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volume 12

December 2019

Editor Nasser Butt

British Martial Arts Awards Magazine Of The Year 2019

perception realization activation action

Lift Hands

The Internal Arts Magazine Volume 12 December 2019


Nasser Butt

L’orso Solitario

Published by L’orso Solitario Books, Leicester, United Kingdom Lift Hands The Internal Arts Magazine Editor Nasser Butt Copyright © by Nasser Butt, 2019 & Fa-jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools Nasser Butt asserts the moral right to be identified as the editor & owner of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the editor. Waiver of Liability: The publisher assumes no liability for the use or misuse of information contained within this book. By purchasing or electronically downloading this publication, the reader hereby, waives any and all claims he or she may have now or in the future against Nasser Butt and Fa-Jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools or its affiliates.

The points of view represented here are solely those of the authors’ concerned. You do not have to subscribe to them if you do not wish. Nor is their inclusion here necessarily an endorsement by Fa-jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing School or its affiliates. Cover Photo (main): Aileen Kinchington Cover Design © Nasser Butt, 2019 Cover Photography: Nasser Butt. Back Design: Copyright © Nasser Butt 2019; Photography: Marios Eleftheriou

lift hands

December 2019



Editor’s Note

Page 9

The House of Mouse The Art of Amy Faulkner

Page 11

Erle Montaigue’s Mother Applications To The Small San-sau Peter Jones

Page 12

A Tribute - Aileen Mary Kinchington Nasser Butt

Page 17

Mastery Dr. Gregory T. Lawton

Page 32

Unlocking The Small San-sau Part 4 Nasser Butt

Page 35

The Light Dr. Gregory T. Lawton

Page 43

Fighting From The Ground Up Krish Pillay

Page 44

20 Questions with Nasser Butt

Page 45

In Memory of a Student: James Thompson Katherine Loukopoulos

Page 52

Whose Line Is It Anyway? Part 2 Cheng Man-Ching: A Case Study Nasser Butt

Page 62

In Memoriam

Page 103

Hadjios Valley Camp 2020 Details

Page 109

Peasant Talk

Page 117

Useful Contacts

Page 120

The Art of Louiseneige Be

Page 121





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elcome to Volume 12 of the multi-award winning Lift Hands Magazine!

What an amazing year this has been!

editor’s note

Nasser Butt

Once again Lift Hands Magazine has won the ultimate accolade at the British Martial Arts Awards 2019 - Magazine of the Year for the second consecutive year running. This is an incredible achievement. For those who thought that we may have ‘fluked’ it last year in 2018, well… no fluke - we are here to stay. None of this would have been possible without the amazing support I get from some of the best martial artists from around the world and a host of others who provide moral, academic and even financial support to allow the magazine to grow! It was my aim and hope that by the end of this year our readership hit the 10K mark. Well, not only did we achieve our target, we also smashed it out of the park. We currently stand at 16,586 readers in 98 countries! Yes, you’ve read that right - 98 countries and we are still growing! On the following page is a list of all the countries in which Lift Hands is being read… we truly are a global phenomenon. The feedback I get on a daily basis is one of positivity. Unlike the plethora of magazines available, we focus on the arts not celebrity and we have human stories to boot! And so on to our current issue… I recommend that folk read the stories of Aileen Kinchington, who is featured on the cover and James Thompson. Theirs are extraordinary stories of how martial arts can give focus, hope and a sense of direction to us all at any stage of our lives. It is also about the millions of ordinary folk who practice martial arts on a daily basis without fuss or fanfare. They train hard to the best of their ability without any spotlight or celebrity… they are not about winning belts, or competitions or fancy titles - their stories are about surviving their own fears and demons. This issue is dedicated to these ‘ordinary’ folk! I’m anticipating more positive things in 2020. We will feature even more collaborations from our martial family from around the world and as I stated in Volume 11, Baguazhang and Xingyi will also be featured. As the year draws to a close, we must remember that with the end of winter, we await renewal and hope in spring - and this is exactly how this issue has organically come to be. It features stories of loss - yet despite the loss there is hope and positivity. I want to thank everyone who has helped me over the past three years. The success of Lift Hands is not mine alone. It is all of ours and it spans the continents. To all our readers and contributors and supporters… I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. Lift Hands Volume 13 will appear in March 2020 and as I’ve said previously… get writing, we all have a story within us! Happy training until then!


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Erle Montaigue’s Mother Applications To The Small San-sau A Brief Introduction Peter Jones


'll be taking a brief look over another two of Erle's Mother Applications [add-on’s] to the small San-sau.

As I have already pointed out in the previous issues, always learn the small San-sau as it's meant to be done and learn the Mother Applications as they are meant to be done, separately. I am not going over the small San-sau, I'll be starting the Mother Applications from the end of the movement in the small San-sau, itself. As always, please take precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your training partners and do not strike any of the points covered below.

Fifth Mother Application Some of the points used: Cardiovascular [Cv5], Stomach [St9] We start this one with a one knuckle punch [tiger paw] into the pit of neck [Cv 22], [Photo 1], this strike will be slightly different, we call it a ‘vibrating fist’, [the strike is done with your left palm]. Then, with your right palm you strike to the side of your partners neck using a percussive or ‘ox-tongue’ palm, [Photo 2]. This happens when you concave your palm in a ‘cupped’ position -

Photo 1

bringing all your fingers and thumb together. Now with your left palm, you strike your partner’s forehead with an open palm strike.[Photo 3] The strikes are motored by fajin and are a split second apart causing massive disruption in the body’s Qi.

Photo 2


Photo 3

Sixth Mother Application

Some of the points used: Stomach [St12], Conceptor Vessel [Cv22] In this Mother Application, we begin with a strike using your right back palm under your partner’s chin and neck, thus forcing the head back - causing a massive physical disruption, [Photo 1]. Now, using the same palm you slam down onto your partner’s [St12 point] - taking away their will to fight and breaking the collar bone in the process, [Photo 2]!

Photo 1

As soon as that’s done your right palm snakes around your partners neck, jerking the neck forwards - thereby causing a kink in the brainstem - to an oncoming elbow into the pit of the neck [Cv22], [Photo 3/4]. If your interested in learning these applications both, Nasser Butt and I, hold regular classes in the UK and workshops around the world as Senior Instructors accredited by Master Erle Montaigue, himself.

Photo 2


Photo 3

Photo 4

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big well done to Nasser, for all the hard work he has put into producing another award winning magazine again this year! Further, I would like to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year! See you all in the next issue for another two of Erle's Mother Application and let’s make 2020 another winning year for Lift Hands Magazine!




ileen Mary Kinchington was a true ‘force of nature.’ If you knew her than you'll already know and if you didn’t - well you missed out on meeting one hell of a person!

It’s not often that you’ll get to see an 88 year old great grandmother grace the cover of a martial arts magazine - unless, that is, she was a famed practitioner or was associated with one of the major martial arts families. Aileen was neither. She was a regular pensioner who, due to her ailing health, decided to take up the martial art of Taijiquan at the tender age of 79! However, before I proceed any further, let’s hear a bit about her from those who knew her best - her family. Aileen Mary Smith was born on 25 February 1931 at the family home, 14 Hillary Place in Braunstone. She was the younger of the two children of Joseph Smith, a journeyman plumber, and his wife, Violet and was the last surviving sibling, her brother John having predeceased her. Aileen began her schooling in Leicester but World War II broke out when she was just eight years old, so most of her late childhood and early teenage years would have been spent under the restraints of the conflict: blackouts, curfews, food and clothing rationing, Anderson shelters and all of the other trappings of wartime. Wartime shortages had a major effect on Aileen and, as a result, she was thrifty & resourceful throughout her life. She often went to stay with her mum’s parents, Granny and Grandad Blueman, in the relative safety of Malvern during the war years, returning to Leicester in 1945 to continue her education. However, as she proudly told all and sundry years afterwards, she was a rebellious child and she was expelled from school at the age of fourteen. She must have been a bright girl, though, for she went on to take a course in book-keeping, typing and Pitman’s shorthand which set her up for her future career as a shorthand typist and secretary. In 1947, Aileen went to a dance at The Corn Exchange in the centre of Leicester and there met a freshfaced, blue-eyed, fair-haired young army sergeant named Douglas Kinchington who was based with his unit of The Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers at Stoughton aerodrome. They fell in love and Doug later described Aileen on a photo he gave her at the time as, “My dearest: the sweetest girl in the world.” When Doug finished his army service, he and Aileen married on 25th May1953 at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. This was the beginning of a long and happy marriage which lasted for fifty-seven years until Doug’s passing in 2010. Doug and Aileen celebrated the birth of their first son, Paul, in 1957. Their family was completed two years later with the births of the twins, Annie and Dave. Holidays were a highlight of the Kinchington family’s summers: in the early years, they would always go to Butlins in Skegness, Minehead or Phwelli, and do all of the things that young families did in the fifties and sixties: build sandcastles on the beach; paddle and swim in the freezing British seas; eat ice-cream and candy floss; and take advantage of the many amusements and entertainments the seaside had to offer. Later on, they went camping in Wales, Scotland and The Lake District, and then they graduated to holiday cottages and Steve – whom they adopted in 1980 – particularly remembers Dyffryn Ardudyw near Harlech, where they went on several occasions. They had a dog – a “Heinz 57” mongrel called Sam – and they always took him with them on their walking holidays. Doug was a very fit man and a keen walker and in 1977, Aileen supported him doing The Pennine Way Walk. Aileen was very involved with St. Michael & All Angels church in Scott Street, doing their flowers and organising the rummage sales and harvest suppers. She was a Brown Owl for around ten years from the mid-1970s and she ran the 11th Leicester St. Michael & All Angels brownie pack. She had been brought up a Catholic but had changed to Church of England in later life. Aileen was an excellent cook. She’d always do a Sunday roast with three puddings and she was a gifted seamstress, making school uniforms and clothes for her children and grandchildren. She taught Annie to sew when she was seven years old! Annie recalls: ‘Mum was a free spirit – the term is often used to describe a complex person with an extraordinary mind, a beautiful soul with an unconventional approach towards life. She loved to laugh, be silly and was proud to


announce that most of her clothes were charity shop bargains. She had pink hair. Always a bonus when trying to find her in the Morrison’s Saturday LCFC rush. Mum arranged and paid for her own funeral, which made it easier for the family as we just followed her hand-written requests. Her basket/coffin was already in the garage, wrapped in an old quilt cover and tied with bungee ropes. She had the rush coffin made several years ago and would not rest until Dave had cut a wooden base for it and I had helped her to line it with pretty fabric we had chosen from Fenwick’s. Mum and I sat in her conservatory with needle and thread in hand and the coffin between us, both of us knowing that one day she would be in it. She was not daunted by that fact but I remember having a huge lump in my throat. She cherished her bungalow and garden in which she felt safe and lived independently, she was always going somewhere, with friends, to her beloved Tai Chi, supporting the Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Coeliac Societies, taking out her ‘Old Dears’ (who were mostly younger than her) to charity shops, cafes, etc. Many hours were spent pottering about in her garden, planting, moving and pruning. Containers and pots everywhere were filled with 50p plants she had ‘rescued’ from the corner of the garden centre. She knew the names of everything and would NOT have a hose pipe because it wasted water. Mum was indeed ‘the queen of crazy paving’ - not a blade of grass in sight.’ Aileen, who had stopped work when the children were born, was able to go back to work around 1970 and she took on a secretarial position with Stoneygate Securities in Princess Road and then Contact Radio Telephones in Saffron Lane, before moving to Ambassador Fitted Kitchens, who had a showroom on Welford Road, about five years later. She was one of the first proud owners of a microwave oven and she used to be a demonstrator at Ambassador. As a result of her friendship with Gill Dodge, a social worker, Aileen became a foster mother. Amongst the many youngsters who were fortunate enough to be under her care, she first fostered Ian, with whom she remained particularly close. She went on to foster Steve when he was fourteen years old and adopted him three years later. Aileen went on a counselling course and won an award for counselling. She became the co-founder for Leicestershire Cruise, an organisation offering bereavement support, and she was instrumental in setting up the Leicester branch, which now has 140 counsellors. Aileen retired from work in 2001 but continued with Cruise. She also became deeply involved with Friends of The Earth and, over the years, worked for a multitude of charities, supporting charities such as Parkinson’s UK, and The Coeliac and Alzheimer’s Societies. She was a tireless worker and fundraiser and she only retired from everything about three years ago. Around the year 2000, Doug, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and he began to display the first signs of Alzheimer’s. His condition continued to deteriorate over the next few years and Aileen cared for him with devotion. However, in 2006, he had to go into care and Aileen decided to move to a bungalow in 2009. Tragically, Doug passed away the following year. Much of Aileen’s life after her middle 50’s revolved around her ever growing family. Every Thursday, Aileen, Doug, Annie and various combinations of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers went out to the local park and the shops, usually with Tazzi, the rescue dog, in tow. Glorious times were spent at G’ma’s playing shops with the contents of the button jar, making mud pies and banging cake tins with wooden spoons. Aileen took up Tai Chi, which became an integral part of her life and gave her strength, resilience and peace. Until just a few years ago, she was going three times a week. She continued to practice Tai Chi right up to the week before she was admitted to hospital.

So, you see, in June 2010 I didn't just gain a new student one day whilst teaching at Age UK - I gained a 'free spirit,' a 'rebel' and a selfless human being, who'd go on to become like my own family! Right from the word go, Aileen knew exactly what she wanted from her Tai Chi. I’ll let her explain in her own words from a short article she wrote just before her 80th birthday, entitled “Not Bad, Not Bad At All”:


The arthritis in my joints was worsening when a hospital “scan” showed a problem with osteoporosis. This seemed to progress the problem of movement and pain in the knees and ankle joints, and soon I was losing a lot of confidence. It was not long I began to feel very thankful that I had moved into a bungalow a few years previous, so, I began to make plans to make myself as safe as possible around the home; A Zimmer frame to get me to the bathroom, and sturdy chair by my bed to hold onto and handles all around the shower, plus rails around the garden, etc. The need to go out and about needed some preparation. Firstly, two walking sticks, one for home and one in my car. A routine settled quite soon - switch off the engine and grab the walking stick. Having a stick in my hand gave me confidence, but the fear of falling was always with me and visiting family and friends with an upstairs ‘loo’ became a problem - if no one was looking, I would go upstairs sitting on my bottom! I am not mentioning too much the increasing weakness, pain and discomfort, and to find help I joined the hospital osteoporosis group. A leaflet about a new Tai Chi course starting shortly caught my interest. I had seen a demonstration years ago and was impressed. I recalled the slow movements and the calmness. Several people in the osteoporosis group had benefitted from yoga, etc., so I decided to give Tai Chi a try, that was in June 2010. Here I am now, about to celebrate my ‘coming of age’ birthday (80) in a few weeks. I am not at all sure where my sticks are at the moment and the Zimmer is now gathering dust in the garage. With care I can walk up and down stairs and walk up to two miles with reasonable confidence. I do attend classes regularly and make an effort to practice regularly. There is still some pain BUT my joints are moving again and my confidence growing too. I don’t want to get over confident and I must confess I still wobble trying to stand on one leg! I put it down to Tai Chi and the encouragement of our Instructor, Nasser, who smiles and says, “Not bad, not bad at all.”

Aileen was every instructor’s dream student. She had goals and she practiced to achieve them! Starting with a single class, she soon got the bug and eventually ended up training three times a week! Aileen more or less took over the running of the classes at Age UK. I had begun with a single class on a Tuesday afternoon and before I knew it, she had arranged another class for ‘Beginners’ on a Saturday morning. Not only that, Aileen started to do all the bookkeeping for the classes ensuring everything was in order ready for the end of tax year. She even made me a money pouch in which to place all my coin - disgusted at the sight of the plastic bank bags which I used!


Aileen practicing her Post Balancing circa 2012

Aileen with Monica Mitoli in August 2019

Aileen also started attending classes at my Studio, off the Narborough Road, and for someone who had struggled going up and down the stairs in her old house, she suddenly had no problems climbing four flights of stairs! Her passion for gardening soon gained expression at the Studio. She started taking care of the myriad of plants I had potted all around the place, and I would get a stern telling off if I ever forgot to water them or feed them when she was away! She had her own set of keys to the place and would let herself in as and when she liked. It wasn’t uncommon to arrive there and find Aileen already pottering around the place. Aileen had the respect of all those who Aileen with Skye December 2018 trained alongside her. She had a wonderful uplifting energy, a sharp wit - which she used liberally! She would say things as she saw them and as she meant - there was nothing cryptic about her at all! I’d often get a telling off if she deemed I had done something wrong or not paid enough attention to the needs of a particular student. That was Aileen - a carer! She cared for everyone and had a tremendous zest for life which would put even the young ones to shame. When I had students visiting me from overseas or moving to Leicester for long term study she’d happily offer them accommodation until they sorted themselves out. Over the years she had become a mother figure for myself and she absolutely doted on my youngest - Skye. Every birthday, every Christmas Skye would get a bagful of goodies. Dolls, paper, crayons, heaps of creative activities. Even, when she went on holiday, Aileen would send her a pack to keep her entertained on the flight! My two eldest were not left out of the loop either. Aileen took a great interest in their school, college and university life. She would sit and talk with them if they ever visited while I was teaching, and tell them her stories but, most importantly, listen to what they had to say! In 2011, not long after Aileen had started to train with me at Age UK, my teacher and mentor - Erle Montaigue - passed away at the end of January. Aileen had never got the chance to meet him but realised how important he had been in my life. In 2012, I - along with a few others - had planted a red oak at the local arboretum in memory of Erle and I had told Aileen about it. One day, whilst I was teaching at The Studio, Aileen walked through the doors carrying a beautiful dry flower and leaf arrangement! The leaves were from a red oak and she proudly announced that they were from “His Lordship’s tree!” One of many hand finished cards I received from Aileen with the legend , “Say no more!”


Aileen practicing at Clarence House, Age UK,December 2018

I was absolutely stunned! Although I had told her where we had planted the tree, I had never told her the exact location. Aileen must have spent hours scouring the arboretum in Evington in locating the tree and find it she did, such was her steely determination. It was late autumn, I remember it well for only then do the leaves of the red oak begin to turn ‘red’ - not only that, later in the year my Christmas card would be made from the same leaves! This was just another example of her caring and creative nature.
 As time passed there was not much that Aileen and I wouldn’t discuss - from family to work, including my social life! She had an instinct for knowing when something was wrong and often after I had been told and she had made her point - she would ‘kill’ the conversation with the words, “Say no more!” I would often find notes or cards tucked away in my bag from Aileen, containing her observations and advice… “You looked a bit under the weather today!” or “You weren’t your usual self - is everything ok?" Or, my favourite - “I was watching you today, I think you've gained weight and you ought to be told!” All would end with S.N.M!

A personalized Christmas card from Aileen, hand made with leaves from Erle’s red oak!

The cycle of life and death was a subject which we would often discuss. Aileen was very open about her life. She would share her stories. It was the natural order of things and she accepted the good and the bad as a part of that natural order. I do not believe that she had had any regrets. She had told me on several occasions that she felt that her life had been fruitful and fulfilled. She had got to see all her kids grow up and make a success of their own lives in their own ways. She had grandchildren over whom she doted and took pride in their achievements no matter how big or small - and that she had also become a great grandmother! She had lived her life and had but one wish that she make it to her 90th birthday - after that it didn’t matter! I had asked her laughingly, “Why 90, why not 100?” She simply replied, with a mischievous grin - “90 is enough!" Aileen had started to make her own funeral arrangements in her lifetime! She was pragmatic, it was simple as that. She, several years earlier, had had one of my other students Maggie Cooper - a professional weaver weave a basket [coffin] for her, to her own specifications. Often when I would go to visit Aileen at home and she needed something from the garage, you’d see the coffin leaning up against the wall - almost surreal like something out of a Bela Lugosi movie! I would often joke about it and she would shake her head full of pink hair at me with a smile.

Aileen and I in her beloved bungalow in Cheshire Gardens


Colleagues from Aileen’s beloved Tai Chi classes at Age UK, Clarence House , Leicester

Aileen’s health had steadily declined for the past year or so. She had gradually stopped coming to the unit after a couple of falls whilst out shopping and we had all grown concerned over her stability. However, she continued coming to her classes at Age UK and despite the knock backs was still in good shape and relatively independent. Traveling had become a chore after she gave up driving and although she would be happy catching the bus, often Annie would drop or collect her to and from Age UK or sometimes it would be Kate - her daughter-in-law. A few days before Aileen was admitted into hospital and diagnosed with a perforated bowel, she had called me to let me know that she wouldn’t be in class that day. I asked her if everything was all right? “Of course I’m not bloody all right!” came the reply. “If I were, I’d be in class!” I remember laughing and apologizing for asking such a silly question and she put her not feeling well down to her coeliac condition. During her stay at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and her subsequent admittance to the Aylesham Court Care Home, I would go visit Aileen as often as I was able to. Most days I'd be greeted with that infectious smile of hers, sometimes she’d be asleep and I, with other members of her family would sit there waiting for her to awake. She had already lined up two jobs for me - one at the LRI and the other at the Care Home, where she had duly informed her nurse that she needed to exercise more! We talked much during the early visits, before she started to fade away. The ‘Weaver of time’ gave us the opportunity to say all that we needed to say to each other and for that I am grateful. Aileen had made her peace. She knew and had accepted that she would not be returning home or ever step back into her beloved Tai Chi classes again! She told me that matter of factly! During one of my visits, I arrived to find her asleep. I sat next to her bed and held her hand. She briefly stirred after around twenty or so minutes and we had this brief conversation: Are you real? Of course I am! Can you not feel your hand in mine? The coarseness of my skin? Can you not hear my voice? But… All those are real in my dreams too! I love you! I love you too! Ah… this is a dream! You would have never said those words so easily! What’s this? Tears? Yes… They are real, as real as my words. I am here.

