Zhu Tian Cai was very forthcoming in his interview during a visit to the Los Angeles area, and the good information was made possible by the translation of C. P. Ong, who shepherds a number of the Chen teachers from the Chen village around the U.S.
An interesting perspective is given by Zhu on the way people in the village trained early in the 20th century, compared to how teachers today have to adjust their teaching approaches for the more hectic pace of modern life, where there are too many choices.
He also gives interesting insights on the jins inherent in T’ai Chi practice, starting with a discussion of peng and its relation to the eight basic jins.
He tells an interesting story about the lie jin as it is understood in the Chen village. Many people are hard put to describe just what lie is, but his explanation makes good sense and clarifies what lie is and how it is used.
Zhu is a good-natured person and is full of energy when he talks about T’ai Chi.
It might be appropriate to note that when he talks about the importance of fangsong, relaxation and rou, or softness, he does so within the context of fulfilling all the T’ai Chi principles regarding good structure, circular movement and the key principles.
Also, while rou is commonly translated as soft, it also has the idea of pliability, suppleness and elasticity, so it is not just the softness of, say, a ball of cotton.
Zhu was previously interviewed for the April 1999 issue of T’AI CHI Magazine. He now lives and teaches in Singapore. He also teaches in Zhengzhou, which is not far from the Chen village. And, of course, he also travels to the U.S. each year to teach at various locations.
Zhu helps to clarify the differences between the lao jia form that he learned from his uncle, Chen Zhaopi, in the Chen village and the xin jia he subsequently learned from Chen Zhaokui.
He feels both have value and internally are the same. He said that he benefited greatly from learning the lao jia before he learned from Chen Zhaokui.
Li Yaxuan was a famous disciple of Yang Chengfu, and studyed with him directly for about 10 years
In this issue Zhou Lishang, a regular contributor from Beijing, interviews Chen Longxiang, Li’s son-in-law, about how Li learned Yang style and the skills he developed. There are stories of some of the exploits he had with challengers. This is the first of three articles.
Tu-Ky Lam of Wellington, New Zealand, writes about some of the valuable standing practices used by T’ai Chi teachers and other internal martial arts instructors. He discusses T’ai Chi zhan zhuang and systems from Yiquan and Xingyi. He has some valuable suggestions on how to do zhan zhuang.
Some people I have interviewed do some version of zhan zhuang and virtually no form movement. They go from zhan zhuang directly to push hands.
Others do form practice but little or no standing meditation. And, of course, some do a combination of both. What’s best for you really depends on what your goals are.
Both practices have benefits physically and cultivate qi. Ultimately, both are ways of learning about and cultivating the mind.
Flavio Daniele of Bologna, Italy, and his co-author, Tiziano Grandi of La Spezia, Italy, have some very strong ideas about some of the trends in T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
Both men are authors of their own books and are dedicated to internal martial arts. Daniele has written two books. He began martial arts by learning Karate Shotokan before learning internal martial arts.
Tiziano Grandi is also a book author and began with kick and Thai boxing. He now teaches the Yang style.
Bill Z. Yang, Ph.D., an economics professor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA, practices Chen, Yang and Sun styles.
He won a prize in T’ai Chi sword in the University Students Wushu competition in Wuhan, China. He developed knee problems while practicing and benefited from physical therapy and insights about how to protect the knees.
He writes about some of the methods he found useful and which could be useful to you. Knee injuries are not unusual and are often caused by students not understanding how to carry their weight on the legs.
The knees should carry little or no body weight. That is why teachers warn of not extending the knee beyond the toes. Some people say that really means not to extend the knee beyond where the toes start, not where they end.
Alex Yeo writes the last installment on his series about “Complete (?)” Yang style. He has done a good job in researching his material, including his previous series about the development of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
Yang style is said to be the most popular and accessible T’ai Chi style. Most of the simplified versitons of T’ai Chi are based on the Yang style.
David X. Swenson, Ph.D., has contributed a number of articles to T’AI CHI Magazine. He is currently conducting research on the psychological and physiological effects of practice.
He also teaches management and is a forensic psychologist in Duluth, MN.
Yan Gaofei and Carol A. McFrederick write about the small frame Chen style, which is not as well known as the large frame Chen style.
They report on their visit to the Chen village to study with Chen Boxiang, considered to be the leading master of the small frame Chen style. Yan and McFrederick have authored prior articles separately. Yan wrote about rooting in the April 1996 issue.
McFrederick wrote about keeping a T’ai Chi journal in the June 2002 issue. Liuhe Qigong is from the Wudang school of T’ai Chi. There are many thousands of kinds of qigong in China and this one is said to be good for stimulating the qi and reinvigorating the body.