Yu Cheng Hsiang brought to his Tai Chi life an interesting blend
of relaxation and strength as well as a formidable intensity and a ready smile.
I first encountered him at Pat Rice’s A Taste of China in Winchester, VA,
and later at Jou Tsung Hwa’s Zhang San Feng festivals in Warwick, NY. He
conducted various seminars at both places.
One of his themes was that as important as relaxation was to good Tai Chi
Chuan, the practitioner also had to cultivate strength to reach higher levels
and to be accomplished asa martial artist.
He taught and practiced a number of Shaolin martial disciplines as well as the
Yang style. I remember being told that he would get up at 3 or 3:30 in the
morning to start doing his Shaolin and Tai Chi exercises followed by his forms.
For him, martial arts by definition used force. He also knew that in Tai Chi
Chuan, that force is tempered by the adjustment of yin and yang.
At the time that Yu came to the U.S. from Taiwan, there was a great deal of
emphasis on relaxation in doing the form, which sometimes makes form look lifeless.
This resulted from a misunderstanding of the term sung, which was translated
to mean relaxed, when it is closer to the word loosen, which refers to loosening
the joints. Every teacher has their own methods that they develop over time.
It is interesting to read the comments by Yu’s students about how and what he taught.
As indicated by articles in this issue, he was accomplished in many other areas.
He studied Chinese medicine, the Chinese erhu musical instrument
(self-taught), photography and ball room dancing.
It seems that the greatest impact he had on his students was not so much the
martial skills he taught but how he helped them to understand and interact with
life and its many problems.Students remembrances illustrate how he taught
with discipline and understanding and a finely tuned sense of dedication.
When he wanted to make a particular point, he could do it with force.
William C. C. Chen, who as a boy lived and studied with Cheng Man-ch’ing, writes about
relaxing the muscles on the inside of the thighs. This a part of the concept of Sung Kwa,
or relaxing the inner muscles of the thighs.
He feels the tension and relaxation of these muscles are of great importance to
the correct practice of Tai Chi Chuan, in terms of mobilizing and applying inner strength.
William Chen has been teaching since the middle of the last century and his wife and
children are also involved seriously in Tai Chi practice.
Wang Zhang Hong was a remarkable man. His profession was that of
an art authenticator, certainly a challenging line of work. He studied other martial arts
before concentrating on Tai Chi and formulated his concept of the wave for the more
effective practice of Tai Chi. We’ve had a few articles about him and his theories and
in this issue we have another article presenting a translation from his book. This
translation deals with three key secrets to the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
They involve fluidity inherent in Tai Chi, the adjustment of Yin and Yang and use
of gravitational force.
Wang Fengming returns in this issue with the first of a two part article about the
eight techniques of Tai Chi Chuan. It details the application of the eight techniques
using internal strength, or jin.
Wang is a top student of the famous Feng Zhiqiang. The eight techniques along
with thefive methods are basic to Tai Chi training.
Zeyang Wang writes in this issue about his teacher, Qian Yucai, a
specialist in Russian and Japanese languages, which led to his teaching
Tai Chi in Russia and Japan. Qian studied with a number of well-known
teachers, including Zheng Shimin, Shi Ming and Wang Peisheng.
Zeyang Wang is a software engineer living in the Boston area. He
started to learn Yang style Tai Chi from his colleague, Tai-Chun Pan in 1990’s
when working for Cisco Systems.
This is the 35th year we have been publishing T’AI CHI, first as a newsletter,
then as a magazine. There have been many excellent articles, many of
them in the first dozen or so years by people now well-known in the community.
Many of the articles were very thoughtful and offered valuable insights.
I’d like to thank the many contributors and faithful subscribers, some of
whom have been subscribing from the first issue.