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Thread: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

  1. #136
    Xue Sheng's Avatar
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Quote Originally Posted by mograph View Post
    Thanks, EastWinds -- this is interesting. Would you say that the goal of a traditional Tai Chi instructor should be to transmit the form as he was taught without deviation or adaptation?
    I'm not EastWinds but IMO this is impossible.

    You have to maintain the basic principles however

    As my sifu has said no two people have the same body so they cannot do the form exactly the same. His Sifu was Tung Ying Chieh and my Sifu was told by Tung Hu Ling (Tung Ying Chieh's oldest son) that his (my sifu's) form was very close to Tung Ying Chieh's, closer than Tung Hu Ling's was. But I would not question the ability or knowledge of Tung Hu Ling or my Sifu based on this.

    Yang Luchan's form of Yang style (which evolved from Chen style) was first changed by his son Yang Jainhou and then further changed by his grandson Yang Chengfu. And they get progressively taller form Luchan to Chengfu too. And if you look comparison pictures of Yang Chengfu and his student Tung Ying Chieh you again see differences and some of those are based on size of the practitioner. And again it you look at pictures of Yang Chengfu and compare them to Yang Jun you again see differences.
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  2. #137
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Quote Originally Posted by Xue Sheng View Post
    You have to maintain the basic principles however.
    Would Wile's translation of the "Lost Tai Chi Classics" be a good place to study those principles? Or is there another place to find a list of the generally-agreed-upon principles?

  3. #138
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Quote Originally Posted by mograph View Post
    Would Wile's translation of the "Lost Tai Chi Classics" be a good place to study those principles? Or is there another place to find a list of the generally-agreed-upon principles?
    For Yang Style (IMO)

    The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan by Yang Chengfu

    Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan by Fu Zhongwen

    The Red Book by Tung Ying Chieh – however here the English translation is bad so it is much better in the Chinese. But you can get some pretty good sections of it here that are translated fairly well.

    Yang Chengfu’s 10 Essentials
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    - If you train martial arts without training deep skill, you will arrive at old age with nothing - Di Guoyong
    - Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way. - Wú Chéng'ēn
    - One of the original Four Heroic Cynical Curmudgeons

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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    mograph, you've raised a very interesting and profound point.

    personally, i have no first-hand experience with the TTCS whatsoever, and without getting into 'qualitative' analysis, it does appear that they practice 'a' yang-style, albeit not 'the' yang-family-style... just as the cheng man ching is 'a' yang-style, and the so-called 24 is 'a' yang-style.

    what is really a dichotomy here is the approach used by TTCS to restrict their instructors from searching out instruction in other styles or arts, or even exploring the martial aspects of the form... yet, attempting to transcend the style as it was taught to them and use creativity and innovation to individualize or 'tailor' the art to the individual.

    where does the innovation come from? its comparable to a medical student studying one text book throughout med-school, perhaps a very good textbook, but only one nonetheless... then, while in residency using innovation and creativity in the E/R!

    you can't have it both ways! To study, practice, and train a single style (one textbook) you got to stick to the script, otherwise its finger-painting not art. If, however, you venture out, and seek teachings from other styles, arts, and teachers (ie, study from several text books), you may be able to draw innovation from proven methods in other styles. It may no longer be the in the original 'tradition', but at least there is a basis for your methods.

    Please note, this is in no way a qualitative statement nor opinion on either 'traditional' yang style vs TTCS, or an opinion on whether the single style vs several styles is better. That is an individual decision, and would have many other variables determining what is correct for each person.

    My point, based on mograph's post, is you can't have it both ways!

    pete.
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Xue Sheng,

    "As my sifu has said no two people have the same body so they cannot do the form exactly the same."

