Monday, October 2, 2023

Ed Young, Children's Book Artist and T'ai Chi Teacher Passes Away

Ed Young en Tam Gibbs | Tai Chi Online
Ed Young (left) and Tam Gibbs

 Ed Young, one of Great River T'ai Chi's mentors and frequent workshop teacher, has passed away at the age of 91. Ed was a senior student in Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing's Shr Jung school in New York City, and served as Professor's translator and instructor for over ten years. 

Ed's main career was as a children's picture book artist and author, for which he received great recognition, winning the Caldecott Award and many other honors. He illustrated over 100 books, many of which he also wrote. Many of the books touch on human nature and virtues, environmentalism, and Chinese culture.

Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China, 1989
Caldecott Award-winning Lon Po Po

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Review: The Yijing: A Guide

Cover for 

The Yijing: A Guide

The Yijing: A Guide
Joseph Adler
Oxford University Press, 2021
paper, 206 pp.

A certain talent is required to render complex ideas understandable for novices. Joseph Adler, who has written extensively about the Yijing, has accomplished this in a masterful guide to the Chinese Book of Changes. The Yijing: A Guide is an excellent introduction for anyone interested in the worlds of Chinese philosophy, history, and literature. It clearly and succinctly summarizes China’s vast intellectual traditions in a very understandable manner.

In seven chapters, Adler describes the Yijing and its layers. He places the book in the context of divination from around the world, and then turns to the specifics of China’s historical and cultural context, covering early, early modern, and modern China, and Western uses of the Yijing, ending with a chapter that asks “Why the Yijing?”

Adler explains specialized Yijing terminology while keeping jargon to a minimum. He succinctly describes the parts of the Yijing, from its hexagram components to the Ten Wings. In his coverage of the Great Treatise, for example, he shows the development of important philosophical ideas and terms. Adler surveys the Yijing’s major schools (Image and Number, Meaning and Principle) and thinkers such as Shao Yong and Cheng Yi. Chapters include:

1. What is the Yijing?
2. Layers of Change
3. Yijing Divination
4. The Early History of Yijing Interpretation
5. Early Modern Views of the Yi
6. The Yijing in Modern China and the West
7. Why the Yijing?

Adler’s prior works include studies and translations of the great Song dynasty philosopher Zhu Xi (1130–1200), including his philosophy and his Yijing commentaries. Zhu was a pivotal figure in the Song era’s revamping of classical education.

The Yijing: A Guide is part of an affordable series that Oxford University Press produces of “Guides to Sacred Texts.” Another book in the series of interest of particular interest to Yijing readers is Livia Kohn’s The Daode Jing.

This book overlaps some in content with Richard Smith’s I Ching: A Biography and with Tze-ki Hon and Geoffrey Redmond’s Teaching the I Ching, however, Adler’s work is squarely aimed at those who are not necessarily familiar with the complexities of the Yijing or with Chinese culture. This makes it an invaluable book for college classes related to Chinese studies, as well as comparative religion, anthropology, philosophy, and literature. Students of allied arts such as Chinese medicine and martial arts will appreciate Adler’s treating theory and practice as being equally important; the Yijingis not just an academic pursuit.


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Yang Family Founder Yang Luchan


Image result for yang luchan picture

Yang Luchan, Taijiquan Patriarch

 ‘The Many Lives of Yang Luchan: Mythopoesis, Media, and the Martial Imagination.’

In Martial Arts Studies

By Douglas Wile, 2022

The life of Yang Luchan, patriarch of the Yang lineage and founder
of taijiquan’s most popular style, is a biographical blank slate upon
which conservative, progressive, orientalist, and just plain rice bowl
interests have inscribed wildly divergent narratives. Conservative
scholar-disciples sought to link him with the invented Wudang-Daoist
lineage, while progressives emphasized his humble origins and health
benefits of the practice. His life (c.1799-1872) straddled the height of
the Manchu empire and decline into semi-colonial spheres of foreign
influence, while successive generations of Yang descendants propagated
his ‘intangible cultural heritage’ through Republican, Communist,
‘open’, and global eras. Practiced world-wide by hundreds of millions,
taijiquan’s name recognition made it ripe for media appropriation, and
Yang Luchan has been remythologized in countless novels, cartoons,
television series, and full-length feature films. The case of Yang Luchan
offers an unusual opportunity to witness an ongoing process of mytho-
poesis and to compare these narratives with traditional Chinese warrior
heroes and Western models of mythology and heroology. If the lack of
facts has not constrained the proliferation of invented biographies, nei-
ther should it discourage the quest for historical context as we sift and
winnow truth from trope in the many reconstructions of Yang’s life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022