Thursday, February 7, 2008

TAI CHI CIRCLE OF BACOLOD: LINKING BACOLEÑOS TO THE GRAND ULTIMATE FIST By: James U. Sy, Jr

Published in Rapid Journal.

The Tai Chi Circle of Bacolod (TCCB) is a low profile, non-profit group formed by enthusiasts-professionals in 2000 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental for the dedicated and concentrated study of the thousands years old Chinese nei chia (internal family) art of Tai Chi Chuan “Grand Ultimate Fist.”

The primary objective of the Tai Chi Circle of Bacolod (TCCB) is to improve one’s quality of life through cultivation of the mind and inner peace, correct breathing, non-impact/non-injurious physical exercise through Tai Chi Chuan, proper diet, and health-centered lifestyle. Their focus is primarily on the teachings of the late Grandmaster Cheng Man-Ching. The teacher of the group is Peter John Lloren Yap Yan-Lian Sifu.

TCCB first came to the attention of the public on March 31, 2004 when Atty. Juanito S. Amihan[1] succeeded in convincing Yap Sifu to be his guest in an episode for his TV show Reflections which aired over Negros Progress Channel (SkyCable’s Channel 17).[2]

TCCB made its first public demonstration during the 2nd Bacolaodiat (Chinese New Year) Celebration last February 24, 2007 at the Bacolod City Public Plaza . John Yip of the Bacolod Amity invited them for the occasion.

Its next exhibition was during the 2007 Summer Best of Negros Martial Arts Expo by the Tapondo International Federation Inc. (TIFI)-Bacolod Chapter and Tribu Hangaway, both under Negros Island Chief Instructor Roy R. Flores Sr., last April 7, 2007 at the Activity Center , SM City Bacolod.

JAMES U. SY JR.: Sifu, please give us a brief background on yourself.

PETER JOHN L. YAP: I am the eldest among 8 children by Ramon Yap Kian-See, who was from Lam Wah, Xiamen , China , and Narcisa Lloren, a Filipina. I was born on December 8, 1944 in Jaro, Iloilo City . When I was 4, my family relocated to Bacolod City , Negros Occidental.

I had to do hard labor at an early age. I was the bread winner for the family. I graduated valedictorian in elementary school at Tay Tung High School (TTHS).[3] Then I lived in Manila for 2 years where I attended secondary school (freshman and sophomore) at night at Mapua, which was located at Rizal Ave. in Manila , just beside Galaxy Theater. I had three subjects each night and I worked during the day. I continued my studies and graduated in high school (night class) at West Negros College (WNC). I took up commerce but only up to sophomore because I had to dedicate myself to a full time job for my family’s sake.

After all the hard work and sacrifices, I started my own business in 1975 and called it Skyline.

JUSJ: So how did you get into the martial arts Sifu?

PJLY: My martial art was fighting poverty hahaha! Actually I started late. I began the study of a modified 108 posture form from a local Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Ji Quan) master in Bacolod . I used Tai Chi to rehabilitate myself from the wear and tear that was caused by hard labor in my early days. Tai Chi had improved my condition although I can still feel it at times.

In 1992, Master Li Jun-Feng, a Kung Fu action star and a real life Chinese Martial Arts and Chi Kung/Qigong (Energy Skill) master, was sponsored by Cecil H. Magsaysay to teach Tai Chi Chuan in Bacolod for a month.

Master Li was about 54 then. He was the Head coach of the Beijing Wushu Association and Counsel of the Research Committee of Chinese Qigong. He was one of the trainers of the then young 5 times All China Wushu champion and future Kung Fu superstar Jet Li Lian-Jie.

During Master Li’s first visit he taught the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan simplified 24 posture form. The venue of practice was the property owned by the prominent businessman Benjamin “Bebe” Lopue Jr. [4] which is now known as Benjamin Hall along Lacson St .

In 1993, Master Li went back to Bacolod and taught the 42 steps form at the Taoist Temple located at Kamunsil St. at the back of the University of St. La Salle . Enrique Dy Achiaw[5] arranged with another prominent businessman Kaya Uy Se Kay, the owner of the temple, for the Tai Chi practice to be held there.

Many had joined practice, among them prominent local martial artists.[6] We paid P60.00 for each session back then. Master Li invited me to his apartment for more concentrated training. I did daily training under him instead of the 3 times a week mass training.

JUSJ: How do you describe Master Li.

PJLY: He is a very good teacher. He teaches in a very systematic way. He breaks down the form into segments so that the practitioners can concentrate on the finer points of the movements. His teachings had made a big impact on my search for truth in Tai Chi.

JUSJ: What’s your perspective of Tai Chi Chuan?

PJLY: Tai Chi Chuan is indeed a martial art but with the advent of gunpowder the use of hand to hand combat had declined. Today, if you want to fight you buy a gun. I believe more important than fighting is knowing how to defend oneself against elements that will ultimately threaten our lives - illnesses. The enemy is not only from without but also from within.

Tai Chi Chuan has been found scientifically to improve some conditions that are traditionally considered to be hopeless. It improves our lung capacity thru breathing from the tan tien (center) rather than from the chest, which adults would normally do as opposed to the center breathing of babies. It also strengthens the internal organs and the immune system to protect the body from disease.

