust for his teacher. Taijiquan is not a simple martial art. It is a part of the Chinese culture. It is a school of learning. Both the teachers and students must treat it as such and in a scientific manner. Especially on the part of the teacher. He must not talk about “intent and qi” lightly. He must not pretend to be mysterious. He must therefore not misguide students.

Master Chen Zhonghua always uses mechanical terms and examples in his teaching no matter it is on routine choreography or on applications. Even when sometimes he has to use concepts such as yin and yang, he would do so with concrete examples so that students can readily understand what he refers to. This is unlike most Grandmasters who fill their teachings with meridians, intent and qi. These terms entice students into believing they know something but in reality they are led into a belief system instead of a real learning situation.We have no means of ascertaining why those masters do such a thing. For example, one master in his “Detailed Explanations of Chen Style Taijiquan” almost copied “the Book of Changes” word for word into his taiji book in an attempt to explain what yin and yang are. It took the author a lot of effort and caused a lot of confusion among the students.

Master Chen Zhonghua took a brand new approach. Yin and yang theory has no significance in the pursuit of taijiquan unless we first of all “have yin and yang”. To have yin and yang, according to him, we must then look at whatever is in front of us and “split” it. Why split it? Everything in the universe has yin and yang, or is made up of yin and yang. Yin and yang have a relationship because there is a demarcation between them. Because of this demarcation, yin and yang are split and united and can change from one to another. In our physical world, this demarcation exists but is not visible to our perception. In taijiquan practice our job is to find this demarcation, fixed and use it as an axis. This will create forces in two directions, one is transmitted to the opponent through the upper body and the other to the ground through the lower body. The one that goes down is also called the source, or the root. In most cases, Dantian is the natural demarcation line. But it is not restricted to Dantian. This demarcation can be anywhere on the body. Therefore any point of the body can be the “point” and can split yin and yang. When he talked about the relationship between movement and tranquility, it was quite a feat to hear.

Let’s take a look at the formation of the yin yang picture. The yin yang picture we normally see is made up of two parts: a large circle indicating wuji, and a yin yang fish. The yin yang fish is put inside the large circle of wuji to form the standard yin yang picture. We have mentioned earlier that yin yang indicates a split of forces in taijiquan. It encompasses aspects such as movement and tranquility and empty and solid. Once force is split on the demarcation line (dot), it travels in a spiral inside the body. The relationship between force and the physical body is similar to that of the wheels of a car and transmission box. A prerequisite for producing power is that the gearbox in the transmission is fixed. In practicing taijiquan, it is the same: the inside rotates but the outside does not move. The movement inside causes the outside to travel (like a car). The movement inside the body is like the yin yang fish: moving and changing roles all the times without stopping or delay. Our outer body and the choreography of Yilu and Cannon Fist are like the wuji circle on the outside.

Many books have mentioned, “the force does not break out of the body.”; “the force does not go out of the limits,”; “no resistence, nor retreat.” Mr. Chen drew the graph while teaching us this theory. Mr. Chen’s seminars are always like that. He explains, demonstrate and then allows students to test it on him.

On the topic of fighting, we inevitably will touch upon the questions of speed. Mr. Chen’s approach totally changed my habitual logic. Mr. Chen said, “We don’t talk about speed in fighting because speed itself has no effect in fighting. What we need is acceleration. Acceleration contains the occupation of position and speed.” He demonstrated to us how acceleration is achieved in fighting. Then he related to a story. There was a person in Vancouver who claimed to be a junior martial brother of Bruce Lee. He talked about how fast how was and demonstrated his speed to Master Chen Zhonghua. He then invited Master Chen to punch him in a manner that he required in his style. Master Chen followed his advise and blew him out with one punch. He was taken aback by the speed. He had claimed that he had never ran into anyone faster than himself.

This is the result of acceleration. Mr. Chen had taught in the West for over 20 years. He had the opportunity to meet with all kinds of challenges from many styles. During class with Grandmasters Hong Youyi, Master Hong Sen, Hong Qijian and many students, I asked Master Chen, “Could you tell us some of your taiji stories in the West?” Master Chen answered with a smile, “I cannot give you any details as they reveal names of many famous masters. Since the Hong family members are all here, let me just simply say that I have been challenged by masters and students from any schools and styles including 7th, 8th and even 9th dan black belt masters and I have never let Grandmaster Hong Junsheng down.”

