For those of you that come from other taichi backgrounds and now do the Practical Method, I’m curious as to what led you along this path. Also, what was your first impression of the Practical Method style? I’ll tell you a little about my story.
I started taichi due to a chronic health condition back around 1990 and I have been studying and doing the Yang style for most of this time. I think I had generally good teaching in this regard but always felt something was lacking. Quite a while back I was watching a video of a master’s demo from the Taichi Legacy Tournament that was held in Dallas, Texas. One of the masters was Chen Zhonghua. I had never seen him before and didn’t know anything about him but something about his form captivated me and I would watch it over and over again. There was something different and special about his form and demonstration compared to the other demonstrators and other Chen stylists. His movements were flowing and he had a very relaxed type of power.
Years passed and I stumbled across some videos of Master Chen on YouTube. Most had to do with push hands and applications. From the moment I saw the first video I said to myself, he’s got “it”. The things he was doing in the videos I had not seen others do. Here was someone not large of stature, yet in an effortless manner was pushing people around and applying taichi applications. This further “sealed the deal” for me and I knew that Master Chen had something special. What surprised me somewhat was that my friends who I discussed this with didn’t seem to see (to the extent that I did) the same things I was seeing. They were content to keep moving and stumbling along the same path they had always been.
I decided I needed to learn the Practical Method and so I registered on the web site and began watching as many videos as I could and began learning on my own for there was no one where I lived (or so I thought). I studied by myself for 6-8 months and while watching one of Master Chen’s videos I saw that one of the students on the video lived in my city. I emailed him “out of the blue” and asked him if he would teach me theform and he agreed. This was a huge benefit and turning point as it was tough going trying to figure this stuff out on my own. That was almost 2 years ago and my understanding has steadily increased.
My first impression of the Practical Method style once I started learning it was that the overall form “didn’t look like taichi”, it seemed to stiff and mechanical, it was not like the Yang style I had learned. I really wondered how this could be taichi, I didn’t understand it, but yet I felt I had to trust in the method for it works as Master Chen is a prime example. Also, the topic of “not moving” was very foreign to me and didn’t make sense as this was contrary to a certain extent to what I had learned as well. But thankfully, over time, and with much practice and gleaning insight from Master Chen’s videos, I now see what this is all about and realize how much I had been missing. I had some semblance of the truth but yet was “way off” on many of the key concepts. I will keep “plugging away” and hope to be able to meet and study with Master Chen one day.