Archive for Hong Junsheng

3 Essential Tai Chi Reads

Posted in Martial Arts, Products, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2015 by chencenter

Just the other day, I had a student come up to me and ask if there is “Anything I can do or read to help me improve” [in Tai Chi].  Immediately, three books shot to mind (out of several dozen that I’ve read over the years).  The first book that I think anyone with an interest in the art of Taijiquan should acquire and read (and definitely if you’re an instructor of Taijiquan) is Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain by Chungliang, Al-Huang. [click on the image for Amazon.Com link]
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain

Embrace Tiger Chungliang

Published in November of 1973, it is probably safe to say that North American hadn’t had its influx of Taijiquan influence, however it was this author and masterful teacher, Chungliang, Al-Huang that helped me to form my vision of what I wanted (my personal) Taijiquan to become.  There are many parts to Taijiquan and although everyone will see them differently, Master Al beautifully illustrates what they can grow into, and how you can use the power of Taijiquan to create boundless energy and freedom.

Pros: This book is highly under-rated. Because of this, people are selling used copies for only pennies.

Cons: Many people are interested only in the combative potential of martial arts (even Taijiquan) and will thus will get very little joy from this movement/energy/spirit-based book.

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power

Taijiquan Book Yang YangPublished in 2008 by one of my early teachers, Master Yang Yang, this book is  more detailed on the science and study of Taijiquan as a martial art and system of mind-body therapy.  If you are looking for a clear explanation how and why Taijiquan practice can benefit you, look no further! Very thorough and well-written, Master Yang Yang gives you the foundation for not only Taijiquan practice but gives you principles that can benefit all martial artists.

Pros: This book encompasses everything that is great in a martial art book. Very easy-to-read, and explains what is (for some) a difficult, and deep subject to breech.  As an indoor disciple to the late Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, and someone who stands strong to his Master’s teachings, you can feel and can’t help but to get swept up in the feeling that this could have easily been written by the founder of Hunyuan Taijiquan (GM Feng) himself.

Cons: Available only in Hardback, this book comes with a higher price tag of approximately $30-40

Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method, vol. 1: Theory

Chen Style Practical Method BookThis book, written by Hong Junsheng was translated and published by his disciple, and my primary teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua.  Hong Junsheng, as many of us know, was the most senior disciple of Chen Fake; one of the true legends of all Taijiquan.  Hong spent his lifetime dedicated to the cultivation and perfection of his master’s art, faithfully practicing and passing on his master’s teaching.  If any book can be called a “Masterpiece,” this one should!

Pros: The one and only book diving right to the source of Practical Method theory, a useful resource for any martial artist (particularly those that study Taijiquan).  Although the book can be costly ($39.99 at PracticalMethod.Com), you can get a digital copy for only $20.

Cons: In order to obtain a copy of this book, you’ll have to spend $39.99, which makes this the most expensive book on the list (and it’s not even hardback). Although you’ll be reading a well-translated volume, the read can be a bit tedious; more cerebral in parts.  There are parts of the book that are quite poetic and without a bit of clarification here and there (most likely from Master Chen’s articles, videos and workshops) you might misunderstand certain concepts. Needless-to-say, this book is certainly for all serious practitioners of Taijiquan (particularly the Practical Method).

Well there are certainly some other books that I could add to the list, but these are my TOP 3.  Do you agree with my list?

WHAT BOOKS WOULD MAKE YOUR LIST?

LET US KNOW!

MICHAEL JOYCE

CHENCENTER.COM

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10 Questions with Ronnie Yee

Posted in 10 Questions, Internal Arts, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by chencenter

Ronnie Yee copy

Ronnie Yee is a martial artist from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada but now lives in Vancouver, BC.  He is a student of Chen Zhonghua and a dedicated Chen Style Practical Method practitioner and teacher.  I (Michael Joyce) first met him at Hunyuan World, a gathering that Master Chen set-up at the end of our extensive training course.  During these few days, I got to meet, speak and get-to-know my taiji brother Ronnie.  One thing was very true – this guy knew his stuff! Those of us training towards our certification were even more impressed with Ronnie’s explanation of complex taijiquan concepts and his willingness to share his knowledge with others.  Nowadays, with social media and advances in communication, it’s even easier to reach out to him.  For anyone interested in learning more about Mr. Yee, please comment on this interview or email us directly at CombativeCorner@gmail.com and we’ll make sure he gets it.  Now,… for our Special World Taiji Day Interview!

