September 29, 2000: Master Ni, Wu Tang Swordsman

At the commencement of his 60 week session of Wu Tang Sword Master Ni performed a little ceremony where he named all the Wu Tang Sword masters - from the beginning - including one woman. (Gary has the list of names (which he gave to me). Unfortunately it is written in Chinese calligraphy.)

The first master on the list is Chang San Feng, Taoist Immortal from the 12th century, who is The One. He is renowned throughout China as the legendary founder of all the internal martial arts. He studied Buddhist Shaolin martial arts - external style - and turned it internal - Taoist style. According to legend it was he who applied the yin/yang theory of the I Ching to the martial. He developed the 13 basic principles based on the 8 trigrams <Ward off, Push, Press, Roll Back, Elbow, Shoulder, Split, Pull Down> + the 4 bigrams <Forward, Back, Right & Left> + 1 yin/yang symbol <Central Equilibrium>. These 13 principles were eventually incorporated into the soft martial form called Tai Chi.

Although Chang San Feng developed the Wu Tang Sword form, which has been passed down from master to master to present times, the Yang style Tai Chi form was developed in the 20th century. Further while the Tai Chi form probably came from the Chen village the Wu Tang Sword form comes from the Taoists of Wu Tang mountain. While Yang Lu Chan, the first in the Yang lineage, learned the Tai Chi form from the Chen people he was not known as a swordsman. His son, Ban Ho, purportedly learned Tai Chi Sword from the Taoists of Wu Tang mountain as a preparation for Wu Tang Sword. Thus ultimately Master Ni is a Wu Tang swordsman who is teaching Tai Chi and Tai Chi Sword to prepare his students for Wu Tang sword.

I asked him one time: "Are you a Tai Chi master or a sword master?"

Master Ni: "Sword. But nobody knows that here. Must advertize Tai Chi instead."