Our recent Philosophy Q&A afternoon on the 1st of June saw Grand Master Eng Chor once again delight his audience with insightful pearls of wisdom about Tai Chi and Qigong, their origins and benefits, applications and styles and much more. As always, these sessions help in giving great knowledge on this ancient exercise as we journey our Tai Chi path.
He started with some history of our College and why it differs to others — as we approach nearly 30 years here in Melbourne, offering classes and bringing people of all ages and nationalities together to practice Tai Chi and Qigong. After starting in Sydney in 1978, the Masters moved to Melbourne to expand, making the Yang 108 style the signature style for the College.
He went on to explain some of the history, origins and differences between the four main styles of Tai Chi. The oldest style, the Chen style was developed by Chen Wangting and was only taught very secretly within the local extended Chen family clan in ancient times. The Chen style includes some movements which are very different to the later Yang style, is more vigorous and not always suitable for everyone. In fact, it was not called Tai Chi at the time — but “Cannon fist”.
Grand Master Eng Chor went on to explain how the Yang style was created by Yang Lu-chan, who had a strong desire to learn the Chen routines, and had secretly watched (posing as a gardener) the Chen family practice over 3 years. Mr Yang then went to Beijing but found that he needed to modify the style before teaching it to royalty and noble people. The Yang style he created has more gentle, round, big, open and slower movements which are also easier to learn. He also introduced some new terms — “big frame” and “Cotton Fist”. The Yang style has subsequently become the most popular in modern times.
He briefly explained differences to a third style of Tai Chi — the Wu style created by Wu Quan. Wu style movements are also gentle, with the body aligned along a straight line from the head to the back foot, and include forward leaning postures. Lastly, he spoke briefly about a fourth style — the Sun style created by Sun Lu-tang which has even smaller moves generally with a higher stance.
With further Q&A, he answered questions on differences in breathing between Tai Chi and Qigong. In short, Grand Master Eng Chor described Qigong breathing as a controlled deep cycle in, and exhale out with each movement whereas Tai Chi breathing is very quiet, slow through the nose, and naturally aligning with the flow of body movements.
Grand Master Eng Chor went on to explain the origin of a number of other routines, including the Bejing 24 routine which was created more recently (in the mid-1950s) by the Chinese Government who wanted all people to do Tai Chi, but had found that the full Yang routine was too long. Hence the Bejing 24 routine was created, and now serves as a standardised form, is based on traditional Yang moves, is used widely for international competitions, and has spawned a number of other shorter forms.
There was much, much more …and the Grand Master finally concluded with a demonstration of some other Qigong routines that are also taught within the College. Allup, a very entertaining afternoon — and a FREE event not to be missed by anyone who wishes to better understand some of the history and background to the science and culture behind the beautiful, graceful and controlled movements that make up the wonderful world of Tai Chi !
Senior Instructor, Ashburton
Updated: 12 June 2019