Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chang Tung Sheng: Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan



I ran across this video again and looked at it in a new light; this is how a true fighter interprets Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan.
Chang Tung Sheng is one of the most famous of Chinese Shuai Jiao wrestlers. It is said he was never defeated in challenge matches.

No silk pajamas.
No fancy stylistic flair.
Pure efficient movement.


Here's from Chang's Wiki bio:
"Nicknamed the "Iron Butterfly," Chang would go on to win numerous challenge matches before entering China's armed services - traveling across the Kuomintang controlled areas of China to seek out other shuai jiao practitioners in order to test his skills. He may also have first started learning xingyi in this period.
He taught as the youngest faculty member in the Nanjing Central Kuoshu Institute (中央國術館) and exchanged knowledge with other martial arts experts. He created his own variation of Tai Chi and xingyi, Chang Tai Chi, based on Yang style tai chi chuan, xingyi and his shuai jiao knowledge.
Throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, of which China became a part, Chang instructed large numbers of Chinese Nationalist troops in Shuai Chiao (including the elite Red Wall paratroopers), while continuing to fend of numerous challenges. When not otherwise occupied, Chang visited several POW camps to test his Shuai Chiao against Japanese practitioners of judo, jujutsu and karate."


A couple of observations:
He moves through the form at about twice the speed that other masters do. That may be for the filming time length, or he may normally do it at this speed. This dispels the myth that Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan must be practiced at excruciatingly slow speed.
In the end, he demonstrates "Snake creeps down" in a relatively high posture with a bend in his lead knee. I read somewhere that he saw dangerous flaws in the traditional low ground sweeping method with the knee locked straight.

As far as martial tradition, Chang's method is similar to my studies: a wrestler who went on to train in Yang Tai Chi Chuan and Xingyi, a pretty formidable mix of traditional Chinese Martial Arts.

6 comments:

catherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

What a great video Mr Dojo Rat: it's a real tonic to all those excruciatingly slow silk clown videos that pass for tai chi these days. Good form should be handsome like a good tool or a windswept tree, not like a glittery butterfly. Cheers, N.

kenposan said...

I studied Chang Tai Chi briefly with a second generation student. My instructor said that Chang altered the Yang form slightly to adhere to his preference for grappling.

We didn't perform the form that quickly, however. We kept it pretty slow like traditional Yang.

Sean C. Ledig said...

Great video! It certainly will give me a lot to consider in how I practice my own Yang form.

As if I don't have enough to worry about. Sheesh!

erwan said...

Graet video!
I'm always struck by the many different flavours of the same form/style. Yang style is able to express the worst choregraphistic/dramatic/show off aspects as well as the best martial potentialities, depending o who does it, and with what background...Thanks for sharing
Best regards from Brittany
Erwan

Toldain said...

Most of the teachers I have had have recommended that once I have learned the form, I should practice it at widely differing speeds.

Going slow lets you learn certain things, and going faster, other things.

However, I am of the opinion that for beginners, slow is better--they have trouble slowing down, and they need to. Chang goes faster, but nothing he does seems rushed. Every moment seems well digested and understood.