Student of Grandmaster C.K. Chu from the Tai Chi Chuan Center of New York,
Tyler VanGemert LAc Dipl OM from Mountian Medicine Acupuncture presents…
Tai Chi for Health with Internal Qi Gong
- Learn practical skills about how to face challenges in life.
- Gain wisdom from indigenous traditional methods.
- No experience necessary.
at the Rocky Mountain Retreat – 848 E. 3rd Avenue, Durango.
Drop classes are $15-20 each (sliding scale)
call (970) 247 – 1233 for details.
To understand tai chi let us fist look at is history. Although it appears from all available sources that no one person was responsible for its creation, one individual does stand out: Chang San-feng, a Taoist monk of the Sung dynasty (1127-1279). It is said that Chang was a giant in physical stature and an expert in Chinese martial arts, or Kung Fu, which have been a part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. It is known that tai chi was synthesized during this period, and that it represents the highest the highest evolution of Kung Fu. The origin is uncertain because in the martial arts, by the time the effectiveness of a new system is widely recognized, a few generations have gone by, thus creating a gap in its history.
According to records, Chang’s contribution to tai chi was to establish the laws. We may compare Chang’s role with that of Newton’s in Western science, who set down the fundamental laws of physics but learned from people before him.
After the art had been handed down for generations, so the story goes, tai chi came into the Chen family in a village of Honan Province. At that time tai chi was taught only to immediate members of the family. Nonetheless, Yang Lu-shan (1799-1872), a kung fu master from a peasant family, traveled to the Chen household where he hoped to learn tai chi. He was refused, but he stayed on and worked as a servant. One night, hearing some noises in the courtyard, he made a hole in the wall and watched Master Chen teaching Tai Chi to his students. From then on he observed the teaching every night.
One Day, Yang had occasion to fight with a Chen student and Yang won. Later other students challenged him and they were all subdued. Master Chen called Yang in to ask where he had leaned the art of fighting, and Yang told him the truth. Master Chen appreciated his perseverance and decided to break his rule of teaching to family members only. Subsequently, Yang became his best student; later he left and went back to his own village.
Everywhere he went he was challenged, but he defeated everyone he fought. Eventually he went to Peking at the invitation of a rich nobleman. Yang was a short, plain-looking peasant, and in the city, where the gentry loved martial arts and had many experts at the courts, he was laughed at-until he demonstrated his art and defeated all opponents. He became known as Invincible Yang and opened a tai chi school in Peking, becoming the first person to teach tai chi publicly. Yang’s sons and grandsons also taught tai chi and the fame of the Yang spread: so that today his is the style of tai chi most practiced in China and the rest of the world. Without the Yang family, tai chi would probably not be known today.
Yang’s great grandson is presently teaching in Hong Kong.
Master C.K. Chu ~
STUDIO FOUNDER. A retired teacher of high school physics at Brooklyn Tech, Master Chu is best known as the founder of the world-famous CK Chu Tai Chi (http://ckchutaichi.com) school in Times Square that was the center of his teaching, training, and writing for 41 years. The school continues teaching his tai chi system, in accordance with his wishes. A dedicated teacher, Chu was at the school six days a week and he personally taught first-time students as well as advanced practitioners. For decades the highlight of the school’s traditional Lunar New Year banquet was Chu’s toast about the meaning of the new year’s zodiac animal; whether rat or rooster or dragon, the moral was invariably to do more tai chi and Nei Kung in the coming year.
PUBLIC HEALTH OUTREACH. The related non-profit Tai Chi Chuan Center—also founded by Chu—has delivered more than 18,000 student hours of tai chi public health programs to senior centers and parks around New York City since its creation in 2000. The largest component, on the Fountain Terrace in Bryant Park from May through September, kicks off each year with World Tai Chi Day and typically attracts 45 students twice a week for free 7:30 AM classes.
FIGHTING ART. Although the slow, graceful movements of tai chi are widely studied and appreciated for their health-improvement value, Chu never separated health from self-defense. “Tai Chi Chuan,” he would say, “is a fighting art.” Chu delighted in training tai chi students who won full contact martial arts tournaments, often to the surprise of proponents of hard-style martial arts systems. At the 1981 Madison Square Garden martial arts finals, students Vincent Sobers and Richard Trybulski each won their respective middleweight and heavyweight titles by knockout. At the New York Chinese Martial Art Championship and Tri-State Kung Fu Full Contact tournament in 1996, student Hugh Marlowe also claimed the heavyweight division by knockout. Undefeated for two years in US finals in Baltimore, John Signoriello went on to fight on the United States Kuo Shu Federation Team in Singapore; in 2006 that organization named Signoriello Fighter of the Year.
AUTHOR & TRANSLATOR. Chu’s first book, “Tai Chi Chuan Principles & Practice” (Sunflower Press, 1980) includes his translations from Chinese of classical Tai Chi Chuan texts including The Tai Chi Treatise and a famous Question & Answer dialogue with Chen Wei-Ming, along with Master Chu’s commentary and interpretations by other famous 19th and 20th century masters. In his 2006 introduction to the third edition, Chu wrote: “Looking back…I see how the tai chi classics are more relevant today than ever. In the 1970s few people had heard of tai chi here in America. Now we have the opposite problem. It’s almost as if there’s too much tai chi…. The authentic meaning, once available only through a few rare sources, now threatens to be lost in a mountain of information…. For this reason I say consult these classic texts at all times.” These classics were part of Chu’s everyday instruction: “four ounces,” he would say, “deflect 1,000 pounds.” Other of his books, in addition to numerous instructional videos, include Why Tai Chi? (2011) and how-to guides The Book of Nei Kung (1986), Eternal Spring Chi Kung (2004) and Chu Meditation (2002). He was also working on two more books: one on Taoist philosophy and another how-to guide, this one on the tai chi short form.
Born in 1937 in Hong Kong, Chu was educated in martial arts and calligraphy as a child. He studied: Northern Shao Lin from Master See; Fut Ga (Buddha Fist) from Master Lee; Cheng Wing-Gung’s Wu style Tai Chi; Yang style from Master Chan a student of Yang Cheng-fu and Tung Ying-jeh; and Judo from Gom Jen (Golden Well), a Japanese Master. Chu has never claimed to be a lineage bearer.
He came to New York in the 1960s for college and graduate studies. He earned a masters degree in physics from Queens College where he met and married Carol Monsees. They raised four daughters at their home in Forest Hills, Queens. Chu always said he began teaching Tai Chi to further his own training. He studied with Master William C.C. Chen and assisted teaching at his school; and he took classes at the Judo Center in the East 70’s. By 1970, he was teaching Tai Chi both at Aaron Bank’s Karate Academy and Hank Kraft’s Judo School in Queens. Finding he had so many students he opened his own school in 1973. On typical weekdays in the 1980s he would leave a full day of teaching at Brooklyn Tech to open the Times Square studio for four hours of classes starting at 4:30 PM, to arrive home by 10PM.
Grand Master C.K. Chu, one of the great Tai Chi masters of the twentieth century, died at New York Presbyterian Hospital Saturday, October 12th, 2013, after a nearly two year struggle with cancer. He was 76.
Master Chu is survived by his wife, Carol, their four daughters Elizabeth, Linda, Diane, and Stephanie, and nine grandchildren. The family asks in lieu of flowers that contributions in Master Chu’s honor be made to the Tai Chi Chuan Center (http://taichichuancenter.org).
New York, New York.