Tai Chi and Multiple Sclerosis

Restoring a Sense of Balance and Strength

By Karen Thaxton

journal-25_page70_image1I have MS (multiple sclerosis), which has negatively affected my sense of balance and control of my right leg. However, I now regularly practice Tai Chi, and Tai Chi has at least partially restored my sense of balance, control of my right leg, and self- confidence.

When I was finally diagnosed with MS nearly ten years ago, I had already realized that something was wrong. My body, which had done nearly everything I’d ever wanted it to do for so many years, now was not nearly so obedient. My right leg wouldn’t function properly, preventing me from running 10K’s or even a few steps. When I was tired, the foot would flop and drag, so that even walking became a chore, leading to stumbling and lurching—at times I looked like I was drunk. Worse, my sense of balance was rapidly fading, leaving me to fall if I tilted a few degrees from the perpendicular. I experienced several bad falls, both at home and outdoors while hiking. I couldn’t even shower without holding onto the shower wall for balance. The actual diagnosis of MS led initially to a real sense of betrayal, in addition to outrage and helplessness. I didn’t look old or weak, but I moved as though I were both elderly and weak. I felt that my horizons were becoming prematurely limited, and I lost my self-confidence as well.

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The Balance of Nature

Basic Principles and Features of Taiji Quan

By Lu Shengli English translation by Zhang Yun

The central principle of Taiji Quan derives from one of the most fundamental concepts in traditional Chinese culture. The concept first appeared in Yi Jing (I Ching), the book written about 1000 BC that delineates the laws of universal change; the yi in the title means “changing”. A famous line in Yi Jing asserts, “There is Taiji in yi, the laws of change, and liangyi is generated from it. Liangyi, in turn, generates sixiang and sixiang generates Bagua.” Also stated is the principle that “one yin and one yang united comprise Dao.” Here the term Dao is synonymous with Taiji.

Yi Jing played a central role in the development of Chinese philosophy. Its profound ideas were seized upon by such renowned thinkers as Kongzi (Confucius) who formulated Confucianism, and Laozi, who originated the tenets of Daoism. The influence of Yi Jing has permeated every aspect of traditional Chinese culture. Continue reading

The Evolution of Taijiquan

Further Conversations with Master Wu Wenhan

By Dave Barrett, translated by Yang Jun

journal-25_page40_image1DB: Can you tell us about the importance of Wang Zongyue and why his theories helped create Taijiquan?

WW: I am very happy to see you again and talk with you. Your question covers three points. First concerns the history of Taijiquan. Last time we spoke about Yang Luchan’s return to Guangping town from Chenjiagou. At this time at Chenjiagou and Zhaobao town they did not use this term Taijiquan to describe their techniques. It was called the Long Fist or 13 postures. Who created Taijiquan? At that time no one could say for sure. According to Yang Lu Chan, his teacher was Chen Changxing and his teacher was Jiang Fa, and his teacher was Wang Zongyue. Beginning in 1911, with the creation of Chinese National Government, research began into the question of who created Taijiquan. One of these early theories was that Taijiquan was created by Zhang Sanfeng.

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Foundation: Stance Work in Tai Chi Chuan Practice

An Interview with Masters Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun

Conducted by Dave Barrett, Translated by Jerry Karin

journal-25_page24_image1bThis July when the Masters were in Portland, Oregon for the Seminar, they were kind enough to agree to an interview after a busy day of teaching. We ended up talking for over two hours. The first part of the conversation concerned the ethical values of the Chinese Martial Traditions in general and Tai Chi Chuan in particular. This discussion will be featured in our next issue.

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Master Profile: Sun Yongtian

By Sun Yongtian, as told to Dave Barrett

Translated by Mui Gek Chan

 

journal-25_page21_image1I was born in 1948. Since my youth, I was always interested in the martial arts. I practiced many types of martial arts, including long fist and tang fist. In the 1970’s, I was successful in many of the martial arts competitions I entered. In May of 1982, under the recommendation of Zhang Yongan, I met my teacher Sun Jianyun for the first time. Frankly speaking, although I had learned martial arts since I was young, I had no knowledge of Taijiquan.

