Master Yang Sau Chung's First Disciple and Fifth Generation Lineage
Given a moment to reminisce about Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, many powerful images of former great masters of the past can be conjured up. May it be the notable presence and great stature of Yang Cheng Fu or the majestic yet powerful Yang Sau Chung, this family has certainly devoted all of their lives to the study and development of Tai Chi Chuan. However, since the sad passing away of Yang Sau Chung in 1985, when provoked into contemplating about images of the current leading figure in the art, it may indeed become a little hazy. Tucked away amongst the hustling busy streets of Hong Kong Island resides an intellectual, yet humble Chinese gentleman, who keeps his profile low, and attends to his usual daily business like any other. Convention however, is not how one could describe the man that lies behind the face, for his diligent training in Tai Chi Chuan, and knowledge gained through it, has earned him the title of being the First Disciple (Son) of Grand Master Yang Sau Chung. His name, (Grandmaster) Ip Tai Tak, the new generation, of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. The haze has disappeared.........
Master Ip Tai Tak was born in Hong Kong. He took up external martial art as a young man due to his prevailing weak health. At the age of 21 years, he studied Yang style Tai Chi Chuan under Master Tung Yien Kit for 4 years. During this period his health improved, and with his consistent approach was also appointed as Instructor for Master Tung's school. In 1949, Master Yang Sau Chung left China during the communist revolution to settle in Yuen Long, New Territory, Hong Kong. Master Yang gave a public demonstration exhibiting the traditional Yang style Tai Chi Chuan in 1951.
Master Ip was so very impressed by Master Yang's demonstration and in the pursuit for greater understanding he left Master Tung, to study the Traditional Yang style under the Head of the Yang family style. After 4 years of study, he was formally accepted as the first inner disciple of Master Yang Sau Chung. He continued to study under Master Yang until he passed away in 1985. Now at the age of 69 years, he is still as devoted as ever to the study, practice and development of Tai Chi Chuan, only teaching a selective number of senior students.
As a leading authority on Traditional Yang style Tai Chi Chuan, he was only to happy to be interviewed by Master John Ding so that the teachings of Traditional Yang style can be shared with both advanced and beginners of Tai Chi Chuan.
( New Addition : In January 1998, Grandmaster Ip formally accepted Master Ding as his first accepted Master Ding as his first disciple, the sixth Generation of the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan).
Master Ding : Where there differences in the Yang style Tai Chi form when you began to train under Master Yang?
Grandmaster Ip: Previous to learning under Master Yang it was very obvious that there were differences in my Yang style Tai Chi form. As a result of this I had to relearn the whole form. Master Yang's movements were simpler to the eye, yet had focused precision to match. Even though the movements seemed simplistic, the traditional form was more difficult to master as it involved many intricate subtleties needing only very small movements, which can hardly be noticeable by eye. When he was correcting me, Master Yang often told me that he was screwing my structure down. In other words he was reinforcing the structure so that it could enable the Chi(or Qi) power to be more concentrated and thus more projected. Practicing the corrected form brings quicker results.
Master Yang also expressed that if the form's postures and movements were not correct whatever time and energy is put into the practice, the effort is wasted. It can be likened to pouring water into a bucket full of holes. Water cannot be retained in the bucket, so therefore time and energy put into filling the bucket that can never yield the desired results. Practicing the correct form ensures that the time and effort put into the practice is not wasted. Each practice helps to concentrate and harness the power a little more i.e. the bucket without holes can retain water without loss each time it is filled a little.
Master Ding: What other differences are there?
Grandmaster Ip: The traditional Yang form has more meaning and enables me to cultivate more power quicker. The Chi energy is more focused and direct, hence more effective for self-defense application. The form uses numerous circular movements within various postures through the use of hip movements. The previous forms that I had learnt have no depth and meaning. Correct weighting is also very important. Practitioners should ensure that the weighting within forward postures should always be 70/30 (70% of the weighting on the front and 30% of the weighting on the back) and should never be double weighted i.e. 50/50.
I have also observed that a number of Yang style forms are often too relaxed and flowery. Traditional Yang style postures are simple and contain various subtleties incorporated within them. Practitioners should always seek out Masters who can demonstrate and show such levels of teachings. Without it, people often get stuck at their levels and are unable to progress any further in Tai Chi Chuan training. It is common to find these people giving up Tai Chi or use external martial arts to explain the principles of Tai Chi Chuan. The latter approach leads the practitioner further and further away from gaining insight and understanding of the true meaning of INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS.