A: As I have said before, exceptional boxing masters of the past generations had most carefully
and deliberately given exact names to each posture or set of movements as the basis of true
instruction. Each name taught a meaning or double meaning, method of practice, and often a
philosophical teaching. A good example for me to speak on is the taijiquan set of movements
called 金鷄獨立 Jinji Duli (Golden Rooster Stands Alone).
Gongji公鸡 (roosters) have the ability to sense the approach of evil in the form of demons.
When a rooster cries out it called gongming公鸣 (a crowing rooster), its crowing is able to
frighten demons, making them flee. According to the taijiquan posture Gongji Duli 公鸡独立
(Rooster Stands Alone), my father said that his taijiquan master, Hao Wei-Zhen, expounded
on the posture’s name which teaches the lesson of self-diligence and reliance in one’s own
courage to confront and overcome any hindrances encountered in life. A double meaning,
according to a play on words, is another reason the posture’s name was created. Duli 独立 (to
stand alone), has a similar enunciation as duli 独力 (individual effort). The inferred
connotation is that one can ‘stand alone’ at the very top of a summit, and through trusting his
own attentiveness in studies can be fruitful in passing the civil service examinations, thereby
attaining the rank of a high official or government minister.
Sun taijiquan’s three sequential postures composing
金鷄獨立Jinji Duli (Golden Rooster Stands Alone).
Master Sun also taught his students the double meanings of many postures. For example,
gongji 公鸡 (rooster) has the same pronunciation as ji 吉 (lucky, auspicious). The morning rooster that crows (gong ming 公鸣) sounds very similar to功名gong ming (merit and fame).
My father’s taijiquan teacher, Master Hao Wei-Zhen, had taught many further meanings of 独立(to stand alone), many are deeply philosophical, others are profound methods of internal practices. These are taught throughout the practice of neijiaquan.
One of my classmates under Madam Sun was a professor of history at Bei Da (Beijing University). He had explained the following to us, as it had direct bearing on Jinji Duli (Golden Rooster Stands Alone).
[The expression 独立潮 duli chao (to stand alone before the tide) was well known during past generations. The character 潮 chao (tide) has the same pronunciation as the character 朝 (court [government]). In essence, 独立潮 duli chao (to stand alone before the tide) has a veiled meaning, that being a high ranked government officer ‘standing alone before the emperor.’
Temple of Heaven
In the 1980s Master Liu Xing-Han taught us that from 1911-1937 the Temple of Heaven in Beijing became a very special meeting place for both baguazhang and xingyiquan sects to practice and exchange information. His friend and one of his teachers Master Cheng You-Xin [Cheng Ting-Hua’s youngest son], regularly conducted classes there near the stairway to the upper platform. The photo here was taken in the early 1920s when these classes were flourishing. Masters Yin Fu, Liu Bin, Cheng You-Long, Sun Lu-Tang, Cheng You-Xin and others held classes there on a regular basis. I was given this photo (rather traded for it) by Master Liu Xing-Han. I hope that all of you will treasure it as part of the cultural heritage of neijiaquan.
In the 1980s I asked Madam Sun Jian-Yun (Sun Lu-T’ang’s daughter) and Wang Xi-Kui (Sun Lu-T’ang’s disciple) many questions over the years. Here are two explanations provided by Madam Sun, and further substantiated by Wang [unfortunately Wang passed away only a couple of years after studying with him]. The explanations below are the initial explanations that were given when entering into neijiaquan practices. Further detailed clarifications were given with each palm or fist set.
Q: Would you explain the true meaning of 三體式(san-t’ishi), according to the explanation of
your father [Sun Lu-T’ang] and his teacher, Master Guo Yun-Shen?