She smiled. Held my hand tightly and went back to sleep! This is the memory which I will keep with me till my own last breath. There are many stories which I could tell and they would require tomes. She was the epitomy of dignity and selflessness. There was no fanfare - she would quietly get on with whatever it was that she thought needed doing. Her intuition was amazing.


To say that Aileen had had a major influence on my life would be an understatement. I learned much from her and she showered me with an unconditional motherly love for which I will be forever grateful. Moreover, whilst others taught me how to live and fight, Aileen, by example, showed me how to prepare for the inevitable end - with honour, humility and humour - and not to stress over that which is not in our control! Often, in the machismo world of martial arts we seem to forget the ‘ordinary’ practitioners who simply get on with their training come rain or shine. The practice of martial arts is not just about punching and kicking, or defeating opponents and winning trophies to boost the ego - no, far from it! Martial arts are also about confronting our own demons and overcoming our own fears and, in this, Aileen achieved her goals! A few years ago, as I was preparing to fly to the USA to deliver a workshop, Aileen came to me with a small bag. It was, according to her, my “Emergency and Boredom” bag, which I was only to access upon arrival at the airport! I laughed and shook my head, dreading what it would contain, whilst she simply smiled and said: “Say no more!” Upon arrival at the airport, having checked in and gone through the obligatory racial profiling of America bound flights, I sat at the gate and decided to look into my Emergency and Boredom bag. It contained a note explaining the contents: Sweets and chocolate for the duration of the flight! A small notepad - in case I wanted to do some writing or creative thinking! A small sketchpad with crayons - in case I wished to draw something! A book entitled A Little Book For A Friend - to read in case of boredom. And… a twenty dollar note - in case the food on the flight was rubbish and I got off the plane hungry! It is to that book that I now turn: ‘What seems to grow fairer to me as life goes by is the love and the grace and tenderness of it; not its wit and cleverness and grandeur of knowledge - grand as knowledge is - but just the laughter of children and the friendship of friends, and the cozy talk by the fire, and the sight of flowers, and the sound off music.’ Author Unknown

Goodnight sweet Aileen! I will miss you. I will miss your smile. I will miss our banter. I will carry you in my heart. This is not goodbye! One thing is for certain… friends always meet again. Say no more!

Note: A big thank you to Aileen’s family, especially the twins - Annie and David - who kept me informed throughout , and Annie on helping me compile this tribute.


Always smiling - with Aileen after her admittance to the LRI!

Mastery Dr Gregory T. Lawton Some of my friends have wisely advised me to allow cracks in the “barrier” that I foolishly have attempted to place between my creative writing and my technical writing, so with the cover design, introduction and 3 chapters of my new book on biomedicine completed I am taking a short break to allow some light to shine through the “cracks”. Some of my best memories of my training in the Asian martial arts are from my period of training in the early 1960s. I was already keenly interested in the fighting arts and I had been introduced as a child to western boxing by my father, and I had some modest success as a high school wrestler. My introduction to the Asian martial arts and their enticing mystery occurred as a result of my taking a part time job as a clerk in the Merit shoe store in downtown Benton Harbour, Michigan. The manager of this shoe store was a recently discharged Army Ranger combat veteran who had not only trained in judo, aikido, and kenpo, during a period of two years at the Kodokan in Japan, but was also a Ranger instructor at the Army training center at the Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. My kenpo training occurred in the shoe store and during the long periods of time when the store had no customers. In my early teens, I was an empty receptacle for his training and I was mesmerized by stories of the almost magical abilities of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. This training in combat martial art laid the foundation for the decades of investigation and study to follow but my journey has been both singular and unique. I have always embraced the study of the martial arts as an intensely personal, private, and intimate experience more akin to a spiritual path than martial physicality. My perspective is this, since the body eventually ages and dies and all that we possess is what we what we have become spiritually, then the true focus of our training should be spiritual. Please do not misunderstand me, I learned the frank brutality of combat based fighting and the meaning of techniques such as Golden Bridge which is practiced with a hand technique that is used to blind an opponent by removing their eye from the orbital socket, and other fun things like that such as now to separate joints and break bones. I remember once asking a noted instructor when I would be able to consider myself a “master” and the response that I got surprised me because it had little to do with what, at the time, I considered essential for a good fighter. The response as I remember it was something to the effect of, “When you have mastered yourself in all things, when you have mastered yourself as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a citizen, when you have mastered yourself sexually and with your personal behavior, and finally obtained skill as a martial artist, then you can consider yourself a master.” I remember making a note to myself to file that goal away as unobtainable. Later in life I had the privilege to meet a number of masters from several different disciplines including art, religion, philosophy, and yoga and these men and women became models of mentorship in my life – but that is a much longer story. Basically, my deeply personal belief is this, you may have obtained great skill as a martial artist, but if you have not fallen to your knees and humbled yourself before the Creator and begged for His grace you will never be a true master of anything. A verse from one of my poems expresses this idea like this, “I stand bowed with sadness, but this is not low enough, so I fall to my knees in my sorrow, but this too is not low enough. So I lie down prostrate upon the ground and pull the nap of the earth like a blanket around me, and my grief becomes the soil of my deepest anguish.”

I wrote an email* to my dear friend Nasser Butt, this morning and in this email I wrote the following, “I embrace the Japanese honor concept of giri and so I speak no evil against my instructors, but I have had, and have directly observed, far too many marital art alcoholics, and drug and sex addicts. I do not care how innately talented they once were, the addictions that you do not overcome by the 5th decade of your life will destroy your mind, body, and spirit.” Too many martial artists, too many people, fail to recognize this. A man is not a master of anything who cannot first master himself. Too many martial artists are looking at forms and styles and the fading and ephemeral physical abilities of certain fighters who too often foolishly squander their innate talent and learned abilities for personal gain, money, and fame when they should be concentrating on the manifestations of meaningful change within themselves and their lives. So do not bother to regale me with stories of the lineage or the amazing abilities of your teacher, if they did not live a commendable life or show that they had mastered their baser appetites, I do not want to hear their stories. Any way we all have opinions don’t we? And I have learned that I cannot change any ones opinion, the best that I can hope for is to redirect their perspective and perhaps by way of metaphor assist them in considering another point of view. The martial arts for me have always been a creative art within which the highest expression is the spontaneous appearance of movement, of thought, or of personal discovery. My best moments in the martial arts, especially when fighting, have been playful and have brought to me delight, laughter and joyfulness, and all too fleeting moments of profound insight. But this has been my strange journey and I highly treasure every moment of it. These days I seem to be giving things away and letting things go – I am investing in risk and loss – hoping perhaps for a greater gain in that ageless truth that to “get you must first give”. My personal vision of the “martial arts” is as a template for life, and a life well lived. This “template for life” embraces the concept of the Five Excellences which I pursue through poetry, art, healing, martial training, and the art of being a true human being in service to humanity. One of my kenpo instructors told me that it would take a 100 years to learn kenpo, or any martial art, and that there were hundreds of martial arts in the world, so it would take many lifetimes to learn them all. At the time I mentally scoffed at that idea, now I understand… About the authorDr. Gregory T. Lawton is an author of many books, most of them in the area of health science, but also in the genre of Asian martial arts, philosophy, poetry, and prose. Dr. Lawton is a passionate award winning artist and photographer who finds his artistic and creative inspiration in nature, and who frequently attributes the source of his images and writing to the 19th century Persian Prophet, Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, and the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi Mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. Dr. Lawton has been a member of the Baha’i Faith since 1970 and embraces the Faith’s principles related to the promotion of world unity and peace. ————————————————— * This article, or “note” as Greg called it, was originally written in December 2015, whilst I was still editing Combat & Healing Magazine. I have reproduced it here [with a very small edit of no consequence to the text] as a timely reminder to all of us as to what the pursuit of martial arts is really about. It is as valid today as it was then - perhaps even more so now!



The Small San-sau Xiao SÃ n Shou The Five Levels: From Principles To Combat Part Four

Solo Method Part B

NASSER BUTT With Elliot Morris All photography by David Garcia

Author’s Note: Readers are reminded that this is an abridged version of the original as yet unpublished work! Further, the postures as they appear in the images here have been exaggerated to make them more clearly visible, as well as the execution of movement been shown in the tall frame! This has purely been done for expediency. Forms cannot be learned from books using still images, as the most critical component is the transition. For those wishing to learn this exceptional training method, please seek a competent and certified instructor, as this training method has been incorrectly taught by most since Erle’s passing! The full authentic Small San-Shou is taught by Peter Jones and Nasser Butt/Elliot Morris at their respective schools - Taiji Pakua in Ammanford, Wales, and Fa-jing Ch’uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools in Leicester.


e are continuing with the second half of the Small San-sau from the previous position, Arn,

which appeared in Volume 11 of Lift Hands Magazine. I, once again, draw the reader’s attention to the above note and remind them that such training methods cannot be learned from an article or a book. The article here is meant to act as a reference tool for your training! Also, it is imperative that folk remember that this is a training method - not a fighting method as it has often been erroneously called. The sole purpose of this most excellent training method is to help the practitioner develop the correct reflexive body mechanics for self-defence as well as developing the core principles of the Thirteen Dynamics of Taijiquan. Fishes in Eight - Left and Right [Figs 39 - 46], [TH 8, GB3]

Fishes in Eight Left - Fig 39

Fig 40

Fig 41

Fig 42

From the previous position, as we step back whilst swiveling on the right heel to the left, the left arm slams down in a ‘scissor’ type of motion as right palm slams down onto your forearm [Fig. 39]. The right palm now hooks over [Fig. 40] as you swivel on your heels to the right. Do nothing with your hands other then allow the natural centrifugal force to bring you around to your right with your weight switching to the left leg [Fig. 41]. This will allow the left hand to naturally ‘sneak’* through the gap between the body and the right arm {Fig.42] as you ‘bounce’ forward with the left foot, as your waist turns to the left, the left hand strikes diagonally with a knife-edge strike, at an angle of 45º [Fig. 43]. ————————————

* In martial concepts this move is referred to as the ‘Sneaky Dragon’ and it plays a major role in the skill of switching ‘Gates’ and so-called ‘hidden-hand’ strikes!


Fishes in Eight Right - Fig. 44 Fig. 43

Fig. 46

Fig. 45

Single Whip - The Hook Fig. 47

The Hook Fig. 48

Now, sit back onto your right leg, as the right hand now slams down in a ‘scissor’ type motion and the left hand slams down on the right forearm, [Fig. 44]. This segment is slightly different from the previous one as we must withdraw the left leg whilst we’re pivoting on the right heel, allowing the right hand to ‘sneak’ as we turn to the left, [Fig. 45]. This time you ‘bounce’ forward on the right leg, as your waist turns to the right and the right hand strikes diagonally with a knife-edge strike at an angle of 45º, [Fig. 46]. Single Whip - The Hook [Figs 47 - 54], [PC6, CO10 followed by GB22 and SP21]

The Hook Fig. 49

From the previous strike, sit back into your left leg as your right hands forms a hook palm and slams downwards to the left, as your left palm rolls to present the knife edge, [Fig. 47]. Swivel to your right, taking the hook with you as your right foot draws back, [Fig. 48]. Now ‘bounce’ forwards with the knuckles of the hook striking forwards and downwards, [Fig 49]. As you transfer your weight back into the right leg, the right hand relaxes and reloads as you form a hook and strike straight up inline with your nose, [Fig. 50]. Now swivel to your left, the left foot returns back as the left wrist violently flicks to your left, [Fig. 51]. This time we ‘bounce’ forwards on the right foot, however, we repeat the previous strike with the same right hand, [Fig. 52].

The Hook Fig. 50

Once again, sit back, this time into the left leg as your right wrist unloads and reloads striking up inline with your nose, [Fig. 53]. This time we use a change step as the right foot withdraws and the left foot moves forwards, the right hook slams into your own belly as the left arm rolls turning the palm upwards. This is a full body movement, i.e., not done by the arms alone [as are all the movements]. This is the only time that both feet move slightly forward as the body contracts to close the distance, thus finishing in a slightly side-on stance, [Fig 54]!


Single Whip - The Palm 1 [PC6 (Neigwan), Power Band/ SI11] Once again, raise the right hook up in a straight line, [Fig. 55] then circle the hook clock-wise, flicking your wrist violently to the left, as you turn your waist to the left swiveling on the right foot and bringing the left foot back [as per the previous Fig. 51]. This time we bounce forward upon the right foot and strike with the right palm as the left hand forms the hook, giving us the classical single whip posture, [Figs. 56 - 57]. The Hook Fig.51

The Hook Fig. 52

The Palm 2 From the previous position, sit back onto your left leg as your right palm loads and slams to your left, [Fig. 58] and immediately rotates counterclockwise, as you swivel on the left foot turning your waist to the right and bringing the right foot back. This time bounce forwards on the left foot as the left palm strikes and the right hand straightens into the hook to wards the rear, [Fig. 59]. The Palm 3 Now we essentially perform a mirror image of the previous transition.

The Hook Fig. 53

The Hook Fig. 54

Fig. 55

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 56

Sit back onto your right leg as your left palm loads and slams to your right, [Fig. 60] and immediately rotates clockwise, as you

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 57

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 58

swivel on the right foot turning your waist to the left and bringing the left foot back. This time bounce forwards on the right foot as the right palm strikes and the left hand straightens into the hook to wards the rear, [Fig. 61].

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 59

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 60

Single Whip - The Palm Fig. 61


The Close
 From the final single whip palm, sit back onto the left leg and roll both your palms up, [Fig. 62]. Bring your right foot back and place it next to your left heel 90 degrees apart as your palms continue to fall in front of you, [Fig. 63]. Continue the circle of the palms as you raise them up again, as the palms face downwards, lower the palms with a bow and very slowly bring yourself upright, [Figs. 63 - 66].

The Close Fig. 62

The Close Fig. 63

The Close Fig. 64

The Close Fig. 65

I would once again like to remind the readers that this is a training method designed to develop our reflexive skills in the Thirteen Dynamics. It is not a fighting method! I have for the sake of expediency and abridgment not given the full details of the breathing involved, nor all of the transitional movements. I will continue with the two-person training method in the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, for those who are interested in learning this training method, look out for the events calendar in 2020.

The Close Fig. 66


The Light Dr Gregory T. Lawton

Beloved, the lamp is not the light, the lamp is just the receptacle that holds the flame within.

A mere spark excites a lustrous beam this is the secret of the Light,
 that no globe can contain it.

“I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve?
 I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?” Open your eyes to behold this light and you will see in all things
 a ray more luminous and radiant than any sun you have ever seen.

Kindly reprinted with permission from: Beloved, A Song of Longing Poems in the mystic tradition Copyright 2018 Dr. Gregory T. Lawton Muyblue Productions 2040 Raybrook Street, SE
 Suite 104
 Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546 616-285-9999 About the authorDr. Gregory T. Lawton is an author of many books, most of them in the area of health science, but also in the genre of Asian martial arts, philosophy, poetry, and prose. Dr. Lawton is a passionate award winning artist and photographer who finds his artistic and creative inspiration in nature, and who frequently attributes the source of his images and writing to the 19th century Persian Prophet, Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, and the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi Mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. Dr. Lawton has been a member of the Baha’i Faith since 1970 and embraces the Faith’s principles related to the promotion of world unity and peace.



ave you ever stepped onto a

pair of scales and saw the value rocket before it settled back to its actual value? I remember as a child when I only weighed forty kilos, that I was amazed by how without even jumping off the scale I could almost double my body weight by just bending my knees sharply. What caused this was simply the laws of physics in action, Newtons law of conservation of momentum. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In traditional martial terms we are told to develop a stable fighting stance. Once we can support the mass of our own body whilst moving, the first temptation is to lean into each strike, using our gross physical movement of extending our elbows and knees. The bigger the muscle the greater the force, the faster and stronger the strike! Soon after we are told that this is not efficient and that we have to 'drop our weight' into our strikes. Using the scales analogy you could draw the logical conclusion that we should be jumping into strikes to sink our weight as we hit or pushing off on the balls of our feet. The issue with this is, how many traditional martial arts teach you to move by pushing off the balls of you feet? None! If you are taught to move in a certain way during your foundational forms, why would you change this when you fight? Just like when you look at the scales’ reading when you bend your knees you are exerting a force on the scales, and the force it exerts back is going straight back into your feet. To stop you from collapsing your bent legs have to take the load. There seems to be no net gain. This is where structure of the legs becomes a key component. This leads nicely into the next classical rule which is that during any form the height of your head should not change. So in layman's terms the knees should not straighten and bend excessively during transition between stances. So combining not moving off the balls of the feet and not changing the height of the head top, we end up with a transfer of the bodies weight through stances. Instead of only neutralising our weight the legs provides a channel for the force exerted back onto you from the ground. And this is how to hit with the earth. Perhaps the best and simplest way to look at this is like a cork floating on the surface of the water. When you press the cork down and keep your finger there, it pushes back on you. As soon as you release your finger it jumps out of the water. It's the water that provides the force back on the cork. The beauty of this is that by just following the classical rules given to you by traditional forms there is no need to do any of this intellectualizing. The power is gained on an instinctual level. To round this off, my favourite quote is, 'you commit violence on the Earth, and it gives it back to you one thousand fold.'



t’s not every day when you have

the tables turn on you. For a while now I’ve been asked: “When are you going to answer the twenty questions yourself?” Well, to those who have been harassing me for the past few months, here they are. I guess I better give a brief introduction, this is not a biography. I am a Senior Instructor, 5th Degree and personal student of the late Erle Montaigue (1949-2011) and have been studying Chinese martial arts for more than 35 years. Although I have received higher ranks from others, I prefer to adhere to the ranks given to me by my mentor Erle. I initially trained in Wing Chun for several years before moving onto what is now my main area of study, The Erle Montaigue System of Fighting & Healing, comprising of Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Wudangquan and Qigong or, as I now prefer to call it: “Move To Survive”! I began my study of the internal arts, particularly the 'Old' Yang Style of Taijiquan and Baguazhang in the late 90s. I was lucky to find an instructor who introduced me to the neijia and the work of Erle Montaigue, and was totally mesmerized and hooked from day one. Up until then, like most people, I had considered Taijiquan as a health exercise for the elderly or for those who weren't interested in learning a 'real' martial art and not a brutal fighting system! I finally met Erle in 1999, and from thereon I trained directly under him until his untimely death in 2011. Erle regarded me as one of his “most highly trained instructors in the UK” for his system of fighting, as well as a personal student and friend. In 2006, Erle asked me to begin teaching on a full-time basis. In 2010, after several years of hiring of halls, I finally decided to set up a purpose built school dedicated to The Erle Montaigue System in my hometown, Leicester, with students attending regular classes and seminars from across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA. In May 2016, I resigned from the World Taiji Boxing Association after almost two-decades to forge my own path and to continue my own research into the internal arts, as taught by my mentor and friend - Erle Montaigue.


Training with my teacher and mentor - Erle Montaigue

LH: If you could have personally witnessed anything, what would you want to have seen? NB: First Contact! I do not believe that we are the only life forms in the universe due to its vastness and the mathematical improbabilities - that does not mean I subscribe to ancient alien theories! LH: If you had to leave earth on a spaceship and take 4 people with you, who would they be? NB: My family! However, in all probability, I’d try to commandeer a larger spaceship so I could take more! LH: In what ways are you the same as your childhood self? NB: I’m a man… we never grow up! LH: What animal best represents you and why? NB: A bear! I love solitude and would die to protect what I hold dear! LH: What is your greatest strength or weakness? NB: My intellect and my ability to observe and break things down to their individual components. My weakness; My heart - to a point! LH: Do you trust anyone with your life? NB: There are several people whom I trust with my life… they know who they are and the feeling is mutual! LH: How do you want to be remembered? NB: As a humanist and a free spirit, and as someone who was willing to speak out against injustice no matter what the source. As a teenager, I was inducted into the Sufi order founded by Sultan Bahu and Sufi teachings have guided and shaped my thoughts ever since. However, many people usually come up to me and say, “You’re the Tai Chi Man, aren’t you?” So, most likely, I’ll be remembered as that!


LH: What have you always wanted and did you ever get it? NB: The needs and wants of humans are ever changing, they are not necessarily fixed in stone - at least not in my opinion. Having said that, if there is a common thread or ‘want(s)’ through most of the stages of my life than it was to travel, become a writer, a poet, a scholar and a martial artist. Have I achieved it? I hope so! LH: Do you know your heritage? NB: Yes, my family is a diverse mixture of ethnicities! I do not like to use the term ‘mixed race,’ as I believe that there is only one race - the human race! My father’s clan hails from the Kashmir Valley, modern day Northern and Western India [the site of the Indus Valley Civilization] near Srinagar. My mother’s clan originates from the Pashtun clans on the Silk Road of South Central Asia - comprising primarily of the modern day states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and parts of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. My family also comprises of an Irish bloodline. LH: Are you still learning who you are? NB: Yes, of course - always! We learn till our very last breath. LH: What, if anything, are you afraid of and why? NB: My greatest fear is to not be honest with or true to myself! If you cannot be true to or honest with yourself then, I believe you cannot be true or honest with anything or anyone else!

With Elliot Morris - My friend, my brother and my training partner for the past twenty plus years!


