When Taijiquan was introduced to the 11th Asian Games, Professor Li was appointed as Chief Judge. He has been involved with the training of many of China’s elite Taiji athletes and is credited with a number of Taijiquan videos in Chinese, Japanese and English. He is also a published author on the subject of Taijiquan.
For over thirty years Li Deyin has been head of the Physical Education Department of the People’s University, Beijing, China, and serves as Vice Chairman of the Beijing Wushu Association. He has been prominent in the innovative and pragmatic development of Taijiquan for the last twenty years. In addition, he is an historian, academic and scholar on all areas of Taijiquan and Chinese Wushu.
Li Tianji spent his whole life learning, teaching, training and developing Chinese Wushu. With his brother, Li Tian-Chi, they started their training at a very young age. Their father, Li Yulin (1888-1965), was a prominent martial artist of his day and a senior student of Sun Lu-Tang. In this period in China it was a natural consequence to follow in the father’s footsteps. Li Tianji graduated from the Shandong Martial Arts College as a Martial Arts Instructor. He taught at various universities and martial arts schools in the province of Shan-Xi and Hei Long Jiang. He came to Beijing in 1950 and was appointed coach to the State Wushu Team. From 1955 until his death in 1996, he was a member and executive member of the Institute of Physical Education and Sport. His main occupations were research, study and development of Taijiquan. Longfei (Flying Dragon) was Li Tianji’s Martial Arts nickname. His association is also known as the Li Tian-Ji Quan Fa Academy.
Much of the development of Taijiquan during the latter half of the 20th century came directly under his influence as an executive member of the Institute of Physical Education and Sport. The Simplified 24 Taijiquan, the 32 Taijiquan, the 48 Combined Taijiquan, the 66 Combined Taijiquan, the 88 Standardised Yang Style all bear the mark of his family lineage, tradition and influence.
Li Yulin was a prominent and respected martial artist in the first half of the twentieth century. He trained under several teachers. The first two were Hao En Guang and his teacher Li Cun Yi. They both made names for themselves and were famous as security escorts. The main thrust of this training was Shaolin Quan and Hsing-I Chuan. In 1924, when Li Yulin was 36, he began his martial studies with the creator of Sun Style Taijiquan, Sun Lu Tang. With Sun he studied Taijiquan Hsing-I Chuan and Pakua. In 1929 Li Yulin was appointed as Chief Instructor of the Shandong Central Wushu Association. The directory of the association was Li Jing Lin. Li Jing Lin had been a student of Yang Ban Hou and he was also an accomplished expert in the Wu Dang Sword. Li Yu Lin learned these two disciplines from Li Jing Lin. Later when he traveled to Shanghai he met Yang Cheng Fu. They met as equals, not as teacher and student, and exchanged ideas and Taijiquan techniques. The Pakua Chuan Journal placed Li Yulin as one of Sun Lu Tang’s most famous students. Li Yulin came from a tradition of Yang Style and Sun Style and was a professional martial arts master teacher. His sons, Li Tianji and Li Tian-Chi, his grandson, Li Deyin and granddaughter, Li De-Fang, have all carried this professional tradition throughout the 20th century.
Richard Watson, Chairman of Longfei Taijiquan Association of Great Britain, has taken an active interest in martial arts since 1949. He began training in Taijiquan in 1973, at the Liu Academy based in the Renshuden Judo Club. In 1974 he met and began training with Master Chu King Hung of the International Tai Chi Chuan Association. The association was to last until 1992. In 1978 he was initiated into the tradition and elected senior student. With Master Chu, the training was in Traditional Yang Long Form, Taijijian (Sword), Taiji Dao (Sabre), Tui Shou, Da Lu and Qigong.
Richard first met Professor Li Deyin at the People’s University in 1988 and has been training with him since that time both in Great Britain and at the People’s University, Beijing. He studies with Professor Li include 24 Simplified Taijiquan, 32 Jian (Sword), 42 Combined Competition Form, 42 Combined Competition Jian (Sword) and the 88 Standardised Yang Style Taijiquan. His further studies have been in Wu Style, Sun Style and Hao Style and has taken him to China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. He has acted for the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts in the capacity of manager and team leader of the British Wushu Team during the 1994 European Wushu Championships in Germany and also at the 1995 and 1997 World Wushu Championships in the USA and Italy.
Simon Watson is Senior Technical Advisor to Longfei Taijiquan Association of Great Britain. He began his training 21 years ago with his father Richard Watson. Since the formation of Longfei in 1991 he has trained extensively with his father, Professor Li De Yin and Master Wang Yanji. He has had a successful career in British Taiji competition and has been team captain to the British Wushu Team for both the European and World Wushu Championships.