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T'AI CHI MAGAZINE - February 2005

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK > February 2005
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February 2005 - Editor's Notebook
Wudang Mountain is one of China's spiritual mountains and home to many temples and martial arts schools, many of them very secretive. It is said to have been the mountain where the legendary Zhang Sanfeng went for a retreat and was inspired to create T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
So it is valuable to have an article in this issue by Qian Timing on Wudang sword, one of the most valued martial arts weapons.
Qian was the author of an important article in the August 2004 issue, in which he discussed Wudang martial arts in general and its theories.
In this issue, Qian, a 12th generation lineage holder of Wudang Dan Pai, writes about Wudang sword, the training methods, theory and principles as well as neigong, or internal work, which includes qi development, jin development and cultivation of inner harmony.
Edgar Snow, a famous English author, was in China in the early 1930s. While in a restaurant, he saw a waiter doing exercises on a veranda.
Snow asked him was he was doing and the waiter said it was T'ai Chi Ch'uan. When Snow asked why he did it, the waiter replied, "It is good for personal contradictions".
This is the same thing as cultivating inner harmony. And if you can find a way to deal with personal contradictions, then everything in your life will get better: health, emotions and martial skills. Of course, you have to recognize that you have personal contradictions.
Qian, as indicated in his extensive biography given in the August issue, is a researcher in the Wudang Mountain Boxing Techniques Research Institute.
He has the title of 7 Duan High Level Martial Artist in the Chinese National Martial Artist ranking system. He has won many awards for his demonstrations.
Qian relocated to the U.S. in 2002, moving to Seattle, where he now teaches. The article was translated by Dr. Mei-hui Lu, a 13th generation indoor disciple of Qian.
Fong Ha, who discusses Yiquan and T'ai Chi Ch'uan, began studying T'ai Chi in 1953 at the age of 16 in Hong Kong. His teachers included Tung Ying-chieh and Yang Sau-chung.
He has practiced Yiquan since the early 1970s and studied with Han Xinguan of Hong Kong, a disciple of Yiquan originator Wang Xiangzhai. When Han died, Fong Ha studied with Cai Songfang of Shanghai and Canton.
Fong Ha is very personable and when I interviewed him for a cover article that appeared in the August 1991 issue of T'ai CHI Magazine, he was very forthcoming. He focuses on the cultivation of qi, personal development and achieving one's potential.
Professor Men Huifeng and his wife, Professor Kan Guixiang, will be touring the U.S. in April and May to sight see and teach.
The two have been instrumental in designing some of newer forms of T'ai Chi, such as the Chen 36 forms, 42 forms, 48 forms and others. Prof. Men also helped to complete the competition routines for the five major styles.
Professor Men Huifeng, officially recognized by the Chinese Government as one of the top ten most famous martial arts professors in China, is a well-known figure in the contemporary Chinese martial arts landscape.
He is also vice chairman of the Chinese National Wushu Federation and has made numerous outstanding contributions to the discovery, research, development and organization of Chinese martial arts.
Wendell Anderson of Eugene, OR, writes about how to cope with a situation in which you cannot find a teacher.
Many people frequently write or have told me that students should only learn from a qualified instructor or master so they don't get bad instruction and don't lose valuable time.
Unfortunately, many people don't have that choice because there are not many teachers in their area.
Even if there are, there can also be a problem of personal chemistry or discomfort with a teacher's approach to teaching that does not mesh with a student's preference.
To compound the problem, a student, particularly a beginner, often cannot tell if a teacher is right for them without taking some classes with the teacher.
If no teacher is available, then Wendell Anderson's suggestions can become very useful. Even with a good teacher, his suggestions are worth consideration. Learning has many aspects and you can't expect a teacher to fulfill every aspect of what you want to learn. Everyone has limitations, teachers as well as students.
The second installment on the Li style by Zhou Lishang covers some of the main characteristics of the Li style.
Li style characteristics is similar but different from Yang style characteristics but it is always interesting to read how different experts interpret classic writings and principles.
There are always fresh insights, such as when Ma Jinlong discusses the function of the elbow.
Jin Yiming's walking stick exercises are useful and healthful exercises that kept Jin healthy and robust at 90 years of age.
This article was purchased as part of a book manuscript in the late 1980s but publication of the book has been delayed so this chapter is being published now. The exercises is good for the muscles, joints and nervous system.
Abraham Liu is a voice of reason in discussing T'ai Chi Ch'uan and push hands practice.
He describes the years of his early practice, starting with Cheng Man-ch'ing in China and his accidentally finding Cheng after leaving China for Taiwan when the communists took control of China in 1949.
Abraham Liu is quite open and modest in discussing what it takes to develop good push hands skills. If you have aspirations to excel at push hands then consider his advice.
He advocates lots of push hands practice, daily, if possible, and learning how to be soft. Too often people understand this idea but to mentally and physically implement it in practice or competition is another matter.
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