George Xu and Zhang Xuexin
2 Tigers on the Same Mountain

By Steve Doob

George Xu, 43, came to America in 1981. He had studied ten different martial systems in China, eventually specializing in Chen Style Tai Chi, the original Moslem Style Hsing-Yi, and Lan Shou. In 1984, when he returned to Shanghai for a visit, he won the Chen style championship. Now, aside from teaching in San Francisco, he conducts workshops across the country, judges international kungfu competitions, and writes for many U.S. and foreign martial arts publications.

Zhang Xuexin came to America in 1990. Looking much younger than his 65 years, Sifu Zhang has been studying martial arts for most of his life. The early part of his thirty years of his tai chi training included several years with Chen Fake?s son, Chen Zhaokui. From 1970 until his departure for America in 1990, Sifu Zhang studied under and became the senior student of Feng Zhiqiang, China?s most famous stylist.

An old Chinese proverb states that two tigers cannot live on the same mountain. But judging from their excellent teamwork, Zhang Xuexin and George Xu in the United States, it may be that Chinese proverbs only work in China.

These two highest level martial artists are currently working together in San Francisco to improve their kungfu and openly pass it on to their students. Whether at their morning classes at the edge of Spreckles Lake, or at their evening classes near the Aquarium (both locations in Golden Gate Park), Sifu Zhang and Sifu Xu combine their two very different styles to create the kind of dynamic learning experience that few Tai Chi practitioners ever encounter.

The form that they teach is Feng Zhiqiang?s Chen 48 Tai Chi, but most of the class time is spent on internal movement training. The internal movements are not easy to learn. To perform Tai Chi correctly, the body has to spiral up from the feet and move from the inside (tan tien) to the outside (arms) in a coordinated fashion, with the stomach area folding and the chest opening and closing.

Most people have never seen this snake-like and bubbling up quality as demonstrated by Sifu Zhang and Sifu Xu. This is because few Tai Chi players have this quality and the few high level people who do have it rarely show it. Words can?t really describe it: it has to be seen to be believed.

To develop this quality, much time is devoted to silk-reeling exercises (chan tse kung). In addition, moving chi kung is practiced to further develop the Tai Chi Internal power.

Click here for Feature Articles from this issue and others published in 1992 .

About Steve Doob :
For more information on the classes conducted by George Xu and Zhang Xuexin, please write to: George Xu, 4309 Lincoln Way, San Francisco, CA 94122; or call (415) 664-4578.

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