Cheng Man-ch’ing. (Zheng Manqing)

Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing so called because he was known as the Master of the Five Excellences.

Professor Cheng excelled in the following five fields – Painting, Calligraphy, Poetry, Medicine and Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan).

In his younger days, he studied painting, poetry and calligraphy and came to know Cheng Su-k'an, Chen Shih-tseng, Ling Chih-chih, Yao Man-fei, Wang Meng-pai -all famous men of culture.

By the age of 25 Professor Cheng had also become skilled and knowledgeable in Medicine and eventually met up with Dr Sung who was very senior in years.

Professor Cheng continued his studies of medicine under the guidance of Dr Sung.

As a youth Professor Cheng was very weak, so he studied Shaolin Chuan to strengthen his body. At age 27, in Shanghai, suffering from third degree tuberculosis, he studied Tai Chi Chuan from the famed master Yang Chengfu – 1883 to 1936 3rd Gen Yang Big Frame . In little more than a year Professor Cheng had gained an understanding of the main principles of Tai Chi Chuan. During that time, Yang's wife was stricken with a serious illness. All doctors had been helpless to prescribe for her. But Professor Cheng did not want to see the wife of his teacher die, so he carefully examined her. Eventually, she became well. Mrs. Yang said to her husband, “Now that I am well, how are you going to thank this young man? You must teach him everything you know and don't hold back a single secret!” Deeply indebted for the favour Professor Cheng had done his family, Master Yang abided by his wife's request and taught Professor Cheng the important secrets of Tai Chi Chuan and Tai Chi sword. He held nothing back.

Later, in T'ai-yuan in Shansi Province, Professor Cheng practiced marvellous techniques of Tai Chi Chuan energy with Chang Ch'ing-ling.

After twenty years of constant practice, Professor Cheng condensed the form into 37 postures, thereby making it both easier to teach, to learn, and to practice. He also taught the Sword Form, Push Hands and Qigong.

At age 32 he taught Tai Chi Chuan at the Central Military Academy (formerly the Huang-po Military Academy -equivalent to West Point in the United States).

At the age of 37 he was a consultant to the Hunan Provincial Government. At the same time he also held the post of Director of Martial Arts of Hunan Province. At the time, Hunan consisted of 75 counties. The heads of martial arts in each county came to study with Professor Cheng and went back to their respective counties and taught. It should be noted that Hunan has traditionally been known as a province famous for its martial arts. Professor Cheng had to prove himself a martial arts practitioner worthy of being the provincial head of martial arts.

At the age of 38 he travelled to Chungking in Schezuan province. He took a position with the Central Military Training Group teaching Tai Chi Chuan. One time, the British embassy in China gave a banquet. The master of ceremonies asked Professor Cheng to give a Tai Chi Chuan demonstration. Some members of the British Army wanted to compete with him. When attacked, Professor Cheng seemed merely to turn over his hand and turn his body slightly and his opponent fell more than ten feet away! Later, at a party given by the American Army, the same thing happened. Onlookers couldn't help exclaiming their delight and amazement.

At age 48, Professor Cheng moved to Taiwan. There he founded the Stir Jung School of Tai Chi Chuan.

At age 63 he went to America. There he founded the Shr Jung Center for Culture and the Arts (the Tai Chi school). It was open to all who wanted to study and had a large student body.

At present, those who have directly or indirectly studied Master Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan already number more than 100,000 people. Those who have truly understood his teaching and progressed to the study of the sword number more than 50 people.

Professor Cheng had 5 especially strong points. Furthermore, he could unify them as if they were pearls threaded on a single string. That string was the Tao.

Because he studied deeply the classics and the sages, he fathomed the depths of the principles of philosophy. Thus the past and the present, the sages of old and this man of the modern world reached a harmony. Therefore in regard to exhausting the possibilities of affairs of all kinds, it was as if he had picked up a coat by the collar. That is to say, he held the reins of control. The venerable Yu You-jen praised him in this way, "He is a unique talent of this era. What others regard as the most difficult of matters, he alone does easily and well. This is not a hollow accolade! The accomplishments of his lifetime were all directed toward developing and expanding traditional Chinese culture. All of the above were products of Professor Cheng's eclectic nature and penetrating genius, and were original works -not mere compendiums of the works of other scholars. Truly, these writings will weather time and criticism!