Compiler’s Notation: The Chinese character 體(t’i), according to period dictionaries during the lives of masters
Guo and Sun, means: the whole body; a frame consisting of many parts; substance; essentials; to embody; a solid; a
partition; completeness. The character (體) is composed of two radicals: bone [the human skeleton] and sacrificial
vessel. These meanings will help you to understand Madam Sun’s response. As she had been an art teacher of fine
painting methods, she explained this written character according to its two radical parts, and to the teachings of her
father and Master Guo. Therefore, 三體式 (san-t’ishi) can, in part, be translated as: Three Embodiments Posture;
Three Substances Posture; or Three Essentials Posture. It is safe to say that collectively, these three translations of
三體式 will bring you closer to understanding its inclusive meaning. I have chosen to use ‘embodiment’ as the fore
fronting translation based upon clarifications presented by both Madam Sun and Wang Xi-Kui (Sun Lu-T’ang’s
A: There have been so many general explanations of this meaning, most falling far from its true
explanation and significance. Let me clarify this meaning as I was taught. First, are the san-
wait’i(three external embodiments): one’s head, hands and feet. The tip of the head [one’s
nose], the tips of the lead hand [fingertips], and tips of the lead foot [tips of the toes] must
point toward a central forward position. These are often referred to as san-duanshi(three
sections posture], and are but one part of the Three Embodiments.Second, are the san-neit’i
(three internal embodiments). These are the san tan-t’ien(three pill fields [cauldrons of qi]),
Located in the upper, middle, and lower regions. The outer three are paired with kai (to open
[extend]), while the inner three are paired with he’r(to unite [contract]. Thereby, outer and
inner conjoin to transform within the principle of kai-he’r(open-unite) within the three
neijiaquan arts: taijiquan, baguazhang and xingyquan. We can now form an overall
understanding of 三體(san-t’i). The character三(three) refers to three things: the outer three,
inner three, and the three neijiaquan arts. The character 體refers to the complete interior and
exterior structure of the human body as a vessel [sacrificial vessel], which is the embodiment,
unification and transformation of the 三. Three further represents: Heaven, Man, and Earth.
Q: Your father taught the 十六處練法Shiliu Chu Lian Fa (Sixteen Governing [Distinguishing] Training Methods). Would you explain the meaning of each of the governing skills and how each applies to neijiaquan practice?
1. A be an exact inch, but rather a step that is very, very small, near to that of an inch. My father taught that brutish force stems from large, aggressive stepping that relies upon muscular generation. The smallness of an inch in stepping requires that largeness [force] must come from the many parts of the body conjoining to produce ‘unified force’ that is issued through only a single inch of advancement or retreat. In this manner the other fifteen governing parts [developed skills] merge to become an overwhelming force and are carried by a single inch, thereby totaling the sixteen methods. When we practice taijiquan or any boxing art,the action of cunbu(inch stepping) can be used throughout the form or in specific movements. Such stepping is the governing foundation to practice cunji(inch striking) in which whole body strikes and can hit an adversary with great force from only an inch away. This is the union of the upper [hands] and lower [feet] regions. Both regions reflect and support the other. Fault in one shall result in fault in the other region. This is why I often remind all of you to adhere to the shiliu fa (sixteen methods), as they form the structure for correct inner and outer development and attainment. Do not forget!
Translation note on the character 寸 :Formed of the radicals: hand and one beneath it, to denote the pulse of the wrist, an inch from the hand. The Chinese inch or punto, which is regarded as equal to the middle joint of the finger; it measures one-tenth of a cubit or foot, thereby meaning ‘a very little.’
踐Jian(Trample on or over); from the radicals: foot and in a narrow, small place. 踐Jianrefers to your feet [including the legs] feeling as if they are like that of a wild horse’s hooves and are able to swiftly trample anything in their path. This feeling, as if to restrain a horse about to gallop, is kept abet by the tether of one’s spirit. Jian is the skill of moving with overwhelming force, yet without such force. It is the ability to initiate the impetus of movement within the cocoon of tranquility. This means that jian(trampling) can assume [take] any position that is desired, as nothing can stand against its force. One can step fully, half-step, obliquely step, withdraw or jump, each possess the method of jian. However, within jian it is essential to maintain one’s zhong din (central equilibrium), else improper leaning and loss of balance will cause one to fall, thereby the skill of ‘trampling’ instantly vanishes. Though correct stepping methods forefront jiangong(trampling development) it is zhangshen(long [the entire] body) that must be applied toward skill attainment. Students have further asked if the hands also follow the practice of jianfa(the trampling method)? My father told his students that the hands and feet are like the four hooves of a horse, all are the same; all adhere to 踐.: Yes, I will present the fundamental explanation according to how my father taught this within our family. You must remember that each governing skill must be so very carefully practiced and refined over the years. The mistake that most students make is that they learn of these skills though never pursue the secrets of each. Without unlocking these skills, the essential parts of true development within neijiaquan cannot be attained. The order of these skills is not so important, as some students must begin with the seventh, another with the thirteenth. It is the integration of all parts that is most important and most necessary.
