Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, 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 ~

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cheng Man Ching Short Tai Chi Chuan and Yang Long Forms Compared

Robert Chuckow, a student of Cheng Man Ching (Zheng Manqing), wrote this comparison of the two forms in 2011. I found it to be interesting reading. An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

Yang Cheng-fu (1883–1936) was a grandson of Yang Lu-chan, the originator of the Yang style of T’ai-Chi Ch’uan. Cheng Man-ch’ing (1902–1975) was an inner student of Yang Cheng-fu. After Yang Cheng-fu’s death and before coming to the United States, Cheng Man-ch’ing created a shortened version of the traditional form taught him by Yang Cheng-fu. That shortened version is now widely taught in the United States and other countries.

Practitioners of Cheng Man-ch’ing’s T’ai-Chi short form (C.M.C. form) are largely unaware of many of the changes he made. Most of them know that Prof. Cheng removed postures and repetitions from the Yang Cheng-fu T’ai-Chi long form (Yang form), changed “Step Back to Repulse the Monkey” to feet-parallel, and emphasized the “beauteous wrist.” But there are many other changes. It is important to understand what the changes are, why they were made, and the relative benefits of each of the two forms.

I learned the C.M.C. form under Prof. Cheng in Chinatown, NYC, from 1970–1975, at the T’ai-Chi Ch’uan Association and the Shr Jung School. I have been practicing that form since then and have taught it continuously since 1973. I also studied for six years during the 1970s with Grandmaster William C.C. Chen (Chen Chi-cheng), who originally learned T’ai Chi from Prof. Cheng in Taiwan. Chen’s form is an offshoot of Prof. Cheng’s, and parts of C.C. Chen’s form are done the way Prof. Cheng originally taught but later changed. When asked, C.C. Chen freely delineated between what he had originally learned from Prof. Cheng and what he had then changed. As a result, I learned some of the changes that Prof. Cheng had made since teaching Chen. I also observed some changes that Prof. Cheng made during the five years that I studied with him.

I learned the Yang form from the late Clifton Cooke in the mid 1970s and later from Harvey Sober. I have been teaching the Yang long form to my senior students for about two decades. Sober’s version came from the late Franklin Kwong (Kwong Yung-cheng), a direct student of Yang Cheng-fu (see a video of Kwong doing the Yang form:

According to some of his students, Kwong claimed that his version was authentic.

There is some variation in how those who studied with Yang Cheng-fu do his form, which may be explained as follows: (1) Yang Cheng-fu may have changed his way of doing the movements over the years, (2) At a given time, he may have taught different people differently, (3) students taught in the same way sometimes inadvertently do movements differently from what they were taught, and (4) his direct students may have made purposeful changes based on their state of physical health, the limitations of their students, or other considerations. Nevertheless, certain conclusions can and will be drawn.

The following links are for the names and sequence of movements of both the Yang and C.M.C. forms: and

In addition to Prof. Cheng’s elimination of some movements of the Yang form (discussed in §1, below) and the elimination of repetitions of movements (§2), there are general differences throughout (§3); differences in the order of the movements (§4); differences in movements that are in both forms (§5); transitions that occur in one style and not the other for movements common to both forms (§6); differences in transitions between successive movements common to both forms (§7); and differences between what Prof. Cheng taught, what he did, and what those of his students do and teach (§8).


Compass Architect said...

this is an Interesting post. ... Regardless of the differences of the movements, the focus point should be on the emphasis of specific principles.

Rick Matz said...

It's said "There is one Taijiquan."

Diosdado Santiago said...

Regardless of the many available Forms the Basics of this "Internal Practice~~ Nei Kung" must be understood well and practiced Daily until Your Body Responds by freeing all the "Residual TENSIONS" are 'Let-Go' and the Resulting "OPEN FEELING" can then be used to manifest and perform the Shapes of the Many Forms.
Otherwise everyone is just doing Choreography without Substance.
~~(Understanding the meaning of the Quotations requires a competent Instructor to:
Explain & Demonstrate them~~ It may take a while... ;-))~~

MNapoli said...

"Choreography"?!? I like to see folk try and copy CMC, shapes, when that happens, wi'll talk and not before. The problems in tcc, are many. NOT being able to copy the teacher, shapes (in this case CMC) is principle amongst them.

James C Bush said...

Be like water! Formless form!

Frank Granovski said...

I've found that Cheng Man Ching's form, along with supplementary "breathing" exercises and lots of partner training is all one would ever need to reach a high level of self-defense, and which will last a life-time---and much more.

Unknown said...

Most TCC masters movement changes with time and old age. Initially big circular movement, as they get older their circular movement is smaller and more refine.Compare CMC video during his prime years and later years, you will be able to see the differences.

Rick Matz said...

I would love to find videos of him when he was young. I've seen still shots of him in deep, long stances.

I'd also love to find a video of him doing the long form, from before he created his famous 37 form.

Frank Granovski said...

He created a shortened version of High Yang before he moved to Taiwan and then to the US. Hello?