The name “Yong Nian” derives from thecounty of his birth and the home of three
generaons of Yang family praconers.Yong Nian also means “always developing,never stopping” , always strengthening yourhealth and developing yourself through thepracce of Taijiquan. During the me of theYong Nian Associaons formaon, the moraleof the Chinese people was very low becauseof the civil war and the Japanese occupaon.Great Grandmaster Fu hoped to strengthenthe individual and thus the country. The nalreason for choosing the name was because theChinese characters for Yong Nian can also beread as “long Life” and this is a testament tothe life enhancing qualies of the exercise.Ten years aer the Yong Nian TaijiquanAssociaons foundaon, Chen Wei Ming,rst disciple of Yang Chen Fu, paid tribute toGrandmaster Fu’s eorts as follows:
“Mr. Fu Zhong Wen of Yong Nian hasreceived the teachings and guidance
from his relave, Yang Chen Fu Lao Shi.
Mr. Fu has learnt accurately to a very high
standard and has made no alteraons,
which is why people say that it is
authenc…When it comes to connuingthe legacy of Yang Style Taiji, who else
can compare with Fu Zhongwen?”
.In 1958 Great Grandmaster Fu was appointedthe Coach of the Shanghai Wu Shu team andhis students gained many Wu Shu honoursthroughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Like manyothers of his generaon, he was not welltreated during the Cultural Revoluon, butthings improved for him from 1979 when hewas appointed vice-chairman of the ShanghaiWu Shu Associaon. From then unl his deathin 1994, he travelled widely with his sonand grandson (Fu Qing Quan) including onememorable trip to the US for an internaonalKuoshu tournament were, at the age of 91,he was seen roaming the hotel corridors inthe early hours of the morning searching for atuishou opponent.Aer Great Grandmaster Fu died, the YongNian tradion passed into the hands of his son,Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan, and grandson,Master Fu Qing Quan. At this point, I shouldexplain the reason why I am so (rudely)
In May 2005, I travelled to Shanghai with a U.K.team to compete in the Lian Gong Shi Ba FaConference and to take part in their coachingcourse (See Issue No:22). The following year,I decided to return on my own for a monthfor further coaching and training. While I wasthere, I was also keen to discover more aboutmy own Taijquan hero Great Grandmaster FuZhongwen and his heirs.Great Grandmaster Fu Zhong Wen (1903-1994)was born in the village of Guanfu in the YongNian County of Hebei Province. The provinceis renowned as the birth-place of Yang Lu-Chanand thus the cradle of Taijiquan.From an early age Great GrandmasterFu studied Taijiquan with Yang Lu-Chan’sGrandson, Yang Chen Fu and later became oneof his leading disciples, travelling widely withinChina assisng his master with his teachingand accepng challenges on his behalf. Heeven married into the Yang family and fathereda son, Fu Sheng Yuan, with the great grand-daughter of Yang Jian Hou.Following his masters’ death in 1936, GreatGrandmaster Fu connued to transmit theauthenc Taijiquan and, in order to advancethis mission, he created the Yong Nian TaijiquanAssociaon in 1944.
interested in the grandson rather than thecurrent incumbent of Great Grandmaster Fu’s
heritage, Grand Master Fu Sheng Yuan (8
Duan Wushu ranking).I rst heard of Fu Qing Quan as a student of The Classical Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Societyin the UK. This society was founded by TonyHenrys who studied with Great GrandmasterFu. During this period, I saw a video of GreatGrandmaster Fu, performing the 85 Formduring which a sixteen- year old Fu Qing Quanperformed the lower postures and the kicksunder his Grandfather’s tutelage.Another reason was that I was aware that theFu’s emigrated to Australia in 1989 and thatGrandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan had establishedhimself in Perth and had students throughoutAustralia and New Zealand. Aer many e-mailsand much begging I eventually found out thatMaster Fu Qing Quan aka Master James Fuwas in China endeavouring to improve Taijito its former glories. Because I was alreadycommied to travelling to Shanghai toconnue my training in Lian Gong Shi Ba Fa,Master James Fu (7
Duan Wushu Ranking)was the obvious “target” for me so I travelledto Shanghai to nd out more about him, thelatest in Yong Nian story and, hopefully, a newteacher.
