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.