Variations on styles - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Chinese Internal Arts : Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Qi' started by BlazeLeeDragon, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. BlazeLeeDragon

    BlazeLeeDragon Blue Belt

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    So some of the recent posts and discussions have been about styles and how it can different. We see this in taji for example when I try and look online to find a starting point it seems one of the main branches comes from Wang Zongyue. Yet out of that we have today Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun and Hao. This I think happens in many styles, but I've been looking more into researching and reading books on taiji so that's what I mentioned ;)

    I am thinking that every time a person learns a style and reteaches it changes a bit from the original. I also think that people will add something to it from time to time. Like Wong Fei-Hung and Hung Gar. He was credited for adding his own sequences into the training.

    Do you feel that this change is inevitable and good or do you think that if an art changes then it's not being taught correctly or the student is just not understanding?


    this question was sparked by Xu Yusheng Yang style, and discussions of Cheng Manching and how the techniques vary from others it seems.
     
  2. sicko

    sicko Yellow Belt

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    Hi,
    I don't agree with you about the changes. At least not from Chen style. You see, there are a lot of videos, where Chen Xiaowang explains Chen style taijiquan. Step by step, movement after movement, change after change. Everything down to the smallest part of your body. And as Xiaowang is the top recognized in Chen family I would say that his is the real style, like his father tought him.
    I have a teacher that was learning after him and when I look at those videos, I see we do exactly the same, with not a minimal variation.

    But this is about Chen. I heard, that in Yang it does differ a lot from teacher to teacher and that is really hard to get the true Yang style around.
    I don't know really a lot about other schools, but as far as I know, the Chen can be done in its original form.
     
  3. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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    Each person in chen adds there own signature to it.
    So chen xiaowang might add an extra little silk reeling that
    Others may not. Chen zhenglei has a very distinct flavor of
    Chen taiji. I know chen bing also has certain things he does that
    Differs than chen xiaowang. Xue sheng posted a yang comparison
    Video of difference in yang style as well as san ti postures
    Of the generations and lines. Food for thought.
     
  4. oaktree

    oaktree Master of Arts

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    As to the op question. Good or bad some where things will
    Be modified or changed, humans are thinking animals bad or good.
    The best way to look at a modified piece is does it have
    A logical reason for it and is that by logic fit better
    Then the traditional way
     
  5. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    If changes are needed to something, changes will occur. Be it based on past experiences & past training, or the harder way where a "fix" was needed to close a gap in technique to prevent something bad from happening... apparently again.

    Unfortunately... too often changes are made & touted as "better" or "improved" based on no more than ego & lack of understanding of the core of the method.
     
  6. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Everybody goes into this with a different body. Yes the anatomy is fairly similar but it is not the same therefore you will find that things change

    In the Taijiquan family styles mentioned Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun all came to Taiji with different backgrounds

    The Chen family had a martial art prior to Chen Wangting’s invention of Taijiquan

    Yang Luchan had a martial arts background as well, I belie it was Changquan

    Wu style comes from Wu Quanyu who learned from either Yang Luchan or Yang Banhou (depending on who you want to believe) and Wu Quanyu was already a Manchu soldier so he also came in with prior training

    Wu/Hao comes from a combination of Chen and Yang so that is again different

    Sun comes Sun Lutang who had a background in Xingyiquan, Baguazhang and Wu/Hao Taijiquan

    Zhaobao comes from the Chen family via Chen Qingping but Zhobao people will deny that and challenge you to a fight and it is easier to just say your right and walk away...it would be less painful
     
  7. blindsage

    blindsage Master of Arts

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    Every teacher in every generation changes what they teach. No matter how they protest that they may do it exactly like their teacher, it's not. No two people have the same body, no two people have the same ideas or talents. Every teacher modifies, some more than others.

    As an example: Chen Xiaowang and the current generation of Chen style have absolutely changed the system. It is different from what his grandfather Chen Fake taught.
     
  8. blindsage

    blindsage Master of Arts

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    Just for the sake of furthering the discussion.


    Feng Zhiqiang, top student of Chen Fake.


    Chen Xiaowang
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Yeah, that's what I was thinking and Feng was the fst to pop into my mind.

    I was also thinking that before Laojia Yilu and erlu there was only one Chen form which was then split (Changed) into Yilu and erlu

    I was then thinking Chan Fake took Laojia Yilu and Erlu and changed them to Xinjia Yilu and Xinjia Erlu

    Not to mention that although similar, Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing and Chen Zhenglei do not do the form exactly the same and they all pretty much had the same teacher.
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Changes do happen. Some people understand the system deeply enough to make meaningful changes. Other people do not, and their changes can be to the detriment of what they do and anyone to learns from them.

    I'd wager that everyone who makes deliberate changes, believes it is for the best. I'd also wager that in most cases, they are wrong about that.
     
  11. Josealb

    Josealb White Belt

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    Interesting subject. From a xingyiquan POV, in my opinion there are always two types of changes:

    The "this ***** is too hard to do....let me unconsciously simplify it" change.