In Search of
Yong Nian Taijiquan
Fu Qing Quan
Shanghai, April 2007
Unfortunately, a case of “Chinese Whispers”rudely intervened. As I travelled to Shanghai,Master James and his father were on theirway to Spain. Grandmaster Fu Sheng Yuan hastaught there for the last nine or ten years andMaster James was joining him for the rst me.His father is now 78 years old and values hissons’ assistance.Fortunately, Master James now has a base inShanghai and runs some classes and his ownschool in the city as well as travelling widelywithin China to pass on his Grandfathersteachings. Before he le Shanghai, Jamesarranged for me to train with his studentsincluding two very helpful Kiwis living inShanghai – Aaran Church and Stuart Laurance -I received excellent tuion from one of MasterJames’ lead instructors whose name translatedas “Dragon” – dragon by name……One of the things I noced was that the formwork was very much more open and expansive
than I had been used to during my training in
the U.K.. The reasons for this would becomeevident later.I spent a month in Shanghai training withMaster James’ students, trying to nd otherevidence of Yong Nian Taiji in the parks (Fuxingpark has a “master” on every corner – and aspreviously menoned in this magazine – noneof any quality. I also connued with my LianGong Shi Ba Fa training with Sifu Zhuang JianShen.Fortunately for me, Master James returned toShanghai whilst I was sll there. The day beforeI le, I was invited to his home where I was tomeet James, his father, mother and wife. Thiswas a completely unexpected bonus.Master James was not there when I arrived.I did not have to wait long before he literallyexploded into the room in a wave of energy andenthusiasm. I had a lot of quesons to ask, hehad a lot of statements / claricaons to makeabout his art. He speaks with great passionand energy parcularly when discussing hisGrandfather for whom, understandably, heretains a massive aecon. In parcular, andbefore long, he recounted how angry hisGrandfather had been when he discoveredwhat had happened to Taijiquan aer it hadbeen introduced to the West by, in parcular,Chen Man Ching who, as far as the Fu’s areconcerned was a person who could writeand was allowed to transcribe Yang Chen Fu’steachings but was never a close student of his.Meanwhile Grandmaster Fu had to accept thathe was secluded in China during this periodand had kept quiet about his feelings because,at the very least, Taijiquan had been promoted.Later, I was to learn that Great GrandmasterFu was at the border with Hong Kong when itwas closed in 1949 – who knows what wouldhave happened to Taijiquan in the west if hehad managed to cross. With these insights, it isnot dicult to see the source of Master James’passion and enthusiasm.During my stay in their home, we watcheda DVD together of the Canadian 7 Mastersevent which was accompanied by muchhilarity on behalf of the Fu’s – Master Jameshimself aended and performed a sabre formon behalf of the Yang family represented byYang Zhendou. In their opinion, the standardof Taijiquan coming out of China and beingpromoted in the West is very poor.Similar honesty and forthrightness wasexhibited by Master James when he discussedthe dierence in styles between Yang Zhendouand himself and he puts this down to the factthat Yang Zhenduo was never taught by hisown father and received limited tuion fromGreat Grandmaster Fu Zhongwen. He agreedthat the end postures where correct but thetransions were problemacal – authencTaijiquan involves moving on the weightedfoot. He accepts that Yang Zhenduo carriesthe family name and is therefore head of thefamily. The Yang bloodline and authenc form,however, will connue through Fu Qing Quan( as previously noted, his Grandfather marriedwithin the Yang family).Master James’ had a lot to say about theorigins of Taijiquan. He quoted one of hisGrandfather’s sayings “Taiji is only one” – bythis he meant that what Yang Lu Chan learnedin Chen Jiagou, from Chen Changxing is thesame form that the Yang family sll pracces,he said that it was not the Chen style that YangLu Chan learned. Before the communists tookover, nobody had heard of the Chen style – itwas only aer 1949 that the Pao Tui form wasresurrected and combined with Taijiquan.Master James insists that the stamping andfa jing movements in the modern Chen formare unhealthy on the joints. He also pointedout that fa jing was used in the Yang style inthe applicaon of individual postures but notpracsed during the form (he was to return tothis subject later).As regards the dierent styles of performing“Yang” Taijiquan, Master James explainedthat, because Yang Chen Fu was a large man,his movements were larger. Because YangShou Hou was smaller, his movements weresmaller but this does not make it “small frame”.In Great Grandmaster Fu Zhongwens lastinterview, James translated his Grandfather insimilar terms: “You can do low movements orwith arms wider or with small steps and armssmaller. It depends on what level you are at. But
Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental ArtsSpring 2008
by Kevin McQuaid