At Polo Park Recreation Center on Wednesday evenings (7-8pm) we have our weekly Tai Chi (Taijiquan) class. We start each class with a short series of Qigong , Chan Si Jin (Silk Reeling) and Jibengong (Foundational Training). We then move to either the Hunyuan 24 posture form (main class form), the Practical Method Yilu (first routine) or the Joyce 18 form.
This (and every) class is directed and taught for any experience level. Unlike many classes, the pace of a tai chi class is slow enough for anyone to follow. For the more experienced or movement-oriented individual, the slower pace will allow them to reach deeper into the nuance, detail and quality of their movement.
This class is FREE for anyone to try. If you feel that it is right for you and/or you'd like to learn more, the cost is $50 for 6 classes/6wks.
WHAT TO WHERE
This is a common question, but the answer is anything comfortable - preferably loose, breathable clothing with closed-toe shoes (or shoes that you can kick off and go barefooted!)
Here are the first four movements of the Joyce 18 Form. There have been a few minor changes to this form, but let this serve as a brief demonstration. Students, feel free watch and practice. More videos will be added soon, however, join our classes to hone your skills.
The Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method is the form taught by Grandmaster Chen Fake (pronounce "Fak-uh"). He went to Beijing to teach in 1928 where Hong Junsheng was one of his students and studied with him from 1930-1944. When Hong Junsheng moved to Jian, he later noticed that students of Chen Fake were doing a form/forms that were slightly different from what he learned. Therefore, he called his version "Practical Method" to differentiate the two.
The word "practical" was used because Hong Junsheng returned to Beijing in 1956 and learned from Chen Fake again. In that time, Chen Fake kept repeating the word "practical" to him everyday for three months. He would say that "This form is practical. Every move has an application and there is no emptiness in the entire form." When Grandmater Hong wrote his book, he carefully chose the name, Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method.
The Practical Method is very systematic. For example, everything is based on the positive and negative circles.
*Taken from my teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua
Grandmaster Chen Fake
Grandmaster Hong Junsheng (1907-1996) started learning taijiquan as a result of early age illness. He began with Wu Style taijiquan with Master Liu Musan. in 1930, Master Liu invited Chen Fake to his school for a demonstration and was so impressed with Master Chen's ability that he took his entire class to learn with him.
Hong is the only disciple of Chen Fake who studied for a full 15 years. For this reason, many Chen Style taijiquan masters consult him as the source of information. Most of the information about the life and teachings of Grandmaster Chen Fake were told or written by him.
Grandmaster Hong spent his entire life practicing and researching the art of Chen Style Taijiquan. His skilled reached a superb level, making him one of the top representatives of the 18th generation of Chen Style masters.
His life is a story of a true master. He refused fame and fortune, and remained poor his entire life. His life was one of total devotion tot he art of his master. In his 75 square feet, self-built hut, he produced hundreds of high level Chen Style Taijiquan masters in Jinan, in other provinces, and all over the world. It was also in this tiny space that he wrote his book, "Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method," using his bed as a dining table and writing desk.
A little man of only 5 feet 3 inches in height, who called himself "food bucket," he was a true "giant" in the art of Chen Style Taijiquan. Even on his deathbed, he would invite students to play push hands with him.
Grandmaster Hong Junsheng
Another of Chen Fake's prize pupils was Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang (1928-2012). His family was from Shulu County, Hebei Province. His great-grandfather was a famous Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) martial artist. As a young man he studied Shaolin from his uncle, Wang Yun Kai. Later, in Beijing, he learned Tong Bei Quan from Grandmaster Han Xiao Feng. This was between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. At the age of 20 he studied Liuhe Xinyi Quan (Xinyi not Xingyiquan) from Grandmaster Hu Yaozhen and Chen Fake, both of whom taught him "qin shou mi shou" (closely and secretly). GM Hu sent him to learn under GM Chen after 2 years of study because Feng as not only an exceptional student, but Hu Yaozhen didn't want to see Feng limit himself to just one style. Feng studied with Chen Fake from 1950-1957. Chen Fake's son, Chen Zhaokui once wrote, "I have one older gong brother, his name is Feng Zhiqiang, he's intelligent, and his skill is the best among all our gong brothers."
