Quán means fist
On the increasing loss of the traditional martial aspect of Tàijíquán
By Gerhard Dänekamp
Although Taijiquan arose as a martial art, since the early 20th century it has spread chiefly as a method for strengthening health and as a ‘life art’ – firstly in China, then worldwide. This process has led to simplifications and changes so that the martial arts aspect has, by and large, disappeared from general image of Taijiquan. Gerhard Dänekamp regrets this development because it makes it hard for traditional Taiji schools to achieve success. He analyses why comparatively few people follow the path of traditional martial arts, which is not always easy, and suggests how Taijiquan can be presented in a way that will showcase it to the general public as a martial art, too.
Mountains, qi and walking
Mindfulness, connectedness and joy as experiences from a meditative mindset
By Manfred Johannes Folkers
The relationship between Qigong and Taijiquan and a conscious philosophy of life is clearly apparent but not always easy to express in words. Inspired by a Qigong congress to take place in Hamburg in May, Manfred Folkers takes the example of mountain walks to show how his meditative experiences from the practice of Taiji and Qigong affect his perception and the way he experiences the moment. These accompany him as an intuitive sense of connectedness with nature and as a mindful and joyous perception of life. One essential factor here, also at the practical level, is conscious breathing.
Life is movement
Interview with Professor Ding Hongyu of Nanjing University, China
During his time as a sports scientist at Nanjing University, Professor Ding Hongyu intensively studied the connection between sport and health maintenance. Of course, Qigong and Taijiquan were particularly suitable for this area of study. Alexander Callegari visited Professor Ding, his teacher, last May and took the opportunity of talking to him about the special qualities of Qigong and Taijiquan. Ding Hongyu emphasised here that Qigong provides more room for an individual execution, while in Taijiquan the essential criteria of “straight, slow, gentle, round, stable, loose” must be strictly observed. In both arts, relaxation is the foundation. For Ding Hongyu movement is a key factor in growing old while retaining good health.
Unity in diversity
Phenomenological perspectives on Taijiquan
By Robert Stöhr
When it comes to the significance of the body and of physical movement and perception as a path to gaining knowledge about oneself and the world, established philosophical viewpoints in the West and in the Far East generally adopt divergent standpoints. Nonetheless, our Western culture also has a relatively new approach - “Phenomenology” - that breaks with traditional ways of thinking and which with the German term Leib (corporeal body) expresses the unity of perception, experience, thought and feeling in verbal terms, too. Robert Stöhr explains the phenomenological approach, which is based on direct perception and which opens up interesting perspectives on self-perception during practice.
Chan Mi Gong and the ecology of being
By Zuzana Sebkova-Thaller
Our society is threatened by a serious ecological crisis – everyone knows this, but little work is being done to find real solutions. In the view of Zuzana Sebkova-Thaller, the main problem is the unquestioning striving for material prosperity and the reliance on scientific solutions. She believes that our persistence in a culture that increasingly endangers our existence is the result of a development of European culture in which an almighty god has instructed the human race to bring the Earth under its rule. In the course of time the connection to divine energy has been lost and since the Renaissance the world vision has been dominated by the centralised perspective, in which the things we observe become objects to be subjugated. We need new ways of seeing in order to free ourselves of this attitude, and Chinese movement arts can make a contribution here. Chan Mi Gong in particular can create a bridge between Eastern wisdom and Western science by rendering the insight “all is resonance” into something that can be experienced by the senses.