Vol. 20, No. 3
Liang Qiang Ya is an interesting and talented man, very strong and perceptive in his actualization of his Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua practice. He expresses some very insightful information in the cover article that will be helpful to any practitioner, especially those who are dedicated in their study.
Initially, when Tai Chi was introduced to this country, the emphasis was almost totally on relaxation, although some of the teachers themselves were quite skilled and strong. One can certainly continue to practice Tai Chi forever in a relaxed way and still get benefits. But Tai Chi involves more than being relaxed and it is helpful that people know this even if they choose to stay on the rewarding path of relaxation only.
Liang is a strong man, but very flexible, which is the legacy of years of correct practice. He and George Xu, himself an accomplished practitioner, both feel that the use of mind and energy is the best way to bring forward internal energy for martial art use or for health. Liang is currently visiting in the San Francisco Bay area but hopefully he will return and perhaps stay.
Cai Song Fang feels that Wuji qigong is simple and easy, and it certainly would appear to be so. But something simple can also be one of the hardest things to do when it means that you are brought face to face with your own mind and emotions. He has done it for 43 years.
Usually, when people talk about martial arts, they talk about techniques and how to use them to defeat opponents. For Cai, the important thing is to develop the internal energy and inner awareness, which he feels are more important. Fong Ha, who has been practicing internal methods such as Cai's for many years, also feels that awareness is more important than technique.
Much of Ca'i teaching is discussed in Jan Diepersloot's book, Warriors of Stillness.
Zhang Fuxing, who writes about his experience in this issue, was born in 1921 in China. He describes himself as an emeritus professor from the Peoples Republic of China and an “amateur” in Tai Chi Chuan, despite the fact that he has been practicing more than 40 years. He certainly deserves our respect for his long practice and insights which he shares with us.
Tu-ky Lam teaches in New Zealand and shares his ideas about song, sometimes written sung. Like many of the principles of Tai Chi, it is easier to understand the idea superficially than to be able to experience and implement it.
This is a challenge for the teacher as well as the student, since it is hard to get across an idea necessarily grounded in physically feeling the way our bodies work. Sometimes it is impossible until the student has put in a certain amount of time gathering experience and energy. Experience is a nice word for making mistakes trying to find the right way to do things.
Erik Kaplan's story is one that many students in Western countries have experienced. There are limited numbers of experienced Tai Chi teachers and certainly a whole range of approaches to teaching. But you can tell from Erik's article he is not one to give up easily.
David Bannon, Ph.D., has some experience with Tai Chi, but has black belts in Hapkido and Kendo. He reveals some useful perspectives on Chinese medicine and its relationship to Taoist exercises and internal martial arts.
Dr. Robert Rosan has a theory on the addiction people have to habit, which puts them on a downward path of devolution, rather than progressing to higher levels.
The problem is similar to the concept of going through the motions, which is all too common in Tai Chi practice and life in general. This is one of the greatest problems people have because it robs them of consciousness and choice. Practice should feel alive, creative and challenging not just during push hands but also whenever you do the form or standing meditation.