Teaching in New Jersey, USA with student and friend Woz Levins

LH: What is the most memorable class you have ever taken? NB: That would be the first solo class I ever took well over 20 years ago! The first person to walk through the door - Elliot Morris - not only went onto become my main training partner but, has also become one of my closest friends, and is someone whom I think of as my brother. LH: What book has influenced you the most? NB: Reading books are my love and passion. I can read in three languages - English, Urdu and Punjabi. I was introduced to reading by my godmother - my father’s youngest sister! The first full-blown book I read was The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs in Urdu at the age of 8! It would be dishonest of me to claim any one book… I’ve been influenced by many from the Qur’an to the Bible, Books of Science, History, Political Discourses, Philosophy, Poetry and even Comics to name but a few! LH: What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing? NB: No one has ever tricked me into doing anything ridiculous, as for believing - well, that would depend on your perspective! LH: Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? NB: In terms of person(s), every person whom I have ever met has had an influence on me to some degree - both good and bad! However if I had to pick those that influenced me most then they would have to be my mother, my godmother, my father and my teacher, Erle Montaigue. As for the ”what?’ - Living three years in the Punjab, my ethnically diverse family, being raised in a bar from age thirteen, traveling and my martial arts journey! LH: What is the craziest thing one of your teachers has done or made you do? NB: During one training session, we practiced Combative Da Shou [Push Hands] for almost three hours nonstop. I remember coming out of the session, walking through the park and falling on my knees and throwing up for several minutes, and rolling onto my side. An old lady walking her dog came up to me asking if I was all right? I just gave her a thumbs up and nodded my head. I’m sure she thought I was on some kind of drugs! LH: When did you screw everything up, but no one ever found out it was you? NB: I’ve screwed up many a time and fortunately, due to prevailing circumstances, got away with it on a few occasions. My manager Ray - when I was working part-time, whilst a student at university, for Victoria Wines would often comment: “You’re the only person whom I know, who can fall into a pile of shit and still come up smelling of roses!” LH: If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up and why? NB: Probably smell as my nose and sinuses have caused me problems since childhood! LH: If you could select one person from history and ask them one question - who would you select and what would the question be? NB: There are many historical personalities I would liked to have met. However, if I had to choose one then it would have to be the Prophet Muhammed and I’d ask him: “After years of persecution and betrayal by your own kinsman and seeing an endless number of family and friends being killed, when finally you prevailed over your enemies and returned victorious to your birthplace, Mecca… from where did you draw the strength to not seek revenge upon your tormentors?” LH: How would you describe your art in ten words or less? NB: Perception, Realisation, Activation, Action - Move to Survive!



hen I first met James Thompson, he was a very angry man. Having participated Vietnam combat, like many other soldiers, he returned to the United States disillusioned and angry.

In this mental state I met James at Person-to-Person (PPK) Karate Dojo in New York City, where for a few months I was an instructor under the umbrella of Ueshiro Ansei Sensei of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. My own teacher, Heshiki Zenko Sensei, had also been a student of Ueshiro Sensei. Under the influence of Master Nagamine Shoshin, Heshiki Sensei immersed himself in Zen training and followed his heart to Hawaii in order to become a Zen monk at Daihonzan Chozen-ji. A few months later, the Heshiki Sensei dojo was purchased by Mario Medious II Sensei who was one of his senior students. Immediately I returned to my roots. James Thompson wanted to follow me. This was the 70s; mainland Japanese and Okinawa teachers did not accept other teacher’s students. And so I did not accept him. James followed me around the tournament circuit and after one year of this I accepted to teach him. From then on forward and until his passing, James gifted me with 40 years of loyalty. James came with me to all the places I trained. At Mario Medious II Sensei’s dojo we sat zazen and James was introduced to Zen philosophy. After a considerable time and effort, James started to calm down and to manage his anger. While James and I were studying with Medious Sensei, Thomas Carroll LaPuppet Sensei offered me to start a class at the Glenwood Racket Club located in Brooklyn, New York. LaPuppet Sensei was a highly respected Shotokan fighter who excelled across America in the late 60s.

When I met LaPuppet Sensei, he was the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Metropolitan Director responsible for all karate tournaments for State of New York. A few years later he became one of the Kumite National Karate Coaches and traveled with us to all international competitions. LaPuppet Sensei took me under his wing. And not only me; he protected and offered opportunities to myriad of young athletes from disadvantaged economic families. Our Glenwood Karate Club flourished for two decades. Our students participated and won national events; at the time I was on the US Karate Team, I also had students of mine competing alongside me on the team. The fortress behind the Glenwood students and me was James Thompson. When I traveled, which was often, James taught the classes. When I concluded my amateur status on the national karate team (1979-1985) and left for Okinawa to further my studies, I passed on the Glenwood Karate Club to James. James blossomed as a teacher.


While I was on Okinawa, East Coast Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu Director Joseph Carbonara Sensei included James and his students to all the events which he hosted in his dojo on Long Island. These events were called Doshi Kai; they were intensive trainings, and afterwards, there was camaraderie with meals. Although I was living on Okinawa, James and I opened our first commercial dojo in the heart of Brooklyn’s ghetto. From experience we knew that from poverty stricken families, karate athletes could emerge to sweep the nation. The Glenwood Karate Club had already proved it. Developing future karate stars took time, effort and money; the families, usually on the welfare system, could not pay for their children’s karate lessons, tournament fees and travel costs. That is how the Bubishi Karate Dojo became a Non-Profit Organization. In the heart of Brooklyn’s ghetto James created a small paradise. His anger had dissipated long time ago, and focused on the good things in life. James was content at last. The dojo became his kingdom and the students were his family. For the next 28 years Bubishi Karate Do Organization flourished and succeeded in helping poor kids dream BIG and make their dreams into reality. Our ghetto dojo offered the following:

• A monthly newsletter explained to parents next month’s activities; discussed proper diet and

offered psychological support. Parents were encouraged to attend their children’s monthly activities in the dojo. • Once a month all students prepared demonstrations; promotions were conducted as another form of demonstrations. At the end of demonstrations and promotions students presented their parents and guests with some snacks, gave napkins and cared not to spill the beverages. It was an opportunity for students to demonstrate their etiquette. • The dojo was immaculate. Not only that, but students were required to make their beds at home, and keep up their rooms clean and tidy. James told his impressionable young students that this is how one behaved who practiced karate. The kids believed him. Parents were amazed to see the change in their children’s behavior.


With James at JFK Airport 1992

• Slowly students were conditioned that if they wanted to excel in karate they would need to • • • • •

excel in school. Report Card Grades improved. On Saturdays, the training was conducted outdoors regardless of the weather. Once a month the dojo held a party and celebrated all the birthdays in the month, all achievements in school, sports and in karate tournaments. It was most important for the students to shed the ghetto mentality which was achieved by improving their self esteem. The ‘Body System’ was introduced where one student was attached to another more experienced student. The more experienced student had the responsibility of ‘teaching’ the newcomer. Over time, the pairs became buddies, and over the years they excelled. The dojo had a back yard. James added a basket ball hoop, and also, a makiwara. There were no registration fees; on the first day of class a new student was required to bring a plant. That plant became his responsibility all throughout the time he studied at the dojo. As the years rolled, the inside of the dojo and the back yard developed into a beautiful garden; all maintained by the students. We developed an After School Care Program. Students arrived directly after school and were assisted with their homework assignments. Children in the After School Care Program received organic hot meals, and stayed there until they were picked up by their parents or guardians. All students were introduced to martial arts. Once a week we provided art classes instructed by an art teacher. Some students developed magnificent masterpieces and a few received college scholarships for The Juilliard School of New York City.


• We created an Okinawa Dojo

• •

• • • •

that was oceans apart from Okinawa. Although long distance, I provided James with weekly instructions. James and his students continued to participate in Joseph Carbonara Sensei’s Doshi Kai trainings. There were participants from the TriState area. Our ghetto students had the opportunity to engage in training with students from other states and from various socio-economic levels. Our students were encouraged to ‘dream BIG’ and they did just that. We took field trips to museums, to the Botanical Garden and to ballet performances. When classes were not in session one can hear classical music played softly. James insisted on a B+ Average Report Card. If brown belts and higher maintained a B+ Report Card, our dojo gave them part time jobs as assistants. Students tried really hard to excel in school; James himself returned to school. He attended Brooklyn College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He encouraged females to stand up for themselves, and he was a protector of children. James Thompson was my greatest supporter. I could not possibly accomplish all that I had if it was not for James teaching all the classes in my absence. And even though we were a ghetto dojo we participated financially in bringing Soke Nagamine Takayose (son of Master Nagamine Shoshin) to Long Island where he instructed at the Joseph Carbonara Sensei’s dojo. If there were two words to describe James these would be his honesty and sincerity on all matters.

The life of a thriving traditional dojo cannot easily be described on paper. James Thompson, through the training of karate and the study of philosophy had overcome his emotional wounds from the Vietnam War. He saw beauty in nature and developed into a wise old man. His greatest achievement was to inspire and assist our ghetto karate students that education was THE TICKET to a better life. In the course of four decades, I can’t remember James seeking promotions and the limelight. He repeatedly refused my invitations to come to Okinawa; on the other hand, he went to Paris and spent days in the Louvre Museum. In Hospice, James passed away feeling genuinely content that he had lived a beautiful life surrounded by his former students, family and friends.


Carbonara Sensei Doshikai Photo Credit Jerry Figgiani

Postscript: In Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu James had achieved Nana Dan (7th Dan) awarded by Joseph Carbonara Sensei, USA East Coast Representative of Master Nagamine Shoshin.

Note: All Japanese names written are family name first, and given name second. The opposite is true for all western names.


Author’s Note: This essay is the culmination of research carried out over several years! I have deliberately left it in a way in which the ‘seams’ of the passing years can be seen. A lot of repetition of information occurs indicating where after a period of time having passed I picked up the threads again. I wanted the readers to not only get a feel of the passing years but, also, the fact that I kept revisiting and rechecking older information in light of any new information yielded. I originally began work on this project in 2008 and it was completed in 2014 and published in December 2015, and is being republished here in its entirety with a few very minor edits and updates. I have added, as a Foreword, Dr. Gregory T. Lawton’s comments upon the publication of the original essay. I would like to make it absolutely clear that I am by no means denigrating the work or importance of Man-ching in this essay, nor should it be seen as an attack on his person. The fact that he perhaps, singlehandedly, is the person most responsible for the spread of T’ai Chi across North America in the early years is undisputed - as are his contributions to the understanding of T’ai Chi principles in general. In the Introduction below, I have made it clear that it is the “lineage” aspect and length of study which is being challenged, along with some of the more fanciful claims by Man-ching’s supporters vis a vis his T’ai Chi credentials! Whenever, I come across a discussion I see folk instantly bring lineage into the conversation and the authenticity of their line and as if this somehow places their knowledge and skill above others. Authenticity of the skill and knowledge of the master does not necessarily translate to knowledge skill, full-transmission and understanding to their students or off-spring! A teacher should be looked upon with merit according to their own skill and understanding of the subject matter - and this includes Man-ching! Yes, of course their pedigree will and should matter - but one should not take their claims of pedigree/lineage alone as a confirmation of their knowledge and skill or that they even received full-transmissions! The Yangs of old taught tens of thousands in their lifetimes, yet we only have a handful of their students who rose to the challenge to continue their art and in most cases these students were not necessarily their natural off-spring! Majority of their students fell by the wayside, or trained slackly, or left too soon to set themselves up as ‘masters’ - this is something which is confirmed in the historical documents which have survived. I hope that readers will not only read this with an open mind but also come to realise that the history of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and its exponents is a murky affair indeed - and continues to this day!

Nasser Butt December 2019


Foreword I was delighted when I received an advance copy of the article “Whose Line Is It Anyway, Part Two: Cheng Man-ching - A Case Study” from my good friend Nasser Butt. At first I thought I would sit and speed read through the article but I quickly discovered, and based upon the detailed scholarship of the article, that that would not be the case. This article is as advertised a case study that focuses on certain claims made by Cheng Man-ching, his family, his biographers, and certain of his students regarding Cheng Man-ching’s training in tai chi chuan and more specifically claims made regarding his time spent studying with, and his relationship to the great and renowned Yang Cheng-fu. I must admit that I am amazed by Nasser’s arduous work on this article and his superlative investigative abilities. Reading the article is like reading an engaging detective story. It is my belief that it is Nasser’s intention to shed light on the truth pertaining to the background and training of an important figure in the growth of T’ai Chi Ch’uan in America, and the world. Cheng Man-ching was and remains a central figure related to the spread of T’ai Chi Ch’uan in the United States. Investigating the history of this man, his early background and training in mainland China and Taiwan, and then his arrival and work in the United States is critically important. The work and contributions of Cheng Man-ching, since his life here has concluded, now stand upon his accomplishments in life, and they were numerous. Regardless of any controversy regarding his background and training, Cheng Man-ching, is a central figure in the modern history of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and he is one of the founding fathers of T’ai Chi Ch’uan in America. Incidentally, Cheng Man-ching and his student Liang, shared an apartment in New York City with my former teacher Huo Chi-Kwang! During my over 50 years of experience and training in the western and Asian martial arts I have observed that the greatest men and women often have the largest flaws, and that remarkable men and women have ‘feet of clay’ just like the rest of us. What I have learned is that if a man possesses nine bad qualities and one good quality to focus on the one good quality. Cheng Manching had many good qualities. Nasser has bought to this conversation solid analytical evidence that calls into question certain claims made by Cheng Man-ching, his family, his biographers, and certain of his students. So be it. Some readers of this article will reject these arguments and others will accept them. I have learned that it is pointless to try to change peoples deeply held opinions on any topic, the best that any teacher can do is to try to change a person’s perspective on a topic with the hope that they might then see the truth. Some may see this article as an attack on the contributions made by Cheng Man-ching. I would rather invite them to consider that the real attack on Cheng Man-ching’s many contributions is the result of individuals and organizations who feel the need to exaggerate and to distort his background and history. For many reasons, too numerous for this brief review, supporters of Cheng Man-ching have been and are erecting a cult of personality that is more damaging to his memory than questions regarding how many years he studied with Yang Cheng-fu or whether he was the last disciple of Yang Cheng-fu. Dr Gregory T. Lawton January 2016 Dr. Gregory T. Lawton is the author many books, most of them in the area of health science, but also in the genre of Asian martial arts, philosophy, poetry, and prose. In 1980 he founded the Blue Heron Academy a state licensed vocational school that offers classes in traditional and conventional health care and has trained over 12,000 students. Dr. Lawton is a licensed chiropractor, licensed naprapath, and a licensed acupuncturist. He has trained in several martial arts including Kosho Ryu Kenpo and T’ai Chi Ch’uan.


Part Two: Cheng Man-ching - A Case Study Nasser Butt: Copyright © 2014/2019

“Cheng Man-ching? I never heard of such a person!”. Sun Chien-yuen (Daughter of the legendary Sun Lu-tang) Gabriel Chin ‘Can We Tell The Truth?’ - Nei Jia Quan, Edited by Jess O’Brien

“… by that time his (Cheng’s) friends had introduced him to the great T’ai Chi Ch’uan master Yang Cheng-fu and he became the last disciple of Master Yang. For six years he studied with Master Yang everyday and his body became healthy and strong.” Introduction by Madame Cheng Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan Cheng Man Ch’ing Published by Blue Snake Books 1985 Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Martin Inn

“Cheng Man-ch’ing is a remarkable man. He is a versatile and brilliant master of the “Five Excellences” (Painting, Poetry, Calligraphy, Medicine and T’ai Chi…)” Robert W. Smith Forward T’ai Chi Cheng Man-ch’ing & Robert W. Smith Published by Tuttle Publishing, 1966

Image taken from Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan Cheng Man Ch’ing Published by Blue Snake Books 1985 Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Martin Inn


Introduction The influence of the Professor - Cheng Man-ching [Zheng Manqing] - in introducing Taiji to the West and the USA in particular is well documented. There is no doubt that he, perhaps, almost single-handedly spread the name of the Yang family throughout North America. “Master of the Five Excellences”1 and “prophet”2 are just two of an array of titles associated with his name, making one wonder if the process of canonization or deification has not already begun, having achieved such a cult status amongst his followers and disciples? This study is not a biography of Cheng per se, there are literally hundreds of tomes available for those who wish to learn about the man, at least from the perspective of his students, as well as the books authored by Cheng himself. Having said that, we shall be delving into some of the historical events in Cheng’s life in order to unravel some of the contentious issues which we will be discussing. The main purpose of this study, however, is to look at some of the more critical claims made by the Professor vis-a-vis his Taiji and his lineage, alongside the claims of his champions. Readers should not take this study as an attack on the person of Cheng Man-ching - this couldn’t be further from the truth! This is a legitimate case study into certain specific claims of arguably one of the most renowned T’ai Chi teachers in modern times. The majority of documents* I have used, as research material, are freely available in the public domain either as published works (books) or as online articles, and are cited in the Notes. However, some of the material is based upon my own personal correspondence with various historians and respected ‘elders’ in the martial arts community, in which case I have quoted the relevant parts and named my sources clearly where they have agreed to be named. Only one of my sources did not wish to be quoted by name — “to avoid any misunderstandings”3 - so I will refer to that source as the Dong family archives. Last and by no means least, I would like to say a special thank you to my dear friend Dr. Gregory Lawton, a most amazing soul, whom I hope, Inshallah, to meet one day in person. Although we are separated by thousands of miles, in spirit we are close - friends, brothers and fellow travelers on the Path. Greg not only helped me thread together a lot of the research but also sought out precious nuggets of information, just when I thought I had hit a dead end.

Whose Line? I will begin this study with a simple fact and a question: Cheng Man-ching’s name does not appear on any known official list of students of the legendary Master Yang Cheng-fu**! How can it be then claimed that Cheng was the last disciple of Master Yang and that he studied with him every day for six years? We already have an anomaly on our hands! We shall return to this in a while. First, we must travel back a few years to establish a baseline from where we can begin to analyze the questions and facts at hand. ——————————————-

* Should readers find any factual errors in the documents referenced or any misquotes which can be proven otherwise, I will gladly correct such errors once they have been confirmed. ** The most prolific name absent from the list of Yang Cheng-fu’s teachers - not students - is actually that of his older brother Yang Shao-hou [see part one of this essay for details]!


According to Tam Gibbs - regarded the most senior American disciple of the Professor4 - Cheng, “was born in Chekiang Province in the fu of Yung Chia (present day Wenchou), ten years before the founding of the Republic of China [i.e. born 1901-Ch'ing Dynasty Kuang-hsu 28th year], on the 25th day of the 6th moon [Chinese calendar], on the day following the birthday of the lotus flower.”5

So, we have a definite start point - 1901. After listing a host of the Professor’s achievements from his childhood to his adulthood, the next important milestone which Gibbs mentions is: At the age of 30, Professor Cheng retired from teaching. He traveled to Yang-hu in Chiangsu province and studied with master teacher of the classics Ch’ien Ming-shan. He put his heart and soul into studying the classics and the sages, and for 3 years his feet never left the school's door. He took no summer vacations or vacations of any kind. Professor Cheng once commented to me, “Tam, during that time of study of Master Ming-shan, I never slept I burned the midnight oil for three years and no one ever saw me except my teacher, and that was only when I handed in an essay to him.”6

This is an important point and requires a bit more explanation. If Tam Gibbs is correct, and we have absolutely no reason to doubt his information since the source is Cheng, himself, then between 1931 and 1934 Cheng was in total ‘isolation’ at the school in Yang-hu! Before continuing with Tam Gibbs account of Cheng’s life, I’d like to introduce a critical quote by Madame Cheng, Ting Wei-chuang - the wife of Cheng Man-ching - according to whom: Because of his [Cheng’s] heavy teaching responsibilities and social commitments with other poets, he contracted a lung disease. His condition steadily worsened and the medical doctors were unable to help him. Fortunately by that time his friends had introduced him to the great T’ai Chi Ch’uan master Yang Cheng-fu and he became the last disciple of Master Yang. For six years he studied with Master Yang everyday and his body became healthy and strong.7

Although Madame Cheng quite clearly states her late husband’s relationship with Master Yang and the length of time, she however, does not tell us when and where this occurred? Let us return to Gibbs’ narrative: At age 27, in Shanghai, suffering from third degree tuberculosis, he studied t’ai-chi ch’uan from the famed master Yang Cheng-fu. In little more than a year Professor Cheng had gained an understanding of the main principles of t'ai-chi ch’uan. During that time, Yang's wife was stricken with a serious illness. All doctors had been helpless to prescribe for her. But Professor Cheng did not want to see the wife of his teacher die, so he carefully examined her. Eventually, she became well. Mrs. Yang said to her husband, “Now that I am well, how are you going to thank this young man? You must teach him everything you know and don't hold back a single secret!” Deeply indebted for the favour Professor Cheng had done his family, Master Yang abided by his wife's request and taught Professor Cheng the important secrets of t'ai-'chi ch'uan and t'ai chi sword. He held nothing back.8

So, now we have a date reference and a place. Cheng was 27 years old. This would place the start of his training at some point in 1928 and the place Shanghai. Also, we are told in the quote above by Madame Cheng that he was Yang’s last disciple and trained for 6 years. We now have an end date too - 1934! Therefore, taking the information from our two sources - Cheng’s wife and his main American student - It is logical and safe to deduce that, Cheng Man-ching trained with Master Yang Cheng-fu and was his last disciple between 1928-1934 in Shanghai. Let us now take pause here for a moment and hear what Cheng, himself has to say on the matter. In his own foreword to Yang Cheng-fu’s book, Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, Cheng states the following:


The author demonstrating ‘stork spreads wings’ from the ‘Old’ Yang Style.

