The Personal Web Site of Carl Pearson
New Material from Andrew Durham on You Tube
I was recently directed to check out Andrew Durham on you tube. He has posted his own practice of the Tai Chi form, Flying hands and some parts of the stick, sword and silk. He made these films back in 1993 probably at around the time of Chee Soo’s death. Andrew states, and as far as I am aware he is correct, these are the only films to depict the style as it was taught by Chee Soo in the period from 1984 until his death in 1993.
Andrew holds the grade of 3rd Teng Chi. This makes him an accomplished and well regarded student. He mentions that for a period Chee Soo asked him to lead his Wednesday classes at the then Alderman Callow school (now Westwood Academy). So although he may not have been one of the few very highest graded students he is not far behind.
So, what do I make of this posting? He makes the point that these are the forms as taught by Chee Soo and he is clearly right. If you are taught by one of the masters who have messed about with the forms since Chee Soo died you will notice the differences and should be able to see what has been changed. Everyone’s form is a little individual and I am sure this is true of Andrew but this is basically the forms as Chee Soo taught them. Other senior students from the time may want to quibble about the execution of some of the moves but I think the claim that these are basically the forms as Chee Soo taught them is accurate. The Flying Hands form is performed twice, first slowly and then more quickly. Chee Soo did not document the Flying Hands form so this is the only version we have from the time Chee Soo taught. Reassuringly, but not surprisingly, this version looks very like that in Howard Gibbon’s dvds. The form reflects what Chee Soo put in his book. Step back at move 83, cross legged stance at move 126, sink forward at move 133. He uses the later circle around version at move 12 which we know Chee Soo had changed. Some of the more detailed movements of the hands and arms are worth a look as these are not always reflective of what is generally taught now.
The weapons forms demonstrations are quite dynamic . The tai chi stick demonstration, using a short stick, is more dynamic than the way it is often taught today. The sword form again is faster and this does affect the way the movements flow together. I am not sure about the silk, the moves are clearly recognisable but for me this is Andrew’s least convincing demonstration.
Andrew has also posted an extensive set of notes to the Kai men and Dao yin exercises. These can be downloaded for free. Notes really help when you have practiced an exercise and want to jog your memory. Learning some of these exercises from just the notes might be a challenge. A brief look shows that generally the benefits which Chee Soo often put with each Kai Men are not included. Some of the Dao Yin’s seem to be missing names and there are one or two other oddities such as giving the Happy Days Dao Yin an extension. This may just be use of language in that the exercise was taught without going onto the toes until beginners were more confident. I don’t know Andrew and I don’t know if he still practices or teaches. However, these posting are a really gift to the Lee Style Tai Chi community and I for one thank him for taking the trouble, time and effort needed to pass on this information. His postings do indeed represent the true spirit of the Tao, one of sharing and collaboration. You can’t post comments on Andrew’s films. I will speculate that he wants to maintain a level of privacy and does not want to get caught up in the usual debates about Chee Soo’s legacy and succession.
For me Andrew’s postings are probably the most useful posting on Lee Style Tai Chi since Chee Soo died.
The Personal Web Site of Carl Pearson