The Shanghai Medical College had proven that regular Tai Chi Chuan practice is helpful to people who suffer chronic illnesses, even for those beyond help with diseases like cancer. Many Tai Chi Chuan masters were documented to have lived up to their 90s and even to a hundred or more.

Taoists of old were known to be seekers of immortality. Tai Chi Chuan was a product of that search. Although it can not give immortality, Tai Chi Chuan can increase longevity and improve the quality of life.

I teach Tai Chi Chuan to members of TCCB to fortify their body’s immune system, to improve body alignment and postural structure, to relive the mind of stress and anxiety, and the body of tension and stiffness.

Push hands is used in Tai Chi Chuan to improve tactile sensitivity, distance appreciation, proper use of jing, rhythm, and interplay of Yin/Yang. Instead of push hands, I use ballroom dancing as an instrument to manifest these attributes developed in Tai Chi practice. I believe that applications of Tai Chi must not only be restricted to martial purposes. Tai Chi movements are in harmony with ballroom dancing. It is the best manifestation of the interplay between the Yin and the Yang. Tai Chi had improved my ballroom dancing a lot.

JUSJ: Can you give some insights on why the art is called “Grand Ultimate Fist?”

PJLY: The name Grand Ultimate Fist is a homage to the metaphysical principle Yin/Yang[7] which governs everything in the universe. Yin and Ying represent two opposing yet complementary forces that maintain equilibrium in the cosmos. Yin is feminine, dark, soft, cold, etc. while Yang is male, light, hard, warm, etc. The continuous flux in the universe is due to the balancing of these two metaphysical forces.

An interplay of the Yin and Yang is essential since when one becomes greater, an imbalance presents itself. When a person stays out late at night, especially when it’s raining, he is exposed to a higher degree of coldness. The tendency is for him to have fever the following day (too much heat). The fever will only subside when the Yin (cold) and Yang (heat) in the body are balanced by an herb or medicine. Acupuncture itself is based on the balancing of the Yin and Yang in the human body.

Thus, Tai Chi Chuan serves to prevent imbalances and blockages in our internal system with the proper practice of breathing, meditation, forms practice, and observing a balanced diet and lifestyle.

JUSJ: How do you approach training in Tai Chi Chuan?

PJLY: Tai Chi is a very sophisticated art. The more you practice it, the more you discover its intrinsic beauty and benefits. For us at TCCB, perfection and mastery of the form is very important. It is not the number of forms one knows that is important but the depth of understanding and mastery of each form.

JUSJ: How many members do TCCB has?

PJLY: Since the group’s inception in 2000, not less than 70 had already joined. However, most have come and go for one reason or the other. The active ones are Alexander Ang, Charles Atas, Letty Chiu, Pepe Chiu, Catherine Friend, Bill Gomez, Rey Granada, Pepito Khey, Humberto “Toti” Lim, Felipe Lio, Cecile H. Magsaysay, Celedenio Perez Jr., Alex Su, Sagay Councilor James Tupas, Jose Uy Jr., and Stephen Young.

TCCB is greatly indebted to Mr. Mariano Cua, a good friend of mine, who offered us his place at Oceanlight Import and Export free of charge.

JUSJ: I’ve heard that you don’t charge for lessons Sifu?

PJLY: That is correct James. We do Tai Chi for the fun of it, not for the funds of it hahaha!

JUSJ: That’s a good one. Any parting shots?

PJLY: Sink your chi to the tan tien, not float it to the head.

JUSJ: Thank you Sifu.

Parties interested in safeguarding their health may join TCCB training every MWF 8:00 P.M. at Oceanlight Import and Export, Magsaysay St. , Bacolod City. Training is for free. Please contact Jose Uy Jr. at 434-7664 or Peter Yap Sifu at 0921-5680056.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He is the Charter PIO of the Wushu Federation of Philippines-Negros Occidental (WFP-Neg. Occ.) under the coordinatorship of Joery C. Amante, which was formed in June 2003 after the 1st Bacolod Wushu Seminar conducted by WFP National Head Coach Yu Zhi Bo of Beijing, China on June 12-13, 2003 in Bacolod City. He is a certified Wushu Sanshou coach by WFP-Iloilo Chapter. He is Founder of Conceptual Martial Arts Society (CMAS), Inc. and Secretary General of the Intercontinental Federation of Filipino Martial Arts Schools (IFFMAS).

ABOUT WFP-NEG. OCC.
WFP-Neg. Occ. under President Joery C. Amante, appointed by WFP Region 6 Head Coach Arnold S. Tinagan in June 2003, is the premier propagator of Wushu Sanshou (Sanda) in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, having hosted and/or participated in several local, regional, and national Wushu Sanshou tournaments and demonstrations in Bacolod, Bago, Iloilo, Manila, Pavia, Sagay, and San Carlos City among others and sent players for inclusion in the WFP National Training Pool. Its wards Rhenalyn “Ren-Ren” Jacob of Bacolod City and Rene Requiron of Escalante City took a silver and bronze medal respectively in the recently concluded 2007 Philippine National Wushu Championships at the WFP Gen. HQ.

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