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A man with fighting spirit

Tai chi master helps kick-start its international growth, An Baijie reports in Rizhao, Shandong.

By AN BAIJIE | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-25 10:26

Tai chi contestants face each other at the start of the China Wulian 8th Fucai Cup Daqingshan Taijiquan Invitational Competition in Rizhao, Shandong province, this month. [Photo by ZHANG HONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Class act

Chen suffered from various illnesses during his childhood, making him frail and weak. He could not take part in sports and tai chi turned out to be one of the few physical exercises he could do.

In 1979, Chen enrolled in the English department of Shandong University. He was known as a diligent student, working hard to improve his English skills. He also began to study martial arts under the guidance of schoolteachers.

Chen subsequently heard of a local tai chi master, Hong Junsheng, who was a disciple of Grandmaster Chen Fake, and he resolved to pit his skills against the elderly practitioner. Hong easily defeated the much younger and physically stronger Chen Zhonghua, who was impressed and quickly decided to become a disciple of the master.

In 1985, Chen Zhonghua and his wife went to Canada to pursue their graduate degrees. He continued his martial arts practice during his studies there, often practicing on campus whenever he had time. His tai chi skills gradually attracted many admirers and he realized the possibility of promoting its culture overseas.

After completing his degree, Chen Zhonghua taught social studies under the Canadian secondary school system in Edmonton, Alberta, where he also continued to teach tai chi part time.

In 2001, he began teaching tai chi full time. More people knew about what he was doing after a local journalist published a news report headlined, "Chen is Chen, Smith is Smith".

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