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Master Profile: Ma Hailong

By Dave Barrett
Association Journal Editor

 

journal-25_page16_image1Master Ma Hailong was born in 1935 into one of China’s most distinguished martial arts families. His great-grandfather, Wu Quanyou (1834-1902), was an officer of the Imperial Guards Brigade in the Forbidden City. At this time, Yang Luchan (1799-1872) was a martial arts instructor in the Yellow Banner camp and for many years Wu Quanyou studied with Yang Luchan and his eldest son, Yang Banhou. Due to the protocols of the day, he could not be accepted as a direct disciple of Yang Luchan as Master Yang had aristocratic students and a military officer could not be in the same class as these more august individuals. However, Wu Quanyou’s training was with Yang Luchan directly and over the decades of his study he became renowned for his skills in interpreting and neutralizing an opponent’s energy.

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The Birth of Taijiquan

A conversation with Master Wu Wenhan

By Dave Barrett, Translated by Yang Jun

journal-25_page13_image2Dave Barrett: In America many people are unfamiliar with the Wu/Hao style of Taijiquan. I wanted to begin by asking you to describe the differences between Yang style and Wu/Hao style Taijiquan.

Wu Wenhan: Let me answer your question in two parts. First let me tell our why our style is called Wu/Hao. In the middle of the Qing dynasty in Hebei Province, Yongnian County, Guangfu town had two famous Taiji masters; one was Yang Luchan (1799-1873), and the other Wu Yuxiang (1813-1880). Let me tell you how Wu Yuxiang created his style. Master Wu’s family was in service to the government and Wu Yuxiang had placed highly in the Imperial examination. In the Wu family, the men were highly placed civil servants, almost like generals. At that time Yang Luchan returned from his studies with Chen Changxin. So Yang Luchan’s job was teaching Taijiquan in his hometown and he and Wu Yuxiang became good friends. At this time there was no special term for Taijiquan. The Chen style was referred to as Long Fist, in Yongnian County the termwas Cotton Fist or Sticking Fist. So after Master Wu Yuxiang learned from the Yang family, he went back to Wenxian County, Zhaobao town and found a master named Chen Qingping (1795-1868). During that time Wu Yuxiang’s brother, Wu Changxin found a book in a salt shop by Wang Zongyue called the Taiji Classics. So he gave this book to Wu Yuxiang and he brought it back to his hometown. From this point both Yang Luchan and Wu Yuxiang began to follow the theories in this book, also they brought their local culture and martial styles together. Actually, they also combined what they had learned from Chen Changxin and Chen Qinping, they combined many things together with the theory of Wang Zongyue to create a new martial art we now call Taijiquan. Later on Yang Luchan went to Beijing and began teaching and from this point Taijiquan began to spread out.

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A Conversation with Master Chen Zhenglei

By Dave Barrett, translated by Master Yang Jun

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Master  Chen Zhenglei was  born  in 1949 into a family with over 300 years of martial arts tradition. He is widely recognized as one of the leading  exponents  of  Chen  Style  Taijiquan  in  the  world today. His Uncle, Chen Zhaopei (1893-1972), was his main instructor   along   with   another    Uncle:  Chen  Zhaokui (1928-1981), the  son of Chen Fa-ke. Chen Zhaopei left his home village, Chenjiagou, in 1914 and established himself in Beijing as a martial arts instructor.  The story goes  that  he set  up  a platform  at  one  of Beijing’s main gates  and  for seventeen days  accepted all challenges,  either  single  or multiple, and  was victorious in every fight. Displaying his deep skills and magnanimous character  in victory made his reputation and for the next 30 years he taught in a variety of places  across  China. In 1958 he returned  to Chenjiagou to find the old training halls abandoned and his relatives engaged  in a struggle  to  survive a series  of natural  and political disasters that had devastated the surrounding farmlands and reduced  the villagers to a pitiful state. Recognizing that the future of his family’s illustrious traditions hung  in the  balance,  he  moved  back  to  Chenjiagou and began to revive the training regimens that had produced  so many generations of excellent  martial artists.  Persevering through famines and political upheavals gradually the next generation began to emerge under his careful guidance. Out of this group of students came “The Four Tigers of Chenjiagou”: Chen Xiaowang, Wang Xian, Zhu Tiancai, and Chen Zhenglei; all of whom have  gone  on  to  revive and expand the prestige  of Chen Style Taijiquan.

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