Diary from China Thursday, August 4, 2005; Yong Nian, China

Yang Shi Tai Chi Master's Home

Excerpts from the Diary:

Okay, back to the saga. We decided that before we leave, we'd visit the home of another Tai Chi originator (the scholarly, rich one we visited yesterday started Wu Shi Tai Chi, and this one, a "poor" relative who was an illiterate farmer living outside the city walls at the same time, started Yang Shi Tai Chi)....

Each of our visits today turned out to be a delightful experience, although this first one didn't start out well we walked outside the city walls in the HOT sun (with my umbrella, of course) from the West Gate along a wide, deserted, treeless road beside the moat for what turned out to be about a mile. I thought I was going to pass out! We reached a little cluster of homes and stores just outside the South gates and bought some iced bottled water which I put everywhere one can decently put an iced bottle of water, which helped a lot. By the time we finally reached the Yang Shi Tai Chi Teacher's home I was feeling much better. We waited for Master Sun to get some keys.

He returned and then waited with us, so when a car pulled up and Master Sun talked to the driver, I figured the driver had the keys but no, he drives off. A few minutes later an elderly man comes wheeling around the corner on a typical Chinese vendor's bicycle / wagon [see photo below] and lightly hops off, wearing a beautiful heavy silk cream-colored outfit with a mandarin collar. He goes to the gate and lets us in.

The Yang Shi Tai Chi master "poor farmer" had a BEAUTIFUL compound! It was much smaller than the home of his rich protege, being only one courtyard with 4 buildings, but they were all beautiful, very well preserved, with Chinese-style roof with corners curving up, and wooden grill designs with rice paper along the front of each building, very similar to the other home. Master Sun explained that this was the kind of home where poor farmers lived at that time, but of course today the home would be considered very well-to-do.

Anyway, I was quite intrigued with the man who had let us in. His dark brown face was wizened but he was spry and moved with grace. Whenever he went up the 3-4 steps to the door of a building, it was almost like he flew up the stairs, I can't quite describe it, it's as if he leaped but very lightly. Stephan caught him doing it once in video, though I don't know if he got the feet on video.

Anyway, it turns out that this man was a fourth-generation student of the Yang Shi Tai Chi Teacher! That is, his teacher was a student of the original Yang Shi Tai Chi Teacher's student. He and Master Sun had a discussion where Master Sun showed deference and at one point they started to spar together (Stephan happened to be videotaping then, too!). I was thrilled and honored at this unexpected meeting.

Photos below:
{left] The elderly master is in front of a bust of the original yang shi tai chi master.
[middle] In the museum, on the wall behind the master, is a photo of himself among the generations of historical yang shi tai chi masters.
[right}Yang shi tai chi master stands in front of the home of the originator of yang shi tai chi with Master Sun.

Below: The graceful, elegant master demonstrated some yang shi tai chi movements.

Posters on the wall depict stories of the original Yang Shi Tai Chi master doing amazing feats in the market when he is bothered by someone while trying to sell his produce. A certificate of commendation from the governor of Michigan was displayed in one of the cases.

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