Master Feng was a truly historic figure in the history of Taijiquan and is the originator of Chen Style Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan, a unique system combing what he learned from both Chen Fake and Hu Yaozhen.
Grandmaster Feng passed away on May 5th, 2012 in Beijing.
Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang
Chen Zhonghua, who (when I met him) went by Joseph Chen, was born in 1961 in the city of Weifang, Shandong Province. At the age of 18, he entered the Foreign Language Department of Shandong University and consequently studied Chen Style Taijiquan at Black Tiger Springs Park in Jinan from Grandmaster Hong Junsheng. At the introduction of Master Li Enjiu, he became of disciple of Hong's and later, on June 4th, 2004, was elected as the Practical Method International Standard Bearer.
In 1985 he went to Canada to teach Taijiquan. After his master's passing, and at the introduction of Mr. Liu He and Professor Feng Xiufang, Chen Zhonghua became a disciple of Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang (1998). Currently, Chen Zhonghua has students and disciples of his own in China, Canada and in the USA. He teaches both Chen Taiji Practical method and Hunyuan Taiji around the world, and on his property in China, Daqingshan Mountain.
For more information and/or articles written by him and students, visit PracticalMethod.Com
Master ChenZhonghua & Michael Joyce
My [Michael Joyce] journey to find Taijiquan, lucky for me, came earlier then most. When anyone finds such a thing, they always say, "I wish I found it sooner." But here I am now, only 39 years young and I've been doing the art for 20 years. What started as an introduction of Small Frame Yang Style by my Kungfu teacher, Jim Holoman, turned into a college quest to learn more. Lucky for me I ran into an amazing guy at St. Louis University named Herb Parran. I used every opportunity to train with him for those two years. After learning the Hunyuan 24 from him, and had transferred back home to UNC-Greensboro, I ran into Dale Stacy of EarthStar Tai Chi and learned to Yang 108 Form. As eye-opening as the experience was, my heart leaned more to the Hunyuan and Chen Style forms.
While at UNCG I managed to correspond and take workshops with Master Yang Yang. I travelled frequently to Boone, North Carolina (an hour and some change from where I was) to train with Bob Schlagal and crew. There I was able to pick up the Hunyuan 32 and 48. Meanwhile, there was a guy at Kennesaw State University named David Hilburn was hosting severel Taijiquan masters like Wang Fengming, and Chen Zhonghua. I was so impressed with Master Chen that I inquired about studying with him more intensely. Fortunately he was putting together a certification program, but it would mean traveling to his school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and training all-day for 3 months.
Hunyuan Academy Group. 2003
Master Chen, myself and Chen Liansheng
Being an obsessive note-taker helped me out tremendously, as I soaked up a great deal of knowledge and details in that time. Even during my lunch hour I took the time to pour through Master Chen's collection of Tai Chi Magazine and scribble my findings in my journal. This inquiry helped me ask intelligent questions and gave me plenty of things to experiment with - by myself and my Taiji brothers (and sister). At the end of our program we capped it off with the Hunyuan World (Retreat) on April 10th, 2003. There I would meet another inspirational figure, Ronnie Yee, who continues to inspire me to this day.
On my return to North Carolina, I was very eager to improve, teach and promote the art of Taijiquan. Over the following years I would have the opportunity to take one more workshop with Master Yang Yang (Blowing Rock, NC) and several with Yang, Jwing-Ming (YMAA, Boston). Through Duke University Tai Chi Club I was able to take a workshop with Master Zhu TianCai, meet fellow student Johnny Kuo and take a workshop with his teacher, Master Sam Chin. I have also had the opportunity to work with and interview many great martial artist like:
Hai Yang (InternalStyle.Com, Montreal)
Daria Sergeeva (I-Liq Chuan)
Chungliang Al Huang
and many more through my website CombativeCorner.Com.
In 2007 an Introduction to Tai Chi (following the Simplified Movements of Yang Yang), put unfortunately the original files got lost. With the help of my friend Cyprian Dzieciol, and a borrowed, high-definition camera we put together a dvd on the Hunyuan 24 Form (available) in our online shop.
Currently I am working on both a Joyce 18 Form and Application DVD and student booklet and hope to have those available by the end of 2018. In the meantime, I will be adding clips, teasers and other videos to our YouTube channel as well as putting out some podcast episodes.