Learning Tai Chi has been a process of wonder and occasional pain. My acupuncturist, Dr. Steven Aung, said that we are where we should be, even if the arrival at this point seems bewildering or difficult.
For example, wishing to improve my health, I enrolled in a Yang style class that seemed great. Only later did I learn that it was not, because the instructor lacked knowledge and integrity. I immediately enrolled at the Hunyuantaiji Academy (which I had known for a while), as the only place that could meet my needs. The dedicated teaching staff and the students were all people who were easy to be with and who cared.
Later, after spending three Days at Hunyuan World in 2003, I wanted even more to learn and improve more quickly than regular classes could provide as well as to be a part of what Master Chen Zhonghua offers his full time students. His extreme skill and understanding of Tai Chi and its applications are astonishing and seemingly limitless. The transmission of information is never withheld for fear of giving away “secrets”, but information and technical training is always given when we are ready for “the next step”. The information has been so prolific that at times my weak memory allows more information than I can retain to leak away. Fortunately, practice and repetition help the information explosion to be closer to one’s grasp.
At the present moment the only thing preventing faster progress is the limitations of one’s body. The mind can eventually grasp the information and concepts, but the body has to be able to produce the needed results to show complete understanding and utilization of this information. Guidance and help from the Master and the other students make this a goal that will be met.
One astonishing thing that has occurred has been the information that I have become strong. I have always had a “wiry strength” as my family used to tell me when I was young, but this training has provided stability, confidence, and some actual muscle. More importantly I am increasingly able to use more of my mind and my body in an integrated manner. This is a skill I never had until Tai Chi with Master Chen.
Learning at the Full Time class covers a varied curriculum that will train one to be able to teach and pass on this incredible skill that Master Chen so willingly allows us to receive. Words can only fail to describe the importance and knowledge we are experiencing. At this time I have the dubious honour of being the oldest full time student, showing that advancing years still allow this type of training to be highly relevant for everyone.
(Part 2) The following recently discovered manuscript will give some idea of the important knowledge that has been imparted to us.
VERSES ON THE ENLIGHTENMENT TO TAI CHI
(TRANSLATED FROM A MANUSCRIPT IN THE POSESSION OF THE GREAT, GREAT, GREAT, GREAT GRANDSON OF ZHANG BODUAN’S GARDENER’S THERAPIST.)
If you do not seek the Great Circles that
Come out of the waist directed arm and body,
Even if you have wisdom and strength
Your push hands will be like that of a puling infant.
Our class which has a span of three months
Poses an ethereal yet visceral challenge.
Your movement inaccuracies will adhere to you
And your mind and body will wither
From the need for the Great Circles.
Let me ask: can you with your slow learning
Delay the coming of the Hunyuan World?
If you are instructed to do the Great Circles,
But choose not to correctly practice them,
That makes you impossibly hopeless!
To embark on the path to Tai Chi,
One must learn the “Way of The Heavenly Circle.”
Only the Joseph Chen training is the correct system
Where structure and function get connected.
The Circles are the circles of reversal.
Within their negativism and positivism,
All circles can become one circle that if
Completed correctly leads further along the True Path.
Every body part must feel and practice
The Great Circle and its reversal.
With arms, the elbows lead to the turning waist
And the hand follows for a positive direction,
But the hand must lead when the way is of the negative.
Within each, though is also the opposite reversal
To complete that which must be a Circle.
When there is up, there must always be down
Or the Great Circle will be like the Dragon without his cave.
The hips must sink in front as the trailing foot
Adds to the directive force.
Lock, turn while rotating to seek and neutralize
Squeeze out all space and command movement
Like the sun rising from the ocean.
Small or large, the move must equal the opponent’s force.
Withhold or exaggerate and you will be lost.
Now your circle will be intelligent and enlightenment occurs
If the body, arms, and legs move easily within their Tubes.
If you want to know the source of the Great Circle,
It is in Jinan the origin of Hong’s Tai Chi.
Balance, rotation and leverage are all one and the same
Like the Frog who lives in the well.
You may move one and two which equals three
Or you may move two and three which equals five,
But never can one and three be moved
As this equals folding stagnation and despair.
Recognize the structure of the triangle
To increase the knowledge of immovability
Open the shoulder as movement travels from your arm outward
Using the sacred Knife Edge of the hand.
The separation must be the separation of Yin and Yang.
It must split like the Ape wildly throwing away rotting fruit.
Connections do not fold, but must always be aligned:
One is with two and then also connected to three.
Skip two, and the rotation is engaged and matching.
If you don’t recognize the Great Circles
As the Genuine Ancestor,
Then all of your actions will be in vain.
The Great Circle is the only one because it is the nucleus.
Don’t blame Joseph Chen for revealing all these heavenly secrets.
The unworthiness of his student
Will diligently strive to see the enlightenment
Contained within these verses
And then will instantly be transformed
To continue working with Chen Zhonghua
In the Clear Studio of correct Tai Chi.