Modification to Chen Man Ching's Tai Chi Form

grydth

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The first Tai Chi form I was taught was the 37 posture form popularized in the USA by Professor Chen Man Ching. As most know, this was a 'dehydrated' version of the much longer original Yang form. Not only were many repetitions eliminated, but some moves were deleted entirely.

If others here practice this form, I wonder if any of you are familiar with the modification suggested by Professor Chi Chiang-tao in Angus Clark's book, "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi."? This restores a number of the 'lost moves', and eliminates - in my opinion - an annoying and possibly hazardous transition step.

Any experiences with, or thoughts on, this?
 

Xue Sheng

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I did a bit of CMC and I must admit I am not familiar with modification suggested by Professor Chi Chiang-tao in Angus Clark's book, I should probably check it out, but wouldn't restoring a number of lost moves just be turning it back into Traditional Yang style or some facsimile thereof?

EDIT

I should probably ask which book?
 
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grydth

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The full cite would be, "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi - A Practical Approach to the Ancient Chinese Movement for Health and Well Being, by Angus Clark, Element/Harper Collins, London 2001. Clark notes that Chiang - Tao was a student of Chen Man Ching.

No, the short additional segment Chiang-tao suggests does not come anywhere near making Chen Man ching's form back into the much longer original Yang form.

Possibly the best illustration of the major differences between Chen Man Ching's Form and the original I have seen is the chart in Norman Chuckrow's "The Tai Chi Book" at page 143...

What Clark/Chiang-Tao suggest is addition of a short segment of several 'lost moves' at a mid point in the form.... then rejoining the form.
 

Xue Sheng

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The full cite would be, "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi - A Practical Approach to the Ancient Chinese Movement for Health and Well Being, by Angus Clark, Element/Harper Collins, London 2001. Clark notes that Chiang - Tao was a student of Chen Man Ching.

No, the short additional segment Chiang-tao suggests does not come anywhere near making Chen Man ching's form back into the much longer original Yang form.

Possibly the best illustration of the major differences between Chen Man Ching's Form and the original I have seen is the chart in Norman Chuckrow's "The Tai Chi Book" at page 143...

What Clark/Chiang-Tao suggest is addition of a short segment of several 'lost moves' at a mid point in the form.... then rejoining the form.

Thank You, I will have to pick this book up and take a look at it.

I do the original Yang style form that CMC comes from and I did train CMC briefly and I have seen the entire CMC form done by the man who was my CMC Sifu and his Sifu (William CC Chen - who was also a student of Cheng Manching). There are a lot of BIG differences between CMC and Traditional Yang style, however I am not judging either, I liked CMC for the brief time I did it. But I do not think it can really be called Yang style any longer as some out there still do (although the Yang family has made it clear that they do not call it Yang style). There are just too many fundamental differences.

However it will be interesting to see what forms Chiang feels should be added.
 

TaiChiTJ

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Some instructors feel the CMC 37 is a practice that contains all of the concepts and principles of the Yang long form, if not every posture.

I've also heard teachers say the same thing about the 24 posture form created in China in 1955.

Xue Sheng is correct, though, there are significant postural differences in traditional Yang and CMC.

You just have to decide what you want to study.
 
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grydth

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Some instructors feel the CMC 37 is a practice that contains all of the concepts and principles of the Yang long form, if not every posture.

I've also heard teachers say the same thing about the 24 posture form created in China in 1955.

Xue Sheng is correct, though, there are significant postural differences in traditional Yang and CMC.

You just have to decide what you want to study.


It has always appeared to me that Professor Chen Man Ching believed America was very fertile ground for spreading Tai Chi, but that Americans had neither the time nor the patience for the Yang Long Form. (I believe he was correct in this not so flattering assessment. He certainly was correct in believing our society to be in need of the art!). He sought to provide us with the core principles.

One can contend that the large scale deletion of repetitions of postures does not forfeit, " all of the concepts and principles..."

But...Given the complete deletion of a number of postures, at least some of which are of obvious value, I do not think the claim can be made that all important things were preserved.... and I am a very satisfied student of the CMC form.

My best reading of Angus Clark's book is that Professor Chiang-Tao, a student of Chen Man Ching, believed that perhaps the cuts had gone too far. He would reintroduce a short sequence of some of the deleted postures at a midway point in the CMC form.

