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New York Experience with Master Chen


If you decide to go to NYC I would suggest flying because driving 15-18 hours is no fun at all. Even though the hostels are the greatest, you are only going to be sleeping there, so don't be too picky about your arrangements. Make sure to bring proper clothes, Tiger Balm, and water, unless you plan on buying it there. Expect to spend a lot of money in NYC on food, gifts, and cool gear. I had a great time. I learned a lot and I am glad I got to experience freestyle fighting with Max Chen. Master Chen is a great instructor and will take the time to answer any questions you may have. It's amazing to see that 73 year old man move the way he does. He looks like he is only 50 years old. Although 5-6 hours of training a day was exhausting, it was well worth it.


This trip was very exciting. Training with Master Chen is quite an experience! He is a gifted teacher, and I feel that I improved tremendously over the course of the week, especially in boxing. The thing that really amazed me about Master Chen is that he still learns from his students. He does not hesitate to adapt his teaching style to fit the way a student learns. I think that is the mark of a truly great teacher. It was my first trip to NYC, so when we weren't training, I was eager to take in as much of the New York experience as possible. I was able to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, see Time Square, and do a little shopping in Chinatown. Over all it was a great trip. I can't wait for my next trip to the Big Apple.


Needless to say, I loved my second trip to Master Chen's school as much as the first, and was even more exhausted this time around. How does Master Chen do it? He never seemed tired. The most fun part of the week was the San Shou conditioning class with Max on Wednesday. I was already dead tired by this point, but Master Chen persuaded us to take the class. Andrew kicked me in the chest a couple of times when he missed the pads I was holding for him. I got him back with a roundhouse kick or two later on. Sparring with Max was an eye-opening experience (except for the fact that I blinked every time he hit me, which was often). He is very fast and has a lot of power, but he knows how to control it. I think the consensus was that, despite his age, Master Chen can still punch faster than Max. It was amazing to see him demonstrate punches; he would imitate our mistakes for us, and then deliver a seemingly effortless flurry of blows into whatever target was handy--the wall, a post, the heavy bag. Push-hands was a great experience for all of us. We all pushed with a fair amount of shovers, but there were some--George and Daniel especially--who really had a lot to offer. When I commented to George that it felt as though he was in control of my center at every moment, he shrugged it off and said, "Well, it's good to be aware of the other person when you're doing these things." Talk about an understatement!


On the first morning of the NY intensive sessions Master Chen remarked on the style of instruction given to him by his teacher, the late Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing; that Prof. Cheng didn't offer much in the way of verbal explanation, but, rather, expected students to learn the subtleties of the art through practice and intuition. Working with Master Chen is the golden opportunity to work with someone who has absorbed the lessons of great Masters of the Yang lineage and someone who has also had practical fighting experience as a champion free-style boxer, with an added bonus: He has dedicated his life to communicating the finer points of T'ai Chi Chuan. His teaching style includes an excellent balance of verbal instruction and involving students in the performance of exercises that lead to a deeper understanding of body mechanics. I felt he genuinely cared that all the participants in the sessions improved and that everyone was involved, no matter what their experience-level. I received a lot of individual attention that helped my form and push hands considerably, and developed my concept of free-style fighting. I would recommend these types of sessions with Master Chen to anyone with an interest in martial arts or in the study of human movement.


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