There are a lot of people who have contributed to the development of Tai Chi Chuan in the West, but few have contributed as much or more than Sophia Delza, who died in June at 92 years of age. A small, determined woman, she was always focused on improving her understanding, practice and teaching. And many of her efforts were during decades when people knew little of what Tai Chi Chuan was and didn’t have that much interest.
Ye Xiao Long at 70, is not much bigger than Sophia Delza and a whole lot skinner. He is somewhere between skinny and gaunt. But he is healthy and has very strong root and can bring out very strong peng energy. He can easily uproot and throw away people much larger then himself. He is what you would think an internal martial artist would be. He is very serious.
To practice an internal martial art, it helps to have a good body and good athletic skills to start off with. But that will not take you very far. It requires relentless practice, a good deal of which can seem non-productive, particularly since a practitioner often has only a vague or no idea of where his practice is taking him. And that can go on for years or forever. Worse than that, he could actually be going in the wrong direction. I don’t know what pain or frustrations Ye encountered if at all for his development, but he certainly looks to me that what he has, he earned.
Good news for Tai Chi Chuan practitioners is in the May issue of the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.” Two research studies speak favorably of the benefits Tai Chi has for senior citizens. And in an editorial, Tai Chi is further praised. The praise is particularly significant since it is authored by two persons from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, which has not tilted toward the soft kind of exercise such as Tai Chi.
This is the kind of news that teachers can use to substantiate to their students the benefits of Tai Chi and to present to institutions who might then have interest in offering Tai Chi and to present to institutions who might then have interest in offering Tai Chi. Equally important are the recommendations for further study of the benefits of Tai Chi for senior citizens and others.
Tai Chi Chuan is still being developed and an example of this is the Hong style of Hong Jun-Sheng, which is described in the article by Tu-Ky Lam, a Chen stylist from Wellington, New Zealand. It is interesting to note the differences in both form and push hands techniques that Lam describes. It is useful to remain open to new developments and not close our minds to anything that is not traditional.
An author who has his own style of Tai Chi is Ichin Shen, who practices in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. He writes interestingly about the philosophical basis of the Tao and Tai Chi and his own style. It is best to see what a person has to offer, and learn from their experience, which is bound to be different as well as similar to our own.
Arnoldo Ty Nunez has a broad martial arts background and recently held his own tournament in the New York City area. He thinks practitioners should make an effort to be aware of and support the martial applications of Tai Chi styles such as the Yang style. He is head instructor of Bao Chi Lum Moth Gwoon in New York City.
Dr. Mei Ying Sheng of Shenzen, China, a medical doctor and Yank stylist, analyzes the classical methods of doing the Single Whip as described by Yang Cheng-fu and others, and compares them with some contemporary methods. Dr. Mei has studied with a number of top Yang stylists. He is translated by Ted W. Knecht, who has studied with him.
China’s rich tradition of herbal medicine is interestingly described by Michael P. Milburn, Ph.D., a Canadian scientist and writer who has considerable expertise in Chinese health practices. He is the author of several books.
Instructors will be interested in some of the problems and solutions of Michael Patty in his article about the difficulty teaching in a local chemical abuse treatment center.