Before I came to US in 1992, I only heard about Master Hong Junsheng’s Chen Style Taiji Quan Practical Method. In 1998, I met Master Chen Zhonghua in Phoenix at a martial art competition where he was invited to do a demonstration about the Practical Method. Therefore, I got the first impression about the Practical Method, and quickly realized this was the right Taiji Quan I should switch to. To make the decision to switch was not hard, even though I had been practicing and teaching Chen Style Taiji Quan (New Frame) since early 1980s. To actually learn the Practical Method (Yilu) was hard at that time. Master Chen left me a video cassette of his
Timing: I simply had to work full time to support myself. I could not afford to quit job to follow Master Chen to learn the Practical Method.
Location: Phoenix and Edmonton are thousands miles apart.
People: There were no other people in Phoenix who knew the Practical Method.
I was disappointed. All I could do was to wait the right opportunity to come. Meanwhile, I decided to stop practicing other Chen Style Tai Chi. I knew it was not the correct one. I just didn’t want to practice the wrong things and hope someday it would turn out to be right. The waiting period was long. After 5 years, the three factors finally turned favorable to me.
In 2000, one of my Tai Chi students and friend Trevor went back to live in Calgary. I highly recommended that he should study the Practical Method from Master Chen Zhonghua in Edmonton. He did two full time sessions (total one year) with Master Chen. By the time I saw him again, his form was beautiful and strong. I was happy for him. In summer 2003, he came back to Phoenix to visit and stayed with me for a month. During this month, I asked him to teach me the Practical Method. By the end of his stay, I basically learned the whole. From then on, I did my best to see Master Chen at least once a year. Each time it would be just for couple of days to a week long. He would come to Phoenix, or, I would go to Canada or Da Qing Shan. Short visits, but most helpful. After all of these years practice, I start to be able to learn a few things from the videos. But I still prefer face to face hands on instructions.
The waiting period was necessary for me. I did try to learn from the tape, only got more confused. After learned the choreography of the, I had the foundation and was on the right training path. That was important.
In summary, the three factors are: time–do you have time to learn and practice? location–do you have/can you go to a place to learn and train (classes/workshops)? people–can you have master Chen or his students to teach?
(I truly believe some people possess extraordinary ability to learn from the videos. Majority of people don’t have that ability.)