Portrait by Qing-dynasty painter Tang Lian, ca. 1800/1820
Liu Yiming (1734–1821) was one of the main representatives of Taoist Internal Alchemy, or Neidan. He was an 11th-generation master of one of the northern branches of the Longmen 龍門 (Dragon Gate) lineage, and the author of a large number of works that illustrate his views on both Taoism and Neidan.
Liu Yiming was born in 1734 in Quwo, Pingyang 平陽 (in present-day Linfen, Shanxi). Before he reached the age of 20, he was severely ill three times (Sun Yongle 2011:302). After recovery, he began to travel, and in 1753 or 1754 he met his first master, whom he calls the Kangu Laoren 龕谷老人 (Old Man of the Kangu Valley). In 1757, he stayed in Beijing, where he studied ophthalmology following his father’s wish. Five years later, he moved to Henan, where he lived until 1765 working as a doctor (Sun Yongle 2011:302).
In 1766 he resumed traveling, and around 1768 he met the Xianliu zhangren 遇仙留丈 (Great Man Who Rests in Immortality), who became his main master. The Xianliu zhangren (himself an earlier disciple of the Kangu laoren) gave Liu Yiming teachings on Neidan. As Liu Yiming reports in one of his works, it was under the Xianliu zhangren that he obtained the full awakening (Liu Yiming 2013:34; Baldrian-Hussein 2008:691).
After the death of his father in 1769, Liu Yiming—who was then in his mid-30s—alternated periods of traveling (in Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, and elsewhere) and of seclusion for a decade. In 1779 or 1780, he visited the Qiyun 棲雲 mountains in Jincheng 金城 (present-day Yuzhong, Gansu) and settled there to practice self-cultivation. From that time, this mountain became his stable residence, even though he occasionally traveled elsewhere. His abode, called Zizai wo 自在窩 (Nest of Being by Oneself), is still extant in the present day (Sun Yongle 2011:304; Baldrian-Hussein 2008:691).
Liu Yiming devoted the second half of his life to teaching and writing. His biographies also report that he used his financial resources to restore temples, shrines, and other buildings; to buy and lease fields to poor farmers; and to provide burial ground to those who could not afford it. In 1816, he prognosticated an auspicious place for his tomb on top of the Qiyun mountains, and his “tomb cave” was built there. In 1821, on the 6th day of the 1st lunar month, Liu Yiming entered the cave, pronounced his final words to his disciples, and died (Sun Yongle 2011:8).
The main collection of Liu Yiming’s works is entitled Daoshu shi’er zhong 道書十二種 (Twelve Books on the Dao; Pregadio 2008:331-33). His best-known works—all found in this collection—consist of commentaries to Neidan texts and of independent works on Neidan, including the following:
Main commentaries to Neidan texts
- Cantong zhizhi 參同直指 (Straightforward Directions on the Unity of the Three), on the Zhouyi cantong qi (The Seal of the Unity of the Three)
- Wuzhen zhizhi 悟真直指 (Straightforward Directions on the Awakening to Reality), on the Wuzhen pian (Awakening to Reality); trans. Cleary 1987
- Yinfu jing zhu 陰符經注 (Commentary to the Scripture of the Hidden Agreement), on the Yinfu jing (Scripture of the Hidden Agreement); trans. Cleary 1991:220-38
- Jindan sibai zi jie 金丹四百字解 (Explication of the Four Hundred Words on the Golden Elixir), on the Jindan sibai zi (Four Hundred Words on the Golden Elixir), with additional poems by Liu Yiming; trans. Cleary 1986a:3-48
Main works on Neidan
- Xiangyan poyi 象言破疑 (Removing Doubts on Symbolic Language); trans. Cleary, 1986a:51-118
- Xiuzhen biannan 修真辨難 (Discriminations on Difficult Points in Cultivating Reality)
- Xiuzhen houbian 修真後辨 (Further Discriminations in Cultivating Reality); trans. in Liu Yiming 2013
- Wudao lu 悟道錄 (Accounts of an Awakening to the Dao); trans. Cleary 1988
- Xiyou yuanzhi 西遊原旨 (The Original Purport of the Journey to the West), containing a Neidan interpretation of the Ming-dynasty novel Journey to the West
In addition, Liu Yiming wrote:
- Several books on the Yijing (Book of Changes); one of them, the Zhouyi chanzhen 周易闡真 (Uncovering the True in the Book of Changes), is translated in Cleary 1986b
- Little-known commentaries to the Daode jing and to Buddhist texts
- Works on ophthalmology, the subject he studied in his youth
Views on Taoism and Internal Alchemy
This summary of Liu Yiming’s views on Taoism and Internal Alchemy is mainly based on the Xiuzhen houbian (Further Discriminations in Cultivating Reality; English trans. in Liu Yiming 2013). The main Chinese works on Liu Yiming are Liu Ning 2001; Liu Zhongyu 2010; and Jia Laisheng 2011.
