No Fa-Jing in Yang Tai Chi Form Practicing

Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
July 2004 Issue

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In the March 2004 issue, I talked about choy li fut?s jing or ging. I mentioned that I learned my fa-jing from choy li ful kung-fu, not from tai chi. Some people think that I put fa-jing into choy li fut, because most other choy li fut practitioners don?t show jing when they do their forms. When they see me using jing, they believe my tai chi training might have become mixed with choy li fut and that now I am doing a chop suey kung-fu!

They wonder if my choy li fut style is still pure. I pointed out that Yang tai chi players don?t do fa-jing. I wrote: ?As most tai chi practitioners know, Yang tai chi does not practice fa-jing.? Right away a couple of readers fired off e-mails, insisting that Yang tai chi does indeed use fa-jing. They mentioned a tai chi instructor from Australia who wrote that fa-jing is part of Yang tai chi. They were concerned that I had misled my readers: therefore I want to clarify the issue here.

Yes, the Yang family has fa-jing training. When I wrote my last column (entitled ?Jing in Choy Li Fut?) I was focused on choy li fut kung-fu. I didn?t want to get side-tracked into a complete discussion of tai chi. What I wanted to communicate is that most people who practice Yang tai chi are not supposed to show any fa-jing in the form practice. This is because very few Yang tai chi players practice the small circle form. This also holds true for other styles of tai chi (with the notable exception of Chen style).

Let me explain. Fa-jing is for martial arts training. However, 95 percent of those learning Yang tai chi do it for health and relaxation, not for fighting. Today, a vast majority of Yang style instructors are not trained for fa-jing. The fa-jing training of the Yang family is not taught using the regular forms most people practice. The Yang family has another form the fast form, also called the small circle form ? that is specifically for fa-jing training. I teach that form to my students once they have mastered the regular forms. But aside from the instructors I teach in the Plum Blossom International Federation, few tai chi instructors learn the fast form today.

In ancient times, fa-jing was not taught to outsiders of the Yang family. Therefore, the teachers of today?s instructors had never learned fa-jing and could not have taught it. If a modern-day instructor knows fa-jing, he probably got it from other martial arts training. Besides the lineage of my teacher, Dr. Hu Yuen Chou, other great teachers of tai chi such as Fu Zhong Wen, Dong Ying Jie, Yang Zhen Duo, and Cheng Man Ching didn?t show fa-jing in their forms. Has anyone seen the Chinese contemporary Yang 24 form, the 40 form and the 88 form with fa-jing? Please let me know (of course, not counting the videos from the Australian instructor).

And, it?s not only the Yang tai chi style that doesn?t show fa-jing in the form. The Guang Ping Yang style, Wu, and Sun styles of tai chi (as well as some other branches) don?t show fa-jing. The Chen style is the exception. That doesn?t mean those tai chi styles have no fa-jing teaching for their closed- door disciples. When tai chi is taught for fighting then fa-jing training is essential. I am sure that all advanced tai chi levels have fa-jing training.

Forty-five years ago when I was a tai chi student, I saw no one from Chen or Yang style that could show me fa-jing. That was what I meant to say in my previous column. I wish that this Australian Yang tai chi instructor was around when I was learning to show me his Yang fa-jing. I could have learned it from him. I wish I had met him 45 years ago. Where was he at that time?

The point is, regular Yang forms, when practiced, should not be done with fa-jing. That?s not the same as saying that the Yang family didn?t teach fa-jing.

In the old days, no family names divided tai chi into different styles. From Yang Lu Chan to Yang Cheng Fu, only one name was used: tai chi chuan. When Yang Cheng Fu promoted tai chi and it became popular, Wu Jian Quan started to call his style Wu tai chi. Now when we talk about Yang tai chi, we are talking about Yang Cheng Fu?s teaching. The teaching style of Yang tai chi in Australia might very well have come from the Yang family, but it is not what most people practice in China. However, I am happy that in Australia there is an instructor who is able to promote the real essence of tai chi chuan (that is to say as a fighting martial art). I also want my readers to understand I was not misleading them, because regular Yang tai chi forms should be practiced without fa-jing.