My study and practice has shown - and in full candor, I must say here that I do not pretend to be any major martial arts figure - that the segment is a welcome and invigorating addition to the Chen Man Ching form. I am curious if anyone else has tried it....
 

Xue Sheng

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It has always appeared to me that Professor Chen Man Ching believed America was very fertile ground for spreading Tai Chi, but that Americans had neither the time nor the patience for the Yang Long Form. (I believe he was correct in this not so flattering assessment. He certainly was correct in believing our society to be in need of the art!). He sought to provide us with the core principles

Maybe yes, maybe no, but if you read his books, particularly "Cheng Tzus 13 treatises on Tai Chi Chuan" (which is a book I highly recommend to all Tai chi people) he actually says he shortened it because he didn't want to take the time to do it.
 
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grydth

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Why not just learn the original 108 & call it a day?

I make no arguement against anyone choosing to learn the 108 form.... presuming they have the time to learn and practice it, and a worthy sifu to teach them.

Currently I unfortunately lack 2 of the 3..... it would appear I am one of those Americans considered by Chen Man Ching..... for the lifestyle I have, the CMC form is heaven sent.

I raise the changes proposed by Professor Cheng-tao as a possible way for CMC practitioners to regain some of what postures were deleted, while retaining a relatively shorter form.
 
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grydth

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Maybe yes, maybe no, but if you read his books, particularly "Cheng Tzus 13 treatises on Tai Chi Chuan" (which is a book I highly recommend to all Tai chi people) he actually says he shortened it because he didn't want to take the time to do it.

I do thank you for the correction on one key point - that Chen initially shortened the original Yang form for other reasons besides his coming to America. You're right.

However, I in fact do own a fair number of books on the subject, and I must respectfully disagree on two points - Chen Man Ching's rationale beyond the shortening, and applicability with respect to teaching Americans.

On the latter point, I would specifically cite, "There Are No Secrets" by Wolfe Lowenthal at page 46, "Aware of our impatience, he shaped his teaching to make it more accessible to Americans". Lowenthal, a student of his, further relates that he taught the form to Americans much more quickly than he did to Chinese. (I realize this relates to speed of teaching and not to elements taught, but there can be little real doubt he believed his shortened form better for Americans. See below - he believed this even for the Chinese.).

I disagree with the assertion that Chen shortened the original form simply,
"because he didn't want to take the time to do it." Another of his students, Robert Chuckrow, in "The Tai Chi Book" on page 145 recalled that,"
Professor Cheng said that he found that one round of the long form, which he was taught by Yang Cheng-fu, took so long to complete that he tended to rush through the movements."

In the book you cite, there is one comment that he did shorten the form to spread it - but among the Chinese. I refer to the chapter 'Explanation of the Essential Points' where he says on page 104," I had to simplify the form in order to spread it..." A page earlier, he appears to strongly question the utility of all the repetition in the long form.
 

Xue Sheng

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It has always appeared to me that Professor Chen Man Ching believed America was very fertile ground for spreading Tai Chi, but that Americans had neither the time nor the patience for the Yang Long Form. (I believe he was correct in this not so flattering assessment. He certainly was correct in believing our society to be in need of the art!). He sought to provide us with the core principles.

I do thank you for the correction on one key point - that Chen initially shortened the original Yang form for other reasons besides his coming to America. You're right.

However, I in fact do own a fair number of books on the subject, and I must respectfully disagree on two points - Chen Man Ching's rationale beyond the shortening, and applicability with respect to teaching Americans.

On the latter point, I would specifically cite, "There Are No Secrets" by Wolfe Lowenthal at page 46, "Aware of our impatience, he shaped his teaching to make it more accessible to Americans". Lowenthal, a student of his, further relates that he taught the form to Americans much more quickly than he did to Chinese. (I realize this relates to speed of teaching and not to elements taught, but there can be little real doubt he believed his shortened form better for Americans. See below - he believed this even for the Chinese.).

I disagree with the assertion that Chen shortened the original form simply,
"because he didn't want to take the time to do it." Another of his students, Robert Chuckrow, in "The Tai Chi Book" on page 145 recalled that,"
Professor Cheng said that he found that one round of the long form, which he was taught by Yang Cheng-fu, took so long to complete that he tended to rush through the movements."

