Jiang Jian-ye has an amazing repertoire of Chinese martial arts styles, from Shaolin to Wushu to internal practices such as T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Bagua Zhang and Xingyi Quan. However, he now prefers to emphasize the internal arts.
Jiang learned martial arts and qigong from an early age from a friend of his father’s, who was a physical education and martial arts instructor. His development was impeded during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, when he had to spend six years in the countryside doing hard labor for 10 hours every day.
During that period, his teacher had difficulty because students would criticize him for political reasons. But Jiang said that he would still go to his teacher at night after his hard labor and study with him privately so that no one would know and cause political problems.
Jiang knows the six officially recognized T’ai Chi Ch’uan styles: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu/Hao, Sun, and Zhaobao. He also plans to continue his Wu Dang T’ai Chi studies this summer at Wu Dang Mountain. Wu Dang Shan is a sacred Taoist mountain associated with the legendary founder of T’ai Chi, Zhang Sanfeng.
Sun Jianyun, daughter of the famous Sun Lu-Tang, talks in this issue about the aspects of Sun Style founded by her father. It is the youngest of the T’ai Chi styles and preserves the essential points while having its own unique characteristics.
It is done with a higher posture, is more brisk in movement and there is the frequent movement forward of the back foot. It is probably easier to learn than some of the other styles, but it is still not widely taught.
It is apparent from her comments about her father’s teaching that he emphasized calmness of mind both in practice and in life.
She quotes some of his teaching and advice to martial artists that is valuable for serious practitioners and elevates the art beyond perfecting techniques.
Alex Yeo of Singapore has previously written articles for T’AI CHI Magazine, but this time he embarks on a major project, delving into a wide variety of source material to create a larger perspective of the origins of Tai Chi Chuan.
There are many partisan assertions about how Tai Chi Ch’uan originated and developed. It is hard to differentiate between the claims and the validity of the source material.
The legend of Zhang Sanfeng is probably just that, a legend. It was not unusual in China for someone to develop an art and attribute it to someone famous in the past to give it more credibility.
Even so, the ideas expressed in the legend are valuable to understanding the art.
In any case, knowing more about the discussions of the origin helps us to have a broader understanding of Tai Chi Chuan, if we can get beyond insisting that our way is the one right way or the one correct history.
Speaking of history, it is certainly important for Tai Chi Chuan that China won the 2008 Olympics. It is likely that Tai Chi Chuan will be selected as a demonstration event and eventually a Olympic competition event.
Wendell Anderson’s Tai Chi history is less complicated but it is an interesting odyssey. Now practicing in Eugene, OR, his efforts were frequently on again, off again until he developed some guiding principles to keep him on the track fairly regularly.
It is not always easy for practitioners to keep themselves motivated. What would be your own guiding principles?
Dr. Paul Lam of Sydney, Australia, a frequent contributor to T’AI CHI Magazine, writes about Yang Shou-Zhong, eldest son of Yang Cheng-fu.
Dr. Lam’s father-in-law, now 89, studied with Yang Shou-Zhong in Hong Kong and in conversations with Dr. Lam tells about his experiences.
Yang was a traditional teacher, which means that a lot was left up to the student’s individual effort if he really wanted to advance and become good at T’ai Chi.
Dr. Lam’s father-in-law is testament to the benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. He practices daily and works half a day and remains healthy and active.
Sean Fannin practices Traditional Chinese Medicine in Petaluma, CA, and he writes about the need for an internal support system to deal with the minor and major difficulties we face in daily life.
He suggests stillness and moving practices as a way to connect with the source and to cultivate new internal energies for use in dealing with daily life.
Implicit in this is cultivating an awareness of when to turn to stillness and when to apply movement.
Chris Bennett of Melbourne, Australia, tells about meeting a man from Taiwan in a Melbourne Park and being initiated into the pleasures of free style push hands. It lead to organizing a T’ai Chi push hands club. He writes about the benefits of free style push hands and offers training tips.
Devin J. Starlanyl is the author of four books and a video about fibromyalgia and myofascial pain.
She describes how these conditions affect movement so that teachers can understand how to assist students who have these conditions. She is a student of the Yang style with Joe Carroll at Solar Hill, Brattleboro, VT.
She is the director of The Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Institute in West Chesterfield, NH.
Lil Cromer of Belleair, FL, writes about the benefits she has received during the past five years while studying T’ai Chi, and the transformation it created.
Harold H. Lee translates a part of a book by the famous Wu Tunan, in which Wu describes the relationship of T’ai Chi practice to vitality and the method of practicing correctly.•