Tai Chi (Taiji) Chuan (Quan) is an ancient Chinese martial art as well as healing art. Tai Chi means the ultimate well-balanced state. Chuan means boxing. Tai Chi Chuan means ultimate grand martial art. However Master Arthur Du of Columbia, Missouri, thinks that Tai Chi Chuan is neither a sufficient name nor a proper name for the 21st century. He considers Tai Chi Dao (way) is a more appropriate name for the art.
Tai Chi is one type of Chinese martial art and belongs to the internal style. Its cultural roots date back thousands of years. Legendary Wudang Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng was credited for creating the internal style of martial arts in the 12th century. General Chen Wangting (1600–1680 per Cui Chun Dong’s “Taiji Mecca: Chenjiagou”) was the founding father of the modern Tai Chi styles. Chen Wangting distilled various forms of Chinese martial arts and integrated it with Traditional Chinese Medicine, especially the theory of the meridian systems, and further infused it with the philosophies of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Modern Tai Chi styles like Yang, Wu, Wu-Hao, Sun, and others were created with the influence directly or indirectly from the Chen Style Tai Chi.
Historically, Tai Chi has been proven to be highly effective as a combat art. In Cui Chun Dong’s “Taiji Mecca: Chenjiagou”, he retold legendary stories how Chen ancestors applied the Chen Style Tai Chi victoriously and defeated others. Yang Luchan (1799-1872), the creator of the Yang Style Tai Chi, was nicknamed “Yang the Undefeatable.” Feng Zhiqiang (1928 – 2012), the creator of the Hun Yuan Tai Chi, was known for his supreme power to overcome any challengers. In recent years, television audiences in the millions witnessed Chen Style Tai Chi warriors win national or international championships in China when sparring against other martial art champions including Thai Boxers and Shaolin Temple martial monks.
Master Du started his martial arts and Chinese medicine journey when he was a child with his family. Later, he studied with many famous grandmasters such as Gongwei Xu (1916- 2003, famous for Tai Chi and Chaquan), Yuanze Qian (1944 – , famous for modern Wushu), and Maosong He. His demo of Praying Mantis on Youtube has over 24,000 views and you can watch it via a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6OT_Wsscok here. Besides being a management professional in China, Master Du was a Tai Chi Coach for the Jiangsu Province, Assistant Director for the Jiangsu Provincial Anti-aging Association, a Chinese Medicine Health Promotion Specialist for the Martial arts Committee, and a Senior Specialist for Chinese Nutritional Cuisine Preparation (The Senior Specialist is the highest certificate for Chinese Nutritional Cooking).
In March 2011, he moved to Columbia, Missouri, with his wife to accompany their only son, Brendan Du, who studied at University of Missouri then and planed to stay in the U.S. after graduation. Language became an obstacle for Arthur to continue his career in the U.S. so he decided to make a living by teaching Chinese martial arts. Currently, he is teaching Tai Chi empty hand forms, Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi fan, Xing Yi empty hand forms, Xing Yi stick, Ba Gua sword, Praying Mantis, and others. His student body has grown from a few to hundreds. You can watch his 2012 interview with KBIA, the Mid-Missouri Public Radio, via a link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcwWLxDnYDM.
Even though he is well established in Chinese martial arts and Tai Chi, he thinks that Tai Chi is no longer suitable for combat. It will require substantial training to achieve a mastery level for battle. He recalled that his first Tai Chi teacher made him practice the beginning movement (or Qi Shi) daily for two months before teaching him the second movement. It is hard for people in the 21st century to find time for this type of dedication. He further commented a fastest punch couldn’t surpass the speed of a bullet. His sentiment is not unique and has been shared by other masters.
Du has rich experiences in teaching internal Kung Fu (martial arts) such as Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua in a new way. His anti-aging method involves theories in the areas of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements, and Chinese medicine. Tai Chi is a form of Qigong or the safest form of all Qigong exercises. It helps to nurture our Qi (life energy) and prevents diseases. He teaches that Tai Chi is also a way of thinking and living. To him, Tai Chi is a philosophy that can change our attitude toward life. With that, he suggested changing Tai Chi Chuan to Tai Chi Dao.
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