The location is Central Park, New York City, by the pond. It’s a gorgeous day outside and the people are all bustling about. It’s really great weather outside, so many people are in shorts and summer wear. Some are jogging, some sitting and enjoying a meal outdoors, others rollerblade and some people are merely strolling about.
One fellow suddenly appears with a video camera in hand. Another fellow, appears. This gentleman is a very unassuming figure, and dressed in what appears to be Asian garb, of light and soft fabric. He looks about him, and takes a quiet and composed standing posture. Stillness reigns all in a moment as the gentleman calmly begins to move.
The man is an Asian man, and appears to be starting what appears to be everyone’s perspective of Tai Chi. But looking closer, it becomes very evident, that there is so much more happening; than just a slow series of arm and body motions. There is a very deliberate precision that quickly becomes apparent. There is a wavelike action and flowery motion of the hands that is guided by his body. The man assumes a wide, deep stance, and the muscles and strength of his legs and body quickly become apparent. There are turns here, there are turns there…the gentleman’s body moves up and down, coiling in one way, then moving in a faster motion in another way…
Slow beautiful motion is noted, then… a Rapid and Powerful explosion of power as his punch tears through the fabric of space in front of him. Then a relaxed, slow action appears, with yet another motion that seemingly appears to have suddenly sprouted from the incredibly short blur of raw power that was expelled forth. Watching this gentleman, it was very evident as the minutes passed by hypnotically, that what we were privileged to follow was NOT merely an exercise for old people, but something that was graceful, powerful and martial in nature and character. A myriad of kicks issue forth, spins, and what appear to be tosses and throws become evident in the gentleman’s practice and demonstration. This demonstration of skill and grace was Chen Style Tai Chi.
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan is a very respected and ancient fighting art from China. This particular style is the parent art of all Tai Chi styles and systems commonly taught and practiced all over the world. It is generally agreed by most practitioners that Chen Style Tai Chi is the MOST martial and most effective as an effective fighting form of practice. What perhaps makes Chen Style Tai Chi so formidable amongst its peers is the emphasis on low stances, its attention to detail of all motions, its variety of kicks and strikes, and a program of grabs, pushes/pulls, throws and strikes with the entire body that are practiced in forms that easily span generations of development. The motions of Chen Style Tai Chi are not only done slowly but with a variety of speeds and bursts of power and strength from within.
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan was practiced for most generations solely in Chen Village in Henan province, China. In 1928, Chen Fa Ke travelled outside the village to Beijing, where he became the first person to publicly teach Chen Style Tai Chi. He and his son, Chen Zhao Kui were very influential teachers of the style, even going so far as to promote a “new set” of Chen Style Tai Chi forms. Chen Zhao Kui taught many great practitioners and teachers. One of his disciples was a man by the name of Ma Hong, who in turn created many great practitioners.
The gentleman described above in Central Park, is named Yu Guo Shun. Master Yu is a professional martial arts instructor and practitioner. He began his martial arts career as a young boy of 7, learning Long Fist methods from his grandfather. Later on in his life he pursued a study of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, and learned the “old” and the “new” sets of forms, and also studied the use of the long straight sword, and the broadsword. Master Yu was a very serious student and would often commit himself to arduous travel and long practice sessions to learn his art and craft. Master Yu learned so well, that he placed first in many notable championships and competitions in China; in the events of Chen Tai Chi Chuan forms, straight AND broad sword divisions. Master Yu is a disciple of Ma Hong.
Master Yu Guo Shun arrived in the United States in 2005 and he continued to demonstrate his power, skill and expertise in again winning a number of Championships in notable events. Those fortunate enough to be Master Yu’s students have been very successful in their own right, as tournament competitors.
Today, Master Yu teaches Chen Style Tai Chi in New York City. He teaches public group classes to a number of dedicated students, many of whom have been with him for years of training. He also has quite a few students who take private lessons with him. Students have come from all over and have sought him out for training. In his teaching, Master Yu emphasizes a need for steady, and serious practice with intensity. He emphasizes understanding all details and will easily and quickly demonstrate what a given move may be used for in application and function.
Upon watching Master Yu Guo Shun demonstrate the Chen Style Tai Chi forms, it is very clear to see his strength, his grace and his skill level. One of my Chinese friends who came by to watch him exclaimed that, “wow, he is the REAL DEAL!” He stated that he had always learned that a high level of Kung Fu ability should look strong, and yet still be beautiful to watch and observe.
On any given nice day in New York City, there will be many people doing a myriad of activities in the park. But when Master Yu Guo Shun is there, and he starts moving and demonstrating, it is very obvious that he is a very specially trained artist. Master Yu is a professional martial artist, dedicated and passionate about his art. Chen Style Tai Chi becomes alive when he demonstrates, and very clearly, he’s not just “some guy in the Park.” Master Yu is a true Artist and Kung Fu practitioner.
Jeff Chung is a long time martial artist who trains in and practices Kali and Chen Tai Chi.