Interview with Master Ming Wong C.Y. conducted by Gaetano Ruvolo
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Master Ming Wong C.Y.
Question: What is the name of the Tai Chi Chuan style you teach?
Ming Wong: Tai Ki Kung, Chang Sam Fung style (in oficial Mandarine dialect: Tai Chi Kung, Chang San Feng style, transl. note).
D.: What is the difference between Tai Ki Kung and Tai Chi Chuan?
Ming Wong:It is the difference in pronunciation, although also related to historical and geographical factors.
The Americans, when they saw for the first time Chinese men practicing this martial art, called it shadow boxing, that is "fighting with shadow". When shadow boxing started to spread in the West, it became known under the name of Tai Chi Chuan, according to the pronunciation used in Nankin. At that time this art was known by its martial forms, consisting of 85, 88 and 108 movements. Presently a very exotic pronunciation Tai Ji Quan is promoted, with accordance to new way of romanization of chinese script characters, which recently became fashionable in Beijing. The form associated with that pronunciation is called "Beijing Short Form" and consists of twenty four movements. It is a simplified version, half dance half gimnastics, easy to learn and practice by a lot of Chinese, also because of rediscovery of this form by the Chinese authorities. In Kanton it is pronounced Tai Ki Kung in reference to the original Chang Sam Fung style, consisting of 64 movements usually divided into Father, Mother and Children forms.
D.: Please tell me about the origins of the name Tai Ki Kung.
Ming Wong: There are two different sources of origin: The beginning of the name, "Tai Ki", which can be translated as "the energy, vital source" (Ki) and highest (Tai), it is the very origin, identical to the genesis of Universe. It is difficult to translate the word "Ki" because the word "energy" has many meanings. There are many types of energy: electrical, mechanical, energy from water etc. This name is ambiguous and not precise. The vital force Ki, we are talking about, exists on many levels and on each has diffrent meaning. On high level is means "spirit", on low level it means components of "matter". But it does not indicate two different or firmly separated things: there is connection between all those types of energy. The point is that it moves up and down, down and up. Microcosmos and macrocosmos are united with this, constantly moving force.
In the word Tai Ki Kung, "kung" means work. The Tai Ki Kung movements serve the purpose of enabling a person to achieve connection, first with own body, between its different parts through spiral movements that start at the bottom and move up; and then with other practitioners and with the Master and all the chain of Masters preceding him; then with the surrounding nature, with its 5 elements and then with the Sun, Moon and other planets, with the Milky Way and finally with the Universe, the Tao, with everything. All these, so diverse stratas of relationships between time and space, are interconnected, as gears in a machine, that by turning sets the whole mechanism into motion. In master Chang San Feng's Tai Ki Kung form part of the practice named "Father" ( which precedes the "Mother" and "Children" forms) is distinguished by circular movements, doing wonders to our joints, loosening them ( in the form "Nine Heavens") by stimulating Ki stream circulation from its stagnation points in more or less subtle nooks of out body. The movement originates from legs, the darkest and most distant from eyes part of human body, and slowly rises to connect in the tips of our fingers, the brightest and most visible part of human body. And then it aims at "High Heaven" (feet represent the "Low Heaven"). The energy then moves back down towards earth with the aid of forms symbolising downward movement of energy, such as creation of material world, mountain picks, clouds, animals, insects and humans. The "Father Forms" is also referred to by the name "Heaven" ( the nine main joints in human body are called "Nine Heavens") and "Time". The idea of time is not easy to grasp with our mind only, but practicing of "Father" form enables proper entering into "time" and leaving it with our body in its three basic elements: physical body ( Pig), energy (horse) and mind ( Monkey). The "Father" form is often considered as boring, the movements the same, not beautiful and seemingly unimportant, while in reality it is the fundamental Tai Ki Kung practice. The dullness experienced sometimes is a measure of time. During practice one hour may seem like a long time or almost unnoticalble time, depending on circumstances.
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