Beyond the techniques of doing the forms, there is the intuitive understanding of how to do them based on the Tai Chi classic writings. These writings describe how to do Tai Chi but in a language that is often hard to understand and open to various interpretations, depending on one’s experience and insights
Wu Yuxiang is the source of many of these classic writings. And in this issue is the second of two articles about him and the form that he created. Wu Yuxiang, a wealthy scholar, was said to have been a friend of Yang Luchan and supportive of his studies at the Chen village in exchange for Yang sharing what he learned.
But Wu later went to the Chen village to learn on his own, which resulted in the form that he created, which shares some aspects with the Yang style.
In this issue, Wu Wenhan discusses additional aspects of the Wu style, including the names of the forms and the organization of the postures. He also talks about the classics and how they relate to the postures.
He also did this in the previous article. Some of this material is fairly dense reading and it is necessary to read between the lines to sense the meanings.
It is interesting to see how the methods are so closely linked with various aspects of Chinese culture, such as the method of composing poems.
Many of the basic concepts of Tai Chi are derived from the Chinese classics, such as the I Ching and the writings of Confucius and Lao Tsu.
The concepts of Yin and Yang and empty and full come directly from the I Ching, which gives continuing advice about how to create equilibrium as emptiness and fullness change. This is what Tai Chi is about.
Alex Yeo reports that Chan See Meng was a devoted student of the martial arts from the age of 13, whether at home or abroad.
Reading stories of great martial arts exploits or listening to them on the radio inspired him to learn the arts.
“Stories of great masters like Yang Luchan are still deeply ingrained in my memory and I wish I could travel back in time to study from this great master himself,” Chan said.
Born in Singapore during the Japanese occupation, his paternal grandmother took him to Kuala Lumpur to live when he was nine years old. At 13 years old, he took his first lesson in old Yang style Tai Chi, taught by Leung Weng Kai. This involved the entire set of 108 movements.
Subsequently, he learned from Dong Yingjie, as described in the article. He studied with him daily after school and in the evenings and also on weekends.
While one may make a case that he was very young at the time and not likely to study very deeply, he does make a case for his Dong study being very productive.
He also studied other martial arts and describes his studies in Aikido and Kendo and his admiration for the Japanese training methods.
Loretta M. Donnelly, who writes about Hanxiong, teaches in Wantage, NJ. She is an organizer of the annual Zhang San Feng Festival in East Stroudsburg, PA, a continuation of the annual festival held at Tai Chi Farm by Jou Tsung Hwa.
She was an assistant to Jou and helped to run the festival at the farm until his death and the subsequent sale of the farm.
Jou was a very intelligent independent person and innovator who was able to bring together diverse Tai Chi practitioners in a friendly atmosphere where people could learn.
Learning was an important principle in Jou’s practice of Tai Chi. He felt every time a student practiced, the student should try to learn something and make his/her practice and understanding better.
C. M. Havens has another article about the Yang style applications training and the interesting interplay with his teacher, Earnest Gow, who lived and taught in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, NY.
He always has interesting notes about how Gow taught and what he wouldn’t teach because he felt it was up to the student to have the enterprise to do the learning.
Too often, students feel that because they were taught initially in a meticulous way that this kind of teaching will continue. It usually doesn’t because when you reach a certain stage it is really up to you to determine how much you learn through your own practice.
One of the leading teachers from China told me once that after a certain point the main obligation of the teacher is to prevent the student from going off in the wrong direction.
Unfortunately, students too often do go off in the wrong direction and they are beyond the teacher’s reach to help them.