In the book you cite, there is one comment that he did shorten the form to spread it - but among the Chinese. I refer to the chapter 'Explanation of the Essential Points' where he says on page 104," I had to simplify the form in order to spread it..." A page earlier, he appears to strongly question the utility of all the repetition in the long form.

First, you have just contradicted yourself first you say he shortened because of Americans and now you say he shortened it to spread it among Chinese.

Next Neither Wolfe Lowenthal or Robert Chuckrow are Cheng Manching and I am talking about books written by Cheng Manching.

Also I feel the need to point out it is Cheng not Chen. Chen is a Taiji family not to be confused with Cheng Manching they are not at all the same.

I do not have the statement or book in front of me at the moment but I will get it, look through it and post what Cheng Manching wrote.

However I do not disagree with the part about spreading his style by shortening it. He, if memory severs, said that he felt it was too long and that there were to many repeats and he did not have the time to do the long form so he shortened it and also felt that by shortening it more people would want to practice it. But I am currently working from memory and I will look up the exact statement later.

There is a book by William CC Chen you may be interested in; he too was a student of Cheng Manching. I have not read the book as of yet, but I have read many of William CC Chen's articles and I am rather impressed.


Currently I unfortunately lack 2 of the 3..... it would appear I am one of those Americans considered by Chen Man Ching..... for the lifestyle I have, the CMC form is heaven sent.

I do not think any, or I should say the post I have been in that discuss CMC style, have said anything against CMC style or Cheng Manching. As a matter of fact there use to be someone on MT that was a long time CMC person and they were incredibly happy with the style. However I do not know if they still check in or not. So I do not understand the reasoning behind the above statement, at least as it applies to MT

I trained it briefly with a student in the CMC lineage and I was rather impressed, but there was only so much time in the day and I simply did not have the time to do the training justice.

I have trained the Yang Long form for many years. I have also trained Chen to a lesser degree and a bit of Wu and if the teacher were available at the time I would have chosen Chen or Wu over yang but there were not teachers.

What style we choose to train is a matter of personal preference.

To quote a member of the Chen family I had the chance to talk to "Yang style is to high" To quote my Sifu whose teacher was Tung Ying Chieh, and whose teacher was Yang Chengfu "Chen style is to low"

It is just a matter of personal preference that is all and if someone does not agree, big deal, who cares your style is your style that is all.
.
 

East Winds

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Here is a direct quote from Cheng Man-ching

"The complete T'ai Chi Ch'uan form consisted of more than one hundred and twenty movements. Among these there were many repititions, executed over and over endlessly. This was a great waste of mental energy without any benefit to either theory or practice....................I believe that the repetitions are excessive and have no significance. Therefore I often felt a desire to omit the complexities and simplify the form"

The above is taken from Cheng Man-chings "Advanced T'ai Chi Form Instructions" Compiled and translated by Douglas Wile. ISBN 0-912059-03-6

Hope this helps

Vey best wishes
 
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grydth

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When you concede a point to a person - - - only to get an allegation of self-contradiction in return, it's time for me to move to another thread.
 

East Winds

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Also, here is an interesting quote from Yang Cheng-fu

"There is only one school of taijiquan; there are not two ways of learning. 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 preceeding me would already have put them into effect".

Yang Chengfu : The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. ISBN1-55643-545-2

I often wondered if this was a quiet reference to Cheng Man-ching's changes
icon6.gif


Very best wishes
 

grappling_mandala

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"The complete T'ai Chi Ch'uan form consisted of more than one hundred and twenty movements. Among these there were many repititions, executed over and over endlessly. This was a great waste of mental energy without any benefit to either theory or practice....................I believe that the repetitions are excessive and have no significance. Therefore I often felt a desire to omit the complexities and simplify the form"

Based on the above statement, CMC either did not see, or ignored the implications of understanding the connective structure in the arrangement of the Yang Cheng fu 103/108 form.

I have made some comments in other threads regarding specific changes I've noted concerning lead hip positions, overly simplified hand positions, removing parts of the GraspSparTail sequence, postures not conducive to wuji, etc etc.

