The Neoclassical Long Form T’ai-chi Ch’üan Association

A sunny set of the Neoclassical Long form behind Memorial Hall at the University of Kentucky

David & Sonya enjoying a sunny set behind Memorial Hall at the University of Kentucky

“Charisma can be nurtured by learning how to act effortlessly.” Antero Alli

        The Neoclassical Long Form T’ai-chi Ch’üan Association is comprised of individuals from many different walks of life, who are obtaining the life enhancing and longevity benefits of T’ai-Chi Ch’üan, by applying certain, crucial, essence techniques of movement to the large frame, full range of motion, body mechanics of Yang Style Long Form as we believe it was originally intended to be actualized. The marriage of the two styles of martial arts, 13 postures boxing and what is today called I Chuan or “Stillness over-coming motion practice”, led to an art form that incorporated the distilled martial body maneuvers of the incredibly long period of conflicts that forged China out of  2000 provinces, with the receptive, yielding and meditative nature of Chan Buddhist monks. Many T’ai-chi forms today have incorporated more aggressive or harder strength moves, that to our understanding, were not part of the originally intended form. Our research has shown that the long form sequence itself is likely to be older than the martial form of the Chen Village .

        There is certainly one, 20 move sequence, included in and repeated once in the Long Form, that is likely an older, shorter sequence possibly coming from as far back, as the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) where many identical posture names such as, White Crane (Phoenix) Cools wings, Step up to Seven Stars and Jade Lady Works the Shuttle are found in a 37 move sequence developed by philosopher Hsu Hsuan- p’ing.

         It is reported that it was Chang San-feng who lived almost 500 years later near the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), that likely applied Taoist principled yielding techniques to Shaolin Long Boxing and created the rudiments of T’ai-chi Ch’uan. It is possible as well, that he only assembled the 20 move sequence that occurs twice in the Long Form, and it was his student Wang Tsung-yueh who stretched the basic practice into what we now know as the long form, by including two repetitions of his masters sequence amid other smaller connecting sequences such as Grasp the Sparrows Tail, Step-up, Deflect, Parry and Punch or Repulse Monkey.

        Without sufficient records to reconstruct the past, we are left not knowing for certain what it was that occurred, therefore we cannot say with any certainty what knowledge the enigmatic Chiang Fa brought to the Chen Village. It is also therefore difficult to ascertain what martial heritage Yang Lu-chan appropriated by peering at practices over a wall or being bonded to 20 or 30 years of service in the Chen Village or whatever method of indoctrination the flow of the Tao used to fulfill Lu-chan’s particular curiosities about martial performance. We know he acquired some martial instruction as a Yang in the Chen Village, and that teaching outsiders was known to not be a common practice. We know too that Master Chiang Fa died long before Yang Lu-chan was born, so they did not ever meet, but according to sparse historical accounts, Fa probably taught Chen Wang-ting (c. 1580 – 1660), who was an innovator whose recorded works included five simple forms, plus a 108 move long fist routine. More than a century after that the story moves to Chen Changxin (Ch’en Ch’ang-hsing)[1771-1853]  who probably learned a Chen modified version of Chiang Fa’s form from his father, but was possibly attracted to the softer method of actualization and form that Chiang Fa had originally brought to the Chen Village. In some accounts Fa was Chang-hsing’s teacher in others he died a hundred years before. Either way Chang-hsing likely knew both forms and was not restricted by family policy from passing Chiang Fa’s on to Yang Lu-chan, minus the Chen village p’ao-ch’ui form’s stomps and accelerations, which were a more external style of manipulation that was added to the softer Taoist form. In Douglas Wile’s Lost T’ai-chi Classics of the Late Ch’ing Dynasty he asserts, “Alternative interpretations have recently been advanced by Wu T’u-nan and others positing two track scenario in Ch’en Village, where the traditional family art, p’ao-ch’ui, was in competition with Chiang Fa’s t’ai-chi ch’üan, which Ch’en Ch’ang-hsing was ostracized for embracing.”

So we guess and speculate but we do not know. We do however, know about 13 postures boxing techniques, we know about animal forms and we know the long sequence along with its martial applications, as well as the marvelous principles, so thoroughly laid down by the scholarly Wang Tsung-yueh and the Yang family masters. We just do not know for certain, what reasons Yang Lu-chan’s form didn’t include the harder and faster aspects of the Chen postures and form, and instead embraced the slower, softer, more sensitive training.  I do have my suspicions on why as stated above, but the ultimate result was a form with martial applications that are based exclusively, on true Taoist principles of over-coming yang force through complete yin yielding. So regardless of unknown reasons, its choreographical edifice is history’s great free gift to us, if we but diligently practice it on the way to our lengthy futures.

“Kungfu never disappoints one who is diligent and determined”

        The Neoclassical Long Form (aka The Logical Form), arose out of a strict, yet broad investigation of form patterns and move applications, while rigidly adhering to Yang principles in every aspect of each transform. Nothing was contrived or invented and only those adjustments that arose out of the flow of the Tao of the postures and from following principles, were granted admission into the sacred hall of the long form. All adjustments or changes that occurred in the form I was originally taught, came as a result of deep investigation, thorough confirmations, personal appreciation and natural organic, unfolding of the Tao of T’ai-chi Ch’uan. In my understanding and belief this form now has no extraneous or frivolous movements. It has been reduced and refined to express the full martial foundational intent of 13 postures boxing postures, skillfully governed by the yielding applications of Yang Style T’ai-chi Ch’uan.

        It was not my goal to rework the form. I was merely using the T’ai-chi stairway of repetitions to try to climb out of a low spot after an accident (that is another story, see ‘Assays & Essays‘) and on my way I found myself asking a lot of questions and the Tao kept answering until the questions gradually subsided and the form eased down onto the bedrock of its original principles. What had been lost, misinterpreted or intentionally dismissed has been returned and is available to anyone for the price of mimicry. If one merely mimics the movements in the videos, one’s natural inclinations will draw one on down into the groove of proper actualization and with enough repetitions the sage’s goal will be attained.

 Elypsis . . . logo

Elypsis . . . , is an organization providing continuing holistic  education, for those who are aware of the potential for human longevity and who are interested in empowering their life force into a sustained, high quality of living aimed at growth and regeneration of their biological beings. The Neoclassical Long Form of T’ai-chi Ch’üan is only one vital aspect of Elypsis’s many faceted constellation of better options, that allow human beings to attain a high levels of health through continuous physical strengthening that is supported by an empowered immune system that arose from the bedrock of constitutional integrity. The bedrock is from the sediment layed down by the many days of repetitions of your disciplines, including T’ai-chi, best food AND of course, smiling a lot! This state is attainable by summoning the motivation out of the self, to begin doing these things and then following them with the discipline of unceasing practice. This profound and simple art form that we know as T’ai-chi Ch’uan engenders resilience, grace and harmony deep within your being and for untold distances without.

See The Stayin’ Alive Diet and Drinking from the Fountain of Youth(coming Soon) for more information on the constellation of longevity practices available to you to raise your levels of vitality.

One Comment

  1. Hey David,

    I’ve been slowly reading through the staying alive diet info…thanks for sharing all of that so generously. When you have a moment, I would love for you to send me some recipes.

    Thanks so much!

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