Of all the modern Tai Chi masters, none have had the impact of the late Cheng Man-Ch’ing. As a child growing up in China, Cheng suffered from a chronic lung condition and a local doctor suggested that he take up Tai Chi to remediate his condition. Cheng not only learned Tai Chi, he also cured himself of his illness through his practice.
In his thirties he became the student of the great master Yang Ch’eng-Fu. Cheng studied daily with Master Yang for years, enduring many hardships to learn the art. Although he later rose to become a great master of Tai Chi himself, Cheng, in typical modesty, always denigrated his own skill with respect to his teacher’s. “If Tai Chi was a human body,” he was fond of saying, “all I possess is the thumb. My teacher has the whole body!”
After an illustrious career as a physician, senator and martial artist in Taiwan, Professor Cheng emigrated to the U.S. where he ran a large Tai Chi School in New York’s Chinatown section. He died on March 26th 1975, but his legacy lives on through his poetry, his painting, those he healed, those he taught and with the many students around the world that have learned his style of Tai Chi Chuan. In many ways Cheng was a prodigy. He was a master of painting, poetry, calligraphy, medicine and martial arts.