Vol. 20, No. 5
Chen Xiaowang is one of the most celebrated Chen stylists today with very strong credentials. He talks in this issue about one of the most important aspects of Tai Chi practice, the use of silk reeling energy.
In the interview he was very precise and focused in his discussion. He was similarly focused with his energy in his New York seminar.
He has a very strong presence, which prompted one person at the seminar, Suzanna De Rosa, to say that Chen stood like a waterfall.
Fortunately for people in the West, he now lives in Sydney, Australia, so it is likely that he will be more accessible to Western students.
The first time I met him was in 1983, when I went to the Chen family village and had the good fortune to interview him. Even then he was the standard bearer for the Chen style.
It was an unusual interview format. What appeared to be all the Chen style elders were seated at a long table, observing the interview. Chen Xiaowang sat in a forward chair. I sat with my translator facing him and the elders. The translator, who had the auspicious name of Wang Ping, was very good but did not have that much martial arts experience. But thanks to the clarity of Chen's ideas it went well. The interview was subsequently published in T'AI CHI.
I met him again in 1988, when he held a seminar at A Taste of China, although I did not get a chance to interview him.
This year, it was a more informal circumstance, as I talked with him in the apartment of Ren Guang Yi, his top student in this country. Ren brought him to the U.S. And plans to bring him again.
Lam Kam Chuen of London presents an interesting perspective on Tai Chi energy practice and gives some interesting analogies of how qi works.
Lam has also studied Buddhism and zhan zhuang, having studied with Lau Sau Hong in Hong Kong and Professor Yu Yong Nian in Beijing. A 10-part TV series on zhan zhuang for fitness showed the highest level of audience interest in a fitness program that the Channel 4 in England had ever shown.
Diane Hoxmeier had studied Tai Chi even before she began her studies with Yun Chung Chiang of El Cerrito, CA, who discusses the back and waist. One of the photos of Chiang which we were not able to use showed him touching his nose to his toe.
His teacher, Kuo Lien-Ying was able to do this and one of Kuo's students said Kuo required students to do this before he would teach them advanced material. It is not so easy to do.
Talk about cyberspace, I e-mailed a question about the article to Diane and she said in the return e-mail that she was sending it from a train station cafe in Oslo, Norway, where she and her husband, Michael Rabinowitz, were traveling.
Alfred Huang had a difficult life from the time he was born. He tells how his mother had to chew his food because he was sick and then she got sick from doing that and died. Later, he was a victim of the Cultural Revolution.
But out of these hardships he appears to have forged a consciousness and character that can really be admired. He is very keen on the idea that students shouldn't be passive learners, but have to bear the responsibility for being their own teacher.
Patrick Lee, a San Francisco Chen stylist, has some good advice on how practice can involve many other disciplines, including anatomy, philosophy, psychology, math and physics. Combining insights from different disciplines can greatly enrich practice and make it very interesting and challenging.
As people practice, they change and their goals change. If there isn't change, then something else is at work. Nghia Tran, a practitioner in Australia, writes about how he has had different goals and how he is a lot happier now with the goals he has.