February 1998, The prime directive in Tai Chi Chuan practice is to have a calm mind. Without it, there is inadequate relaxation, fluidity or internal strength. But sometimes it is even hard to know or remember what a clam mind is. So it is a continual process of discovery and rediscovery for everyone. All the wise teachers throughout history have been trying to explain to human beings how important it is and how to do it.
Vol. 22, No. 1
Yang Zhenduo, son of Yang Cheng-fu, refers to his father's 10 basic principles. These are not 10 principles for beginners. They are for the entire duration of one's practice and can be explored with increasing understanding.
Tan Cheuk-Ying is a retired merchant, originally from Canton, China. He teaches a small class in Montreal, Canada. His student, J. C. Plura, has studied with him since the mid-1970s and teaches in Montreal, too. Plura's article refers to Lee Ying-Arng of Hong Kong, who was an accomplished martial artist as demonstrated in his books and a film he made of his modified version of the Yang style. The film is no longer available. It is reported that he emigrated to Guatemala and was a casualty of the civil war there.
Doug Woolidge is a Wu stylist who is fluent in Chinese and, in fact, teaches Chinese. The author he is translating, Hsu Chih I (Xu Zhiyi), has a perceptive approach to T'ai Chi practice. Hsu says that the creators of T'ai Chi saw spiritual training as at least as important as physical training because they felt spirit could regulate the body.
Everyone, of course, has to use their mind to learn and practice Tai Chi Chuan. A beginner uses the mind to direct the parts of the body to move correctly to the right positions. At a later stage, the mind is used to direct and feel all the parts connected and moving in unison. When one reaches a higher level of practice, then the mind can be used to tell the body and the qi what it wants it to do, like a traffic cop giving a signal to a motorist.
Yue Xian writes of the effort to establish qigong as a modern science, rather than a folk or spiritual remedy. Qigong is very popular now. But is also has uneven credibility because certain persons have deceived the public with their skills. And it is hard to establish objective measurements for what qigong does and how it does it. He does have some useful insights and suggestions.
Ruth Borkowski has an interesting story. She is a counselor at the National Hospital for Kids in Crisis, Orefield, PA. She has eight years of experience in the martial arts, the last four of which have been devoted to T'ai Chi. She currently trains under Gary and Ann Fry, at Little Tiger T'ai Chi, Catasauqua, PA.
Her job is obviously very challenging but she has adapted T'ai Chi and herself to help frustrated teenagers who don't have skills or resources to deal with themselves or others.
William Kip Morales-Jacks is an inside student of Fu-Tamon Toyoki Nagao of Japan, who studied with the late Fu Zhongwen. Morales-Jacks faced a moment of truth in his own practice when having to face a thug beating on friends. The result was his own approach to fighting.
Dr. Leonard Schwartzman, a student of Mary Chow in Los Angeles, presented a paper reporting on the study of a group of Parkinson's disease patients and the improvements to their sense of well-being because of their study of T'ai Chi. More and more of these kinds of studies are going to occur.
Dr. Tingsen Xu's recent successful study of the benefits of T'ai Chi in reducing falling among seniors is going to be followed by another study. He and his group have received a $1.5 million grant to continue their work.
Nando Raynolds, a psychotherapist in Ashland, OR, brings the sensitivity of his professional practice to his teaching of push hands. That's a formidable task, since most of the time people see it as a test of dominance, which makes it hard to express yielding. But that can make it all the more interesting if you are interested in creating a mature equilibrium.·