    The "I understand this in an incredibly deep way, in and out, enough to flavor it to my liking. After all, i prefer headbutts, instead of a shoulder strike, which my teacher likes." change.

    Sadly, i have seen the both of them. IMO, the quality of the art is in the man, never the style, and since every man is different, there will always be preferences, which is a very good thing ONLY when they are developed on top of the same core principles, or at least that principle is understood perfectly before the change (not fair to judge something before you know exactly what it is). The bad part of this is that its also the perfect excuse for the lazy...."oh, we just look different because we like different stuff."

    I guess we could judge a change by its result, in a teacher. In ourselves its a much harder thing to do...but it sure is an ego boost to say "i found a better way to do this".
     
  12. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Sr. Grandmaster

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    The difference between the Yang Taiji and Chang Taiji is the integration of the leg movement in Chang Taiji. When you apply "pull back", if you add "leg spring", the result will be much better.

    Yang Taiji has no leg skill. Chang Taiji brings the leg skill back. Should Chen Taiji also brings the leg skill back?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  13. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    That, right there...is wrong, as is the next bit

    Why would you bring them back since they never left...Chen has them too
     
  14. Instructor

    Instructor Master Black Belt

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    It occurs to me that every known style of martial art is probably a variation of an earlier style of martial art. Everything I've ever studied was a derivative of something else.
     
  15. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    True enough, but how often are "variations" simply there to stroke an ego or shore up a mediocre skill by letting somebody say "I created it" versus a legitimate & well founded/needed(??) variation?
     
  16. Instructor

    Instructor Master Black Belt

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    Too darn often.
     
  17. Thunderfist

    Thunderfist White Belt

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    From my perspective, a person needs two qualities to make meaningful changes to the art they study: 1 - they must have sufficient knowledge of the system and it's body skills 2 - they must have a combination of insight and good judgement.Provided these criteria are fulfilled, two types of changes are possible:1 - Boiling down the essence of the art. Do new technologies or restrictions provide better, quicker, ways to develop the same skills? (Arguably, Oyama and Kano improved Karate and JiuJitsu by adding sparring and randori to their syllabus, allowing japanese students to develop better body skills to a higher level).2 - Does the changing world highlight a change in what skills are needed to be effective? (How many Martial Artists prior to the UFC had a developed, tested, plan for avoiding / dealing with ground fighting? Probably less than today. How do modern legal matters affect our perspective, or the necessity of, weapons training? Do I need to be able to sword fight? Should I learn to use a gun?) Even with everything above, the most positive changes from the most insightful master are often a matter of subjective taste. Judo might be better for one on one self defence than old school JiuJitsu, but it's a less well rounded art technique-wise and doesn't have a great deal to say about weapons training.For me, legitimate changes are changes that tailor an art to what you and your students want and need. To do this, as I said, one must have an insight into what is wanted and needed, as well as a thorough mastery of the original art in question.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  18. mograph

    mograph Master Black Belt

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    Interesting answer, Thunderfist.

    I'd add that sufficient knowledge of the art would allow a practitioner to evaluate its practice appropriately and see beyond the obvious. For example, sword training may not be necessary as an end in itself (in a world of guns), but it can serve to reveal discontinuity in one's form, so even in a modern context, it is still useful.
     
  19. East Winds

    East Winds 2nd Black Belt

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    Once again Flying Crane puts his finger right on the button......."I'd wager that everyone who makes deliberate changes, believes it is for the best. I'd also wager that in most cases, they are wrong about that." This is why Taiji is in the bad state it is in today!! Any form that retains its essences will retain its integrity. As soon as you start to change these paramaters, you are lost. As I've quoted on this forum before, Yang Cheng Fu summed it up...."One may not make a show of one's cleverness by rashly making additions or deletions. The former worthies developed these methods. If alterations or corrections could be made , the ancestors preceding me would already have put them into effect." Can't argue with that.

    Very best wishes
     
  20. mograph

    mograph Master Black Belt

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    I agree with Flying Crane, but I'm not so sure that a lot of changes are for the good of the art: I think they are based on a superficial understanding of the essences, done to hasten the acquisition of students.

    However, I don't assume that "no change" always beats "change", just as I don't assume the opposite. Logically, who can say that if an art hasn't changed in generations, it is because it has reached the pinnacle of its value/precision/whatever? Humans are not perfect, and perhaps something has been overlooked. People are people, and masters are neither gods nor immortals. Perhaps someone with a certain point of view can see something a different way.

    Of course, Yang Cheng Fu was right in asserting that additions or deletions should not be made rashly. However, if one has a clear, respectful understanding of the essences and makes changes that still respect those essences, if those changes could withstand critical examination in terms of martial effectiveness (for example), then wouldn't they be valid?

    Sorry guys, but logically, I can't abide the idea that "if changes could be made, they'd have been made by now". Did Yang's ancestors say that? Did the first person to systematize martial arts say that? If not, then why should the changes stop with YCF?

    Or should we define terms: changes to essences are bad, but variations on expressions of those essences could be good if they withstand scrutiny and still respect those essences?123
     

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