In the spring of 1930, because of overwork… I had reached the point of coughing up blood, so I resumed study and practice of taijiquan with my colleagues Xiao Zhongbo and Ye Dami. In less then a month, my illness quickly subsided… I practiced day and night with steady efforts. In the first lunar month of 1932, I met Master Yang Chengfu at Mr. Pu Qiuzhen’s house. After the old gentleman had introduced me, I humbly presented myself at Master Yang’s door, and received his teachings, including his oral instructions of the inner work.9

The first lunar month of 1932 according to the Gregorian calendar was between 6— February to 6 March! It should be self-evident from the statement above that we are now presented with a conundrum and one other fact - that Cheng had already been practicing Taiji for several years before he met Yang Cheng-fu! We shall look at this additional fact a little later but, for now, we need to look at the information provided by Cheng in light of the information which we already have. As we have already stated that according to the information provided by the narratives of Madame Cheng and Tam Gibbs, the Professor trained with Yang for 6 years during 1928 and 1934, in Shanghai. However, according to Cheng, himself, he was only introduced to Yang Cheng-fu in 1932! That does not necessarily mean he began training with him then! The location of Mr Pu’s house is not provided, so we cannot say which city this encounter took place in but it is most probably Shanghai. Let us introduce another fact at this point: Yang Cheng-fu died in 1936. We cannot be sure at what point in 1936 but, all records agree that that was the year of his death. Now, if Cheng did not meet Yang until 1932, then by simple deduction, we can clearly state that he could NOT have trained with him for 6 years since Yang would be dead within 4 years of their supposed meeting, so he could only have trained with him for 4 years if we accept this as true! I say supposed with good reason. Remember, earlier, we were told by Tam Gibbs that the Professor retired from teaching at age 30 and went to study with Master Ming-shan in Yang-hu, where he studied in total isolation for 3 years? Well, we have already deduced that this was between 1931-1934. If this fact is true, then how could Cheng have met Yang in 1932, since he was in isolation in Yang-hu with Master Ming-shan? He was either at the school or meeting Yang Cheng-fu, he couldn’t have been doing both! Far more importantly, how could three people so intimately connected get their facts so wrong, including the ‘Master’ himself? The plot thickens or rather, it unravels! From all the information we have gathered, it would appear that 1934 appears to be a pivotal year as it keeps cropping up in our dates. It was also the year in which Yang Cheng-fu published his book - Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - containing Cheng’s Foreword, which is dated: “-1933, Dragon Boat Festival (fifth of the fifth lunar month) — representing the 27 June 1933.”10 Again, according to both Cheng and Gibbs the date of this Preface is an impossibility due to the exact reasons already outlined above! So what are we to make of this? In his book, Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, Robert W. Smith - the renowned historian and practitioner of various Chinese martial arts and a leading student and advocate of Cheng Man-ching - tells us about a very specific incident regarding perhaps the only recorded encounter between Cheng and Yang, as follows: … Yang Ch’eng-fu , was said to be friendly - compared with his older brother Yang Shao-hou… However, according to Cheng, Yang Ch’eng-fu was not all that nice either. … mostly he sat and seldom spoke. The students were afraid to ask him questions. Their fear may have resulted from seeing what happened to Cheng when he approached Yang for some push hands practice.


Yang used two fingers and threw him twenty feet, knocking him out. When the memory of this faded, Cheng approached him again. This time Yang put a hand (Cheng remembers that it was as soft as cotton) on his jaw, threw him and knocked him out. These were the only two times Cheng faced Yang. If this is true, whence came Cheng’s great ability? … I asked Cheng about this at least three times from different strategic angles, and each time he drew a veil over it. He was little better on questions regarding Chang’s (Chang Ch’ing-ling) contribution, always saying, “I got it from Yang Ch’eng-fu.” It remains a mystery.11

A mystery indeed! According to Tam Gibbs - Cheng helped save the life of his Master’s wife (see above) and this was the reward that he got — being knocked out and humiliated by Yang in front of all the other students, upon wishing to seek instruction not once but twice? I had already received this story from Erle and one other source - White Dragon and Bai Ying Chinese Martial Arts Society12. Although details varied slightly — essentially the same story was being told. This was for myself, at least, merely a confirmation that what we were being told was true. But this did not answer Yang’s behaviour towards his ‘last’ disciple! At this stage, I had come across an online article by Rene Navarro - In Search of Yang Cheng-fu - in which we are told: I observed the famous Cheng Man Ching, who had a school at the foot of Manhattan Bridge on the Bowery in New York City. Cheng had a reputation as a formidable fighter. His short form of 37 movements was derived from the Yang Family classical fist form of 108 movements. It was said that he studied with Yang Cheng-Fu, but I did not know what forms or for how long. At the time, there were articles that said he studied for a decade. Later, a researcher estimated 3 years. More recently, Master Dong of Hawaii quoted his grandfather (Tung Ying Chieh) as saying that Cheng studied only for 6 months. Whatever the truth behind the different claims, back in the 70's, Cheng was the most popular and impressive master of tai chi chuan in the West.13

It was this article, along with what I had read in Robert W. Smith’s book, which made me think - Are we being told the truth? It also prompted me to contact Mr Smith, himself, but I will come back to that later. I contacted Rene Navarro after consulting with Greg Lawton, his reply was prompt and straightforward: You can get in touch with the Dong/Tung family of Hawaii. Their grandfather was eyewitness to history.14

I did just that and after several emails, a picture began to emerge prompting me to contact the noted Yang Style Practitioner - Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong. First though, I turn to the Dong (Tung) family archives. As I have already stated, I will not be disclosing the name of my source for reasons already outlined above. But, below is my initial email and questions put to the Dong family. Certain parts of the email have been omitted purely to obscure the identity of my source, which would otherwise be easily discernible. Also, at this point, I would like to thank the Dong family for their generous co-operation and their willingness to share their knowledge without any fanfare or sense of elitism: I am researching the history of Yang taijiquan for a major article I am writing on the subject, and am a practitioner of Yang Taiji, living in the UK. During my research, I have come across an article by Rene Navarro entitled, 'In Search of Yang Cheng-Fu,' in which he states the following: “…More recently, Master Dong of Hawaii quoted his grandfather [Tung Ying Chieh] as saying that Cheng studied only for 6 months."


I have contacted Rene Navarro regarding the above and he has suggested that I contact yourself, as your family and … Tung Ying Chieh, are witnesses to the history of Yang Taijiquan. I would be grateful if you could help me clarify this matter as I wish my article to reflect as honest a view of Yang Taijiquan history as I can possibly get. The questions are: Was professor Cheng Man-Ching a direct and the last disciple of Yang Cheng-Fu, as is claimed? For how long did the professor actually study with Yang Cheng-Fu? Given your… proximity to Yang Cheng-Fu, I feel and hope that you will help me clarify this matter. So far, all my research points to the fact that professor Cheng Man-Ching was either not a direct student of Yang Cheng-Fu, or if he was then he was on the periphery (more likely a student of a student) and certainly didn't spend everyday of 6 years with him, as is claimed in his book! Also, the time frame suggests that he did not spend almost a decade training with Yang Cheng-Fu but rather between 6 months to 3 years! I have contacted several other historians who have been kind enough to give me their comments, however, none of the other historians have the verifiable history of your family. I look forwards to your kind reply. Kindest regards and best wishes to you and your family, Respectfully yours Nasser Butt”15

The reply was prompt, friendly and yielding a treasure trove of information: Hi Nasser - Cheng Man Ching was very accomplished Taiji master, I have a lot respect for him. But what the other historians gathered is accurate, he was in Yang's class in Canton for 2 to 3 years. Yang's got sick shortly after he got there and later returned to north, so part of the time Cheng was studying with… Dong Yingjie in Yang's school. I think what [Zheng Chen Dong] said was he studied directly from Yang is probably only a short time. Cheng is not a disciple of Yang, it's more accurate if you say he was the last group of students… But there is no record of it.16

We actually have an independent eyewitness account to history with a place and a time - Canton for 2 to 3 years! I quickly replied for a confirmation of my understanding with a couple more questions: 1. How long did Cheng study with Dong Yingjie in Canton... do you roughly know the dates? 2. Was Cheng ever a student of Zhang Qin Lin, the disciple of Yang Cheng-Fu's father?”17 Everything is to the best of my knowledge. I don't [know] if Cheng studied with Zhang or not, but I think he already knew Taiji when he came to studied. TYJ, Dong(Tung) Ying JIe… Cheng visited Hong Kong on numerous times to meet with TYJ, but don't know how long and have no dates.18

More information emerged confirming what I had already suspected and was becoming obvious: Cheng Man-ching already knew Taiji before he came to study with Yang and the fact that he continued his training under Dong Yingjie in Hong Kong! With my timeline slowly taking shape, I had to find a corroborating story from an alternative source which would confirm the Canton connection and the time frame provided by the Dong family. It wasn’t long in coming thanks to the eagle-eyed research of Greg.


But, before all this I had contacted Robert W. Smith via an intermediary, a student of his, who told me that Mr Smith did not possess a computer and was rather old fashioned and that he would gladly forward any mail or message to him. After my initial email, which was a simple introduction and upon confirmation, I wrote my second email to Robert Smith with the following points: Dear Mr Robert Smith, Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nasser Butt and I am a student and practitioner of Yang style taijiquan, living in the United Kingdom. I follow the lineage of Yang Shou-Hou as opposed to Yang Cheng-Fu and practice what we believe to be the old Yang style of Taijiquan, prior to the modifications made by the latter. My writing to your good-self concerns a historical matter which I am hoping you can help me clarify and perhaps resolve. I am currently in the process of writing an article on Taijiquan and the 'Old' Yang style in particular. As I've already stated, I believe the 'old' style form to be that which was practiced by the Yang family - Yang ShaoHou in particular — prior to Yang Cheng-Fu modifying his grandfather's form and popularizing it throughout China! My research has involved reading several renowned authors and articles on the subject including yourself, Professor Douglas Wile and Chen Pan-Ling to name but a few. I have just finished reading your book 'Chinese Boxing Masters & Methods' and the subject of my question is Professor Cheng Man-Ching, your teacher and friend…19

At this point and to avoid repetition I quote the full text from Mr Smith’s book (see above), as well as the article of Rene Navarro and Madam Cheng’s introduction. After outlining the discrepancies and Mr Smith’s own doubts on the subject matter, I put the following to him: Bearing all the of the above in mind I can only come to the following conclusions, that Professor Cheng Man-Ching was: 1. Not a direct disciple of Yang Cheng-Fu but more a periphery student! 2. If he was... then at least he didn't study with him for the length of time that is claimed and that it was cut abruptly short by his treatment during the push-hands incident! 3. There is no record of the professor having being the last disciple of Yang Cheng-fu either! 4. It is more then likely that he was a student of a student… although not Zhang Qin Lin as the professor never showed anything of the 'old' form in his practice! I am sorry to have taken up so much of your time but have found the questions raised far too important to be discarded. I am fully aware of the inter-clan rivalries amongst the Chinese masters and have written to several authors, including the Dong family regarding the statement attributed to Dong Yingjie… to help clarify this matter. I look forwards to hearing your comments on the issues raised and would be grateful for any source references which may or may not confirm the above. I hope this letter finds you in good health.20

No reply! I waited. Weeks turned into months. Still no reply. Finally, after 6 months of waiting without a reply, I contacted Robert W. Smith again via our intermediary: I hope you have had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. I was just writing to say that I have not received any reply to my email dated June 16, 2008, which I have attached below, and requested be forwarded to Mr Robert Smith on my behalf. I would be grateful if you could kindly let me know if the email was forwarded to Mr Smith.


In the absence of any reply, I shall assume he has declined to answer my questions and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kind assistance in the matter.”21

Again, no reply! I had hit a wall with Robert W. Smith. I will leave the readers to decide what to make of Mr Smith’s refusal to reply to a series of simple questions? Canton [Guangzhou, Guangdong] In the summer of 2008, just when I was hitting another dead end, Greg Lawton as always pointed me towards an article appearing on the website of Doc-Fai Wong Martial Arts Center, the home of Plum Blossom International Federation. The article concerned Great-Grandmaster Hu Yuen Chou - The teacher of Doc-Fai Wong and a direct student of Yang Cheng-fu, who at the age of 16 had moved to Guangzhou or Canton as it was known at that time. He studied medicine there at a Western Medicine Academy sponsored by the Red Cross.22 I read the biographical data intently and after contacting Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong, the following emerged: In 1929, Chen Wei-Ming arrived in Canton to teach the Southerners Yang style Taijiquan. It was under Chen that Hu began his study of Taijiquan and trained diligently for 3 years. In 1932 Chen returned back north but not before inviting his teacher, Yang Cheng-fu, himself to teach the advanced ideas to the students of Canton.23 We have a pattern being repeated here, one which we have seen before in Shanghai, where Chen also arrived before his Master to set up a school and then invited him to teach there (see Part One for details). Yang Cheng-fu arrived in Canton with great fanfare accompanied by his eldest son, Yang Shouzhong, Fu Zhongwen and Dong Yingjie. Again, according to the biographical data of Great-Grandmaster Hu Yuen Chou, he trained with Yang between 1932 and 1934.24 However, shortly after his arrival in Canton, Yang fell ill and was hospitalized: When Yang Cheng-Fu was ill in the hospital, Hu was a resident doctor there. Hu was able to visit his teacher Yang Cheng-Fu and stay with him for long periods in the hospital. Hu Yuen-Chou had the opportunity to receive private instruction from Yang Cheng-Fu for more then six months in the hospital room. Before Yang Cheng-Fu went back to Shanghai, he told Hu Yuen-Chou to continue working out with his first son Yang Shou-Zhong and his senior student Dong Ying-Jie. This enabled Hu Yuen-Chou, Yang Shou-Zhong and Dong Ying-Jie to become very close friends and they all became major Yang style masters in Canton and Hong Kong.”25

I needed to tie this down. When exactly was Yang ill? I contacted Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong to see if he could shed further light on the matter: Yang Cheng Fu died in 1936, he must be returned to the North around the same year or the year before, depends on what month he died on. My teacher had private training from him might be in between 1935-1936, Hu died 11 years ago, I cannot confirm this anymore. The hospital name I didn't pay attention when he talked about it before. I knew it's no long in Guangzhou anymore.26

I had one more source to contact. The Yang family, themselves! I went to the official website of the Yang Family - International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association - and contacted them to see if they could answer the following questions: 1. What year did Yang Cheng-fu head south to teach, especially in Guangzhou (Canton)? 2. As I understand it… it was here, in Guangzhou, that Yang Cheng-Fu fell ill and cut short his trip returning back to the North (Shanghai?), whilst leaving behind his senior student Dong Ying-Jie and his son Yang Shou-Zhong to continue teaching his classes. When did he leave Guangzhou, or how long had he been there? 3. Yang Cheng-Fu passed away in 1936... could you tell me where he died and if the month is known? To date I have received no reply!


Timelines From the evidence discussed in Part One of this essay (see LH Volume 10 June 2019), we have already established the following facts regarding the movements of Yang Cheng-fu, to which we can now add the data collated above: 1. Between 1914-1928 Cheng-fu was invited to teach Taijiquan to the general public for health by the Beijing Physical Culture Research Institute. 2. In 1925, Chen Wei-ming, one of Yang Cheng Fu’s senior students moves to Shanghai and establishes his own school of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and invites his Master to come and teach there. 3. In 1928, Yang Cheng-fu accepts his student’s invite and moves to Shanghai. 4. In 1929, a year after Yang Cheng-fu’s arrival in Shanghai, Chen Wei-ming moves south to Canton (Guangzhou) to further spread Yang T’ai Chi. 5. After 3 years of teaching there and establishing the Yang name, Chen Wei-ming invites his Master to teach the advanced ideas to the Canton students before he returns to Shanghai in 1932. Amongst his students at the time is Hu Yuen Chou. 6. Sometime in 1932, Yang Cheng-fu arrives in Canton accompanied by his eldest son Yang Shouzhong and senior disciples Fu Zhongwen and Dong Yingjie. 7. Soon after his arrival in Canton, Yang Cheng-fu fell ill. It has been suggested that he was suffering from dysentery. Whatever the cause of his illness may have been he was certainly hospitalized for a very long time - 6 months being a minimum! 8. In 1934, Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan bearing Yang Cheng-fu’s name is published. 9. At some point in either 1935 or 1936, Yang Cheng-fu returns back to Shanghai. 10. 1936 - death of Yang Cheng-fu! We must now form a timeline of events for Cheng Man-ching from the data which we have available to us: Timeline 1 based on Tam Gibbs narrative 1. Born in 1901 2. At age 27 (1928), moves to Shanghai. He is suffering from tuberculosis. Begins study of Tai Chi with Yang Cheng-fu and heals his Master’s ailing wife, in return for which he is taught the inner secrets by Yang. 3. Retires from teaching at age 30 (1931). 4. From 1931-1934, Cheng traveled to Yang-hu in Chiangsu province and studied with master teacher of the classics Ch’ien Ming-shan. 5. At age 32 (1933), he taught t'ai-'chi ch'uan at the Central Military Academy (formerly the Huang-po Military Academy - equivalent to West Point in the United States).27 6. At age 48 (1949), Professor Cheng moved to Taiwan. 7. At age 63 he went to America. Timeline 2 Based on Madam Cheng’s narrative 1. He became the last disciple of Master Yang Cheng-fu and studied with him for 6 years. No actual years are given as to when this happened other then the clue that it was after he had contracted a lung disease! This would tie it in with Gibbs’ narrative that it would be around 1928 in Shanghai, therefore he was with Yang until 1934 - giving us the 6 years being claimed. 2. In 1949 they moved to Taiwan. Timeline based on Cheng’s narrative 1. In spring of 1930 due to his illness, he resumed his Tai Chi training with his colleagues Xiao Zhongbo and Ye Dami, and within a month his health had improved. 2. Sometime between February/March 1932 he meets Yang Cheng-fu at the house of Mr. Pu Qiuzhen. We are not told the location of the house, however, we can say that he was NOT accepted as a student during that meeting. 3. Cheng’s Foreword, which is dated: “-1933, Dragon Boat Festival (fifth of the fifth lunar month) — representing the 27 June 1933 - appears in Yang Cheng-fu’s ‘book’ published in 1934.


Untangling The Web We must untangle this web by first returning to the second question posed at the beginning of this essay and eliminating the impossible to arrive at a logical conclusion. The question we asked was: How can it be then claimed that Cheng was the last disciple of Master Yang and that he studied with him every day for six years? We will split this question into two components: 1. The length of time studied? 2. Discipleship? 1. According to Madam Cheng, the professor studied with Yang for 6 years. Tam Gibbs also suggests that he began his studies with Yang in 1928 in Shanghai. Both these narratives can be dismissed at a stroke as either fabrications or exaggerations to give weight to Cheng’s lineage and thereby authority! Having said that, Cheng’s own testimony is dubious on account of Gibbs’ narrative, because we are told that the Professor retired from teaching at age 30 and went to study with Master Ming-shan in Yang-hu, where he studied in total isolation for 3 years — between 1931-1934! At some point in 1932 Yang was certainly in Shanghai teaching at Chen Wei-ming’s school, but in the same year he moved to Guangzhou (Canton) — again we don’t know when - Cheng, on the other hand was in Yang-hu at that time studying the classics! The distance between Shanghai and Yang-hu is a little over 300 kilometres, whereas the distance between Shanghai and Guangzhou is almost 1500 kilometres. Now while it is possible that Cheng could have made the journey from Yang-hu to Shanghai to meet Yang, the journey to Guangzhou is impossible in 1932. Our only problem with this scenario is the direct quote provided by Gibbs and accredited to Cheng: “Tam, during that time of study of Master Ming-shan, I never slept I burned the midnight oil for three years and no one ever saw me except my teacher, and that was only when I handed in an essay to him.”

If the above statement is true then the meeting in 1932, as claimed by Cheng in his Foreword is also a fabrication, as he would not have been able to meet Yang until some point in 1934 at the earliest! And if he did meet Yang in 1932, then Shanghai is the only logical place, in which case he couldn’t have been burning “the midnight oil for three years” and his study of the classics and the sages is a lie! Our concern is with Cheng’s Taiji NOT with his other claims, so I will leave readers to make of this what they may. I will, however, say that again, either this is a fabrication or exaggeration of the truth, since we are also told by Gibbs that at age 32 (1933), he taught t'ai-'chi ch'uan at the Central Military Academy (formerly the Huang-po Military Academy - equivalent to West Point in the United States)! It would seem that Cheng is a very busy man indeed because in between 1931-1934, for not only was he studying the classics in isolation but he also managed to travel several hundred kilometres to meet Yang as well as teach Taiji at the Central Military Academy! This, also, raises another interesting question — if Cheng was indeed teaching at the Central Military Academy in 1933, then by whose authority? Bearing all the above in mind and with further evidence outlined below, it would be logical to conclude that the year Cheng most likely met Yang, certainly in his capacity as a student, would have been around 1934!


