Follow the Rules

"When you follow the rules to the extreme, every unintentional action becomes part of the form!"
---Hong Junsheng

Hong Junsheng repeated this quotation to me during my years with him. At the time, I didn't realize the significance of this simple remark. Surely, it was nothing difficult to understand. The wisdom of what he said eventually revealled itself to me some 20 years later.

Hong Junsheng related this story to me.

In the trying years of the 1960s, he was in very poor health again due to starvation. Eventually he was paralyzed. The doctors said that the chance of recovery was slim. His oldest son took him in to look after him. So he had to move to Cang Zhou in Hebei province. His disciples assumed teaching roles in Jinan to look after his classes.

Amazingly in a little over a month, he returned to Jinan, recovered from his paralysis. However, he was still quite weak and needed rest. One day, a famous Yan Qing master came to visit. They were old rival and friends so the conversation went straight to martial art.

Not knowing that Hong had just returned from paralysis recovery, the Yan Qing master dealt him a punch to the chest without any warning. Without thinking, Hong raised his hand to the chest, a move that is exactly the same as the right hand of the first move of the Buddha's Warrior Attenant Pounds Mortar. The Yan Qing master was sent to the wall and landed back on the floor.

Didn't know what Hong did, the Yan Qing master asked Hong whether he learned some new techniques. Hong himself first the first time realized what was happening. That was exactly what he saw Chen Fake do every time there was a challenge. Chen Fake would always use a common move from the form but in a way that one could not see.

By then, Hong achieved the ability of "there are no techniques" because all moves are techniques. Very much like Chinese calligraphy, the writing part is only a matter of seconds. The calligrapher simply freely writes what he wanted. But every stroke follows the rules precisely!