(Dec. 1, 1978 with Shr-mu, working on Lao-shr’s biography.)

Professor Cheng was a distinguished looking gentleman with a cultured air. His character was outspoken and honest, and he walked a straight path from which he never wavered nor compromised himself.

At age 40, Professor Cheng married Miss Yi-tu, the fourth daughter of Air Marshall Ting, the chief of the brand new Department of Air Force. The young lady was elegant in appearance and quite intelligent. She was a student of medicine and earned her B. A. at Peiking University. She was especially fond of literature and art. Thus she helped her husband educate their children. Everyone knew of her gentle grace.

Over the past 10 years or so Professor Cheng has travelled in America and Europe, accompanied by his wife. In 1974 he returned to Taiwan to publish Yi Ch’uan (commentary on the Book of Changes) which consisted of more than 100,000 words. He personally proof-read the galleys, and had just gone over them the second time when he said to close friends: “Should I die, I'll have no regrets.” Everyone took the words as a joke. Who would have thought that at midnight of March 23, 1975 he was found with his head pillowed in his arms on the desk as if asleep. He never woke up. He was immediately sent to the hospital. At 2:15 AM. on March 26, he passed from his world. He was in his 75th year.  

Zheng Manqing 1902 to 1975 – 4th Gen. Yang. 37 Posture Short Hand Form.

The Solo Exercise.


  1. Preparation
  2. Beginning
  3. Grasp Sparrows Tail – Ward off left
  4. Grasp Sparrows Tail – Ward off right
  5. Grasp Sparrows Tail – Rollback
  6. Grasp Sparrows Tail – Press
  7. Grasp Sparrows Tail – Push
  8. Single Whip
  9. Lift Hands
  10. Shoulder Stroke
  11. White Crane Spreads Wings
  12. Brush Left Knee
  13. Play Guitar followed by Brush Left Knee
  14. Step Forward, Deflect downward, Parry & Punch
  15. Withdraw and Push
  16. Cross hands
  17. Embrace Tiger returns to Mountain. Repeat postures 5,6,7 & 8.
  18. Punch under Elbow
  19. Step back and Repulse Monkey – Right
  20. Step back and Repulse Monkey – Left. Repeat posture 19.
  21. Diagonal Flying
  22. Wave Hands in Clouds – Right
  23. Wave Hands in Clouds – Left. Repeat posture 22 & 23 then posture 8.
  24. Squatting Single Whip
  25. Golden Rooster stands on one leg – Right
  26. Golden Rooster stands on one leg – Left
  27. Separate Right Foot
  28. Separate Left Foot
  29. Turn and strike with Heel. Rpt posture 12.
  30. Brush Right Knee
  31. Step Forward and punch to Groin. Rpt posture 4,5,6,7 & 8.
  32. Fair Lady Works the Shuttles – Right
  33. Fair Lady Works the Shuttles – Left. Rpt postures 32 & 33 followed by postures 3 to 8, then Squatting Single Whip.
  34. Step Forward to Seven Stars
  35. Step back to Ride Tiger
  36. Turn body and Sweep Lotus with Leg
  37. Bend Bow to shoot Tiger. Rpt postures 14, 15 & 16, followed by Conclusion or Close.


Cheng Man Ching Lineage


Robert W. Smith. Huang Xingxian. Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo. William C.C.Chen


Tam Gibbs. Lou Kleinsmith. Ed Young. Mort Raphael. Maggie Newman. Stanley Israel. Ken Van Sickle. Victor Chin. Y.Y.Chin. Jon Gaines. Natasha Gorky. Fred Lehrman. Wolfe Lowenthal.  


Extracts taken from – A Life Biography of Cheng Man Ching by Tam Gibbs from