Although the “unity of the three teachings” (Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism) is not a major theme in his teachings, Liu Yiming does use Buddhist and Neo-Confucian terminology, to different extents according to the individual texts he wrote (Baldrian-Hussein 2008:691). This is a major aspect of Neidan (Internal Alchemy) itself, whose masters frequently draw concepts and terms from different traditions if this serves to express their point.
“Precelestial” and “Postcelestial”
The distinction between the “precelestial” (xiantian 先天) and the “postcelestial” (houtian 後天) domains (before and after the generation of the cosmos, respectively) is essential in Liu Yiming’s discourse on Taoism and Internal Alchemy. The precelestial domain harbors Original Essence (yuanjing 元精), Original Breath (yuanqi 元氣), and Original Spirit (yuanshen 元神), which are all formless. Their operation results in the generation of the postcelestial domain (Liu Yiming 2013:23-25). In the human being, Original Essence manifests itself mainly as semen in males and menstrual blood in females; Original Breath manifests itself mainly as the ordinary breath of inspiration and expiration; and Original Spirit manifests itself mainly as the thinking mind (Liu Yiming 2013:27; see Three Treasures). The precelestial state is Yang, and the postcelestial state is Yin. The shift from one to the other state is seen as inevitable; however, the precelestial state is not erased, but only concealed within the postcelestial (Liu Yiming 2013:50, 124, 141).
Above the precelestial and postcelestial domains, Liu Yiming places the Precelestial Breath of True Unity (xiantian zhenyi zhi qi 先天真一之氣). This state is beyond definition or description: “It cannot be compared to the postcelestial breath of inspiration and expiration, the thinking spirit, and the essence of the intercourse; and it also cannot be equated to the Original Essence, the Original Breath, and the Original Spirit” (Liu Yiming 2013:32). In alchemical terms, according to Liu Yiming, the Precelestial Breath of True Unity is the Golden Elixir (id.). The Elixir, therefore, consists in the conjunction of the precelestial and the postcelestial, and grants access to the higher state of non-duality, or True Unity.
The Human Being
The Mysterious Barrier. The One Opening of the Mysterious Barrier (xuanguan yiqiao 玄關一竅) is the spaceless center of the human being. Liu Yiming agrees with earlier Neidan masters in saying that this center is neither in the body nor in the mind (Liu Yiming 2013:101-2). The One Opening harbors the Precelestial Breath of True Unity. With the shift from the precelestial to the postcelestial, the precelestial True Yang becomes concealed within the postcelestial Yin, and the recognition of the spaceless center is lost. In the images of the Yijing (Book of Changes), True Yang becomes the solid line (⚊) found within Kan ☵, surrounded by two broken Yin lines. The purpose of Neidan consists in recovering the Yang within Kan ☵ and in using it to replace the Yin within Li ☲. This allows Qian ☰ (True Yang) and Kun ☷ (True Yin) to be reconstituted and then newly joined to one another.
Nature and Existence. Nature (xing 性) and Existence (ming 命) are the two main poles of one’s life, and the core of Neidan: “The Way of the Golden Elixir is the Way of cultivating Nature and Existence” (Xiuzhen biannan). “Nature” refers to one’s authentic, inner Nature, which is innately perfected. “Existence” refers to one’s life as an individual being, including one’s function in existence as a whole. According to Liu Yiming, the shift from the precelestial to the postcelestial involves that both Nature and Existence take on two aspects, which he calls “true” and “false” (Liu Yiming 2013:44). One’s true Nature can be hidden by one’s false personality; and one’s true Existence (or “true destiny”) can be concealed by “following the course” (shun 順) of life. The gradual process of Neidan provides a means for “inverting the course” (ni 逆), making it possible first to “return to one’s destiny,” and then to “see one’s Nature.”
