The Personal Web Site of Carl Pearson
The Personal Web Site of Carl Pearson
Perhaps I am biased but I consider Howard Gibbon,s EWTA the best and most comprehensive source of general available resources for Lee Style T’ai Chi and Feng Sau.
East West Taoist Association
Based in Scarborough this association’s work extends across Yorkshire and north into Scotland. It is very popular wherever it holds classes and its Chief instructor, Howard Gibbon, is one of Chee Soo’s top students training with him for over 21 years. The Association trains to a high standard and has a well established group of instructors. Howard Gibbon has, at present, done more than anyone else to make available a comprehensive guide to Lee Style practice through the medium of DVD.
Howard has produced a complete and comprehensive DVD guide to the tai chi chuan form (a three DVD set). He has also produced a three volume DVD set of the complete Flying Hands form. He has produced DVD’s of the first 70 moves of the stick, Sword and Silk forms. The demonstrations are all first class and the multi-
Thanks to the efforts of Chris Simpson Chee Soo’s original books are now back in print and can be obtained through Seahorse books. These are essential reading for any serious student of the Lee Family Arts.
A new Chee Soo book has also been published based on a manuscript passed on by Chee Soo’s widow. The book contains a number of interesting musings. In some ways the most interesting section is the interview at the end of the book with Marilyn Soo, Chee Soo’s widow. From this you get a sense of Chee Soo the man who was often very clear about his own mind and therefore not always easy to deal with. There is an excellent story about Chee Soo teaching at Westwood school (then known as Alderman Callow) and being asked to move his car to make way for the Lord Mayor. The book is not some sort of new set of Nostradamus like prophesies as I have seen one or two people suggest. It does give you an insight into his attitude to the politics of the time. Chee Soo is also very positive in his view of the role of women in society. As a Taoist he very clearly sees that yang (masculine principle) is waning and yin (feminine principle) is waxing. He equates this with women exercising more power and influence in society something that Chee Soo clearly feels is a positive development. This may not seem such a big deal looked at from today’s social values, however, at the time and from a man of Chee Soo’s age and background these were progressive views and typical of his foresight and his fearlessness in setting out forthright opinions.The book is unfortunately very expensive.
Wikipedia also contains a page with some useful background to Lee Style T’ai Chi Chuan. The page has undergone a number of incarnations and now, largely I suspect, thanks to the efforts of Chris Simpson it contains a good basic account of the history of the style and Chee Soo’s work. Wikipedia takes its self very seriously these days and appears obsessed with the verification of almost every statement that appears in the article. The truth is that a lot of what is said about T’ai Chi is not verifiable, and some of the historical claims in all the traditions owe more to mythology and marketing than to verifiable historical fact. Lee Style is not immune from this, however the readers of Wikipedia are entitled to an account of what we know of the history of Lee Style and the pre-
Other Sources of Training and information
Each of the Associations produce materials for students, some make them more freely available than others. A look at Youtube also provides an increasing amount of footage of fragments of lee style tai chi practice. . Some of bits of video are of variable quality and one I viewed looked like the practitioner had learnt the form by only reading Chee Soo’s book. The result was not impressive.
Contacts: Lee Style Associations
Howard Gibbon’s East-
Desmond Murray’s Weihai Lishi Quanfa: http://www.lishi.org/
Chris Simpson at Seahorse Books: http://www.seahorsearts.co.uk
Keith Ewers Lee Family Internal Arts: http://www.leefamilyinternalarts.com
Tony Swanson’s Taoist Arts Organisation: http://www.toaistarts.org
Sheila Dickinson’s Lee Family Arts: http://www.lfataichi.com/
Other Useful Links
I have trained in and practiced Lee Style Tai Chi Chuan since 1993. My own interest has primarily been in the Tai Chi Chuan form and the other health arts taught and practiced with it. I have only limited knowledge of the Feng Shou and other fighting arts. I never met or trained with Chee Soo, although through the practice of the arts I have developed a high regard for what he taught. I believe that the Lee Family Taoist Arts contains much that is valuable and that it continues to deserve to be studied and passed on for others to learn. The information presented here represents my interpretation of the history and present state of the art. Others may see things differently. If I have anything factually wrong I am happy to correct it. If you have additional evidence or information to add I would encourage you to post it.
Chee Soo’s remains a controversial character in the history of T’ai Chi. Many outside the Lee family tradition genuinely doubt the veracity of his style and wonder why no evidence has come out to substantiate some of the claims in Chee Soo’s account. The inability to substantiate the lineage back to China through Chan Lee is a particular obstacle as in Chinese martial arts and society lineage is considered very important. Within the tradition respect for Chee Soo leads many to shrug their shoulders and place their faith in the quality of what they were taught and told by Chee Soo.
I will continue to use this site to provide information about the arts that others using, or thinking of using the arts will, I hope, find useful. The site will not be used as a place for others to rehearse and rehash the debates about those questions of Lee Style history to which we do not have full answers. If any new accounts or evidence emerges and comes my way, I will post it or point out where on the web it can be found.
I have been challenged about why I remain interested in the arts when this site clearly contains sceptic views about some of the stories and history that has been passed down. I continue to enjoy the practice of the arts and learning from those who know more than I do. I doubt I am alone in questioning some of the history, unfortunately at present no compelling account exists to verify or refute the received history that is often told to new students and which now does not stand much scrutiny with the increased knowledge of T’ai Chi that we have in China compared to when Chee Soo was writing.