Cheng Man Ching Sword form and san shou?

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by EmptyHandGuy, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    I'm studying the 37 step form of Cheng Man Ching with the Tai Chi club that I'm a member of, they also teach the 67 Yang sword form but it doesn't seem to be the same form that CMC himself trained or taught. Was the form he taught his own invention or is it another Yang sword form?
    Also I'm looking into the san shou forms as well, I've read that CMC himself didn't do san shou forms but only the had form, sword form and pushing hands. But then I have read in books by CMC stylists, particularly Nigel Sutton saying that they teach san shou forms. Is this something that these teachers have added to their training or could CMC have taught this to his students in asia but not to his western students in America?
  2. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Having not done much in the CMC lines (a random class with some guy and seminar with Mr. Sutton years ago), I can't help out.
    He might have modified a sword form ? There's also the narrative that he also learnt some things from a Taoist teacher that helped model and shape his system further to his main teacher YCF.
    It seems to be a common and recurring theme though; the difference between the cirriculums and content he taught in Asia vs. the US.

    The Doc will know more about this for sure, hold tight he'll be along soon enough :)
  3. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Thanks for the reply, it does seem that he taught different things in Asia to what he taught in the States. I've just got a copy of Nigel Sutton's book called Wisdom of Taiji Masters: Insights Into Cheng Man Ching's Art which is making some interesting reading!
    I did a little Youtube surfing last night and found a video of Mark Peters doing the CMC sword form which said in the description that it was the 54 step yang form? After checking out his website, he is/was a student of Nigel Sutton but also of several Malaysian/Singapore teachers of the CMC lineage and he teaches the san shou form as well as Kwai Taiji which I assume is either something he's picked up in Asia or CMC taught to only his Asian students! Seems that this divide in material he taught between east and west is quite substantial! I've heard of the fast form before but never really looked into it, found a lovely video of Nigel Sutton doing it at the opening of his training place in Malaysia. It looks a lot more martial in content than the CMC hand form.
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Hi, yes I know of the fast form you're speaking of. If I recall correctly though this fast form isn't connected to CMC himself. I have Nigels' Searching for the Way which gives some good insight and info into his teachers and experiences learning TCC in Malaysia etc. If you don't have that book, might be worth a look.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  5. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    No I don't have that one, will have to add it to my buy list! Thanks for the recommend!
  6. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    You rang,Sweetums?

    EmptyHandGuy-Cheng's sword form is the same as Yang,C-f's.Look at any pictures of the other disciples and barring stylistic differences in execution you'll see the same form.If someone's doing something very different it's probably another form.As long as it's done w/TC mechanics it doesn't really matter,people have picked up different sword forms over the years.Including the Yang sword(!)

    To the best of my knowledge Cheng did not practice nor teach the two man SS form.There's also controversy in Yang system as to where it came from.Fu,Zhong-wen felt someone(s) had added it to their practice(s) as Yang didn't teach it.Which teacher(s) Nigel got it from I don't know.It's not unknown for the Malaysian lines to sometimes have things in their system not from Cheng.Well,it's not unusual for lots of us to have other things than just things directly from Cheng.Kinda normal in TC,actually.

    Comments above also apply to the fast form.Whether a new concoction like the Tung families' or an old Yang/Wu version,formal fast form was not something taught by Cheng.Nigel probably got it from one of his teachers,or he could have made it.

    The divide in material Cheng taught between east and west is more of an illusion than anything else.
    The only thing I can discern in the differences in what Cheng taught in the US as opposed to China/Taiwan is he took no disciples in the US-which implies that he generally taught less here.

    "Looks" means nothing as regards actual martial content.While my solo form from my Tung teacher has a much nicer martial flavor & feel than Cheng's I have to say that I feel Cheng's TC is actually a method which,relatively speaking,makes for initial faster development of actual TC abilities.

    G-the other teacher Cheng had was Chiang,Ch'ing-ling,originally a disciple of Shao-hou.Chiang's the one who had the "mysterious" Taoist teacher,not Professor.People in the clan get this messed up,I don't think Cheng corrected 'em,either.

    And G,I picked up a copy of "The Professor" at the library last week and we watched it.It's light fare,mainly the students reminiscing.If you see it my teacher Myles has a couple minutes in there.

    Gosh,everybody has those old films of Cheng now.I remember when they were guarded and only some of us "chosen ones" ;) got them.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  7. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Thanks for the reply, it clears up a lot for me!

    With regards to the sword form, am I right in saying that its the traditional Yang sword form that CMC knew? There seems to be so many different Yang sword forms about, would you say that they are based off this form or just different forms entirely?
    With regards the san shou form, so this is a later addition to TCC? What are the benefits/intentions of this particular form? As for my comment of it looking more martial, this was purely based upon the display how the form was being played by Nigel Sutton rather than on the actual content of the form, I have limited knowledge of the form so was basing my view on how the form was being performed.
    Would you say that the way that CMC taught his students in Asia was more martial in content and that his western students weren't looking for that in their practice so he didn't promote that side as much? I keep reading that CMC stylists regularly do well in pushing hands competitions so maybe that isn't the case, or else they are moving outside of their lineage or seeking out as Nigel Sutton has the Asian students of CMC to bring back that martial edge to their TCC practice?
  8. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    The vast majority of Yang sword forms,going by the oldest sequential photos we can access and comparing them to more recent photos,films,live performances,are basically the same form.I learned a "modern" version once which had some technique/postural differences but overall was quite recognizable as the same animal.I have seen some,including a more complex form from some northern system,which were adopted by TC teachers.
    It would seem so,at least according to Fu.
    Pretty much the same as any 2 man form.Nothing essential to one's development.Think about the fact that you're really not supposed to whack your "opponent" in a multi person form and....what's really the point?-except maybe for demos. Or a catalog of apps.
    Oh,fast and explosive?Yeah,such a form will certainly look more real than moving at a walking pace.Just remember the slower forms are training methods-faster/explosive practice is,I think,better spent on single moves and combos than bothering to memorize,practice,and perfect another form.At least until you're REAL good and can utilize the additional mechanics consistently through the entire form.

