I had the chance to enjoy Master Li Shujun's wonderful Tai Ji Quan performance for the first time at the 3rd Chinese Tai Ji Quan Masters' Seminar & the 1 st Intemational Tai Ji Masters' Forum held in Ma'anshan City, Anhui Province in 2006. His unique moves of Tai Ji Quan with his special vigor inspired a strong feeling in me, reminding me of the similar flavor of Chen Fa'ke's style. Later when I interviewed him I revealed to him what I had felt about his performance.
Why would I decide the performance of Tai Ji Quan played by Li had probably resembled that of Chen Fake's in my imagination? As an editor engaging in researching modem martial arts and traditional Kung-fu for nearly thirty years, I have managed to get accesses to many traditional Kung-fu masters of different schools, gained intimate knowledge on the similarities between different schools of Kung-fu, and familiarized the history of traditional Kung-fu in the last century. Actually, some have branched into martial sports and wellness exercise. At that time when Chen Fa'ke first came to Beijing as a traditional Kung-fu practitioner, it was his high-level Quan skills widely recognized that help establish his huge fame over there. Many Tai Ji Quan descendants had practiced their Kung-fu for various sakes especially aiming at real Kung-fu fighting rather than for wellness in their leisure time within the later period of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the early years of the Republic of China. Whatever they had practiced was far from what is known as playing Tai Ji Quan or wellness nowadays. Making some necessary analysis and comparison, we should place Chen Fa'ke among those traditional Kung-fu masters during the period of the Republic of China (1912-1949), such as Li Cunyi, Shang Yunxiang and Yu Hualong. All of them had shared common beatings, including their braveness, vigor, spirits and others such as body moving methods and acting responses. Their appearances and aspects would be presented in their motions, postures, and even daily demeanors and behaviors. Had a practitioner failed to present any of these shared aspects, he would not be recognized as a Kung-fu master indeed. This is not an overstatement, for those who have had comprehended and experienced the facts they met for ages would agree so.
Hence, when we watch people practicing or performing the so-called Chen's style Tai Ji Quan in some sporting matches, in the parks or other occasions, we cannot compare it with the great master Chen Fa'ke who had been recognized among a galaxy of masters in Beijing. Had Master Chen Fa'ke played Tai Ji as what most people nowadays usually do, he would have had to find his living elsewhere after he came to Beijing. He would never have had been accepted by his contemporaneous Quan masters of Xing Yi Quan, Shao Lin, and Ba Gua. All of them were not playing games but real Kung-fu in Beijing then.
Those who play Tai Ji for their wellness and so-called Tai Ji sports could not present the characteristics of traditional Chinese Kung-fu in their practicing, thus they should be excluded from the genuine masters, and we should not expect them to reach the standard for being traditional Kung-fu masters.
Li Shujun is one of the rare masters who have been insisting in practicing traditional Tai Ji Quan Kung-fu for more than fifty years. Master Li had been directly taught by Chen Fa'ke for two years in the early 1950s. After Master Chen retired because of illness, Li Shujun had earned some special attention from his grand master Wang Ziying, who wished to pass down Wang Maozhai and Wu Jianquan's school of Tai Ji Kung-fu to him. As a result, Li Shujun learnt Tai Ji with Wang Ziying for another three years. Since then, he had only taken part in limited Kung-fu matches in Beijing in 1959 and 1962, and never showed up in the national martial arts circle from then until Tai Ji Seminar & Forum mentioned above in Ma'anshan City in 2006. It was the first time for him in appearing in the Kung-fu communication event after a few decades, and it was through this Seminar and Forum that the Kung-fu essence of the last masters Chen Fa'ke and Wang Ziying could be recognized by the masters in Chinese Kung-fu circle.
Master Li Shujun is of his personal charm. He accepts limited disciples with the object of passing down Chen Fa'ke's style Tai Ji Quan. In order to make him take part in the communication event, I have tried hard to persuade him for many times. At last he agreed to perform to the public, to talk about something important regarding Tai Ji Quan and, to communicate with other masters later on. This is how we could know about him today, through videos and words, about his studying ways with Chen Fa'ke, and about what Master Chen had practiced then.
From any aspect whatever, the appearance of Li Shujun help us learn more about the real story of such important persons as Chen Fa'ke, Wang Ziying and Li Jingwu--his father. Whatever they had done is of substantial influence in researching and developing modem Tai Ji Quan Kung-fu.