“Eyeglasses Cheng” descendent Cheng Yougong


A reply to the question of "Why He Went to the Northeast?"

Orally told by Cheng Qingxun and Yu Baili

Edited by Deng Jinyuan

This information is from Jinwu Magazine January, 2002 #155

In the October 2001 issue of Jingwu magazine, there was an article titled “Eyeglasses Cheng descendent Cheng Yougong: Why did he go to the Northeast? This has caused quite a stir in the martial community. It is a matter for rejoicing. We went to see Cheng Yougong’s nephew, Mr Cheng Qingxun (Today he is at the advanced age of 88 years old. He was an orderly in Zhang Xueliang’s army.) When we arrived to see him, he became very excited and his eyes filled with tears.  There and then Mr. Yu Baili and Mr. Yu Baixin (students of Master Miao Yuchun) demonstrated Cheng Yougong’s transmission of the Palm Method.  Old Mr. Cheng was happy to say: “Though I have not studied my Uncle’s [father’s younger brother] martial arts, I understand the customs of Cheng Style Baguazhang. It is truly very good that the Cheng Family Fist has descendents and inheritors! My uncle can rest easy in his grave. I hope you will carry it on!”  Old Mr. Cheng’s enthusiasm allowed us to explain our plans to publish more information about Cheng Yougong.

Cheng Yougong, was from Cheng Village, Shen County, Baoding Prefecture, Hebei Province.  His father, Cheng Ting’guang, was the eldest of the Cheng brothers.  His uncle, Cheng Tinghua was the third oldest. In Beijing, men nicknamed him “Surpass the Tyrant King” and “Flies over the Grass Cheng San”. When Cheng Yougong was young, he inherited his uncle’s ardent love of martial arts. He always followed his third uncle studying and practicing Youshen Bagua Lianhuan Zhang and each type of weapon. Not long after Cheng Tinghua died a hero’s death, Cheng Yougong returns to his old village in Baoding. Each day he worked hard at studying his martial skills and teaching martial arts as a business. When his classmate Li Wenbiao sent for him to come to Fengtian, his studies were finished and he had reached a high level of achievement in his martial skills.

Mr. Cheng Qingxun related an story about a time when Cheng Yougong was traveling toward the Yellow River. He carried a white waxwood staff and pushed a handcart going to the Yellow River. Along the way he met some robbers on the road.

About this time there were lots of robbers. They frequently roamed along both banks of the Yellow River. Most people did not dare to travel alone. They traveled in groups for fear of meeting the bandits. But Cheng Gong traveled alone, carrying a white waxwood staff and pushing his handcart. A passerby told him, “There are bandits along the Yellow River. You shouldn’t travel alone.” Cheng Gong just waved and laughed in gratitude, and again proceeded on alone. One day he arrived at the banks of the Yellow River. He saw a ferry that would take him across the river. Besides the helmsman, the boat held 5 or 6 others who were crossing the river. Cheng Gong pushed his wheelbarrow up to the boat and got on. When the boat was moving toward the middle of the river, the helmsman grabbed his throat and cried out. The rivermen climbed over his body and brought out their knives. They closed in around Cheng Gong, and demanded his money. Cheng Gong stayed calm and collected. He said, “I only have what is in my handcart.” The bandits did not believe him. They searched him, but they did not find a single cent. The bandits then decided to take his handcart. When the boat arrived at the river bank one bandit pushed the handcart up the bank. Cheng Gong leaped from the stern of the boat to the bank and struck the bandit pushing the handcart. The bandit only uttered “ow” and fell to the ground. Cheng Gong grabbed his white waxwood staff. In a twinkling of an eye, the bandits grabbed their knives and surrounded him. Cheng Gong then brandished his white waxwood staff in the Bagua Staff method: split, sweep, cover, press down, snap, dot, cloud, flick, and rotate. He knocked all the bandits down. The bandit chief saw that things were not going well. He knelt down and kowtowed. Then all the bandits knelt down. They begged for their lives to be spared. Cheng Gong rebuked them, “Hereafter, you all are forbidden to do evil deeds. If I see you again I will not spare your lives. Beat it!” Hearing this, the bandits scurried away like rats.

Throughout his life, Mr. Cheng Yougong was open and above board, neither supercilious nor obsequious. Besides the previous words, Cheng Yougong went looking for work in Loyang. For a time he taught Zhang Xueliang’s army and he also held positions in the armies of Li Jinglin and Wang Yizhe. Zhang Xueliang’s army initiated the ban on opium trade, and called on practicing the martial arts to strengthen the body. Cheng Yougong was made the overall teacher in charge. Later he was employed by the Loyang Guoshu Guan as head teacher. In addition, Wu Junsheng (who was Heilongqiang Province chairman about this time) invited him to teach in his school.

After the ‘September 18th Incident’ [the seizure of Shenyang in 1931 by the Japanese as a step toward their occupation of the entire Northeast.], Cheng Yougong did not return south. But is responding to Huo Diange’s invitation to come to Changchun and teach in Xie Gong’s school. (After he resigned his overseas post, Xie Keshi was in charge of a military unit). According to Cheng Qingxun, when Cheng Yougong was teaching in Xie’s school, he once formerly accepted an inner door student. This man’s surname was Du. His given name was Shaochen. He was from Taiwan. It is said that he returned to Taiwan before the liberation. Later Cheng Yougong also left Xie Gong’s school. According to Mr. Yu Baili, it was about this time that his teacher, Mao Yuchun, asked Cheng Yougong to live in his home.

Cheng Gong put a lot of attention on the self-cultivation of “Virtue” and “Character”. He often said, “In studying the martial arts, one must first study virtue. Cultivation must nurture the character.” Furthermore he frequently spoke of the original principles of Bagua, practicing the skills of the yin and yang qi moving methods of the Turning Palms,  the time schedules for the qi arriving at what place and the blood arriving at what organ according to the meridians and acupuncture points of the human body, and what to concentrate on while walking, turning, and practicing the palms. In regard to the “three empties”, “nine necessities”, “thee joints and four extremities” etc. the basic theories, he frequently revealed the secrets. So you can see that Cheng Gong not only had a high level of martial skill, but martial virtue and the study of martial theory were also emphasized.

Because Cheng Yougong was very fond of Miao Yuchun, he stayed in the Miao home and taught for seven years. He taught Cheng style’s Youshen Bagua Lianhuan Zhang and the school’s weapons. He also taught his own “Jin Gang Eight Hands” (also called “Jin Gang Bagua Lianhuan Zhang”) and Liu Dekuan’s Eight Lines of the Big Halberd to teacher Miao Yuchen. Cheng Gong composed the 64 forms of “Jin Gang Eight Hands” using materials from Shaolin Jin Gang Quan, Youshen Bagua Lianhuan Zhang as well as his several years of fighting experience. It can be practiced as single techniques, done walking on a line, done walking using toe-in and toe-out rotating and turning while practicing the palm methods, or by walking the circle turning and changing forms. The value of the fighting skills to be gleaned from this palm is very high. Throughout his life, Cheng Gong only accepted a few students. However he always wanted his knowledge to be left for latter generations, to make a proper contribution to the expansion and promotion of the Chinese Martial arts.

All his life Cheng Yougong emphasized teaching and study, but he experienced many frustrations. When he was 40 years old, his first wife passed away. When he was 50 years old, he married again in Jinzhou. He had two sons and one daughter. Cheng Gong in his old age lived a life of hard work and poverty. He died in Changchun Dong’an Village in the home of his eldest son (Cheng Qinghai) at around age 70.