Notation: Madam Sun’s explanations were presented to us while attending classes. However, I felt it important to explain each Chinese written character according to radicals and explanations from Chinese dictionaries that were period to the days of Master Sun Lu-T’ang and his teachers.This approach significantly helped me to understand Madam Sun’s meanings in a more comprehensive manner. In fact, she was impressed by this method that she asked the other members of the class do the same. For me, it was a matter to understand how to correctly practice the 十六處練法Shiliu Chu Lian Fa (Sixteen Governing [Distinguishing] Training Methods), as one misinterpretation, according to Madam Sun, would unravel the thread that binds the sixteen together.
2. 寸Cun (Inch) ~ refers to one’s foot taking a step that is near to that of a single inch. Whether the step is forward, to the rear, or to an angle the entire force of the body must be generated through and into an inch of stepping. This step is referred to as cunbu(inch step).
5 hammers (punches) of Yang Taijiquan are:
1. Step, parry, deflect, and hammer strike (punch). 6x
2. Twist body hammer.3x
3. Unload, parry, deflect, and hammer.3x
4. Punch down hammer.1x
5. Punch crotch (bladder) hammer.1x
Put together, they are done approximately 14 times in the Long form.
The core sequence that includes the most hammers 3x are strung together in the classic long form is the #2 twist body hammer with the #3 unloading step, parry, deflect and hammer found in the Yang Long Form. Its significance is important as it is performed 3x in the Long form. First from “Flash Hands” or “Open Fan/Fan through the back”,and from the “Punch Down” hammer, and lastly from the second “Flash hands” in the latter half of form. It is a segment that starts with a series of fist and open palm strikes using the momentum of a 180 degree turn to the rear, followed by the classical ending sequence: ‘turn, chop with fist, step, parry, punch‘.
Yang Family website lists them as: http://www.yangfamilytaichi.com/about/forms/hand-103
14. 进步搬拦捶 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step forward, Parry Block and Punch
28. 转身撇身捶 zhuan3 shen1 pie1 shen1 chui2 Turn Body and Chop with Fist
29. 进步搬拦捶 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
42. 进步栽锤 jin4 bu4 zai1 chui2 Step Forward and Punch Down
43. 转身撇身锤 zhuan3 shen1 pie1 shen1 chui2 Turn Body and Chop with Fist
44. 进步搬拦锤 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
52. 进步搬拦锤 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
81. 转身白蛇吐信 zhuan3 shen1 bai2 she2 tu4 xin4 Turn Bodyand White Snake Spits out Tongue
82. 进步搬拦捶 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
91. 进步指裆锤 jin4 bu4 zhi3 dang1 chui2 Step Forward and Punch Groin
99. 进步搬拦捶 jin4 bu4 ban1 lan2 chui2 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
In Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan by Fu Zhongwen he lists:
Postures containing the hammers/punches:
#12 Advance step, deflect, parry punch.
#24. Turn body and strike.
#25 Advance step, deflect, parry and punch.
#34: Advance step, plant punch.
#35: Turn body and strike.
#36: Advance step, deflect, parry punch.
#44: Advance step, deflect, parry punch.
#66: Turn body and strike with White Snake spits tongue.
#67: Advance step, deflect, parry punch.
#74: Punch Toward the groin.
#82: Advance step, deflect, parry punch.
From the book: p.34 Taijiquan Shi by Xu Yu-Sheng.
“People of the southern region [Guandong] use the written character “hammer” to refer to a fist that strikes like a hammer, pounding something downward. Therefore, the name of this posture should be ‘Step Forward, Parry, Deflect, and Strike with a Hammer”.
Xu Yu-sheng lists them in his book as:
#8- Advance, Parry (remove), Deflect (block, and hammer, (strike).
#23- Twisting body hammer.
#24- Unload step, Parry (remove), Deflect (block, and hammer, (strike).
