RUNNING ON EMPTY
THE HUANGS - SON AND DAD NEIJIACHUAN BOXERS – TAI CHI CHUAN CONNECTIONS
This article is dedicated to my great friend, Emma Essertier, who has inspired me to get back to writing after a hiatus of 2 years.
HUANG BAIJIA’S TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTION FOR WANG ZHENGNAN
COMMENTARY BY DAN DOCHERTY
Wang Zhengnan was a teacher of Nei Jia Chuan [Internal Family Boxing]. His most famous students were Huang Baijia, who wrote this inscription and Huang’s father, Huang Zongxi,[a Ming patriot and courtier who once struck a man in the presence of the Emperor; not a wise thing to do].
The inscription is headed,, ‘A Biography of Wang Zhengnan’ and Neijia Chuanfa’ –Internal Family Boxing Method. It is dated 1676.
The inscription relates how Wang was a master of both boxing and archery. It goes on to say that Zhang Sanfeng was a master of Shaolin Boxing, the best of the External School, from which he developed the Internal School, only a few moves of which are enough to defeat Shaolin. So we can assume Huang was something of a troublemaker. No evidence is given for these statements about Zhang.
Wang Zhengnan learned the art from Dan Sinan. He was the only student to receive a complete transmission. When young, Huang Baijia heard of Wang’s skills and went directly to train with him in Baozhuang Village, Ningpo, Zhejiang province in South East China.
Huang said there were 5 types of people Wang wouldn’t teach: the devious, the aggressive, the drunk, the gossips and the clumsy. It didn’t leave him with much. Wang taught Huang Baijia at the nearby Iron Buddha Temple.
Huang then lists the names of some of Wang’s Boxing techniques. I have never heard of most of them, Some are the same or nearly the same as names of TCC techniques. In some cases Brennan’s translations and mine are a close match sometimes not.
‘Ape Offers Fruit’, Share an Embrace with the Moon – Brennnan
‘Gibbon offers Fruit’, ‘Embracing the Moon’ DD [names of Wu lineage Sword Techniques]
Brennan’s version and mine often differ considerably.
‘Punch Across the Centre to Each Side’, - Brennan
‘Divide the Heart Cross’’ The Chinese text does not mention punch. Divide Heart is a name for a Sword or Sabre technique which is usually rendered ‘Stab the Heart ‘ in English. DD
‘Swinging an Elbow to Force the Door’ Brennan
‘Using Zhou [Forearm] to Force the Door ’DD [a hidden technique that is part of ‘Deflect, Parry and Punch’. As far as I am aware, this technique only exists in Cheng Tin-hung lineage.
‘Left and Right Lifting A Rod’ – Brennan
‘Left and Right Flick The Whip’ DD. This is a Yin Nei Kung technique from Wu lineage. The application of this technique that Huang describes is very similar to that used in TCC.
‘Leading a Sheep’ Brennan
‘Leading a Goat Smoothly’ DD. This was originally a Chinese military stratagem and is the name of a Yin Nei Kung Technique of the Wu lineage.
Golden Rooster – Brennan.
Golden Cockerel DD. The application seems very different to that used in TCC. This technique is one of the 32 techniques listed in General Qi Jiguang’s [1528-87] ‘Classic of Boxing’
‘Tiger Hides its Head – Brennan.
‘Tiger Embraces Head’ DD. This technique is also mentioned in the ‘Classic of Boxing’, which states, ‘When Tiger Embraces Head there is no place to hide.’ Though the name is almost never used, this technique exists in all TCC forms that I am aware of.
Huang refers briefly to acupoints and as in TCC there does not seem to have been a great emphasis on this.
There is also advice on posture, but the terminology used is not the same as in TCC.
Likewise the 35 hand techniques and 18 stepping techniques seem to have little to do with TCC.
There is very little on duality, such as softness defeating hardness, in any of Huang’s writings, though he does mention Adherence, he does not mention any of the other combat strategies used in TCC.
MEMORIAL INSCRIPTION FOR WANG ZHENGNAN (1669)
[by Huang Zongxi, Baijia’s father]
COMMENTARY BY DAN DOCHERTY
Huang Zongxi wrote:
Shaolin is famous under Heaven for the courage of its Boxing; it aims at attacking others. In the so-called Neijia [Internal Family], stillness is used to overcome movement, when the opponent is attacked then he is countered, therefore Shaolin is called External Family.’
Huang went on to say that the art began with Zhang Sanfeng of the Song Dynasty, an alchemist from Wudangshan. Emperor Huizong [1082-1135] summoned him, but his route was blocked and he could not get through. That night in a dream, the first Song Emperor gave him the boxing method, and the next day he killed more than a hundred bandits single-handed.
Ttis is all quite absurd, the dates are wrong by around 300 years, Zhang’s heyday would have been the 15th century, Learning in a dream from a dead emperor, killing 100 bandits in a day single-handedly.
I think Huang, a very sophisticated fellow is having a joke with us.
Huang goes on to say that a hundred years later, Zhang’s art was transmitted to Shaanxi, where Wang Zong was the leading exponent. Chen Zhoutong of Wen county learned it from Wang Zong and then taught it in his hometown, thereby spreading it in Wen county. During the reign of Emperor Jiajing [1521-1567], Zhang Songxi was most skilled. He taught it to a few people, of whom Ye Jimei, called Jinquan, of Siming was the best. In Siming, Ye Jinquan taught Wu Kunshan, Zhou Yunquan, Dan Sinan, Chen Zhenshi, Sun Jicha. Wu Kunshan taught Li Tianmu and Xu Daiyue. Li Tianmu taught Yu Bozhong, Wu Qilang, and Chen Maohong. Zhou Yunquan taught Lu Shaoqi. Chen Zhenshi taught Dong Fuyu and Xia Zhixi. Sun Jicha taught Chai Xuanming, Yao Shimen, the monks Er and Wei. Dan Sinan’s disciple was Wang Zhengnan.
Of these characters, Chang Songxi is mentioned in a book from the Song family as having spent time practicing and teaching on Wudangshan.
Huang Zongzi ends by saying that Wang Zhengnan was born on the fifth day of the third month, 1617, and died on the ninth day of the second month, 1669, aged of fifty-three. Wang is now buried in the southern end of Tong’ao. These are the words engraved on his memorial tablet:
“To have an ability without being a show off.
His conduct makes us grieve.
To the end he did not sell out.
This is what we aspire to.
Amidst shallow waters and ancient mountains
Will anyone be responsible for maintaining this grave.
This epitaph is his legacy.
As a footnote, Huang Zongxi went to Nagasaki with other Chinese resistance leaders in 1649, where he sought Japanese help to fight the Manchurian interlopers who defeated the Chinese Ming dynasty and established their own Manchurian Qing dynasty. In 1629, poet scholar and martial artist Chen Yuanbin also went to Nagasaki where he taught what was later to be called Ju Jutsu [soft technique] to three samurai.
I think not.