All of a sudden, this reminds me of an unrelated story I heard from Mr. Chen during his class. In his teaching, he was always careful not to scare students. Once a student is shocked, he will never learn the real skill in his lifetime. We have seen nowadays in our society that many masters use their students to show off all the time. He apply hitting, qinna, and issuing on their students without any concern for them. They proud themselves in hurting their students. This has become a method of recruitment. But once fear is installed in the students, they will never be able to fight the teacher fairly psychologically. This is poor martial ethics on the part of the teacher. I recorded this conversation because I am grateful to Mr. Chen for not hurting us the last few years on Daqingshan. When learning from him, he would allow us daily to feel him to touch him and try to fight him so as to encourage us to fight more. In the recent years on Daqingshan, it was normal occurance for us to see him mindlessly issue visitors out far without hurting them. Sometimes the visitor/challenger was issued out without feeling anything. This is a good lesson for those who came in search of real taiji. It is very difficult for anyone to develop such high level skill without strict ethical adherence.

无论是陈先生提出的‘分阴阳’,还是‘加速度’,都是他在长期的教学和实践中积累,概括出来的经验精华,都是先贤所没有公开的东西,陈先生所独创见解,让人耳目一新,大大丰富了实用拳法的理论内涵和试验功能,对指导太极拳和各种武术的练习和实践都有着重要的指导意义。 洪均生先生和陈中华先生师徒两代人,对实用拳法理论和实践上的补充和丰富,必然引起有识之士的共识,特别是公开的一些具体的练习方法和理论经验,也就是历来传说的很多‘大师’所示神奇的不传之秘,大有益于热爱太极拳的后学,从这个意义上说,从太极拳的传承和发扬来说,两位先生:功莫大焉。

三、

这次大青山太极拳培训班,让我感动的事情很多:陈中华先生的敬业精神(难道这是陈老师二十几年在国外所致?);洪森师兄教拳时一丝不苟,有问必答;各位同学的勤奋努力,追求进步的精神;整个团队团结友爱,其乐融融的气氛,等等不一而论。这里要说说让我特别感动的两位老先生。

一位是我的老乡,来自山东临沂的来逢京先生

这位老先生六十七岁,对意拳的桩功深有心得,在我们当地极有口碑,人品极佳,年轻时在北京警卫连服役,极好拳术。经我吴绍志兄的介绍,连续参加了两期‘大青山太极拳培训班’。与陈先生一见如故,自谦曰:“爱好拳术四十余年,终不能得武学之奥妙,今日听陈先生授课,一扫不惑,真如拨云见日”其言颇多感慨。来先生每天上课不但和年轻学生一样认真听课,仔细记笔记,而且还每每慎重总结后,积极提出问题向陈老师请教,其求学之态,令人可感。我与他同住一房间,每课后回到房间,来老师都会激动的说:“来着了,来着了,此一来,解我多年之不惑,解我多年之不惑啊。”欣喜之情,天真之态溢于言表,由此可见,老先生之真性情。更令人感动的是,参加大青山太极拳培训班,他都是带自己的学生来的,能在自己的学生面前承认自己的不足,试问,江湖之上,几人做得来? 来老师曾与我言曰:“对中国内家拳术,神往久矣,今日结缘陈老师,终了我心愿,始知名不虚传。亦解我不惑,足矣。”又自谦曰:“我老了,虽不能掌握此拳,但不能耽误学生的进步,要尽力为他们提供学习好东西的条件。社会上多少教拳的人,为一己之利,教不出东西,还耽误了学生宝贵的时间。我们不能做这样的罪人。” 诚诚之言,令人感佩。 曾与来老师谈及老子之言:‘上士闻道,勤而习之;中士闻道,若存若亡;下士闻道,大而笑之。’古人有先见之明,早把人看明白了。我说,“更有上上士,‘朝闻道,夕死可矣’者。”来老师可谓上上士。 陈中华先生亦极其感动,常与之交流,每提及总以‘来老师’相称,彼此敬重,相交甚欢。背后,陈师与我言曰:“只有对学术具有求实的态度,有真功夫,真向往,不幕私利,不慕虚荣,不固囿于个人成见者方能如此做得。” 庄子曰:名者,实之宾也,吾将为宾乎? 来老师:我敬重你。

