Letter from the Chairman…
1997 was a particularly good year for our association. Our membership has grown satisfactorily but it is the quality rather than quantity that brings comfort. There are now eighteen instructors with membership and the majority of these were teaching in their own right before joining Longfei. I would like to welcome Derek Daley, who has a big school in Glasgow, together with Christopher Elleker who is Chairman of the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts and Bob Weatherall, Secretary of the BCCMA, to our association. Mark Atkinson, Jim Dickson and Steve Price have all added and recruited their students to membership. Great!!! Please keep up the good work. In addition to our weekly activities we have had a successful year with annual seminars. Professor Li’s visits remain the highlight of the year and we attracted in the region of fifty delegates to Dudley Campus at Wolverhampton University. Master Wang Yanji was also in attendance at Dudley and we were fortunate to attract his attendance for two weekends in April and November.
His push hands skills are gaining popularity and we had to disapoint some members as the seminars were over-subscribed. Please book early for 1998. I was very pleased to introduce Professor Li to Derek Daley and his students in Glasgow. Also Mr They who brought together 30 of his instructors for a seminar on the 42nd International Routine.
We also conducted a one day event with David in Yorkshire and a Daoyin weekend in Hertfordshire. Our activity in and around Hertfordshire continues and as many of you are aware we have classes in Codicote, Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage. A new class for beginners and advanced is starting in January at Welham Green, Hatfield. We have also contracted to teach at Glaxo Welcome, Xerox and David Lloyd Centres. In addition, Steve Price, Anne Gathercole and Eric Foxcroft all teach in and around the district. You will find a full list of instructor members accompanying this newsletter.
Dick Watson, Chairman
Longfei Taijiquan Association in Great Britain
The formation of our association began in 1991. After a number of visits to train with Professor Li Deyin, Dick Watson met Master Li Tianji, the Head of the Longfei Taijiquan Association; also known as the Li Tianji Quanfa Academy.
They discussed the possibility of bringing this tradition to Great Britain and the discussions culminated in an invitation to do so. The growth has been, by necessity, from the ground up. In 1995 we had the official opening of the school with Professor Li and his wife as celebrated guests. Those of you that were there will remember that eight visitors from Japan attended as representatives of the Longfei Association of Japan. The British Wushu Team and many other Taiji practi-tioners demonstrated their arts. In 1996 Dick Watson conducted an interview with Professor Li for Combat magazine. The questions were supplied by Dan Docherty. We repeat that interview in this issue in a serial format for those of you that have not read it. The interview also deals briefly with the history of the Li family’s association with martial arts.
An Interview with Professor Li Deyin (part 1)
by Dick Watson Questions supplied by Dan Docherty for Combat
For many years now Dick Watson has been involved in bringing Professor Li to Great Britain from China. Professor Li is the head of the Physical Education Department at the Peoples’ University in Beijing. Both he and his family are steeped in a background of Chinese Wushu and Taijiquan. Whilst he has a prefer-ence for the ‘Yang Style’ Taiji, he has a direct lineage with Sun Lu Tang, who created the ‘Sun Style’ Taijiquan. His preferrred system for fighting is ‘Hsing-I Ch’uan’. Professor Li is a published author on Taijiquan both in China and Japan. He also has a number of training videos to his credit. When Wushu and Taijiquan was introduced to the Asian Games in 1990, Professor Li was selected to be the Chief Judge. Beginning his training when he was a boy, his involvement with Martial Arts has continued for nearly 50 years. He is now considered to be one of China’s foremost teachers and developers of modern Taijiquan.
What was the Martial Arts background of your father and grandfather?
I came from a Martial Arts family, starting with my grandfather through to my father. We have all practised and taught Martial Arts. My grandfather ‘Li Yu Lin’ (1888-1965) was born in 1888. He had three teachers. The first was ‘Hao En Guang’. He was employed as security escort. On an assignment he was engaged in conflict with bandits and was fatally shot. Hao En Guang’s teacher was ‘Li Cun Yi’, he was also engaged as a security escort. They were both famous in the role. My grandfather Li Yu Lin, learned from both of these teachers Martial Arts. The main thrust of this training was ‘Sim() Lin Quan’ and `Hsing-I Quan’. When Hao En Guang was killed by bandits my grandfather made arrangements for the funeral and transported his body to his home for burial. This came to the attention of ‘Sun Lu Tang’ (1861-1933). He was touched and impressed by his actions. They net later and my grandfather was accepted by Sun Lu Tang as a student. This was in 1924 when he was 36. With ‘Sun’ he studied `Taijiquan, `Hsing-I Ch’uan’ and ‘Pa Kua: He also studied with `Li Jing Lin’ at this time who was the Deputy Director of ‘The Central Wushu Association! In 1929 Li Jing Lin was appointed Director of the Shan Dong Wushu Association and my grand-father was appointed Chief Instructor. Li Jing Lin had learned his Yang Style from ‘Yang Ban Hou’ (1837-1922) and he was an expert in the ‘Wu Dang’ sword. My grandfather learned these disciplines from Li Jing Lin. Later my grandfather travelled to Shanghai and practised Taijiquan with ‘Yang Cheng Fu’ (1883-1936). This was not as teacher and student, they met as equals and exchanged ideas about Taiji techniques. My grandfather passed away in 1965. To be continued…
Li I Yu (1832-1892) learned the art of Taijiquan from his uncle, Wu Yu Xiang. Later Li was attributed with recording his uncle’s work and understanding of the art. In addition, he wrote on the classic writings of Wang Tsung Yueh. Li I Yu’s compilation of poems, songs and folk classics form the basis of what are now referred to as the Taijiquan Classics. Of these, my personal preference is the “Five Character Secret” the first of which refers to our mind set and I would like to refer you to it below.
