The fundamental difference between Chinese kung fu/exercise and the rest in the world is the association with qi (info energy in yin-yang dual expressions, which are the invisible and intangible building blocks of all things in each of our universe).
Three types of Chinese Kung Fu
Among Chinese kung fu, there are roughly three kinds of practice according to the proportion between tangible (bodily) and intangible (qi) movements.
Those with robust physical activities are the ones we typically call Chinese kung fu (from schools of Shaolin, Wudang, Emei or other), which usually serve practical purposes of defence, offence or just body empowerment. And they consume the qi.
Those with little to no body moment are static kung fu, which is actually a type of meditation. They nurture the qi thus are the bases of all types of traditional Chinese kung fu.
Those in between with slow and gentle movements, understandably, both empower the body and nurture the qi. Tai Chi and Wild Goose are two of them.
A Mythical Wild Goose
Wild Goose kung fu, as suggested by the name, is an exercise that mimics the movement of wild goose on the land and in the sky, which comprises of dozens different styles.
Ms Yang’s grandfather was the 26th inheritor of the Wild Goose. Like many martial arts lineages in China, all the Wild Goose styles were strictly forbidden to be passed on to non-inheritors, so until in a very late stage of his life, he was still the only one knowing all the styles.
When Yang Meijun was born, China was in an imperial system under Manchus. She was eventually chosen by her grandfather as the 27th Wild Goose inheritor at the age of 13, by then China became a republic and ruled by various warlords.
In the next 60 years, she kept living a quiet life through Japanese occupation, civil war and Cultural Revolution, kept practicing the Wild Goose and became the true master of all its styles, and kept her promise of only passing on the kung fu to the next inheritor whom she should choose at the final stage of her life, like her grandfather.
Wild Goose Goes Public
Yet in 1978, the year Chinese government announced to “open reform”, resuming the “old” and welcoming the “foreign”. Tertiary education entry exam that suspended for 10 years was opened; traditional dramas, some are very good while others are pure trashes, were restaged and screened; Western ideas and practices, both constructive and destructive, were enthusiastically accepted and appreciated.
The spirit of Chinese people was so high at the time and their outlooks were so positive, very much like what happened in the early 1950s. Just by 1950s they were eager to create a new world, and by 1980s they were keen to return to the old way of living.
It was in such a background facing a large number of fellow morning exercisers in a Beijing park who had a great appetite to devour anything that is “old” (from tradition) and “new” (from overseas), Ms Yang decided to break the rules and teach Wild Goose publically. That year she was 75.
In the next 20 years, she personally and through her students coached over 2 million people practicing Wild Goose.
1995, the 66th US president Donald Regan paid a visit to her at her home in Beijing;
1998, World Goose kung fu was officially promoted by National Sports Bureau as a health exercise form;
2002, Ms Yang Meijun passed away at age 99.
Wild Goose Qigong
Performer: Chai Guijiang