A New Standard
Feng Zhiqiang is the ultimate example of Taiji. He is a paradox and a harmonized contradiction. He is the most common retired old man and yet the most feared legendary master. He is our only link (as of 2001) to the time of fists and swords, of legends and heroes, and of dedication and bitter struggle to survive.
Today, he enjoys the reputation as a famous contemporary Chinese martial artist. He is an eighteenth generation grand master of Chen Style Taijiquan and the creator of the Chen Shi Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan System. He is an executive member of the China Martial Arts Association, vice chair person of the Beijing Municipal Martial Arts Association, President of the Beijing Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association and President of Zhiqiang Martial Arts Academy. He is also honorary chairman, advisor and chief coach to many martial arts organizations both in China and abroad.
Feng Zhiqiang was born in 1928 in his ancestral home in Sulu County, Hebei province. The Feng family was known for its martial art tradition in Sulu County. Feng Zhiqiang’s great grandfather Feng Laomei was a “Wuju” (similar to a Master’s Degree in martial arts) in the late Qing Dynasty (the last dynasty in China from 1644 to 1911 A.D.). Feng Laomei was an expert in the broadsword, archery and horsemanship. He had superior martial art skills and unusually strong arms. Feng Zhiqiang’s father did not practice martial arts but his uncle was good at Shaolin style.
Influenced by local martial art culture and family traditions, Feng Zhiqiang developed a strong interest in martial arts from early childhood. He often imitated his great grandfather when he was practicing. He also loved to listen to his uncle’s martial art stories. His family status diminished when the patriarch passed away (Feng was 8 at the time) but Feng’s interest in martial arts grew stronger. He formally started his martial arts training at the age of eight years with Shaolin “Tongzigong[i]“, “Zhuanggong[ii]“, “Damo Yijinjing[iii]” and other locally taught forms.
At the beginning of his martial art career, his uncle was his first teacher. Young Feng Zhiqiang was a natural martial artist. He had both the physical and intellectual predisposition for martial arts. In four years, he already laid a solid foundation for martial arts. He progressed with lightning speed.
As a child Feng Zhiqiang was competitive and a daredevil with a sense of justice. Whenever there was a fight against a local rogue, he was always there. Because he had an unusually big head and huge eyes, he was nicknamed “The Big Eyed Tiger”. “Big Eyed Tiger” became a known name for miles around. Kids regarded him as their “king” and the delinquents avoided him like a plague.
As a result, his parents received many complaints about him. At the age of 12, his parent sent him away to Beijing to stay with relatives so as to keep him away from trouble. He became an apprentice in an electrical motor manufacturer. His parent’s attempt to lead him to a skill that would help him make a living in fact led him to a life long martial art career.
Xinyi Points the Way
Through persistence and luck, Feng was accepted to study under Grand Master Hu Yaozhen who came from Shanxi Province and was famous for his practice and combination of Taoism, martial arts and traditional Chinese medicine. He was known as “Single Finger Conquering the World[iv]“.
The first time Master Feng met Master Hu he was somewhat disappointed because Master Hu was not as Master Feng had expected him to be. Master Hu was not that different from an average person. He wasn’t bigger and as a matter of fact he looked quite effeminate. His fingers were very thin and soft; his face was full of kindness and he always had a smile. This made Master Feng quite suspicious of his skills.
After hearing Feng Zhiqiang’s martial art quests and experiences, Master Hu smiled and said, “You are meant to be a good martial artist but this way of practice will not get you very far in this field.” Feng could not understand. He thought out loud to Master Hu, “I learned Shaolin from childhood and studied Tongbei very hard, I can lift heavy stones and I can break rocks and bricks. How can you say this does not work?” Master Hu put on a serious face and replied, “Chinese martial art encompasses a large repertoire of knowledge. It is not only about brute force. The way you are practicing is the destruction of your body. It is the destruction of the physical body that your parents bestowed upon you.” “What destruction?” Feng wondered? He had never heard of words like this before. He had only heard that real kung fu comes from real hard practice.
