Three important teachers who have made important contributions to T’ai Chi Ch’uan and related internal martial arts have died in the past few months.
The first was Y. W. Chang, who had a distinguished career as a military officer and martial arts instructor.
A student of Chen Pan-Ling, he recently fulfilled the request of his teacher to translate Chen’s T’ai Chi book into English. In many ways he represented a high level of the traditional method of T’ai Chi Ch’uan teaching.
Jane Hallander had a significant impact as a martial arts writer for many years, as well as a teacher. She also partnered with her teacher, Doc-Fai Wong, to hold T’ai Chi tournaments in San Francisco. She wrote hundreds of articles for various martial arts magazines and a number of books.
I had known of her through her articles in other magazines and first met her at Pat Rice’s A Taste of China. Jane was an unique individual, devoted to the martial arts and T’ai Chi Ch’uan in particular.
B. P. Chan was the ultimate low profile teacher. He would tell his students, “No videotapes, no photos, no articles.” So there was no article in T’AI CHI Magazine about him, although we certainly would have been glad to feature him.
The best I could do was to take some photos of him at Jou Tsung Hwa’s Tai Chi Farm while he was holding workshops. B. P. Chan was very much treasured by his students for his knowledge, skill and character.
Chan had a long working relationship with William C. C. Chen, who gave him space to teach and helped him to get residency in the U.S. Such a long working relationship is unusual, especially in the martial arts.
Liu He Ba Fa is a relatively rare and unusual internal martial art that is also rare in this country. Back in the 1970s, John Cheng Li taught in various locations in the country and introduced what he called Hwa Yu T’ai Chi.
At the age of 75, people marveled that he looked 20 years younger. He appeared in excellent shape and was very strong, even though he had a heart attack at age 55.
In recent years others have a taught versions of Liu He Ba Fa, which were usually much more complex than T’ai Chi, but were based on many of the same internal principles. Some versions have up to 500 movements in the form.
Lu Feng-Lin, featured in this issue, teaches a 66-posture set. However, each of the postures contain many individual movements, so it does not appear to be an abbreviated version.
Like T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Liu He Ba Fa is said to have originated in the Song Dynasty. It is attributed to a Taoist, Chen Xi-yi, also known as Chen Tuan, the sleeping immortal, who received the art in a state of dream and taught it to his disciples while living in a cave on Hua Mountain.
Lu’s lineage is from his teacher, Han Guishen, who learned from Wu Yi-Fei, a highly regarded military officer and martial artist. Lu, the primary disciple of Han, has broad insights into internal and Taoist principles embedded in Liu He Ba Fa.
Zhou Lishang is a veteran martial arts journalist based in Beijing. She writes in this issue about an applications frame separate from the traditional Yang style established by Yang Cheng-fu.
As you will understand when you read it, it is much more aggressive that Yang Cheng-fu’s form, but then Yang Shao-hou, who taught it, was much more aggressive and volatile than his brother, Yang Cheng-fu.
It is useful to know about this form and for some people it may be useful to practice it and carry its tradition forward. As to the form’s viability as a self-defense training system, it would really be necessary to see the entire form to make a judgment.
Some of the photos and some of the descriptions of postures would seem useful for training or fitness but not very practical to use for self-defense.
Wan Ming Qun of Nan Chang, China, has written before for T’AI CHI Magazine and in this issue describes some of the self-defense aspects for a key movement in the Chen style, Buddha’s Warrior Pounding the Mortar. As he mentions, it is sometimes referred to as a test posture to measure one’s T’ai Chi skill. Wan is a student of Ma Hong.
Richard Miller of Ann Arbor, MI, writes an interesting article about the Yin Fu style of Bagua Zhang. The article should be of interest to any martial artist, certainly anyone in the internal arts. Miller interviews He Jinbao, a lineage successor to Xie Peiqi, both of Beijing.
Each of the internal martial arts, while embracing similar principles, produce different energies and states of mind. Even with T’ai Chi Ch’uan, there are differences between various styles and their energies and states of mind. It is interesting to learn about these differences without making a judgment about what is good or bad.
Some people who practice qigong have had problems with the way their qi, or energy, develops. This has been less of a problem with T’ai Chi Ch’uan, probably because it is more physical and less abstract.
In qigong, there is sometimes a lot of visualization that can be bad for energy flow if not done precisely. Sean Fannin tries to make practitioners aware of potential problems.
Hiu Chee Fatt of Malaysia studied a number of martial arts before learning T’ai Chi Ch’uan and presents an interesting essay on Peng energy, which is a core energy of T’ai Chi.
In addition to a background in external martial arts, Fatt has studied qigong, Yiquan and T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
He wrote: “In order to achieve higher skill, good understanding is crucial,” but he added, “inaccurate translation to English has adversely affected the quality of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
“I hope I can share with fellow practitioners the true understanding of T’ai Chi Ch’uan with an English mind.”•