Did your teacher ever talk about Wu Meng Xia? If so, what did he say?
Wu was a private student. Therefore, Ho never met him in the public park. Wu published a book called "81 postures of Taiji Quan and an Explanation of the secret nine scriptures." Ho wrote a letter to the publisher and got Wu's address. Wu was happy to answer all of Ho's queries.
Ho said Wu's Tai Ji book contains many of the Ba Gua theories, instead of Tai Ji. Zhang Jun Feng was very furious with the book. He said that it was "not Taiji, it was Ba Gua!" He had studied the 'Hao style Taiji' from Wu. Anyway, he was so angry about the book that he bought all Wu's books that he could find in Taiwan and burnt them. Mrs. Zhang laughed and said it was foolish. The publisher would think that the sales of the book was good and would plan to have a second edition printed.
About the meeting of Gao and Wu:
Gao Yi Sheng started studying Ba Gua at the age of 26, he met the Daoist at the age of 46 and studied free of charge for five years. The Daoist lived with him. When Gao arrived in Tianjin, he did not know anyone. A headmaster, Mr. Kwan, met Gao and invited him to stay at his home. Mr. Kwan knew that Gao knew Martial Arts and he quickly phoned to his friend, Wu Meng Xia. Wu came immediately. He saw that Gao was a country bumpkin, full of dust. He did not think Gao had anything special in the way of martial arts skill. So he said, "my old friend, what skills do you have?" Gao said, "Try me!"
Wu stepped back and used the full force of Xing Yi Pi Quan to attack Gao. Gao did not retreat but stepped forward and used "open palm" to set Wu aside and then counter attacked. Wu was thrown through to the next room, with his legs on top of his head, hitting the wall. Wu was not hurt, he stood and did not know what had happen,
Wu said, "Old man, why do you use so much force?"
Gao said, "It was not me. Its you who are using too much force."
Wu said, "Can we try again?"
Gao said, "Sure!"
Again, Wu rushed in and was thrown against the wall. At once Wu knelt down and asked Gao to be his teacher. So Gao always said to his students that his first knelt student was Wu Meng Xia. Wu's brother was a rich businessman and also studied with Gao. Wu didn't need to work. He also supported Gao. He bought a house for Gao in the village.
Wu Meng Xia's later age:
After World War II, Wu returned from Shanghai to Tianjin. He acted as Director of China Wu Shu Association. After liberalization, he acted as chief referee and doctor. He passed away on January 6, 1979, at the age of 74.
Did you ever get to see any of the letters that Wu Meng Xia wrote to your teacher? If so, can you talk about the contents of these letters?
All correspondence with Wu were kept in a paper file. Ho had published some of the correspondence in an article in a newspaper. This data was later published in a book in Taiwan without authorization. I bought the book in Taiwan and showed the book to Ho. He was so angry that he threw the book on the ground, annoyed, he said, "How dare the publishing thief!"
The contents of the letters mentioned the history of Gao and Wu; the complete 108 system and rhymes, the three basins, Ten Great single change methods (Ten Heavenly Stems), Four Forms of Standing, 24 essentials and the eight circuits of "Tangle Palm."
Wu firmly stated that our school had no direct relationship with Dong's succession and Cheng style, we came from the "Guang Hua Mountain" school.
Do you teach Ba Gua now?
Yes, I teach Ba Gua, Yang and Chen Taiji and Pak Mei (The White brow). I have studied Chen Taiji from Fung Chi Kuen; Pak Mei and Dragon Form Mor Chiu from Chow Fook. By demonstrating Ba Gua Zhang and Ba Gua Sword, I won excellent prize and first level prize in the Hong Kong Open Wu Shu competition in 1990, 1991 and 1992. I am now the Secretary General of the Hong Kong Chinese Martial Arts Association, assistant secretary of the Hong Kong Yi Quan Association, Senior referee of the Hong Kong
Wu Shu Union, member of the Hong Kong Chin Woo Association, Director of the Pa Kua Physical Training and Health Association, Referee, coach and tutor of internal, external Martial Arts and Wu Shu, and level III coach recognized by the Hong Kong Coaching Committee. Chinese seal engraving, calligraphy and painting are also my favorites.
What do you think are the most important aspects, or principles of Ba Gua a new student should strive to understand?
1. Keep balanced: achieved by continuously walking the circle with the guarding alert posture, lowering the body gravity, and practicing quick and large steps.
2. Remember the basics: practice single forms in the 24 essence mode.
3. Ba Gua is different from normal Taiji, it requires you to spend your energy and effect, do not soften too much, the arms and body should look like an expanded ball. The turning motion should be like a wheel.
4. Ba Gua is about angles: guarding posture to protect eight angles, attack your opponent from 64 angles. Its angles, therefore do not face the opponent chest to chest, but keep yourself sideways at an angle to minimize your attack surface.
5. A good guarding posture will keep you safe, but long standing and lack of changing will be defeated.
C.S. Tang is shown above (left) with two of Fu Zhen Song's grandsons, Fu Tit Lung (left) and Fu Man Lung (right). Above right he is shown with Sun Lu Tang's daughter, Sun Jin Yun. In order to broaden his Ba Gua Zhang practice, Tang has spent time studying the Fu Zhen Song, Sun Lu
Tang, and Yin Fu styles of Ba Gua.
