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T'AI CHI MAGAZINE - December 2010

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK > December 2010
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December 2010 - Editor's Notebook

The discussion of ways to use jin for self-defense concludes in this issue with the third installment from Wang Fengming.
These articles have shown the art of using jin in self defense. The use of jin is a distinguishing characteristic of Tai Chi Chuan for self-defense and health. It provides strength with flexibility.
This strength for the most part is concealed, making it difficult for the opponent to anticipate or oppose it.
This concealed strength benefits the muscles, tendons, ligaments and internal organs without abusing them.
The cultivation of jin is an art in itself. The more relaxed one is the better the quality. While some people may initially be able to develop aspects of it it relatively quickly, usually it has to develop slowly over time through correct and regular practice.

Vincent Chu of Brookline, MA, and Liu Xi Wen of Nanning, Guangdong Province, China, write about the roles of tension and relaxation in Tai Chi development.
Frequently, teachers try to convey the importance of Sung, or relaxation, in the practice of Tai Chi. But it is difficult because relaxation is complex.
It is one of the most difficult aspects of learning Tai Chi.
There is almost always residual tension that people are not aware of until they begin their practice.
Becoming aware of these tensions and relaxing them are always a part of practice.
One teacher I interviewed years agi said that people starting out Tai Chi are usually very tense and that as they practice they loosen up.
He said that measuring tension on a scale of 1 to 10. Beginners are at 1, the most tense level.
Eventually, he said, as they improve their Tai Chi, they will reach a level where there is a balance of tension and relaxation.
Often tension is equated with strength. But tense “strength” is self-limiting. Where there is a balance between softness and strength, one can then deal with the softness and strength of oneself as well as that of others.

Rose Oliver of Shanghai writes about Shou Guan Shun’s exercises to elongate the sinews and loosen the joints.
Shou is an experienced martial artist who devised the exercises to help the development of other martial artists and even senior citizens.
Shou practices Xingyi, Bagua and Sun style Tai Chi. He has also studied the Yang style.
One of the early articles in T’AI CHI (June 1982) was written by a well known East Coast martial artist about the art of teaching.
He wished to remain anonymous but he was very insightful and the article is reprinted in this issue.
Everyone who has ever taught anything has their own ideas about the right way to teach and how not to teach.
The article on teaching is very useful. Many people who teach have not had training in how to teach, let alone how to teach something like Tai Chi Chuan.
But as students learn, they tend to internalize how their teacher(s) taught them.

Teaching involves more than giving information about how to move. The teacher has to convey the sense of what Tai Chi Chuan is.
The Tai Chi Classics speak of listening to energy and understanding energy. This, too, applies to teaching because the teacher should try to understand what the student and the class as a whole is feeling while trying to learn.

Gin Soon Chu of Brookline, MA, who is interviewed in this issue by Dan Rauch of San Francisco, was a disciple of Yang Sau Chung in Hong Kong. Yang was the eldest son of Yang Chengfu.
Dan Rauch, a martial artist and writer, was a student of Chu’s many years ago in Boston and on a return visit he spoke with Chu about developing power in Tai Chi Chuan.
Chu has been a fixture in the Boston area for decades and his son, Vincent, has an article in this issue of the magazine and recently published a book about Tai Chi.

Gin Soon Chu also talks about his experiences learning from Yang Sau Chung in Hong Kong.•

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