Why 1934? Well, if we look at the details provided by the Dong family archives and Doc-Fai Wong’s teacher - Hu Yuen Chou - in light of the information above then we can see the following timeline emerging regarding Yang’s movements in Guangzhou: Yang arrived in Guangzhou in 1932 accompanied by his eldest son, Yang Shouzhong and senior disciples Fu Zhongwen and Dong Yingjie. He would no doubt have gone straight to the school or class already set up in Guangzhou by his student Chen Wei-ming. Hu Yuen Chou was already a student of Chen and naturally would have been one of the students who would have been looking to learn the more advanced ideas from Yang. Hu became Yang’s student and studied with him between 1932-1934. This would most certainly have been Yang’s public class. Both, the Dong family archives and Hu Yuen Chou confirm that shortly after his arrival Yang fell ill. We are not told when exactly, however, a big clue is given by Doc-Fai Wong in his correspondence with myself and in Hu’s biography. Doc-Fai Wong confirms that Hu trained privately with Yang in his hospital room for more than 6 months and that this was possibly sometime between 1935-1936. Yang died in 1936. So, he must be returned to the North (Shanghai) by this year at the latest or possibly even earlier in 1935. If this is the case then we can say that Yang spent most of 1935 in hospital in Guangzhou, where Hu had his private training, after which he returned north leaving his son and Dong behind to continue his teaching. Extrapolating backwards from this point we can say that Yang most likely initially fell ill some point in 1934, while he was still teaching his public classes. My correspondence with the Dong family (see above) confirms that Cheng was a part of “the last of the group of students," studying in the Guangzhou class for maybe “2-3 years”. According to Zheng Chen Dong, quoting his grandfather Dong Yingjie (see Rene Navarro’s article above), Cheng studied in Yang’s class for only 6 months during which Yang was teaching. Yang was then hospitalized and eventually returned back to Shanghai, leaving Cheng to continue his training under Dong - again confirmed by the correspondence above. 2. Disciple or Student? The answer to this question can easily be determined with the information we have to hand above and by expanding on historical records further. Once again, let us refer back to Madam Cheng’s statement (see above for full details): “… he became the last disciple of Master Yang. For six years he studied with Master Yang everyday…”

We have already established this to be a complete fabrication based on the account of Cheng himself. The years simply do not add up. Again, we have to ask how Madam Cheng could get this so wrong. We are not talking here about a month or two, neither are we talking about a year or two - No! We are talking about several years. This cannot be due to a simple error of memory, certainly not for such an important period in Cheng’s life. It is as it appears — a total fabrication! We can further expand on this by looking at two critical events in a bit more detail. Tam Gibbs’ account about the healing of Yang’s wife by Cheng are no doubt meant to shine a light on the medical skills of Cheng and provide the reader with the reason for his entry into the “secrets”. However, this account raises its own issues. If the professor was indeed so close to Yang and had such high medical skills then where was he when his Master was ill and hospitalized for more then 6 months? Why is there no record of Yang having being tended to by his disciple who is supposedly with him “everyday”? Why? Because he was never there and never had had that intimate relationship with Yang. I more then suspect that the


account of healing Yang’s wife is also a fabrication at worst or another exaggeration at best. That is not to say that Gibbs is lying. I believe that Gibbs’ account is accurately reflecting what he has been told. It is his source which is dubious and in this case the source is Cheng himself and/or his family (We will deal with Chen Weiming’s preface later)!28 If Gibbs is guilty of anything then it is not verifying or corroborating the account with independent evidence available, but as we shall he is not the only one! The Push Hands Incident According to Robert Smith from his time with Cheng: Yang Cheng-fu - …mostly he sat and seldom spoke.29

Furthermore, Yang Ch’eng-fu’s laziness and pedagogical obtuseness during the period Cheng studied under him is fairly characteristic of many masters… Chen Man-ch’ing raised in the culture and wanting the skill so badly, was prepared to put up with anything to get it. He saw the vistas open to him if he persisted. He saw Yang lazy and growing fat but still unbeatable.30

“Lazy, fat and pedagogical obtuseness”… is that the way a classically trained ‘disciple’ would describe their master? Does this reflect a close relationship between the two men? If our conclusions to the timeline are correct and 1934 is the year we are talking about then this would have been around the beginning of Yang’s illness. It would explain why “mostly he sat," as well as his apparent laziness and Cheng’s words are a clear reflection that he is not privy to this information! Again, for someone who is meant to be so close to his master this is an incredible oversight! The push hands incident which we have already referred to in detail above must be seen in the light of this, but before we discuss this we need to remind ourselves of another fact already mentioned: By all accounts it is fairly obvious that Cheng already knew Taiji before he arrived in Guangzhou to ‘learn’ from Yang! This is also confirmed by the Dong family archives (see above). Tam Gibbs tells us that he (Cheng) started training Taiji at age 27 in Shanghai and this appears to be confirmed by Cheng, himself, who tells us that he resumed his training in the spring of 1930 with his colleagues - Xiao Zhongbo and Ye Dami. According to the student list appearing in the 1931 publication, Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing (Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa)31 by Yang Cheng-fu and Dong Yingjie, Ye Dami is listed as a student of Tian Shaolin - a student of Yang (Interestingly enough, Cheng’s name does not appear anywhere in this publication as a student or disciple)! So, it would be appear that Cheng had indeed learned Yang family Taijiquan, albeit from the student of a student of Cheng-fu! Now we know that Chen Wei-ming arrived in Shanghai in 192532 and had already established a well known school there and was followed there by Yang himself in 1928 yet, Cheng makes no mention of either! Yang was in Shanghai teaching between 1928-1932, but, again, Cheng fails to mention this when he states that he resumed his training in the spring of 1930 with his colleagues, which included Ye Dami. It has been argued by Cheng’s ‘devotees’ on the official Yang Family Tai Chi Discussion Board33, that this represents clear evidence that Cheng was training with the inner circle group of Yang’s students, under the supervision of Yang himself in Shanghai and the 1932 meeting at Mr. Pu Qiuzhen house was his induction into that group! Various translations of the paragraph regarding the meeting in 1932 have been given over the years. Each translation tries to corroborate Cheng’s timeline from 6 to 10 years of training with Yang and being an “Indoor disciple,” but the translations — no matter how you try to spin them — do not corroborate with other known events during this timeline! And if the 1932 meeting at Mr Pu Qiuzhen’s house is a Bai Shi ceremony, as is being claimed above, then it is


very peculiar and understated! Peculiar because it does not follow the traditional process of Bai Shi (see below) and understated because Cheng’s biographies are full of lofty superlatives, showered upon him by his admirers in his lifetime, regarding his achievements and life events — yet here, perhaps, during one of the key milestones in his life — virtual silence! Even Robert Smith, who championed Cheng for the entirety of his life, never claimed the 1932 meeting as a Bai Shi ceremony in any of his writings! These are merely the wishful thinkings of certain followers of Cheng who are trying to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole! According to Dan Docherty, in an article on the history of Bai Shi, we are told: So what is Bai Shi? In the context of Chinese martial arts it is a ceremony with ritual elements conducted by a master in which one or more students "Enter the Door" and become disciples. After the conditions of Bai Shi have been read or told to the students, they agree to accept them and the ceremony begins. Normally this would be at the master's home or studio where there would be a portrait of the founder of the style. Usually, but not always there is a fee paid by the student traditionally in a red packet as red is a propitious colour and it is considered indelicate to display money openly. The master then places an offering of fruit in front of the portrait of the founder and lights a ritual number of incense sticks which he gives to the student who then kneels down before a portrait of the founder of the style and gives the koutou (literally knocks the head) three times to show his respect to the founder's memory. The student then faces the master and again gives the koutou. The incense is then placed in an incense burner in front of the founder's portrait. The ceremony is over; the student has entered the door. So what firstly are the implications of the ceremony? The student by undergoing Bai Shi has made a commitment to the school, to the founder, to his kung fu brothers and sisters as well as to his master. The master recognizes this commitment by allowing the student to enter the door and in turn makes a commitment to give the student the true transmission of the art and to start to give him inside the door training such as Nei Kung. The student can now be referred to as Men Ren, literally "door person" and is no longer a mere student. How could a student merit selection for Bai Shi? Traditionally he had to visit the master for three years and then the master had to visit him for three years. Then after 6 years, if the student showed sincerity and commitment he would be accepted. Naturally this meant that if these rules were rigidly applied many people did not go through Bai Shi. This is indeed true. Now we live in a very complex Tai Chi world where many teachers in the Far East although they offer Bai Shi to students, they abuse it… Some people are happy to pay so that they can have a higher position in the pecking order and say that they are not just a student, but a disciple of the said master. The converse is also true; many students claim to have trained with a master, or even to be an inside the door student when they have at best a nodding acquaintance with him. Other masters, particularly when they get old, have students do the Bai Shi ceremony with them, but then do not teach them personally, delegating the task to a senior student. So many people who have actually learned Nei Kung or other "inside the door" training after Bai Shi have not actually had it first hand from a master.34

Furthermore, according to Gene Ching - On Discipleship: It may surprise you to find that a Sifu does not even have to know the student before accepting him or her as a disciple. Sometimes an intermediary can speak for someone the master does not even know… Before you can become a disciple, you must earn the confidence of someone very close to your Sifu, such as a personal friend, relative or classmate, to act as your intermediary. This intermediary will stake their reputation on you by agreeing to represent you. They must believe that you have a good heart, a strong aptitude for learning and will be able to represent and promote the art for future generations. You must trust them with to speak for you because it is impolite to ask your master directly. A fundamental rule of all Chinese etiquette is that you must provide an "out" or a graceful way to refuse. By going through an intermediary, neither you, nor your master, are confronted with the awkwardness of a rejection. This is a typical "face-saving" convention that is so pervasive in Chinese culture. Such conventions are absolutely necessary and violation of the unspoken rules of etiquette invites tremendous disaster. Known as a Yun Jun Yut or "leading, bringing you in," your intermediary must be willing to guarantee your good character before your Sifu.


After your Sifu accepts your request for discipleship, an auspicious date must be chosen for the new disciple's initiation, based upon Chinese astrology. Invitations are sent out to all of your master's martial relatives and previous disciples to witness the initiation. The ceremony may be held at the school, but more often, it will be held in a high class banquet hall. If held at a hall, a special portable Sun Toi35 must be prepared. On that day, a master of ceremonies is appointed to oversee the initiation. The Sun Toi is served with incense for your martial ancestors, along with their favorite food or pastry. First, the Sifu bows thrice before the Sun Toi. Second, any blood relatives of these ancestors in attendance will bow. Next, the grandmaster of the system (if in attendance) will bow. Then, a special offering called a Bai Tip or "bowing card" is presented. This is a sheet of red paper that declares the union between master and disciple. It will bear date of the initiation, the name of your master, and your name and birth date. It may also bear the name of your intermediary. Additionally, this card will bear a special set of vows for you. Common rules are "respect your Sifu," "promote the art," "defend the weak," or "be polite". The exact vows are unique to each Sifu.36

Now, after careful reading of the above two descriptions and re-reading the paragraph regarding Cheng’s alleged meeting in 1932 with Yang, can we honestly say that we are witnessing a Bai Shi ceremony? If Mr Pu is acting as an ‘intermediary’ as has been suggested, then two things come to light immediately from Ching’s description: Intermediaries spoke for someone the master did not know! And… Etiquette required that by going through an intermediary, “neither you, nor your master, are confronted with the awkwardness of a rejection.” In other words, you weren’t present! Furthermore, if we are to accept that this may be the case then: Where is the grand affair which is being described above? Where are the witnesses — the relatives, the kung-fu brothers and sisters? Where is the Bai Tip or “bowing card”? And… read the language of Cheng being reported by Robert Smith regarding Yang - Does this reflect the language of the vows of Bai Shi between master and disciple? Or, is it exactly what it seems — a simple meeting or introduction? Understanding all of the above is critical as we look into the Push Hands incident. I have already quoted the paragraph reflecting the two push hands incidents involving Yang and Cheng as reported by Robert Smith above, but it’s worthwhile repeating the bullet points here: Their fear may have resulted from seeing what happened to Cheng when he approached Yang for some push hands practice. Yang used two fingers and threw him twenty feet, knocking him out. When the memory of this faded, Cheng approached him again. This time Yang put a hand (Cheng remembers that it was as soft as cotton) on his jaw, threw him and knocked him out. These were the only two times Cheng faced Yang.37

Let us look at what we are being told here logically. Cheng, in his capacity as a student/‘disciple,' approaches his teacher, Yang, for instruction on two occasions. On both occasions Yang brutally knocks him out! Why would Yang behave like that? Why would any teacher or master behave like that towards a student seeking instruction? Especially a student who is a disciple and one who, as we have already noted above, you are indebted too? This absolutely makes no sense! From my own personal experience of training with Erle over several years and practicing push hands - I never experienced such brutality! Sure, I would end up with bruises and aches and the odd strike here and there during


practice but, that was only if I had made an error and Erle would highlight that fact and demonstrate what would have been the result of that error. But to knock me out - I would have seriously had to have pissed him off! Virtually all historians agree that Yang Cheng-fu was a good-natured person unlike his brother Yang Shang-hou, who was known for not pulling any punches. So, what made him behave so out of character? I believe the clue lies in Robert Smith’s words: These were the only two times Cheng faced Yang.38

This is a curious choice of word — “faced”! Are we witnessing an episode of effrontery/temerity and sheer audacity on Cheng’s part? I believe that this is exactly how we are meant to read this episode. Smith’s doubts almost confirm this when he says: If this is true, whence came Cheng’s great ability?39

Coupled with Cheng’s disrespectful view of Yang: He saw Yang lazy and growing fat but still unbeatable.40

Judging from Yang’s response, we can only come to the logical conclusion that this is exactly what it was — an insolent nerve on Cheng’s part. Pertaining almost as a challenge to Yang! Far-fetched? I don’t believe so! No matter which account or biography you read about Cheng’s life, the adulations and praises of his admirers stand out like a sore thumb! We have already noted “Master of the Five Excellences”, but we are also told that, “People who believe him to be the most outstanding individual in Chinese cultural history in this century (literally, since the founding of the Republic of China, 1911) are not exaggerating… Professor Cheng's intelligence was above normal… In little more than a year Professor Cheng had gained an understanding of the main principles of t'ai-chi ch'uan. Professor Cheng had 5 especially strong points. Furthermore, he could unify them as if they were pearls threaded on a single string. That string was the Tao.”41 “… his talents overflowed. They called him “Southern Genius!” My father had multiple talents: he was a poet, calligrapher, painter, martial arts practitioner, and a Chinese medical doctor. He excelled on every subject. My countrymen called him “An Elder with Five Excellencies”… My father was well versed in Chinese Traditional medicine. He was a student of then famous Dr. Sung You-an. He studied the subject intensely, finishing in only two summers.”42

There is more then a hint of arrogance here almost bordering on narcissism! These words are not merely the over-zealous tributes of students and followers, or family, eulogizing — no! Many of these titles and praises were showered upon Cheng during his lifetime and there is very little evidence that he shied away from such descriptions of himself! It is important that we see and understand this. Cheng is portrayed as genial, almost a prodigy! Someone who picks things up very quickly and “excelled in every subject”! According to Douglas Wile: “Cheng spoke both as prophet and as cultural ambassador.”43 Now there is nothing wrong with some of the above. Cheng may well have excelled in all subjects and may well have been genial, however, when one reads about him, we also sense an air of superiority, arrogance and opportunity, and disdain for those lacking in culture. How else can we, otherwise, explain the following description by Robert Smith, already quoted above: Chen Man-ch’ing raised in the culture and wanting the skill so badly, was prepared to put up with anything to get it. He saw the vistas open to him if he persisted.44


The most likely scenario regarding this incident is as follows: Cheng was, no doubt, already trained in Taiji and considered himself well versed in the subject. If we look carefully and objectively, he has spent virtually his entire life chasing accolades — “He traveled over mountains and rivers to associate himself with poets and literates.”45 — and Taiji for him was no different! He needed to associate himself with the best and get their recognition and of course, the best at the time was none other then a northern peasant - Yang! Cheng may or may not have met Yang briefly in Shanghai but it is certainly in Guangzhou (Canton) where we can say with certainty that he attended Yang’s public class. We have ample accounts regarding Yang’s teaching methods in his public classes. Customarily he would be seated whilst one of his senior students took the class and Yang would “… observe from a chair and direct comments to his students”46 Now this is in somewhat of a contradiction to what we were told by Smith, earlier (see above), that according to Cheng: …mostly he sat and seldom spoke.

However, if we return to our earlier conclusions that somewhere between 1934-1935 was the onset of Yang’s illness and hospitalization, then we can easily explain away why during the period Cheng trained - Yang mostly sat quietly! It is in this context then that we must see the approach of Cheng to Yang and what followed. Cheng obviously rated himself, especially his push hands and perhaps saw this as an opportunity to not only test his own skills but also of Yang - “who was lazy and growing fat…” and as Cheng discovered, very quickly to his detriment “… still unbeatable”! If, and all the evidence points to this, this was Yang’s public class, then as per custom Yang would have been seated while either Fu, Dong or his own son Yang Shouzhong would have been instructing. Cheng appears to circumvent protocol and approaches Yang direct apparently wanting ‘instruction’ in push hands or so we are told. Yang does not see it as such! We are not given any other information only the violent manner in which Cheng is dispatched! Yang’s treatment of Cheng is not surprising. The old sick lion wastes no time in putting away the insolent upstart to show why he’s still to be considered the head of the pride and when “the memory of this faded," and Cheng tried again — the result was the same! This is why we are told he only “faced” Yang twice and also Robert Smith’s doubts and musings as to where Cheng got his skill? Had Cheng been the disciple that he claims then he would have no doubt trained with Yang on a daily basis NOT merely on two occasions in 6 or even 10 years as is claimed! And, if he was, indeed, seeking instruction then Yang’s behaviour towards his ‘disciple’ is extraordinary and way out of character to say the least! I do not view Cheng’s approach to Yang as an actual challenge. I do not think that he would have been so stupid or arrogant enough to do so. But I do believe that his resultant treatment points clearly to the fact that he, in some way, was in breach of protocol. A breach serious enough to warrant such a violent response coupled with the fact that Yang was already, most likely, ill and perhaps irritable! According to traditions inherited, both, by myself through Erle and a few other teachers, as well as historical accounts, the masters of old would almost never ‘join hands’47 with their general students. They would only do this with their closest disciples — the chosen one(s) who would go on to represent their line. When a master joined hands with his student, he was in part giving an insight into his own essence and touch to the student so that he/she could learn and advance themselves! Even then, the master would hold something back — just in case! But, that didn’t mean that a good student wouldn’t or couldn’t work things out for themselves. This would also explain why a lot of the masters also sat and gave instruction whilst their senior students or disciples actually did the physical movements. This method of teaching would later come to be abused by charlatans or those ‘teachers’ with very limited skill, who did not wish to be ‘found out’ by their students! In my own training, I remember one day joining hands with Erle. After around a solid 20 minute exchange I started to find myself to tire, up until then I was giving Erle a good “run for his money," as he would tell me


afterwards. I became rather annoyed with myself as Erle was almost 20 years older and I was disgusted with the fact that I had begun to tire while he appeared all fresh! Upon sensing my annoyance, he simply put his arm around my shoulders and told me that I had given him a serious workout and that he had had to use his experience to hold me at bay and that I had improved vastly over the years. Happy as I was at hearing this, it still wasn’t enough to placate me. Later, he would go on to explain and show me the how? It was simple. I had to shake my head in disbelief. Why hadn’t I seen it or worked it out? The proverbial “not seeing the wood for the trees” I guess! Anyhow, the point of telling you about the above is, to show that Cheng could not have had such a relationship with Yang. If, and virtually almost all the evidence points to that, he was only a periphery student in his public class then he would not have had the privilege to join hands with Yang! By approaching Yang directly, not only was he in breach of protocol but was declaring that he was worthy of joining hands with him. Of course, the truth of the matter is that we will really never know for certain — the only thing we know for sure is Yang’s response! So, why didn’t Cheng learn from this? Why did he “face” Yang a second time? I will answer these questions in the concluding remarks later. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan and Other Publications We now need to deal with the publications of the various books on the subject of Taijiquan with reference to Yang’s 1934 book - Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. Chen Wei-ming’s first book, Taiji Quan Shu - The Art of Taiji Boxing - was published in 1925, followed by Taiji Da Wen - Answering Questions About Taiji - in 1929. Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa - Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing - appeared in 1931, co-authored by Yang Cheng-fu and Dong Yingjie. In the preface to the 1934 book credited to Yang Cheng-fu, we are told by the ‘author’: Later I asked my student, Chen Weiming, to publish a book based on my oral instruction… Thinking now about Mr. Chen Weiming’s book, it only explains the process of training the solo form. Moreover, in reviewing my form postures from ten years ago, they are not as good as today’s. Today, at the request of my students, I am following through by compiling the complete methodology of form and function into a complete volume, including the fundamental training method, plus tuishou and dalu, and I’ve added the most recent photographs. I am committing this to printing order to make it available to the public.48

At a first glance there is absolutely nothing wrong with the above statement. We are simply being told that Yang Cheng-fu wished to update, both, the content and photographs of the original publication he had authorized ten years earlier, authored by his student Chen Weiming. However, upon closer scrutiny and in light of other historical information, the text begins to fall apart! Yang says that he was not happy with the photograph’s from 10 years ago! Since his preface is dated 1933, we can assume that the photographs appearing in Chen Weiming’s book were taken around 1923. The book itself, as we can see from above, was published in 1925. Therefore, the preface is suggesting that the 1934 book is the update of the 1925 book, which includes the now familiar images of Yang Cheng-fu practicing his form. However, we have a problem… Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa had already been published in 1931, co-authored by Yang and Dong. All the updated images appearing in the 1934 publication had already been printed in the 1931 collaboration, along with a lot of the content! In fact, upon close inspection, it becomes clearly apparent that the 1934 publication is actually a revision of the 1931 written by Dong! So, why edit a book which has only been in print for a mere 2-3 years? Well, usually, a book is edited when new information is being added to the original content or perhaps an argument or thought is being expanded upon , etc. However, when the 1931 book is compared to the 1934, we find that the latter has less of the original content!