Body and Mind. In Liu Yiming’s view, the ordinary body and mind are “illusory” (huan 幻). Their authentic counterparts are the “dharma-body” (fashen 法身) and the “celestial mind” (tianxin天心). The celestial mind is “utterly empty and utterly numinous, silent and unmoving,” and “pervades throughout by responding to impulses” (Liu Yiming 2013:40). The dharma-body (a term that in Buddhism means the awakened “body” of the Buddha; see Trikaya) has “no head and no tail, no front and no back; it stands at the center and does not slant” (id.). With the shift to the postcelestial domain, “the dharma-body is buried and the illusory body takes charge, the celestial mind retires from its position and the human mind takes power” (id.). Neidan makes it possible to attain “the utmost of quiescence,” which is a property of the celestial mind. Moreover, the practice is concluded with the birth of the Embryo of Sainthood (shengtai 聖胎), which in Liu Yiming’s view is equivalent to one’s dharma-body, or “true body” (Liu Yiming 2013:62).
Neidan (Internal Alchemy)
“Superior Virtue” and “Inferior Virtue”. Concerning Neidan, Liu Yiming makes a fundamental distinction between two ways of self-cultivation, respectively called “superior virtue” (shangde上德) and “inferior virtue” (xiade 下德; Liu Yiming 2013:117-20). Superior virtue is the state in which the precelestial has not been damaged and the original state of Unity is unspoiled. The few persons who have an inherent potential to preserve this state only need to “protect it and guard it” (Liu Yiming 2013:117). This requires receiving the instructions of a master, but the method (fa 法) ultimately consists in following the Tao itself: there is no need to “do” a practice, and one operates by “non-doing” (wuwei 無為). If this original state is not preserved, the precelestial is dispersed and the postcelestial takes over. To recover the precelestial state, one cannot anymore operate by “non-doing” and instead must “do”: one needs a technique (shu術) through which one can conjoin the True Yang and True Yin now found within the postcelestial Yin and Yang, respectively. This is the way of Internal Alchemy, which is the way of inferior virtue. However, Liu Yiming points out that when the way of inferior virtue has been fulfilled, it leads “to the same destination as superior virtue” (Liu Yiming 2013:118).
“Doing” and “Non-Doing”. In parallel to the distinction between superior and inferior virtue, Liu Yiming also establishes a key difference between two aspects, or stages, of the Internal Elixir. These stages focus on the cultivation of Nature and Existence, and they correspond to the ways of superior and inferior virtue, respectively. Those who are able to follow the way of superior virtue perform the two stages simultaneously: “In superior virtue, there is no need to cultivate Existence and one just cultivates Nature: when Nature is fulfilled, then Existence is also fulfilled” (Liu Yiming 2013:119). Everyone else should perform the two stages in sequence, starting from the lower one and then proceeding to the higher one: “In inferior virtue, one must first cultivate Existence and then cultivate Nature; after Existence is fulfilled, one must also fulfill Nature” (id.). The way of superior virtue attains both stages instantly by “non-doing.” Inferior virtue, instead, is the gradual way, and its practice is performed first by “doing” and then by “non-doing.”
The Two Elixirs. The stages mentioned above correspond to two different Elixirs, which Liu Yiming calls Small Reverted Elixir (xiao huandan 小還丹) and Great Reverted Elixir (da huandan大還丹). The Small Reverted Elixir “consists in returning from the postcelestial to the precelestial” (Liu Yiming 2013:61). This is the movement of ascent, the “inversion of the course” performed through Internal Alchemy. The practice, however, is completed only by compounding the Great Reverted Elixir. At this stage, one performs the complementary movement of descent, returning “from Non-Being to Being, and from the subtle to the manifest” (Liu Yiming 2013:62). Thus Internal Alchemy, through its gradual process, enables one to ascend to the precelestial, but its practice is concluded when the descent to the postcelestial is also performed. Then the precelestial and the postcelestial become one, and one operates by transforming (hua 化) the postcelestial into the precelestial.
- Baldrian-Hussein, Farzeen. 2008. “Liu Yiming.” In Fabrizio Pregadio, ed., The Encyclopedia of Taoism, pp. 690–91. London: Routledge.
- Cleary, Thomas (trans.). 1986a. The Inner Teachings of Taoism. Boston and London: Shambhala.
- Cleary, Thomas (trans.). 1986b. The Taoist I Ching. Boston and London: Shambhala.
- Cleary, Thomas (trans.). 1987. Understanding Reality: A Taoist Alchemical Classic. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Cleary, Thomas (trans.). 1988. Awakening to the Tao. Boston and Shaftesbury: Shambhala.
- Cleary, Thomas (trans.). 1991. Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook. Boston and London: Shambhala.
- Jia Laisheng 贾来生. 2011. Tiejian daoyi: Liu Yiming dazhuan 铁肩道义 — 刘一明大传 [Carrying the meaning of the Tao on one’s iron shoulders: A biography of Liu Yiming]. Beijing: Zongjiao wenhua chubanshe.
