Tai Chi Chuan Discussion

A. History

When I arrived in America last year, I saw that many Americans wished to learn Tai Chi Chuan. It is a good sign that the ancient Chinese culture is gradually being accepted by western society. If you say Tai Chi Chuan, many Americans are aware of its health benefits. Although Tai Chi Chuan is popular in America, there are two issues connected to Tai Chi Chuan that the people are not so familiar with:

1. Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art
2. Tai Chi Chuan is not only for seniors to practice for health. It is better to start when one is young.

With its unique, soft, circular and balanced movement and even breathing, it is easy for the body to relax, free from stress and good for joint disease exercise. However, since it is so soft and slow, how could it be a martial art? Very few people can answer this question properly. Actually, Tai Chi Chuan is a part of Taoism. It is also a high level martial art. It was created by Taoist Chang San Feng, who lived in Wudang Mountain in the late Song Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. Thus, practitioners the orthodox Tai Chi Chuan belong to Wudang School. Wudang School Tai Chi Chuan internal martial art enjoyed the same fame as Shaolin School external martial art in Chinese history.

During the middle of Qing Dynasty, in the cold weapon period, Great Great Greatmaster Yang Lu Chen, the first generation of Yang Style, inherited the real skill of Tai Chi Chuan. With his unique and high level skill, he defeated all other martial art practitioners. He was known as the "Invincible Yang" and was invited to the army training center to teach the warriors by working as general instructor. Yang Lu Chen's two sons Yang Ban Hou and Yang Jian Hou, his grandson Yang Cheng Fu, three generations, possessed invincible skill in Tai Chi Chuan.

B. Fa Jing

What skill makes Tai Chi Chuan so famous among the martial art world? The answer is Fa Jing or issue power. Yang Family Members used this Kung Fu to defeat all challengers and made Tai Chi Chuan famous. That is the real Tai Chi Chuan skill.

Push Hand exercise in Tai Chi Chuan is the basic training to get into the martial art. During Push Hand practice, people generally observe two people trying to neutralize the other’s attack. There are very few people who have actually observed the execution of the Fa Jing technique and so most are unaware of the Fa Jing skill in Tai Chi Chuan. Fa Jing means issue power; it is like shooting an arrow. The opponent who receives it will seem to suddently fly away or jump back several yards. The amount of Fa Jing issued depends on the practitioner. Some practitioners can push the opponent back more than ten yards. Fa Jing is the core of the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. They not only neutralized the opponent's hard attack but counterattacked, but used Fa Jing to repel the opponent far away. There is no other martial art as powerful as Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan that can repel and opponent so far away.

In America today, there are very few masters that possess Fa Jing skill and few American Tai Chi Chuan practitioners have any knowledge of this skill. Due to lack of information, people disregard Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art because of the soft movements they observe. Tai Chi Chuan is indeed a martial art. Among the many different family styles of Tai Chi Chuan, Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, with its unique procedure and very regular form "one inch difference makes a thousand mile lost" can help the practitioner to develop and at last to have this unique Fa Jing. If you have not got a real Yang Style master, you can not get in to the door of Fa Jing. It does not matter how long you have practiced Tai Chi Chuan, even your whole lifetime.

C. Internal Martial Art

Why is it that people called Tai Chi Chuan as an internal martial art and Shaolin Kung Fu as an external martial art? Tai Chi Chuan begins with big circle, then after many years of practice, the circle will be become smaller. Practicing Tai Chi Chuan begins from big circle to middle circle then to small circle and finally, the small circle becomes one point and no more circle. At this stage, any part of the body can neutralize the opponent's attack and issue Fa Jing within a point. This is so small that it is but a touch. For external martial art such as Shaolin Kung Fu, when a practitioner attacks, one's power appears outside for people to see. As in internal martial art, when a practitioner attained no circle stage, one can use power for Fa Jing without any external movement for people to see. From outside perspective, it looks as if one does not move but the opponent retreat. For this reason, the power used by the Tai Chi Chuan practitioner is not visible therefore people called Tai Chi Chuan as an internal martial art. Today, there is very few Tai Chi Chuan practitioner attained this no circle high stage and skillful in Fa Jing without movement. For lack of skill, demonstration and information, people do not know why Tai Chi Chuan is called internal martial art.

D. Ten Level of Tai Chi Chuan Kung Fu

Actually, Tai Chi Chuan skill is divided into ten levels. I have written an article Fang Ning On Tai Chi Chuan Kung Fu to explain this subject. The first three levels are called the low level it is also known as the entering the door Kung Fu. Mainly work on retreating circle to neutralize the opponent's attack. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics said "It is easy for retreat circle and difficult for advance circle". Four to six levels are the advance circle. In this level, practitioner follow the real master will get the Fa Jing at the fourth level. It is an "inch" Fa Jing. The circle become smaller and smaller at last he will enter the seventh level. This is equivalent to a practitioner is going through the door to inside the room. This is a correct procedure to get into high level. For my personal experience in this stage of no circle, one touch can send people away. All part of the body can issue Fa Jing without any movement. It is a wonderful skill. When a practitioner can do this, we can say that he is really master Tai Chi Chuan. This is the goal for all Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Of course, all of this must devote one's mental and physical labour and better yet, to get a real teacher who can really perform this skill. If you do not see such skill from your teacher, how can you expect to learn it! Wishing every Tai Chi Chuan practitioners to be healthy and happiness.

By Grandmaster Fang Ning
Composed by Dimitri Mougdis
at the Internal Arts Institute Hobe Sound, Florida

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