The Rule of Tai Chi
The Rule of Tai Chi
by Leo Chu
Tai Chi Rule the name is strange to most people. As a matter of fact it has been in existence over a thousand years, but the number of learners has never been significant at any one time. Tai Chi Rule is a very special form of Chi, it is especially effective in treating nagging insomnia, rheumatism, arthritis, heart ailment, tuberculosis, gastric ulcer, neurasthenia, etc. Lighter cases would take only a few days to see immediate improvement, more serious cases would take up to several months to be on the road to slow recovery. It is a very valuable legacy left by our ancestors. The Rule of Tai Chi.
Who was the founder of Tai Chi Rule? It is a question that we cannot readily verify. One source stated that it was recorded in one of the early manuscripts at the time of the Yellow Emperor Huangti, the legendary monarch in 2698 B.C., saying it is a way to better health.
Another source said that Chao K’ang Yin, the first emperor of Sung Dynasty (960-1280 A.D.) mastered it from one Chen Po, his life-long friend. Chao K’ang Yin kept the art strictly within the family, it passed down from father to son, grandson and so on and so forth.
From whom did Chen Po learned this secret and seldom heard of aspect of Chi? Did he create it himself? Again these questions were never answered.
The one and only instructor of the Tai Chi Rule was Chao Chung Fan, also known as Chao Chung Tao, who lived in northern China. Chao Chung Tao was born in 1844 and died in February 11, 1962 at the age of 118.
Chao Chung Tao had a special penchant for the martial arts. The Chao family employed several resident instructors of both internal and external Kung Fu. His grandmother had, in fact, been taught the Tai Chi Rule as it was part of the family heritage. It was her way of instilling confidence to her offspring the family secret art by exposing them to various other styles of Kung Fu first.
One day she summoned all the instructors and challenged them; “I heard that everyone of you are capable of disabling a person and how would you like to try your skill on me? Don’t worry about injury or possible death, you won’t be held liable.”
Of course all the instructors thought the old lady had gone insane, no one in his right mind would think of attempting doing something that appeared so out of the ordinary. But old grandma did not let up, she persisted and made it quite clear she meant serious business. One burly instructor become annoyed and impatient with the silly talk, so he took the challenge. He rushed at the old lady like a wild beast, and everyone that stood by to watch held fear for her safety. But no, she did not come to any harm. As if she possessed some magical power, she raised one of her arms, and the burly instructor was rebounded to the floor as if he was crashing against a spring mattress. The instructor did not quite believe what he had just experienced, so he got up and tried again, but again he was dropped effortlessly. He was clever in a way as he did not need a third try to convince himself.
Old grandma then began to tell Chao Chung Tao that what she applied was Tai Chi’s practice of weak to overcome strong. From that dramatic day on, Chao was taught Tai Chi Rule under his grandmother’s very strict supervision.
In 1866, when Chao was only 22 years old, his grandmother died – at the age of 108, painlessly of natural cause. Just before she closed her eyes forever, in her last instruction to Chao, she told him, “Tai Chi Rule is an unfathomable science, it has been more beneficial to me than I could mention. You can reap the same goodness if you stay on with its practice. Although it cannot make you an immortal or immune to all sickness, it can certainly make life much more pleasant, life to a ripe old age and enjoy good health. Do not neglect or underestimate it.”
Chao never forgot his grandmother’s last words. There was not a day went by without seeing him practicing. Even at 50 years of age he was stronger than most young men half of his age; for example, he could lift up a person weighting well over one hundred pounds with one arm only.
Chao Chung Tao was not only a master of Tai Chi, he was also a top marksman with a special kind of dart which was hidden in the sleeve. In northern China in the beginning of the century, the region was plagued by an organized band of marauding bandits known as the Red Beard, he once repelled a raiding party with this secret weapon.
In 1933, when Chao was 89 years old, he moved to Peking. On his 96th year Chao was still very much a fit and healthy person. Once he was invited to a dinner party by Li Hsing Chieh, the noted master of Ying Yee Kung Fu. The host personally came in a pedicab, instead he chose to walk the full distance of about 10 miles, to his host’s home. He walked behind the tricycle and kept pace with it. Both arrived at the same time. Chao was none of the worse for the brisk walk but the pedicab driver was panting heavily. Age certainly did not impair his ability, and ever since that incident he earned the nickname of Long-Legged Chao.
Yet another incident during the war. One day Chao was staying at home, unruffled by the disturbances outside, but eight looters broke into and began to ransack his house. The bandits came up and attempted to assault him. Chao used both hands simultaneously to resist the attack, in four movements with his hands he sent the assailants screaming out of the house in agony.
In 1954, Chao officially opened a school to teach the family secret Tai Chi Rule. He was then 110 years old. He was not only teaching but also healing the sick with Chi. Many suffered of chronic illness turned to Chao as a last resort. His school founded in Peking was a miniature hospital, many patients on the verge of despair and abandoned hopes had found a new lease on life. It was also a miniature research centre and laboratories leading biologists, physiologists and doctors came to probe the secrets of Tai Chi Rule practice, which enabled the practitioner to resist sickness and the secret of longevity of the Chao family.
Chao Chung Tao worked tirelessly to teach the once jealously guarded secret Tai Chi Rule. On his last three years he was confined mostly at home, as he had broken his left leg. On these last years, he worked feverishly to hand-copy the manuscript on Tai Chi Rule, which was handed down from generation to generation, and recording his own discoveries and methods of practicing as well as answering the endless flow of enquiries from his students and admirers throughout the country.
Even when he was 118 years old, Chao was still the same rosy-cheeked, wrinkle-free and healthy person. His vision and hearing were sound, apart from two broken teeth due to biting hard food, his full and original set of teeth were still intact. He ate well and slept well. It was the mark of ultimate achievement in the rule of Tai Chi.
On his 118th birthday celebration, Chao told the large gathering of his friends and students, and in a very happy mood, that he would soon be leaving this world. He asked them to fulfill his wish of making Tai Chi to work for the masses. On February 11 the following year, Chao Chung Tao died peacefully.
He was buried in Pa Pao Shan, Peking, together with his favorite walking stick, Tai Chi Rule and a book he had written on the rule of Tai Chi.
The art of Tai Chi Rule is introduced to Hong Kong only in the last decade or so by Mr. Ching Tat Choy, whom was taught by Chao himself. He has a good number of students and has published a book on the subject in 1961 and in 1963, he re-edited the work by Chao Chung Tao, making it simpler to the layman.
Perhaps one day, Tai Chi Rule will be made known to the world by increasing contact between different peoples just as Chao Chung Tao had made it known to many people in China.