Well, Master Chen, how did you learn about Taijiquan and how and where and when did you start?
I started about the age of 18, 19. And the reason I started was that I was looking to the martial arts – all these comic books and fantasies with the martial arts, the magic powers… But then about the same time, when I was 18, 19 I went to see Professor Cheng. Actually, Professor Cheng was my father’s playmate.
One day in Taiwan, they met in the street. And it was: ”Aaah, how is the family?, how is this…?” And then my father mentioned about having a son – me – and then it was: “Ohh, why don’t you come to see my house and bring your son?” That was why he brought me there. Luckily, Professor Chen looked like a magical man, you know. He was a very different-looking person. At the same time I heard a lot of things about him. So then I went to see him and we talked for a little while and Professor Cheng said: “Why, do you like to study Tai Chi?” I said: “Sure, I like to.” He said okay and right away he wrote down the address and told me where to go, and said that Thursday he had a class somewhere – and I started right away. That was the beginning, the starting of Tai Chi.
So that was in China?
That was in Taiwan.
In Taiwan already…
Actually, what happened was: They were in China together when they were little, young – playmates – but they left. My father went to the army and then was with the army and Professor Cheng was in a different state, in Shanghai – so everybody left. And then, after the Second World War, Professor Cheng and my father both went to Taiwan.
Why did you leave China?
In the book, I already told people – I said because after the Second World War my father got an invitation to go to the University of Taiwan and then he was teaching Chinese literature. He went over there to Taiwan University in Taipei. After he went, a year later, my father said: “Why don’t you come to Taiwan?” So then I said… – at that time I was only 8 years old. So then I took off from my hometown to Taiwan. That was a little good story too, because I was 8, 9 years old and then at that time they didn’t have an airplane. They did have a boat, but they did not really have a „boat“, so my mother put me into a little boat, a selling boat, from my hometown to Taipei and that was very dangerous, too, but I didn’t know about the danger. I just went, but anyway, I was lucky enough. And then the action took about 14 days. Actually, it was not really 14 days – they had to wait for the wind for one week. Then they just found a good wind to sail off. The boat, how big was the boat? Maybe “very small” – all the boat was only like we had 10 people, passengers, and crewmen were maybe 3 or 4 people, but anyway that was nice to get there, but at the same time very dangerous. That was a very good experience.
Interview led by Nils Klug in 2012, Tai Chi Studio, Hannover