An interview with Wang Yen-nien
By Thomas W. Campbell
This is an excerpt from the talk I had with Master Wang in Madison, Wisconsin in 2002. It refers to his relationship to Master Cheng Man Ching, probably the most famous taiji teacher who came to teach in the United States. Wang Yen-nien knew Cheng Man-Ching when they both were in Taiwan in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. There are many students who are descendants of Cheng Man Ching’s teaching in the United States but the relationship of the two masters is little known.
TWC – We encounter students and teachers of Cheng Man Ching’s lineage who know little or nothing of your relationship with Cheng Man Ching. Would you please discuss this relationship?
WYN – I call Cheng Man Ching my older martial art brother. Why is that? That’s because he was a vowed student of Zhang Qinlin, who was also my teacher. What he studied with Zhang Qinlin was tuishou and neigong. And so because of this relationship with Zhang Qinlin we became martial art brothers. He was older than me so I call him my older martial art brother. At that time, in China, at the time he became a vowed student of Zhang Qinlin, my teacher, Cheng Man Ching was already a practicing a Yang style, not Yangjia Michuan, but another style. So because he only knew taijiquan at that time and not tuishou, he found Zhang Qinlin and wanted to practice tuishou.
In the beginning Cheng Man Ching invited Zhang Qinlin, who had been living in Shanzi province, to Nanjing. He arranged for him to teach for three months. Then, in Nanjing, with Zhang Qinlin, Cheng practiced and studied tuishou for three months; the most important things that he asked Zhang Qinlin to teach him were tuishou and neigong.
In those days, whether you were a martial artist, or whether you were a Daoist, the relationship between the teacher and the student was a very very important one. When I became a vowed student of Zhang Qinlin, my relationship with Cheng Man Ching was established. And you can never erase this relationship. Because he bowed and became a vowed student of Zhang Qinling and this created a relationship between the two of us. The difference, though, is that not only did I practice tuishou and neigong but I also learned Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan. And Zhang Qinlin taught me the complete system, and not CMC.
This is to state once again that my relationship with Cheng Man Ching is due to the fact that we are both vowed disciples of Zhang Qinlin.
Published in AYMTA Journal, Fall 2002.