#35- Forward step, plant hammer.
#42- Overturn body, and twist body hammer.
#60- Advance, Parry (remove), Deflect (block, and hammer, (strike).
#66- Brush knee and crotch hammer.
#72-conclusion contains- Advance, Parry (remove), Deflect (block, and hammer, (strike).
The Chinese words for this sequence are:
Twist body hammer- Lei Xia Hiao Cha shou– (Under rib Intersecting cross hand) into Bei Shen Chui- (Twist body hammer). Continuing into the unloading step series of hammers: Guo ban shou– (wrapping parry hands), and Qian da chui– (forward striking hammer), and then the step-parry deflect hammer sequence containing a repeat of Guo ban shou, then Wei lan Shou– (outer stopping hand), and again Qian da chui.
Yang sequence showing several of the hammers, Da Jia “Large Frame” version in the Long form.
One thing, that I like about the ‘core section’ I’m talking about called:
[ Twist body hammer + Unload, parry, deflect, and hammer] or as Fu Zhongwen lists as:
#24. Turn body and strike,
#25 Advance step, deflect, parry and punch.
….is that when I first learned in back in 1994, the first thing I though of was “Well damn, now here is the lost pugilistic portion of Yang Taijiquan!!,” since it is a quick series of offensive punches and palm strikes not found in previous forms I had learned. It has a nice rotational action with consecutive rolling punches using whole body power. It feels much closer to pugilistic boxing than it does Chen’s Taiji fajin boxing.
The No-nonsense combative form of partner striking drilling called “Da Shou” or ‘hand striking skills’ is encoded in this specific sequence of hammer movements, before it was modified for more less contusion and bruising version called “Tui Shou” or “push hands”. It also encodes a vertical arm pung jin as a defensive whipping, rolling, and intercepting motion.
Later when Coach Pei taught more details of that Long form section, he taught along with it “Da Shou (Striking hands)” two-man drills, thus it all made sense to me. There are several types of two-man paired drilling and conditioning based on certain form sections. This is not to confuse you with the rare 88 “San shou” the 2-man choreographed fighting set which is something entirely different. The three main well know are the Single hand sets, Double hands “4 Square (Peng-Lu-Ji-An) Tui Shou” and “Da Lu (Big Rollback,Tsai-lieh-zhou-kao)”. The lesser known “Lan Chiao Wei (Grasp Bird tail) Qin-na set”, Forearm banging drills, and Da Shou (Strike hand) drills. There are several more I can elaborate on another time.
This unique sequence of hammers uses a clever use of the waist when expressing fajin as an expansive force, concealing a simultaneous retraction quality at the 1st hammer to the Face, palm strike to chest, and 3rd hammer to the lower ribs to the Great Luo of the Spleen (SP21).
Every Tai Chi “short form” ever created and Wushu modified Long forms all have successfully failed to add this important and critical section into their sets. Most just include what I call the “standard step-parry-deflect punch” and “punch down” hammer.
Hammers on the bag with hand conditioning: as a clue to the usage in ‘da shou‘ hand striking.
There is a lot more in that section than just hammer strikes. Elbow is apparent, and the “open hand” version of 5 Hammers is called “White Snake Spits tongue” with the difference is the vertical shaped “pung jin” that expresses a fajin with a flick of the fingers to the opponents eyes.
-Training in Shanghai China Fu Zhong Wen’s Yongnian Association 1994.
–Mastering Yang Taijiquan– Master Fu Zhong Wen, translated by Louis Swaim 1999.
-Yang family Taijiquan Association. 2004
-USWA (United States Wushu Academy) Coach Pei, a student of Yang Zhenjia, Yang Zhendou, and Fu Zhongwen 2011.
-Translation of Xu Yu-Sheng’s book Taijiquan Shu by Bradford Tyrey 2015.
1994 I was in Shanghai China to visit the 50th anniversary of the Yongnian Taijiquan Association founded by Fu Zhong Wen (FZW). I have recently caught up with Paul Brown and Damon Bramich online and re-unite with the Yongnian Association head by FZW’s son Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan and grandson Master James Fu.