The mind should be calm. If it is not, one cannot concentrate and when the arm is raised whether forward or back, left or right, it is completely without certain direction. Therefore it is necessary to maintain a calm mind. In beginning to move you cannot control it by yourself. The entire mind must also experience and comprehend the movements of the opponent. Accordingly, when the movement bends it then straightens without disconnecting or resisting.Do not extend or retreat by yourself. If my opponent has li (strength), I also have li, but my li is previous (in exact anticipation of his). If the opponent does not have li, I am also without it (Ii), but my mind is still previous. It is necessary to be continually mindful; to whatever part of the body is touched, the mind should go. You must discover the information by non-discrimination and non-resistance. Follow this method, and in one year or a half year, you will instinctively find it in your own body. All of this means use i (mind), not jing (internal force). After a long time the opponent will be controlled by me and I will not be controlled by him.
Martial or Non-Martial?
The Tui Shou of Taijiquan
My introduction to Taijiquan was in 1973 at the “Liu Acad-emy of Taijiquan” Master Liu established his first school at the Renshuden School of Judo. The Renshuden had a repu-tation to be compared with the Budokwai, the home of British Judo. Some of Great Britain’s World, Olympic and European class Judoka had trained at the Renshuden club and collected medals in these formidable events. Although this was my first connection with Taijiquan I learned later that several other teachers were present in London. Master Liu’s association with the Renshuden left no room for doubt as to Taijiquan’s connection with martial arts expertise. Although I only remained with the school for one year, there was an occasion when Liu demonstrated Hai di Zhen (Needle at Sea Bottom) on me, which on reflection felt as if my head had seperated from my body. In 1974 I began training with the “International Tai Chi Ch’uan Association”, under the guidance of Master Chu King Hung. Master Chu’s arrival in London had attracted interest from many and varied Martial Arts disciplines and a steady stream of students from a Taijiquan community that was growing in Great Britain. Master Chu’s connection and lineage with the “Yang Family” was one obvious reason for his popularity. As one of only three adopted disciples of “Yang Shou Chung” the eldest son of “Yang Cheng Fu” his position in Great Britain Taijiquan circles was quite unique in 1974. In the years 1976-1981 the students in the senior classes were fascinated by the martial techniques to be found in the Taiji forms of the “Yang Style,’ by “Rooting’: developing “Jing’, and understanding “Fa-Ding” All of which could be expert-ly demonstrated by Master Chu. Any student who found himself holding the focus pads to receive Chu’s punches and kicks were captured and fascinated by his ability to generate such strength and power. In the ensuing years
many famous and respected teachers have visited London with great skills, but few of us will forget our first encounters with “Fa-Jing” a la Master Chu. In the second half of this century the development in China and the rest of the world moved towards Taiji for health and competition for form performance. Before this century the ultimate examination of Taiji skills was in “Tui Shou,” and for the more robust practitioners “San Shou” (free fighting). From my own experience the majority of people attract-ed to Taiji come along for the experience of the following benefits: Relaxation, De-stressing, Heightened Well-Being, Meditation, Increased Energy, Peace of Mind, Grounding, Confidence, WOW!! All that!! Who wants to spend hours learning to fight and spend a whole lifetime not having one. By the way, should you cultivate all the foregoing virtues you would be some kind of spiritual super being. But this is not the whole story. All the renowned teachers of today and yesteryear, all great exponents of “Taijiquan7 have an abundance of “Tui Shou” skills and an array of effective applications. These skills are earned and developed through years of hard work and adhering to the cornerstones of the Yang Family’s motto: “Diligence, Perseverance, Respect, Sincerity.” So the virtuous attributes described in the previous paragraph is a concomittant of the correct training and not a reason for doing it.
Zhong-ding (Central Equilibrium)
Zhong-ding or the strength of central equilibrium is the basic essential of Taijiquan. All the movements of Taijiquan forms contain the principle of Zhong-ding. Without Zhong-ding we cannot be grounded down to earth. According to the five element theory of Chinese philosophy, Zhong-ding relates to the element earth. “Taijiquan’: is a method of “self cultivation” of knowing one’s self, “Tui-Shou” fosters the ability to know others