Zhu Tian Cai is a high-level Chen style Tai Chi Chuan practitioner, who is famous as one of the four tigers of Zhaopei and Chen Zhaokui. In this issue, he talks about Chen style training and also about a new version of how Yang Lu-ch’an, founder of the Yang style, learned in the Chen village. He also tells how the Chen village got its name and how the Chen family was established.
This is the third successive issue that we have featured a top Chen stylist. Ordinarily, a chance to interview a Chen stylist is not that easy to come by. While it may seem that this is an over-emphasis on one style, all Tai Chi Chuan practitioners can benefit from information about the Chen style.
With all respect to the legend of Zhang San feng, the Chen style is the root of Tai Chi Chuan, from which all successive styles are derived. Its theory and principles apply to all styles, even though other individual styles each have their own specialties that add value to their own methods.
In another article, Wang Hao Da, a top student of the late Ma Yueh-Liang, talks about some of the skill and philosophy of his teacher and also about methods for developing good form and push hands. For the past couple of years, Wang has traveled to the U.S., sponsored by George Xu, a veteran San Francisco internal small martial artist.
Wang Hao Da is a relatively small man and doesn’t sport big muscles, but his push hands are very strong. He attributes this to the rooting and central equilibrium learned from Ma. When he exerts force, he draws on his central equilibrium and his ability to sink.
Some of the problems involved in making progress in Tai Chi are discussed in Harvey W. Liebergott’s interview with Calvin Chin of Newton, MA. Chin discussed some of the steps involved beyond just learning a form, and explains that there is life beyond routine practice.
An accomplished martial artist who teaches external and internal martial arts, Chin emphasizes that martial skill is more than just techniques of self-defense application. He feels it comes from reaching progressively deeper into the internal principles.
Dr. George Ho of Vancouver, BC, Canada, gives interesting insights on some of the ways to develop one’s practice and compares them to other kinds of physical training and exercise. He talks about different methods of training and the mental aspects of that training.
Tu-Ky Lam of Wellington, New Zealand, writes about the problems that can occur in practice and gives a perspective on training, including various methods. Even if a person practices only for their health and well being, it is helpful to have as much information as possible about the various methods of practice and how they can be understood and used.
There are many small steps that can be taken on a daily basis to improve what we do. The late Master Jou Tsung Hwa always asked people to try to make a little progress every day. It is good to remind yourself of that as part of your practice.
Gerald Sharp, who studied wit Ma Yueh-Liang, writes about Zhou Zhan Fang, another student of Ma, and his insights on Tai Chi. He tells of some of Ma’s methods for practice, as well as some of his own experiences. The use of kong jin, or empty force is also discussed. Sharp remarks in the article about his own observation of Ma using little or no force to draw opponents’ off-balance.
Sean Fannin, a practicing herbalist in Petaluma, CA, writes about nurturing the Gate of Life, the mingmen. If you don’t know what the mingmen is, read this article. Fannin provides important information for Tai Chi and qigong practitioners. The culture of Tai Chi Chuan is directly related to Traditional Chinese Medicine and the more we know about how it is related, the better off we are.
Steve Russell, a 25-year student of Tai Chi, tells about his experiences in becoming a teacher and the decisions he had to make. He discusses the practical issues to settle when you decide you are going to teach.
Kim Rosenberg writes about his insight into the art of fighting and the art if fighting without fighting, based upon his studies of both Buddhism and Tai Chi.
In this issue’s commentary, Diane Hoxmeier of Cape Cod, MA, writes about the many factors involved in balance and how Tai Chi practice helps. Proprioception is one.