Lee Style Tai Chi Chuan 李氏太極拳 of Chan Kam Lee (and Chee Soo)
(not to be confused with the Li Style Tai chi created by Li Ruidong. )
Lee style of tai chi chuan is a unique style with very little connection to other styles. The forms, training methods and history are different from any of the recognized styles. But it bears inclusion here for a few reasons. One is to point out the differences. Another is to recognize the similarities to standard tai chi styles. It is also important to acknowledge the popularity and influence of Lee style, and its main proponent, the late Chee Soo. Chee Soo was an important figure in the English martial arts and taoist scene during the 20th century.
Lee style is practised mainly in the UK and continental Europe. The style is taught as part of the Lee Style Taoist Cultural Arts which include Kaimen (Open Door) – a form of Daoist qigong, Daoyin (breathing exercise), and the standard empty-hand and weapon forms; including Feng shou quanshu.
While Lee style bears similarities to other styles of tai chi chuan, it does not claim any of the common ancestry. According to Chee Soo []Chee Soo. “The Chinese Art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan: – “The Taoist way to mental and physical Health” (Seahorse Books, 2012), 18=20., the Lee style was created by Lee Ho-Hsieh approximately 1000 BCE. It was passed down through generations of the Lee family for 3000 years until reaching Lee Chan-Kam, who began teaching it to Chee Soo in the 1930’s. Lee Chan-Kam died at sea in late 1953 or early 1954.
Oral traditions provide a challenge for historians. But this account would mean that Lee style tai chi chuan predates the mythical Zhang Sanfeng, by more than 2 millennia, and predates Chen Wangting by 2500 years.
The Lee family’s Taoist Arts were exclusive to the Lee style until the 1930s when it was first taught to outsiders in England by Professor Dr. Chan Kam Lee, and subsequently promoted by Lee’s student, Chee Soo, who established “The International Taoist Society”.
Chan Kam Lee (?-1953/4) was a businessman who lived and taught in London, England during the early 1930’s. One of his students was Chee Soo (1919-1994), a Londoner of Chinese and English parents.
After returning from WW2, Chee Soo taught thousands of students, becoming one of the most prolific western teachers of his generation. He also authored five books about Daoism and Lee style tai chi.
The typical Lee style curriculum includes several stages:
- Tiàowǔ 跳舞 or “Flying Hands” ( aka the Tai chi dance” )
- Two-person exercises, including, “whirling arms”, “whirling hands”, and “yi fou shou” (sticky hands – similar to tuishou)
- “The Tai Chi Form” (42 sections composing 140 postures)
- Staff / Stick
The training emphasizes 5 aspects of cultivation: Physical, mental, breath, internal energy (Shengqi 生气), and external energy (Ching shengli 精生力)
For more information about Lee Style visit Taoist Cultural Arts Association or Taoist Arts Organisation
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Chee Soo. “The Chinese Art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan: – “The Taoist way to mental and physical Health” (Seahorse Books, 2012), 18=20.|