Our last training session this morning was conducted by Meng Xianming, Sifu to Master Paul Li and lineage holder of Niu Chunming Tai Chi. It started with an assessment of progress with demonstrations of the short form and sword form and pushing hands, then developed into a workshop on rooting to the ground and projecting Chi.
Pushing hands with Meng was interesting, as he moved little but controlled everything. A different feel to all the other Masters i encountered this week.
Later we went to lunch which was a feast sampling the traditional cuisine of Hangzhou.
A master caligrapher, Yu Zhi Hua, gave us a demonstration of his art today. Some examples of the phrases he used in producing his beautiful works were "When the family is home all is well", "neutralise stiffness with softness" and "with Tai Chi make friends".
The final tutorial of push hands with Master Yen was an extension of what we had done previously to include stepping forward and backward and to the side. A second exercise of pull down, split, elbow strike and shoulder charge was added to the ward off, press, roll back, and push exercise.
Stage two tutorial with Master Yen focussed mainly on the inner strength of Tai Chi and the mental projection of Chi well beyond the opponent.
An afternoon session with Master Liu began with the difference between practicing Tai Chi and practicing Push Hands and being constantly prepared to adapt.
Everything was related to the postures in the form with simultaneous attack and defence in every movement.
There were about 10 people who came along to watch and we did some full on practice which was great fun.
The three disciples of Niu Chunming still living in Hangzhou are Meng Xianming and Ding Shuide and Yen Zhanfu. It was our good fortune that Master Yen gave us a tutorial on Pushing Hands.
This included great detail on the philosophical concepts and hands on practice in a range of formats. Some extremely valuable insights have added another entirely new perspective of Tai Chi. It helps explain how Master Liu does what he does.
There are a great number of very subtle aspects involved. Some time wil be needed to incorporate them into all the forms but already the results are significant.
Explosively strong, very small, very fast movements with circles within circles within circles characterise the awesome Tai Chi of Master Liu.
It is very difficult to see what it is he does or how he does it, but he yields and attacks in the same movement, and big movements don't allow you to escape his small movements. The next few days are going to be fun.
Earlier in the day a final session with Master Ding completed review of the short form, much of which was the potential for extra movements which don't appear in the form but are internalised as you practice.
A visit to the World Heritage listed wetlands coincided with the return of sunshine and very clear air with the mountains surrounding the city emerging from the mist.
We were treated with a demonstration of Yang Tai Chi by Yang Zhan Ru whose lineage is through the 4th son of Yang Cheng Fu). Very similar to our style. We demonstrated some Tai Chi and Sword for Master Yang and exchanged some ideas in the Hall of Heroes.
After some lunch it was a tour of the wetlands and we saw some Chinese Opera.
From the Wetlands on the Eastern fringe of the city we went to Master Li's daughter's house on the Western fringe of the city. A home cooked meal with three generations of Master Li's family and an evening walk along the bank of the river rounded out the day.