10 QUESTIONS

What brought you to the martial arts?

I grew up in the 70-80s in a small prairie Canadian city. At that time, there was very little social media influence and no martial arts schools. My sole exposure were television and movies; the martial arts stars: David Caradine, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan and my favorite, Bruce Lee are what got me hooked from a young age. The city’s first martial arts school, a traditional kung fu school, opened in 1979; I learnt of its existence in 1980 and I joined right away. From that moment on, the practice of kung fu consumed my life. As time went on, more styles of martial arts began to emerge in the city such as: Tae Kwon do, Karate, Judo, Aikido and Muay Thai, to name a few. I became friends with students in the other martial arts and trained with them all. My momentum in the martial arts exceeded many of my classmates and my ego was in full-bloom. I was a case of “big fish, small pond”. In 1986, everything changed, I met Master Chen and was humbled to the core. Master Chen was the embodiment of the true martial artist and as much as I feared him, he became one of my greatest mentors and helped me to become the martial artist that I am today. 

What were the first few years like studying under Master Chen?

I was a juvenile sixteen-year-old when I first met Master Chen. At the time, Master Chen was teaching ESL in my high-school and he decided to start-up a wushu/taiji class after school. I was excited to attend his first class and show-off because, as far as I knew, I was the best! Needless to say, I was quickly proven wrong. The very first demo of the very first class, Master Chen used me in a demo and made an example out of me. My ego collapsed and I became his student. Master Chen had a very strict regime but it didn’t begin with taiji. He wanted all of his students to have a foundation of wushu basics and the discipline that came with it. His training was gruelling. As students we had no structure, no discipline, no natural talent and no maturity. We were never fast enough, never low enough, never flexible enough, and never up to his standards. After roughly 3-months of wushu basics, the classroom size shrunk from 15 students down to only 3. It wasn’t until he knew that we were devoted to the arts that he began teaching taiji. Master Chen always wanted perfection from his students; it was very frustrating for all of us but probably most frustrating for him!

You have a great skill at teaching and expressing your ideas. How did you excel as a teacher in your own right? 

After having studied 2 years intensively under master Chen, he left Regina in pursuit for his career in teaching at a secondary school in Edmonton. I was thrust into the role of instructor to my classmates. I had to validate my theories into practical reality regardless of the skill level I was at for that time. This way of teaching has always been an ongoing, evolving process throughout my life. If one thinks they have found the absolute ultimate truth, then they have stopped learning and stagnate. That is why my philosophy is based on being humble and learning from everyone regardless of their skill level. I put my ego on check, and take all criticisms seriously and try to better myself. Even the most diehard beginner that walks into your class for the first time can teach the instructor something of great value. 

Master Chen’s way of teaching using many concepts and analogies to describe one paticular move definitely had significant influence on me. To look at one thing from numerous angles so that a student can understand. Presently I come to the realization that I am very critical of myself. Watching recent videos I see so many mistakes and weaknesses. I see these same errors in many others. I have become obsessed with finding ways to express the way some particular move or application is being performed. Also I have been to workshops or classes with other instructors in other systems. You watch for ways that work well for people and you borrow teaching methods. It’s important to know how each individual student learns best and suit the teaching to them. 

Out of all that you’ve studied, is there something you enjoy most (form, weapon, etc)? 

 If there is one thing that I enjoy most, it would be the validation when an application is successful. 

What does Taijiquan mean to you?

As a martial art, Taijiquan challenges practitioners both intellectually and physically. For me, Taijiquan is the balance between good body mechanics, physics and health. 

