Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Addressing Dr Stephen Yan (unfortunately)
There has been some ongoing internet discussions in Chinese martial art forums about my and my teacher (Yan Long Chang's) affiliation with a Dr Stephen Yan.
Since my name has been brought up in this discussion I thought I would introduce myself to the martial community and address some of the subject matter. I will however make myself very clear, I have not come on here to indulge in any internet war or slander, but I will be putting forth some facts that maybe some people are not aware of.
I am only really going to talk about Dai Xin Yi Quan as this is my chosen art and I am somewhat of a representative of master Yan Long Chang and his system. I do have permission to speak on his behalf, so I choose my words wisely.
I met Dr Yan back when I was 19 years old. Previously the year before I had studied some Wu Shu basics with a student of master Shi Mei Lin and before that I have had some training in Japanese martial arts (karate, aikido, ninjitsu) and a little bit of Muay Thai.
So now I have been studying martial arts going on 18 years.
I started to learn initially Bei Shaolin Quan from Dr Yan and then later on started to concentrate on Nei Jia Quan starting with Hebei Xing Yi Quan and then finally concentrating on Xin Yi Liu He Quan.
Back roughly 10 years ago Dr Yan hosted master Yan Long Chang to New Zealand for the first time. I was quite excited as I had heard some pretty unreal stories about his skill and was curious of this style of Kung Fu he practiced (Dai Xin Yi Quan).
Although me and master Yan Long Chang could not communicate (my Chinese was non existent back then) we struck up a unusual bond.
Master Yan was kept somewhat of a secret when he was over and I like others never got a chance to see him practice or perform.
My first exposure to Dai Xin Yi Quan was when I was sitting in Dr Yan’s waiting room practicing Cha Quan form number 5 and in between breaks I would exercise with the aid of a hand spring.
Master Yan took it into his hand, squeezed it a couple of time and then started to talk to me about the importance of dan tian over local power and proceeded to get up and demonstrate a couple of moves.
I was shocked, I had never seen anyone move so swiftly and light, but at the same time felt he was generating a lot of power. To tell you the truth I felt a little scared.
Like I said while he was in NZ, I never had the chance to learn from him, to which I deeply regret.
(I think to myself if I had started to learn Dai Xin Yi Quan back from him then, what would be my level be by now?)
I did not get the chance to be reunited with master Yan Long Chang, until maybe 7 years later when I travelled to China the first time with Dr Yan.
At this time I guess I would of been studying XYLHQ from Dr Yan for roughly a year. He taught me a combination of Dai Xin Yi Quan and Henan XYLHQ.
I was always told that Dr Yan was Yan Long Chang’s successor and his only student to which I had no reason to doubt him. After all I am a foreigner with little contact with practitioners in China and also the language barrier becomes somewhat of a problem at times.
Upon arriving in Shanxi I met several of master Yan’s students to which I was surprised ( I thought Dr Yan was the only one?). I had previously asked him why master Yan Long Chang did not accept any more students and he said that everyone before was a disappointment and also they could not comprehend its depths (meaning only he could ?)
I did not really get a chance to practice with master Yan Long Chang directly until he came to NZ for the 2nd time which would of been in 2007. This was straight after I had seen him in China for the 2nd time. We had travelled to Hua Shan together and also he accompanied us to Yong Ji/Shanxi where I performed bai shi to Dr Yan in front of the statue of Ji Long Feng (I will address this more later on).
In New Zealand I really applied myself to my training with a lot of enthusiasm, we would practice every day for at least 2 hours (which carried on for 6 months) Even though we could not openly communicate I would go out of my way to make him and his wife comfortable as much as I could, by bringing them around to my house, getting my wife to cook for them and putting on Chinese DVD’s for them.
Casually one day when I was at Dr Yan’s house I asked master Yan Long Chang “Yan Shifu, are you interested in accepting any foreign students?” to which he surprisingly answered “Ok, no problem!”. This is a big surprise to me as I had been told from Dr Yan that he was not interested in accepting any students.
So I then said to him “Ok, if you want me to help you to find some students, can you provide me with some information about the art, photo’s and some video?” to which he openly agreed. So from this moment on I kind of took on the job of being master Yan Long Chang’s agent, putting in maximum effort to help promote him and his art.
