The Horse Expert -by Todd Elihu

Master Chen Zhonghua is a great storyteller. I have often found myself a member of a captive audience as he relays instructive Chinese folk tales or anecdotes of his teachers’ life experiences. Recently, while discussing the true and the fake in Taijiquan, Master Chen told me the story of “Bo Le the Horse Expert.”

Bo Le was famous for his horsemanship and ability to pick the best horses. He sent out his son, whom he had trained as his top student, throughout the lands to find the best horse of all.

When the son returned his father said, “Where’s the horse?”

“It’s in the bag,” replied his son and handed the sack to his father. Bo Le opened the bag and saw a great big bullfrog!

“That’s not a horse, it’s a frog!” Bo Le exclaimed.

“But it surpasses all the attributes you told me to look for in a good horse: broad shoulders, pointed head for aerodynamics, strong hind legs and the ability to leap twenty times its own body length.”

The story of Bo Le goes to show that the student could possess all the attributes that the teacher expounds, but still be drastically off the mark. A person may read the Taijiquan Treatise of Wang Zongyue and think that he perfectly embodies the principles, but in application his movements are ineffective against opponents. It is better to learn practical and physical methods that are based upon theory rather than theory itself. If you learn theory without any physical representation it remains in the realm of illusion.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Chen Style Taiji, Chen Zhonghua, Taiji Humor, Taiji Story Link

One Comment on “The Horse Expert -by Todd Elihu”

  1. elihu Says:

    I was looking through my notes from a workshop Chen Zhonghua gave in Atlanta in 2003 and found this little jewel that he dropped on the attendees:

    “You can never do physical activity without physical activity. Taiji skill cannot be attained by reading books or talking about it. Thinking about it is only 5% of the practice.”


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