10 Questions with Chen Zhonghua
The CombativeCorner gives a special welcome to Chen “Joseph” Zhonghua, not only for being a masterful teacher of Chen Style Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), but for being the primary teacher of the CombativeCorner’s own, Michael Joyce. Master Chen is the founder and head master at the Hunyuantaiji Academy in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is the only official International standard bearer for Taijiquan through the lineage of the late Chen Style master Hong Junsheng. Master Chen has an unmatched ability to explain complex concepts and theories and gives many of his students the unique priviledge of discovering for themselves the powerful and the often-thought, “mysterious” forces of Taijiquan. Get to know Master Chen better by subscribing to his YouTube channel. As a close student (Joyce) to Master Chen, I can safely give you one important tip, “Study the circles.” (video located at the bottom)
(Click the picture above to visit his channel. Click here for his 2nd channel)
What was the moment when you knew you didn’t want to just teach (school system), but teach Taijiquan for a living?
Two events in 2001 led me to that decision. In a discipleship application, one student outlined his future actions in regard to how to commit his time to learn taiji from me. It struck me that my teachings in taiji have profound influence in people’s lives. I realized that as a part time taiji teacher, I had no right telling serious students how to regard taiji as part of their lives.
Another event was a plea from a student in my Maple Ridge (near Vanouver, Canada) workshop group. I teach a weekend workshop once a month in that location. In 2001 I was hesitant whether I would be able to continue another year while teaching in a high school in Edmonton full time.
These two events helped me make up my mind to go into full time taiji teaching.
For someone who is just starting out in Taijiquan, what do you recommend for them to concentrate on?
Learn the rules and regulations of the art. Don’t try to make them up on your own.
As someone progresses in Qigong and/or Taijiquan how much importance would you place on their study of certain texts (i.e. YiJing, Tao Te Ching,etc.)?
Reading of classics should only be supplementary to the practice of taiji/qigong.
Many students are enjoying a mix of martial arts; taking from one, borrowing from another. What do you think of this?
I am of the old school. I try to learn and do one thing right at a time.
For those who do not know, what do feel to be the difference(s) between Chen Taijiquan (Hong) and Hunyuan Taijiquan (Feng)?
Chen Taijiquan emphasizes the physical aspect while Hunyuan Taijiquan emphasizes the non-physical aspect.
How important is it, in your opinion, for someone to practice qigong? Do you feel that qigong should be a separate practice outside of Taijiquan form?
First of all, Qigong and taiji are two disciplines. They are not directly related. It is totally acceptable to learn and practice taijiquan without qigong and vice versa. On the other hand, the practice of qigong indirectly enhances the practice of taijiquan.
When watching your videos, of both yourself and your students, emphasis seems to be placed (highly) on the Practical Method First Routine (Yi Lu). Could you please tell us why other aspects such as: the Second Routine (Er Lu), Weapons (i.e. Sword (Jian), Sabre (Dao)) are under-emphasized?
In taiji practice, everything is equal. The placement of an emphasis is highly arbitrary. In my opinion, Foundations and Yilu are basic and therefore, fundamental. Constant practice of the fundamentals will lead to future progress when others aspects such as Cannon Fist, weapons, etc. are learned.
When Master Chen is not teaching, practicing form, or running your business, what does he like to do for fun?
The foundational exercises of the “Positive & Negative Circles” are important in the Practical Method system. What makes them so important?
They are the building blocks. Everything in taiji is made up of either a positive circle or a negative circle, or parts of. They are like the DNA of people.
A century from now, when people look back on Master Chen Zhonghua…. what would you like them to remember about you?
Kept the tradition alive.
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AS MASTER CHEN would instruct, “Learn the Circles”