Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Author's Preface


(from Bagua Zhang Connected Palms, translated by Kent Howard)

Bagua Zhang, Xingyi Quan, and Taiji Quan have always been considered as internal martial arts in China. When Bagua began and who created it is the subject of debate. But it is inarguable that previous sages have passed it on, crystallized from their heart and blood for generations. It was not until the waning years of the Manchu Dynasty, and the efforts of Master Dong Haiquan, that Bagua became well-known to the common people.

In the beginning Master Dong taught only in the Imperial Palace; it was only in later years that be began accepting students from outside. From that time, however, his door was crowded with disciples "like a noisy market." Among his more famous students were Cheng Tinghua, Yin Fu, Liang Zhenpu, Sung Yungxiang, Shr Baoshan, Liu Fengchun, Li Cunyi, and my teacher, Zhang Zhaodong. Each in turn had their own disciples who in succession helped Bagua Zhang to flourish.

In the spring of 1923, at the age of 18, I began studying Bagua and Xingyi under the guidance of Master Zhang. In 1934 I also studied Post Standing (Zhan Zhuang) with Master Zhang's martial arts brother, Wong Xiangzhai. They were two of the best known teachers of their era—highly skilled, morally irreproachable, and strict disciplinarians. In 1939 I also studied Bagua Zhang for over a year with Ciao Haibo. Master Ciao had previously studied at Lo Jin Mountain, about 50 miles from Mt. Er Mei. When I learned from him, he was already over 90 years of age. As a teacher, he was a gentle, scholarly, and patient—truly a model for our generation! I originally studied a form of Sz Lianquan (4 connected fists). The hand movements were very similar to Chen Style Taiji Quan.

In 1951, three years after arriving in Taiwan, I happened to meet my former martial arts senior, Chen Banling. We shared a great deal of martial knowledge with each other. We examined techniques already mastered, for their good and bad points, and transformed our combined experience into a new style of Chen Taiji Quan. Master Chen has since passed on and is greatly missed.

There is a saying: Establish virtue and honor as our guiding principle; and our will and purpose will be bound as metal to stone. Thus I took the name of Shu-Jin (establish-metal “establish virtue like metal”) which has often been an inspiration to strengthen my resolve. I have practiced my art for these many years, avoiding social entanglements, following a strict vegetarian regime, meditating daily, practicing Buddhism, and, after my daily labors, practicing martial arts as my sole entertainment.

In the summer of 1948, in an effort to escape social upheaval, I traveled through Shanghai and on to Taiwan, where I established the Cheng-Ming Martial Arts School. There, in the city of Taichung, I taught Bagua Zhang, Xingyi Quan, and Taiji Quan. Over the years, I have taught hundreds of students from all over Taiwan. Many of them have remained faithful to their art and their teacher for these long years.

In 1959 I traveled to Japan where an old acquaintance of mine Wu Botang gave me an introduction to Toyama Izumi, head of the Jodo Association of Japan , who invited me to teach Taiji Quan in his dojo. I later taught Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang, also for eight years. In 1963 I traveled to Japan upon accepting an invitation from the Japanese Goju-ryu Karate Association’s Central Karate Dojo. I brought along a disciple and taught for there for over two years. In 1966 I made a another trip to Japan to teach at Korin Temple in Minatoku, Tokyo for over one year.
By 1976 I had made a total of eight visits to Japan. In total, I have taught over twelve hundred students in Japan. Among these were overseas Chinese, Japanese, and foreign tourists. Many of those students were themselves masters and brought with them high-level skills in Judo, Karate, and Aikido. Altogether in Taiwan and Japan my students reached eighteen hundred.
I have had no other desire but to work hard to disseminate and perpetuate my branch of boxing. I am now 74 years old. What more can I ask than to have this stream of my art flow on forever to benefit our people. Be not selfish but ever virtuous and at ease with people. Nourish your own spirit but consider well the views of others. Hold to the middle path and find joy and contentment in your later years.

At the behest of my students, I have written this reference manual for training. My fervent hope, in setting these teachings down in writing, is to avoid contending interpretations and allow all to follow the correct method. When I was young, I learned from famous teachers, and for decades I have been following this great moral and physical Way. Chinese Martial Arts are varied and profound, and their teachings are highly sophisticated. I was a slow and clumsy learner and caught but one-tenth of my master's teachings. How dare I show my ineptitude to all and be ridiculed! And, yet, my students have been so enthusiastic that it is difficult to disappoint them.

Chinese Martial Arts are such an integral part of our cultural heritage. As a member of the Taiwan National Committee on Martial Arts, I feel I have the duty to promote them. I submit this book in order to organize my teachings and present them to the world. I cast forth this brick that others may respond with jade, and together our martial brothers throughout the world will unite in the propagation of our great national art for the benefit of all.

This text is written in a plain style with separate discussions; all movements are analyzed and explained to provide utmost clarity and clear instruction. Individual sections may be practiced separately until you are familiar, and then they may be practiced as a whole. When the upper and lower are balanced and adjusted, the inner and outer united, the right and left harmonized then it is possible to understand the mysteries. This book was rushed into publication and may contain errors and omissions within. If any are found, please correct me.

Wang Shujin of Tianjin
Taichung, Taiwan
August 1978

1 comment:

Rick said...

Kent,

It's really great to see this. Good luck in all your efforts.

Best Regards,

Rick Matz