- Liu Ning 刘宁. 2001. Liu Yiming xiudao sixiang yanjiu 刘一明修道思想研究 [A study of Liu Yiming’s thought on Cultivating the Tao]. Chengdu: Ba Shu shushe.
- Liu Yiming (劉一明). 2013. Cultivating the Tao: Taoism and Internal Alchemy. The Xiuzhen houbian (ca. 1798), translated with Introduction and Notes by Fabrizio Pregadio. Mountain View, CA: Golden Elixir Press. ISBN 978-0-985547516.
- Liu Zhongyu 劉仲宇. 2010. Liu Yiming xue’an 劉一明學案 [Materials for the study of Liu Yiming]. Jinan: Qi Lu shushe.
- Pregadio, Fabrizio. 2008. “Daoshu shier zhong (Twelve Books on the Dao).” In Fabrizio Pregadio, ed., The Encyclopedia of Taoism, pp. 331–33. London: Routledge.
- Sun Yongle 孙永乐 (ed.). 2011. Liu Yiming: Qiyun biji 刘一明 — 栖云笔记 [Liu Yiming: Miscellaneous Notes from Mount Qiyun]. Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe.
- Liu Yiming. From the FYSK Daoist Culture Centre Database.
- Xiuzhen houbian (Further Discriminations in Cultivating Reality), English translation of chapter 4, chapter 6, chapter 16, and chapter 19. From the Golden Elixir website.
Fu Style Baguazhang
Fu Chen Sung
Mapo village, Biyangxian, Huaiqing, Henan, China
|Died||1953 (aged 80–81)|
Fu Style Baguazhang
|Fu Style Baguazhang|
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Fu Style Wudang Fist is a family style of Chinese martial arts encompassing T’ai chi ch’uan, Xing-Yi chuan, Bagua zhang, LiangYi chuan, Baji chuan and Wudang Sword. Fu Style Baguazhang is one of the five styles of baguazhang recognized as orthodox in China. It is the precipice and highest-form of the Fu Style martial arts.
Fu Zhen Song (name also translated as Fu Chen Sung) began learning Chen Style Tai Chi at age 16 from the famous Chen Family master, Chen Yan Xi. Three years later, Fu began learning Baguazhang from Jia Qi Shan (also known as Jia Feng Ming). Fu was one of the first to learn these arts, as the Chen Family had only started teaching their art to outsiders a few decades earlier; Dong Hai Chuan had only revealed Baguazhang a few decades earlier, and only took on a handful of students, one of them being Jia Qi Shan. Although Fu did not receive the formal schooling of his urban countrymen, Fu was very bright, learned the two arts well, and practiced very hard.
At the age of 26, Fu had become very famous for single-handedly defeating a large mob of bandits, a story that appears in a number of versions.
Fu traveled to Beijing where he met the other great Baguazhang masters of that period. He learned from them and exchanged information about the art. In 1928, three military generals organized the first nationwide martial arts competition in Nanjing. Fu Zhen Song was one of the five judges of the competition. When the generals wanted to test the true skill of the top winner, a young man by the name of Wang, all the judges “nominated” Fu to do the “testing.” Fu had no choice but to respect the commands of his seniors and fought with the winner, Wang. According to those present, the battle went on for a long time, and at the end, Fu hit Wang off the stage with one single blow. This was to be one of the three high-profile battles Fu was famous for, the other two being the fight with Li Shu-Wen, an older and established master of Bajiquan, and with a large group of Muslims who practiced Cha Quan back in Fu’s home village.
During this time, Fu met, befriended and exchanged information with the top Baguazhang masters of China. He became close friends with Sun Lu-t’ang, and taught him the Baguazhang “mud-walking step (tang ni bu).” Fu studied Yang-style taiji from Yang Cheng Fu, and one day beat him in a match of “push hands.” Yang said, “You only won because you switched to Baguazhang.” Fu also studied swordsmanship with Li Jing Lin .
Fu Zhen Song and four other winners of the competition were invited to the south to teach their arts. Because of this historic event, they were called, “The Five Northern Tigers.” These five men were constantly challenged by martial artists in the south, as the southern martial artists were very proud of their arts and refuted the arts of the north. Fu Zhen Song never lost a fight or a challenge.
