“T’ai Chi Legends—Stories of the Masters”
By Frank Simons
This lecture will tell a few short tales of the archetypal characters representing the evolution of t’ai chi, showing the morals each story teaches. These stories are meant to connect us to our past and provide us with ideals that we can look up to in search for the truth: the discovery of harmony, perseverance, and commitment and the careful husbanding of the life force, chi.
Essentials of T’ai Chi and Qigong, “Part 13, T’ai Chi Legends—Stories of the Masters”
Thu, Aug 25, 5:30pm
Callejón Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted
Zhang Sen-feng left a message for future generations, a manual to teach the inner secrets of t’ai chi chuan technique and “desired that the whole world should achieve health, longevity, and enlightenment.” Zhang’s book is the first chapter in what would later become known as t’ai chi classics. Zhang’s martial art was a powerful dance that is simultaneously a comprehensive fitness regimen, a shield against disease, a way to circulate energy, and a beautiful art form. But Zhang and the masters who came after him had a deeper message: The dance is only a metaphor for the principles of how to live your life connected to your soul.
Wang Tsung-yueh, a wandering Taoist priest who had studied martial arts based on the development of internal power, the chi, brought the technique to the fledgling Chen style. When Wang watched the Chen fighters, he observed they were still using too much physical strength and not enough mind-intent, followed by qi. Wang taught his students softness would overcome hardness. Wang was a member of the Taoist sects that practiced martial arts as a path to spiritual purification. Wang’s contribution was a return to the basics, infusing Chen boxing with the fundamentals of Taoist philosophy and the secrets of getting more qi power into their movements.
Little Yang Lu-chan, an enthusiastic learner of kung fu, became a servant in the Chen household so he could secretly learn the highly guarded teaching. After defeating one of the master’s senior students, he was accepted as a student himself. After 15 years of training he became such a superb fighter that he was known as Yang the Unbeatable, the Unsurpassable. He became a teacher to the Manchurian Emperor’s court. Unwilling to divulge the secrets to “foreigners,” he modified the art by making the movements larger and rounder, slowing down the motion. The practice of the slow, large, circular movements was an even more effective method of developing qi than his previous style. And this is his legacy to us: a peerless boxing style that trains not only the body, but also the spirit.
The course is led by David-Dorian Ross, the founder and CEO of Taijifit. He has a BA in human movement studies from San Francisco State University and has trained in China with championship martial arts coaches. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul.
There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.
Presentations of the center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.