Qigong Healing Center
Gary W. Abersold 

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Northern Wu Tai Chi Chuan (Sophia Delza)

Wu Tai Chi Chuan

of

Sophia Delza


Sophia Delza influenced several generation's of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Her teachers where Ma Yueh Liang and Wu Ying Hua. A professional dancer by trade she encountered the Wu Chian Chuan Association in Shanghai late 1940's. She studied with this unique husband and wife team for around three years, learning the Wu Family Long Slow Form. Most likely she learned from Wu Ying Hua, whom is always credited for teaching and demonstrating the slow form. This is not to say that Ma Yueh Liang did not teach her as well. It is well known although that Ma Yueh Liang and the original flowing fast form are like one. He always demonstrated the form and taught it to students. His pushing hands skill was second to none, in which he had incredible control of anyone whom he would engage with. Most people that think of Mah Yueh Liang can recall either seeing him on Bill Moyers special or seeing him on archival footage of him laughing quite joyously as he flails someone away with effortless energy.

 

In 1961 Sophia Delza published her first book on the slow form taught to her in Shanghai titled " Tai Chi Chuan Wu Style: Body And Mind In Harmony -- The Integration Of Meaning And Method". The original was done all in line drawings which can be challenging to get the form correctly. The book is still of value although even as old as it is. Prior to her death in 1996 shes wrote a 10 Chapter reflection book on Tai Chi Chuan titled "The Tai Chi Chuan Experience Experience: Reflections and Perceptions on Body-Mind Harmony". This book would be welcomed by anyone whom practices or teaches Tai Chi Chuan.

 

She's an important American Tai Chi Chuan pioneer, wrote one of the first books on Tai Chi Chuan from a westerner, operated first Tai Chi Chuan Studio, taught at the actors studio and even gave classes at the United Nations. Most likey was the first non Chinese female to learn Tai Chi Chuan and teach it in the public. A real trail blazer of a person whom lived a full and exciting life!

 

My observation of her performance of Wu Family Slow Form: Reading her first book and seeing it demonstrated somewhat on the archival footage, I can tell that she had practiced what she learned in Shanghai. With that being said although experienced eyes can tell she had modified the form and influenced it with her own perceptions on how to do the Style of Wu Tai Chi Chuan. It is not as crisp and "oh so perfect" as in some Wu Tai Chi Circles. One could say that her take is in the "Style of Wu Tai Chi Chuan" . She most likely wanted to feel she owned the style in her body/mind and yes her stage and dance exerience most likely influenced her view on the form. Her interest seemed to be on the health and spiritual side of Tai Chi Chuan and that is ok. We all will get old and health maintenance is primary to anything else. If you don't have your health you have nothing. Don't listen to the "naysayers", about her I think her base was most likely health and wellness students, students learning how to improve dance through Tai Chi movement. She obviously was a good teacher/practitioner lived a great long life. She had learned latter in life so obviously her interest was longevity. She had edited Ma Yueh liang's book on Pushing Hands back in 1984 and wrote a preface for it as well. So with that being said one can say Mah Yueh Liang thought highly of her enough  to participate in editing a one of a kind book, based on oral and physical instructions. 


 Take time to read Ben Judkins article on Sophia Delza; a well written and researched article:

https://chinesemartialstudies.com/2013/04/26/imagining-the-chinese-martial-arts-without-bruce-lee-sophia-delza-an-american-taiji-quan-pioneer/

 

 

Sophia Delza books of Interest:

 

(I) Tai Chi Chuan Wu Style: Body And Mind In Harmony -- The Integration Of Meaning And Method: Originally published in 1961and revised in 1985:Sophia Delza describes the Northern Wu Style taught to her by Mah Yueh Liang & Wu Ying Hua, with careful directions and illustrations for learning the practice of the exercise-art of Tai Chi Chuan

 

. https://www.amazon.com/Tai-Chi-Chuan-Wu-Style-Integration/dp/0887060307/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488796779&sr=8-1&keywords=sophia+delza

 

 

(II) The Tai Chi Chuan Experience Experience: Reflections and Perceptions on Body-Mind Harmony: This book written fours years prior to her death, Sophia Delza. Delza, offers succinct and illuminating comments from her viewpoint as both teacher and practitioner. She expresses the substance and function of Tai Chi Chuan that lie behind the movement and that are manifest in the movement to only the most discerning eye. She provides insight and inspiration for entering into Tao of Tai Chi Chuan, that integrates body, mind, beauty, and goodness. Beginners and experienced followers of Tai Chi Chuan pathways who have studied it for a number of years will benefit from the guidance provided in this book.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0791428982/ref=rdr_ext_tmb


GWA 3/6/17


Posted by qigonghealing on March 5, 2017 at 9:12 PM 634 Views