Jesse Thomas 2008

by webmaster on 2009/01/20

Originally written by: Jesse Thoma
Dear Master Chen,

Encouraging getting to work out with you after such a long absence.  Training everyday for over 6  months in 2004 under your mentorship was very developmental.  Each one of those sequential days spent on the same subject, you may not see big changes in tai chi that are occuring in you. To be able to revisit so many concepts you emphasize was refreshing.  Hearing your teachings about “additions, giving your opponent the feeling that you have one more arm than them. 3 part foot, 1 part hand.  Catching with the upper body, then arching power from below.  Not tossing in the circles which is a type of retreating, yes?

It was only after stepping away from the Chen Practical Method and returning to it again, did I realize that I have begun moving in a very different ways than others.  Some of my students have martial art background and military experience too, so they like to test me.  What works best when others pressure up on me are following the Hong foundation principles that you’ve burnt into my hard drive.  ” In with the elbows, out with the hand,  top back of the head up, knees only pump vertically, shoulder stays inside the hips, hips stay inside the knees, knees stay inside the feet.   These types of basics  have to some degree stuck with me even as my form work and practice intensity has tapered off.  That speaks well of what an intensive  training over a prolonged period will do accomplish.  Without blanketing myself in too much guilt, I imagine where I might be had my training been more consistent over these last 4 years.
I bought Gordon Muir’s book on traditional Yang Style, hoping it would give me some clues to how to teach a 20 tai chi foundational class.  In the the introduction, Muir leads with a Hong quote.

“In the development of Taijiquan, changes become necessary based on the passage of time and the replacement of people.  Changes that do not betray the principles of Taijiquan are developments, while changes that depart from the principles are regressions.”  -Hong Junsheng

When doing Hong’s Yilu like a robot, engaging certain gears, locking others out,  well…it’s can feel odd and uncomfortable. Especially if you invested in prior training.  The most challenging student I had last semester was someone with tai chi background. Couldn’t get him to stop swaying side to side, shifting his weight to and fro.  The irony is that in confining your movements to the certain specific rules, all with their respective application, then the energy can begin to come out.   How you trained me in 2004 I didn’t like initially, because it didn’t fit into preconceived notions I’d formed. Master Chen, you’re explainations of the leverage and fulcrum, the angles, the timing, all overlap in relevant ways for people to develop tai chi skill.  I’m really glad I’m back to training and teaching what you demonstrate so well.   On my wish list to the universe is another intensive training camp in China with you.

Thanks again for the refresher.
Jesse C. Thomas

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

allanbelsheim January 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Good to hear you are back in training using Hong and Chen Zhonghua principles. Keep up with your training and watch how everything starts to work better and better. Remember, there is always training in Edmonton if you can’t get to Daqingshan!


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