I was rereading an article titled, Discovering Yang Zhenji’s Taiji Traditional Taiji, and ran across a couple of interesting points. First off, the article is about an experience with the eldest son of Yang Chengfu (YCF). Whoa…! I have to first wonder about the whole lineage thing. Doesn’t the lineage generally pass from father to eldest son? I’ve heard conflicting stories that YCF actually passed the lineage to Fu Zhongwhen, but currently it seems that Yang Zhenduo (YZD) is the current yang family lineage holder? Hmm.. anyhoo… enough about the politics and such.
The article goes on to state some of the differences they encountered with the traditional versus modern are both postural and energetic in nature. Of the descriptions, I did find it amusing how they often commented that Yang Zhenji (YZJ) does not do any “flourishes” in his movements. Based on the article coming from a site based on the US Wushu Academy, I’m assuming the “flourishes” are the little waves and touches found in a lot of the standardized competition wushu sets, or what I refer to as wushu-taiji. However, it’s also interesting to note how the author mentions that:
Yang Zhenji’s form has no embellishments which might make the form more attractive, but which would also detract from the martial function of the form.
I’ve often thought about the martial effectiveness of a movement or form. I’m starting to wonder if some of the styles that appear overtly martial are really martially effective? This kind of goes back to the old “yang vs chen” debate I’ve been having in my head and with some fellow taiji enthusiasts.
The article mentions a couple of differences with specific postures, so read the article for full details. One description that kind of caught my eye was YZJ’s theory that you should complete all blocks and deflections should be completed before the strike. While this sounds pretty common sense, how many forms actually DO this? The most obvious demonstration of this theory is in the brush knee twist step posture:
The deflecting hand should clear the knee before the weight moves forward, carrying the strike with it. This adds to the energy of the form because it represents a more clear separation of substantial and insubstantial.
This was really evident when I watched YZD do the yang long form. I noticed that his hand often cleared his knee before he moved his weight forward for the strike. I’ve never really seen any other clear example of this concept as most of the taiji I’ve seen kind of blends the movements together. However, I must note that in chen form as I’ve experienced it, the block/deflection is clearly made and completed before the strike.
Wow… so many good points in the article and it’s quite a good read. It goes on more to expand on the overemphasis of the internal/meditational aspect which could lead to imbalances and so on. Check out the complete article for more!