Yang Cheng Fu's Sword Demonstration
By Mr. Yao Mung-Goo, Taipei, Taiwan
Published in Taiwan Tai Chi Chuan Journal, No. 80, April 1992, p.3.
(Article is from a lecture at celebration of Professor's 90th Memorial Ceremony.)
Translated by David Chen, 2000
Proofread by Lauretta Jenkins.

The Story Told by Professor-----

In 1931 Yang Cheng Fu was invited by Central Wu Shu Academy in Nanking to attend a Wu Shu convention. Among many special guests Master Lee Jing Lin, a wonderful Wu Shu specialist, particularly in the sword, was included. Master Lee had earned a reputation for being the "God of Sword." The host of the convention, Mr. Chang, was a good friend of Master Lee and invited Mr. Lee onto the stage to perform his famous sword form.

Master Lee stepped to the stage and began his form, using his arm to inscribe a "sword flower" (sword shield) while at the same time turning his body through 360 degrees, he moved so fast that his body and the sword were a blur. The whole audience made a standing ovation several times, because no one had ever seen both the artist and his sword disappear into what looked like a tornado.

At the end of Master Lee's demonstration, he asked the audience if there were any one who would volunteer to play with him. The audience was silent. After a few minutes two martial artists from Hunan approached the stage with their swords. The Hunan area is historically famous for its sword players. The first player's sword was within a few seconds sailing far across the auditorium. The second swordsman played with Master Lee for three of four minutes, but with the same result. At this time the whole audience was in thunderous applause because this was real kung fu and not just speedy play. The people really believed that this was how Master Lee had earned his title as "God of Sword."

The host, Mr. Chang, started asking for more volunteers, but no one would come up to test anymore. Knowing that Yang Cheng Fu was in the audience, Mr. Chang went to him and politely asked, "Master Yang, I have heard that your tai chi sword is so wonderful; can we have the honor of you in a demonstration with Master Lee?" Yang Cheng Fu reacted with panic, saying "I'm sorry; I'm not good. Don't ask me." People surrounding the group understood that Yang Cheng Fu was being modest and humble, because everyone knew that he was the most reputable master in the tai chi field. So they started applauding and urging him on. Once again Yang Cheng Fu declined, saying the Master Lee's sword was number one in China and he respected that very much. Mr. Chang would not let him go and insisted that Master Yang Cheng Fu go on the stage. The atmosphere was getting unpleasant. Professor Cheng Man Ching, sitting next to Yang Cheng Fu, was worried because Master Lee was indeed one of China's very best sword players. Cheng Man Ching was concerned that if Yang lost his sword like the other two it would be a great humiliation for Yang's family. So he believed that it was correct for Yang to be modest. But the more modest Yang was the more applause and urging came from the audience, not just from the tai chi groups, but also from shao lin and xing-I practitioners. At this point Yang Cheng Fu had no room to escape. He slowly stood up, borrowed a sword from Mr. Chang, the host, and reluctantly approached the stage.

Mr. Yang Cheng Fu faced Master Lee on the stage, and saluted with his sword to show his respect. Master Lee immediately started his sword-fan defense shield, which was his invitation to Yang to approach with his sword. Master Yang Cheng Fu did not, like the previous two artists, rush in with his sword. He held his sword in his hand and looking intently at the defense shield of Lee's sword, expressed, "Hmmm." At a certain time, Yang just sent the sword in. There was a sound, "clang," and Master Lee's sword was flying 30 meters away. The whole audience sat in stunned silence, but soon thunderous applause erupted mixed with sounds of awe. Everyone was surprised at how easily Yang Cheng Fu made Master Lee's sword fly.

Professor Cheng Man Ching was stunned as well and kept asking his teacher how he did it, but Yang did not answer him until they were on the way home, when Yang started explaining: "Let me just tell you one phrase, that is do not separate your mind from the sword therefore your spirit can be focused. What do you focus on? When you swing the sword, you need to use your wrist. When you turn the wrist, there must be a gap. Therefore, I focused on the gap and sent my sword into it. Since his sword was still turning, but my sword was still, he deflected his own sword by his own force."

Master Yao said that Professor learned from Yang Cheng Fu and memorized in his own heart the phrase: do not separate your mind from the sword therefore your spirit can be focused. Professor always emphasized that the sword player must connect the focusing to the sword, because when you see the gap and send in the sword, the gap is already gone. No, you must have the sword already there when you see the gap.