Box 7-14 The Two-Person Routines of the Central Martial Art Academy

Circa 1930

From the Book (Section VII)

Further evidence is found in the two-person practice known as tiao da (tentatively believed to be represented by the Chinese characters 調打, and meaning “blending and striking” or “adjusting and striking”), [i] as well as an unnamed practice thought to be part of the curriculum of the Central Martial Arts Academy in Nanjing during the late 1920s and 30s. [ii] Representing a merger of t'ai-chi ch’üan with pa-kua chang (baguazhang) training methods, it might have developed as a collaboration between Sun Lu-tang and Yang Cheng-fu, * who were renowned instructors at the academy. 

[ii] The curriculum of the Nanjing Central Martial Arts Academy appears to have included the merger of t'ai-chi ch’üan and pa-kua chang (baguazhang). The two-person forms of the academy suggest this, and that the internal martial arts were undergoing a “softening” during the 1930s. Some of the dual-person training routines can be viewed from the link in Box 7-14.

The material was taught to the author and his students in the early 1980s by Ho Shen-ting, who was trained in the martial arts by Cheng Huai-hsien (Zheng Huaixian), student / disciple of Sun Lu-tang). Some of Master Ho's background relates to the discussion. Ho was a retired general of the Chinese (Nationalist) Air Force. By training, Ho was an aircraft maintenance officer. He had an engineer’s mind for detail and memorization, and he graduated at the top of his officer academy class (and, because of this, was presented a gold watch by Chiang Kai-shek during the graduation ceremonies).

This is an important point since it illustrates Ho's attention to detail. For these reasons, the routines are believed to accurately represent the instruction of Cheng HS and the curriculum of the “internal” methods that academy members referred to as the Wu-tang (Wudang) arts.