The internal aspects of Tai Chi Chuan are difficult to achieve and they often require many years of serious practice. And the internal aspects of Tai Chi are often very difficult to define.
For some it is the development of internal strength, or jin, which is a higher octave of external strength, or
li. When it is fully developed, it can greatly increase the effectiveness of various applications and techniques and
Some people focus more on the flow of qi, storing it and sending it to various parts of the body. This can be used for health, peace of mind and martial arts applications.On another level, the internal arts of Tai Chi involve letting go of the self, forgetting the self or self-cultivation. These are related to the teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius and Buddhism.
Chen Zhenglei, who is featured in this issue, discusses issues of internal development. As one of the top
Chen style officials and instructors in China, he is highly qualified.
He said that when people practice Tai Chi, they should not practice just to become strong but to practice
the way of Tai Chi Chuan. He outlines how to do this by working with stillness and movement.
He emphasizes the importance of finding a good teacher to support progress in one抯 practice.
But even with a good teacher, he said, only the student can achieve a high level of gongfu through his
own insight, talent and hard work.
The definition of gongfu varies. Sometimes it refers to specific types of Chinese martial arts, involving vigorous kicking and punching. Another definition is merit, or achievement acquired by great personal effort over a long period of time. So it is a higher level than having physical strength or natural athleticism.
In this context it applies to any skill or art, such as calligraphy or painting or any craft. And certainly to martial
I remember being told by an instructor about a famous calligrapher who exhibited his work. As people came and admired his calligraphy they complimented him on his high level of gongfu.
Chen Zhenglei now has a base in the Los Angeles area and spends time teaching at various sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as in Europe and China.
Tanya Avner of Redmond, WA, writes about a series of workshops in the U.S. and China on Hunyuan Tai Chi, which was developed by Feng Zhiqiang, one of the top Tai Chi practitioners in China.
The workshops were conducted by Chen Xiang, a disciple of Feng, and Feng Xiuqian, a daughter of Feng.
The article in this issue is part one of two parts. They consist of notes taken during the workshops in Washington State and in China. They contain interesting insights into Hunyuan Tai Chi.
Avner explains some key terms, including hunyuan and gong.
There can be different kinds of gong, or work, such as qiqong, qi work, or neigong, inner work. But it does not ordinarily have the idea of ordinary or manual labor.
We had a couple of articles about Feng Zhiqiang, one in June of 2000 by Yang Yang, Ph.D., and Scott
Grubisich and another in October of 2001 by myself. Both deal with internal work.
Howard Choy, an architect, was based in Australia but now is in Germany. He writes in this issue about
using fajin in Tai Chi Chuan.
Fajin is explosive force and Choy, who practices the Yang style, tells how Chen Xiaowang, a famous
Chen stylist, helped him make adjustments to his postures to improve his fajin techniques. Choy has been practicing Tai Chi for over 45 years.
Choy gives helpful tips on how to improve your fajin. He mentions that training for fajin does not necessarily occur in the form and said that Fu Zhongwen said the Yang family practiced fajin as separate exercises from the form.
Gregory Fong of Portland, OR, has an article in the issue about Taoist Five Organs Qiqong. I first met him
almost 25 years ago at A Taste Of China, Winchester, VA, hosted by Pat Rice. He writes occasionally for the magazine and teaches in the Portland area.
Christopher M. Havens of Brooklyn, NY, has another article about the teachings of Earnest Gow, an interesting teacher with high level skills who taught in Brooklyn, NY. In this article, Havens discusses the use of defensive stances of Tai Chi.
Jay Burkey of Kalama, WA, a student of the late Jon Loren, wrote an article last year about why Tai Chi
should be learned slowly.
In this issue he has a short article about the gift of reflection and how, if a student is fortunate, he will have a teacher who stimulates reflecting thinking about Tai Chi and about life. This is also another aspect of the
internal art of Tai Chi.