How important is “Qi” or understanding of “Qi” to you

I believe Qi is the energy of all things. I do not understand how Qi relates the the practical application of martial arts but I do recognize Qi’s benefit to the spirit. 

Besides Master Chen, have there been other mentors/influences that have greatly impacted your evolution as a martial artist?

In 91′ I went to China for a summer and trained under Hong’s disciple, Zhang Lian En. He influenced my physical mechanics by improving my grounding and strength. Around this time, Joseph (Master Chen) and I were introduced to Liu Chengde (another one of Hong’s disciples). Liu Chengde taught me the soft side of chen taiji which helped balanced the art. 

Over the years I have sustained my share of injuries and have endured many pains in the body. In the Early 2000s I met a woman named Amelia Itcush who taught me the Mitzvah technique. In simple words, the Mitzvah technique is the base of body alignment through natural movements. Following 3 years of consistent Mitzvah practice, all my pains disipated and I began to incorporated the techniques into my taiji. 

In recent years I have had my eyes opened to real world effectiveness of the Filipino Martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I like to study these two arts specifically because it helps me think more critically of taiji applications.

When you train yourself, how do you arrange your session? (Do you add other non-taijiquan exercises, endurance or resistance training, etc)

Presently I mostly focus on single drills, positive and negative circles and specific movements of both yilu and paochui (the 2 main hand forms in the Chen Practical Method). I rarely practice the forms from beginning-to-end as I prefer to isolate each movement within the form and deconstruct its application. I also do modified pole shaking exercises, modified chin-ups, and modified pushups, that simulate taiji mechanics. As stated in the previous question, since the early 2000s the Mitzvah technique has become a part of my everyday motions. 

Do you feel that Taijiquan will sustain your interest/passion forever, or do you wish to supplement your training with other systems of study?

Taiji as a martail art is so beautiful, detailed and complex that it could capture my attention for multiple lifetimes. I love it for the counter-intuitive approach to body mechanics. Although I plan to practice taiji for the rest of my life, it would be unwise to be blind to the strengths of other martial arts. One of my character flaws is procrastination but I do plan to learn more from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Filipino Martial Arts.

When I first met you, I was amazed at how multi-talented you are (magician, wushu, rope dart, massage therapy). Do you still engage in all of these activities and do you have any other things that take up your day these days? What’s new in the life of Mr. Ronnie Yee?

My girlfriend of 6 years and I recently moved to Vancouver. I still teach taiji, still do massage therapy and am still very passionate about magic. I personally think the study of magic has helped my taiji. Puts me into the mindset of drilling every nuance to perfection. I dabble in many things but those are the main pieces of my life. 

BONUS QUESTION

If you could meet one martial artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It’s a tie between Hong Junsheng and Rickson Gracie. They have both been or are true legends of their craft. Hong Junsheng obviously because he is my grandmaster and is the one that shaped the art for how my teachers taught and how I practice. I briefly met him in 1991. But unfortunately did not get to experience his ability. So that is why I would like to meet him again. To learn taiji but very importantly to feel his skill. 

Rickson Gracie is undeniably a legend in the world of BJJ. To me high level BJJ appears to have a lot of the same physics as high level taiji. I would love to experience the crossover between taiji and BJJ at this level. 

FIN.

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Silk-Reeling by Hong Junsheng

Posted in EXCERPT, Miscellaneous, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by chencenter

SILK-REELING

On the theory of Chan Si

Nothing is too detailed

Inside and outside spirals

Are controlled by shun and ni

Shun opens while ni closes

Hard and soft

Compliment each other.

*Translation by Master Chen Zhonghua. Winter 2002

Contained Spiral Force

Posted in Day's Lesson, Internal Arts, Internal Development, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by Combative Corner

Guest AuthorThe Master once said,

“Everybody in the world uses momentum-based movement, therefore we do not. Taiji involves ‘contained spiral force’ that generates momentum on something external to oneself.”

