Sunday, August 16, 2020

Early Yang style Taijiquan demonstrated by Niu Chunming

 Early Yang style Taijiquan demonstrated by Niu Chunming

"The footage from 1960, the first documentary promoting Taijiquan and focusing on one person: Niu Chunming, one of four earliest disciples of Yang Chengfu. Niu followed Yang Chengfu and Yang Jianhou, Chengfu's father, for 17 years. Niu Chunming (1881-1961) of Manchu nationality, was born in Beijing, first studied the art of gardening and osteopathy, but his interest in martial arts lead him to study Yang Family Taijiquan.

Although he became the disciple of Yang Chengfu in 1902 it was Yang's father, Yang Jianhou, who taught Niu. The relation became very close in 1907 when Niu took the post of the doctor for the Capital Fire Brigade, which Yang Jianhou was the honorary coach of martial arts at. In 1914 Niu became the assistant instructor at the Yang family martial arts school in Beijing, also supporting Yang Chengfu when he taught in Hangzhou in 1928. When Yang Chengfu moved further to teach in Shanghai and Guangzhou, Niu continued to teach in Hangzhou, and soon became famous for his skill in pushing hands. In 1956 Niu took part in all-China Wushu Competition, and called by the young athletes who crossed hands with him "Niu the Strongman". According to his disciples Niu's power came from daily practice of dou dagan - shaking the long pole - which he learnt from Yangs. Another skill Niu learnt from Yang Jianhou was point striking - apparently Niu's fingers were so hard he could open a steel can with them. Niu was also a successful TCM doctor, although would often proudly say that he preferred to recommend Taijiquan to cure diseases instead of medicine.

In 1960 Chen Yun, then vice-chairman of the CPC and one of the most powerful people in the country (in the 1980s and 1990s second only to Deng Xiaoping), as well as Teng Daiyuan, the head of the Ministry of Railways, were recuperating in Hangzhou and asked Niu to teach them Taijiquan. Soon Chen arranged a set of still photos of Niu to be taken, and not longer later a documentary featuring Niu and called "Forever Young" was shot in Hangzhou. Only 9 minutes of the documentary have survived relatively intact to these days - this is the video presented here." by Jarek Szymanski
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BIA Note - Bagua and Xingyi Master Wu Meng Xia was also a student of Niu Chunming. Wu was also a student of Bagua master Gao Yi Xiang. It has been suggested that the Tian Gun exercises in Wu's branch of bagua came from Niu Chunming and the Yang style of Taiji and were modified for use in his bagua.

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