Finding the work ethic of Chen Fake (part 1)

A young Chen FakeChen Fake is considered by many as the greatest Taijiquan master of the century.  Born as “Fusheng” in the village of Chenjiaguo, in Henan Province, China, Master Chen grew up to become an extraordinary martial artist and teacher through persistant practice, respect for his family background (ancestors all masterful in Taijiquan), and love of the artform. 

From reading about Chen Fake, through the words of his disciple, the late Hong Junsheng (and my teacher Chen “Joseph” Zhonghua), I’ve developed a deep admiration for the man and for his accomplishments as an artist and teacher.  If one was to sum up in the man in terms of his gift of Taijiquan, these two characteristics must be mentioned,

Firstly, it was with the dent of hardwork and preserverence that harvested this amazing gongfu skill.  Secondly, Master Chen never withheld anything from his teaching.  His students asked and they were given an answer.  In most cases, a detailed understanding.  Withholding anything is strictly for the ego.

Lesson 1: Work, Work, Work

Part  1 is dedicated to that which is most important.  To accomplish anything in life, we must put forth effort…never an aimless attempt… but a steady, direct and focused study of that which we feel we must accomplish.  The word “work” being just another of those four-letter words that, for many, initiate a conditioned response of dread… is just the first problem of many.  Our first direction should be to make work into something else.  For me, when I’m teaching, studying, or training in Taijiquan or fencing…I’m “play”ing.  So, in essence, hardwork might best be called hardplaying.  The only criteria one must follow (after this change in vernacular) should a change in “how we play.” Whether we are playing the piano, ice skating, or doing a martial art form we should look to our actions a heavenly experience and never anything reminiscent of a chore.  Embrace your bliss with your entire being and you’ll be surprised at the growth and jubilance (I may have just made that word up, but from “jubilant”) that follows.

Those with anything to add or comment on…  please please please.    Stay tuned for part 2!


~ by chencenter on January 14, 2008.

4 Responses to “Finding the work ethic of Chen Fake (part 1)”

  1. Well said. I think another aspect of training, playing, working anything you do that can open that “door to bliss ” is mindfulness. Staying present and in the moment generally leads to a much deeper awareness of and appreciation of the moment. The teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn do a great job of encouraging and also expressing that joy.

  2. I think one very important aspect of Chen Fa Ke’s work ethic is that it was an ETHIC. his primary focus was training for the sake of nurturing the strong and good character of the person. this was demonstrated in a story told to me by master Chen Zhonghua (i was at daqingshan for 3 months last summer) (although i may have read this story in master Feng Zhiqiang’s book) in which master Chen Fa Ke had recently arrived in Beijing, and was to face a wrestling master in a competition. when they went out on the floor, Chen Fa Ke put his arms up and told the wrestler to take both of his wrists. upon doing so the wrestler immediately knew that it would be impossible for him to move at all, let alone take down Chen Fa Ke. The two ended the match before it really began, and the crowd had no idea what had happened. In that day and age, Chen Fa Ke could have easily ruined his peer’s reputation by taking him down, but instead he merely demonstrated his skill, almost like he would to a student. a few days later, the wrestling master came and thanked him for sparing his school, complimenting him on his good character. it was through acts such as these that Chen Fa Ke gained the reputation of being of high moral character, always devoted to the good. this is what i think is the benefit of martial arts. although my practice is not as strong and regular as i would like, i can feel that the stronger it gets, the better i become, the more skilled not only at gongfu, but at living as well.

    another aspect of this is that the more you practice, the more you have to transform your physical-mental-spirit based relationships to everything. many modern people’s lives (including my own) are wrought full of various kinds of vice, addiction, and subconscious trickery and malice that so few are aware of. as one brings their body into balance through taijiquan and qigong practice, these imbalances will need to be worked out. this may take some time, and a thorough survey of our self-imposed methods of deception, imprisonment and suffering. the mind and body are the medium, and clarity, honesty, strength, flexibility, understanding, care, compassion, humbleness, and reverence for your teachers (who are really everybody) is the outcome of the art, if practiced with the correct work ethic.

    good work michael, and thanks for contacting me… (i am the guy that manages the Chen Fa Ke myspace profile) lets be in touch.


  3. Nate- Thank you for comment. I know your myspace page well…and it’s good to have an authority on Chen Fake comment on my blog. It’s an honor. I’ll be writing PART TWO very soon and I hope you will be so kind as to share your knowledge and insight again.

  4. Michael,
    Awesome Post, and following comments. If I may add my two cents: the thing about ethics is they are consistently changing. I forget where I read it, most likely in Hong’s book, but ethics must be suited to the situation.
    In the case that Nate posted above, about Chen Fa Ke and the Wrestler, a decision was made on how to morally deal with the wrestler’s reputation; however, in another situation, like when Master Chen Fa Ke kicked away the rabid dog, or fighting for his life, I would assume that these situations were considered differently.
    I guess this is why we practice as though fighting an opponent, and fight opponents like we are practicing. The situations are different, but the underlying idea is to walk away the winner. Anyways, a very thought provoking article. Thanks, Jordan

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