Feng Zhiqiang was remarkable for his energy during his trip to the U.S. in July. Even at 75 years of age, he kept a full schedule even on the third and last leg of his trip. His skills are legendary in China, where one story tells of 12 judo experts trying to push him down at the same time until he threw them all down. They couldn’t understand how he did this.
For all his seriousness in his practice and in his teaching, he also had a remarkable sense of play. This was evident in his remarks during his lectures and also at a banquet Saturday night in Champaign, IL.
Representatives of various states and countries gave him gifts ranging from cowboy hats to baseball caps to replicas of Hollywood Oscars.
In each case, he spontaneously was able to mimic role each gift presented, donning sunglasses to hold up the Oscar, for instance. When a Florida representative presented him with a replica of a manatee, he mimicked its swimming movements.
When the New Orleans contingent led by Bob Parker went into a Mardi Gras routine with music, costumes and streamers, Feng donned a crawfish mask they gave him and joined in the dance the contingent was doing. (See photo on page 17.)
Since he could not thank them for the gifts directly in English, it was a way of expressing his appreciation with movement.
When it came to push hands, his manner was a little different. The force that he was able to exert was not muscular but a very strong internal energy that he was able to modulate for the situation, being careful not to injure anyone.
For example, when he held his arm out, his hand was totally relaxed. But if you tried to push his forearm, it was like trying to push the heavy limb of a tree.
His recipe for getting this kind of internal energy was not just practicing hard, but practicing softly with qigong, Tai Chi forms and silk reeling exercises as well as standing postures. Of course, the higher the level of development sought, the greater the time, effort and intelligence is required. The articles in this issue develop these points.
His hosts during this, his first major trip to the U.S., were Zhang Xuexin in San Francisco, Gao Fu in Seattle, and Yang Yang in Champaign, IL. Zhang was a longtime student of Feng’s in China before he came to the U.S. about 10 years. ago.
Gao Fu was also a longtime student in China before coming to the U.S. some years ago. Yang Yang has studied with him since the 1980s and co-wrote an important article about Feng’s teachings in the June 2000 issue of T’AI CHI Magazine.
Malcolm Dean, who attended the seminar in San Francisco, writes about some of the remarks made there.
There, too, Feng emphasized that gentle practice is more effective than forceful practice. Many people who study T’ai Chi for self-defense are eager to use force even though this unrefined force is incorrect and even harmful when used in applications and fa-jin, explosive strikes.
Feng was reported to have enjoyed his trip to the U.S. Hopefully, he will find the opportunity to come back. He was accompanied during this trip by his daughter, Feng Xiufang, and his student, Chen Xiang.
There is an article in this issue about corrections concerning Yang family T’ai Chi lineage. The articles are self-explanatory.
Wang Peisheng is a famous proponent in Beijing of the Northern Wu style. He is interviewed for the article by Zhou Lishang, an editor amd writer in Beijing. Wang discusses important aspects of practice. I met and interviewed Wang when I was in Beijing in 1983. And I also interviewed him in the 1990s at A Taste of China. He has valuable tips for improving skills. He, like Feng, recommends standing postures as well as forms.
Loretta M. Donnelly, formerly Loretta Wollering, writes movingly about a memorial set up in a park for Jou Tsung Hwa in a Warwick, NY. There was a good turnout of people who were students and fans of Jou’s teaching and the famous Tai Chi Farm, which was located in Warwick. It was famous as place where all Tai Chi stylists could come to learn and share.
David X. Swenson, Ph.D., of Duluth, MN, writes about how he has found that he can practice Tai Chi just about anytime, opening doors, digging holes, gardening, or playing with his dog.
Don Ethan Miller of Arlington, MA, a familiar tournament push hands competitor, writes about his explorations of the potentials of Repulse The Monkey. Miller has been practicing T’ai Chi since 1970. One of his teachers was T. T. Liang.
Mark Wasson of Livermore, CA, writes about his impressions of Henan National Taiji Championship competitors. He discusses the differences in Chen forms even though the competitors learned their Tai Chi from closely related sources.
Dr. M. S. Menon of Mumbai, India, writes of a study using Tai Chi to improve recovery from chemical substance abuse. A retired major, he is a consultant physician and cardiologist and director of internal medicine and research at The Kripa Foundation and Institute of Training and Research, Mumbai, India.
Dr. Abdullah Moton of Pakistan and his student, Hassan Saiyid of Bridgeport, CT., collaborate on an article focused on finding the right way to practice with true spirit. Dr. Moton teaches Tai Chi, qigong and gongfu, aikido, Iaido, etc. He has been studying over 30 years and learned in Mayanmar (Burma). He is an acupuncture doctor from Rangoon.
Julie Christie writes about how Tai Chi has helped her to achieve a measure of inner stillness. She writes about her experience in a weekend workshop on Xingyi. She found that internal boxing helps her to deal with her inner contradictions as she tries to achieve a sense of inner stillness and a sense of energy flow.•