Image: Fu Sheng yuan teaching the finer points of push hands to Dr. Jonathan Shear and Matt Stampe in Shanghai China April 1994. Image: Fu Zhong Wen and James Fu in USA July 1994
Name: Paul Brown
Where are you currently residing?
• Perth, Western Australia.
When did you start Yang Taijiquan?
List any other styles you train and whom under?
• I have only trained under Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan.
Awards, certifications, titles, competition experience, etc.?
• Disciple of Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan since 1993, 6th Dan Chinese Wushu Federation, 3 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal in Tai Chi competitions in China, i.e., Shanghai, Yongnian and Xian.
Currently training under and how long?
• Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan for 25 years.
What do you see as the future of the Yongnian Association?
• The Yongnian Association was created by Grandmaster Fu Zhongwen in Shanghai, China in 1944 and has been synonymous with promoting the authentic Yang Style Tai Chi, as was taught to Fu Zhongwen by Yang Cheng Fu. Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan and Master Fu Qing Quan, plus their disciples, are all committed to preserving the Yongnian Association.
Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
• Find out the history of your instructor, i.e., who they learnt from and for how long. This is to ensure you are receiving the best instruction possible. Tai Chi is very easy to be misinterpreted and altered, which is why we see so many versions of Yang Style Tai Chi today. Practice diligently daily because the more you practice the better you will understand this art yourself. Your instructor is for guidance, i.e., to keep you on the rails. If you want to harness your chi energy and develop jin power, you need to train diligently for many years. It will not come quickly or easily.
Please share your Views on ranking, certifications, teaching, etc.
• Tai Chi Kung Fu comes with time learning from an experienced teacher. It is not something that can be channelled into rankings or certifications. An experienced teacher is required to guide you through the jungle of misconceptions. They are important in fine tuning your movements and keep your mental state on the correct path.
What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
• I don’t really have an opinion on the rise of MMA. I respect all people that train hard in their chosen martial art. I am appreciative that I have been able to learn the art of Tai Chi from a great master and am happy to concentrate my study on this art. I remember Fu Zhongwen saying to me one day that it was important to focus on one martial art if you want to master it. Please feel free to share any videos and links. • I think there is a lot of videos of Grandmasters Fu Zhongwen and Fu Sheng Yuan, and Master Fu Qing Quan on YouTube. People can see these online. These are the videos I would recommend for people wanting to learn authentic Yang Style Tai Chi.
Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan answered the following:
How are things going with the Yongnian Association in China and abroad?
• The Yongnian Tai Chi Association in China is going very strong. There are also active memberships of Yongnian Associations in Australia, Malaysia, India, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Myself and my son Fu Qing Quan have also taught in the USA, Canada, England, Chile, Thailand, Taiwan, Switzerland, Poland and Germany.
How many countries are now in the association? • As above.
What is your view of the current status of traditional martial art like tai chi with the explosion of MMA fight events?
• I enjoy watching the MMA on television. If students trained strongly and diligently in authentic tai chi for many years they could be competitive in an MMA competition.
Any words of encouragement to fellow practitioners?
• Follow my father’s motto, i.e., Diligence, Perseverance, Respect and Sincerity. Your training should be non-stop for many forms, with great effort. This will enable your body to become strong.
When will be the next gathering of all associations?
• Every year in Shanghai, China my son and I run a workshop for practitioners of the Yongnian Tai Chi. This event is usually held in May.
Yongnian county and Guang Ping is the Yang family hometown, can you talk about the memorial of Yang Chen Fu and Fu Zhong Wen there?
• My father and I were both born in Yongnian, China. This is our home village, so it is important that we return here as our final resting place. We built a memorial to my father in Yongnian that befitted his significance to tai chi and the village. My family dedicated a considerable amount of time, and negotiated with the Yongnian government officials, to build this memorial. Today my family, disciples, students and visitors regularly attend the memorial to pay their respects to my father. The memorial site to the Yang family members is also located just outside the town of Yongnian. This site was recently relocated due to industry building up around the former location. The bodies of Yang Lu Chan, Yang Ban Hou, Yang Jian Hou, Yang Cheng Fu, Yang Sao Hou and my mother are all buried at this location. The new Yang family memorial is an improvement on the former memorial, and is more befitting of the masters buried there.
Part 2 with master James Fu and Damon Bramich coming soon.