I was recently interviewed for Tai Chi Chuan & Oriental Arts magazine's "Meet the Instructor" section:
I was introduced to TCC in the mid-1990s, so about 18 years.
What stimulated your interest?
I was practicing and competing in external martial arts and initially used TCC as a form of cross training to increase my looseness. After about six months I met Chen Xiaowang for the first time. He gave a short lecture on Chen TCC and then stood up and unleashed a series of fajin that blew my mind. At that point I had spent about 15 years training, first in Karate and then in Shaolin gongfu and kickboxing. I had trained with some very strong teachers, but this was just on a different level. From that moment I have trained only Chen TCC.
What does TCC mean to you?
TCC is more than a martial art, it is a complete way of life. At its heart TCC involves the search for balance in both physical and psychological terms. Using the vehicle of martial arts we try to balance the internal aspects of the emotional and logical mind and external aspects such as body structure and the equilibrium of hard-soft, fast-slow, open-close etc. The road to mastery in Taijiquan (and anything else) is the path of patient, dedicated effort without attachment to immediate results. Great success in any physical endeavour, including Taijiquan is built upon consistency and patience. We must be prepared to pay the price both in time and energy.
What is the most important aspect?
|Standing,reeling, silk, form - everything is there for a reason..|
Do you have any personal goals?
Really Taijiquan is about the journey rather than the destination. I just want to carry on training with great teachers, following the traditional Chen village method and continue to develop naturally. A saying that is often quoted in Chenjiagou is that "you can't force the fruit to ripen". There are no shortcuts. The students I like the best are the ones who quietly show up week after week, year after year and just get on with it. No hurry, no impatience to get on to the next thing. Just consistent honest effort…
Who or what inspired you?
|My first martial arts teacher John Bowen - that's me on the left (about 1981)|
What do you make of tai chi's current popularity?
For sure TCC is popular in terms of numbers, but there are still a great many misconceptions about the art. Many people come to TCC classes with the idea that is an easy option that doesn't need any self motivation or commitment. I read a recent article during which a person mentioned that his seventy something year old mother had gone to a Tai Chi class. She said she wouldn't be going back again as "she got more exercise during the walk to and from the class than during the class itself". The continuing move towards shorter and more simple forms and to fast-track instructor courses all feed into this. Taijiquan is much more than just learning a few sets of movements or a few push hands tricks. It is the development of complete physical and mental coordination. It means striving to follow a set of rules that have been passed down for many generations. If it is to maintain its credibility newcomers to TCC need to be steered towards qualified teachers who have taken the time to learn the art properly, and teachers need to be encouraged to continue working on their own development.
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?
|Qinna training with GM Chen Xiaoxing|
What are your views on competition?
|Competition training in the early 80s, when I had more hair!|
What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future?
Regardless of style, I would like to see more people keeping confidence in the traditional systems. The traditional way is harder to learn, but it is worth learning.