A buddy of mine is on the quest for “old Yang” and asked me if I had ever heard of or ran across anything of this nature? I easily replied, “No”. But the researcher in me couldn’t really let this go. I at least wanted to find some examples of the style. Luckily for me, in my browsing of taiji videos on Youtube, I ran across the following video of Wei Shuren demonstrating the Yang Style of Yang Jianhou:
Could this be the infamous secret Yang set? In viewing the clip, there seems to be quite a bit of effort placed upon intention. He just looks like he’s totally absorbed in the form.
Many students of Taijiquan practice incorrectly – first learn the routine, and only after they are skilled at it they explore the principles; what they do not understand is that through this empty practice without principles their bodies already get used to the incorrect way of practice, stiff, inflexible, with physical strength.
Once the students want to explore the principles, the way they move (with stiff and inflexible strength) already becomes habitual and the problems are very difficult to get rid of; and although they practice correctly for a long time later, Internal Strength (Nei Jin) is out of their grasp and there is no way that they can reach deep understanding of high skill levels.
What are some examples of these teachings? The article goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the reasoning for learning both principle and movement together. The article must be read to fully do it justice. However, at a high level, the excerpt outlined the ideas of:
- Crown of the head suspended
- Expression of the Eyes
- Empty Armpits
These are some of the points I try to train in my own practice. Often times, I tend to look down to check out my feet. This is a No No as it can easily disrupt any sort of “intention training” that may have been happening. I was taught we must try to *feel* the correction and then replicate ourselves.
As for the eyes, I whole heartedly agree. I’ve often heard you can tell the level of a master by just looking at his eyes. Not this glazed over inwardly look, but this “eye of the tiger” stare… Not the mean eye of the tiger but imagine a tiger in the jungle. Note the intensity of the eyes, yet the relaxed demeanor of the face.
The idea of empty armpits is something I value in a taiji set. It has this element of keeping the body opened and relaxed. It reminds me of some yiquan visualizations where you imagine beach balls underneath the arms. I like this visualization.
Any additional points or comments about this style would be greatly appreciated.