How I began to study taijiquan as a young boy
I am now 68 years old, and have practised Taijiquan for over 55 years. After the Communist revolution (1949), when I was still a boy, Taijiquan was mainly practised by men over 40 years of age for health reasons, and was studied by very few young people and hardly ever by children. In 1951, when I was eleven, I suffered from stomach-ache. Nearly all my family were doctors, my father, my mother, and some uncles and aunts, but when we were ill we usually called upon a doctor from outside the family. So I went to the clinic of Dr. Wu BaoYuan, who was a study friend of my uncle, Dr. Shen GuanChang. He gave me belladonna tincture, which quickly relieved the stomach-ache.
A month later I met Dr. Wu BaoYuan again, at my uncle's, and he advised me to do some sport, so I would become stronger and not suffer from stomach problems any more. Why didn't I do some Taijiquan? I said I would like to, but I wanted to find a good teacher. Now, at that time, teachers at school were talking about a particular professor named Yao HuanZi, who was able to use Empty Force to prevent people from attacking him, without touching them. I also often went to see Taijiquan demonstrations after mass on Sundays, by Don SiZhuo, who was a student of Professor Yao HuanZi. Students were encouraged to attack him with a spear, and when they got close to him, he would throw them backwards without touching them. Therefore I knew who it was I wanted to study with, and was only waiting for the chance.
I knew Dr. Wu was an important student of Professor Yao, so when he asked me who I wanted to practise with, I quickly replied I would really like to work with Professor Yao, and asked if he could introduce me. But it wasn't that easy! I first had to prove I was really serious about studying Taijiquan, so I would start studying under Dr. Wu, and if I worked hard at it, then Dr. Wu would introduce me to Professor Yao. We agreed that I would start the following Sunday afternoon.