Master Hu knew that at this time it was not time for Feng to understand. He asked Feng to hit him. Of course Master Feng said he did not dare to as a student. Master Hu insisted, “I will let you hit me anywhere that you want.” Feng used 30% of his power and hit Master Hu twice. Master Hu urged him to hit harder. Feng thought, well, he asked for it. “Don’t say that I have no respect for my elders.” With the third punch he used all his power. He used the technique of the “Cannon to the Sky” and hit Master Hu. It was a fast punch and was full of power. But when the fist landed on Master Hu it was as if Feng had hit cotton. Feng was taken aback. He then felt a tremendous force bouncing back at him. He was bounced 3 meters away against the wall. Upon landing he saw stars and broke into a cold sweat. When he came to, he realized he was not hurt. He looked at Master Hu, who was still standing there as if he had never moved. Subconsciously, Feng thought that he had hit a wall of qi. He did not see Master Hu move. He was totally perplexed. As he was thinking, Master Hu said “It’s my turn now”. Feng thought, “Well, when I hit you, I wasn’t prepared to defend myself. But now I am ready for you.” So he summoned up all his power of the dozens of years of training into this one chance. He thought he was standing as firm as a rock on a mountain.
Then Feng saw Master Hu walking towards him and stretching out one finger. Master Feng was watching carefully. He did not dare to be careless. As he was gathering all of his strength to fight back a strange feeling came over him. He did not know what it was but suddenly a strong force came out of the tip of Master Hu’s finger. He felt a shock on his body as if being electrocuted. The whole body was bounced back and thrown backwards. He landed again on the same wall. “What kind of kung fu is this?” Master Hu smiled, “This is called internal qi gong. It is called the “Qi Gathered Into One Bullet and it comes out to one point.” Suddenly Master Feng realized what he had heard before, “Single Finger Conquering the World”. This is real! He felt that he had seen real martial art and what he had been seeking for all his life was right in front of him. This man standing in front of him was the man he wanted to learn from. He knelt down in front of Master Hu. From this point on, Master Hu Yaozhen became Feng Zhiqiang’s third martial art master.
Master Feng studied Internal Qi Gong and Six Harmony Xinyi Quan from Grandmaster Hu Yaozhen. He studied the gathering of qi, the nurturing of qi, the training of qi and the training of mind intent. Starting from the santi stance to dantian, he studied the Four Limbs, the Five Elements and Six Harmonies. He studied the Four Hands, the Twelve Shapes and 24 Hands. By then he started to understand the meaning of internal martial arts. Day in and day out, year after year with his hard work and previous foundation Master Feng’s martial art improved rapidly. His temperament also improved. He became more calm and collected. He became a famous martial artist within the Xinyi style.
Settling Down in Taiji
In two years, under the guidance of Hu Yaozhen, Feng Zhiqiang’s Xinyi Neigong was already at a very high level. Not only that his heavens (Small and large heavenly circles) and dans (the three dantians) were open, he had reached the level of converting the qi into spirit. He also opened the “Heavenly Gate” and closed the “Earthly Door”. One pellet of Hunyuan Qi moved around his body at will. The five bows in his body were giving him springing force. When he lifted a heavy weight it would appear light to him. These two years of training had fundamentally transformed him. Whenever he compared his skills with others, one touch would decide the outcome.
Just at the time that he was starting to appreciate his good fortune with Master Hu, Hu was also planning the future of his protégé. Master Hu was a person who achieved Dao. He realized that his favorite disciple was not only a martial art genius but also possessed the ability to combine different styles into one to create a new style. China has a huge repertoire of different martial arts. Each style is only a drop in the ocean. The viewpoints of each style and the restrictions of different styles were not fitting for the advancement of Chinese martial art. They were not befitting for the training of individual martial artists either.
