With more people than ever before practicing Tai Chi Chuan it is important that they have the opportunity to do it correctly, whatever their style.
The 10 essentials that Yang Zhenduo mentions in the cover article and very basic. But they are also a prescription for advanced development.
And although Yang emphasizes health rather than martial arts in his teaching, he steadfastly connects Tai Chi with its roots as an internal martial art and self-defense. We are really fortunate to have someone of his stature teaching these fundamentals for every- one to learn.
Similarly, Tu-Ky Lam’s translation of Ma Hong’s article about the Chen style provides very useful information for any practitioner. Ma Hong, who was interviewed in T'AI CHI Magazine last year, is an authoritative Chen style researcher and has a lot of knowledge to share from his many years of practice. He studied with the famous Chen Zhaokui.
Xie Bing Can, who is from Shanghai and who now teaches in the Bellevue, WA area, has a reputation for having good self-defense skills. In his article, he gives some new insights from his experience and from classic writings.
No matter how long you have studied, there is always something to learn from these writings, especially when it comes from a strong practitioner. Xie studied with Fu Zhongwen and Ma Yue-liang and is a veteran of 45 years practice.
Understanding the fundamentals and the writings is difficult even for practitioners in China. For people who don’t know the language of the classics in Chinese, it can be hugely difficult.
One of the lesser known of the five major styles is the Wu style founded by Wu Yu-xiang. He has a strong reputation for his skill. He used his literary ability to contribute to the Tai Chi classics. An interesting report on this style is presented by Zhou Li-shang from Beijing, a veteran journalist.
Another journalist, who is now a teacher, is Mason Smith, who writes about “Levels of Engagement” in self-defense and daily life. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis by others on power and strength the Yin aspect doesn’t get much respect. So much for Lao-Tzu.
The truth is that once you have strength, it is not hard to use. How not to use it is more difficult.
Teaching Tai Chi Chuan to children would appear to be a daunting task, but Barbara Mosley seems to carry it off with a great deal of enthusiasm. From her article, it is apparent that she doesn’t try to remake Tai Chi into something else for her class.
Instead, she teaches a “normal” class, including push hands, but does it creatively. It is a tribute to her efforts, that some children have been coming back long after their initial class ended.
Guo An Feng addresses the problem of how to learn Tai Chi authentically with the help of practical knowledge and scientific principles. He applies the principles of kinetic testing, which can be used by anyone to test their structure and strength. It is an excellent way to learn in a concrete way.
Another author, Aristotle Hadjianloniou, has a similar approach and focuses in a novel way on how to bring up strength from the bottom of the feet.
The comparison of using strength from the ground to the invention and use of the stirrup in Medieval Europe is interesting.
Hadjiantoniou studied with Mak-Ying Po, now retired, who studied with the famous Yang stylist Tung Ying-chieh. Tung was a longtime student of Yang Cheng-fu.
If you wonder why qigong and Tai Chi help to make you calmer, you might want to read Lao Cen’s article on qigong and neurasthenia. It is a simple concept but it works. But to apply it is not that easy.
An insight into how internal energy is used in Tai Chi Chuan is given in Yue Xian’s article about the cultivation of internal energy and some of the unusual skills a number of people develop.