    But I did quite enjoy a short Chen form I learned-lots of variation twixt slow and fast and explosive.

    Not really.As far as I can tell even w/pre-American era students Cheng didn't produce fighters from scratch.Even William Chen,his disciple best known in the West for pugilisims had to go outside and find training partners to practice with to develop general fighting skills/knowledge.

    What he did do in both venues was take people who already had good functional martial ability and improve their level.In NY that was mainly Kauz,Gibbs,Kleinsmith,Watson. This was true even more so in the East,where his students best known for martial ability were guys already good in other systems who challenged him and lost,such as Yue/Yip and Huang.

    I wouldn't say none of his students here were looking for that,the one's so inclined knew he had something,and were just working hard on what he was teaching them.
    Well,pushin' ain't fightin'.I've met some folks in the line who had really good push hand skills but I wouldn't have had any concern facing them in a more "non-restrictive" venue.And I'm no tough guy.

    Professor was VERY big on ph.If there's one area of skill commonly found in serious practitioners of the line,including here in the US that's it.

    Nigel (who is a member here,btw.) is a disciple in the Malaysian line of Yip/Yue.So is one of my teachers. This is,or was,a line centered on function.Most of Cheng's descendants really aren't,and that includes both American students and Asian disciples.Just studying in a line descended from one of the disciples is no guarantee of finding a real pugilistic coach.(Tho' you'll probably get some other very useful and translatable skills via ph).Most of Professor's disciples in the the East were of,uh,more "genteel" backgrounds,hence most weren't looking to become like Wm. Chen.

    Last thing to remember is that in any lineage of any CMA system disciples don't all get the same package.That's one reason the Asian followers are always curious what he taught in the US.Like many teachers,there were certain things he kept very close.Those things are generally kept close by those who received them.So only a very few of their students will probably get those things.I know his main "internal" training methods were only given to some.

    Well,I've probably said too much once again and will be hearing from "The Board" soon.

  9. mfinn

    mfinn New Member

  10. mfinn

    mfinn New Member

    My teacher Yu Cheng-Hsiang studied with CMC in Taiwan for several years and, before that, with a student of Yang Shou Hao named Lee Son Chin, so he got what each of them brought from the Yang brothers. Before that, Master Yu practiced a number of hard style arts, mainly from Shaolin Temple. I asked Master Yu once about the 2-man sword thing that I actually saw CMC teaching in NYC back in early 1970s. I wanted to know what that was about, and he said he didn't know anything about it, that CMC did not teach anything like that in Taiwan where he knew him. I actually think the sword 2-person thing is sort of silly. The sword form itself shows powerful thrusts, parries, hacking, so where does all this dancing and prancing come from? Master Yu always said the sword is about killing as self defense. He kind of thought this may have been some sort of innovation that CMC brought to his Western students to keep their interest or something. But not traditional, which, for Master Yu, was the ultimate value.
  11. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Hey,Mike! How are ya?

    We did a lot of that sticking sword sparring.While I'm more of a machete/stick/dagger guy I also practiced sword basics a bit and so when fencing with people from other CMAs I found the sticking sparring to have transferable skills. Naturally if one wants any real expertise w/such a cut-and-thrust sword one needs to do a lot of training for it.Bear in mind also that the cut/thrust sword does operate quite often off/in relation to the opponent's blade,and a major tactic in TC ch'ien being cutting the wrist that's one reason for the structure of that practice.

    The thing Cheng was doing w/his students at Shr Jung doesn't have to be as lighthearted as that.Speaking from experience.When Myles MacVane and I did it with each other 'twas a mite more "intense". But with relaxation,of course!

    Note-there's no hacking in any gim/ch'ien form/technique I''ve seen.Mainly because they're a bit lightweight and fragile for that job,And I mean the real combat swords.

    Note to all-in my second post above I meant to say Israel,not Gibbs.Oop:eek:
  12. mfinn

    mfinn New Member

    Before I began studying with Master Yu, he had his people duelling (!) sword versus staff. I gather they used heavy gloves of some kind, but there were so many injuries they gave that up! Master Yu always said the staff was more deadly than the sword, all other things -- like skill -- being equal. And when one saw him wielding the staff, it was easy to see why he thought that.
  13. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Well,the spear is The King of Weapons-and staff has the same reach.

    My Hung teacher told a "fun" story of picking up a wooden dao and his taking on their main spear guy who was armed w/the Hung staff,a lance w/out the tip, like the TC staff.

    Couldn't touch him,just kept getting poked.Rapidly.

    There's many ways to spar w/weapons,and Kali/Silat people certainly do. Guess Master Yu needed more equipment!Like maybe body armor.

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