How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi?
I began taijiquan training 22 years ago in China, in 1983. I started training in the wushu team to which my father, Li Deyin, was the coach at the time.
What stimulated your interest?
Before I took up Taijiquan, I had been training in Shaolin Kung Fu and modern Wushu for some years. I enjoyed practicing high kicks, fancy jumps and spins. I was 14 when my father felt that I was old enough to learn Taiji and get a balanced training. It might sound uninspiring, but most wushu team members would include all major martial art styles in their training.
What does Tai Chi mean to you?
First and foremost, Taiji & internal martial arts for me means a family tradition that saw the past 100 years and four generations of teachers. From my great-grandfather Li Yulin, a true traditional disciple and teacher, my grandfather Li Tian-chi who applied Taiji as alternative treatment in Hospitals, grand uncle Li Tian-ji who was a great pioneer for standard Taijiquan in China, and of course my father who dedicated his whole working life to promote Taiji to young generations and international enthusiasts.
On a personal level, Taiji represents good health, peace and friendship.
What is the most important aspect for you?
The most important aspect for me is to interpret the Taiji theories into practice. All the classic writings of Taijiquan theories that we treasure today came from countless practice and training of great masters of yesteryears. They made the practice of taijiquan accessible at an intellectual level. Now the learning curve can only be completed by putting these theories back into practice correctly and with good understanding of them, because in the end it is the physical movements reflect the level of understanding.
Do you have any personal goals in Tai Chi?
My personal goal is to carry on my family tradition in promoting Taijiquan. Continue to improve my own practice and to be a good teacher for my students so that they can realise their best potentials in Taiji.
Who or what inspired you? Undoubtedly is my father’s teaching. In his teaching, you learn about the meanings of words in Chinese language, philosophy, history and tradition, legendary tales and Taiji classics. He almost takes you on a journey of discovery like a treasure hunt. During my teenage years, I used to watch my father coach a few selected top national athletes before competitions. He would look at the athlete’s practice time and time again to examine their strength and weakness and then work through the form movement by movement down to every little detail. Many well known Chinese athletes went on to win many championship titles under his coaching.
What do you make of Tai Chi’s current popularity?
I think it is wonderful that Taiji is welcomed by more and more people from all walks of life. I hope the popularity continues to grow.
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?
First, Taijiquan is a type of Chinese martial art. It bears strong martial art techniques in its practice and the understanding of these techniques is important to make the correct practice. I understand why many people want to make a firm stand on the classification of the art.
However, at the same time, we must realise Taijiquan IS also a very effective system to improve health. According to tradition, one of the primary aims of all Chinese martial arts is to improve one’s physical fitness and well-being. And thanks to Taiji’s positive impact on health, we have the great popularity today both in China and worldwide.
What are your views on competition? I think competition is good for raising the standard of one’s form and pushing hand skills. It also motivates one’s training, and one can set realistic goals to achieve.
What direction would you like to see Taijiquan going in the future?
I would like to see more involvement from young people, for they are the ones to carry on this great tradition and bring it to a new height.
Faye can be contacted at:
or by telephone at: 01902 883565