Style of Tai Chi
What style of Tai Chi
does the Tai Chi Study Center teach and practice?
Most call it Cheng style after Cheng Man-ch’ing (aka Zheng Manqing).
It is also sometimes the “37 postures” form.
(Cheng himself called it “Yang style short form”
in homage to his teacher, Yang Cheng-fu.)
The Tai Chi principles and their application to daily life,
along with the qi gong (aka ch’i kung) and mental concentrations,
are more important than the external, physical form.
It was Prof. Cheng’s leadership
as a martial artist and a medical doctor
that opened Tai Chi and its soft, “internal” training to all.
He was the founding president of the first
all China medical association on the mainland in the 1930’s
and he taught martial arts at the Whangpoa Military Academy
(sometimes called the Chinese West Point).
He emphasized the importance of building health and wellness
and specified that Tai Chi was the best exercise for women and the vital yin energy.
Tai Chi is a spirit / heartmind / energy / body
learning tool and resource, always available.
Although the Cheng Man-ch’ing style
is sometimes called the “37 posture Yang short form”
(he developed this form in the late 1930s
while teaching martial arts at the Whangpo Military Academy),
it is not to be confused with the later, short forms
(e.g., the 24 posture form, the 48 posture form, etc.)
that Communist Chinese government committees (!) concocted for competitions.
Tournaments turn Tai Chi into just another external display
(like dancing with the stars or ice skating, etc.)
with winners and losers and judges and politics, etc.
Prof. Cheng wrote that “The chief technique of Tai Chi
is the heart/mind and ch’i together in the tan t’ien.”
(“Thirteen Treatises”, by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, translated by Lo and Inn, page 59)
This puts the emphasis upon
the special, indeed essential, elements of Tai Chi,
i.e., the heart/mind and the energy harmonized.
The physical form is the “alphabet”
and is just the beginning.
Learning the physical movements allows one to begin
developing the physical awareness that leads to what makes Tai Chi special.
That is, the patient, mental concentrations used first to detect
and then to direct one’s “electrical” energy ( qi / ch’i).
Ideally, the physical form provides the foundation
that allows the energetic and mental elements to emerge.
It is not how many physical forms one knows that is important
but rather how well one knows a form and how well the form has been used
to learn the principles and to detect and then to direct
the qi / ch’i (energy/breath) and the xin (heart/mind).
It is manifestation of the Tai Chi principles
in daily life that is the true test of one’s Tai Chi.
And having lots of fun along the way is important and fundamental.
From the T’ai Chi Classics
“The mind leads the energy, the energy leads the body.”
“T’ai Chi hinges entirely upon the player’s consciousness…”
Photo: North River, Hampshire County, West Virginia.
Photo by Warren D. Conner, copyright, 2017, all rights reserved.