Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Yang style Taijiquan with Master Zhang Qing Bao

I was walking back from my usual kung fu class, when I happened to see a big fat man doing Pushing Hands (Tui Shou) with another man and there was a couple of women watching as well as some other students practicing. I stopped and asked the women what style of Tai Chi it was and they replied "Yang Shi", which is the most popular style seen in the west and comes from the Yang family. Then one of the students came up to me and spoke in near-perfect English. It turned out he was Malaysian and had been studying with the master for 7 years as a "closed door student". He told me the fat man was called master Zhang and came from Jinan, another city several hours away, to teach in our local park once a month. He then invited me to push hands with the master, but I said I didnt know how and so he just told me to press my arm against his and try to keep my balance. So I did and the master just casually moved his arm and whichever direction he moved it, I would go flying. Then the Malaysian guy said to try and bend the masters fingers backwards and break them, and so I tried and with his finger he moved me around as if I was weightless. He explained that the more strength I used, the more I would fly back.

The next day I went back to learn more and then they began to explain in more detail the principles. The Malaysian guy said he had studied many different hard styles of martial arts including Muay Thai and Wing Chun and he had huge forearm muscles and the muscles in his hands were like little rocks. But he had given all that up as he felt the softness of Tai Chi was superior. He explained that the reason the master was completely soft and yet still able to move me around freely lay in his understanding of using his mind (the actual word he used was Qi, but in this case it was meant as mind power). He said that he put his intention behind me and then his body just followed this intention and so I was powerless to stop it. The result was I flew back. Then the master said to try my Wing Chun on him, and he showed how the classic Wing Chun strategy of pinning and hitting simultaneously with great speed didnt work as it was like trying to grab water, his arms just moved around mine so effortlessly and then followed a gentle push, which again sent me flying. my attempt to arm lock him also ended in me going flying.

Recently I have been focusing too much on hard training and I neglected softness. This experience had put me back in touch with the softer side of martial arts. A good martial artist should be balanced, developing both hard and soft so he/she can adapt to any situation easily. I have begun to take an interest in Tai Chi, but unfortunately after the mast returned to Jinan I couldnt find his students, but I did find a teacher of Chen style, which is not as soft as Yang style, but can generate explosive power through its softness.

1 comment:

Aznjoe said...

I too am learning Yang style tai chi but I am learning the long form right now. All I have to say is Internal styles are amazing Martial arts. Also you a very lucky going around china and learning martial arts I too wish to do that one day.