Master Yan Fang, the woman in the video mentioned in an early post1, is suffering a considerable backlash against her after a video of her apparently “throwing students around with her qi” went viral last month. The video is called 闫芳大师“最强太极推手”是在妖魔化武术 and can be seen here
courtesy of v.ifeng.com .
1 See The Internal Power of Tai Chi: Part 3 – Mysterious Empty Force (Throwing without touching)
The 56-year-old Yan claims to be the first Tai Chi heir of Li Jingo. However, due to her public demonstrations of “kong jing,” the son of Li Jingwu and at least one apprentice, Xiang Guoyuan, have disowned her. She has apparently been removed from the official list of the late Li Jingwu’s apprentices.
Of course, just as kong jing should not be accepted nor dismissed on face value, so is it also with anything official in China. Ever since the Falun Dafa disaster of the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Chinese government has been quick to criticize anyone who attempts to claim or display anything that might be taken as supernatural abilities. Part of the reason for this is a rational fear of personality cults and the inherent dangers such cults pose to their followers. Therefore, anyone who achieves any fame or notoriety for extraordinary qigong powers will likely find themselves standing “officially” alone. None of the 1000 shades of grey, that accompany any official authoritarian Chinese policy, are comfortable hues for those who challenge common understanding or normal boundaries.
It could be that those who disown Yan Fang genuinely believe her to be a deliberate fraud. It could also be that they fear any association with such demonstrations.
It could also be that many serious tai chi teachers believe that such demonstrations of “Empty Force” should be kept in the context of serious classes, and should not be made vulnerable to misunderstandings and the inevitable ridicule that results.
I have experienced these “demonstrations” as a spectator and as a participant. While I don’t defend these spectacles as a demonstration, they can have benefit to the student if they are done properly.
As with any martial art exercise, context is of paramount importance. If the context is not understood, then the student would be better of with no training at all.
First, it must be understood that for the martial artist, the benefit of Kong Jing practice is first in being able to sense the difference between the “projector’s” qi/intent and one’s own. Second is the the ability to distinguish between an attack with real intent, an attack which is changing direction, and a fake attack.
The students who follow a good teacher will learn a great deal about intent, relaxation, the ego, and anticipation. I have crossed hands with such students and found them very difficult to beat. Their neutralizing skill was superb.
The unfortunate students who follow a bad teacher will get very good at being tossed around. I have pushed hands with such students, and they have a terrible tendency to go flying away at the slightest push. I can almost imagine them dying of a bullet wound if someone points a finger at them and shouts “bang!”.
As a joke, my teacher and I once practised a “kong jing qinna” demonstration in which he would apply joint locks on me from across the room. It was looking pretty good, and we might have done it in public if I had been able to keep a straight face, and if we hadn’t been concerned that some people might take it seriously.
My teacher said that “middle-level” masters will sometimes demonstrate these things. “High-level” masters will not. “Low-level” masters are unable to do it.
If a teacher goes through a phase of practising kong jing with his or her own students, the pure kong jing demonstrations will usually be abandoned for more practical demonstrations that integrate the sensitivity with a more contextual self defence or tuishou demonstration.
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