Fu Zhen Song moved to Guangzhao in the Guangdong Province, and headed a school there. By this time, Fu had synthesized his own system by learning various family styles of taiji; the differing styles of baguazhang; the Wudang Sword from Sung Wei Yi (likely learned from Li Jing Lin, though Fu did study under Song for a time); Xingyiquan and Bajiquan; by emphasizing the most important principles and techniques from each, and by eliminating all of the parts he thought were not valuable or of no substance. Fu’s style of Baguazhang would include such methods as the yin and yang palm changes, the famous Dragon Baguazhang, the Si Xiang form, the Liang Yi synthesis of Baguazhang and Taijiquan and his own version of Taijiquan. Many of the names used were likely inspired by the I Ching, and the forms and progressions inspired by both that work and by the martial philosophies of Sun Lu Tang.
When Fu and the other four invited martial artists arrived in Guangdong, Ta Kung Pao newspaper published an extensive article about the background of Fu and proclaimed that he was at that time the “true inheritor” of the Ba Gua Zhang tradition as handed down by Dong Hai Quan and Cheng Ting Hua. Fu understood the massive gap between Tai Chi Chuan and Ba Gua Zhang; thus, he created an elegant solution for that gap. Fu created a martial arts form he called, “Liang-Yi Chuan,” or Harmonized Opposites Boxing. This form would be a vital key to the Fu Style system of learning Ba Gua Zhang, as it is a precursory set of movements and skills required to move from Tai Chi Chuan to Ba Gua Zhang.
In other words, if one wishes to learn Fu Style Ba Gua Zhang, he or she must learn Fu Style Tai Chi Chuan very well; then learn Fu Style Liang-Yi Chuan very well in order to advance to the highest levels where he or she can learn Fu Style Ba Gua Zhang. Many[who?] will refute this hierarchy of learning, however, this is the true system of learning Fu Style Wudang Chuan (which is the globally encompassing name for the Fu Style system of Tai Chi Chuan, Liang-Yi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, Hsing-I Chuan, Baji Chuan, weapons, applications, and total mastery of “Qi,” health and wellness).
Fu Style is characterized by a large number of spinning movements and point strikes. This fighting style can also be used to damage internal organs with precise striking methods.
Fu Style Present Day
The Fu Style Wudang Chuan was carried on by his son Fu Wing Fay, who also created forms for si-xiang, advanced tai chi and more. Among others, Fu taught Bow Sim Mark. The lineage is now held by his own son Victor Fu Sheng Long in Vancouver, Canada. Victor Fu has somewhat truncated the style because he feels there is not enough time to learn the entirety of the Fu Style system, and it is more important to develop health and wellness, rather than “hands that can chop a table in two.” However, with the incorporated conditioning exercises, 2-person routines and the practice of the Bagua Push Hands form, the martial aspects remain intact. Another branch of the style was established by Fu Zhen Song’s student Lin Chao Zhen, who likewise modified the teaching methodology.
- Lin, Chao Zhen (2010). Fu Zhen Song’s Dragon Bagua Zhang. Blue Snake Books. pp. 18–20. ISBN 978-1-58394-238-3.
- Lin (2010), pp. 24-25}
- Lin (2010), pp. 38-39
- Lin (2010), pp. 31, 36-37
- Lin (2010), pp. 42-43
- Lin (2010), pp. 37-38, 69
- Kwan, Dr. Paul W.L. (April 1978). “The New Wu Shu”. Black Belt.
- Lin (2010). pp. 65-67
- Liang Shou-You, Yang Jwing-Ming, Wu Wen-Ching (1994). Baguazhang
- Miller, Dan (1992). “The Pa Kua Chang of Fu Chen-Sung”. Pa Kua Chang Journal 2 (6).
- Kirchhoff, Tommy (December 2004). “Evasive Fu Style Bagua Zhang”. Inside Kung-Fu: 74–78.
- Fu Yonghui and Lai Zonghong (1998). Fu Style Dragon Form Eight Trigrams Palms. Smiling Tiger Martial Arts.
- Lukitsh, Jean (October 1992). “A Wushu Dream Comes True”. Inside Kung-Fu 2 (3): 34–39, 76.
- Smalheiser, Marvin (April 1996). “Fu Style T’ai Chi and Bagua”. T’ai Chi.
- Smalheiser, Marvin (June 1996). “The Power of Mind and Energy”. T’ai Chi.
- Smalheiser, Marvin (December 2000). “The Power of Yin/Yang Changes”. T’ai Chi.
- Allen, Frank; Tina Chunna Zhang (2007). The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm. Blue Snake Books. pp. 48–51.
- Fu, Victor Sheng Long 2004 Fu Style, New and Old