As this year winds down, it marks the completion of 25 years of service to the T’ai Chi Ch’uan community. To mark this milestone, we are republishing in this issue several stories from the issues of the early 1980s. Some of them are no longer available as back issues and a number involve interviews with key Tai Chi Chuan figures in China during a trip I made in 1983.
It is worthwhile to note that at the time of that trip, there was a campaign in China against Spiritual Pollution, so it would be expected that my reception would not have been very well received.
On the contrary, the Tai Chi Chuan people I was fortunate enough to meet were very happy to meet someone from the U.S. who was involved in T’ai Chi Ch’uan and even publishing what at that time was a very modest newsletter.
Without exception they were willing to be interviewed and discuss the theory and development of the art. That is apparent from interviews published in this issue. Also, photos taken from that trip are published for the first time in color, with the aid of computer software to enhance their appearance.
My first stop was in Hong Kong, where I met Yiu Kwong, author of two books that I was selling through the newsletter.
Although I could speak only guidebook Chinese and he spoke no English, which was par for the entire trip, he was very generous with his time and information. I visited his early morning class in a park and spoke with him in the evening at his home through a translator.
What I remember most about him was that he was very forthcoming in his speech and emphasized the need for opening all the joints.
When I did push hands with him in the park, he was very relaxed and very strong, a combination that makes useless the strength and cleverness that most players use. When he taught his class, he led the students though all the movements, calling out the names of the movements as they were executed.
In Shanghai, my first stop in China, I was fortunate to meet Dr. Wen Zee. I had met him through Sophia Delza, who had written several articles for the newsletter.
A Wu stylist and long-time student of Ma Yueh-Liang, Dr. Zee introduced me to some of Ma’s family, although he said Ma was teaching in the South and was not available. He did help me to meet several other people, including Fu Zhongwen, Gu Liuxin, and others.
Dr. Zee was translator for my interview with Fu, who like several others came to my hotel room for the interviews. The photo of Fu, unfortunately, was taken in the hotel room.
Another important official also came to the room and was interviewed, which surprised my guide. During the trip I was traveling alone with the aid of guides/translators in various locations provided by a government agency, that I had paid for the trip.
Gu Liuxin was not in town, but vacationing in Wuxi, a lake city north of Shanghai. The interview with him was on a tour boat on the lake with the aid of a local interviewer, who had trained a little in martial arts and was as interested as I was in what Gu said.
Gu was famous for his books on Tai Chi Chuan and was noted for his practice of Yang and Chen styles. He was also happy to talk about Tai Chi Chuan and we talked for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the interview lasted so long that when the time came for photos, it was getting dark, which can be seen in the photo in this issue.