Sometimes people ask me who, among the many T'ai Chi people I have interviewed or met, did I think was the best.
That is a fair question but there is no fair answer. I often meet people for a limited amount of time and only know a small part of their knowledge or skills. Also, some of the people I talk to and who send e-mails to me have widely varying standards and opinions, some of them very fixed and harsh.
Having said that, I felt that Gao Fu was an exceptional T'ai Chi person. When I interviewed her, she was very open and her knowledge was very deep since she emphasized the internal aspects. Her forms also seemed to be very good, especially for someone in their 80s.
While I certainly admire someone who is strong, has good form, moves well, has good push hands and fighting skills, I don't consider those skills as necessarily the gold standard for T'ai Chi Ch'uan. While these physical skills are to be admired and respected, they don't always reflect internal development that is the keystone of T'ai Chi work.
I also generally look to see what kind of human being that practitioner has become through his or her practice.
In Gao Fu, we had someone who had considerable skills and knowledge and who used T'ai Chi to totally remake her life in the finest possible way.
Although she had a hard life and started T'ai Chi when she was 56, she was devoted to it and to the internal aspects. When she had the good luck to go to the Seattle area, she was total committed to teaching the internal aspects openly.
As mentioned in one of the articles by one of her students, she was very upset by the idea of some people that good T'ai Chi should not be taught to Westerners.
By her devotion, transformation and open teaching she contributed to a higher standard of T'ai Chi Ch'uan for everyone.
In the cover article in T'AI CHI Magazine in December 1997, Gao Fu said, "The most important thing in doing T'ai Chi is coordinating the inside energy with the outside movements." She felt that the internal is the "core of T'ai Chi. The spirit and the soul. So without the internal, then T'ai Chi has no soul."
She said that developing intent is crucial to learning and described her way of developing it. She said that it is developed "by consciously using intent to lead the movement. Over a long period of time, intent will develop. But you have to use the intent to develop the intent."
I was told that the cover article and my letter about her were helpful in her obtaining her Green Card.
It was a surprise when I received a sword from China engraved with my name that she obtained for me to express her appreciation for my help.
There are excellent articles in this issue about her by Martin Mellish, Kenneth Cohen, Felicia Hecker, Kim Ivy and Wendy Marlowe. There was not space for the others.
Martin Mellish has been practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan for more than 30 years.
Ken Cohen is the author of “The Way of Qigong” and numerous audio and video tapes. He first wrote about Gao Fu in the June 1990 issue.
Also in this issue is an article about the Chen Cannon Fist in which Chen Xiaoxing, the brother of Chen Xiaowang, discusses aspects of this power form.
The training camp in the Chen village was organized by Chenjiagou Taijiquan GB and attended by practitioners from Italy, Portugal and Israel as well as the UK.
Hiu Chee Fatt of Malaysia writes about what he feels is the real meaning of four ounces deflects 1,000 pounds and how this applies to push hands.
He has found that some practitioners take too literally the idea of being relaxed and this is disabling when it comes to push hands. He analyzes what needs to be done to correct this problem.
Hiu has 20 years of experience in martial arts, including Yang style, Yi Chuan, Hung Gar, Tae Kwon Do and qigong. He teaches Yang style in Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia.
His last articles in the magazine was about the meaning of peng jin and subtleties of T’ai Chi Push.
Jon A. Loren, who lives in scenic Brookings, Oregon, writes about the importance of have a good setting for practice.
He describes some of the positive and negative effects of some surroundings. The best times and places, he says, dawn and dusk and outdoors.
Loren and his wife were the first to appear on a magazine style cover of the magazine when it changed from a newsletter format.
Steve Russell, a 30-year-practitioner, has an insightful article about his practice and how it helped him cope with heart valve surgery. It is clear in his article that T'ai Chi Ch'uan helped him with a ongoing problem for a long time and also helped with the recovery process. It's another success story for T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
Richard Miller interviews He Jinbao of Beijing about Yin Style Baguazhang and its fighting techniques. But he also mentions the relationship between Bagua and traditional Chinese medical theory, the yin yang duality and five elements theory.
He Jinbao also says the techniques of Yin Style Baguazhang are hard and ferocious, employing what is known as the penetrating palm (chuan zhang), or the hard palm.
Linda Schneiderman was a significant figure in the New York area and beyond. In addition to holding tournaments in Dobbs Ferry, NY, she taught in many places, including SUNY Purchase, NY, and developed movement therapy programs for the elderly, blind and physically disabled.
She was a regular at Jou Tsung Hwa's Tai Chi Farm.
She was 61 and had ovarian cancer for many years but kept on teaching until shortly before her death. It was felt that her practice helped deal with the illness since 1994.