練習鄭子太極拳的意義不僅在養生與健身，它同時也是講求「心性」的學問。鄭子太極拳的運動法則讓我們從虛實轉化中洞悉人生的起復; 從神求內斂中找到了穩重和包容; 從日積有功中學到了恆心和毅力; 從學吃虧中領悟專氣致柔的道理。
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鄭曼青大師有「五絕老人」的稱譽，五絕指的是詩、書、畫、中醫和太極拳5種絕藝。鄭曼青大師首開風氣之先，打破傳統教拳要留一手的陋習，坦蕩的將其得自楊澄甫的口訣和自己數十年的心得完全公開，這在1940年代的武術界是一項創舉；諸多楊家秘傳妙訣，正如楊澄甫所說：「余如不言，汝雖學三世，不易得也」。鄭曼青大師揭示了楊氏家族世系的秘傳，並在其博學而實用的許多著作中，將我們引入了太極拳的真正核心。1947年出版的《鄭子太極拳十三篇》一書就闡述了： (1) 十三篇關於他對太極拳的獨特見識， (2) 楊澄甫老師的口頭秘傳， (3) 對經典著作的評論和問答，和 (4) 推手、散手、大履的描述及其力學原理。
Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan is the most popular style and widely practiced in the world. It was developed by Yang Lu-chan who studied under Chen Chang-hsing of the Chen family in 1820 during the Qing Dynasty. Yang Lu-chan’s grandson, Yang Cheng-fu, was largely credited for formalizing and systematizing the Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan as practiced today. Essentially, all the Yang-style movements are soft and relaxed. This is not the case for the Chen-style, which encompasses a mixture of hard and soft movements that are often sudden and explosive.
The Cheng Man-Ching style Tai Chi Chuan (CMC-style Tai Chi Chuan), also known as the 37-Posture Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan, is a traditional Yang-style form but simplified by Mr. Cheng Man-Ching. Because he had been a college professor in Beijing and Shanghai, his students called him “Professor Cheng." In 1930 while teaching at the age of 27, Professor Cheng Man-Ching met the well-known master Yang Cheng-fu in Shanghai, with whom he began to study Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan for six years until Yang died in 1936. Master Yang shared many Tai Chi Chuan secrets with Professor Cheng that others students had never heard of. In 1938, as a consultant to the Hunan Provincial Government and the director of martial arts of Hunan province, Professor Cheng developed a significantly abbreviated 37-posture version of Yang’s traditional form. This abbreviated form was easier to teach, learn, and practice. The changes also allowed Professor Cheng to train larger numbers of students from 75 Hunan counties (40 bimonthly) in less time and thus served the purpose of promoting Tai Chi Chuan for health to the general public during the Sino-Japanese war. The heads of martial arts in each county came to study the simplified Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan in 37 Postures with Professor Cheng, and went back to teach the general public in their respective counties. It should be noted that the simplified 37-Posture Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan was endorsed by Professor Cheng’s elder classmate Chen Wei-ming via his imprimatur for the book “Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on Tai Chi Chuan” in 1947, and was inscribed as “Cheng-Tzu Tai Chi Chuan” by renowned luminaries Wu Zhi-hui and Yu You-ren.
Professor Cheng Man-Ching, often referred to as the “Master of Five Excellences", produced a large number of works in Tai Chi Chuan, Chinese medicine, calligraphy, painting, and poetry. Traditionally, Chinese martial arts were shrouded in secrecy and almost never made available to the general public. Professor Cheng was the first person who broke the tradition by unselfishly disclosing the Tai Chi Chuan secrets he learned from his teacher Yang Cheng-fu plus the knowledge he comprehended himself over the decades. The act of his revealing was revolutionary in the martial arts world in the 1940s. Many of the Tai Chi Chuan secrets were inherited in confidential scripts within the Yang family. As indicated by Master Yang Cheng-fu to Professor Cheng: “If I don’t tell you any of these secrets, you people practice very hard over three generations may still be in vain”. Professor Cheng revealed the secrets of the Yang family lineage and took us to the heart of Tai Chi Chuan in many of his erudite yet practical books. The earliest book entitled “Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on Tai Chi Chuan" was published in 1947. The highpoints of this book include: (1) thirteen essays on his insights into Tai Chi Chuan; (2) oral secrets from his teacher, Yang Cheng-fu; (3) questions and answers giving his commentary to the Classics; and (4) descriptions and mechanics of push-hands, San Shou, and Ta Lu.
The significance of practicing CMC-style Tai Chi Chuan is not only for health and wellness, but also for awareness of “heart and mind". The principles for excellence in practicing CMC-style Tai Chi Chuan enable us to realize the up-and-down changes of life through understanding the transformation between substantial and non-substantial. It helps us develop calmness and stability by practicing it in a slow and deliberative manner. Through perseverance and diligent practices, we will enjoy continuous enhancement of our physical health and internal strength. From the grace of yielding, we will learn how to attain suppleness for self-defense.
The ultimate purpose of following a regimen for health by practicing the CMC-style Tai Chi Chuan is to seek the integration of Yi (mind), Chi (breath or intrinsic energy), and Form (body or physical shape) into one entity. Thus, it can nourish and enrich the soul, blood, internal organs, muscles, and bones to reach relative balance between Yin and Yang. Also, it can provide healing for illness and strengthening against illness. As stated in the book of “Yellow Emperor’s Classics of Internal Medicine – Basic Questions”, we should “uphold [the patterns of] heaven and earth, grasp [the regularity of] Yin and Yang, exhale and inhale [the essence of] Chi, stand for ourselves and guard our spirit, and thus our muscles and flesh are like one. Hence, we are able to achieve longevity in correspondence with heaven and earth. There is no point in time when [our life could have] come to an end, as such it is the way of our life.” Accordingly, Professor Cheng Man-Ching indicated that his more than 40 years of experience in Tai Chi Chuan practicing can be summarized in twelve Chinese words as “swallow the Chi of the heaven, borrow the power from the ground, and extend the lifespan through softness". He also encouraged us by saying: “If you consistently practice Tai Chi Chuan, you’ll definitely benefit more than engagements in other sports. Tai Chi Chuan will surely help cure diseases and increase life expectancy.”