Feng Zhiqiang 冯志强 1928-2012
– written by Ian Sinclair ~
The world has lost one the great taijiquan masters of all time.
Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang passed away peacefully in Beijing at 2:29 pm May 5, 2012.
We will miss him, his talent, his humour, and his inspiration.
One of the most respected tai chi masters of the last 100 years, Feng Zhiqiang 冯志强 (1928 – May 5, 2012) was a true treasure.
He was born into a wushu family in ShuLu County, Hebei province, China. He first learned Shaolinquan and Tongbeiquan. Later he learned Xingyiquan from the famous Hu Yaozhen. But we know him as a top student of Chén Fā-Kē (the 17th generation standard bearer of Chen Style Taijiquan (Tai Chi),
Chén Fā-Kē was an unbeatable fighter, and a man of famously saint-like moral character. Chén Fā-Kē was largely responsible for bringing Chen Style Tai Chi to wide attention within the Chinese martial arts community. When he went to Beijing to replace his nephew as an instructor there, he took open challenges for more than 2 weeks and was undefeated. He opened the Zhongzhou Institute, becoming the first to teach Chen style tai chi openly outside of the Chen Village. Before that, such outside teaching had been done secretly.
Chen Fa-Ke taught a style called “new frame” of Chen Style Tai chi. (Sometimes confused with the “Small frame aka New Frame” taught in Chen Village.
Some of his senior students wereHong Junsheng 洪均生 1906–1996Feng Zhiqiang 冯志强 1928-2012Li Jingwu 李经悟 1912–1997Chen Zhaopei 陈照丕 1893–1972Chen Zhaokui 陈照奎1928–1981 (Chen Fa-Ke’s his son)Gu Liuxin 顧留馨 1908–1991Lei Muni 雷慕尼 1911–1986Tian Xiuchen 田秀臣 1917–1984Pan Yong-Zhou 潘詠周 1906-1996 (aka Zuo-Min. Taiwan)
There was a time when Chen Family would refer people to Feng Zhiqiang, especially for tuishou instruction, and some prominent Chen family people are known to have studied with him. The Chen family don’t seem to talk about Feng much anymore, for whatever reason. But I have a few pictures of Feng Zhiqiang demonstrating martial applications with the help of Chen Xiaowang.
If you had the opportunity to watch Feng in action, you would be blown away. His power, and the effortless with which he manifested it were quite incredible. Yet his demeanour always carried gentleness. He joked often and when he did his eyes would sparkle.
Anyone who questioned the validity of tai chi as a martial art would have their doubt put to rest simply by crossing hands with him. This was due, no doubt to his tireless dedication to his training. He seemed to always be practising. He never stood completely still. There was always some subtle tai chi going on in his body.
When he was learning from Chén Fā-Kē, Feng was one of the few students with the will and courage to train with the teacher. Others were intimidated by the fact that Chen could so easily send the flying into a wall, into the air, or against the ground, but Feng persisted, and he reaped the benefit from that experience. Feng became Chen Fa-Ke’s favourite student, and after a while, began taking on any challengers on behalf of his teacher.
We can all be grateful for Feng’s courage, his willpower and to his willingness to share his knowledge. It is largely thanks to him that we have so many great teachers alive today who are able to carry on the highest tradition of Chen style tai chi.
Feng was an executive member of the “China Martial Arts Association”, and of the “Beijing Municipal Martial Arts Association.” He was president of the “Beijing Chen Style Taijiquan Research Association,” and also President of the “Zhiqiang Martial Arts Academy.”
Feng created the Chen Shi Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan school. (Chen Style Primordial Chaos Tai chi School.)
“Hunyuan” refers to the original state of the universe as the void separated into yin and yang. This concept is reflected in the circular and spiral movements which essential to the practice.
“Xinyi” refers to the harmonization of the emotional mind (Xin) and the intentional mind (Yi)
When Feng was working as a labourer in Beijing during the 1960’s, a half-tonne electric motor fell from an overhead hoist. Feng said later that he didn’t take time to think about what was happening. He described feeling an explosion, in his dantian (the core energy centre in the lower abdomen), which rushed up his spine. Amid the screaming of his co-workers he appeared under the motor, caught it with his hands and directed it gently to the ground. Both he and the huge motor (which required 8 men to lift) were undamaged.
This event led to some unwanted fame for Feng. Young men came to challenge him, doubting that the story could be true, but Feng refused all challenges from young hot heads who tried to bully him into a fight. Those who were skilled or persistent enough to deserve a response, were quickly defeated without being harmed. In this way he showed both his skill and his character.
There are many great stories about Feng Zhiqiang. However, the greatest testament to him is the legacy he leaves with us. Generations of tai chi and qigong students owe him a great debt.
Feng Zhiqiang’s funeral will be held on May 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
East Hall of Ba Bao Shan Funeral Home
– Ian Sinclair