~ T’ai Chi Principles and Concepts ~
© Margaret Emerson
Published in Qi Journal, autumn 2009
Kao Ching-hua, known in this country as Madelaine Kao Leonida, learned a Wu style T’ai Chi as a girl in pre-Revolutionary China. She was a high school athlete excelling in track when fainting spells rendered her bedridden. Her parents consulted both Chinese and Western doctors. No one knew how to deal with what Madelaine believes was a heart ailment. Finally an herbalist suggested she learn T’ai Chi. A friend of the family trained her in a Wu form that was taught to the aristocracy. Because it was intended for people who didn’t have to defend themselves—they had someone else to do that for them—the emphasis of the sequence shifted away from the martial and toward mental and physical fitness and meditation. Within a year she was back on the track, winning again. Her family was glad she took up T’ai Chi, not only because it apparently healed her physically, but also because it softened her feisty, sometimes difficult personality.