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Characteristics of Tai Chi
origins, meanings, lineage, analyses and exploration

A Question of Lineage

in 2005 I received an email from Don in the US, which got us all talking about the subject of tai chi lineage, and which you may find of interest:

What a great Web site you have. I am a martial artist in the USA....bagua, tai chi, kenpo. Your Yang style is very interesting, especially the diagonal movements in brush knee and parting wild horses mane sequences. Seems similar to Wu style in some ways... I was curious as to the tai chi lineage, does it come down from Yang Cheng fu, or another family member? Thanks, Don.

This brought up a whole melting pot, as to where the different styles come from, should any particular style be seen as 'the proper or original' style, where should a 'lineage' begin and end, and so on. so Gary has kindly provided a lineage chart, which I have reworked (below), and the reply:

I have been pondering this question from America for several days and discussed it with Gordon - who in turn has undertaken some deeper research. I have attached a 'family tree' of Tai Chi which does confirm that two sons (hou and pu [or 'fu'] ) are indeed credited as influential - and that particular 'line' of lineage does lead to Cheng Man-ching. However, 'our' position in this lineage can be no other than 'following' all of those venerable masters - whoever they were, and whatever name they used. The asker of the question deserves an answer and I would like give one, if only so that I might restate our (my?) most important and fundamental philosophical approach to the form which is "Nothing added - Nothing taken away".

It does also occur to me that any current lineage might include 'westerners'. This is another important facet of 'our' form for I believe that it is HERE & NOW. Therefore 'our' lineage would include Sensei Ray, his teacher George Mayo and his Budoka 'brothers' Kenshiro Abbey (Karate) and Ushiba (Aikido). I would say that these have all had a fundamental influence on my own practice - as also have Park Bok Nam (Pu Kua Chang) and Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. Regarding the latter - the close rage Chuan applications of Dr. Yang suit my stature and I would asume that his Sholin White Crane Kung Fu as taught by the Doctor (via books) has found its way into my own form. To this end I would suggest that my own study of the I Ching and the 'energy of spaces/directions' has also had a profound effect on my execution of the form.

family tree

Gordon, who specialises in chi kung and in particulat yijinjin, also made an interesting comment:

Thank you for your comment on our site, and your enquire on the Yang style on our site that is performed by doshi diachi . I am one of the countless students of taichi as are you.I have learnt the yang form from my teacher sensei Ray wood., Daichi , and many friends. They all have practiced the form in different depths, but it has become organic to each individual person My encounter with the Yang form has been with them as well as the information I have picked up from articles and pictures from authors on and about Cheng Man-ching. The four directions can be found within most commentaries on the long form. Your inquire will further my practice and inquiring mind.

There you have it. A little dicussion not only on tai chi lineage but also on the concept of lineage. My own view is that with any practice that has a history, there is a heritage that even though should not be used as a backbone, should be contemplated with respect and thought. Tai chi is in itself highly organic, it changes and evolves not only historically through family clan to family clan, but also with the individual, through their own expression and interpretation. I practise the Long Yang form is a relatively restricted area, and so have adapted my movements to take this in. My interpretation differs in small but significant ways from the pages that you see in the guides on this website, and yet I am not only not doing the form 'wrongly', but am also in my own small and tiny way adding to rich heritage that tai chi is blessed with. I also agree with Gary that since tai chi has taken off in the West in such a remarkable way over the last fifty years, the lineage should expand and encompass that, too.

see also: Origins of Tai Chi

 

 

 
any practice that has a history, there is a heritage that even though should not be used as a backbone, should be contemplated with respect and thought. Tai chi is in itself highly organic, it changes and evolves not only historically through family clan to family clan, but also with the individual, through their own expression and interpretation.
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