C.S. Tang practices with Ba Gua's Cresent Moon Knives, 1995
Therefore do not keep on defence, attack is the factor to win. Change direction and angle by using Ba Gua stepping to capture the weakness of your enemy.
What do you think beginning Ba Gua students should spend the most time practicing?
1. Walk the circle with full concentration
2. Extend the arms and hands
3. Beware of the elbows
4. Do more single form exercises
What is the best advice you could give to a beginning Ba Gua student?
In order to complete your knowledge and be really inside Ba Gua, please learn some Yi Ching, you will find the secret. Then you will know the concept of Ba Gua. Its amazing, not superstitious. What is the nuclear central theory of Yi Ching? Its the Change. And Ba Gua is all talking about the change. You will meet different forms of attack and from different directions, you have to judge the coming attitude and make alterations and decisions. With fixed theories and practice, meeting different environments, you change your defending strategies to adapt to the situation.
The philosophy of Ba Gua is deep. Holding in static posture, you hear the bird sing, the bell ring. You learn to get in touch with nature. You keep your breath stable, relax, and get rid of daily workload pressure. Your pre heaven palms act as a swimming fish, suddenly turning like a eagle but moving downwards like a snake. Doing the forms is like dancing, you are enjoying dancing yourself. You may do serious push when your temper is bad, you practice the post heaven. After that you feel all your worries are gone.
Speed and power are not the main factor to attack, strategy is the tool. Changes are the element of strategies. This is not a sport or simply an exercise, its an art, a special Martial Art. A mind system, you have to think, solve problems, taste the culture.
The other thing is you do not have the qualification to judge a thing if you do not know it quite well. Only until you have tried, tested, felt and been involved in it yourself will you know it. It will be necessary for one to study that school or style and judge by himself. A Style doesn't fit everybody, just like a special medicine doesn't cure everybody. A certain style will fit certain people. When you practice, you will know which style will fit your height, size, body weight, temper and active or passive character. This is why Dong Hai Chuan taught different techniques to different students according to their learning background and size.
Is there anything else you would like to say about your teacher?
1911: born on July 20, 1911. Chinese Calendar in a village of Guang Dong province, China. His birthday is easy to remember since its the same day as the death of Bruce Lee.
1928: Age 18, studied Hung Kar southern Shaolin.
1936: Age 26, came to Tianjin
1938: Studied Ba Gua Zhang from Gao Yi Sheng
1942: Studied more Ba Gua weapons in Gao's village
1944: returned to his home village
1950: Came to Hong Kong
1952: Met Li Xing He of Yin style in Hong Kong
1956: Started teaching Ba Gua in Central
1971: Met a monk and received the books of 'Heart Transmit of Top Theories'.
1995: November 2, passed away at home peacefully without disease.
2) Ho Ho Choi's Adventure:
This adventure is about the book of "Heart Transmit of Top Theories." In 1969, Ho led students to Lantau Island to search for herbs. He met a young monk. He said he knew about herbs from a Daoist. In April 1971, we came together for another search. We met the young monk in a temple. He said a Daoist had gave him seven tablets. Each one could let you live without eating for a week. We made an appointment to come again. When we left, the number eight typhoon signal was hoisted, so we rushed to the pier, but could see the boat leaving. It was windy and raining and we had no shelter. We had to slept in a temple beside the beach. We came again, we stayed in the monk's temple. At night time, we were invited to the room of the principal of the temple. He was a monk, and was lying on the bed, smoking opium. I had never been so closely watching a person smoking opium. He said he was a Daoist before. He then talk about Yi Ching and Ba Gua Zhang's theories.
Two months later, the young monk carried two books to Ho. One was the "Heart Transmit of Top Theories" and the other is a reference book. He severely reminded Ho this should be kept secretly and raised five limitations if the book is to pass to outsiders. Ho copied the book by his own handwriting. It was then that Ho started to practise Internal Qi Gong.
3) Ho Ho Choi's special character:
• He never asked the student what he had studied before. Once you paid, he taught.
• He hated students who had studied Taiji before because they always practiced without energy, and they often soften their hands so that others can enter their boundary easily.
• He would say vulgar language and hit the students on their hands or head when they: demonstrated slow or stupid responses, would not understand quickly or follow his demonstration immediately, would not remember what was taught yesterday, would not unlock out and tried even harder.
• He welcome questions to show that he could solve and answer easily.
• He liked to unlock from Chin Na to demonstrate the application of pre-heaven methods.
• He liked to express the theories of the Yi Ching and incorporate them into Ba Gua Zhang.
• He liked to talk about herbs every night.
• He hated students teaching outside the school without telling him.
• He had to get rid of at least of three students.
Those who would like to know more about C.S. Tang, the Gao style Ba Gua of He Ke Cai, and C.S. Tang's Ba Gua Zhang instruction in Hong Kong can write to:
C.S. Tang, 72 Hennessy Rd., 15/F, Bolock B, Sun Hei Mansion, Wanchai, Hong Kong
He Ke Cai sitting next to a school banner which has a large picture of Gao Yi Sheng in the center (early 1970's)
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