Sunday, February 28, 2016


Jan Diepersloot's book, QIGONG OF THE CENTER, ESSENCE OF TAIJIQUAN, (originally published as, WARRIORS OF STILLNESS, Vol. 1, 1995), is the author's extraordinary work encompassing the content of a very rare, esoteric tai chi workshop the author took part in back in 1987. Essentially, this title is a workshop-in-a-book, covering potent and rare training in some of tai chi's once most hidden methods.

In 1975 Diepersloot became a student of San Francisco tai chi master, Fong Ha. Fong was well-liked among the city's tai chi community and had an impressive lineage to boot, having studied with the famous Dong Yienjie and Yang Shouzhong, eldest son of Yang Cheng Fu. On one of his trips to China, Fong met up with grandmaster Cai Songfang, also a tai chi master with extraordinary knowledge and training.

In the 1950s Cai had been a student of the renowned Ye Dami, who had studied with several masters including Yang Cheng Fu, famous grandson of Yang Style's founder. Through his training with Yang, Ye learned the great secret art of the Yang Family, Wuji Breathing, a type of standing qigong, often referred to as zhan zhuang. Although practiced in China's other major "internal" martial arts, bagua and xing yi, Wuji Breathing, the standing qigong of taijiquan, had mostly been kept under wraps.

According to Cai, "Yang Cheng Fu kept wuji standing meditation practice a zealously guarded secret..." Cai inherited this secret art from Ye and went on to become known mostly for two accomplishments: teaching Wuji Breathing Meditation for patients in several Chinese hospitals (with great health improvements for patients) and as "The King of Push Hands" in Canton.

In 1987 Fong invited Cai to visit San Francisco and conduct a workshop in Wuji Breathing Meditation. During the workshop Cai met with Fong's students and presented his long-held secrets of standing qigong.

Diepersloot's book presents the 1987 workshop training, breaking it down into precise and detailed descriptions and illuminating illustrations. The reader is given both concepts and specific exercises to practice in order to absorb the material for health, meditation, and martial applications. The author's rendering of the material is both thorough and effective, giving the material a comprehensive examination, a worthy and skillful handling of a profound system for health and exploration.

One of the simplest, yet most valuable nuggets presented is an easy method for locating the "wuji point," the center of the lower abdomen, used in creating proper internal alignment. This should not be confused with the lower dantien, and is a great orientation tool for aligning other important points within the body.

At a time when much of tai chi literature seems to be returning to the search for "internal martial art" knowledge and values, this book is a standout as a repository of ancient tai chi training. As a reader I found this book to be eye-opening and empowering to my previous experience with Wuji Breathing practice.

QIGONG OF THE CENTER well deserves to be read and re-read by those seeking to sound greater depths in the exploration of tai chi health, meditation, and martial aptitude. This is a rare and valuable glimpse into the training practices of many of the most accomplished tai chi masters of long ago. - TCJ

#TaiChi #Taijiquan #Qigong

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