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Interview with Mr. Feng Zhiqiang, Chen Style Taijiquan expert from Beijing

Brief Biography of Mr. Feng Zhiqiang

based on the article "Opening the river of Hunyuan, establishing the manners in martial arts" written by Pan Houcheng and published in "Hunyuan Taiji" magazine, 1/1999.

Mr.Feng Zhiqiang was born in 1928. His family was from Shulu County, Hebei Province. His great-grandfather was famous martial artist who passed military examinations and became Wuju (successful candidate in the imperial examinations on provincial level) during Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Although Feng's father did not practice martial arts, one of family relatives, Wang Yunkai, was proficient in Shaolin boxing and when Feng became 8 years old, Wang started to teach him Tong Zi Gong (stretching exercises), Standing Post methods, Boddhidharma's Yijinjing (Classic of Changing the Tendons, set of isometric exercises). Feng not only learnt very fast, but inherited his great-grandfather's strength,and at the age of 12 was able to carry 200kg heavy stone around the courtyard (this is traditionally called "Strength Kills Four Gates" - Li Sha Si Men).

He liked to fight and many times taught bad youngsters in the neighbourhood a lesson. Because Feng, with his big eyes, looked like a tiger, he was often called "Tiger with Big Eyes" (Da Yan Hu).
At the age of 12 Feng was sent to relatives in Beiping (today's Beijing) to learn repairing electric appliances. One of his neighbours there was a Tongbei expert (also skillful in point striking and "Light Skill" - Qinggong) from famous Cangzhou County in Hebei Province, Han Xiaofeng. Feng studied under Han's guidance for four years, not only learning Tongbeiquan, but also Red Sand Palm skill (hands hardening method), kicking wooden posts and striking sand bags. Feng was able to break five bricks with one hand strike.

At the end of 40s there were two martial artists very famous in Beijing - Xinyiquan (Xingyiquan) master Hu Yaozhen from Shanxi Province, called "One Finger Shakes Heaven and Earth" (Dan Zhi Zhen Qiankun), expert not only in martial arts, but also traditional Chinese medicine and Taoist meditation methods; the second was Chen Fake, 17th generation inheritor of Chen style Taijiquan. At the age of 20 Feng Zhiqiang through introduction of one of his gongfu brothers (who was from the same town as Hu Yaozhen) met Hu Yaozhen. Hu criticized Feng's practice methods saying they were "ruining his body". To make Feng understand better what he was talking about, Hu asked Feng to hit him. In spite of using whole strength Feng was easily defeated by Hu who only used one finger against him. As the result Feng knelt in front of Hu Yaozhen and started his Neijia boxing studies. Feng studied Liuhe Xinyi Quan under Hu's guidance for two years first learning Qi gathering methods, nourishing Qi, practising Intention and Qi, Santi standing, Dantian Methods, Wuxingquan (Five Elements Fists), Twelve Shapes, 24 Hands.

(1879-1973) native of Yuci in Shanxi Province; famous martial artist, expert in Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Graduated from Shanxi Chuanzhi Medical School; learnt from many masters of martial arts (internal styles of Taiji, Bagua and Xingyi), Buddhist and Taoist meditation, TCM; received secret transmission of Buddhist and Taoist meditation, and on the basis of his experience in medicine and internal martial arts methods created "Hu Yaozhen's Still and Moving Qigong"; in 1942 in Taiyuan set up Martial Arts Academy of Shanxi Province and became its president. Wrote several books: "Qigong and Health Preserving", "Qigong", "Hua Tuo's Five Animals Play", etc. According to Mr.Feng Zhiqiang, Hu Yaozhen studied Xingyiquan from Wang Fuyuan (Liu Qilan's disciple) and his disciple Peng Tingjuan, which classifies Hu's style as Hebei Xingyiquan.
Hu Yaozhen (1879-1973)

It is important to note that the practitioners in the lineage of Wang Fuyuan, who live in Yuci in Shanxi, call their art Xinyiquan (Mind and Intention Boxing), although in other areas it is generally known as Xingyiquan (Form and Intention Boxing) and should not be confused with original Xinyi styles of Dai Family or Henan Moslem branch. (JS)

After two years of diligent studies under Hu Yaozhen's guidance, Feng Zhiqiang's internal skills reached high level - not only his Large Heavenly Circle and Three Dantians were opened, but also there was a small ball of Qi that could circulate freely along his body at his will, Five Bows were developed so that his body was full of elastic power. Hu Yaozhen realised that his disciple had not only inborn talent for martial arts, but was also a person who could in the future synthesize and bring to highest development arts he learnt and establish his own style. Hu decided that Feng should also study other martial arts and not be limited to only one style. For this reason he introduced Feng to his good friend, Chen style Taijiquan expert, Chen Fake. Hu suggested that Feng learnt from Chen while at the same time continuing his studies of Xinyi Internal Methods. Since that moment Feng was practising even harder than before, getting up at 4 in the morning and practising until 11 for seven hours. He was exercising both Xinyi and Taiji, Internal and External Methods, standing and moving techniques, single techniques and routines as well as pushing hands. During eight years from 1950 till 1957, Chen Fake corrected Feng's routine eight times, so that Feng was able to understand its inner meanings and true practice methods.



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