In his own ‘Translator’s Introduction’ to the 1934 book, Louis Swaim states: The comparison of the 1934 book, Taijiquan tiyong quanshu with the 1931 book, Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa, clearly indicates that Zheng Manqing’s role was to edit and polish the earlier version. A statement in Yang Chengfu’s “introduction” supports this: “this book is based on the previous books, revised and corrected, to remain as a standard model.”49

So, what needed to be “revised and corrected”? Much has been made by various authors about the writing style of Dong, that it was rather a “…terse, semiclassical style of writing.”50 Thus, making it a difficult read! So, Yang was somehow persuaded to pull the book from Dong and have it republished as a revised edition under the penmanship of Cheng. Again, at a cursory glance there is nothing wrong with this and all seems above board until we start to look at the details which raise several further questions: Why should the writing style of the book matter? Most students of the martial arts were illiterate or semi-literate, as were the masses in China, it hardly makes sense that these guys would be concerned with the literary merit of a book as opposed to the quality of the information contained within its pages! Yang, himself, was a peasant with poor literacy skills! Also, how can the book be considered “corrected” when it contains embarrassing historical falsehoods? I have already argued this point in detail in Part One of this essay regarding Yang Cheng-fu’s alleged conversation with his grandfather, Yang Lu-ch’an, as a youngster, when the latter had already been dead for more then a decade prior to his birth! Are we seriously supposed to believe that Yang was more concerned with punctuation and grammar rather then the factual contents of his book? Especially, since, the claims made in the Preface and Introduction would have been glaringly obvious to any one of Yang’s main disciples and those of his brother Yang Shou-hou, and other family members! And, why is it that Yang fails to mention the name or names of the students whom he has commissioned to revise this book? In his Preface he clearly mentions Chen Wei-ming, as seen above, but fails to mention his major disciple Dong Yingjie, with whom he has co-authored his own book! Also, he fails to mention the name of, perhaps his most highly educated student, Cheng Man-ching, to whom he has given the responsibility to revise that said book! In fact, the best that Yang can come up with is, “… at the request of my students.” In his own Foreword to the 1934 book, Cheng, himself, states the following: So, my fellow student Kuang Keming and I went together to Master Yang Chengfu and said, “The methods of the former masters were passed on from generation to generation, all relying on direct oral instruction. There were no specialized manuals. In order to keep the transmission within the family they held the methods close. How would it be to write the methods down in a book so as to ensure the transmission to later generations?” Master yang agreed that this was a good idea.51

So, now we know who the “some’ students were who requested this of Yang. However, once more, as we delve into the detail cracks begin to appear in the narrative! The manual which Cheng speaks of writing already exists and Yang Cheng-fu, himself, has conveniently forgotten about it! Taijiquan tiyong quanshu is an interesting book to say the least when we read it against the historical background of what we do actually know. It appears to be writing important people out of the history of Yang family Taijiquan and inserting ideas and false claims in! As I’ve already pointed out in Part One, there is absolutely no mention of Yang Shou-hou or about his tenure as the head of the family, nor of Cheng-fu’s


training with his brother. The book is full of Taoist ideas and thoughts which, to put it bluntly, would be alien to Cheng-fu’s vocabulary! Another illustration of factual inaccuracies or anomalies are the dates of both Yang’s Preface and Cheng’s Foreword, as well as the place of writing: As we have already noted above that Cheng’s Foreword is dated “-1933, Dragon Boat Festival (fifth of the fifth lunar month)” — representing the 27 June 1933. I have already explained why this date is impossible to fit in to the timeline we have available, we will now add to this Yang’s Preface, which is also dated as “Guangping, spring of 1933.”52 We have already established that Yang arrived in Guangzhou (Canton) sometime in 1932 and that Doc-Fai Wong’s teacher - Hu Yuen Chou - trained with him there between 1932-34 (see note 24), so his being in Guangping in the spring of 1933 is impossible as the distance between the two is over 1700 km and the journey would take over 20 hours in a modern car on modern roads! In 1933 that journey would most likely have taken days, if not weeks to complete, with breaks! We also know that when Yang left Shanghai for Guangzhou, as he journeyed south, he stopped at several places en route to his destination and taught a while! It is highly unlikely that Yang would have travelled these great distances several times over a short period going to and fro! It can be confidently said with the evidence at hand that, both, the Preface and Introduction attributed to Yang Cheng-fu are false and have nothing to do with him. They may contain the odd sentence or two from Yang himself, but that’s about all! I’d even go as far as to say that Yang probably never saw the finished book in his lifetime or at least never read it, otherwise I cannot conceive how he would have allowed such embarrassingly grave historical errors to appear! The historical information certainly appears to be second or third hand at best and in some instances clearly made up! Even the historian Gu Liuxin in his “An Introduction To Yang Style Taijiquan," can only tell us that: Chengfu later asked someone to compile Taijiquan Ti Yong Quan Shu.53

Apart from Cheng’s own Foreword in the 1934 book, we have no other internal evidence to say that he was in any way authorized to revise the 1931 Dong edition or write anything else for that matter by Yang Cheng-fu himself! So, what of external evidence — do we have anything that confirms what Cheng claims from other important sources? Again, apart from a heavy dosage of claims based upon the Professor’s cult like followers, there is very little evidence to say the least! In his ‘Translator’s Introduction’ to Taijiquan tiyong quanshu, Louis Swaim quotes Yang Zhenji (1921-2007), the second son of Yang Cheng-fu, from his book Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan (p.250), published in 1993: Taijiquan tiyong quanshu was written by my father’s disciple, Zheng Manqing, according to my father’s performance narratives and requirements. This is factual.54

Now, before we begin to read too much into the above statement as definitive proof of Cheng’s claims, let us compare and contrast this with what Yang Shouzhong, Zhenji’s older brother and Cheng-fu’s eldest son, has to say on the same subject in his ‘Preface’ to his father’s book, dated 1948: While he was staying in Guangdong, my father authored this book at the request of his comrades to clearly set forth the essence and applications of taijiquan.55

Two very important facts jump right out at us from the above statement immediately: 1. The location - Guangdong! In other words we have further evidence for our time frame - 1932! Since the book was published in 1934, a fact confirmed by Shouzhong in his Preface, we can assume that Yang Cheng-fu authorized this sometime between 1932-1934. 2. Yang Shouzhong fails to mention Zheng Manqing (CMC) as the author of the book, which is rather peculiar to say the least since Zheng’s Foreword precedes his own Preface separated only by his father’s Preface and Introduction! In fact, Shouzhong’s choice of word “comrades” is rather odd — he doesn't use the term students or disciples!


So, what are we to make of these two statements made by two brothers on the same subject? From the two brothers, it is obvious that Yang Shouzhong is closer to the source and the one more likely to ‘know’! In 1932, when he accompanied his father to Guangdong, he would have been approximately 22 years of age, whereas his brother, Zhenji, would have been only around 11 or 12 at the time! Also, Yang Shouzhong’s statement is more in accord with his father’s (see above) compared to Zhenji’s. However, having said that we should not dismiss Zhenji’s statement outright as being inaccurate. Zhenji is merely confirming that the 1934 book WAS written by Cheng (Zheng) according to his “father’ performance narratives and requirements. This is factual.” The only controversial point here is his use of the word “disciple” with regard to Cheng. Controversial because Cheng’s name does not appear in any of his father’s known list of disciples — a fact acknowledged by even Cheng’s ardent supporters, although they do have an explanation for this and we’ll deal with that claim below. So, why does he use it? Well, we have an answer for that… and I’ll take the readers back to my source from the Dong archives: Cheng is not a disciple of Yang, it's more accurate if you say he was the last group of students. But a student means a lot more those days than now, maybe some call it disciple. But there is no record of it.56

Note what we are being told. It is clear and unequivocal! So, Zhenji’s use of the term “disciple” DOES NOT mean disciple in the traditional sense of the word as we would use it to describe Fu Zhongwen, for example. He is merely using the word to say that Cheng was a student! Further, Zhenji mentions that the book was written according to his father’s “performance narratives”… in other words - class notes! And those class notes belonged to Dong Yingjie, who used them to transcribe his original 1931 book! This is exactly what is confirmed by Louis Swaim, himself, in his Translator’s Introduction: The earlier version was likely an assemblage of observations and notes collected over time from Yang Chengfu’s teaching sessions. These “class notes” were then distilled into Dong’s terse, semi-classical style of writing.”57

Finally, according to the Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation, Yang’s 1934 book was published in Shanghai and was republished by Yang Shouzhong in 1948.58 This information would tie in with the fact that Shouzhong’s Preface to the book is dated August 1948.59 Since we have already established that Yang Cheng-fu was in Guangdong in 1934 and not Shanghai, it appears most likely that Yang never saw the printed version of ‘his’ book. I have already argued this point as to why in Part One of this essay but will make a brief summary here: There are several historical inaccuracies and questionable scenarios to say the least in the Preface and Introduction attributed to Yang Cheng-fu in his ‘own’ book - the most serious being his conversation with his grandfather Yang Lu-ch’an, who had already been dead for 11 years before Cheng-fu’s birth and his ‘argument’ with his uncle Yang Ban-hou! Also, although the book mentions all the major Yangs… Yang Shou-hou is conspicuously absent from the narrative! Again, as we have already noted above - Yang’s Preface is dated as “Guangping, spring of 1933," whereas we have confirmation by Yang Shouzhong that his father commissioned the book in Guangdong! So, he could NOT have been in Guangping in 1933 due to the evidence already presented earlier! It is inconceivable that Yang Cheng-fu would have made such rudimentary errors as it would have been deemed an insult to his elders and peers as well as his contemporaries who would have known otherwise! The only logical conclusion would be that which we have already deduced - Yang most likely never saw the final version of the book! In summation, the publication and authorship of Taijiquan tiyong quanshu may be concluded as follows:


1. Sometime between 1932-34, while in Guangdong, Yang Cheng-fu commissioned Taijiquan tiyong quanshu. 2. The book was published in Shanghai in 1934. 3. There is no evidence stating that Yang Cheng-fu directly authorized Cheng to edit the book, other then what Cheng claims in his own Foreword! 4. That Cheng Man-ching is the real author of the book is in no doubt! Zhenji’s statement is merely a confirmation of this. It does not mean that his father authorized Cheng to ‘write’ the book! 5. The reason given for publishing Taijiquan tiyong quanshu is odd to say the least. Cheng-fu states that it is an update of Chen Wei-ming’s Taiji Quan Shu - The Art of Taiji Boxing! However, that update has already occurred in 1931 with Dong’s book! 6. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu is most certainly an edited version of the earlier book published in 1931, Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa - Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing, co-authored by Dong Yingjie and Yang Cheng-fu! The 1934 revision contains no new material or information barring the Daoist thought philosophy inserted within its pages and punctuation added by Cheng! This makes one wonder if the statement attributed to Yang in his Introduction (see note 48 above), is really a reference to Dong’s book as it would fit the description more concisely! 7. The historical inaccuracies contained within the biographical data and locations, as well as the timelines, simply suggest that Cheng is not reporting first hand — in other words, his information is 2nd, 3rd or even 4th hand and in some instances simply made up! Again if such is the case and this is exactly what Swaim claims - “One could speculate that Zheng (Cheng) wrote the “Preface” and “Introduction” based upon second-hand accounts of Yang family anecdotes.”60 — then one can clearly question Cheng’s proximity to the source! Why is a man who claims to have spent several years serving his ‘Master’ as a disciple, relying on “second-hand accounts” as his source of information? Based upon the above summation, it could be suggested that for some reason, which is unclear, Yang authorizes an update to his book upon arriving in Guangdong. The earliest this may have occurred would be in 1932 and the latest 1933, since the book is published in 1934. I would suggest that the most likely year is 1933 and will offer my reasons below as to why? The book was published in Shanghai, one could, thus, logically speculate that the necessary ‘editing’ took place in or around here, although this does not necessarily have to be true. Yang would only have entrusted his close disciples with this task. Bearing in mind that we are possibly talking as Shanghai as the location then these “comrades” may well have been Chen Wei-ming and/or Kuang Keming. and other disciples. We know from the timelines that Cheng was certainly training with some of Yang’s students, such as Ye Dami. No doubt his ‘scholarly’ skills would have been known among this circle of Yang’s students. Could it then be possible that it was these students who commissioned Cheng with the task, unbeknown to Yang, himself? It would certainly explain why Cheng is relying on “second-hand accounts”! If we accept the above scenario to be true then we can explain why this fits the 1933 timeline: Yang’s “Introduction” is dated 1933. However, he is not in Guangping but rather in Guangdong. So we can at least accept the date here as valid! Cheng, by his own admission, was purportedly studying the classics in Yang-hu between 1931-1934, approximately 300 kilometres from Shanghai. It could well be that after finishing his studies he took on the task of editing, which would not have taken that long since the “performance narratives” in the two books are virtually the same except for the added punctuation! Upon publication of the book, in Shanghai in 1934, Cheng heads to Guangdong (Canton) to finally train with Yang - perhaps expecting special treatment? Chen Wei-ming’s “Preface” and Fu Zhongwen’s Interview We now turn to Chen Wei-ming’s Preface, which appears in Cheng Man-ching’s book “Thirteen Chapters and New Method of Self-Study”61. I will quote the relevant parts below: The famous painter, Cheng Man-ch’ing, is also a master of medicine. When Master Yang Ch’eng-fu came south he studied T’ai-chi ch’uan with him for 6 years. Once Madame Yang, nee Hou, became seriously ill and Cheng cured her with medicine. Master Yang was so thankful that he taught him all the secret oral transmissions. No one else had ever heard them…”62

The Preface is dated “Cyclical year ting-hai (1947), 4th month..”63


Let us look at the information here in light of what we have already established. Chen does not provide us with a location as to where in the “south” Cheng trained? This is odd! Did this training take place in Shanghai or Canton? Surely if Chen can remember the length of training, as well as the special favour bestowed upon Cheng, he would remember to mention at which school or schools that training took place in? After all, he had set up the initial institutions in both cities in the first place! Again, the magical number of 6 years is mentioned. The same as in Madame Cheng’s narrative! No actual dates are given other then the clue that it was after Yang travelled south. We have already comprehensively shown that the 6 years are an impossibility from the various timelines offered! The illness of Madame Yang can also be dismissed as an exaggeration to enhance the status of Cheng, as discussed previously. This incident alone raises so many question as I have already argued, where was Cheng when his master, himself was ill? If we do take Chen’s Preface at face value then this time frame would fit between 1928-1934, the same as Madame Cheng’s narrative and the period between Yang’s sojourn in Shanghai and Canton. It is absolutely inconceivable that a disciple skilled in medicine to the level claimed by Cheng would not come to his master’s aid! However, the most serious question raised by this episode is the fact that Yang was so grateful to Cheng for saving his wife, “… that he taught him all the secret oral transmissions. No one else had ever heard them…” How does Chen know that Yang taught Cheng all the secret transmissions and how does he know that no one else had heard them? Who is Chen’s source - Yang or Cheng? I believe the answer is obvious to this question. This statement is incredible to say the least! Are we really to believe that Fu Zhongwen, who trained with Yang from childhood and became his foremost disciple, and carried his Master’s body back from Shanghai to Yang’s family village for burial, would not have been given these transmissions? Or Dong for that matter? And what about other senior long term disciples of Yang? Chen’s Preface has an uncanny resemblance to Madame Cheng’s and both share the same source - Cheng! As we have already clearly demonstrated, Cheng was not averse to exaggerating or making up stuff to add importance to a biography and this Preface appears to be no different! Why? Because Fu was far more highly skilled then Cheng ever was and there are stories of him having knocked Cheng around in Yang’s public classes like a “rag doll”!64 This has simply been brushed aside by diehard Cheng devotees as a so what? Fu was more experienced of the two and it is no “feather in his cap”65 that he used his experience to beat Cheng! Well, although, most certainly and correctly, this should not be regarded as any major “feather” in Fu’s cap it certainly begs our attention. We have already quoted several ‘luminaries’ of Cheng’s genius and above normal intelligence in understanding and learning things. We have already quoted the same sources as telling us that Cheng, not only was he the only one to have been given the secret oral transmissions by none other then Yang Cheng-fu, himself, but that, also, he had mastered all the principles of Tai Chi in “little over a year” - yet, despite having all of the above advantages he is still thrown around by Fu like a “rag doll”? In my opinion and of those with even the smallest iota of common sense - this should be viewed as a major achievement by Fu, who despite his alleged disadvantages betters Cheng easily! Of course, this leads us directly on to Fu’s own quotes regarding Cheng which have been claimed as ample proof of the professor’s claims. In an interview published in Inside Kung-fu magazine in April 1993, Fu is quoted to say:


Cheng Man-ch'ing is probably the most famous taijiquan teacher in America. I knew him when he came to Shanghai to study with my uncle Yang Cheng-fu. He was a very great artist. He was very interested in learning and practicing taiji tui shou (push hands), which he did quite heavily with Yang Cheng-fu and all those around him who were the most skilled...Cheng Man- ch'ing was legitimate, and now it is important for his students and other North American practitioners to research where 'they first drank the water.' The traditional methods of the Yang family style must be preserved…66

Now, here, are we really witnessing a major endorsement? It would appear to be the case but let us examine it in a bit more detail. Note that nowhere in the above quote does Fu confirm that Cheng was the last disciple or favored student in any way! His use of the word “legitimate” is merely a confirmation of the fact that at some point for a brief period Cheng did indeed learn from Yang! I do not believe that any one of Cheng’s detractors have ever claimed that Cheng did NOT train with or attend any of Yang’s classes! Fu, however, places these events in Shanghai, but as we have already shown that although Cheng trained with Yang’s students in Shanghai, he, himself claims that he wasn’t introduced to Yang until 1932 - the year Yang would have left Shanghai for Canton and if this is true, then it would have been brief indeed! Furthermore, Fu tells us something very peculiar - that Cheng “was very interested in learning and practicing taiji tui shou, which he did quite heavily with Yang Cheng-fu and all those around him who were most skilled…” - This appears to confirm Cheng’s interest in push hands as well as contradicts what we know already… Cheng only “faced” Yang twice with terrible consequences! Also, it’s odd because it appears that Cheng is only interested in learning push hands from Yang! Finally, after confirming Cheng’s legitimacy, Fu makes an extraordinary statement… “it is important for his [Cheng’s] students and other North American practitioners to research where ‘they first drank the water.’ The traditional methods of the Yang family style must be preserved…” What is going on here? Whilst on the one hand we are being told that Cheng is “legitimate” yet on the other his students are being told to “research where ‘they first drank the water.'” This certainly appears to be a heavy, yet veiled criticism of Cheng and his teachings — the next sentence leaves us in no doubt - “The traditional methods of the Yang family style must be preserved…” Interestingly enough, professor Douglas Wile* uses similar language to Fu in his translation of Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, to claim totally the opposite: Only a direct connection with the wellspring was capable of producing such freshwater.67

The published writings of others such as Sun Lu-t’ang, Ch’en Wei-ming and Wu T’u-nan appear “colorless and one-dimensional”68 in comparison! So what are we to make of the statements of Fu? Fu Zhongwen never left China until the summer of 1994, when he was allowed to visit and teach in the USA briefly at the age of 91 - in the September of the same year he passed away in Shanghai.69 Fu’s interview in Inside Kung-fu appeared in the April 1993 issue, therefore it is reasonable to assume that the interview may well have been his introduction to the American audience, where he was “less well known”70, paving the way for his visit in 1994. ———————————— *As a side note, I find Wile’s statement here astonishing! Sun Lu-t’ang was a legendary fighter! Not only was he one of the greatest Baguazhang practitioners of the modern era but, he was also equally adept in Xingyiquan and finally, Taijiquan. It is often said that it was Sun who actually came up with the concept that the three internal arts were actually linked! Are we seriously going to place Cheng above Sun Lu-t’ang because of his writing prowess? Sun may have written in one-dimension, but his art and skills were certainly three dimensional, and I would not even mention Cheng’s name in the same breath as the great Sun Lu-t’ang - but, here again, we witness the crazy accolades being showered upon Cheng by his blinkered followers!


Fu would have been well aware that the USA was Cheng’s ‘turf’ and I cannot for one moment, as per Chinese etiquette, see him upsetting the proverbial applecart! So, while he pays homage to Cheng’s work, he cryptically reminds us that these students need to “research”! What was it that Cheng was failing to preserve with regard to Yang family teachings? Whatever it may have been, it certainly warranted Fu’s attention and despite etiquette required this statement!

In Conclusion Before concluding this essay, I would like to draw the readers’ attention to the tables appearing on the next few pages. I have placed all the timelines by the main protagonists side by side. I have only added the years of importance or those critical to our research. The missing years do not contain any information which is vital for or against the argument presented! A very clear picture begins to emerge. The timelines do not tally! Not only do they not tally but, they are, in some cases, years apart! How can those so intimately connected with the professor’s life, including Cheng himself, get their facts so muddled up? In January 2015, I contacted the renowned author Barbara Davis, MA, who had written extensively on the life and works of Cheng Man-ching, and is currently working on a full-length biography of the professor.71 My colleague and friend, Greg Lawton, had already contacted Ms. Davis way back in 2008 regarding Cheng’s alleged time with Yang and had received her definitive reply on the subject. So, here I was, seven years later, posing the same questions: 1. 2.

Where and for how long exactly did the professor study with Master Yang and during which years? Why is the Professor's name absent from lists of Master Yang's students?

Although seven years had passed, the reply I received was almost identical to the one that Greg had received earlier! I was expecting that with the passage of time, more effort had been exerted into the corroborating of events — but sadly no! Perhaps the research scientist I had once been was hoping for a bit too much? Ms. Davis’s reply to myself was prompt and courteous. She referred myself to an article which she had written for the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (JAMA), which had been recently reprinted in a collection of articles about Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ch’ing)72. I headed to the website, found the relevant publication, paid my monies and within a few seconds was reading the article on my Kindle app. The article, entitled - In Search of a Unified Dao: Zheng Manqing’s Life and Contribution to Taijiquan - was, according to the Author’s Note, “reproduced as published in 1996, with several corrections.”73 Sadly, although the article went into considerable detail, it hardly delivered where it really mattered! I will list the major timeline of events below and the reader will be clearly able to discern that it differs little from the information we have already presented above. However, having said that, there are one or two pieces of information, which Ms Davis provides, which if anything confirm our argument regarding the professor! According to Ms Davis’s article: In 1932 Zheng Manqing was introduced by an acquaintance to Yang Chengfu and commenced close to six years of study with Yang. Zheng won Master Yang’s favor after healing Yang’s wife from a serious illness. At her urging, Yang taught Zheng without holding anything back. Zheng was a quick learner, and after only a year made great progress.74

After confirming his (Cheng’s) retirement in 1930, we are again told that Cheng went to study essay and poem writing with Ch’ien Ming-shan in Chiangsu. The next statement is interesting: He was soon able to put his improved writing skills to good use, as Yang Chengfu called upon him to write a preface for, and as many assert, to ghostwrite Yang’s 1934 book Taijiquan tiyong quan shu75

Skipping forwards by several years, we arrive at 1946, when Cheng completed his work on his first taijiquan book, Zhengzi taijiquan shin pain (Master Zheng’s Thirteen Treatises on Taijiquan). The book was not published until 1950, by which time Cheng had moved to Taiwan, and contained the preface of Chen Wei-ming.











Birth of

Age 27

Retires from teaching at age 30.


moves to Shanghai. Suffering

Cheng traveled to Yang-hu in Chiangsu province and studied with master teacher of the classics Ch’ien Ming-shan in complete isolation between 1931-34!



from TB! Begins study of Tai Chi with Yang Cheng-fu and heals his Master’s ailing wife, in return for which he is taught the inner secrets by Yang. He became

At age 32, he

End of

the last disciple of Master Yang Cheng-fu

taught t'ai-'chi ch'uan at the Central

training period with Yang Cheng-fu.

and studied with him for 6 years. No

Military Academy (formerly the

actual years are given other then

Huang-po Military Academy

the clue that it was after he had

equivalent to West Point in the United

contracted a lung disease.


