As many of you know, I had the great privilege of studying directly with Prof. Cheng Man-Ch’ing from 1970 until his passing in 1975. Upon entering his school in February of 1970, I had no idea just how strong an influence he would have on my life.
I think that Professor Cheng was a genius and possessed a very strongly analytical mind. There’s no doubt that his intelligence and wisdom played a great role in how influential he was, but he was also a very friendly, fatherly person, as well as a man of integrity and strong ethics.
Professor Cheng was a Renaissance man, full of many abilities. In China, he was called “Master of the Five Excellences.” The traditional 5 excellences are Painting, Poetry, Calligraphy, Medicine and T’ai Chi. I believe he was also a master of Philosophy. At his school, the Shr Jung, in New York City, he held lectures on Confucius and Lao Tzu. His breadth and depth of knowledge were truly amazing. I think it is fair to say that he mastered whatever he touched upon.
He understood a lot more than the typical person. He created his Yang Short Form from the Yang Long Form, which can be practiced every day for great benefit in as little as 7 minutes. And then he set out to teach Tai Chi to the world for its healthful benefits (which is how I came across him in NYC). I think that he was a very good and patient teacher to be able to share the things he mastered, and this he very much wanted to do. In Taiwan, he founded colleges and was considered a living national treasure. He wrote many books, including those we study on Tai Chi.
In sum, I believe Professor Cheng’s influence – his legacy that continues to live on – is due to the fact that he had an analytical mind coupled with an open heart, coupled with seemingly boundless energy he directed towards sharing with the world.
In T’ai Chi,