Saturday, February 11, 2012

Authentic tai-chi

What is authentic tai-chi? What was its original form? Frankly speaking, nobody knows. During recent years, the mass-publishing industry in Mainland China has been flourishing, and there have been tai-chi masters from every background publishing their previously oral traditions as well as giving new interpretations to their practice. Most of these masters/writers were middle-aged or elderly men, most, I believe are kind and honorable men worth our every respect.  This has become an age of training-method seeking students, rather than students seeking sound training-method. All for the benefits of the inquisitive learners.  Needless to say, some of these new books are good and some..... are quite misleading/confusing.  Yet all are there for any eager learner to search, experiment and discover; and to find out what is suitable to his own particular needs.  Gone is the day when holding onto one's particular sifu or lineage means loyalty or being authentic. 

One notable example is the late master Wang YongQuan (汪永泉) and his student, master Wei ShuRen (魏书人)。 Their style is called Yang-style tai-chi, the Old-Six (杨家太极拳,老六路). It was claimed that their style is the original style, and is quite different from the now commonly called Yang-style as taught by Yang ChengPu (杨澄浦) who, for whatever reason, modified the original form when he moved from Beijing to Shanghai. In other words it is said to be more authentic, more combat-related. I find the six little theory books by Wei most interesting, in particular the book called The theory of Nei-Gong (内功理法).

I find the little book interesting in the following ways:

1. The training method stresses on power-generation through chi as a core competence of tai-chi (corollary: tai-chi movement without this core competency is NOT tai-chi).

2. It covers both chi-generation in stationery form (as in zhan zhuang) as well as chi-execution in moving forms (which is more difficult to do).

3. It makes use of Taoist Neidan concepts in chi-generation (like back three-gates 后三关, use of Du-Mai (督脉) to generate chi-circles etc).

4. It makes use of chi-activated points (as in point-meditation) to form a power structure in both stationery and moving form executions.

Fair to say Master Wei is not the first tai-chi master who "revealed" these principles of authentic tai-chi, but certainly he is the one who did it very systematically and concisely.

The theory of Nei Gong

PS:  This book is an advanced theory book (in Chinese), those without a good foundation in an internal martial art form will likely to find this book rather incomprehensible or irrelevant to their needs.


  1. ...unfortunately you can't read Chinese, can you? The little book is selling at HK$11 at local bookshops, real bargain!!!

  2. This was cutting edge technology. I was geared up to face the future. It took me some time to realize that I was now spending more of my time in my cubicle at my computer then I previously was. Even more disturbing was the sense of loneliness creeping up on me. I needed something to connect with. I needed a live person to talk to face to face.

    Ilchi Lee


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