Began studying T’ai Chi

In spring of 1930 due to his illness,

Sometime between February/

Taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan at Central

Cheng’s Foreword, which is

End of training with Yang

Ch’uan with Yang Cheng-Fu.

he resumed his Tai Chi training with

March he meets Yang Cheng-fu at

Military Academy.

dated: “-1933, Dragon Boat


his colleagues Xiao

the house of Mr. Pu Qiuzhen,

Festival (fifth of the fifth lunar

Zhongbo and Ye Dami, and

however, we can say that he was NOT

month) — representing the 27

within a month his health had improved.

accepted as a student during that meeting.

June 1933 appears in Yang Cheng-fu’s ‘book’ published in 1934 in Shanghai







Key Tam Gibbs


Madame Cheng


Cheng Manching Katy Cheng



















Yang Cheng-fu

Chen Weiming

After 3 years of teaching there and establishing the Yang name, Chen Wei-ming

Hu Yuen Chou had

Death of Yang

accepts his student Chen Weiming’s

moves south to Canton

invites his Master to teach the advanced ideas to the Canton students before he returns to Shanghai in 1932. Amongst his students at the time is Hu Yuen Chou.

private training from Yang while in

Cheng-fu in Shanghai!

In 1932 Yang Cheng-fu arrives in Canton accompanied by his eldest son Yang

attendance to him in hospital

invite and moves to Shanghai.

(Guangzho u) to further spread Yang T’ai Chi.

Shouzhong and senior disciples Fu Zhongwen and Dong Yingjie

Hu Yuen Chou trained with Yang between 1932 and 1934. Shortly after his arrival in Canton, Yang fell ill. 1934 appears to the most likely year for the beginning of Yang’s illness based upon the evidence available!

between 1935-1936. Yang hospitalised for at least 6 months! Possible earliest return of Yang back to north! Leaves his eldest son, Yang Shouzhong and disciple Dong Yingjie behind to continue teaching on his behalf!

Cheng was in Yang's class in Canton for 2 to 3 years. Yang's got sick shortly after he got there and later returned to north, so part of the time Cheng was studying with… Dong Yingjie in Yang's school. The earliest Cheng can be placed in Canton from the evidence at hand would be sometime in 1934 as he was supposedly studying classics in Yang-hu and therefore, could not have been there any earlier!







Key Doc FaiWong

Disciple of Hu Yuen Chou.



Family Archives

Yingjie Disciple of Yang Cheng-fu




















Taiji Quan



Death of

of Chen Wei-ming’s first book,

of Chen Wei-ming’s

Shiyong Fa Methods of Applying

Foreword is dated “-1933, Dragon Boat

tiyong quanshu Essence and

Yang Cheng-fu in Shanghai.

Taiji Boxing co-authored by Yang

Festival (fifth of the fifth lunar month)

Applications of Taijiquan - ‘authored'

Cheng-fu and Dong Yingjie.

representing the 27 June 1933.

by Yang Cheng-fu published in Shanghai.

Taiji Da Wen Answering

Taiji Quan Shu - The Art of Taiji

Questions About Taiji


(Location most likely Shanghai) Yang’s Preface, which is also dated as “Guangping, spring of 1933. Yang Cheng-fu teaching in Shanghai at Chen Wei-ming’s school.

At some point in 1932 Yang

Yang Cheng-fu in Canton

arrives in Canton.

1935 at earliest).

death his body is returned to

The distance between

The distance between Guangping and Guangzhou (Canton) is over 1700 kilometres!

his family village accompanie

(Possible return to Shanghai some point late

Shanghai and Guangzhou

Yang in Shanghai. Upon his

d by his disciple Fu Zhongwen.

(Canton) is almost 1500 kilometres

Cheng in Shanghai.

Cheng in Yang-hu in Chiangsu province for 3

Cheng in

No reference

years in complete isolation between 1931-34.


The distance between Shanghai and Yang-


or mention of Yang helping his

hu is a little over 300 kilometres.

year of Push Hands incident

‘master’ during his illness in

between Yang and Cheng!

Canton or later in Shanghai!

The distance between Yang-hu in Chiangsu to Guangzhou (Canton) is approximately 1400 kilometres!












Chart showing the dates of the various publications associated with Yang Cheng-fu, along with his geographical locations as well as the locations of Cheng Man-ching.


Ms. Davis notes that: Chen’s support was particularly important, due to his high status among Yang Chengfu’s senior students and as a well-educated early taijiquan writer himself.76

Under the title, Zheng Manqing’s Innovations in Taijiquan, Barbara Davis lists Yang Lu-ch’an as, “Zheng’s great grand-teacher”!77 Let us start with the obvious: If Cheng only met Yang in 1932, as correctly identified by Ms. Davis, then he could never have studied with him for six years! It’s a case of simple arithmetic! The most he could have studied with Yang was for four years since Yang died in 1936. However, even this would be only true if we don’t take other known events into account! Also, it is important to note that she believes that Cheng “commenced” his studies in 1932, i.e., he wasn’t training with Yang earlier. However, we must refer back here to Cheng himself, who claimed that although he met Yang in 1932 it was only “after” the introduction that he went to train with Yang (see note 9)! We do not know how long “after” the event? In her notes on this subject, Ms. Davis clearly argues her point that although “Some sources state that Zheng began with Yang… around 1927… Zheng himself wrote in his preface… that he was introduced to Yang in Renshan zhengyue (February 1932) by Mr Po Qiucheng.”78 Again, one has to question the healing of Yang’s wife as well as Yang teaching Cheng all the transmissions “without holding anything back.” We have already shown the improbability of this. Another piece of interesting information provided by Ms. Davis in her notes is the dating system: There are a fair number of discrepancies between dates or ages in various material on Zheng. This may be attributed to confusion between different methods of calculating ages and translation between the traditional and Western dating systems. Thus all ages given for Zheng (within this article as well as other people’s material) should be taken as accurate within two years.79

Although Ms. Davis makes a fair point above, it does not however let Cheng and his apologists off the proverbial hook! We have other known dates and events to counter check against which provide damning evidence to the contrary! I have already explained Cheng’s sojourn in Chiangsu, studying under Ch’ien Ming-shan in detail above. Apart from the fact that Cheng, himself, claims to be in complete isolation for those three years and that Yang never names the person he authorized to write the book, nor does Yang’s son Yang Shouzhong, or any other historian it is preposterous to claim that Yang “called” upon Cheng to not only write an error strewn preface but also to ghostwrite the book on his behalf! There is absolutely no evidence that Yang himself gave Cheng that authority - that is not to say however, that Cheng did not write the aforementioned preface or book! If we are, for a moment, to accept that Yang himself had approached Cheng to write the preface and the book then Cheng’s place in the ranks of the master’s devoted students would have been confirmed to all and sundry. Again, if such were the case, then why is Chen Wei-ming’s preface in Cheng’s own book of so much more importance then the calligraphed dedication of the President of the Republic, Chiang Kai-shek? Surely, Cheng would not require such endorsement if his status is as claimed? So, with reference to the first question as to when and where Cheng studied with Yang, Ms. Davis’s reply to myself was: “To summarize: the exact dates are not clear!”80

In response to the second question as to why Cheng’s name does not appear on any known lists of Yang’s students, I was told that: “Zheng Manqing’s name was excised from Yang family lists most likely for political reasons, as he was associated with the Republican government. After 1949, it would not have been wise for the Yang family to keep his name around.”81


The exact same answers had been received by Greg Lawton seven years earlier! I agree with Ms. Davis upon the answer to the first question. The precise dates are unclear. However, this presents us with a major conundrum: In her biographical data, we are told that, “Zheng was precocious and had a photographic memory…”82 If such was the case, how can it be that a man who meticulously lists his achievements cannot provide the exact dates of where and when he trained with Yang? This is no small matter, after all Cheng’s claim to world fame was and is through his Taijiquan, his other talents were not the reason! Surely, if anything then, it would have been the records of these events which would have been preserved for posterity. But they are not. I believe that they are deliberately ambiguous and Cheng, himself, is the source of this ambiguity - not his blinkered students! The answer to the second question should be of major concern to those who parade genealogies as if they are some holy grail conferring automatic knowledge and authority upon those who claim to hold them! We are being told that Cheng’s name was excised from Yang’s student list due to his political affiliations! Seriously? Let us take a look at the facts: This is the Yang family who are known to have taught princes and paupers alike from the north to the south of China! How many students must have they had who were affiliated to the ‘wrong’ side at some point or another? We know that Yang arrived in Shanghai at some point in 1928, a year or so after the infamous Shanghai massacre carried out by Chiang Kai-shek and the conservative factions in the Kuomintang. Even more violent suppressions occurred in Guangzhou and Nanjing leading to split and the eventual set up of an alternative seat of power in Wuhan. During this period of the Chinese civil war history there were essentially three seats of power or ‘capitals’ - Beijing, Nanjing and Wuhan - Yang had pretty much taught in all of them! So, he must have had many students who after 1949 would have been affiliated to the wrong cause — were their names also excised from Yang history? Also, I will refer the reader once more to Part One of this present article, in particularly the comments regarding the preface of Yang Shouzhong - Yang’s eldest son - who wrote in the 1948 re-publication of his ‘father’s book’ - it is obvious from Yang’s words that at this time in history (1948), his family are a spent force and “hard pressed to carry on the achievements of my forebears.”83 By 1949, Yang Cheng-fu would have already been dead for more then a decade! What political affiliations or interests would an illiterate peasant from the North have had that would have been endangered by a single name on his student list? What’s more disturbing about this claim is that although we are expected to believe that Cheng’s name was excised from Yang’s list for political purposes — a list which very few privileged people would have had access to outside of the Yang family - yet here was a book which had been available to the general public since 1934 which clearly carried Cheng Man-ching’s name and connection to the very same family via his own Foreword! The argument does not stack up to the facts! Cheng’s name does not appear on any of Yang’s student lists because he was NEVER the disciple he claimed to be! The answer is that simple. When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth… Sherlock Holmes, The Sign Of Four, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

At some point during the 1920s, Cheng Man-ching began training in the Yang family art of Taijiquan. His tutors were no doubt students associated with Yang himself and/or students of his students - Ye Dami being one such


student, with whom he resumed his training in 1930! We do not know where in Shanghai Cheng trained, but it is plausible that he was training in or around the vicinity of Chen Wei-ming’s school, where Yang himself would eventually show up to teach in 1928. According to Cheng’s testimony, he only met Yang in 1932 after being introduced by an acquaintance, Mr. Pu Qiuzhen, at the latter’s house. It was only after that meeting that Cheng presented himself as a student to Yang. Again, we cannot say from the records available to us as to where and when it was that Cheng presented himself as a student but it was definitely after the 1932 introduction. Our only problem with this scenario is the fact that Cheng claims to be studying in isolation in Yang Hu between 1931-34. However, if we work under the assumption that perhaps Cheng wasn’t as isolated as he claims and that he did make the 300 km trip to Shanghai, then he could well have met Yang in 1932. This, also is the year in which Yang headed south to teach in Canton. Therefore, assuming that Cheng returned back to his studies in Yang Hu or whatever other activities he was up to, then the most likely year in which he presents himself as a student would be 1934 in Canton! The location and the date would tie in with other evidence which is available to us. According to Yang Shouzhong, his father authorized the re-editing of his book in Guangdong. Since the book was published in 1934, it is logical to deduce that Yang would have given his authorization to the project sometime between 1932-1934, with 1933 being the most likely year if we take the preface date in the book to be true. All the internal and external evidence points to the fact that Cheng Man-ching is the editor of the 1934 publication Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan based upon the earlier 1931 book entitled, Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa - Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing co-authored by Yang Cheng-fu and Dong Yingjie. Since the publication took place in Shanghai, it is reasonable to assume that the editing took place either in or around Shanghai. This would most certainly place Cheng either in the city or somewhere nearby! We have no evidence, other then that offered by Cheng himself, that Yang Cheng-fu authorized him directly to ‘write’ the book. If anything, the compelling evidence that we do have points to unnamed “students” and since Cheng has yet to “present” himself as a student, it is safe to conclude that he is NOT one of those unnamed students! Yang Zhenji’s confirmation that Cheng was the author of his father’s book should simply be taken as that - it does not mean that he is advocating that Yang authorized Cheng to do so! The most likely scenario is that whoever these unnamed students were and they may well have been Kuang Keming or even Chen Wei-ming — they were most certainly acquainted with Cheng’s literary skills in Shanghai and it was these students who gave him the task to carry out their master’s wishes! This would most certainly explain the historical errors and fabrications which appear in the book. Cheng has no access to the source, in other words Yang, so he either makes up the story or relies on second or third hand accounts. What’s interesting in this is the fact that Cheng’s own devotees have used similar methodologies in his biographies to give him more significance, take, for example, Barbara Davis’s reference to Yang Lu-ch’an as “Zheng’s great grand-teacher” (see above) - this is simply ludicrous! Yang Lu-ch’an has nothing to do with Cheng! My teacher is MY teacher. A student who has trained with me cannot claim Erle as his teacher, just as I cannot claim Chang Yiu-chun as my teacher and Erle cannot claim Yang Shou-hou as his teacher! You get the picture? By placing Yang Lu-ch’an’s name in the same sentence as Cheng you are deliberately blurring lines, just as Cheng had done so by placing Yang Cheng-fu in his grandfather’s presence a decade after his death! The significant biographical errors and the omission of Yang Shou-hou from the 1934 book offer strong evidence that Yang Cheng-fu never read or saw the final draft of ‘his’ book. That would be the only logical deduction! The year 1934 would become a pivotal year. It would see the publication of Taijiquan tiyong quanshu Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, and would also be the year in which Yang most likely fell ill, and Cheng would finally arrive in Canton to study in Yang’s public classes. From the testimonies of Doc Fai-wong, Yang Shouzhong, the Dong family archives and other historical evidence, we can definitely place Yang Cheng-fu in Canton during 1934, and it is also here, where, the Dong family places Cheng Man-ching! As I have already outlined above (see note 16), Cheng “was in Yang's class in Canton for 2 to 3 years” according to the Dong family. It is a virtual impossibility that Cheng arrived in Canton in 1932, shortly after his meeting with Yang in Shanghai. We can pretty much eliminate that instantly and if, as the evidence points, he did arrive in Canton in 1934 then he would have trained under Yang’s direct tutorship in his public classes for a very short time indeed! How so?


Somewhere between 1934 and 1935 Yang Cheng-fu fell seriously ill and was hospitalized for a minimum of 6 months, before his return to Shanghai and eventual death in 1936. Therefore, the window of opportunity available to Cheng would have been short indeed - perhaps no more then 6 months! Note that the Dong family records state that he was in Yang’s class for 2-3 years not that he trained with Yang for 2-3 years! If our calculations are correct and that Cheng did arrive in Canton in 1934 then he would have been there until 1936-37. Since Yang died in 1936 in Shanghai, Cheng could not have trained with him in 1936 - in fact, according to Katy Cheng, her father had started to practice medicine full-time by 1936, further confirming our hypothesis. Working backwards to 1935 and taking Yang’s illness into account along with his long journey back to Shanghai, we can pretty much eliminate most, if not all, of this year too, leaving us 1934. So, Cheng arrived in Canton after the successful publication of Yang’s book in Shanghai. Perhaps he expected favorable treatment, we will never know. However, we can most certainly state the push hands incident took place here. Although Fu Zhongwen places Cheng ‘practicing’ push hands with Yang in Shanghai, I believe that Fu, who was in his 90’s at the time of his interview, simply got his locations mixed up. Cheng appears to have rated himself as a Taiji exponent. His supporters often state the fact that he learnt so quickly — in just a year or so — but this would be an absolute lie! Cheng had been training for several years BUT NOT with Yang Cheng-fu! Not only that but, if the statements attributed to him by Robert Smith regarding Cheng’s opinions on Yang are true, and we have no reason to doubt them, then he was also an elitist who looked down upon this northern peasant! However, Yang had something he desperately needed and therefore, as Robert Smith has clearly stated: “wanting the skill so badly, was prepared to put up with anything to get it”![See note 44 above]. Having arrived in Canton and joined Yang’s public classes, I believe that Cheng was perhaps hoping for special treatment when he approached Yang for push hands. Yang’s response is a clear indication that Cheng was in breach of protocol, not only that but also that no ‘special relationship’ existed between the two men! He instantly knocked him out! The healing of Yang’s wife would appear to be either a myth or an exaggerated truth. I would opt for the former since Cheng, himself, makes no reference to it in his own Foreword! This story most likely stems from the Preface of Chen Wei-ming and I have extreme doubts regarding the veracity of this as I have already argued above! If he only met Yang in 1932 then the episode with Yang’s wife could not have occurred before that, also 1932 was the year in which Yang headed south. Had his wife been so seriously ill, I do not believe he would have taken that journey, thereby eliminating 1932 from the equation. This finally leaves us 1934 and the location being Canton. However, we already know from historical records that at some point between 1934-1935 Yang fell ill and was hospitalized. Cheng is nowhere on the scene. He does not tend to his ‘master’ nor attempts to heal him. This is a highly problematic scenario for one claiming to be a last disciple, having studied with him “for six years … everyday” [See not 7 above], as per Madame Cheng testimony! Cheng certainly wanted the skill bad enough. He attempted to join hands - or as Robert Smith aptly puts it “face” Yang - for a second time with an identical result as the first time — a clean knockout! I believe that it was not long after this incident that, technically speaking, a parting of the ways occurred between the two men! Yang fell ill and was hospitalized and eventually headed back to Shanghai, leaving his eldest son Yang Shouzhong and his senior disciple Dong Yingjie in charge of his school. Cheng, according to the Dong family archives certainly stuck around and was taught by Dong in Yang’s class! This is the most logical scenario. It is the only way we can also make sense of Robert Smith’s observations as to why Cheng “drew a veil” over the issue of his push hand skills and why “it remains a mystery”? Remember, according to Smith, he “asked Cheng about this at least three times from different strategic angles…” [See note 11 above] and it’s no wonder that he was coy attributing it to Yang whilst the facts were simply otherwise! What Happened Next? To answer this question one has to briefly understand the backdrop to Chinese history during this time. The Chinese civil war took place over a long period between 1927 and 1950, with an interruption due to the Japanese invasion and World War II! The first phase was between 1927-1936 and phase two lasted between 1945-1950. The war was fought between the nationalist government of China, also called the Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communist Party of China (CPC), led by Mao Zedong.


If we look at what is commonly referred to as the Ten Years Civil War (1927-1936), this coincides exactly with the final decade of Yang Cheng-fu’s life and journey south from Beijing to Shanghai, and later, Canton! It also represents the era when theses regions were primarily under the control of the KMT. It would certainly appear from Yang’s movements that he had no problem traveling through these regions — we have no records of his political affiliations nor if he was politically active. In fact, considering his un-harassed movements we can safely assume that he was politically inactive. After all, what difference would it make to an illiterate northern peasant as to who ruled China, his sole concern was his family Taiji? That Yang was renowned and feted by folk from all walks of life wherever he went is not in doubt, further confirming his lack of interest in politics or allegiance to a particular cause! Cheng Man-ching on the other hand, from his own admissions, appears to be politically aligned with the KMT and it would be safe to assume was already so during the 1927 Shanghai Massacre. It would not have appeared to have hindered his practice of Taiji in any way, shape or form, as we know that he resumed his Taiji practice sometime in 1930 with Ye Dami. In 1949, with the KMT having been ‘defeated’ by the CPC , Cheng Man-ching headed to Taiwan and exile from the mainland. By the end of the Ten Year Civil War, Yang Cheng-fu was already dead! Almost a whole decade would pass before hostilities would resume in 1945 culminating in the CPC’s victory on the mainland in 1950, with most of the KMT leadership having already moved to Taiwan a year earlier in 1949. Why would the student records of a dead illiterate peasant matter to the establishment on the mainland? Are we seriously being led to believe that the leadership of the CPC, who would have been busy trying to consolidate their power over the mainland and far more concerned with greater threats, would have committed any resources to the student list of Yang Cheng-fu, a decade after his death, causing so much concern that the family excised Cheng’s name from their records? I, once again, draw the readers’ attention to Barbara Davis’s quote from above [note 81]: “Zheng Manqing’s name was excised from Yang family lists most likely for political reasons, as he was associated with the Republican government. After 1949, it would not have been wise for the Yang family to keep his name around.”

From the above statement, we are clearly being led to believe that this elimination occurred after 1949 when Yang Cheng-fu had already been dead for thirteen years! So, by that definition, Cheng’s name should have occurred on all surviving lists prior to 1949 - it doesn’t [see the list available in the 1931 collaboration of Dong and Yang]! And, how was the name removed? Was it by a stroke of a pen, in which case the name would still have been legible? Were the lists rewritten? How was this achieved and how was it ensured that ALL lists were adjusted and who authorized the removal? And, more importantly, how many other students who were politically aligned to the KMT were removed from the said lists? There must have been more then one, and as we have already demonstrated above that, during the Ten Year Civil War, Yang was clearly moving through KMT held territory! Finally, according to Yang Shouzhong’s own testimony, writing in 1948 in Yangshi, we have already been told that his family were a spent force [see note 83 above], therefore, having Cheng’s name on their list would have made no difference to their fortunes post 1949 and glaringly obviously they had forgotten to remove his name from Yang’s book itself without consequence! The statement above, attributing Cheng’s absence from Yang’s list due to his politics is not only ludicrous but defies intelligence and logic! As we have already stated, the name is absent because it was never on the original list in the first place!


According to Robert Smith: Cheng associated very little with other boxers. Like Sun Lu-tang, “His eyes were very high” [meaning he stood above most boxers; …].84

This is no doubt meant to add to Cheng’s status, however, let us hear what Sun Chien-yuen — the daughter of the legendary Sun Lu-tang — has to say on the matter in a conversation with Gabriel Chin[(See Part One on Gabriel Chin’s background]: “Cheng Man-ching? I never heard of such a person!”85

Continuing, regarding a story published in a paper by Cheng concerning Chen Wei-ming, which Chin had read. Sun replied: “Also, Chen Da-gu (her relationship with Chen Wei-ming made it possible for her to call him Elder Brother) was not in Chungking. He was in Shanghai at the time.”86 - as opposed to what Cheng had claimed!