Dr Yan at first did not present any problems and seemed to be happy that master Yan Long Chang could make himself a little money and get some recognition. At least I thought so.
After coming home one day with the video footage, I downloaded the video from the video camera into the timeline program in my laptop and we all sat down and proceeded to watch it.
Dr Yan then started to tell me to edit out the beginning opening sequence of “dun hou shi” as he did not want anyone seeing the shen fa. I was a little surprised as it was not his video, it was his teachers and my shiye, so why did he think he could tell his teacher what to do? he had always talked about master Yan Long Chang with a lot of respect, but now he was not showing any at all.
For those of you that do not know master Yan Long Chang I can tell you, he is a very humble, quiet and relaxed type of person. He does not like to talk too much, he does not boast and he is a man who is very reserved, and somewhat sensitive, which is surprisingly as he is home to some very deadly skills.
So being a guest of Dr Yan, master Yan did not bring up any protest of the editing of these clips, though obviously it was not his intention to hide anything. What is the point of putting up video in the first place, if you are going to cut the clip into pieces? the reason to begin with is to share the art, not to be selfish and only give the public a tease.
After I took the video I was quite excited and I contacted my friend and fellow classmate and student of Dr Yan, Ding Wen (Evan Chen) to which he asked me if I could provide him with a copy of the videos I took.
Of course I did not have a problem with providing him with a copy of the video, but Dr Yan got very angry about me mentioning I had taken the video and now that I had mentioned it he felt obliged to give it to him, even though he had originally not wanted to give anyone, he wanted the video to be kept exclusive.
This is when Dr Yan started to give master Yan Long Chang a very big headache. He told him to promise him he would not let anyone take any more video. This considerably upset master Yan Long Chang so much that he prayed to master Yueh Gui Ning and promised to him he would not let anyone take any more footage for 3 years.
Hence this is why the only clips of master Yan Long Chang on the net are the ones on my you-tube page (http://www.youtube.com/user/DAIXINYI
) and there will not be any more video until after May 2010.
From this moment on things stared to get very uncomfortable for master Yan Long Chang and he started to wish he was home with his family in Qi Xian. His health started to suffer too, his blood pressure was up and was he was under considerable stress.
The student he once loved was not the man he made himself out to be.
On top of the video problem, there was also the issue of us setting up a independent martial arts organization, meaning a Dai Xin Yi Quan international body, a formal organization where we could maintain a high quality of teaching people and in time setting up other branches in other countries once the practitioners had reached a certain level.
The other reason was because truth be told master Yan Long Chang wanted himself to be independent and not in the same organization as Dr Yan, due to his affiliation with a myriad other martial art styles.
When this was mentioned Dr Yan started to get very agitated and was asking who was going to be the chairperson, who would run NZ, etc. We all knew that if Dr Yan was going to be on board he was going to cause huge problems and we would get nowhere as a group as he would not follow anyones else direction, it would be like a dictatorship, it was either going to be his way or no way.
Now I would like to address the previous Dai Xin Yi Quan training I had received previously from Dr Yan.
On the first day of training me and my classmate, Ding Wen (Evan Chen) were asked to perform some basic movements that we had been taught for master Yan Long Chang.
Within a couple of minutes or less, he was shaking his head and having a good laugh at us. Everything that we had been taught was completely wrong, right from the very basic stances like “hu bu zhuang”.
For you non Dai Xin Yi Quan practitioners, hu bu zhuang is a forward stance having the hips square (1 1/2 feet length in between front heel and rear toe) and should be 50/50% weight placement, not 70/30% as we were taught by Dr Yan with a horrible forward lean of the head, which causes the sacrum to stick out. You must retain ding jin (upward pressing of the head) even though the chin is slightly tucked in aligning the cervical vertabrae.
This is solely a cause of someone mixing styles and confusion. Remember Dr Yan has a foundation in the Henan XYLHQ styles (as well as probably 20 other styles of Kung Fu), so he had took it on himself to mix them together.
