Long River Tai Chi Circle

The Professor's Tree

For decades Taichi students have sought out and studied the film of Cheng Man-ch'ing and Shr Jung. A few years ago, the Cheng family and Robert Smith collaborated and produced an authorized, available version. Students not fortunate enough to have known the Professor in life are able to see the man, doing his taichi and playing with his students.

Those of us who live work or practice on Manhattan's Upper West Side, have long known that much of the film was shot in Riverside Park, against the lovely stone wall that marks the eastern boundary of the park. Many of us have tried, desultorily and in vain, to locate the spot for each scene in the park. We've had discussions about where it might have been, knowing the Professor lived somewhere up here.

Fellow student Dan Hild, who lives up here, developed a burning curiosity, and took it upon himself to locate the spot, exhaustively investigating the wall, using photographs to match the patterns of stone to the backgrounds in the film. Finally, definitive proof was found by matching the pattern of three holes with the base of a tree that had long since been cut down. Thus was born in Dan's mind the idea of planting a tree, to commemorate the spot so deeply familiar to so many taichi students.

Dan organized the effort, mobilized the Cheng Man-ch'ing taichi community, and brought the memorial to be. Here is the event, as described by Dan, and photographed by George Chiang.

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