Chen Qingzhou is always practicing T”ai Chi Chuan, not only when he is doing the form or push hands, but also when he is at a meeting, watching a film, or even during the interview with T'AI CHI Magazine. If he can’t physically do the form, he is rotating his dantian, or twisting or turning a short, bent wooden stick, which simulates grasping techniques.
He also coordinates its use with rotating the dantian. At times in the past, he had to do it while holding the bang in a coat packet, which resulted in numerous holes in his coat lining.
He has been very popular during his three trips to the U.S., and his core students estimate that in the three years he has had over 1,000 students attend his workshops.
At first, he was disappointed with the casualness of the students and couldn’t understand why they could not be more serious in their practice. But now he said he has learned more about the culture and is encouraged by the improvement he has seen students make. He singled out his host, Dan Gere, saying that each year he has made good progress. Chen’s students have been impressed by his seriousness, requiring students to stay focused and practice hard, according to Anthony Wong, translator for the interview.
Practice of forms is something that always has to be re-examined. It is too easy to just go through the motions and feel good about having done so. But as the late Jou Tsung Hwa often said, it is important to try to keep learning every day and to try to improve every day.
Doug Woolidge’s translation of Xu Zhi Yi’s chapter on form practice provides insight on how to improve form practice and some of the stages involved. Forms practice is not the only kind of TaiChi practice, but programming oneself to keep on improving produces great rewards.
Tuey Staples makes an important point in his article about what he calls the infinity posture. He says it is important to stay within your body in order to use your skills effectively and maintain central equilibrium. This is one of the great benefits of TaiChi practice, not only in terms of self-defense, but in terms of seeing and reaching to the real world. Many people get into trouble when they use their imagination to project themselves outside their body and claim space that other people occupy or claim.
Judith Sachs explores the need people have for touch, even when they think they don’t want it or need it. She has found it even helps seniors to play with self-defense applications, and that the quality of touch improves push hands for students of all ages.
The practice of standing meditation has become more visible and we have offered a number of articles on this important practice. Marc Sabin discusses some important aspects and benefits of this practice.
The 1999 Taiji Legacy Kungfu Tournament, held in Dallas, TX by Jimmy K. Wong, was very successful and featured some interesting innovations. One of them was team form competition to music. I am not a fan of listening to music while doing TaiChi, but at the tournament, it worked. Tournaments that don’t focus heavily on the dramatic of full contact have been a hard sell. But Jimmy Wong’s tournament was a definite success.
In June there was a large turnout for the 27th annual Zhang San feng Festival started by the late Jou Tsung Hwa. The large number was a tribute to the affection people has for Jou and his work. As usual it was a good time for learning and fellowship, but also an emotional one for those with strong feelings for Jou and his work.
Once you’ve learned Tai Chi, could you start over with a new teacher? It is not so easy to do. But Anthony A. Lessing made the choice when he had the opportunity to study in China after having studied in the U.S. It wasn’t easy but he was able to do it and he writes about his experience in this issue.