    Absolutely agree. However, everyone can do the 10 essences irrespective of body shape or size and if you do the form incorporating the 10 essences, then you are doing the form as transmitted by YCF. If you do the form and deviate from the essences, then you are no longer doing Yang style Taiji. Look at the "Wushu" forms of Yang and you will see an abandonment of the 10 essences. I you look CLOSELY at Yang Cheng-fu, Tung, Zhen Ji, Zhen Duo , or Yang Jun, yes they look different because of body shape, age and size. BUT THEY ARE ALL DOING THE 10 ESSENCES!!! the key to Yang style Taijiquan.

    mograph,

    You have raised some very pertinent points but I have to agree with Pete in his interpretation. Moy's original concept may well have been - "the priority was not the transmission of a form, but to effect a change in the student's body using whatever means he had at his disposal." but the priority of the TTCS eventually became the generation of cash above all else. Instructors are not allowed to deviate from the teachings of the TTCS and are actively prevented from studying other forms. The incorporation of the 10 essences into the Yang Family form is designed to "change the body" and promote good health. They also ensure that applications will work. Moy, by removing the essences, removed the health giving aspects of Yang style Taiji and replace them with some suspect "Taoist Internal Alchemy". The "stretching of the spine" so beloved of the TTCS causes the distortions in the body that you can see in ALL of the TTCS postures.

    Pete,

    I agree with your interpretation. Well stated.

    Very best wishes
    "When asked about breathing in Tai Chi, my Master replied "Yes, keep doing it"

  6. #141
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Quote Originally Posted by East Winds View Post
    Xue Sheng,
    However, everyone can do the 10 essences irrespective of body shape or size and if you do the form incorporating the 10 essences, then you are doing the form as transmitted by YCF.
    Which is what I meant when I said You have to maintain the basic principles, those being the 10 essences
    .
    - If you train martial arts without training deep skill, you will arrive at old age with nothing - Di Guoyong
    - Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way. - Wú Chéng'ēn
    - One of the original Four Heroic Cynical Curmudgeons

  7. #142
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    All good points, Xue Sheng, East Winds and Pete.

    I'll study the 10 essences -- thanks for the links, Xue Sheng.

    Pete, I agree with your interpretation, with an addition: In most TTCS classes that I have seen or heard about from other students, they are not trying to have it both ways, because they are not capable of doing so. In fact, unless an instructor has had direct experience with a teacher who has the skill (and permission) to innovate and give individually-tailored instruction, he/she is not aware such instruction ever existed. Any instruction given to a student is assumed to apply to the entire class.

    East Winds, I agree with your assessment of the TTCS. I can't say when it came to that state, but I like to believe that at the very beginning in the 1970's, Mr. Moy's goal was as I stated. It's hard to say how much of his ideas remain with the TTCS, and how those ideas relate to its current policy. We may never know ... but it doesn't really matter to those of us outside the TTCS, I suppose.

    Thanks, all.

  8. #143
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    Re: Taoist Tai Chi versus Traditional Yang

    Hmm. At least one of the 10 essentials was mentioned when I was with the TTCS. Here are the TTCS form principles, paraphrased, and to the best of my recollection:
    - when in forward bow stance, align the straight back leg with the back, when viewed in profile
    - step with feet straight, or at 45 degrees (when viewed from above)
    - allow little or no space between the feet when viewed from the front ... the exception being those with a wide pelvis
    - drop elbows and shoulders (that matches one of the Essentials)
    - relax
    - breathe naturally, with no specific in/out intention
    - don't look down
    - keep "tiger's mouth open": thumb and index finger at 90 degrees (approx.)
    - after beginner level, rise and fall with the moves, "sitting" before stepping

    Aside from that, the students are told how to do the choreography of the moves at an external level. If there's any internal instruction, it must be taught at the D'Arcy street location in Toronto, or taught by one of the "rebels" eventually tossed out of the TTCS.

    There are also exercises (apart from the set) that came from other arts. It's my understanding that Mr. Moy felt that students could change their bodies with these exercises alone, but they would only stay if they were taught a set of moves. I'm speculating.

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