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Frenchman Matthieu Tachon shares his unique Tai Chi story

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

05-09-2017 17:33 BJT

ZHENGZHOU, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Matthieu Tachon has been promoting the traditional art form of Tai Chi in his French community for a long time. An orthopaedist by day, Matthieu started his practice in the late fall of 2015 right after his first visit to the birth place of Tai Chi in Chenjiagou, China. During his first visit, he was fortunate to see Chen Lifa demonstrate Tai Chi's elegance. Persistent for the next 12 years, his apprenticeship under Chen has led him to start his own Tai Chi academy.

"When Matthieu first came to Chenjiagou, I was selling tickets by the Yanglu Zen Buddhism academy. His local Henan girlfriend spoke mandarin and asked on his behalf if I practiced. After showing him a few moves, he immediately asked for my number," says master Chen Lifa, 11th generation successor of Chen's Family Tai Chi. "I soon forgot about this encounter, but was surprised to receive a phone call a year later asking for my teachings."

Matthieu had two months during the fall of 2016 to practice with Chen in person. After returning to France, he continued to practice each day and routinely asked for Chen's input into perfecting his moves.

"I began Tai Chi because I wanted try other forms of Chinese martial arts. I've tried practicing Shao-Lin Wushu before. In comparison, Tai Chi's art form is much more soft. Not that I don't like the strengths in Wushu; I find myself more attracted towards the serenity and calmness in Tai Chi."

Between the years of 2006 and 2010, Matthieu made an effort in taking at least one or two months out of his busy schedule to practice his form in Chenjiagou. By 2010, he opened up his own Tai Chi academy and invited Chen to co-teach his students in France.

"This academy now consists of 30 regular students. I teach them twice a week, and other times of the week they would practice on their own," says Matthieu.

On top of teaching, Matthieu schedules two hours of Tai Chi daily early in the morning before work. He is now fluent in many rounds of traditional moves and has even won local French Tai-Chi championship titles.

"He is not the best of my apprentices, but he is definitely one of the most keen," commented Chen.

Last week, Matthieu is again in Chenjiagou; this time filming for a Tai Chi documentary. This local production tells a tale about the origins of Tai Chi. As the film reaches for a global audience, it hopes to bring this art form to the world.

Ever since the 1980s, residents of Chenjiagou have been working to promote Tai Chi culture internationally. Currently, there are hundreds of millions of people practicing this art form. Pursuers from all over the world come to the city in search of an authentic experience.

While still maintaining its authenticity; the village is changing fast as schools, libraries, shops, and museums open, all to give visitors an immersive Tai Chi experience.

According to Matthieu, there are ten thousand people practicing Tai Chi in France today. With media encouraging Tai Chi along with a healthier lifestyle, the number of participants continues to rise.

Being the keen learner he is, Matthieu even read the Tao Te Ching, a book of classics Taoist aphorisms, and Yijing, or "the book of changes" to better understand and incorporate traditional Chinese culture into his Tai Chi practices.

"Tai Chi is so good for the body, the soul, and the spirit," he said.

Going forward, Matthieu hopes to continue his practice with Chen, and bring Tai Chi to even more people.

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