A wise martial artist should not be limited to one style. He should be a melting pot of the entire rich martial art legacy. Through years of observation, Master Hu reached the conclusion that Chen Style Taijiquan was based on the philosophical theory of yin and yang with qi gong special breathing methods and traditional martial art. Other Taijiquan styles were derivatives of the Chen style. Chen style and Xinyi Quan both belong to Neijia Quan and the theories were rooted the same. He decided to recommend Feng Zhiqiang to his good friend, Master Chen Fake, an outstanding representative of Chen Style Taiji. On hearing this, Feng Zhiqiang was very happy but could not understand. He was happy to be the disciple of two of the most famous martial artists of the day. He couldn’t understand because Master Hu’s move to recommend him to learn Chen style was against the normal rules of the day. Why? Master Hu Yaozhen saw through him. He explained, “Taiji and Xinyi are one of the same. You can learn from Master Chen Fake, Chen style Taijiquan, and at the same time I will continue to teach you Xinyi Neigong. This is called double tracking. This will be very beneficial to you. You must treasure this. Your future is immeasurable. He then said, “Martial art is a rich legacy of Chinese culture. It is not a private inheritance of a family. Only when we rid ourselves of personal attachments to styles and families; only when we learn what is substantial; will we be able to carry on the legacy of Chinese martial art”. These words from Master Hu Yaozhen deeply influenced Feng Zhiqiang in his life. Feng Zhiqiang’s ensuing martial art career was an exemplary representation of the teachings of Master Hu Yaozhen.
Chen Fake deeply respected his good friend, Hu Yaozhen for recommending his favorite disciple to learn from him. He understood that it was no ordinary event. He knew that this young man was not a common young man. He genuinely and happily accepted Feng Zhiqiang as a disciple. So, Chen Fake became Feng Zhiqiang’s fourth martial art master. Several decades later, Feng Zhiqiang became Chen Fake’s successor, carrying on the traditions of Chen Fake’s Chen Style Taijiquan and promoting Chen Style Taiji to the outside world.
After he started double tracking with both masters, Feng trained even harder. In the meantime he graduated as an apprentice from the electric appliances repair shop, and searched for a way to make a living on his own. After he was set in his profession, he started practicing at four o’clock every morning. He practiced gong fa and he practiced the forms until about eleven o’clock in the morning. Every day he practiced seven hours. Starting from Xinyi to Taiji, from Six Harmonies to Silk Reeling, from internal training to external training, from static gong to mobile gong, from static post to mobile post, from single, barehanded training to paired training, from forms postures to push hands. He practiced Xinyi and Taiji at the same time. Static, mobile, inside, outside, all at the same time. Double tracking, double improving. During the eight years from 1950 to 1957, Master Chen Fake corrected Feng’s form eight times and through those corrections Feng understood the essence of taijiquan and the true original practice method. At the same time he would present to Master Hu Yaozhen, Master Chen Fake’s oral teachings and his own understandings. Master Hu would explain the theory of martial art to him. The theory of yin and yang. The theory of medicine and the theory of martial technique. This furthered his insights into martial arts. The seemingly different and yet same teachings of both masters were taking root in him and mixing in his melting pot.
In 1953 the Beijing Capital Martial Art Society was formed. Master Chen and Master Hu were the President and Vice-President respectively. This Society combined the research and practice of martial art into one. Martial art enthusiasts could receive good advice and training there. Feng Zhiqiang’s martial arts brothers would go to the Martial Art Society every few days but Feng was there every day. Once he was at the Society he would first look after the daily chores for Master Chen and Master Hu. Whenever the Masters would have any time and when the Masters were willing, he would ask for guidance. He seized every possible opportunity for learning.
At this time Feng Zhiqiang received the order to be the training partner for Chen Zhaokui, son of Chen Fake and was therefore at the Society every night. This gave him another opportunity to listen to Master Chen Fake’s personal and private teachings.
It did not matter whether Master Chen Fake was exchanging skills with outsiders or with his own disciples; he was always precise and serious. Feng Zhiqiang’s taiji brothers wanted very much to learn to push hands but they were afraid of getting hurt by Master Chen Fake. Most of them concentrated their effort on training the forms. Feng Zhiqiang saw this as another invaluable opportunity to learn. Even though he too could not withstand the power of Chen Fake, he would not give up. As time passed on, it became an unwritten rule that whenever there was a test of a technique all brothers would happily let Feng have the “Happy Occasion”.
As time passed and Master Chen became older, Feng Zhiqiang would normally exchange skills with visitors on behalf of Chen Fake. Because he had more opportunity for practice, Feng’s kung fu progressed more rapidly and his reputation started to spread. He was commonly regarded as Chen Fake’s senior disciple. “I have a senior brother, his name is Feng Zhiqiang, he is extremely intelligent and among our brothers, his kung fu is the best.” These were the written words of Chen Zhaokui in his personal letter to Mr. Wan Wende of Shanghai.
