Or the Relaxed Boxing
Modern Yang style of Yang Chengfu (108 techniques)
-Taï-chi chuan (Taï-ji quan) as the art of health : popular style of Yang Cheng-fu (1883-1936)
Feature yourself performing a sequence of harmonious, flowing and slow gestures. You're relaxing. Breathe deeply and your spirit starts to calm down. You then become aware of your body and spirit working together into a subtle beneficial unity : you're practicing Taï-chi chuan.
Good for health and well-know for its healing effects in the Chinese hospitals, the Yang Cheng-fu style of Taï-chi chuan is easy to integrate. It has attracted and seduced a growing number of people and that's the reason why it has become the most popular style in the world.
The benefits of Taï-chi chuan can be felt at any level of the Being :
* Physical level
Working out all the body joints and relaxation enables to gain flexibility and an harmonious body building. A strenghtening of the immune system can be then noticed.
* Emotional level
Coordinating breath, slow movement and spirit enables to reach a genuine "recentering", offering more serenity. The Taï-chi chuan performer or the viewer can also find some esthetical pleasure in it.
* Mental level
Slowness, when performing constant gestures as if one was finely drawing a cotton thread, enables to relax our mental : Taï-chi chuan is sometimes called "the moving meditation". The final purpose of this practice is to let go (wu wei).
* Energetic level
Practicing leads to purification, regulation and acceleration of energy in the acupuncture meridians.
The self-defense side of Taï-chi chuan :
Old Yang style of the founder Yang Luchan (1799-1872) (126 technics, 80 technics of the San shou and Pao chui, internal explosion of energy, Dim-mak, secret little circles, advance pushing hands, chee sao, Dragon method, Eagle method, Qi gong, meditation...). The first degree of this teaching is like black belt degree (Rehshi, kyoshi).
Yang Luchan's technique by FH
Besides the therapeutic aspects which are similar to the modern style's, the art of Yang Lu-chan - one origin of I chuan and maybe of Karate - is one of the most efficient in the field of self defense. Taï-chi chuan can be translated by "Supreme Polarity Boxing". This Polarity is more often known as "Yin/Yang". Old Taï-chi chuan is characteristic of the respect for alternating yin/yang within its flowing and relaxed circular movements, sometimes made very slowly and other times in the explosive way. This polarity is the great secret of Taï-chi chuan : very few instructors and upper teachers really know all the aspects of it. At first sight, efficiency of polarity work seems to be illogical, but it is real and impressive : extreme slowness (coupled with other "secret" elements) leads to extreme speed or explosion ; extreme relaxation enables to reach some strength, an indescribable toughness, and so on... The well-enough trained student can make a series from 4 or 6 paralizing strikes in less than one second.
Depending on the teachers, several fighting strategies have been taught. But the most specific of the old Yang style is : the motionless observation of the opponent, the pushing to parry, the explosion of energy (fa-jing), the art of the vital points (Dim-mak and Chin-na), controls on joints and sometimes projections as can be found in the Chinese wrestling (Shuai jiao)... One work the imitating of five animals : tiger, monkey, snake (or deer), bear, and bird.
One must notice that the Taï-chi chuan style of Yang Luchan consists of most exact and the most efficient science of vital points that has ever been conceived.
-Yang Chengfu form (108 techniques)
-Yang Luchan form (216 techniques)*
-pao chui A (fast form of 40 techniques)
-pao chui B (40 techniques)
-san shou (pao chui A+B)*
-little san shou of Yang Shaohou (23 techniques)**
-Dragon's claws and Eagle's claws
The origins of the Yang Luchan style :
The Yang Luchan's Taï-chi chuan is still kept secret by the Chinese upper teachers who refuse to show it in public. This style -including san shou (san sau)- is considered vanished by the majority of the historians specialised in martial arts. Yang Luchan created his own style from his experiences with Chen's family, the Wang Tsungyeah's manuscript -18th century- and other encounters... His style was called Soft Boxing or Relaxed Boxing (Hao chuan). Some techniques, which are similar to the ones of the old Shaolin Boxing, of the Wudang mount and Pa kua chang -Ba gua zhang- can be found in this style. Some legend says that the paternity of "soft" boxing falls to some Chang Sanfeng who lived in the 13th century.
The 216 techniques of the long sequence are extremely efficient for combat -each gesture is designed to a vital point sricke- but also for the therapeutic and spiritual aspects, for it is full of exercices which open the energetic centers -kuas and tan tien or çakras-, added to methods which harmonize or accelerate the energy of the acupuncture meridians. This sequence is the root of most of the other Taï-chi chuan styles, among them the Yang Luchan's grandson who divided by two the number of techniques -he removed the most difficult ones-. It is also one of the origins of I chuan and maybe had a great influence on manyknow and unknow martial arts such as Karate. Yang Luchan was a drill officer at the Qin's court with the highest rank and was nicknamed "Yang the Invicible".
Other Taï-chi applications :
-Tiger's boxing (high level)**
-Crane's boxing (high level))**
-Monkey's boxing **
-Dragon's boxing (high level))**
-Phoenix's boxing (very high level)**
More than 15000 tui shou and chee sao :
-pushing hands (tui shou) 1st level : simple and double pushings, classical Da lu, how to resisting against pushings (the secrets...)
-pushing hands 2nd level : upper Da lu, classical and upper Peng/lu/chee/an... up to the free Tui shou, dodging...*
- The higher level of Tui shou inserted in combat**
-codified and free scattering of hands (chee sao) 1st level
-chee sao 2nd level, and same work with the legs
-combat, martial applications 1st level
-combat, martial applications 2nd level**
-long stick : 5 levels
-long stick form (1m80) of Yang Chengfu
-dim-mak science (paralysing vital points), iron shirt and hand, antidotes
-meditation and relaxation
"Single wipe" (with Cyril, photo : Christophe), click !
Lao Tzu, a 4th Century B.C. Chinese philosopher, put the whole thing in a nutshell :
"Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water; but when it attacks things that are hard and resistant, there is not one of them that can prevail. That the yielding conquers the resistant and the soft conquers the hard is a fact known by all men, yet utilized by none."
Tai Chi Chu'an develops the ability to know when the opponent is going to attack. Speed, sensitivity, and flexibility are built up, rather than brute force. If you learn to see danger before it reaches you, it can be neutralized. As the old Tai Chi saying goes, "four ounces can move a thousand pounds".
Other Taï-chi chuan styles :
Sun style, Wu style, Woo style, Chen style...
The supposed origins of Taï-chi chuan and Hao chuan :
Chang chuan from Chen family, Chang chuan of Wang Tsungyeuh, Pa kua walk and Pa kua chang, Hsing I chuan, Shaolin boxing -imported from India by a Buddhist in the fifth century- , Wudang Mount boxing -doubtful origins linked to the Taoïst religious movment-.
No school holds the truth.
Truth is inside you if ever you relax with a total faith in Universe : faith in yourself and in anybody else.
© Fabrice HOHN, 2001
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