26th China Tai Chi Tour - March 2013View the photo gallery
Chenjiagou, China: Training with Grand Master Chen Xiaowang Wang
Wushu College, Beijing Sport University: Training with Professor Wu Don
In late March TCA’s Chief Instructor Master Han Jin Song travelled to China for the TCA’s 26th China tour. They attended a six day Chen style Tai Chi workshop conducted by Grand Master Chen Xiao Wang at Chenjiagou (Chen Village), before travelling to Beijing Sport University to train with Professor Wu Dong in the Wushu weapon form, Guan Dao. About 100 students from about 20 countries and regions participated.
They were privileged to have Grand Master Chen Xiao Wang as their teacher. Grand Master Chen is the nineteenth generation, keeper and standard-bearer of Chen style Tai Chi. He was chosen at the end of China’s Cultural Revolution to educate the world in Tai Chi. He spent his childhood in Chenjiagou. Chen style Tai Chi became his way of life.
Chen style forms that emphasised the martial arts and self defence aspects, Silk Reeling (Chan Si Gong) and Push Hands (Tui Shou) were all practiced.
Chenjiagou is a remote village located in Henan Province approximately halfway between Shanghai and Beijing, It is regarded as the birthplace of tai chi. The peaceful village environment without the distractions of a larger city allowed a high level of concentration.
They stayed at the major Tai Chi School in Chenjiagou run by Master Chen’s brother Chen Xiao Xing and his son Chen Zi Qiang who is the Head Instructor and a Master of Chen style weapons, wrestling and New Frame forms. Being an isolated village they experienced the typical Chinese rural way of life. All students were awoken at 5:00am by the crowing of Cockerels quickly followed by barking dogs. The school’s students paraded each morning at 6:00am and did a series of exercises and running for one hour before breakfast at 7:00am. At the end of the day, at approximately 8:00pm, the students reassembled to be formally dismissed by Master Chen Zi Qiang.
The formal training consisted of Laojia Yi Lu (Old Frame 1), an abbreviated form of Chen style, known as the 9 Form, Silk Reeling and Push Hands. Read a personal view of the training.
The 26th China Tour at Chenjiagou coincided with the Chinese Wushu Association’s (CWU) Gradings (Duan Wei), which tested the ability and experience of Wushu practitioners across all external Chinese martial arts such as Shaolin and Wing Chun or internalized martial arts such as Tai Chi and Xing Yi. Overseas students from Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong and South America participated.
The new system of Gradings has nine levels divided into three sections: Gradings 1-3 is for students; Gradings 4-6 targets teachers and those wishing to be judges; and Gradings 7-9 relates to advanced practitioners and entitles those who pass to be called Grand Master.
The Gradings were presided over by Professor Kang Ge Wu, the Chairman of Duan Wei Committee and the Secretary General of the Chinese Wushu Association plus the Chairman of Duan Wei Committee of the Provincial and local Wushu Associations. It was an exciting time for TCA’s Chief Instructor Han as when he was a student at the Beijing Sport University in 1983 he was appointed the Captain of the University Wushu Team and Professor Kang was the Team Coach.
Students were tested on their performance of the Chen Forms taught during the workshop. Afterwards Professor Kang outlined the history, origins, purpose and content of the new Grading System. Students answered a series of written questions in their own language, based upon Professor Kang’s lecture. These answers were sent to the CWU in Beijing to be translated and assessed.
TCA would like to congratulate Michael a TCA student and a 26th TCA China Tour member who successfully passed the Grading exams. The CWU recently announced that he has been awarded Grade 3, a wonderful achievement.
TCA’s Chief Instructor Master Han recently passed exacting practical and theoretical tests to become one of only two 8th Grade ranked Duan Wei Tai Chi/Wushu practitioners in Australia. Grand Master Chen is one of a handful of 9th Grade ranked Tai Chi/Wushu practitioners worldwide. All are Chinese Nationals based in China except Grand Master Chen.
At the conclusion of the Gradings, the Tour travelled to Beijing for a week to study the traditional Chinese weapon, Guan Dao with Professor Wu Dong, at Wushu College, Beijing Sport University.
Professor Wu is a direct descendent of Wu Yuxiang who founded the Wu style in the early 19th century. He trains students in the use of the Guan Dao. The form is divided into 13 fundamental techniques. Each movement relates to the story of General Guan Yu who introduced the weapon for battle between 221 AD and 280 AD. Each time the form is practiced General Guan’s exploits are re-enacted.
Training commenced at 5.30am until 7.30am. It was revised and practiced during the afternoon for critical evaluation by Professor Wu the following morning. Read an article of the training at Beijing.
When not practicing Guan Dao, sight seeing was organised. It included Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the old Summer Palace at Yuan Ming Yuan Park.
TCA’s 26th China Tour to Chenjiagou and Beijing Sport University promoted a deeper understanding of Tai Chi. The visit emphasised the importance of self-improvement.