At the age of 30, Feng Zhiqiang already embodied the art of internal and external in the form of Xinyi and Taiji. His reputation as one with few equals spread to every corner of the Beijing martial art world.
A Pillar in the Family
In 1957, Master Chen Fake passed away and a serious problem presented itself to the members of the 18th generation of the Chen Style Taijiquan; who would pick up the heavy burden of promoting the art of Chen Fake and the advancement of Taiji? At that time Feng Zhiqiang was working in Beijing for an electric motor company. It was the time of the “Great Leap Forward” (a political movement). He was very busy at work. Not only did he not teach publicly, he also did not make appearances in front of other martial artists. He was very worried though about the art of his master and about his fellow brothers. Whenever something came up he always volunteered himself. He and the other brothers who were teaching publicly at the time set up three rules: 1.) Do not cause trouble; 2.) Do not engage in fighting; 3.) If pressed by a challenger, Feng would be the one to fight on behalf of the style.
One day a descendant of a famous master came to one of the places where Feng’s brother was teaching Chen Style Taijiquan. He openly asked “to compare martial arts in order to become friends”, which is a synonym to a challenge. He said that Taijiquan looked good but was useless; it was probably good for health and digesting food only. According to the rules Feng had established, Feng’s taiji brother arranged a challenge date and informed Feng Zhiqiang. When the day arrived he came with several people. When he saw Feng Zhiqiang’s brother he wanted to fight. Feng Zhiqiang stepped in front of him and said, “There is no need for my senior brother to take your challenge. Let me try first.” The man took a stance, circled around Feng several times and then charged. As soon as he charged, he flew out, landing heavily on the ground. He could not even breathe. Feng Zhiqiang hurriedly went to him to massage his body to revive him. When he woke up he saw Feng still touching him, he backed away and said, “Let’s fight again in three days”. Then he left in a hurry.
Another time a famous martial artist came from outside of the Pass (from Northeastern China). He openly demanded to fight Feng Zhiqiang. Feng complied happily. After the challenge he felt that Feng Zhiqiang’s kung fu was superior. He raised his thumb in praise. Feng Zhiqiang just smiled.
There was also a qi gong master who challenged Feng Zhiqiang to a fasting duel. The two of them sat down with closed doors in lotus position, without eating. Only allowing them a little water. Three days later, Feng Zhiqiang trained with his steel staff of 38 jin (which is over 40 pounds). The challenger did not even have the power to walk.
Among the brothers, Feng Zhiqiang and Chen Zhaokui were the best of friends. They were often seen together in public. During Master Chen Fake’s last days he had asked Feng to look after Chen Zhaokui. Feng Zhiqiang took his master’s last words to heart. He often practiced with Chen Zhaokui, in front of people and behind the scenes. Chen Zhaokui in return also respected this senior brother of his. Every time he went out of town to teach, he would come to Feng Zhiqiang to plan teaching strategies, etc. Upon his return to town, he would head straight to Feng to exchange information and ideas. Till today, Feng Zhiqiang still feels very upset about Chen Zhaokui’s death at such a young age. He blames himself for not looking after Chen Zhaokui well enough. Every time he talks about this he becomes very emotional.
In 1981 when the news of Feng Zhiqiang’s early retirement spread, Feng’s Taiji brothers recognized that there was hope for their style. His brothers, fellow martial artists and others in relevant government offices contacted Feng. Feng resumed his work of promoting Chen Style Taijiquan. He started from the ground up, with the organization of people, location, news releases and training. In 1983 the Beijing Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association was established. Master Feng Zhiqiang was voted Chairman unanimously, making him the head of the Chen Style Taijiquan. From this point on, Chen Style Taijiquan spread from Beijing to the rest of China. It further extended outside of China into the world. A new era in promotion of Chen Style Taijiquan began.
Best of the Best
In July of 1982 a national famous taiji masters exhibition was held in the metropolitan city of Shanghai. At this time, in the Shanghai martial arts field it was like the weather of July. There was a heat wave for the art of taiji. Master Feng Zhiqiang was the hottest spot of this heat wave. There were two reasons. Number one, people wanted to see this famous master who defeated the foreign martial artist and see the representative of Chen Style Taijiquan. The second reason was that during this exhibition Master Feng Zhiqiang came to Shanghai by himself and the organizers would supply a push hand partner for him to show real push hands kungfu. (Other masters demonstrated push hands with their own students).
