Soft Answer Tai Chi Chuan - 回答柔和太極拳

Cheng Man-Ching Simplified Yang Style Tai Chi

Portrait of Cheng Man-ChingCheng Man-Ching Demonstrates PushCheng Man-ch'ing or Zhèng Mànqīng 鄭曼青 was born in 1902 and passed away in 1975 during a visit to Taiwan. He was born in Yongjia, what is now present-day Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in China. Many regard Cheng Man-Ching (Often referred to as Professor) as the man who brought Tai Chi to the west. Cheng Man-Ching moved to the United States in 1964, where he taught at the New York T'ai Chi Association and then the Shr Jung T'ai Chi school in New York City's Chinatown section. with the assistance of his American senior students.

Cheng Man-ch'ing is best known for his "Simplified" 37 Posture Yang Style T'ai Chi Chuan. *Simplified* does not mean easier. It was simplified in it's length and complexity but not the quality or difficulty of the postures.

Cheng Man-Ching developed lung disease in his twenties which is believed to have been tuberculosis. He was coughing up blood and began to practice taijiquan diligently to aid in his recovery. He met the well-known master Yang Chengfu in 1928 and began to study his Yang style T'ai Chi Ch'uan until 1935.

Cheng Man-Ching's changes to the Yang style form were done with the permission of his teacher, Yang Cheng Fu. The changes allowed Cheng Man-Ching to teach larger numbers of students in less time. Unfortunately they are sometimes considered controversial by some second and third generation practitioners. .

    The following are some characteristics of the *Simplified* form:

  • It eliminates most repititious movements from the Yang long form

  • Some postures were selectively removed from the longer Yang form
  • The performance time was reduced to about ten minutes, instead of twenty to thirty for the longer form
  • The concept of the "Beautiful" or "Fair" Lady's hand was introduced whereby the hand and wrist are held open, yet relaxed!
  • The form postures are not as expansive as Yang C'heng-fu's form
  • The postures are performed with the spine more upright and not leaning throughout the form
  • The form has the'empty' foot rotating on the heel,to finish the posture rather than before the posture

Cheng Man-Ching Performs Single Whip

Cheng Man-Ching Demonstrating Root by Warding Off OpponentsTo some practioners what was more important than the change in the sequence of the form was the emphasis on the principles of Cheng Man-Ching. Some teachers, such as my first teacher, Tchoung Ta-Tchen, learned the principles from Cheng Man-Ching and incorporated them into their own styles. At Soft Answer Tai Chi we provide a handout to students as an aid in understanding the five basic principles. We created an acronym to help remember the principles. BURST which stands for:

Cheng Man-Cheng Demonstrates Roll BackBeautiful ladies hand: No bends or kinks in wrist, hands and fingers
Upright Body: Spine is always kept upright and not leaning
Relax: This is the key principle. All others hinge on this
Separate the Weight: No even weight distribution. No same dominant hand & foot
Turn the Waist: All movements controlled from the Hips/Waist and powered by the legs

The document also includes other principles. You may Click Here to Download the Principles Handout.

Cheng Man-Ching's Form was renowned for its soft and relatively small movements, compared to the larger movements of previous styles. This "Soft" touch is especially evident in the push hands techniques passed down from Cheng Man-Ching. The Cheng Man-Ching touch is something that feels different. Other practioners are amazed by the lightness. This is in keeping with the Tai Chi teachings to be 'empty' and to neutralize 1,000 lbs of force with four ounces. It is also in keeping with the counsel for the arms to appear like iron bars wrapped in soft cotton.


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