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Subject: Tai Chi Chuan Cheng Man Ch'ing style INTERVIEW TO GRAND MASTER HSU YEE CHUNG ( November 15, 2005) Author: Massimiliano Biondi Upload time: 2005-12-15 10:47:42
One of the main aims of our journey in Taiwan is to meet GM Hsu Yee Chung to interview him about CMC Tai Chi Chuan.

GM Hsu is one of the most authoritative and skilful TCC teacher in Taiwan. He is a man very respected and esteemed for his humane and professional qualities too. GM Hsu isn't only a famous TCC master, he also has a brilliant career in journalism that took him to be the editor of one of the most important newspaper of his country. But the name of GM Hsu can't be separated from the great personage that has more influenced his life: Prof. Cheng Man Ch'ing, one of the greatest TCC masters of the last century, and famous painter, chinese traditional doctor, poet and calligraphy artist. In fact, GM Hsu was one of the best Prof. CMC's students, and probably the closest one to him. GM Hsu divides the Prof. CMC's technique inheritance with the other 2 great masters of the island: GM Chui Hong Ping and GM Liu Si Heng. But among the 3 masters, GM Hsu is perhaps the person who should be considered as the real Prof. CMC's successor because he studied with him for 26 years and, at his death, he took the direction of Shih Chung School of Taipei, the TCC school founded by Prof. CMC in 1949.

GM Hsu practices TCC from 56 years and for more than 3 decades he is an indefaticable promoter of CMC style, whose today he is the most authoritative historical memory. If someone wants to ask some questions about CMC Tai Chi Chuan, in the world there is nobody more informed than GM Hsu, in fact he has directly lived all the history of this style from 1949 until today. To best understand the importance of this teacher, we must remember that GM Hsu was recently invited in China People's Republic to introduce again CMC Tai Chi Chuan style that was absent in the mainland from 1949. It's really a great privilege could have an interview with GM Hsu, and we take advantage of his kind availability to ask him several questions about CMC Tai Chi Chuan. We are going to ask him some critical questions from other styles' students too.

1.Master, which are your main memories about your teacher, prof. CMC?

Professor Cheng was both a feared and respected elder. He looked very serious but was kind to people that he came into contact with. He was well read in the Chinese Classics and advocated Confucius and Taoist culture. He hated evil as much as one hates an enemy. The Professor didn't fear the influential nor did he speak recklessly. He studied diligently and was honest, stuck to justice despite pressure and throughout his lifetime took the path of the golden mean of the Confucian School. Professor Cheng mastered poetry, calligraphy, Tai Chi Chuan, Medicine, painting and was respectfully called the master of five excellences.

2.A lot of TCC experts tell that Prof. CMC was one of the best TCC masters of the last century. Could you tell us some anectodes about Prof. CMC's skill in TCC?

According to my memory, there was one day when Professor Cheng was teaching
students push hands while simultaneously talking to someone. I thought to myself that although his skill was high, it might be possible to make a sneak attack so it wouldn't be possible for him to react in time. I made my move but before being able to touch even his clothing, he through me away. I hit the wall quite hard. I almost went into vomited and shock. Luckily, Professor Cheng was a Chinese Physician and immediately used Tui Na(massage) to help heal my injury. After a while I recovered.
As you can see, the Professor's skill was of an advanced level. His ability of listening to strength (Ting Chin) was quite keen. While meeting an opponent's attack, neutralizing and issuing strengh (Fa) are completed in one breath. This is a naturally occurring self defense reaction.

3.Neverthless there are some critical persons that say: "How was possible for Prof. CMC, that studied with GM Yang Cheng Fu only 7 years and was always busy with his jobs of doctor, poet and painter, to reach the same high level in TCC like the other GM Yang's famous students and sons that studied with him for a longer time?" Which is your opinion?

Even with his heavy workload on many different fields , he was still was able to find the time to practice Tai Chi Chuan. To a greater degree his natural gifts surpassed others such as his capacity for understanding concepts that can be seen from his sayings and writings.
Example of this include: Practice in the broken time, Swimming on Dry Land, The Equal Importance of Spirit and Spine, Strengh and Physics, Beautiful Lady's Hand, Suffering Loss, etc.. . Actually those theories are never been address by people before.

4.Did Prof. CMC never talk to his students about the legendary skill of his teacher, GM Yang Cheng Fu and his training with him?

Grandmaster Yang was sincere but was not a very good speaker. He wasn't one for talking and laughing either. Often he used only one word “Sung” (relax) to encourage his students. Everyday, Master Yang repeated at least ten times, “Relax, Relax, Relax completely! Otherwise he said, “Not relaxed, Not relaxed. If you are not relaxed, then you are like a punching bag.” The other secrets of footwork, eyes, body, hands and methods were taught to Professor Cheng. In 1934, Professor helped Grandmaster Yang edit and publish, “The Complete Theory and Practice of Tai Chi Chuan”. It was easy to tell that Grandmaster Yang regarded Professor Cheng very highly by transmitting his art
to him.

5.Apart GM Yang Cheng Fu, did Prof. CMC study TCC with other teacher too?

Professor Cheng’s only teacher was Yang Cheng Fu. In addition he also consulted with his fellow classmates and other teachers with hope of becoming even better at Tai Chi Chuan.

