Kan Guixiang said she and her husband, Men Huifeng, eat, drink and sleep T’ai Chi Ch’uan. And discuss all the problems and ideas with each other. She attributes her successes to his assistance.
They are both highly respected martial artists and each has created shorter or competition forms that are widely practiced.
Some traditionalists do not believe in competition forms or abbreviated forms such as the Simplified 24 Forms or 42 Forms, which have been created from the traditional sets.
However, Prof. Kan and Prof. Men believe along with many others that the abbreviated forms allow beginners to get a successful beginning in T’ai Chi. Then the beginners will feel encouraged to go on and learn other forms.
Whether that happens remains to be seen. Most of the time, people who start T’ai Chi Ch’uan want to improve their health or relieve tensions as soon as possible. If it involves a six weeks course, they’ll try it for six weeks and then stop unless the instructor can sell them on a more long-term effort.
It is inevitable that as T’ai Chi Ch’uan grows there will be more diversity in the way it is taught, the way the traditional styles develop and in the new styles that are created.
Prof. Kan has a lively mind and many interesting ideas about the benefits and practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. She is hopeful that it will be introduced in China’s Olympic Games as a medal sport.
She was interviewed following a seminar in Southern California in January of this year.
Most people take T’ai Chi Ch’uan for health or recreation, with recreation including such varied aspects as stress relief and self-defense.
So some of the articles, such as Zhou Lishang’s interview of Li Lian about the Yang style Applications Form, may be a little overwhelming for beginners or intermediate students.
There are a lot of technical terms and ideas that are hard to understand and just as difficult to implement in practice.
Li mentions many Chinese terms that are hard to understand when translated into English, but if someone has practiced enough, they can represent a gold mine.
Our goal is to help beginners get established in their practice and also to contribute to the information that will be available to students trying to practice at a higher level.
We want to make available in English some of the vast amount of information that is available in Chinese. The more information like this that is printed in English, the better practitioners will be able to raise their level of understanding and practice.
Some aspects of T’ai Chi are not understood without many years of practice.
Even then, there is no guarantee. It is up to the individual’s intelligence and insight to tap into the information that is printed on the page and the information that comes through one’s body from daily practice.
Margaret Ross reports on an interesting project that shows that a group of teenagers with Attention Deficit Disorder got positive benefits from six weeks of T’ai Chi training.
A T’ai Chi practitioner for 10 years, she is an emeritus director of the Counseling Center and a professor at Marietta College, a small, liberal arts college in Southeastern Ohio.
While the test was small and based on interviews of the students after the class was completed, the responses of the students to the interviews were interesting and surely must have been satisfying for Ross.
Silk reeling energy is inherent in the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan because of the emphasis on circular movement, turning the waist and the development of internal energy.
Mark Wasson describes silk reeling energy and how it can be developed and used.
A Chen stylist, Wasson tells of its importance in the Chen style. His article is helpful in explaining how to feel and use silk reeling energy.
It is helpful to get an idea of silk reeling energy through practice of exercises. It will develop over time as one practices a T’ai Chi form following the basic principles.
One has to store up enough internal energy and cultivate a feeling that this energy is circulating through the whole body as one moves.
Alex Yeo of Singapore writes about the Yang style in his third article on the development of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. The history of T’ai Chi Ch’uan is rife with widely varying accounts of how it was started and the key figures in its history.
Yeo does a good job of presenting various points of view and giving a good perspective.
The martial arts are noted for their fierce loyalties, which can sometimes result in distortions that obscure a full and fair perspective.
Daniel K. Wong, who lives in Elphinstone, Manitoba, Canada, grew up in Hong Kong and had the opportunity to learn Yang style from Yang Shao-Zhong.
He gives interesting insights obtained through his private lesson with Yang, who was the first son of Yang Cheng-Fu. He describes his experience of Yang style training, which he says did not include T’ai Chi Ball. He also practices Bagua and Xingyi.
Carol Ann McFrederick tells how she got started keeping a journal of her T’ai Chi practice. Her teacher suggested it and McFrederick then researched and experimented with it. She gives suggestions as to how you might do it and what you might want to include in such a journal.
In a project like this, you should not feel that everything you write down has to be important.
McFrederick lives in South Florida, where she is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami and works at Florida International University.•