Thursday, August 26, 2010

Does Tai Chi really extend your life?

(Above: Drawing of Tai Chi Master, Zhang San Feng, whom is believed by some to have achieved immortality.)

Does Tai Chi really extend your life?
Let the facts below to show you the truth.

Tai Chi Master / Age

Chen Style Tai Chi Masters
Chen Chang Xin / 82
Chen Gen Yun / 79
Chen Yan Xi / 81
Chen Fa Ke / 70
Chen Zhao Kui / 53
Hong Jun Sheng / 89
Gu Liu Xin / 82
Lei Mu Ni / 85

Yang Style Tai Chi Masters
Yang Lu Chan / 73
Yang Chen Fu / 53
Yang Zhen Ji / 86
Yang Zhen Ming / 74
Fu Zhong Wen / 86
Li Ya Xuan / 82
Tong Ying Jie / 64
Cheng Man Ching / 73

Wu Style Tai Chi Masters

Wu Chien-ch'uan / 72
Wu Ying Hua / 90
Ma Yue Lian / 97
Hu Tu Nan / 105
Wu Gong Yi / 72

Sun style Masters
Sun Lu Tang / 73
Su Jian Yun / 89

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shall we bring back Tai Chi’s Original Name?

Photo: Old Shoe Woman

When the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi, Yang Lu Chan 楊露禪(1799-1872)taught Tai Chi in his hometown of Yongnian (in China’s Hebei province, near Beijing) he called it Mian Chuan or Hua Chuan. Only after one of Yang’s students, Wu Yu-hsiang, 武禹襄(1812--1880), the founder of Wu style Tai Chi, discovered a book called “Discussion of Tai Chi Chuan” by Wang Zhong Yue, did the name Tai Chi Chuan start to become widely used.

The literal translation for Tai Chi Chuan is "Supreme Ultimate Fist.” If you are not familiar with or have never practiced Tai Chi before, the words “Supreme” and “Ultimate” are misleading and will most likely give you the wrong idea about what the art of Tai Chi really is. Tai Chi is a martial arts style that is soft and fluid and based upon principles of circular motion and the transfer and absorption of energy.

The name Mian Chuan translates to “Soft Fist.” The word “Mian” can also be translated as “cotton” or “soft like cotton.” In Chinese, if we combine two “Mian” , the result is “Mian Mian,” a word that means “continue” or “continuous.” On a similar note, name Hua Chuan translates to “Transferring Fist,” and it means that any energy attacking can be transferred and redirected.

From a marketing standpoint, it might be a good idea to use the name Tai Chi, but it’s more realistic to use the name Mian Chuan to describe the forms that we practice today. By calling it Mian Chuan, people are more likely to understand that they are learning a martial arts style that is soft and relaxed. By using the name Mian Main, people will understand that it is a martial arts style that has continuous movements.

Furthermore, the name Tai Chi Chuan can also be confused with other Chinese martial arts styles with similar names, such as Wu Chi Chuan and Ba Chi Chuan. People may think Wu Chi and Bai Chi are similar to Tai Chi, but in fact they are totally different.

And so I ask you: Shall we bring back “Mian” and re-integrate it into the name of the forms we practice today? To avoid losing Tai Chi as we know it, perhaps we could compromise and call our art Tai Chi Mian Chuan. What do you think? It might be a good idea!

Copyrighted Huan's Tai Chi 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can Learning Chess Improve Tai Chi Push Hands?

There are several similarities between Tai Chi Push Hands and the game of chess. Both require similar strategies to move from beginner to expert. Here are 8 chess strategies that can be applied to Tai Chi Push Hands.

1. Be prepared - At the beginning stage of a chess game, you normally move into a pyramid shape to defend yourself. With Push Hands, say single Push Hands, you need to have one arm protecting your knee and lower body, and another arm protecting your chest and upper body. Like the stable pyramid in chess, make sure to create a nice stable form before you start Push Hands.

2. Rely on an observer – Observers watching a competitive chess game can often identify the best moves better than the players themselves simply because they are outside the game. Your teacher will be better able to tell if you and your partner are making progress in your Push Hands technique because he is an outside observer.

3. It’s all about losing – In chess, you always gain experience if you play with a person who knows more about the game than you. The same is true for Push Hands. If you push with some one who is better than you, you can always learn new things. It’s not about winning but about losing.

4. Concentration – More concentration and less talk always helps in chess. Same for Push Hands.

5. Play it Slow – You need to think before you make a move in chess, and playing it slow helps. Moving slowly when doing Push Hands will also help you to understand and feel the listening energy.

6. Linking and Protecting – In Chess, a well-known strategy is to link all the chess pieces together so they can protect each other. In Push Hands, body parts need to stay connected to defend each other.

7. Trap in – In chess, we often give up the small pieces or trap opponent’s pieces in order to put the king in check. In Push Hands, we don’t resist our opponent, but absorb and trap his/her energy in order to control it.

8. Practice makes perfect – The more you play chess, the better player you will become. Similarly, the more you practice Push Hands, the better your Tai Chi will become.

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2010