In addition to his considerable skills in Tai Chi Chuan, Fu Zhongwen was a warm, genial man, always willing to talk about Tai Chi Chuan and his teacher, Yang Cheng-fu. He early established himself as a pillar of the Yang style.
He started Tai Chi when he was nine years old and still loved it at 91 years of age. Very few people are lucky to find something they love so early in life and then are able to have it for their entire life.
I first met him over 10 years ago on a trip to China and a friend in Shanghai introduces me to him. He was kind enough to come to my hotel room for an interview and was eager to discuss the true history of the Yang style. Afterwards, we had dinner in the hotel dining room.
He was very talkative, of course in Chinese, to my friend. Naturally, I wanted to know what they were talking about, but my friend would only say that he was talking about Yang Cheng-fu. I never did learn what he was saying, but Fu was apparently enjoying himself.
At the Kuoshu tournament, I interviewed him again and took many photos. After a push hands seminar, before he left, he came up to me and shook hands with me. As Ted Knecht writes in his article about Fu, he was happy to visit the United States and at the hotel, he would shake hands with everyone to show his pleasure at being there.
In that same article, Knecht writes about what Fu told him about the keys to learning Tai Chi. One was to be able to endure and enjoy the pain of training.
For Fu himself, it was not always easy. He experiences wars and revolutions and during the Cultural Revolution was under house arrest because he hadn’t sign a confession because he hadn’t done anything wrong.
One of the few people who dared to visit at that time was He Wei Qi, then a teenager and later a famous martial artist. She now teaches in Richmond, VA.
Many people, especially beginners, don’t understand the joy or the pain involved in a serious martial art that Fu treasured. Of course, everyone has their own set of pain and frustration in life as well as in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan but it would help if people understood it better so that they could accept it as a part of the learning process.
If people are not enduring the frustration and walking with it, then it is likely that they are not learning much either.
The article by George Xu about Ma Hong raises an important question about power training. There is considerable disdain for power training.
But Ma, one of the top Chen stylist in China, think it is a good thing, if it is done right. He’ll be coming to the U.S. next year and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about this and other things.
Chris Pei writes about developing ward off energy and helps to clarify how internal strength is developed. Many people concentrate solely on relaxation in doing the form and while this has many advantages, it is often not balanced by bringing forward internal strength. Both are needed and his article provides insight about it.
Wang Shu-chin was a famous internal martial arts teacher and Manfred Erich Rottmann studied with him and writes about his walking stick drill and some of the stories about Wang, a legend in his own time.
For many practitioners of Tai Chi Chuan and other martial arts, improving their skills and learning new applications is almost everything. But many others are concerned with other things in their life, even though they are devoted to their practice, too.
In this issue, Carl M. Skees writes about how he and his son became interested in Tai Chi and learned and practiced together. That, too is an important aspect of Tai Chi and it serves people well if it can function that way.
Almost everyone has a problem similar to Peter Neri, who writes about trying to find time to practice. Of course, everyone should have an iron will and set aside hours each day for practice. But most people can’t.
Peter Neri does manage to find time to practice but, like many others, it is a problem.