TRIBUTE TO TCHOUNG TA TCHEN

August 23,1911 - February 22, 2000
 

 

I was saddened to here the news of Sifu's death today, he was a good man and a great teacher. His contribution to the art of Tai Chi Chuan and to the lives of his students was both significant and benevolent.

Certainly the impact of both the man and his teachings greatly improved and altered the course of my life.

I feel privileged to have know him and learned from him. He will be missed but his spirit will carry on by those who practice and teach his art.

John Camp, White Rock B.C.

I am grateful that my search for Tai Chi Chuan instruction lead me to study in Tchoung Ta -Tchen's lineage. My memories of visiting class in Vancouver and having the opportunity to practice with Master Tchoung are precious to me. His influence will continue with me throughout my life, in practice and in spirit.

Cedar Acosta, Seattle

 

Master Tchoung trained us hard and expected us to use our minds to think, study and research the art to gain our own understanding. 

Tchoung was a senior member of the Taiwan Tai Chi Association.  As he left Taiwan to teach in S. Africa he was warned not to teach non-Chinese the Kung Fu of Tai Chi Chuan.  Tchoung though this was foolish.  First, he saw the art bringing people together regardless of nationality.  Second, the kung fu of Tai Chi isn’t easy to come by and anyone willing to train was openly accepted and taught sincerely and completely.

Tchoung was invited and moved to South Africa to teach Taiji.  In South Africa Sifu had three clubs in Johannesburg.  One was a secret underground class teaching the native South African people.  At that time, late 60’s it was illegal for them to learn and practice martial arts.  It was also illegal to teach or arm them.  Tchoung in his non-discriminatory view of humanity taught a secret class at high risk to himself.

Tchoung was invited to become the Tai Chi master of the Seattle Tai Chi Association in the early 70’s.  The Seattle Tai Chi Association had been established for a few years and the past master, (Raymond Chung) decided to move.  Tchoung thought nothing of commuting from Vancouver B.C. to teach weekly in Seattle.  The Seattle Tai Chi Association was in China town and the majority of the club was from the Chinese Community. 

The first few months Tchoung taught through a translator since he didn’t speak any English.  He would jump up and down, roll on the floor and go through many antics as he was describing and explaining lessons.  The translators would then say: “Sifu says to relax!”  When asked what else the comments would be, we were told it’s too hard to translate.  One day a young Chinese man came to visit the club and after one of these translations burst out, “That’s not what he said, he said . . . “.  Curious, Tchoung pulled him aside and chatted with him.  We discovered that the translators, the elder Chinese of the club, didn’t want the ‘outsiders’ learning the real art and kung fu of Tai Chi so the translations weren’t correct.  Upon finding this out Tchoung began learning English.  After teaching a movement he would say, “You understand?”  If we said yes he would require we demonstrate the move and applications to verify we had it.  Otherwise we’d start over again.

Tchoung’s passion was to teach and spread not only the art of Tai Chi but the real kung fu of Tai Chi.

Sifu I can never repay your generosity.

Andrew T. Dale, Seattle

 
We were all saddened to learn of the passing of Grandmaster Tchoung. Sifu, as we called him, opened up many of our lives to the depths of this subtle art.

When I taught my class this week, I had a vision of Sifu Tchoung, I could see him and hear his words. Sifu has been part of me and my life for 28 years. He was one of the most significant people in my life. Sifu Tchoung was truly a father-teacher to me and he was a great inspiration to me. Sifu's gift of his unique t'ai-chi ch'uan will go on forever though his students and their students. We will honor him though continuing his art. He gave us all the fabulous gift of his art, but even more was his showing us a way of thinking and understanding. He taught us a way of challenging ourselves, above all to achieve clarity. He told me to learn from him, understand, study, then to amplify on his teaching.

He was more than a teacher, he was a visionary. His open attitude toward teaching everyone and his enthusiasm in teaching to raise the level of the art is part of his uniqueness. Almost unheard of in this art.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to spend time with him and that was very special for me. His name will go on through the generations through his students. I will miss him. We are all very sad at his passing but his loss is not just to us, but to the whole tai chi community. We have all lost a Great Treasure and a very special person. I pray that he will find peace and a better world ahead. May the Omnipresent console his family and his students.

Harvey Kurland, student since 1972
Riverside, CA

 

The first time I met Sifu Tchoung was after the week that Harvey Kurland, Diane Schilling and I spent at Rex's camp. We spent the day with him, did the form in his classroom studio, home, and all went out to that Sushi Deli Restaurant where I sat with him and his wife Phyllis. He wrote his birthday menu on a napkin in Chinese characters and gave it to me. I was downstairs talking to the teenage boys that were with Rex, and Sifu popped out of the bathroom, and without a word, walked up to me and put his arms around me and hugged and smiled; very affectionate, he made me feel comfortable and at ease. The second time was at the Conference. I got in line with the Chinese friends to greet him, and told him that I was with Harvey's class, which made him smile. I took some pictures, Phyllis remembered me. I certainly felt it when he received my letter and the copy of the photo I sent as well as the other stuff. The biggest thing in my mind is in the rooting demo when Nancy Foster and Myra Allen were pushing hands with each other and I was being pressed by a nineteen year old Canadian young man who couldn't budge me. That was impressive. When I turned around, Sifu and other teachers were sitting in chairs behind us, observing. He came up and put energy into Nancy and Myra's backs with his right hand, and when I asked, he showed me how to do it. There were other times as well. We spent a lot of wonderful hours up there with him.  He was wonderful.   

Ruth Villalobos Riverside, CA

 

On Tuesday, February 22, 2000 the Taiji and Internal Arts world was robbed of a true master of the arts, a kind, generous teacher, and and a shinning example of a real student.

 A native of Hunan province China, Tchoung Ta Tchen devoted his life to learning, studying, refining, sharing, and teaching the internal arts, specializing in Yang Taiji Quan. 

He sought to raise the quality of Taiji practice and teaching so that future generations would have the opportunity to train in the real internal arts.  He gave the greatest gift any teacher could to his students:

  • Strong, solid basics in order to advance

  • A system and roadmap to follow for success

  • Good training habits to develop skill

  • A curiosity to question, research in order to understand

  • To think for themselves and develop their own art

"First you learn the alphabet, the form.  Next you learn to read, this is Tuishou (push hands).  If you can't use the alphabet to read it's no use.  Then, you write your own thoughts and words.  If you can't read and write your study of the alphabet is useless."
"Taiji is the same.  We practice the form to improve our health and become stronger.  Tuishou shows us if our practice is correct and how to correct it.  Applications and daily life is where we apply our practice."

In lieu of flowers, donation in Sifu's memory to  
Richmond Hospital Foundation
7000 Westminster Highway
Richmond B. C. Canada  V6X 1A2