Workshop with Chen Zhong Hua 11/26/2005

by Practical Method on 2005/11/26

Reviewed by Daniel Mroz

On November 26 and 27, 2005, I took part in a two-day workshop on Hong Junsheng’s Practical Method of Chen style taijiquan, offered by Mr. Chen Zhong Hua in Ottawa, Canada. The workshop was arranged by Mr. Chen’s students and attracted about a dozen participants.

Despite my limited knowledge and experience of the Chen style (I have been studying it under Mr. Chen’s disciple Kee Hong for about three months and have previous experience in cailifoquan and wu shi taijiquan) I found the curriculum of the workshop to be excellent. Mr. Chen revealed himself to be a consummate expert who can demonstrate, describe, teach, theorize and apply taijiquan. More importantly, he is capable of making his material available to students with very different degrees of experience.

While many different drills were presented over the course of the weekend, they all served to train and demonstrate the same core principles. As a result, each new drill served to complement the previous one and I never felt overwhelmed by the volume of material presented. Furthermore, each movement exercise we were shown was complemented by partner work that served to check the quality of our movements. Mr. Chen made himself very available both with explanations and with direct touch in order that we better understand the exercise at hand. While he is an exacting teacher, he is never dismissive and backed up every criticism with indications as to how I might improve my taijiquan.

One aspect that struck me in particular was Mr. Chen’s willingness to play push-hands freely with us, so that we could experience how the ideal taiji body should feel and also experience his incomparable flow, skill at improvisation and physical élan.

Reflecting on my experience, I find myself inspired by the weekend. Here is a fine teacher in his prime, generous with his instruction and energy, who is approachable, enthusiastic and, not to mention, speaks perfect English. I heartily recommend his instruction to anyone interested in experiencing what a high level of taijiquan really is.

(I have yet to decipher and type up the pages of point-form notes I took during the workshop, but I will be happy to share them with my fellow workshop attendees.)

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