My father, Li Tianchi, honored his father's wish that he combine martial arts with medical skill, When Father became a medical doctor in the hospital attached to Harbin Medical University, he applied with success Taijiquan, qigong and massage in clinical treatments for ailments such as chronic bronchitis as well as diseases related to old age.
But it was my uncle Li Tianji -- known in Chinese martial arts circles as "Longfei" or "Flying Dragon" -- who made his name in the martial arts. A graduate with honors from Shandong Provincial Martial Arts School, he became a martial arts lecturer at Harbin Industrial University and coach of the martial arts team at the Central Institute of Physical Education. That team was actually the first national martial arts team of the People's Republic of China, one that trained many talented martial artists. In 1954, my uncle was transferred to the State Physical Education and Sports Commission and China Martial Arts Association, where he became engaged in researching and classifying the martial arts. A member of the group that compiled the first national martial arts textbooks in China, he wrote Simplified Taijiquan and 32-Step Taijijian [Taiji Sword]. He also classified and published various instructional materials on traditional martial arts such as Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Wudangjian and Shaolinquan. He was acknowledged as a "People's Republic of China Sports Pioneer" and one of China's "Top 10 National Martial Arts Masters."
Li Tianji also pioneered international communication in Chinese martial arts through his teaching of Taijiquan to Japanese. After Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959 introduced Taijiquan to some visiting Japanese friends on the occasion of 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, my uncle was entrusted by the Chinese leadership on several occasions to teach Japanese friends Taijiquan. Li Tianji's teaching had a significant impact on the development of Taijiquan in Japan. When my uncle passed away in 1996, friends from Japanese martial arts circles expressed their heartfelt condolences and set up a monument to his memory on which the former Japanese Prime Minister Hata Tsutomu wrote an inscription, respectfully referring to my uncle as "the father of modern Taijiquan."
[PDF]My Uncle Li Tianji