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Commentary:

Imagine a car is on a lift. The car is on, it has been put into drive, and someone is inside pushing the gas pedal to the floor. The tires are spinning rapidly on the axle. Now imagine touching one of the spinning tires. Ouch!

Now imagine the same scenario, yet the tire pops off the axle and rolls away, carried by its forward momentum, for thirty or forty feet to where you happen to be standing. Now imagine bending down and touching it as it approaches. It slows to a stop and impotently topples over onto its side.

In the first instance, the rotation is tightly contained, powerful and controlled. In the second instance the rotation becomes decreasingly powerful and cannot be controlled once it has been seperated from the axle.

It’s not that momentum-based attacks are ineffective, it’s just that the strong can always overcome the weak when both parties use momentum to fight. Yet, by mastering “contained spiral force” the “weak” can overcome the “strong.” Master Hong could not lift heavy rocks, yet could send strapping youths sailing through the air.

You must become a gearbox with machine-like precision.

Guest Author: Todd Elihu

Read More of his Material at: PracticalMethod.Org

originally posted in May 2008

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PHYSICS OF FAJIN

Reflections On Chen Style Taijiquan

Posted in Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Styles, Taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by chencenter

I remember my first taste of taijiquan.  It was like eating a watermelon for the first time.  You think to yourself, “Why am I experiencing this only now?”  Enamoured, you take a bite that’s just a little too large for those ol’ cheeks.  You know the story.  Maybe you get it, maybe you don’t.

The Point Is…

I found something that, like watermelon spoke to my taste buds (those many years ago), speaks to my body up to this very day.  [Why some people don’t experience the same degree of “Speak,” I’ll post in another article]

But what could be better than watermelon (if I may continue with my juicy simile)?  How about the seedless watermelon of Chen Style Taijiquan?

I won’t discriminate.  All fruit, all styles of martial arts had, in my past, their own distinct flavor and infused my body with a different kind of energy.  What impressed me most in my discovery of taijiquan was the enormous depth and richness that the art possessed.  How (I thought) could an 85+ year old reduce a youthful and strong man to a stumbling and bumbling child?  What mechanisms were at work?

It all fascinated me to no end.

I was fortunate to meet some extraordinary teachers along the way that helped me to shape my idea of what Taiji is (versus what “Taijiquan” is),.. to help me to see for myself what “Is.”  Now I know this can all seem very esoteric and abstruse, but this is one of the main reasons that people who practice taijiquan have an atmosphere of peacefulness and serenity.  Just by speaking with someone; sometimes just by meeting or shaking hands with someone, I can tell if they are a practitioner of taijiquan.  I wonder if others get the same vibe?  This is most likely attributed to the concept of teaching xiulian.  Now if you’re hearing this word for the first time –

Xiulian isn’t mind and it isn’t behavior.  It’s mind-behavior.  The late, great Hong Junsheng said (in his poem, Circular & Harmonious)

“If you want to learn Taiji, you must first learn the principle.”

It may seem a strange concept, especially to those who want to “kick ass and take names,” but virtue (not athletic skill) is the foundation of martial skill.  And as Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang says,

“Taiji is the gongfu (time-skill) of xujing (emptiness & tranquility).”  

Surprisingly, this is sometimes forgotten or even just momentarily overlooked in the martial artist (even those from the “internal” schools).  It has always appealed to me and made a tremendous amount of good sense to develop the self, and not just in one dimension (i.e. strength, flexibility, focus, or reaction speed), but in all dimensions.

Good luck in your training.

Michael Joyce

ChenCenter.Com

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10 Questions with Chen Zhonghua

Posted in 10 Questions, Internal Arts, Taijiquan, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Combative Corner

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)

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(1)

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.

(2)

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.

(3)

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.

(4)

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.

(5)

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.

(6)

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.

(7)

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.

(8)

When Master Chen is not teaching, practicing form, or running your business, what does he like to do for fun?
Doing circles.

(9)

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.

(10)

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”

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