Kenpo For Self-Defense - Tai Chi For Life

     Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi
     Drug and alcohol recovery

Yang Cheng-Fu (1883-1936)

               Kenpo Karate
               The Way of Kenpo
Kenpo Karate and Tai Chi Chuan are two polar opposites, which, like Yin and Yang, move in opposition and harmony with each other. Tai Chi movements are soft, smooth, slow, and relaxed while Kenpo relies on lightening fast, hard explosive strikes, punches and kicks where the striking line of the body tenses at the moment of attack and immediately relaxes. These two martial arts styles are so different that no Tai Chi posture as practiced in the slow, smooth movements of the form can be applied to Kenpo; and, no Kenpo technique, with its hard, explosive release of power, can be applied in Tai Chi. Yet one who practices Kenpo will benefit greatly from Tai Chi, and one to practices Tai Chi will benefit greatly from Kenpo.
Cheng Man Ch'ing Style Yang Cheng Fu Style Kenpo Karate has proven to be among the best self-defense styles in America; and Kenpo, as taught in the Tracy System is paramount among the Kenpo Karate styles. No other system of Kenpo has come close to training as many world class fighters as have the Tracy brothers, who trained such notables as Joe Lewis, Jay T. Will, Al Dacascos, Jerry Smith, Jerry Piddington, Dick Willett, Roger Greene, Steve LaBounty, Orned "Chicken" Gabriel, Ray Klingenburg, Steve "Nasty" Anderson, Jack Shamburger, Will Taylor, Bart Vale, and dozens more.
Al and Will Tracy founded Kenpo For Self Defense - Tai Chi For Life in 1967. The two Tracy brothers had been practicing Yang Chengfu style Tai Chi Chuan for 25 years at the time, and realized that while Kenpo training met an immediate need for younger students, it's hard, and physically demanding style was not idealy suited for "Senior Citizens". Tai Chi, however, is virtually useless for self-defense, and where every Tracy Kenpo student learned self-defense techniques and their application from the first lesson, the Tai Chi Form could take months to learn, and its martial arts benefits might not be realized for years, or even decades. Coupled with this was the impatience of Americans who wanted, and received, immediate results in Kenpo.
Al Tracy believed the 108 postures of the Yang Cheng Fu form would be too much for most students. Additionally, he believed the body positions were so different from those of Kenpo, that it might hinder progress in both Kenpo and Tai Chi. The answer for Al Tracy was Chen Man Ch'ing's Tai Chi style.
Al and Will Tracy's first Tai Chi instructor, Dr. Yeung, had trained personally for ten years with the great master, Yang Cheng fu. One of Yang Cheng-fu's junior students had been Chen Man Ch'ing, who had trained for about three years; although Chen Man Ch'ing would claim he had trained for ten years. He was, however, primarily a student of one of Cheng-fu's top students, Li Ya Hsuan, and much is said today about Man Ch'ing being a student of Chang Yin-Lin, who was another Yang Cheng-fu senior student. This is partly true, because Chen Man Ch'ing learned learned "Tai Chi Push Hands" Chang Yin-Lin; and, when Chen Man Ch'ing came to America his style more closely resembled Li Ya Hsuan's style.
Will Tracy had trained with four different Yang Cheng-fu's students, including Chengfu's son, Yang (Yeung) Sau Chung, and the founder of Tung (Dong) style, Tung Ying Chieh, as well as two masters who had trained alongside Yang Cheng Fu, under his father, Yang Jain Hao. In 1963, Will Tracy's was introduced to Chen Man Ch'ing by his instructor, and Man Ch'ing taught Will Tracy his long and short forms. Will in turn taught the forms to his brother, Al, who found them more suited to his Kenpo style. Will Tracy however, preferred the original Yang Cheng-fu style, not only because of its wide, expansive "Large Frame" style, but also because he believed the Tai Chi art should only be modified for improvement, which none of the other Tai Chi styles he had trained in accomplished. Because Tai Chi was not really a self-defense style, but rather an exercise for health, the Tracy brothers founded, "Tai Chi for Health, Tai Chi for Life" in 1969 for those who only wanted Tai Chi.

