I learned from Yao Zongxun

Translated from chinese by Andrzej Kalisz

At begining of 1980s, thanks to Bu Enfu's (famous master of shuai-jiao wrestling, winner of wrestling and boxing trounaments, student of Wang Xiangzhai) introduction, I had luck to learn yiquan from Yao Zongxun. Yao was over 60 y.o. at that time. He wore very simple clothes. He walked keeping his body straight, talked calmly, had looks of an well educated gentleman. His eyes were like two sharp swords. He had great knowlegde, but at the same time he was very open and friendly to everybody. I experienced his gentleness, but also some strictness. And if we talk about his abilities of using body, it would be difficult for anyone to compare with him.

It was at beginning of 1982. I just finished doing zhan zhuang exercise. It happened that Bu Enfu and Ao Shipeng (who also was Wang Xiangzhai's student) were present there. I said: "I just keep doing yiquan's zhan zhuang, maybe I could try some tui shou too?" Yao Zongxun just finished instructing some other students and came to us. Bu Enfu said: "Zongxun, show some tui shou to Fushan, let him get the feeling". Yao agreed. He was over 60, was tall and thin, he didn't look strong. I was in my twenties. I was doing weigth lifting, practiced baguazhang, taijiquan and other kinds of wushu. I won Chaoyang district taiji pushing hands championship. I also got medals at Chaoyang district and Beijing championships in wushu forms. And moreover I learned from Bu Enfu, and I had deleloped some skill in shuai-jiao wrestling. I thought that Yao was a great fighter when he was young, but he wouldn't be so good at his present age. When we touched arms, I got impression that he was quite weak. I thought that if I used all my power, the old man wouldn't be able to oppose me. And I even started to fear that I could harm him, if I used too much power. But before I did anything, Yao, feeling my hesitance, said: "Use your whole power, your all abilities". Bu and Ao added: "Use your whole power, don't hesitate". I pushed Yao suddenly with my whole power, but my hand "landed in emptiness". I immedietely did a series of pushes, but none of them met any resistance, and I couldn't controll my body, feeling like a kite after the string breaks. Then I tried once more. I noticed that there is a tree behind Yao's body. I thought, that when I push suddenly with big power, Yao will not be able to escape, and he will hit the tree. I pushed. Before I was able to notice that Yao dodged to the side, my body was lifted upward and almost hit the tree. In panic I closed my eyes, and espected hitting the tree with my face. But then I felt that some power changed the direction in which my body was moving. I opened my eyes, and noticed that I just flied by the side of the tree, only touching it slightly with my clothes. I was sweating all over and feeling freeze. I could only say: "It was horror". Yao said: "Just calm down, it was nothing". Both Yao's skill and his wude (warrior's morality) impressed me. I said: "That's incredible, I wouldn't expect something like this from a man over 60 years old. Your movements are so free and natural, and so coordinated, just as if you were just dancing. You posses the highest level of neutralizing skill. Now I was able to feel what is real tui shou". Than I said: "When I did competition pushing hands before, when opponent grabbed my neck, it was difficult to do anything". Yao said: "So grab me that way". When I did it, Yao just slapped my arm, and my body lifted, uprooted, and turned half circle before I landed on my feet again". I asked; "Where does your power come from?" Yao answered smiling: "Of course, I'm not as strong as you younger people. I just used my whole body in a coordinated way, and I borrowed your force too". I said: "I don't understand how you borrowed my force". Yao asked: "Did you ever bounce a ball". I replied that I did. Then he asked what were 3 attributes of force. I said: "amount, direction, point of impact'. Yao said: "When you learn a martial art, you must think a lot". I will never forget his words. I really got benefit from them.

Yao Zongxun not only had great skill in martial art, but he also had great knowledge of health aspect of yiquan. When some bump appeared at my belly, and I couln't do any more intense exercises because of pain, I visited many doctors, spent a lot of money, used a lot of medicine, but without result. I told Yao about this. He adviced that his friend doctor should see me. That doctor said, that surgery would be the best way. I told Yao what the doctor said, but I wouldn't got surgery. Yao said then: "If you really won't get surgery, the only way is trying using zhan zhuang". Yao arranged a posture for me, explained demands of exercise, and said: "You shouldn't worry, just eat normally, keep positive attitude. When you practice, don't think about your problem, use positive imaginations, so you feel happy, being in pleasant mood, then blood circulation will improve, metabolism will improve, immunity will be reinforced". According to what Yao said, I practiced zhan zhuang everyday. After zhan zhuang I did shi li. I used those kinds of mind activity which Yao suggested. I practiced everyday, no matter if it rained or if wind was blowing. When I only had time, I was going to the small park close to Nan Li Shi street, were Yao Zongxun used to teach. Sometimes, when I wasn't feeling comfortably during standing, Yao helped me to relax, by massaging slightly my body, when I kept standing. When I was able to relax, I was feeling as if my body was very light and floating in air. I also felt some warmth in my whole body. The longer I practiced, the more i liked it. One day it rained a bit. Not many people practice during such weather. But I went to the park by bus. Yao was already there. But there were not many other people. Yao asked: "Lately, while practicing, what you feel?" I said; "I feel great comfort, the bump became smaller, I don't feel any problem when doing more intense training". Yao said: "Good, you must still be careful with the more intense training, and when you practice, don't think that you practice, but make your practice a fun, but at the same time you must be concentrated, the more pleasant is your practice, the better". And I said: "It's raining, maybe you just shouldn't come during such weather?" Yao replied: "Other may not come, but I must come; if there is not any urgent matter, I will come for sure". I really admired his attitude. After about half a year, the bump disappeared, and it never appeared again. Also stomach aches which I used to have regularly dissapeared completely.

I will always be grateful to master Yao and will always admire his skill and character. When I learned from Yao Zongxun, it was turning point in my life. Learning martial art, I realized what's important in life, I became more open and active. I developed habit of thinking about problem, before making decision. It was very important for my life and my job. I'm more persevering, I don't give up before achieving intended goal. This is all related to my learning from Yao Zongxun. He was one of the greatest wushu masters, but he also had profound knowledge in fields of pedagogics, literature, psychology, medicine and many others. He was not only successor of Wang Xiangzhai, but he developed yiquan further, making a big contribution to the theory of martial art. Thanks to Yao Zongxun yiquan is blooming today. I hope that we all will work together for further development of this martial science.
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