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T'AI CHI MAGAZINE - August 2004

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August 2004 - Editor's Notebook

August 2004

As a martial artist, Shin Lin, Ph.D., has some 40 years of experience, but the most important part of his martial arts work now are his studies as a scientist using advanced technologies to study the results of qigong and Tai Chi Chuan.

In the cover article interview he discussed some of the tests he and his group at the University of California, Irvine, have conducted on veteran qigong and Tai Chi practitioners following short periods of practice.

So far, the results have been positive, showing that there is something in the nature of qigong and Tai Chi practice that does what most other exercises cannot.

Dr. Lin has served as chairman of Biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University, and Dean of the School of Biological Sciences Associate Vice Chancellor at UCI.

As a professor of Cell Biology, Physiology, and Biomedical Engineering, he is associated with the Susan Samueli Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at UCI.

His studies are among many that are under way to determine the effects of qigong and Tai Chi practice.

Wu Dang martial arts have been famous and mysterious for many centuries in China and have been brought to the public's attention by some of the recent Chinese martial arts films.

Qian Timing, president of the International Wu Dang International Martial Arts Association and 12th generation lineage holder of Wu Dang Dan Pai, writes in this issue about the internal practices of Wu Dang martial arts.

Qian has published more than forty articles on internal martial arts, and quite a few of them won awards at the national conference of Taiji.

His achievements and contributions in martial arts were introduced in the books of “Biographies of Distinguished People in Chinese Martial Arts” and “Exhibition of Experts in the People's Republic of China.”

In addition to many award-winning publications on internal martial arts Qian has won two Grand Lion Gold Medals in National Martial Arts Competitions held at Wu Dang Mountain in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

With Mei-hui Lu, Ph.D., his disciple, he has written an article that gives insights into Wu Dang internal practices.

Some of these are very useful and practical and some are metaphorical and some are metaphysical.

Part of the problem with information like this is in understanding the meaning of the words.

You have to ask yourself what is the meaning of this statement or that word. And when you get an answer, you have to be willing to reevaluate your own answer as you work with it in your practice.

For instance, everyone knows you have to turn and loosen the waist and it seems simple to implement, but when I started asking some of the people I interviewed what was meant by the waist, I got much more useful answers.

I was told, for example, that the waist was also considered to be at the back, behind the navel and it too had be loosened.

A second installment is published In this issue of Zhou Lishang's interview with Zhang Quanliang about Baguazhang.

Here again he gives valuable information about this internal art and some anecdotes about the famous people who have taught it.

This should be of interest to all people who are practicing martial arts and for those doing it for health or self-cultivation. He discusses basic principles, fighting methods as well as techniques for form and combat.

While Bagua is a wonderful art and self-defense system, Zhang does say it is very simple. Beyond the simple circle walking, it can get very complex, much more complex than Tai Chi Chuan. Of course there are many different ways to do it just as in Tai Chi.

Greg Brodsky of Santa Cruz, CA, who studied with Cheng Man-ch'ing and William C.C. Chen, writes about compression breathing, a method that he learned from William Chen.

It is different from other systems but he makes a convincing presentation and asks only that you try it. William Chen is highly respected in the Tai Chi community and Brodsky offers this system for people to see if it works for them.

Other articles in this issue refer to breathing methods. It is discussed in the cover article, where one instructor espouses holding the breath, even during pushes. It is also described in the article about Wu Dang martial arts, and the article on Baguazhang.

The methods of Tai Chi are innumerable. Some people do contrary methods but get good results.

An an editor, my role is to provide different viewpoints as long as they are serious and not argumentative. As a practitioner, I examine different methods and choose what I feel works for me.

In the interest of providing some perspective, in interviews with serious masters over the years, I usually ask about breathing methods and most do a form of reverse breathing, sometimes in combination with dantian rotation.

Some of those that I have found to have higher-level skills don't concentrate on the breath. They concentrate more on being empty … being empty to lead the opponent into emptiness, or being empty to cultivate humility and peace of mind, or being empty to return to the Dao.

In this issue is a report of the death of Ip Tai Tak, first disciple of Yang Sau Chung. Robert Boyd of South Hero, VT, interviewed him shortly before his death and that interview with Ip is also published in this issue.

In the interview, Ip discussed his studies with Yang Sau Chung and the subsets of the Yang style, Crane, Tiger and Snake. Ip said he learned the Snake style and developed it further on his own.

He also said he learned Long Boxing from Yang, which he said is different from the classic Yang style.

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