Kenpo is of course for self defense, but Kenpo training also develops self confidence, coordination, stamina, and awareness.

Tai Chi on the other hand is designed as an exercise for health and develops energy, endurance, an inner strength, physical coordination, hand/eye coordination, balance and flexability, as well as exercising memory, improving the immune system, reducign stress, and teaches harmony, relaxation, clamness, and when done in groups, community. Tai Chi is, therefore, for life.

While exercise in the United States has gone from calisthenics to weight lifting, cardio workouts, aerobics, running, kick boxing, boot camps and dozens of other methods which produce mental agitation, Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi has retained its constant tranquility in movement; and, where Yoga seeks harmony, Yang Cheng-fu style Tai Chi seeks harmony in poetic motion. This makes Tai Chi suited for virtually everyone, and it is the ideal exercise for seniors, mature adults, and extremely beneficial for the recovery process from alcohol and drug addiction.
But Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi is more than "poetry in motion." As the Tai Chi student seeks to coordinate mind and body, as Yang Cheng-fu taught, he becomes centered and rooted and find tranquility in movement; and when mastered, he finds stillness of motion.

What is taught!

Taught by Will Tracy Taught by Al Tracy
Yang Cheng-fu style as taught by Will Tracy is available only by personal trainer and seminars. Chen Man Ch'ing style as taught by Al Tracy is taught in certified Tracy's Karate studios.

Yang Cheng-Fu taught a series of Tai Chi Chuan hand and foot movements called a Form, and it is Yang Cheng-Fu's form as he taught it, and not the style of his student, Cheng Man Ch'ing, that we seek to emulate.

The Yang Cheng-fu Form consists of three (3) Sets, each of which has a beginning and Apparent Closing. The Sets are traditionally numbered, First Set, Second Set and Third Set. The First Set is also called the Beginning Set.

Each Yang Chengfu Set has a series of movements called Postures which have unique names, like Grasp Sparrow's Tail, Single Whip, White Crane Spread its Wings, etc.

Yang Cheng-Fu stressed that the postures must be performed as close as possible to what he taught, allowing for individual variations in size and physical condition. In 1931 he memorialized his postures in photographs which were published in a book and wall chart in 1934 with the warning that any further modification of the style would lead to disaster.

These postures are taught in private instruction without variation at Kenpo for Self-Defense - Tai Chi For Life, while most Tracy System of Kenpo schools that are certified by Al Tracy to teach Tai Chi, teach Cheng Man Ching's style.

The First Set photographs are reproduced above from the originals (not from the book or wall chart), and are in the order performed in the Set. The transitions from one Posture to the next were taught to Will Tracy by three different Yang Cheng-Fu students who trained directly with Yang Cheng-Fu. There was little or no variation in their teachings and each stressed performing Tai Chi without any modifications of Yang Cheng-Fu's Postures. Or, as a Chinese saying would have it, "without painting legs on a snake".

The beginning student learns the First Set Postures as a complete Set, which consists of 24 posture movements where the opening and closing are the same. That is, the Set ends with what are traditionally the last two Postures of the complete Form. That is how Yang Cheng-fu taught his beginning students, and learning this way makes the First Tai Chi Set a mini-form which most beginning students can learn in about five lessons. Once learned the First set takes about three minutes to complete. A beginning student will find his/her skills dramatically improving by practicing the First Set three times which will take about 10 minutes, and with practice improved skill and proper breathing the First Set will take five minutes or more to perform.

However, it must be noted that the 24 postures of the First Set are not the same as Chen Man Ch'ing's Short Form which is also know as the 24 Posture Form, as the two styles are completely different.

©2007-2011 Law Offices of Michael Tracy: No portion may be reproduced for any purpose without written permission.