Our beloved Grandmaster, Chen Yun Ching has passed on at the age of 84. Chen Yun Ching was a Taiwanese master of Tai Chi, Xing Yi Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, Shaolin, and Weapons. Chen Yun Ching was the seventh son of Chen Pan Ling. Chen Pan Ling was quite famous in Taiwan and earlier in Republican China as a martial artist. Chen Pan Ling was one of those rare experts who had both real skill and the leadership ability and charisma to work with many other people to promote these rare arts. He was considered by one of America’s foremost researchers into Classical Chinese martial arts, Robert Smith, to be the most knowledgeable teacher in Taiwan in regard to the theory and methods of these particular arts.
Chen Pan Ling studied at the Shaolin temple as a youth inheriting authentic methods from the Shaolin temple before it was destroyed in the 1920’s. At the end of the Republican period in China. Chen Pan Ling was active in the Central Guoshu institute. The Central Guoshu institute was a government support school designed to preserve, update, demystify, and widely teach the classical martial arts that they called “National arts” or ”Guoshu” to strengthen the nation of China. Chinese were considered to be the weak men of Asian and there was a real desire to strengthen the health of normal citizens by sharing the once secret martial arts widely.
To this end Chen Pan Ling assisted by using his organizational skills to lead committees of experts who created new forms incorporating all the best techniques they collectively knew together so no valuable techniques were lost. The idea was to create complete forms with full sets of techniques that were also fun and beautiful. To support creating these forms Chen Yun Ching told me they also created books and wall charts. Unfortunately, all of these materials were lost.
Luckily for us, Chen Yun Ching learned these wonderful routines from his father, who must have loved them, and still remembered many of them for us to learn. Learning these weapons forms was my primary interest in studying with Chen Yun Ching. I have seen and learned many, many weapons forms. These were absolutely wonderful. What I love about Chen Yun Ching’s weapons forms is their wide variety of techniques, correct traditional aesthetics and diverse authentic tactics. I am deeply grateful to Chen Yun Ching for his efforts to preserve and promote these arts and to teach them generously and openly.
Chen Yun Ching had many students in the United States and in Australia. His martial family is headed by James Sumarac and Xiao Yi Chen. Xiao Yi Chen is Chen Yun Ching’s niece and she is the official inheritor and family heir of Chen Family martial arts. Her specialty is Tai Chi and Tai Chi Sword and she teaches in Japan where she lives. Xiao Yi Chen has worked tirelessly to promote and teach her uncles amazing arts including some large international events. James Sumarac is Chen’s adopted brother in martial arts and is from Australia. Sumarac and his Taiwanese wife Shumei have traveled extensively with Chen Yun Ching helping him promote and teach his fathers arts. Locally, in California, Hal Mosher has worked hard to promote great teaching visits from Chen Yun Ching. We are all deeply grateful for their efforts.
My wife Rachel and I visit Chen Yun Ching when we return to Taiwan to visit our family there. On my first visit to train with him in Taiwan. He taught me the amazing Sun Moon Tiger Hook Swords. This is a complex and difficult form. Fortunately for me I had already learned a variety of paired blades and also hook swords previously. After I learned this form in 3 hours Chen Yun Ching made me perform it twice in row. He had me stand in the opposite corner for the second performance. After I performed both times without error he jumped up and said: “Tai Hao Le” or “That’s Great!” and ran back up to his home. He came back very excitedly and said he was claiming me as his disciple and gave me a medallion and picture of his father from his own wall. It was amazing. He did not give me a choice and just said “you are my disciple now”. Becoming a disciple is a big deal, often with a fancy ceremony. We were both very happy. That evening food poisoning struck me down for three days even including a trip to the hospital! It also ended my opportunity to study with him on that visit. I am so grateful I have developed the skills to learn and memorize these routines, so I did not waste that brief moment. To be a disciple is a big responsibility (and work) I did not request or volunteer for. But how can you say “no” to such an honor? I have so far fulfilled my responsibility by teaching his arts continuously for decade. I wish we had more of his lineage arts! We will not stop now but continue them into the future so many future people will benefit.
Here is a list of the weapons and forms we have inherited from Chen Yun Ching:
46 Style Tai Chi Sword
Immortal Yang Sword (Chun Yang Sword)
Swimming Dragon Sword
Six Harmonies Saber
Sun Moon Tiger Hooks
42 Style Yang Family Spear
Spring Autumn Green Dragon Kwan Dao (Halberd)
99 Tai Chi (combines all 5 styles of Tai Chi)
Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to learn his staff form.
Certainly, he knew more weapons forms than these. In particular he had more than one staff form. He also taught Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Zhang weapons.
My favorites are the Tai Chi Sword, 42 Style, Yang Family Spear, and Six Harmony Saber.
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