About the Lee Style
Chee Soo practising T'ai Chi forms.
The Lee style was one of the first to come to the West, it was brought to Britain by a Taoist practitioner called Chan Lee who had fled the war torn China of the 1930's. He was the last of his line and so he adopted a young orphan boy called Chee Soo as his 'nephew' after a chance meeting one Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park, London. They opened a T'ai Chi school in Holborn, London which ran for five years until the war in 1939. Chee Soo joined up in 1937 and fought as a tank commander in Burma where he was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, and later escaped travelling through the jungles of Burma before finally reaching allied lines. On his return he resumed his Taoist studies and after the death of Chan Lee in the 1950's he became the President of the International Taoist Society. Over his sixty years as a Taoist teacher Chee Soo devoted himself to the promotion of T'ai Chi and Taoist philosophy. For many years he was the only Taoist Grand Master in the West to be recognised by the Masters in Beijing.
The main emphasis in Lee style T'ai Chi is on relaxation and health. The student is taken through a process with nine distinct stages, each level can only be accessed once the previous one has been completed. The class begins with some warming up exercises followed by deep breathing which starts to activate the internal energy. You then learn some movements from the T'ai Chi Dance which is a flowing form designed to stimulate the energy at the start of the session. This may be followed by a variety of exercises which help you to learn how to apply the energy and Taoist principles to everyday situations. One such exercise called sticky hands encourages people to interact with each other in a non aggressive way even when under pressure. As you develop you will also learn the T'ai Chi Form which is a more concentrated and meditative series of flowing movements. If the exercises are done without any physical tension the flow of Chi is stimulated through the energy meridians and it can be stored in the Tan Tien which is a region in the lower abdomen just below the navel. With more practise this store of energy overflows and starts to work its way through the whole body right down to the bones. This process helps to regenerate any damaged tissues in the body and so it can aid recovery from disease and slow down the aging process.
Of course immortality and freedom from disease and worry sound like extravagant claims to westerners who have had to be content with drugs or surgery as their only options, but in reality most Taoist philosophy is based on practicality and common sense, and after only a few classes and some regular practise most people can feel the benefits for themselves. After many years of practise this store of energy can even be used for self defence or to encourage the healing process in others.