Mr. Yao Minglan, styled Fuchun, from Zunhua City, Hebei Province, was a renowned martial artist during the Republic of China era, dedicating his life to martial arts and advocating for the national skill. In 1929, Mr. Yao, together with his fellow disciple Mr. Jiang Rongqiao, co-authored "Lectures on Tai Chi Chuan," which was published in Nanjing and Shanghai in 1930. The book, easily understandable and an excellent teaching material for Tai Chi Chuan, received endorsements and prefaces from Zhang Zhijiang, Li Jinglin, Yu Youren, Zhang Zhankui, and Huang Bainian. Unfortunately, their planned publication of Wang Zongyue's direct lineage of Tai Chi Long Fist (108 forms) did not come to fruition. Nevertheless, Tai Chi Long Fist continues to be passed down in Zunhua, characterized by stretching and bone pulling, encompassing ten major forms including dragon, snake, crane, tiger, horse, chicken, eagle, bear, phoenix, and monkey, with a 20-character secret to its application, offering excellent training effects.
Practicing boxing emphasizes specialization; through specialization comes mastery, and with mastery comes profound insights and endless discoveries. Consistent practice is crucial; seize every moment to practice. Practicing boxing requires concentration; with concentration comes calmness, and from calmness comes vitality. Not only should one remain calm in stillness, but also maintain calmness in motion. Achieving a calm mind is essential; a calm mind leads to a clear spirit, and a clear spirit leads to harmonious energy. The initial focus should be on relaxation and calmness; relaxation brings agility, which allows for smooth circulation of blood and qi; calmness leads to focus, which is essential for delivering powerful strikes. Therefore, relaxation and calmness are key to practicing boxing. The essence of martial arts is nothing but concentrated effort. When learning boxing, one must not be clever or hasty, as this leads to carelessness and superficial understanding, missing the essence. Constant reflection and examination are necessary; where the mind goes, energy follows, and with energy comes strength. Boxing techniques, ultimately, depend on mental agility.
Yang Yutan, the martial arts master, was highly respected in the martial arts community. I've heard many stories about Master Yang from my teachers Wang Peisheng, Zheng Shimin, my martial uncles Li Bingci, Weng Fuqi, as well as senior fellow students Gao Zhuangfei and Chen Xingbo. The most memorable aspect to me was his "Three Principles": "Not afraid of criticism regarding martial skills", "Do not argue about martial theory", and "Do not compete for fame and gain". These "Three Principles" were the guiding principles for Master Yang's martial arts practice and personal conduct.
The tongue should lie flat against the upper palate, preventing the mouth from drying and excessive saliva production. Some suggest the tongue tip should touch the upper palate, allowing saliva to flow and be swallowed. However, this might interfere with proper breathing during practice. A flat tongue position is recommended.
Master Yang Yuting, in his later years, described the essence of Tai Chi, saying, "Tai Chi is the change of Yin and Yang under the feet." This is truly insightful. To deeply understand the essence of Tai Chi, the actual movements of the form are not as important as the concept. This reminds me of what Wang Zongyue said, "Its root is in the foot, and it manifests in the fingers." Its Root in the Foot The boxing theory states: "Its root is in the foot, and it travels from the foot to the leg to the waist, all must be connected as one." and "Upper and lower body must follow each other, making it hard for others to penetrate." The wisdom of the ancient Tai Chi masters has saved many later generations from taking the wrong path in their studies. Enlightened by these predecessors, I had an epiphany and deeply realized that the essence of Tai Chi is in the foot; the foot is the root.
In the words of Grandmaster Yang Chengfu in "Ten Essentials of Taijiquan": "Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. To sink the shoulders means to relax and allow them to hang down. If they cannot be relaxed and allowed to hang down, then the two shoulders will lift up, and the qi will also rise, causing the entire body to lose strength. To drop the elbows means to let the elbows hang down loosely. If the elbows are raised, the shoulders cannot sink, and the opponent can easily break your structure, similar to the external martial arts' concept of breaking power."
Upper Body From the top of the head to the neck area, the upper body includes the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, and facial region. The upper body serves as the guiding mechanism for the overall body movement, as explained below: Neck The Baihui acupoint at the center of the head's top is the center of "ding jin" (upward force). It should be slightly raised, as if suspended. Properly managing "ding jin" results in a light and agile body, embodying the concept of "full body lightness."
Shoulders: Should be relaxed, resembling the arms hanging from the shoulders like ropes. This not only keeps the arms and hands flexible but also maintains the body's balance even when the arms are moved or pressed by external forces. Elbows: Elbows should frequently sink with the relaxation of the shoulders. The extension and contraction of the arms should shift direction from the movement of relaxed shoulders and sinking elbows. This ensures that the body's power reaches the hands appropriately and can adapt to changes when facing an opponent.