George Xu has appeared in T’ai Chi Magazine many times and always has new insights into T’ai Chi Ch’uan and its martial aspects. He has also helped to introduce many martial artists visiting from China, including Wang Hao Da, Ye Xiao Long and Lu Gui Rong.
In this issue’s cover article, he introduces many important martial arts concepts, drawing upon the arts of predators when they are hunting their prey. These include various body arts and also important concepts such as shi, or presence, which is valuable not only for martial artists but for anyone.
In the article, Xu mentions that the form is a very important practice to achieve high levels of skill. And he gives suggestions as to how practitioners can improve their practice. He is also an accomplished fighter and on his frequent trips to Shanghai and other parts of China, he frequently spars with top fighters to learn from their skills.
Xu feels that if people are to advance to higher levels, not only must they do the form, but they must also engage with other people in push hands and fighting who are of similar skill levels or higher to learn and exchange skills.
Outside of China it is more difficult to do this. There are not that many practitioners. And unlike China, where one can go to a park in the morning and find many players and push hands partners, it is hard to find them in the U. S.
When there are opportunities, the skill levels rely primarily on strength, technique and surprise. While higher level T’ai Chi may also use these methods, it is far beyond the grab and shove techniques that are common.
Higher-level practitioners use neutralization to cause the opponent to lose their root and then use just enough internal strength to convince the opponent that further aggression would be fruitless, if not embarrassing.
These are skills that are learned through practice of the form and endless encounters with other practitioners along with a willingness to lose in order to learn.
Even in China, many high level practitioners will not exchange with other high level practitioners for fear that they could lose and then lose status for themselves and their system.
This issue also includes a second installment of an interview by Zhou Lishang with Chen Longxiang, who talks at length about the understanding and skills of Li Yaxuan.
Chen Longxiang is the author of a book in Chinese, “The Essence of Yang Style Taijiquan,” which includes Li’s understanding of Taijiquan based on his study with Yang Chengfu and his own practice.
In this installment, Chen relates Li’s advice about relaxation and how to practice. For people engaged in vigorous exercise or fighting martial arts, relaxation may not be acceptable or understandable.
The Chinese word is usually song, relaxation within a structural framework, or rou, soft or pliable, or even natural.
Li said that when practicing, one should always be composed, concentrated and alertly questioning one’s state of mind, emotions and physical state.
Of course, no one can be in any absolute state as a human being, even though we may strive for it. When one becomes aware of having departed from this composure, then one tries to return to it.
It can be hard for many to accept that one can become strong and skilled by being relaxed. But it does occur if one integrates the advice of the T’ai Chi Classics into one’s practice.
Each of T’ai Chi Ch’uan styles has a rich heritage. In addition to the article about Li Yuaxuan, there is an article about Tian Zhaolin, another Yang stylist who was taken into the family of Yang Jianhou, the son of Yang Luchan.
The source for this interesting article is Tian Yingjia, the middle son of Zhaolin, and also Yingjia’s older brother, Tian Hong. Yingjia was the only one of the three boys who went into T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
The article was written by Key Sun, Ph.D., and LeRoy Clark. Key Sun is a scholar in Taoist psychology and a university professor with several graduate degrees. LeRoy Clark is a student of Taiji history and a Taiji practitioner in Carson City, NV.
Victoria Windholtz, born in Spain, studied martial arts since she was 10 years old. She studied Wushu intensively for about 15 years before starting to study Chen style. She was ranked first at the last European Championships of T’ai Chi Ch’uan in Denmark in October 2002, winning four gold medals, all in Chen style categories.
Windholtz has been the French national champion for the last four years. She began studies with Chen Xiaowang in 2001. She heads Chen World, a Chen school in Paris.
Alex Yeo is a regular contributor from Singapore. This time he writes about previously untranslated material written by Chen Yanling.
Soraya Lingbeek, M.D., Ph.D., who writes about the cardiovascular benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, is an internist and cardiologist based in Australia and Germany. She notes, “Being a sports physician and research scientist in the field of heart risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, etc., T’ai Chi and breathing have been one of my main concerns.”
She has been practicing Yang, Chen, Sun and Wu styles, as well as Wing Chun Kungfu.
Cynthia Fels holds a Master’s Degree in Education and is a retired teacher and national education consultant. She has been practicing T’ai Chi for 20 years and loves to do it as close to nature as possible.
She combines her love of nature and T’ai Chi in specially created T’ai Chi nature walks. She is a volunteer naturalist for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.•