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Lessons in Being Thrown Around with Master Shen Tie Gen

So I’ve been back in China about 2 months now. When I first came back I went around a few of the parks here in Shanghai looking for some decent teachers. Met some nice people, and some not so nice people, but nobody which tickled my fancy. Then by chance I got a call from my old friend Antony who asked me to come and meet Master Shen Tiegen with him.

Shen Tiegen teaches Wu Style Taiji as well as 10 Animal Xinyi. I have to admit I’m not overly interested in Taiji, unless it’s Chen Style, as I don’t have the patience for all the slow forms. However Master Shen is different. When I first saw the guy, he was so unassuming, big smile on his face, fairly short and skinny guy. After chatting for a while over coffee, Antony suggested we go to the park. We stretched a little, and then Master Shen went straight into showing us applications. It wasn’t really like he was teaching us, more like just showcasing what he has to offer. He would show us a move from the Taiji form, and then go off on all kinds of applications, strikes, locks, throws and kicks, all taken from one simply move. There was different footwork to move around the opponent, straight into his centre, or to feign a retreat and draw him in. He was constantly using exceptional leverage to manipulate you into all kinds of horrible positions, and when you are all tied up he will place his hand on your throat and say “this is very dangerous, now I can kill you!” Or he would get carried away and really just throw you straight onto the concrete.

As I mentioned earlier, I had no interest in Taiji, but he impressed me so much I asked to learn from him. I said I wanted to focus on Sanda and Shuai Jiao, and he happily agreed. So the next week we met again, along with another friend Jon, who practices Song Family Xingyi Quan. Master Shen started us on the first of the Taiji 13 palms, which are very different from what you think of as Taiji. Rather than soft flowing forms, they are single movements, done in a straight line. The emphasis is on simplicity. The first we learnt was Pi Zhang, or chopping palm. You literally just walked in a line lifting your arms up and down. Simple as that! However, the amount of content he could pull out of this was unreal.

Master Shen is definitely unique, and I am glad to be able to start training with him. I think long term I am more interested in his 10 Animal Xinyi though, but I will see how things progress. For now these Taiji 13 palms have really helped me understand my previous training in Mantis and opened up new doors for me…..

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