Tai Qi, Kung Fu, Chinese Language, Culture, History & Medicine

Originally posted under Sports: Martial Arts but I get the sense that many interpret martial arts with emphsis on “martial” as oppossed to the its wider purpose (i.e. not kicking someone’s ass). I will readily admit that I am biased in my opinion but I really believe people who are serious about their physical and spiritual well-being would benefit from meeting this extraordinary teacher.

For anyone is interested in learning Northern Style Kung Fu and/or Tai Qi (or Chinese language, culture, history, & traditional medicine) there is a teacher in the Taichung area (in the mountains near Dong Shi 東勢) who would be well worth a visit (IMHO). His name is Master Tsong-Yuan Ho (何聰源老師). He lives about 1- 1/2 hour drive from Taichung, through Dong Shi (mountain roads - nuff said). He was my teacher in the U.S. prior to his return to Taiwan in 2006. My opinion is admittedly biased but I think anyone who is serious about learning the real meaning of martial arts, having a discussion about the roots of the Chinese language or learning about traditional Chinese medicine (and their own body) would benefit from talking to Master Ho. One important note: He is a traditional Chinese teacher and he is very serious about his kung fu and tai qi. If your interested in breaking bones, crushing skulls, or generally kicking people’s ass - don’t bother. That is not what he teaches. If your looking for the quick and easy path to mastering the marial arts - stay home. However, if your serious and sincere about learning something real - send me a PM and I can put you in touch with an American friend of mine (and student of Master Ho) who lives and trains in Taichung.

Sounds like a person could learn a lot from this teacher, but honestly I think it’s a bit of a waste of time. An authentic lineage of any real kung fu/tai chi etc… will absolutely have the martial side. Sadly, much was lost in the years that martial arts were outlawed in both China and Taiwan.

What we have today is mostly flowery arms and embroidered legs.

Someone with an authentic lineage will also teach the non martial side of their art. The spiritual as well as the healing and health aspects. For the others, even the forms have been watered down to remove martial intent. More like a dance such as the silly combined tai chi form. More importantly, the concepts and songs that convey them are rarely taught by most teachers.

There is a big Tai Chi group that practices near me. It’s quite obvious from watching only a few minutes that none of the Tai Chi principles are taught or followed. A young girl could walk up to any one of them and push them over with a mere brush of the fingers. No rooting or grounding, no silk reeling, clearly no understanding of the basic forces such and peng lui an ji much less the more subtle ones. They also don’t learn any post standing, chin na, push hands, or the chi kung and meditation that goes along with an authentic Tai Chi education and practice.

Authentic kung fu is dying out as the few real masters pass away and sadly very few know the difference or care to find a real master. The ones spreading the kung fu dance are pissing on and cheapening the very arts they claim to teach in my opinion.

My main master taught that the reason the art is practiced is to gain enlightenment. In order to do this, one needs a healthy body and mind. Without real world martial skills, years of cultivation can be thrown away in an unfortunate instant. The martial should never be separated from the spiritual or health aspects. The creation cycle and the destruction cycle are not separate, but rather co-exist.

I heard good things about Dennis but never got to look him up in my MA days. He came highly recommended. That’s quite a trek but may be worth it for some folks.

Homey -
I will offer a counter opinion.
Much of traditional chuan fa did come over to Taiwan, and down to Hong Kong, after the communists took over on the mainland. The commies didn’t want this to compete with their worship of Chairman Mao.

For a time, in the late 50s, through the 60’s & 70s, Taiwan was the place to be for the study of ‘the real deal’ as far as Tai Chi, Baqua, Hsing Yi and a few other old school Chinese fighting arts. Along with that the teachings covered the healing arts; as that was part of the curricula of the art. Along with calligraphy.
A lot of the mainland masters later went to the U.S.A. where they found they could make a good living teaching their stuff. And practice TCM in the growing Asian communities and as interest among the white people increased.

Those who stayed on Taiwan, for the most part, did one of three main things:

Went into the Police departments - (My Father-in-law took this route and taught at the main Police academy in Taipei for many years before moving on to Miaoli and then ChiaYi. He came from Shan Dong in northern China.)

Went into Chinese medicine full-time.

Went into the trading business with their established contacts.

Of course there were a number who just retired, taught a few select students - mostly family - and just let it go.

There are still some old school guys around, mostly the sons and daughters of the mainland “masters” who came over, but they are really hard to find. And even if you do find them - they are pretty tight-lipped about teaching anyone who is not family.

Their is a park close to my house that has a group of old guys doing push-hands and stuff every morning. One morning as my wife and I were walking around the park, we saw a really scruffy looking taike-type guy came over and watch them for a while. Next thing he moved over to a separate part and began doing some of the best BaQua I have ever seen. This guy was one bad mother walking the circle. The push-hand guys stopped and watched him…he was good.

Ya just never know.

Thanks for the additional information Formosa Fitness and Tainan Cowboy.

I enjoyed watching the vid.

From the OP it appears like this teacher doesn’t teach authentic material but rather non-martial wushu. He made it quite clear, re-posting to emphasize this point. He wanted to stress the fact that there is no martial skills to be learned. If it is not martial in nature, it is not an authentic lineage. I stand by my assertion that once an ‘art’ is watered down and sanitized it loses it’s value.

One’s time is much better spent seeking out and learning from a real martial arts master with an authentic lineage. One who cares about passing down his skills and knowledge to the next generation.

My apologies for comments that may have led you to believe Master Ho is teaching mere Wu-Shu. Defintely not the case. What I wanted to emphasize is that he is very serious about his craft and traditional in his approach. He will not teach these forms to just anybody that shows up at his front door. In fact, any martial arts teacher worthy of the name will know how dangerous the forms can be in the wrong hands and will not teach them to persons who do not have a proper respect for the form and what they are capable of doing. If you have the proper respect for the art form, for Master Ho as a teacher, and you fellow human beings - then you may be in a position to learn something.

I also want to offer my opinion that Master Ho is a thoroughly remarkable person and not exclusively limited to kung fu and tai qi. If your interest is learning more about your body, how to become and stay healthy, Chinese language, culture etc., horticulture (盆栽) - a particular favorite of his - I think you would enjoy talking to him.

I can also offer some background on the video. It was produced by an individual who trained at Master’s school from time to time. The subject of the video, Su, Ke Gan was one of Master Ho’s teachers through he was not Master’s primary teacher. The video is an excerpt of a longer video filmed in Taichung Park and includes the segments of “City Teacher” demonstrating some aspects of kung fu for a Japanese documentary film crew. The three Americans in the film include the producer of the video, and two brothers both of whom were students of Master Ho. One of them lived with Master Ho for several years in Taiwan and he still lives, works, studies and trains in Taichung. He visits Master Ho fairly regularly. If your interested, I can provide contact information for him.