The first partner was a practitioner of taijiquan. As soon as they touched hands, Master Feng shook, his opponent flew into the air and was thrown out in a straight line. He hit the chairman’s podium and knocked down the cups on the head table. The audience applauded the powerful taiji push hands of Master Feng. The second push hands partner was a famous martial artist from Shanghai. He specialized in external hard qi gong training. He was known for defeating many people. The demonstration was in an outdoor sports facility. As soon as they touched the opponent did not show any courtesy but Master Feng threw him on the ground right away. He came back and tried again. This time he was thrown out several meters. He approached for the third time. This time he flew out horizontally. Participants of the exhibition and the audience saw with their own eyes the true power of Chen Style Taijiquan. They were convinced of the power of Master Feng Zhiqiang. Master Feng’s opponent was convinced whole-heartedly. He expressed what everybody else was thinking. “Master Feng’s kung fu is real kung fu. Master Feng’s taiji is real taiji.” After that encounter he became a close friend and student of Master Feng. For a while “Feng Zhiqiang, Real Taiji” became a topic of the martial arts circles of Shanghai. At the demand of the taijiquan enthusiasts of Shanghai after the exhibition, Master Feng was invited to stay in Shanghai to teach Chen Style Taijiquan. He stayed for three and a half months. The number of participants reached the highest level ever in Shanghai and there were participants to his workshops from all styles of taijiquan.
During his workshop days in Shanghai he was constantly challenged by martial artists using different channels and excuses. Master Feng always practiced the restraint of “To the Point”. The martial artists in Shanghai all acknowledged very high respect for Master Feng’s martial art and martial art ethics. He developed many friendships in Shanghai.
Amazing Powers and Superb Skills
In the 1960s Master Feng was working in the Beijing Electrical Motor Company. In the workshop, motors weighing 1,000 jin (which is about 1,100 pounds) were being transported from one end of the workshop to another via an overhead hoist. One day while a motor was being transported, the steel cable that held the motor to the hoist came loose and suddenly the motor fell off the hoist. In a split second, Master Feng, who was working nearby, miraculously appeared right underneath the hoist. His two hands firmly took hold of the motor that was falling and placed it on the floor safely. This happened amid the screaming and shouting of the nearby workers. The electrical motor was saved. The workers at the workshop were shocked. When they came to their senses they realized what they had witnessed. The electric motor weighed about 1,000 jin and it normally took about seven to eight strong young men to move it. With the speed of its fall and its weight, what kind of power would it take to stop it?
The workers approached Master Feng and asked, “Did you not know how much the motor weighed? Why didn’t you get away instead of trying to stop it? Did you ever consider the consequences of your actions?” Master Feng answered, “No, I didn’t. At the time, I did not realize what was happening. I do not know how I came be under the motor and how my hands grabbed it. The only thing I felt was that my dantian felt like it blew up and a hot gush rushed up the back of my spine. I stopped and caught the motor.”
The workers in the company all had heard the amazing stories about Master Feng’s martial arts but it was the first time they had seen the real amazing power of Master Feng with their own eyes. Without seeing this occurring in front of them no one would have believed what Feng had done. When the news of this traveled, everyone knew that the Electrical Motor Company had an amazing martial artist. Many young people driven by curiosity wanted to come and test him but Master Feng knew that these young people were not strong enough and just a little hot headed. No matter how they tried to “bully” him, he always smiled and never took the challenges seriously.
One day while Master Feng was squatting, working in the workshop, a fairly big and tall young man crept up behind him. This fellow had served in a combat unit in the army. He had a lot of training in Chin-Na and army combat fighting techniques. He had always wanted to try to test the kungfu of Master Feng. He saw this moment as a good opportunity. When he got close to Master Feng he suddenly pushed, hoping to shove Master Feng over from his squatting position. However, the moment he touched Master Feng’s back he was thrown up into the air and then heavily on the floor. This convinced him wholeheartedly of the martial art ability of Master Feng.
