Introductory Note to:
Taijiquan as a way of life: The philosophy of Cheng Man-ch’ing
In the introduction to the recent film about Cheng Man-ch’ing—The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West—his son reflects on his father’s teaching: “I think he was teaching more than just tai chi as a martial art; he was teaching tai chi as a way of life.” This suggests what many of us already know, that tai chi embodies and expresses the deepest principles of Chinese philosophy; for philosophy, in its truest sense, is a way of life, teaching us how to live in light of the way things fundamentally are.
Ever since Mark Hennessy’s translations of Cheng Man-ch’ing’s commentaries on classic Chinese philosophical texts, I have been interested in Professor Cheng as a philosopher, and the connection between his vision of tai chi and his philosophical perspective.
In a recently published article, I try to situate Professor Cheng within the context of the history of Chinese philosophy by considering how he understands tai chi to be a way of life. Professor Cheng appears to me to be a 20th century Neo-Confucian philosopher who aspired to transmit, through the discipline of tai chi, key principles of Confucianism, and above all, its goal of moral self-cultivation. You may access the article here:
I hope you find it worthwhile. I’d be happy to receive any comments, especially corrections or additions to my understanding.
All the best,
Andrew ([email protected])
Photo by Touann Gatouillat Vergos