Gabriel Chin continues: Then I realised that Cheng Man-ching was telling stories. The conversation further revealed that Cheng Man-ching was not a student of Yang Cheng-fu… I know my words will upset a whole lot of people. I have kept the tapes of the conversation with Master Sun.87

If Cheng was of such a lofty status as is claimed, even though he didn’t associate with the boxers, he certainly would have been known by them! Post 1950, as the ‘Bamboo Curtain’ slowly began to rise, separating mainland China from Taiwan and Hong Kong, culminating in the Cultural Revolution and the isolation of China, it would be virtually impossible now to verify the claims of the various masters emerging in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Taiwanese based Republic of China saw themselves as the true heirs and leaders of China and having aligned themselves with the USA, quickly set themselves about seeing to that. They had a vast new audience to impress and to prove their credentials to. There is no doubt, while there would have been a genuine flow of factual information regarding Chinese culture and heritage, there would also have been information tainted with bias, propaganda and in some cases, downright dishonesty - this is a simple fact of civil wars and one which we cannot ignore! And under such circumstances, there are always those who will try to build a ‘new’ history for themselves, which is unverifiable or sketchy to say the least. It is oft said that the best lies are those which contain a certain amount of truth! Although the West would no doubt have already been familiar with Chinese martial arts to some extent, these would most likely have been soldiers or those serving overseas in some other capacity. Very few lay folk would have had direct contact or experience of them and would have been totally oblivious to their histories. Once the doorway to the USA and the West opened, many martial artists not only sought new students, fame and fortune, but also rushed to have their own writings or translations of older works published in the English language. Of course, this allowed them to establish reputations and disciples of influence in the West decades before their mainland Chinese counterparts. Whilst some of these reputations were no doubt genuine — as in the case of Chen Pan-ling in Taiwan, Hu Yuen Chou and Dong Yingjie in Hong Kong - others would be questionable to say the least! This is not only true of Taijiquan, but other martial arts such as Wing Chun would also suffer a similar fate. Martial arts became a business and as Gabriel Chin so aptly put it, invaded Western culture in the form of “commercial goods”88 and of course “the purpose of doing business is to make money”89, and like any good product on the market “packaging is very important”90. Mythology and esoteric thought became the packaging of Taiji and in an era, where many were seeking a purpose - found themselves attracted to this ‘mysterious’ art and its ‘supernatural’ masters! I stated at the start of this article that the purpose here was not to judge the calibre of Cheng Man-ching’s Taiji but rather the historical accuracy of his claims. Although, having said that, eventually, one has to question his


Taiji too, but that would require a whole other article. We need to question because, even today, there are many claiming lineages and through these claims asserting a questionable authority - lineages can be bought or even made up, they don’t necessarily mean or equate to authentic skills or knowledge! It is a minefield for a wouldbe novice seeking genuine instruction. Cheng Man-ching’s history is littered with deliberate ambiguity. This is evident in the writings of Robert Smith as well as from the biographical data available to us. Under normal circumstances this should have set alarm bells ringing but no one seems to have scrutinized the information available! That Cheng was a charismatic teacher, demanding loyalty is not in doubt. This is clearly apparent from the praise lavished upon him by those who knew him or follow his teachings. Equally, there is no doubt that at some point Cheng Man-ching certainly trained with Yang Cheng-fu and that he was a student of Yang. However, when the evidence is looked at carefully, his claim of discipleship for six years or more of daily training under Yang himself is false! Once we take into account Cheng’s own movements and compare them with his claims, alongside the known movements of Yang Cheng-fu as well as other historical evidence — it is the only logical conclusion which can be drawn. Although Cheng most certainly trained or practiced Taiji for several years, his time with Yang can be narrowed down to a window of somewhere between six months to a year at the most — though I believe it to be the shorter of the two! Cheng was ambitious and “saw the vistas open to him if he persisted” as noted already. These “vistas” certainly opened for him in Taiwan and in the USA. Having introduced Daoist and esoteric thought into the works of an ‘illiterate’ peasant, - whose family art was a combative art - he established himself long before genuine disciples of Yang had the opportunity to do so in the West. As Douglas Wiles clearly states: Of Ch’eng-fu’s four sons, perhaps Chen-ming (Shou-chung) and Chen-to did most to pass on their father’s art, though never exerting the international influence of Ch’eng-fu’s intellectual disciples, Tung Ying-chieh and Cheng Man-ch’ing.91

By the time the rest of the guys arrived to join the party, it was already too late. To attack the reputation of an established personality like Cheng would not have helped their cause - or should one perhaps say earnings? So, rather then upset the applecart, most simply decided to play along or kept silent, or as in Fu Zhongwen and the Dong family’s case offered their critique cryptically! In the case of the surviving members of the Yang family, their glory days essentially passed into history with the death of Yang Cheng-fu. Although Yang Shouzhong, his younger siblings and their offspring continued teaching on the mainland, as well as in Hong Kong and eventually America, they could not match the skill or the reputation of their father’s main disciples Fu Zhongwen and Dong Yingjie, nor could they compete with the reputation of the man who had made their family art famous in the USA - Cheng Man-ching. They now needed him as much as he had needed the Yang family in pursuit of his own goals. The relationship had gone full-circle and become symbiotic! The only thing left for the Yang family was their name — and that could be purchased or claimed for a price!


In the image above of the fourth anniversary gathering of the Chih Jou T’ai Chi Ch’uan Association, in 1929 Cheng Man-ching is nowhere to be seen! Present are all the famous Taiji families with their disciples including Yang Shao-hou, Yang Cheng-fu, Dong Yingjie, Chen Wei-ming and Sun Lu-tang - clearly putting paid to the argument that Cheng was already studying with Yang by 1927! Notes: Part Two 1. Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, pp. 25. 2. Cheng Man-ch’ing. Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters On T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Translated by Douglas Wile, Sweet Ch’i Press, 1985. Translator’s Note To The Fifth Edition, pp.xi 3. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Dong (Tung) Family, dated 24th June, 2008. 4. Rose, MT ( Steven). Tam Gibbs, As I Knew Him. Online Article, http://taichisantarosa.com/whirling-windtai-chi-chuan/tam-gibbs/ . According to Rose, ‘There was a saying around the school in New York, “Do not close the door too quickly behind the Professor. You might hit Tam in the face.”” 5. Gibbs, Tam. Cheng Tzu: Master of the Five Excellences, A Life Biography of Cheng Man Ching. Online Article, sinobarr.com. Originally written November 2nd 1978. 6. ibid 7. Cheng Man-ch’ing. Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Martin Inn. Published by Blue Snake Books 1985. Introduction by Madame Cheng, pp.9. 8. Gibbs, Tam. Cheng Tzu: Master of the Five Excellences, A Life Biography of Cheng Man Ching. Online Article, sinobarr.com. Originally written November 2nd 1978. 9. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published 1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp2. Zheng Manqing’s Foreword 10. ibid. pp.3. 11. Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, pp. 37-38. 12. http://www.whitedragon.co.uk/tai-chi-history-pt3.htm 13. http://www.nytaichi.com/looking.htm. 14. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Rene Navarro, dated 23 June, 2008. 15. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Dong (Tung) Family, dated 23rd-24th June, 2008 16. ibid. 17. ibid. 18. ibid


19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31. 32.

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Robert W.Smith, dated 13 June - 29 December 2008 ibid. ibid. Doc-Fai Wong. http://www.plumblossom.net/TaiChi/huyuenchou.html Doc-Fai Wong. http://www.plumblossom.net/TaiChi/ChenWeiMing.html Doc-Fai Wong. http://www.plumblossom.net/TaiChi/yangchenfu.html ibid. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Doc-Fai Wong, dated 24 June, 2008 Gibbs, Tam. Cheng Tzu: Master of the Five Excellences, A Life Biography of Cheng Man Ching. Online Article, sinobarr.com. Originally written November 2 1978. Cheng, Katy. My Father Cheng Man Ching. Online article, chengmanching.net. In her article, a tribute to her father, Katy Cheng tells us the following: “About his famous martial arts, Tai Chi Chuan: My father treated Yang Chen Fu’s wife who had been sick for a while . She recovered well and Mr. Yang was very grateful. Now Mr. Yang was of Yang’s lineage, a renowned Tai Chi family. He accepted my father as his “House disciple” and taught him all of the principles of Tai Chi.” This is in essence the same story as Gibbs’ and the source another Cheng family member. Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, Master of the Five Excellences, pp.38. ibid. pp.39 Yang Cheng-fu, Dong Yingjie, Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing (Taiji Quan Shiyong Fa). Published by Society For Chinese National Glory, January 1931. Translated by Paul Brennan, November 2011, pp.9. Chen Wei-ming. T’ai Chi Ch’uan Ta Wen - Questions and Answers on T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Shanghai, 1929. Reprinted by the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Research Association of the Republic of China, Taipei, 1967. Translated by Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith, 1985. Blue Snake Books, an imprint of North Atlantic Books. pp.11. More on Cheng Man-ch'ing and Yang Style T'ai Chi. http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/phpBB3/ viewtopic.php?f=1&t=183. Post by Danny. Docherty, Dan. Bai Shi - Practical Tai Chi Chuan International. Online article. www.taichichuan.co.uk/ information/articles/bai_shi.html A martial altar — mandatory for any traditional school! Ching, Gene. On Discipleship. Online article. Wing Lam Enterprises Incorporated. wle.com/kungfu/node/ 64 Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, Master of the Five Excellences, pp.38. ibid. ibid ibid. pp.39 Gibbs, Tam. Cheng Tzu: Master of the Five Excellences, A Life Biography of Cheng Man Ching. Online Article, sinobarr.com. Originally written November 2 1978. Cheng, Katy. My Father Cheng Man Ching. Online article, chengmanching.net. Cheng Man-ch’ing. Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters On T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Translated by Douglas Wile, Sweet Ch’i Press, 1985. Translator’s Note To The Fifth Edition, pp.xi. Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, Master of the Five Excellences, pp.39. Cheng, Katy. My Father Cheng Man Ching. Online article, chengmanching.net. Alston, C.W. - Fu Zhong-Wen and the Silent Language of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. “Joining Hands” is deemed a more appropriate description of what is commonly known as Push Hands in Taijiquan. However, the term can also be loosely applied to Chi Sao or “Sticky Hands”! Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.9-10. - Yang Chengfu’s Preface and Introduction. ibid. pp. xiii - Translator’s Introduction. ibid. pp. xii - Translator’s Introduction. ibid. pp.2-3 - Zheng Manqing’s Foreword. ibid. pp. 10 - Yang Chengfu’s Preface and Introduction. Fu Zhongwen. Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan (Yang Shih T’ai Chi Ch’uan)/Translated by Louis Swaim, 1999, published by North Atlantic Books. An Introduction to Yang Style Taijiquan, pp.8. by Gu Liuxin. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.xi. Translator’s Introduction.


55. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.19. Yang Shouzhong’s Preface. 56. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Dong (Tung) Family, dated 23rd-24th June, 2008. 57. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.xii. Translator’s Introduction. 58. http://www.gstaichi.org/english/yeungSauChungInfo.php. Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation. 59. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.19. Yang Shouzhong’s Preface. 60. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.xiv. Translator’s Introduction. 61. Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s Advanced T’ai-Chi Form Instructions With Selected Writings on Meditation, the I ching, Medicine and the Arts - Compiled and translated by Douglas Wile 1986, published by Sweet Ch’i Press. pp.1. Ch’en Wei-ming’s Preface. 62. ibid. 63. ibid. 64. Yang Family Tai Chi Discussion Board, International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association, yangfamiltaichi.com - More on Cheng Man-ch'ing and Yang Style T'ai Chi, Posts by Show Hong. 65. ibid. 66. ibid. A fuller quote from Inside Kung-fu Magazine also appears online at: fighters-journey.blogspot.co.uk 67. Master Cheng’s Thirteen Chapters On T’ai Chi Ch’uan by Cheng Man-Ch’ing - Translated by Douglas Wile 1982, published by Sweet Ch’i Press. Translator’s Note To The Fifth Edition, 1985. pp. xvi. 68. ibid. 69. Fu Zhongwen. Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan (Yang Shih T’ai Chi Ch’uan)/Translated by Louis Swaim, 1999, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.ix. Translator’s Introduction. 70. ibid. 71. Cheng Man-ch’ing and T’ai Chi - Echoes in the Hall of Happiness - Edited by Michale A. DeMarco, M.A. & T.G. Lafredo, MFA, published by Via Media Publishing Company, 2014. Author Bio Notes, Barbara Davis, M.A. 72. Cheng Man-ch’ing and T’ai Chi - Echoes in the Hall of Happiness - Edited by Michale A. DeMarco, M.A. & T.G. Lafredo, MFA, published by Via Media Publishing Company, 2014. In Search of a Unified Dao: Zheng Manqing’s Life and Contribution to Taijiquan by Barbara Davis M.A. 73. ibid. 74. ibid. 75. ibid. 76. ibid. 77. ibid. 78. ibid. 79. ibid. 80. Butt, Nasser. Personal email correspondence with Barbara Davis, dated 18 January 2015. 81. ibid. 82. Cheng Man-ch’ing and T’ai Chi - Echoes in the Hall of Happiness - Edited by Michale A. DeMarco, M.A. & T.G. Lafredo, MFA, published by Via Media Publishing Company, 2014. In Search of a Unified Dao: Zheng Manqing’s Life and Contribution to Taijiquan by Barbara Davis M.A. 83. Yang Cheng-fu. Taijiquan tiyong quanshu - Essence and Applications of Taijiquan - Originally published1934; translated by Louis Swaim 2005, published by North Atlantic Books. pp.19. Yang Shouzhong’s Preface. 84. Smith, Robert W. Chinese Boxing Masters and Methods, North Atlantic Books, 1974, 1990, Chapter 4, pp. 43 85. O’Brien, Jess. Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts, Teachers of Taijiquan, Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Zhang. 2004, published by North Atlantic Books. Gabriel Chin - Can We Tell the Truth? pp.58 86. ibid. 87. ibid. 88. ibid. pp.55. 89. bid. 90. ibid. 91. Wile, Douglas. T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions, Sweet Ch’i Press, 1983. pp.xiii


Reverend Anthony Sean Bedlam Pillage 1961 - 2018

Scott ‘The Devil’ Caldwell 1973 - 2018

Alexander M. Krych 1957 - 2014

Erle Montaigue 1949 - 2011

Fa-jing Ch'uan Internal Chinese Boxing Schools are pleased to announce our fifth annual T'ai Chi Ch'uan Camp on the sun-drenched island of Cyprus in November 2020 Based at the scenic Hadjios Valley Resort in Mazotos - a couple of kilometres from the pristine beaches off the Mediterranean coastline this will be a great opportunity to learn one of the most ancient Chinese martial arts, renowned for its health properties, on the island of Aphrodite over 3 days. The camp includes: Qigong Old Yang Style T'ai Chi Practical Training Methods For Health/ Martial Arts Self-Defence Whether you are a novice or already have some experience and would simply like to brush up on the foundations, or have ever wondered how the art is used as a system of selfdefence - then this will be the perfect way to get a great insight into T'ai chi Ch’uan (Taijiquan). You will receive a minimum of 5 hours/day of training under instruction over 3 days.

and fridge. Full Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort at no extra cost.

Date: Friday - Sunday 6-8 November 2020 Training will begin at 12pm Friday.


Cost of training: 210 Euros for those registering by Wednesday 1 April 2020. (The cost will rise to 250 Euros for those registering after this date.)

All guests will find a basic ‘Welcome Pack’ upon arrival at their villa for making their own breakfast , etc.

Cost of Accommodation: 150 Euros/Villa based upon a minimum of 3 nights (Fri/Sat/Sun) at Apollo Villas. Each additional night is 40 Euros for those wishing to extend their stay or arrive earlier. We have negotiated an exclusive special rate with Apollo Villas, allowing you to spend three days in luxury at an incredibly low price! Please note, although partners and family are welcome, accommodation will be prioritized for those training as this is a busy time of the season! Each villa is selfcontained and has two bedrooms and can sleep up to 4 people sharing. All villas are fully furnished, including a functional kitchen as well as a washing machine

For lunch and supper we have negotiated a special rate at the local Mazotos Tavern - based in the centre of the village, where Bambos and his family serve up the most delicious traditional meals with a wonderful friendly service! Alternatively, folk are free to make their own arrangements or even cook in the villa, buying produce from the local high street, if they so wish. Participants will be expected to arrive on site by Friday (6 November) morning latest or Thursday* evening 5 November 2020) earliest and depart Monday 9 November or after the final training session on Sunday, unless they have extended** their stay in advance and are departing later depending upon flights.


*/** These will incur additional charges. All accommodation costs must be paid in full at the time of registration. (PLEASE NOTE THESE ARE NONREFUNDABLE.) Nearest Airport: Larnaca (15 km from resort). Information for local carhire services is available upon request. Please contact Nasser Butt for further information and registration: Tel: +44(0)7792242150 Email: explosivefist@gmail.com Visit our website for further information on what we teach: www.fajing-chuan.co.uk Website for Hadjios Valley: www.apollovillas.com/ hadjios-valley/

The Oldest Established School of The Erle Montaigue System In The UK




Gaku Shi Juku Kendo Kai www.leicesterkendo.com

A Conversation With My Canary “God, you’ve put on weight!” I said. She looked at me mightily offended, her yellow breast almost puffed up, doubled in size, like a child’s football. “You can talk!” Came the reply. “What? Are you saying I’m fat?” I questioned. She looked at me with her bright eyes as she cocked her head to one side and chirped, “I see you everyday… pretending to be a crane. They are thin and tall with gangly legs, not short and rotund like you!” “Er… that’s uncalled for!” “You started it!” “ I was simply making an observation, that’s all!” “As was I!” “Hmmm… doesn’t change the fact that you’ve put on weight!” “Winter’s coming!” “Huh… have you been reading Game of Thrones?” “Are you serious? I’m a canary, I can’t read! Or, at least not read the way you humans understand it!” She paused, twisted her neck and preened her tail until it streamlined with the rest of her plumage. “Winters coming and I need to fatten up for the cold months ahead.” “But you’ve got plenty of food all year round, it’s not as if you're going to have to go out scavenging?”

“Why do you folk have to make things so complicated? I’m a bird, it’s my instinct. I follow my instinct, it’s what we animals do! You want to try it sometime! Anyhow, it gets quite cold in here at night, freezing in fact, and you don’t leave the heating on so, how the heck am I supposed to keep warm? I have to rely on eating enough food to build up my qi so I can stay warm!”

from combining two separate words - air and rice.” “Show me.” She asked. I grabbed a sheet of paper and drew out the characters for her the best I could. “See!”

“Whoa!!! Did you just say qi?” Air

“Yes, or if I were to use the correct canary dialect it would sound more like cheep”





I held up the piece of paper to her face, rather pleased with my penmanship.

“Cheep!” I exclaimed.

She looked at it carefully for the briefest of seconds and replied, “Hmm… looks like a badly made nest to me!”

“Yes, cheep.” She replied rather matter of factly. “You actually pronounce it well, almost canary like.”

“What the f…?” I stopped mid-sentence and looked at my artwork.

I stood there scratching my head. “What do you know about qi?”

“Don’t hold your tongue back on my part.” she said. “It’s never stopped you before. I mean it is to be expected, considering that fella you learned from!”

“Nothing!” “Nothing?”

“Don’t you go there!”


“I’ll go where I like!” Came the retort.

“Everything? Well, which is it?”

“How do you get a nest from this?” I asked, scratching my head in disbelief.

“Both!” She exclaimed. “Everything? Nothing? Both? Have you been letting the apples ferment again before eating them?

“Well, all those squiggles look like broken twigs to me, rearranged and put together as a poorly made nest! In fact, I’d say that my nest is a far better representation of what you are trying to express. Wouldn’t you agree?”

She chirped, bemused by my suggestion that she might be pissed!

I looked at her nest. I could see what she was getting at.

“Hmm…”, she paused, “Well, it’s like this once you name it, you give it parameters and thereby limitations defined by the limits of your own vocabulary!”

“Do you think a fish understands the concept of water?”

“What the what the what?”


“I mean…”, she continued, “how do you define qi? Enlighten me, please.”

“Do you think a fish understands the concept of water?” She asked again. “Or do you think that it just exists in that medium, without description, surrounded by it, content - only becoming aware that something is amiss when it is removed from it?”

“Erm.. well, life-force and breath come to mind. You see the character for qi is made up


“I’ve never really thought of it like that.” I replied. “And that’s your problem!” She chirped. “Why must you define everything and place it in a box? Look around you. You are surrounded by electrical, chemical, magnetic, thermodynamic and mechanical energies, as well as a host of others which I don’t wish to name. They are contained within you and without in your surroundings interacting at subatomic levels and levels you cannot even begin to fathom, and you define them with these squiggles? No wonder you live apart from your surroundings instead of being one with them! Why can’t you be like the fish? Why can’t you be like us birds or any of nature’s other creatures as a matter of fact? I stood there staring at her.


Peter Jones -




Editor: Nasser Butt Email: lifthandsmagazine@gmail.com


Chief Instructor Taiji Pa-Kua Internal Fighting Arts taijipakua@gmail.com

The Art of Louiseneige Be

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Lift Hands Volume 12 December 2019 - The Multi-Award Winning Magazine of the Year 2019  

Lift Hands - The multi-award winning magazine - Voted Magazine of the Year 2019 by The British Martial Arts Awards 2019. When one really t...

Lift Hands Volume 12 December 2019 - The Multi-Award Winning Magazine of the Year 2019  

Lift Hands - The multi-award winning magazine - Voted Magazine of the Year 2019 by The British Martial Arts Awards 2019. When one really t...