6.Which are the main characteristics and advantages of CMC style?

Professor Cheng was unique in that he was a scholar of many different fields of study, Chinese Medicine, painter, etc. This had never occurred before in that he was able to attract many intellectuals to join the study of CMC Tai Chi Chuan. His book, “Master Cheng's New Method of Tai Chi Self Cultivation”, with pictures of him demonstrating the different postures, foot diagrams with detailed explanation has helped to promote the essence of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. Professor has shown what he has gained from his intense study of this art and how it relates to philosophy, medicine as well as physics (”Master Cheng's Thirteen Treatises on Tai Chi Chuan”). He has shared with everyone
these treasures without holding anything back. This is something that no other book on Tai Chi Chuan had done before.
Generally speaking, Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan requires that the form be done while the body is level and the spine is plumb erect, center of the substantial foot (bubbling well point) should adhere uniformly to the ground, the feet, legs, and waist must act as one unit, the internal and external must be relaxed, performing the form must be like moving clouds and flowing water(naturally and smoothly).

7.And which are the main differences compared to traditional Yang style?

Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan belong to the Yang style. In order to conform to the demands of the times, the repetitions were deleted and the essentials remained in the form. The most important point is for the movements to be executed properly according to Tai Chi Theory.

8.Some people find fault with 37 CMC Form saying it's too short and it doesn't contains some basic posture of Yang style. Which is your opinion about it?

The traditional form consisting of 108 moves is too long in duration. In today's busy modern world, it is difficult to find the time to learn the long form. Consequently, Professor Cheng had the vision to keep the essentials while shortening the form making it more easy to learn for everyone. If one feels that the form is too short or have not exercised enough, they can always perform it a few more times. In addition certain postures in the long form, such as Needle at the Sea Bottom, are not suitable medically for some peoples and have been deleted.

9.Regards 37 CMC Form, GM Chui Hong Ping in his interview says that none of the other TCC forms emphatize Son (relax) as deeply as CMC Form. Are you agree with him?

I agree with Chu Hong Pin.

10.Could you tell us something about CMC Tai Chi Sword, form and fencing?

The form, the sword form and push hands are all consistent in that they all are based on the foundation of the form. There are no exceptions with either push hands or sword fencing. Adhere (nian), join (lian), stick to(tie) and follow(sui) without letting go or resisting. All of this must be consistent with the requirement to relax (sung), sink down (chen) and to have a flowing circular movement with no breaks or jagged edges. The body moves as a unit (all its parts connected).

11. –Watching the famous Prof. CMC's video we can see that, when he is older, he performs TCC Form and Tui Shou in a different way compared to when he was younger. You studied with Prof. CMC for 26 years; Do you think there was an evolution and improvement in his TCC?

The differences from Professor Cheng's form from the 1950’s to the 1970's can be likened to Chinese calligraphy. When practicing standard script one should strive to be both exact and neat. Later with the cursive script one should be able to do anything one's heart dictates.

12. –Which is today the situation of CMC style in Taiwan?.

There are quite a number of Tai Chi Chuan styles currently being practiced in Taiwan. After doing some checking, it appears that more people are studying Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan than any other style because it is both easier to study and faster to obtain results. In Northern Taiwan, Professor Cheng established Shy Jung Association some fifty six years ago. Under my management and the contributions of the faculty, nearly thousands of students every year are studying the form, push hands, sword and knife as well as having lectures on Tai Chi Theory. The development of Cheng’s Tai Chi Chuan in Taiwan is flourishing day by day.

13.Some months ago, you was invited in China (mainland) to introduce again CMC TCC. How was received your teaching from Chinese TCC students?

There is no one in China currently teaching Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan. After numerous invitations to visit as well as making many copies of Professor's book available for their study, the sport's authorities there have agreed that the detailed explanations of both the form and theory are brilliant. Therefore, the Beijing University of Physical Education and other related organizations asked whether it would be possible to print and publish “Master Cheng's New Method of Tai Chi Chuan Self Cultivation” in China. In addition, Nan Kai University in Tianjin currently has a course within their curriculum to research Cheng’s Tai Chi Chuan. Other areas in China are discussing with us about setting up programs as well.

14.At last, one questions to help Italian TCC students to improve themselves: In Tui Shou, most people have problems with Lu (Rollback) and Peng (Ward-off). Could you tell us how to perform Lu to neutralize a push using the softness, and how we can release the internal strenght (Fa Chin) using Peng?

In order to increase the effectiveness of one's Tai Chi Chuan, you must proceed from the fundamentals. It is said, “The power should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, directed by the waist and manifested through the fingers.” Each movement of Peng(Ward-off), Lu(Rollback), Ji(Press) , An(Push) must be relaxed and yield in order to achieve the proper effect.
Therefore one yields before a force taking advantage of an opponent's momentum and adds a pull or push to uproot him. “Four ounces can deflect a thousand pounds.” One must practice with a partner in order to realize this point. Treatise Number Seven, Strength and Physics from “Cheng's Thirteen Treatises on Tai Chi Chuan” has an explanation about this point.

We thank warmly GM Hsu for this very interesting interview. We remember to Enertao’s readers that GM Hsu will be for the first time in Italy during the 3rd TCC CMC Forum, in July 2006, where he’ll be one of the main guest stars. Don’t lose this great event!

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