Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, February 27, 2009

Interview with Wu Style Taijiquan Legend

A friend sent me this. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a YouTube video of a short interview with the Legendary Ma Yueh Liang.

From the Wikipedia article:

Ma Yueh-liang (Chinese: 馬岳樑; pinyin: Mǎ Yuèliáng; August 1, 1901 - March 13, 1998) was a famous Chinese teacher of Taijiquan. He was the senior disciple of Wu Jianquan, the founder of Wu style Taijiquan, and married Wu's daughter Wu Ying-hua in 1930. Ma Yueh-liang was also a medical doctor who graduated from the Beijing Medical College in 1929 and specialized in Hematology. He established the First Medical Examination and Experiment Office and ran the blood clinics at Zhon Shan Hospital in Shanghai. Like Wu Quanyou and Wu Jianquan, Ma was of Manchu descent. Ma Yueh-liang had roots both in the traditions of China and in Western science.

There are accounts that Ma Yueh-liang was a gifted martial artist in his youth. He had studied a number of Chinese martial arts including, Shaolinquan, Three Emperors Pao Chui, Baguazhang and Tong Bei Quan. However, Wu Jianquan would accept Ma as a student only if he concentrated on Wu Style Taijiquan. From about age 18, Ma Yueh-liang exclusively studied Wu style Taijiquan. Wu Jianquan started the Jianquan Taijiquan Association (鑑泉太極拳社) in Shanghai in 1936, and Ma became the deputy director of the Association. Ma studied Taijiquan with Wu Jianquan until the death of his teacher in 1942. The Jianquan Association still exists today internationally and remains a resource for the study of Wu style Taijiquan.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Ma Yueh-liang and his wife in the emergence of Wu style Taijiquan after the Cultural Revolution in China. Even at an advanced age, Ma Yueh-liang was chosen as one of the 100 Best Martial Artists in China. Wu Ying-hua and Ma Yueh-liang continued to teach in Taijiquan until their deaths. They taught a large number of students in Shanghai and in their travels to New Zealand, Germany and elsewhere. They published several books on Wu style Taijiquan. Ma Yueh-liang and Wu Ying-hua's Wu style sword/weapons book includes a family picture with several of their closest students. Ma Yueh-liang also publicly practiced a number of formerly closed door (private or family secret) forms and methods so that that they would not be lost. In public, Wu Ying-hua would often demonstrate the Wu style Slow Set and Ma Yueh-liang would follow by demonstrating the Wu Style Tai Chi Fast Form. Ma Yueh-liang taught many high level students, among whom was Fei Gua-ching who is still active in the Jianquan Taijiquan Association in Shanghai.

Ma Yueh-liang and Wu Ying-hua are survived by their children and grandchildren, including: Ma Jiangchun (b. 1931), Dr. Ma Hailong (b. 1935), Ma Jiang-bao (b. 1941) and Ma Jiangling (b. 1947). Ma Jiang Bao lives in the Netherlands and teaches traditional Taijiquan throughout Europe. Their adopted daughter Shi Mei Lin now lives and teaches Wu style Taijiquan in New Zealand. She also has students in France and in the United States (Tucson, Arizona).

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