(Actually he has mixed the Dai Xin Yi Quan and XYLHQ arts considerably. His version of Dai Xin Yi Quan’s mo jing/mo jing is basically XYLHQ, lun jin in a horse stance. It bears no resemblance to the original movement at all)
I also began to find out some of the moves I was practicing were even made up as when I was doing some moves (mao xing, guo feng bang, bai he lian chi, mor bian pao) master Yan Long Chang could not even recognize them and asked me what I was doing?
It was not long after this that I decided that Dr Yan was not the man he made himself out to be in Dai Xin Yi Quan and what he taught us was absolute rubbish. It was not the money I had spent to learn this what angered me, it was the time I had wasted learning from him, his lies and also him causing me bad habits for future training.
All the while I was learning from master Yan Long Chang I had ceased to practice the Henan style, which is what Dr Yan was more or less concentrating on. His personal belief that because they were related and there was more or less a marriage between the arts, to which he could not be more wrong.
If we follow the common accepted history of Li Zheng teaching Dai Long Bang and his sons we can see even though they share the same root they are totally different arts and cannot be confused with each other.
From our viewpoint Dai Long Bang further refined the Henan style and removed all the unnecessary gross movements, transforming it into something very unique. The stances are more compact, the footwork light and agile and the body movement really sets it apart from the other styles.
People talk about zong jie jin, but in all of the practitioners I met in other XYLHQ styles no one had any visible dan tian or the ability to rotate it freely like Yan Long Chang, so I have come to the conclusion that this is something unique to our style. Especially how we combine dan tian rotation with our movements. I am aware of other arts (Chen Shi Taiji Quan, etc) have similar methods, but to me they are not the same.
When I confronted Dr Yan as to why the huge difference in how he had taught me, he acted very nervous and tried to tell me in the case of one movement, that master Yan did not know how to explain it to me so he taught me the easy version. He then tried timidly to say that master Yan had observed our foundation and had commented that we had not wasted our time. By the look on his face he knew he was busted, he was seriously back-peddling.
Master Yan, truth be told, told Stephen that he was not ready to teach Dai Xin Yi Quan, but Stephen knows best and decided to accept students anyway.
Now onto the tudi business.
There is a specific Dai Xin Yi Quan law that states that while the master (in our case, master Yan Long Chang) is alive, none of his students (no matter how high their level is) can accept tudi, meaning to perform bai shi ceremony with anyone.
Dr Yan broke this law several times, with me and also with other students. I did not know at the time until after I had performed it. But was very surprised when I found out.
As for me being called a traitor and going behind my teachers back, I will say this, there is only so much someone can take. 10 years or so of my life was wasted with this person. If I had learnt from the right person, irrespective of style, I could of been a world class Judo or Muay Thai fighter and it would not have cost me the money it did to learn a bunch of wrongly taught forms.
I practiced a year or so of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and in that time I probably learnt more about real fighting then I did with 10 years with Dr Yan.
I am not saying however everything he taught me has no merit. But in general a lot of what he taught me was just constant repetition of forms and little combat application.
I am one of many other students who have left after they had realized what they were promised were never going to come true. We all followed tradition and loved our Shifu (Dr Yan), but he never loved us back, this is a fact.
I think Dr Yan abused the Chinese tradition as much as he could. He used us students as something expendable and even told me on more than one occasion that if his students on the weekend were sick of doing his garden, then no stress he could find some more. This shows he has no respect for us NZ’rs as a people and he thinks because he is a educated Dr and he is a martial arts teacher he can abuse us and treat us like peasants. Well he is wrong.
In the case of one of my friends who wanted to learn XYLHQ from him, he only accepted him as he knew he had suffered a severe injury to his neck and had slight paralysis on one side of his body. He said to me that he could never get good, so he had no reservations teaching him and he also needed to use him to build his webpage for him.
I could go on and on and on about **** he has talked about people, but really I do not have the energy to waste on this.
To me martial arts is firstly about combat, secondly about good health, this is achieved by regular, correct practice. Fun is just as important. If you do not love something with passion and enthusiasm, then there is not much point in doing something.
I will now address the challenge matches as published in his Taiji and Xing Yi books preface.
It falsely tells a tale where Dr Yan defeated Dan Brooks (a very talented Muay Thai fighter and a old friend of mine) using his Taiji supposedly and he has listed me (Jon Dyer) as witness to this.
