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A man with fighting spirit

Tai chi master helps kick-start its international growth, An Baijie reports in Rizhao, Shandong.

By AN BAIJIE | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-25 10:26
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John Saw, a 90-year-old Australian disciple of Chen Zhonghua, practices during a morning session. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chen Zhonghua's influence soon extended beyond Canada. The tai chi master conducted classes, seminars and workshops in other countries, including the United States, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore and Indonesia.

He also founded the International Tai Chi Academy after he began to head the overseas promotion of Chen-style tai chi practical techniques in 2004. The academy has grown to include more than 150 branches in over 40 countries and regions, with more than 500 disciples, including over 30,000 students registered overseas.

Cultural connection

Gora Nebulana, 48, is manager and coach of Harmony Wushu Indonesia, a martial arts workshop with more than 50 members, including 35 athletes. He said he was shocked after seeing how Chen Zhonghua had defeated every challenger at a workshop in Indonesia in 2013.

"When I tried to push with him, I could do nothing," Nebulana says, recalling his first few martial art moves with Chen Zhonghua at a seminar in Indonesia. "At that time, I was already champion in push hand (a form of tai chi competition) in Indonesia."

Challengers big or small, young or old, faced him at the seminar, but all failed, Nebulana says, adding that he became a disciple of Chen Zhonghua in 2018 and started to call him shifu, or teacher.

"Shifu Chen is very skillful in tai chi, incredibly skillful," he says.

Many people are learning tai chi in Indonesia, Nebulana says, with young practitioners favoring tai chi competitions and older ones preferring the qigong meditative exercise style.

Nebulana, who has 40 years of experience in martial arts, says that tai chi is not just a sport but also a kind of philosophy.

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