Chen Xiang is Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang’s most accomplished disciple. Chen Xiang, who is in his 50s, has trained with Grandmaster Feng for more than 10 years and has achieved an excellent level of skills. Before he began practising Tai Chi, he was an expert in Ba Ji (Eight Ultimates Boxing or commonly known in China as the Bodyguard Style) and Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). When he is demonstrating, Chen Xiang becomes the epitome of relaxation and power. He has reached a high level.
During my training with Chen Xiang, I observed that he always emphasised training the mind and circulating the qi. Chen Xiang spoke of the body as being composed of the main river with many tributaries. Generally, our lifestyle takes its toll on this internal energy supply. The way we live can sometimes be likened to hot sun or a storm, drying up the water and causing havoc in our inner river system.
Practices like Tai Chi and Qigong help to nourish and replenish this internal energy system. Once your energy is full, you will feel a keen sense of liveliness that radiates from every cell. When you practise at this level, not only your muscles, sinews and joints are exercised, but also your cells.
A high-level practitioner can feel his opponent’s every move, even if he is not in visual contact. When a high-level master asks his student to demonstrate or perform movements behind him during the night, the teacher can tell the student exactly what he is doing. High-level practitioners can feel qi around them. They sense a person’s energy and intentions before they are physically apparent. This is similar to fish being able to feel our vibrations through the water, thus making it difficult for us to catch the fish with our bare hands. As you develop your qi, you feel more and more. Your practice becomes more interesting and enjoyable.
Chen Xiang also spoke about how he would deal with a potential physical threat. If he is required to act, his release of energy could be compared with turning the ignition key of a Ferrari. The power and speed generated would be difficult for an opponent to deal with. In many cases, this sudden burst of energy would already alarm the attacker who would then be thinking twice about his intentions.
Chen Xiang is exceptional and ability. He is gentle and humble. When we are around him, we feel happy and more open-minded. Students who travelled to China with us in 2005 had the pleasure of training with Chen Xiang. I hope you have the opportunity to meet him in China on one of our trips!