Particularlly in the book by Yang Chengfu, but most likely ghost edited by CMC: "The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan" (1934?) , which started out part of my "noticing" the differences, most notably the movements left out of Essense and Applications match CMC's 37 form... very suspicious.... Yang Cheng Fu's youngest son addresses this fact in his book printed in 1956.

I think the statement saying westerners have a short attention span is the EXACT reason why westerners should engage in learning the entire 103/108 form. A lot of people stay up late and do not rise early enough... sometimes experiencing Having 30 min of moving meditation in the morning will simply transform most peoples lives IF they practice.

GM
 

East Winds

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grappling_mandala,

Can't disagree with anything you have said. Follows my philosphy exactly.

Very best wishes.
 

Xue Sheng

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Here is a direct quote from Cheng Man-ching

"The complete T'ai Chi Ch'uan form consisted of more than one hundred and twenty movements. Among these there were many repititions, executed over and over endlessly. This was a great waste of mental energy without any benefit to either theory or practice....................I believe that the repetitions are excessive and have no significance. Therefore I often felt a desire to omit the complexities and simplify the form"

The above is taken from Cheng Man-chings "Advanced T'ai Chi Form Instructions" Compiled and translated by Douglas Wile. ISBN 0-912059-03-6

Hope this helps

Vey best wishes

Thank you, I just found this in the book I previously mentioned by Cheng Manching

Also, here is an interesting quote from Yang Cheng-fu

"There is only one school of taijiquan; there are not two ways of learning. 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 preceeding me would already have put them into effect".

Yang Chengfu : The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. ISBN1-55643-545-2

I often wondered if this was a quiet reference to Cheng Man-ching's changes

Very best wishes

Thank You, I had not heard this before, but then I have not read that book yet either

Based on the above statement, CMC either did not see, or ignored the implications of understanding the connective structure in the arrangement of the Yang Cheng fu 103/108 form.

I have made some comments in other threads regarding specific changes I've noted concerning lead hip positions, overly simplified hand positions, removing parts of the GraspSparTail sequence, postures not conducive to wuji, etc etc.

Particularlly in the book by Yang Chengfu, but most likely ghost edited by CMC: "The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan" (1934?) , which started out part of my "noticing" the differences, most notably the movements left out of Essense and Applications match CMC's 37 form... very suspicious.... Yang Cheng Fu's youngest son addresses this fact in his book printed in 1956.

I think the statement saying westerners have a short attention span is the EXACT reason why westerners should engage in learning the entire 103/108 form. A lot of people stay up late and do not rise early enough... sometimes experiencing Having 30 min of moving meditation in the morning will simply transform most peoples lives IF they practice.

GM

I agree, but this can be said of all Tai Chi styles now in the USA not just Yang
 

marlon

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Also, here is an interesting quote from Yang Cheng-fu

"There is only one school of taijiquan; there are not two ways of learning. 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 preceeding me would already have put them into effect".

Yang Chengfu : The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. ISBN1-55643-545-2

I often wondered if this was a quiet reference to Cheng Man-ching's changes
icon6.gif


Very best wishes


i thought that Cheng Man-Ching had the changes approved by Yang Chengfu?
Marlon
 

marlon

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Based on the above statement, CMC either did not see, or ignored the implications of understanding the connective structure in the arrangement of the Yang Cheng fu 103/108 form.

I have made some comments in other threads regarding specific changes I've noted concerning lead hip positions, overly simplified hand positions, removing parts of the GraspSparTail sequence, postures not conducive to wuji, etc etc.

Particularlly in the book by Yang Chengfu, but most likely ghost edited by CMC: "The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan" (1934?) , which started out part of my "noticing" the differences, most notably the movements left out of Essense and Applications match CMC's 37 form... very suspicious.... Yang Cheng Fu's youngest son addresses this fact in his book printed in 1956.

I think the statement saying westerners have a short attention span is the EXACT reason why westerners should engage in learning the entire 103/108 form. A lot of people stay up late and do not rise early enough... sometimes experiencing Having 30 min of moving meditation in the morning will simply transform most peoples lives IF they practice.

GM

Could it be for the sake of softness and not showing the application in the form that he made some of the changes in posture and hand positions? I am very new and am learning the 103 form slowly but i like CMC style and i find the softness of tai chi beneficila in alolowing one to respond better to what is actually happening in a fight than what you think is happening.
loving learning

Respectfully,
Marlon
 
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