Wang Fengming is a top disciple of Feng Zhiqiang, one of the most important Tai Chi Chuan teachers in China. He taught for many years in Finland and Europe and now teaches Tai Chi and qiqong in New York and New Jersey.In this issue, he discusses various kinds of jin, or internal strength, and how to use them for self-defense and ultimately for health and well-being.
Jin is different from ordinary, or external, kinds of strength, sometimes refered to as Li in Chinese.
One of the main considerations is that Li is considered as local strength while Jin is said to be integrated strength involving the whole body.
Pumping iron would be cultivating external strength, Li. Using whole body, coordinated movement in the right way would cultivate Jin. Ultimately Jin and Li would meld together.
Some people are naturally strong throughout their body or parts of their body. Some people are not. Everyone can improve and balance their strength through the practice of Tai Chi Chuan, which embodies flexibility with strength, combining yin with yang.
Wang also discusses Sensing Jin, which involves Ting Jin (listening Jin) and Dong Jin, understanding Jin. This involves listening to and understanding your own strength and energy and the strength and energy of others.
First you have to understand your own energy before you can understand another person’s energy. This is something we try to do daily in our conversations, negotiations and personal relationships.
When it doesn’t work, it is because one or both parties are only thinking of themselves.
Wang’s discussion of Tai Chi Jin is the most thorough we have had in the magazine. It is in two parts and the second will appear in the next issue.
Zhang Yun has written a number of interesting and useful articles for the magazine over the years and recently authored a book on Tai Chi broadsword, “The Complete Taiji Dao.”
He practices the Northern Wu Style he learned from the late Wang Peisheng, who I interviewed a couple of times for the magazine.
When Wang Peisheng died, Zhang wrote an article for the magazine about Wang’s life and Tai Chi practice. Zhang is also author of the book, “The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship.”
In the article, he discusses the variety of circles that are used in Tai Chi Chuan, how to practice the circles, their use in self-defense and partner practice using circles.
David Lee of Guangzhou, China, writes about Wang Zongyue’s Tai Chi theories and explains how they can be applied. The article is accompanied by application photos. The first half of his article is published in this issue. The second half will be published in the next issue.
He has studied Fu Family Bagua with Lin Xing-Gan and subsequently learned Yang family Tai Chi from Fang Ning.
Vincent Chu has been writing articles for the publication since the mid-1980s. He is the son of Gin Soon Chu, who has a school in Brookline, MA, and studied with Yang Chengfu’s oldest son.In this issue he writes an article with Liu Xi Wen of Nanning, Guangxi Province, China, who learned in the lineage of Yang Shao Hou, an elder brother of Yang Chengfu.Vincent Chu previously wrote an article with Liu about his training with his teacher, Zhang Fu Chen, who studied with Yang Shao Hou. In this issue Liu discusses push hands from his own experience and from that of his teacher when he studied with Yang Shao Hou. It is valuable to see the similarities and differences in push hands methods.
There are two letters to the editor that follow up on the Letters to the Editor comment in the last issue by Sherril Gold about not dumbing down Tai Chi Chuan. They make the point that even if practitioners are less than perfect, they are still doing Tai Chi Chuan and getting benefit from it.
No one wants to teach bad Tai Chi and no one wants to practice bad Tai Chi. As part of the growing popularity of Tai Chi, there has been an effort to make it easier for people to learn.
In 1956, the Chinese government helped create the Simplified 24-form Tai Chi so that more people could benefit from the practice. Subsequently all the major styles have created short forms.
Does making it easier for people to learn equate with dumbing it down? It could be but not necessarily. Even “easier” can still contain the essence of the art if done correctly. Not all people can or want to learn traditional Tai Chi. But if they do learn something, then they will be better off for it.
We shouldn’t dumb down Tai Chi but we should still try to make it accessible. That may sound like a contradiction but Tai Chi Chuan is all about resolving contradictions.•