Do you have six Tai Chi bows?

I saw Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang 楊俊敏 perform on stage during Grandmasters Live on May 19. He did a fabulous routine, which looked like the Yang Style Tai Chi (Taiji), but different especially with his body coiling movements. I approached him the next day and inquired about the form. To my surprise, he said that it was an abbreviated secret Yang Style form.

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

Dr. Yang established Yang’s Martial Arts Association (YMAA) in 1982. It has since developed into a community of 45 schools and thousands of students worldwide. In 1984, he founded YMAA Publication Center to further share his extensive knowledge of martial arts and Eastern culture. YMAA Publications has become a pioneer and leading standard in the martial arts community worldwide. Dr. Yang is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles, books and DVDs. People in the global Chinese Martial Arts community recognize Dr. Yang as a scholar as well as a grandmaster due to his profound knowledge and skills in both the internal arts as well as external arts.

Grandmaster Yang Chenf Fu 楊澄甫 was born into the Yang Style Tai Chi family, the son of Yang Chien-hou 楊健侯 and grandson of Yang Luchan 楊露禪. Cheng Fu is known for having “smoothed” out the somewhat more vigorous training routine he learned from his family as well as emphasizing a “large frame” with expansive movements and using large circular motions with the arms. The modified routine became the standard for the Yang Style Tai Chi and was taught to the public. According to Dr. Yang, Yang Chen Fu actually saved the secret for his close disciples. Yue Huan-Zhi樂幻之 was a chosen one to carry the lineage who then passed it down to his close disciples and Master Gao Tao 高濤 was fortunate to learn it. Dr. Yang happened to be Master Gao Tao’s prodigy.

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

According to Dr. Yang, who is not related to the family of the Yang Tai Chi, to practice the standard Yang Tai Chi one’s body needs to be relaxed, but is not trained to be really soft. Once the body is extremely soft and flexible, one can freely move the Qi and quickly release the energy or Fa Jin 發勁. This concept may be contrary to the western idea of power being executed through muscles flexing. But according to the theory of Chinese internal martial arts, Fa Jin is at its best when the body is relaxed and flexible. Without Fa Jin, the Tai Chi Chuan loses it combatant power. Dr. Yang provides a concept of six bows that we can use to create the maximum power. There are two arm bows, two leg bows, one spine bow, and one chest, or rib cage, bow. Most Tai Chi forms may teach the maneuvering of arms and legs, but seldom discuss how to develop the spine bow or chest bow. The spine bow does the vertical coiling and uncoiling. The chest bow is the horizontal open and close motion. Most practitioners put more emphasize on routine learning and practicing and neglect the importance of the fundamentals to build the Qi and tuning the body. Dr. Yang recommends working on the foundation first and building the frame, then learning the form.

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang

To help people to obtain the fundamentals, he compiled the teachings of Grandmaster Chen Yan Lin陳炎林, Gao Tao, and Shaolin White Crane and designed a set of exercises that he calls Tai Chi Qigong and wrote a book and produced a DVD on it. Tai Chi Qigong helps to develop the strength and flexibility of the body, increases the vitality, and promotes deep relaxation. The movements also prepare people’s body and mind for great Tai Chi practice by loosening the joints, warming the muscles, stimulating the Qi (energy) flow, and sharpening the concentration. Qigong is the key to developing the phenomenal internal power of Tai Chi Chuan. You can use the link here to see seven video clips of Dr. Yang doing stretching, loosening the torso, embracing the moon, holding the heavens, coiling, rocking, and walking. You can also watch the below video to gain some idea of it. You will find learning Tai Chi Qigong can enhance your Tai Chi power regardless of the specific style you are learning.

(Edited by Doc Luecke.)

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7 Replies to “Do you have six Tai Chi bows?”

  1. Jeff

    This might be okay for a beginner, but you shall never get past a mid-level of progress with it. Chen Style Silk Reeling Energy Exercises (Chan Ssu Jin) have been developed over several hundred years and train proper body-mind development if practiced through transmission from a reputable teacher. They are straight forward and if practiced properly can be a grounding and rooting mechanism (Peng Jing) through which the practitioner can develop whole body power to the highest level. Qigong should be developed separately and put into this mechanism. In my opinion, these derived methods, while okay for beginners, only serve to confuse practitioners that are in it for the long run. They are an attempt to reinvent the wheel, when there are already highly developed wheels out there.

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  2. VICKI NORMAN

    Thank you Violet for bringing us the most important people in the Martial Arts and especially Tai Chi. I have many of Dr Yang’s books and dvd’s, etc. He is a very humble man and a wonderful human being for sharing his knowledge. If you haven’t met him, every student should at least have some of his books and dvd’s to round out
    your understanding of Tai Chi. There really isn’t enough words to express it’s gift to the world. I will continue to read your articles and try to keep up. Thanks, Vicki Norman

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