At a different time there was a martial artist who did not believe that taiji could be used in fighting. He asked to test it with Master Feng. Master Feng agreed. When he punched Master Feng he felt that Master Feng’s body shook just a little but he was still thrown out. Later Master Feng allowed this martial artist to press into Master Feng’s body. As soon as he applied strength the martial artist heard Master Feng generate the noise of “heng” and “ha” from his Dantian. Then he was thrown out again landing solidly on the ground. He was dumbfounded.
Around this time the Electric Motor Company had a wrestling team. There were 12 members on this team. They were all active, strong young fellows. One day, as Master Feng was walking by the training ground of the wrestling team, the young wrestlers saw him and surrounded Master Feng, wanting to test his power. Master Feng knew he could not refuse. He smiled and said, “Why don’t all twelve of you line up together and push me together”. The twelve thought that each one of them could produce several hundred pounds of power. If they all pushed together there would be at least two to three thousand pounds of power. How could they not move him? In a line, like a train, they readied to push Master Feng. The person in front put his two hands on Master Feng’s stomach and on the count of three everybody pushed together. Master Feng stood there like Mount Tai of Shandong. He never moved an inch. Suddenly, Master Feng’s dantian turned and all twelve wrestlers fell to the ground. This event caused all of the wrestlers to wholly respect the power of Master Feng.
It was a coincidence that in 1987 in the International Wushu Training Seminar in Shenzhen, one of the fellow students wanted to test Master Feng’s power. He invited seven other students to line up and push Master Feng in the same fashion as the wrestlers had. The same thing happened to all of the seven as had happened to the twelve wrestlers. These students too all had high praise for Master Feng’s kung fu.
During one of his visits to Japan in the early 1990s, he was invited to give a demonstration at a large Japanese martial arts event. A former Prime Minister of Japan was in attendance as a special guest. After his demonstration of Cannon Fist, most of the more than 2000 audience reported that they personally felt the Qi of master Feng during the demonstration. The former Prime Minister came to praise him and congratulate him. No wonder he has been invited repeatedly to Japan.
Since reaching the age of 70, Master Feng does not use much obvious power during his push hands sessions any more. Some speculated that maybe he is getting on and lost his power. Nothing is farther from the truth. According to the theory of Taiji, the highest level should be power with emptiness. The power is exhibited as one’s soul, not the physical body. When he was teaching a seminar in Europe in the summer of 2000, he was doing some relaxing push hands with an attendee one day. His eyes were closed and his body relaxed. He was simply flowing with his opponent. He was so relaxed that it appeared that he was falling asleep. His opponent saw a good opportunity and gave a sudden powerful double-handed push to his chest. Before the hands reached Feng, his eyes opened. His opponent went flying backward and fell against a tree about 10 feet away. No one was able to see what Feng did. The opponent later reported that he was quite sure a beam of light like lightening shot out of Feng’s eyes and blew him away. Could it be that Feng has reached the highest level of Taijiquan?
His power and ability are not limited to martial art related activities. In the winter of 1998, one of his disciples went to visit him in Beijing. On the day of his arrival, grand master Feng fractured a small bone in his heel while taking a show in his primitive bathroom. He had accidentally slipped on a bar of soap while take a shower. He was bed-ridden and his ankle was swollen. His two Chinese anmo (like physiotherapy) disciples immediately arrived to help. He told them that he would recover in a few days and that they did not have to worry at all. The doctor suggested a recovery time of one to two months. In five days, his was seen on the street unloading wheat flower onion sacks off a truck. Not only had he recovered, he was helping others already. He was instructing the young moving company workers how to use their waist more effectively. Is this the normal behavior of a retired man of over 70 years of age? Would he be able to unload a truckload of onion sacks had he not been a Taiji and Qigong master?
One morning in the winter of 2001, Feng was leaving the Temple of Earth after a morning practice. He was accompanied by Chen Zhonghua, Yaron Seidman and several others from Europe and Xinjiang Province of China. Chen Zhonghua and Yaron Seidman fell behind while talking. As they were speeding up to catch up to the group, they saw Feng shoot up about 3 feet into the air. He was so light and graceful that he did so without the people walking by his side knowing it. When Yaron Seidman asked him about it. He explained that his foot got caught in the cracks of the pebble stones. His body instinctively jumped up, avoiding a fall. Feng said it was the “spring force” that comes from Hunyuan Taiji. “Why are we doing Taiji if we cannot even do that? We don’t fall down any more. We have this special energy.” This is from a man of 73 years of age. How many leg bones, knees and hips can we save if we all practiced Taiji?