The incident which he is talking about never happened, well not the way he is telling it, that is for sure.
I will recall the incident just for your information.
Dan had just came back from Japan and Hong Kong (we are talking over 10 years ago). In Hong Kong he had won a fight against their local champion (who had just come off 9 straight wins in Thailand) and I know he travelled to Japan with Ray “sugar foot” Sefo (this was at the starting of the K1).
I had contacted him by phone and we decided to meet (I used to live around 45 minutes by train from Wellington City), so him and his Japanese girlfriend popped into Dr Yan's office to see me.
I introduced Dan to Dr Yan and Dr Yan asked us to do some light free sparring as he wanted to see how me and Dan moved.
Of course Dan had it over me easily, so Dr Yan wanted to point out what I was doing wrong, so he decided to demonstrate some techniques on Dan.
This is when things started to get very uncomfortable as Dr Yan took advantage of Dan's good will and started to apply the techniques on him too rough. Note Dan was not resisting in any way, he just basically gave him face and let him use him as a compliant partner, to which Dr Yan abused.
Now comes the funny part. Dr Yan asked Dan to get him into a Muay Thai clinch to which Dan obliged. Dr Yan was trying to tell us he could use his Taiji Quan to neutralise to which he tried and failed miserably (he looked like a fish out of water) I also remember he tried to scratch Dan's eyes in this position, to which did not work.
After this incident I was put in a very horrible position as it put me in the middle, I am Dan's friend and was at the time Dr Yan's student.
I did not find out about the contents of the preface until many years later when I had my friends wife translate it. I was totally shocked, I could not believe what was written and why did he have to ruin my friends good name to make himself look better?
Truth be told Dr Yan is in a world of hurt when my friend finds out and it is going to be pretty funny watching him try and get talk himself out of it.
There is also this very funny article Dr Yan has written
This competition never happened and the people, David Stella and Stu Dunn do not even practice this esoteric blend of Wu Shi Taiji, Yijinjin or XYLHQ.
In the case of Stu Dunn I contacted him and he mentioned to me he had only attended 2-3 classes with Dr Yan and when I mentioned this competition he did not know what I was talking about.
The internet is a good place for finding information, all it takes is google and a couple of keywords and you are going to get found out about.
Last but not least I will address this teaching certificate that me and my classmate were presented from Yan Long Chang.
I am not putting too much time into explaining this, but basically I have been given permission to teach Dai Xin Yi Quan on master Yan Long Chang’s behalf. I do not consider myself a expert in any shape or form, but have completed the basics satisfactory so as to teach others.
The certificate is not so important as the authority assigned to it, it is just something that is formally made out so no one can dispute that I have the right to teach the art and the undeniable affiliation with my teacher. It also affirms my commitment to the art and it’s transmission.
There is also published on Dr Yan’s website http://www.tai-chi.co.nz/index.html
that he is master Yan Long Chang’s chuan ren (successor) as well as him inheriting the chuan pu and complete Dai Xin Yi Quan system.
Master Yan Long Chang has not chosen his chuan ren, so I do not know where Dr Yan gets off appointing himself one. As for the Dai chuan pu, Dr Yan told me that he gave a copy to Ma Lei Shi of Dengzhou/Henan, obviously not with master Yan Long Chang’s permission.
As to his statement of him knowing the whole Dai Xin Yi Quan system, I know that he does not know “tian di yin yuan bu dao gong” as well as what he has learned he has bastardized by changing it into his own hybrid.
He is not welcome in Qi Xian/Shanxi again in our Dai Xin Yi Quan family and has no affiliation with us in any shape or form, my teacher, master Yan Long Chang has disowned him and does not want to hear from him ever again.
Dr Yan has caused all of us much disgrace and bastardized our great art by previous association.
It is a sad day to put forth all this information, but it has to be done. I do not want any more young men from my country to waste any of their time or money with this person, so I put all of the fact plain for everyone to see.
I think the people that are trying to promote him at the moment need to emotionally detach themselves for a moment and need to listen to what we have to say. I can back up everything I say and can call witnesses to many other old students regarding his false claims as well as other old school martial artists.
Dai Zhi Qiang