Liu Ji Fa of Shanghai is a long time practitioner of the Wu style of Wu Chian Chuan. A student of Pei Zhu Yin and Ma Yueh-liang, Liu emphasizes two key principles, which he says are essential to understanding the rest of the Tai Chi theory.
In addition, he emphasizes rotation of the dantian in coordination with the chest. Many longtime practitioners practice rotating the dantian and attribute the practice to improving their martial art skill. It is also an important meditative practice and health discipline.
Another Wu Style, that of Wu Yuxiang, is featured in an article by Zhou Lishang on Wu Wenhan, a successor of the Wu style. Wu Yuxiang was a scholar with a wealthy family so he was able to devote a great deal of time to practice and scholarship.
Wu Wenhan is also a scholar and has written extensively about the Wu Style and Tai Chi Chuan. He gives some interesting insights into the classics.
Joseph Eber of Plainfield, NJ, who writes about Sink, Turn and Expand, started learning Tai Chi with Sidney Austin, who used to say, "A Tai Chi friend is a friend for life."
Eber also studied with Sophia Delza and after she died began learning from William Ting (Ting Kuo-Piao), who he credits in good measure for the insights that he describes in the article.
There are many subtleties in sinking and bringing out the body's energies. Many times people cancel out their own energies through incorrect practice. Eber provides useful suggestions that should help people in form practice as well as push hands.
Alex Yeo of Singapore writes about his discussion with Liu Rui about Zhaobao Taijiquan. Liu's forms in the photos don't look very well defined but when I asked Alex Yeo about this, he said that is the way the form is done. He also said that his physical contact with Liu gave evidence of a great deal of internal strength.
It is not unusual for correct practice to surpass the aesthetics of form.
There are some interesting comments and stories from Liu, not the least of which is his examination of why people do not progress in their practice.
Miles Henderson of Canberra, Australia, writes about a distinctive Bagua style that claims a different origin from those styles derived from Dong Haichuan. He describes some of the differences and similarities, including similarities to Chen Tai Chi.
Zhenbo Sun of Boyds, MD, who writes about the eight basic techniques, has studied Chen style and Bagua Zhang for decades and has been a coach in China. He uses diagrams and a segment of the Chen style to describe the eight basic techniques. He published a book in Chinese on the Chen style in 2006.
Tu-ky Lam of New Zealand gives his views on the relationship of the torso and the arms. This follows a discussion in the last couple of issues in the Letters to the Editor. The discussion originated from an article by George Xu of San Francisco, CA, who has a deep understanding and the ability to express it using metaphors.
Progress in the internal aspects of the martial arts has many twists and turns. All practitioners are part of the continuum but in different places along it. And the continuum is not a straight line.
Understanding occurs as people practice and become aware of their development. It is not an easy progression. Perhaps that is why there is a saying in the martial arts that you have to be willing and able to eat the bitter.
Practice is not a guarantee of success but without practice there is not much chance of achieving higher levels.
In the issue of having no fists or no arms, it is important to understand that this is a metaphor. It is an expression of what it feels like when one reaches a certain level of internal accomplishment.
It doesn't mean that the arms or the legs are not used, but that they are used in a different way based on one's personal perception, skill and feeling.
Some people can employ them with only very subtle movements. The “no fists” metaphor implies that the fists are functioning more effectively and naturally than using the arms and legs in a mechanical way.
Either way, it is not a matter of being right or wrong. It is more a matter of perception, which changes with one's practice. And discussion can be very helpful. There is no end to one's development in Tai Chi Chuan as long as one continues to practice.
We have received calls from Australian journalists and U. S. law enforcement regarding the whereabouts of Xue Nai Yin, who was on the cover of the April 2000 issue of T'AI CHI Magazine.
A practitioner of the Wu style of Wu Yuxiang, Xue was being sought in Los Angeles in connection with reports that he abandoned his 3-year-old daughter in a Canberra, Australia, train station before catching a plane to Los Angeles. His wife was subsequently found dead in the trunk of Xue's car near his home.
Xue’s family moved to Liaoning Province in China when he was 16. He immigrated in 1996 to Auckland, New Zealand, where he published a Chinese language newspaper.
Michael O’Shea of Parade Magazine was asked in his column on Sept. 2 issue:
What exactly is Tai Chi and who is it best for?
He replied that because it is done slowly using low impact movements, it has a reputation of being good for older people, “though it is beneficial for anyone.”
“It can increase flexibility and balance as well as strength.
“Along with the physical benefits, Tai Chi reduces stress by teaching participants to bring full concentration to each pose, marrying breath and thought to movements.”•