Returning the Gift to the Chen Family
Chenjiagou in Wenxian County, Henan Province is the birthplace of Chen Style Taijiquan. There are famous masters in every generation. A famous master of the 17th generation, Master Chen Fake became a representative owing to his outstanding kung fu ability. In 1928, Master Chen Fake left Chenjiagou, resided in Beijing and taught Chen Style Taijiquan. Beijing then became the centre of Chen Style Taijiquan.
By the end of the “Cultural Revolution” (1966-1976), there was a nationwide movement of rediscovering and restoring martial art. However the home of Chen Style Taijiquan, Chenjiagou was facing a tremendous amount of difficulty as during the ten years of Cultural Revolution the taijiquan in Chenjiagou was heavily affected. A letter came to Master Feng Zhiqiang in Beijing from the leader of Chenjiagou. He sincerely invited Master Feng Zhiqiang to come to Chenjiagou to teach. Every word, every sentence was moving. Master Feng Zhiqiang felt the magnitude of the letter. He also felt the trust that the people of Chenjiagou placed in him. This made him think of all the training he received from his Master Chen Fake and Master Chen Fake’s last words to him. He also remembered Master Hu Yaozhen’s teachings and recommendations. He remembered that he had promised to promote martial art and promote the art of his masters. He happily accepted the invitation and went to Chenjiagou. He wanted to return the art of his Master, Chen Fake, wholeheartedly back to the 19th generation disciples of the Chen Family. Master Feng went to Chenjiagou of Wenxian three times. Many disciples of the Chen family also came to Beijing to further their art from Master Feng. The prosperous development of Chen Style Taijiquan in Chenjiagou today is heavily indebted to the work of Feng Zhiqiang. This period of history will forever be remembered in the development of Chen Style Taijiquan.
Remembering the days of his teaching in Chenjiagou; facing the development of Chen Style Taijiquan in the world today; and looking into the future of the development of taijiquan in China, Master Feng, once again understood the words of his master, Hu Yaozhen spoken so many years ago. “Chinese martial art does not belong to a family, does not belong to a branch, it belongs to all of China, all of human kind.”
The Legacy Continues
Master Feng is a prolific martial artist, both in martial art and in literary abilities. Not only does he have high-level expertise in martial art, he is also a very learned person. He likes to take advantage of the essence of various styles to his own use. His mind is always open. He is not conservative and he is always willing to share his experiences and the earlier teachings of his masters with others in the form of written and oral teachings. Over the decades, he has published the following works:
“Taijiquan Practical Fighting Techniques”;
“Selected Works of Chen Style Taijiquan”;
“Entrance to Chen Style Taijiquan”;
“Taiji Hunyuan Neigong”;
“Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan”;
“Chen Shi Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan”;
“Chen Shi Taijiquan Silk Reeling Gong”;
“Chen Style Taiji 24 Elbow”;
“Chen Style Taiji Chin Na”;
“Chen Style Taiji Broad Sword”;
“Taiji Bang QIGONG”;
“Taiji Eight Techniques Basic Training”;
“Chen Style Taijiquan Push Hands”.
He has also produced dozens of instructional videos and other materials. His teachings about the essence of taiji, the secrets of taiji, and the training methods of taiji have been published in many influential journals and magazines in China and abroad. His teachings and articles have caused heuristic discussions in the research of theory of taijiquan, both in China and abroad and are loved by many martial art enthusiasts. Many of his articles have been translated into foreign languages. Some have been published and republished many times.
All these works are the lifetime hard work and experiences of Master Feng’s taijiquan. They will serve as a milestone to the development of taijiquan and to the development of Chinese Martial Arts to the world. Master Feng often says, “Let Chinese taiji culture serve mankind better, this is my best wish.”
[i] It means Virgin gong fu system of the Shaolin Temple.
[ii] Pile Standing training.
[iii] It is the Shaolin Style Tendon Stretching training.
[iv] It was said that Hu’s Hunyuan Qi power was so strong that he had never touched any of his opponents. He was able to defeat his opponents with his Qi directed out of his index finger.
More about Feng Zhiqiang