还有一位是我的师伯,孙中华先生

孙中华先生,六十八岁。退休前是中国残联国际部部长,曾为该部门常驻联合国代表,在联合国三次被评为最佳外交官,见多识广。几十年醉心于太极拳的学习和研究,为冯志强先生入室弟子,深得混元真传。洪均生老人仙逝后,陈中华又拜冯志强先生门下,与之同门,志同道合,成为师兄弟和挚友。因见于陈中华先生太极拳学术中对推手有见解,不避前学,不避年龄,不避门派,与其交流。 孙中华先生是一位真正的学者,善绘画,书法,精文章,诗词。对各种体育形式都颇有研究。精神极佳,善谈。常与陈中华先生谈至夜半,我常听其侧,受益良多。孙先生在大青山期间,勤于笔记,善于总结,不但帮我纠正拳学之错误,亦常教导我做人之道理,感佩之情如大树深植于地。谢谢,孙师伯。 我记下了孙先生的一首诗,【学艺有感】 老眼蒙翳觉路远, 青苔着雨令步迟, 无须凌顶如少年, 半山云树亦有诗。 孙中华先生的座右铭是:寸进则喜。多好的心态,这样的老人是可敬的。 孙先生:我敬重你。

四、

在这两期‘大青山太极拳培训班’期间,其实,收获最多的是我们这些学生。这些同学,有的来自全国各地,有的来自世界各地,凭着对中国太极拳文化的热爱,为了共同的理想和目标,走到一起,欢聚一堂。 这些外国学生通过来大青山学习太极拳,不但更近距离地理解了太极拳,也更深入地了解了中国和中国人文。同时他们不畏艰难,勤奋学习,刻苦练功的学习态度,也为我们树立了很好的榜样。 来自全国各地的同学,由于没有语言的障碍,更由于共同的爱好,大家很快就成了好朋友。上课时共同学习,下课后互相交流。学拳经历,对太极拳的理解,多年学拳的所见所闻,诸多感慨,无所不谈。其真情难忘。 让我感触最深的,也是让我最感动的,是陈先生的教学态度,是诸位先生对中国传统文化的态度,我从他们身上看到了中华文明,大树有根,传承有路。只要有他们在,我们就有信心,有希望,学好它。并为发扬它做出应尽的贡献。 我更相信,陈先生所建立起来的‘大青山国际太极拳培训基地’,不但是我心中的太极拳圣地,很快在不久的将来,凭着各位先生的品德,学养,和太极拳学的修为,凭着他们对太极拳学发扬光大的责任和热情, 也会成为全国各地,乃至全世界各地太极拳爱好者的太极圣地。 辛苦了,陈中华先生,我敬重你。 2011  年  9  月  21  日 朱东升写于临沂心斋

 

About Zhu Dongsheng

Zhu Dongsheng started learning taiji in 2005. He started with Yang style. From 2006 to 2009 he followed monk Shi Guozhuang to learn Chen Style Small frame. From 2009 to 2010 he studied Chen Style Old Frame yilu from friend Zhao Yanan. He started Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method in June 2010. By August 2011, he became Master Chen Zhonghua's disciple in Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method.| 2005年开始学习太极拳。初,自学杨式太极拳。2006年——2009年,跟随出家人释果庄学习陈氏小架太极拳。2009年——2010年,随友人赵言恩学习陈式太极拳老架一路。 2010年5月,开始学习陈式太极拳实用拳法。2010年6月开始跟随陈中华先生学习陈式太极拳实用拳法。2011年8月拜陈中华先生为师,学习陈式太极拳实用拳法。

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ted Truscott October 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Thank you very much for this superior article.

Reply

Carlos Hanson October 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm

This is a wonderful article. Thank you. I found the discussion on the Yin Yang Split particularly interesting, since I have been paying attention to that lately. I like the image of the inside of our body as Yin Yang and the outside as Wuji. I am also glad of the reference to the “dot” as the demarcation line. I think that will be a useful reference as I continue to learn from Master Chen.

Reply

Allan Haddad January 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

Excellent article. Thank you.

Reply

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