It is relatively easy to understand Tai Chi Chuan from an intellectual point of view. It is also easy to get it wrong. Even more difficult is combining the physical, emotional, and mental aspects because there are so many variables in each person.
Wang Hao Da is a diminutive man who seems to have achieved a considerable level of accomplishments through his studies and has come to terms with the complexity of T’ai Chi practice.
I’ve met him several times and he is able to reveal additional layers of understanding and skill each time. In this issue, he speaks about push hands and 14 replacements. Replacements may be an awkward work, but it describes the process that he considers important in going more inward to unify the body and to activate the principles of Yin and Yang.
He is talking about replacing the Yang aspects of our physical body with the Yin, according to the situation. This is also implemented in push hands.
At 76, he is in very good health and applies his T’ai Chi understanding to maintain his health. He also has suggestions for longevity.
Various persons have found that he is hard to push and skillful in pushing others. Yet, he is a modest man. You would assume a 76-year-old man who in only 5’4” and 120 pounds would have to be modest in a martial art. But he is modest because of his higher level of skill.
The Wu style that Wang learned from Ma Yueh-liang is a softer form than the Chen style, which is quite athletic. Without taking anything away from the Chen style or the other styles, Wang proves that by utilizing Tai Chi Wu style one can rise to a high level of accomplishment without aggressive or “strong” movements.
A second installment about the Zhaobao styles appears in this issue. It is an interesting system and shares many of the principles of the other styles.
Wang Haizhou gives details, such as the circulation of energy around the zhoutian, or microcosmic orbit as some people refer to it. In addition to the tongue touching the hard plate, he said it should turn in accordance with the turning of the dantian.
And the awareness should go not just to the fingers but to the fingernails. If the practitioner can concentrate the qi at the mails, “the actions could be radiated to the end through the fingers.”
Mark Peters, principal teacher for the Kai Ming Association in the United Kingdom, writes about T’ai Chi body mechanics and gives some insights into Cheng Man-ch’ing’s teachings. Different methods still are based on the same sound principles and Peters shows how this is true for Cheng’s famous version of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
Richard Ingate, based in Malaysia, takes up the issue of what is real T
Tai Chi Ch’uan. Is it a New Age dance or slight of hand? Or is it a martial art? He leads us back to basic Tai Chi values. Ingate is a certified hypnotherapist, NLP master practitioner, and writer. He studies and teaches T’ai Chi Ch’uan and he studies Malaysian and Chinese martial arts systems.
What is real Tai Chi really touches a nerve with many Tai Chi practitioners. There has been quite a variety of strong views expressed on the side of a strict interpretation of its martial skills verses its health and healing practice. There’s also the serious concern about the dilution of Tai Chi Chuan, so that its principles are never passed on to the new generations.
One man with a modern dance background went to a T’ai Chi class and said he wanted to learn so he could change it according to his own ideas. This was said before he had even learned one movement.
Xianhao Cheng, Ph.D, was interested in a piece that Dr. Wen Zee wrote about peng for TAI CHI Magazine and this led to discussions wit Dr. Zee about peng.
Peng is critical energy in T’ai Chi Chuan and some have said if there is no peng, there is no T’ai Chi Ch’uan. This is a complex issue with many people having different views.
Cheng, who studied and practiced Tai Chi Chuan in China before coming to the U.S., decided to explain more about peng and how it moves. Cheng works in Pennsylvania and lives in Verginia.
Michael Gilman, a regular contributor to T’AI CHI magazine, writes about the importance of intention if T’ai Chi Ch’uan, especially for martial arts purpose. Here he talks about self-defense techniques, using the Yang style, and the importance of intention to these techniques. He is a longtime practitioner of the Yang style and studied with Choy Kamman in San Francisco.
William Ting provides an interesting explanation of emptiness and fullness and how they can coexist at the same time. Ting, based in Mount Laurel, NJ, is from Shanghai and practices a Wu Ji Jing Gong form of T’ai Chi. It is derived from the Chen style and incorporates elements of qigong, Bagua, Xingyi, as well as Wu and Yang style T’ai Chi. Ting is a closed-door student of Lu Ji-Tang. Lu was a closed door student of Chen Ji Shen, who created the style.