Yang Zhenduo is an intelligent and dedicated man. He has worked hard for decades to carry forward the Yang family’s tradition as a martial art and as an exercise for health. And he has done this at a distinct disadvantage since his father, Yang Cheng-fu died at an early age.
But at 70 years of age, some 60 years after the death of his father, Yang Zhenduo, still carries on the work and the Yang style has never been more popular. And it should be noted that the other styles of Tai Chi Chuan can be said to owe a debt to the Yang style for its development, since it gave new credence and exposure to the Chen style, the originating style. And the two Wu styles and Sun styles both are derived from the Yang style.
In this issue, Yang discusses how Yang style is being adapted for purposes beyond martial arts roots. His priority in teaching is that students learn the basic principles, since then they will be able to understand the dynamics and preserve the integrity of the form. This is no small thing. Many people do not fully understand what the concepts of loosening the waist, relaxing, sinking the shoulders or rooting all mean in terms of the integrated action of the body. He discusses these concepts in the article, too.
Feng Zhiqiang is one of China’s most famous contemporary teachers and is highly regarded for his martial skill and qigong. The exercises in this issue are an important part of his qigong system.
Dr. Mei Ying Sheng looks at the Yang style Single Whip posture in terms of the dynamics and the self-defense use. He is a long time practitioner of the Yang style and has had close contact with some of the top masters.
R. J. Mendel has some useful suggestions about the way to approach Tai Chi as a martial art. You have to have a strategy and he gives some and outlines some training drills that can be useful.
As with any other martial art or endeavor, you must train intelligently and hard to reach any level of accomplishment. You don’t need a whole lot of techniques, but you must know what you know very well and be able to adapt it instinctively when the time comes.
A lot of people want to learn a lot of techniques and the more you learn the better. It is, in a way, part of the “play” of martial arts. But the best part of the “play” involves your own inventiveness with what you already know, providing you are soundly grounded in the fundamental principles.
There are a lot of people out there who are using Tai Chi in the workplace to help with back and neck and wrist problems, not to mention over-all stress. Daniel Feldman, who has done several styles, writes about the way he used techniques he learned from his teacher to help people at a software company in northern California.
There are several other articles in this issue by practitioners who are applying Tai Chi to different aspects of their lives – Erik Kaplan, Teresa Lawson and George Jepson. They have interesting stories to tell.
Luke Chan, author of the book, “Secrets of the Tai Chi Circle,” has an article on an unusual qigong hospital in China. Chan studied there earlier this year and he tells of some hard to believe healing experiences that go on there.
Qigong has been hugely popular in China but there also been some major cases of fraud and misrepresentation in connection with it.
There are a couple of responses in this issue to my comments in the last issue about push hands judging. Don Miller makes some constructive comments and J. Justin Meehan makes a good defense of the current system.
Any system, if it is going to improve, has to remain open to suggestions and criticism. The heart of the martial arts and life is to continually be flexible and creative to see what will work best in a given situation.