Archive for the ‘Chen Style Taiji’ category

Isn’t it like that all the time?

February 11, 2010

Clinton Jurke has been a long timei disciple of Master Chen Zhonghua. He is tall, strong and has a body well over 190 lbs that is well trained. Before Christmas 2008, Clinton was on Daqingshan with his son, training under Master Chen Zhonghua. Present were a dozen people from Yantai, Linyi and serveral from outside of China. Master Sun Zhonghua, a well-known Chen Style taijiquan master from Beijing was also present. Master Sun was the secretary general of the Beijing Chen Style Taijiquan Association and longtime honorary president of the Hong Kong Chen Style Taijiquan Association.

While pushing hands in front of the Yulange Hotel on Daqingshan, Master Chen commented that Clinton’s skill was improving. Clinton was able to catch Master Chen once. That was something almost nobody could claim. It was said that Ronnie Yee were successful a few times. Master Chen is always open with his students. He allows all his students to openly try to get him. This is something very rare among taiji masters. As a matter of fact, many of his disciples (Bill Krumm, for example) took pride in making “getting him” their goal in learning taiji.

When Master Chen told Clinton that he got “caught”, Clinton could not believe it. After all, he is not Master Chen’s number one disciple. The next day, he tried even harder to catch Master Chen in an effort to feel how he has become better. While pushing, all of a sudden, he flew out, turning in space and landed to the side of the hotel almost on the hill! He was so taken by surprise that he yelped in flight! Master Sun Zhonghua was sitting on the hotel entrance steps and witnessed the whole thing from a distance. Everybody else were right in the middle of it.

Several months later at a workshop in Edmonton, Charles Paoletti heard the story and was going to interview Clinton. Unfortunately Clinton could not remember it ever happened. When asked what other occasions he remembered, Clinton said that every time he pushed hands with Master Chen Zhonghua, it was always like that. No indication at all, all of a sudden you are on the floor, fly out, or you try so hard and Master Chen walks away as if you are not pushing him!

In many schools, it is a rare occasion for students to witness the master’s display of higher level skill. In Master Chen Zhonghua’s school and at his workshops, most amazing things happen as common as dirt!

Fast and Slow

April 17, 2007

by Todd Elihu

One day, while visiting the old stomping grounds of Hong Junsheng in the summer of 2004, we had the chance to spend some time with one of Hong’s most senior disciples, Meng Xianbin, in Jinan due to rather sad circumstances. A little man of 82 years of age at the time, Meng is listed in the Grandmaster’s monumental book, “Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method,” as first amongst all of Hong’s students in terms of seniority based on age. Unfortunately, Master Meng’s wife had suffered an aneurysm earlier that day and was being treated in a hospital. Master Chen Zhonghua had caught wind of this and decided to pay Meng a visit to lend his heartfelt support. Master Chen returned later that afternoon with Master Meng whom he had invited to our hotel to take his mind off his troubles for a little while by focusing on Taiji. I think he enjoyed meeting all of us North Americans, correcting our forms, lecturing on theory, and telling us stories of his experiences with Hong. One of the stories Master Meng shared with us involved a certain  Master Ni, an expert of ground fighting [Digongquan], who desired to study Taijiquan from Hong.

Meng met Master Ni out in the street one day. After chatting a bit, Master Hong happened to walk up. Meng introduced Ni to his teacher. Traditionally, when the teacher arrives the student stops doing the talking so Meng deferred to Hong. After having been introduced Master Ni said to Hong, “I should learn some Taijiquan from you.”

Master Hong replied respectfully, “Master Ni, your martial art is very good already. Why learn Taiji?”

Master Ni, who was about the same age as Hong, explained, “My form is too fast and I am too old to do it anymore. I’m only capable of doing some Taijiquan for health.”

Master Hong replied to him, “You say your form is too fast. I do not deny that it is fast. Tell me though, is the speed of a locomotive in front of a train fast or slow?”

“The speed of the locomotive is fast.” Master Ni answered.

“If it is so fast does it ever stop at the train station?” Hong asked.

“Yes, it has to stop. If it doesn’t stop then it would be like the Earth which goes around and around without end!” Master Ni replied.

Master Hong then concluded, “So if the speed of the locomotive is so fast and yet it can stop then how can you say that your form is too fast and you cannot slow it down. All forms of martial art can be done fast and slow. It’s not that ‘This is ground fighting; you have to be fast’ or ‘This is Taiji; you have to be slow’. These are both wrong assumptions.”

After that Master Ni didn’t know what to say.

Later on, a man named Wu, who was a disciple of Master Ni, went to Daming Lake in Jinan to look for Master Hong in hopes of studying Taijiquan. Upon meeting, Master Hong asked Wu, “What have you studied so far?”

Wu replied, “I have studied ground fighting [Digongquan].” This reminded Hong of Master Ni and their conversation.  

Hong said, “Little Wu, your martial art is already very good. Why learn Taiji?”

The man answered, “My form is too fast… I’m already over thirty and I can’t do it anymore. Some Taiji would be good for my health.”

The Horse Expert -by Todd Elihu

March 9, 2007

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.” (more…)

Chest of Steel -by Chen Zhonghua

March 5, 2007

It was a hot summer day in the practice hall of the Wah Lum Temple in Orlando. A young Danny Abrahms was trying to learn Chen Style Taijiquan from master Li Enjiu. Danny had been a student of the Wah Lum system for many years. He was quite eager to learn this new system (more…)

Silk Uniform -By Chen Zhonghua

February 25, 2007

One of the maxims that Hong Junsheng lived by was never to bend to authority. This soft spoken old man was said to have a character of steel.

In 1981, the sports commission of the Shandong Province organized a large martial marts demonstration (more…)

Master Watermelon Peel -By Chen Zhonghua

February 25, 2007

In the summer of 1991, Hong Junsheng revealed the identity of his secret Taiji master to me. I was quite surprised by this “secret transmission”. I had never heard him mention any such master, other than Liu Musan (his Wu style teacher) and Chen Fake (his Chen Style Taiji master). (more…)

Wai Bu Li Shi Kang -by Gordon Muir

February 25, 2007

In the learning of Chen Style Taijiquan, my teacher, Chen Zhonghua, always advocates the idea that one has to go through fundamental changes of the body in order to accomplish real Taiji acquisition.

However, to cause real changes to occur is not easy. (more…)