Vol. 20, No. 2
We often get requests from people around the country asking for lists of good instructors in their area and it is hard for us to respond. There aren't that many teachers out there yet and we don't know all of them.
The problem is compounded by the fact that one teacher may not be the right one for a particular kind of student. The needs and the chemistry may not match, even with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, the burden of finding a teacher always falls on the student, as it always has.
One request received recently was by a subscriber who liked a recent article on George Xu, but felt it was for a person of a much higher level of Tai Chi. He is currently taking Tai Chi but “there is not instruction on how to train for good Tai Chi.”
He wanted to know how a beginner can get to the next level. “I love the art,” he said, “and I want to progress but the instructors in this area are hard stylists and now they add on Tai Chi because they see an additional way to make money.”
This is a common problem. If other people have suggestions, let me know about them. In the absence of good local instructors, students or potential students should consider the many workshops that are being held across the country, many of them advertised or listed in T'AI CHI Magazine. A lot can be learned by attending them.
Use them as resources for your practice. The workshop instructor may have a student in your area or be able to schedule a workshop near you. Otherwise, we suggest that students contact local schools listed in the Yellow Pages, or classes at local colleges and universities, Y's, recreation departments, spas, etc.
In this issue, Lin Chao Zhen talks about his experiences studying with Fu Zhen Song, one of the top martial artists in China in the first half of this century. Lin has a great deal of experience and is open in his teaching. At 85 years of age, he has surprising energy and dedication.
I interviewed him on a chilly, windy day in San Francisco. Is there any other kind of day in San Francisco? He was full of energy, teaching in t a park in Chinatown. Even though he has a rich background in martial arts, it is apparent from his training that it was not easy then, either.
His training was interrupted by college, career, family, and World War II. But he is fulfilling the request of his teacher, who told him he should practice kung-fu for his entire life.
The article by Gaofei Yan and James C. Cravens is important for any serious practitioner. Rooting is widely misunderstood. It really requires individual instruction for the student to grasp it. But the article does a good job of explaining and showing it.
Without correct rooting, one can merely be going through the motions of Tai Chi, literally. Yan has studied Chen style for 11 years from the Chen family and is president of the Xian Chen Tai Ji Quan Association in Canton. He currently teaches in Oakland Park, FL with James C. Cravens, who has been in the martial arts for 30 years.
Paul Dillon, who writes about Liuhebafachuan, has more than 30 years of experience in a number of martial arts. Liuhebafa is an interesting and complex internal style.
One of his teachers was John Chung Li, who I met in the late 1970s when he was visiting in Los Angeles. He taught in a number cities in the U.S., including Boston. He was 75 years old then but could have passed for 55, despite the fact that he had had a heart attack. He was very strong. One time I was driving him to a class and he stretched out his arm toward me and asked me to try and bend it. I couldn't, of course, even if I wasn't trying to drive at the same time.
Eo Omwake has another interesting article, this time about the Warrior of The Spirit. Much of the martial arts emphasizes physical accomplishment, which produces a sense of well being that can mutate into excessive pride.
It is essential to always remember that martial arts always involve the mind and spirit, and real progress requires a higher mental and spiritual approach that goes beyond pride in one's individual skill.