Master C.K. Chu
Heel Kick (Times Square, 1996)
C.K. Chu was born in Hong Kong in 1937 where, at the age of twelve, he began his martial arts training.
He taught Tai
Chi for over 40 years and has demonstrated both Tai
Chi and Nei Kung on network and cable
He holds a B.A. and
M.A. in Physics, which he has taught at Queens College (C.U.N.Y.), New
York Institute of Technology, and at Brooklyn Technical High School. In
1995, he retired from the field of physics to devote his teaching exclusively
to the internal arts. His background in science enables him to correctly
apply the principles of Tai Chi, and to explain them in Western scientific
and philosophical terms.
Master Chu is the
author of the books Tai Chi Chuan Principles and
Practice, The Book of Nei Kung,
Chu Meditation, Eternal Spring Chi Kung and Why Tai Chi?,
and the instructional videos Chu Nei Kung and
Chu Tai Chi.
Master Chu passed away October 12, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Carol, and his four daughters (Diane, Linda, Liz, and Stephanie) and their families. You can learn more about Master Chu's life in the Foreword to Why Tai Chi?
October 21, 2013
Press Release from CK Chu Tai Chi (Times Square): Grand Master C.K. Chu was one of the great tai chi masters of the twentieth century.
He taught thousands of people Tai Chi Chuan.
New York, New York: Grand Master C.K. Chu, one of the great Tai Chi masters of the twentieth century, died at New York Presbyterian Hospital Saturday, October 12th, 2013, after a nearly two year struggle with cancer. He was 76.
STUDIO FOUNDER. A retired teacher of high school physics at Brooklyn Tech, Master Chu is best known as the founder of the world-famous CK Chu Tai Chi (http://ckchutaichi.com) school in Times Square that was the center of his teaching, training, and writing for 41 years. The school continues teaching his tai chi system, in accordance with his wishes. A dedicated teacher, Chu was at the school six days a week and he personally taught first-time students as well as advanced practitioners. For decades the highlight of the school’s traditional Lunar New Year banquet was Chu’s toast about the meaning of the new year’s zodiac animal; whether rat or rooster or dragon, the moral was invariably to do more tai chi and Nei Kung in the coming year.
PUBLIC HEALTH OUTREACH. The related non-profit Tai Chi Chuan Center—also founded by Chu—has delivered more than 18,000 student hours of tai chi public health programs to senior centers and parks around New York City since its creation in 2000. The largest component, on the Fountain Terrace in Bryant Park from May through September, kicks off each year with World Tai Chi Day and typically attracts 45 students twice a week for free 7:30 AM classes.
FIGHTING ART. Although the slow, graceful movements of tai chi are widely studied and appreciated for their health-improvement value, Chu never separated health from self-defense. “Tai Chi Chuan,” he would say, “is a fighting art.” Chu delighted in training tai chi students who won full contact martial arts tournaments, often to the surprise of proponents of hard-style martial arts systems. At the 1981 Madison Square Garden martial arts finals, students Vincent Sobers and Richard Trybulski each won their respective middleweight and heavyweight titles by knockout. At the New York Chinese Martial Art Championship and Tri-State Kung Fu Full Contact tournament in 1996, student Hugh Marlowe also claimed the heavyweight division by knockout. Undefeated for two years in US finals in Baltimore, John Signoriello went on to fight on the United States Kuo Shu Federation Team in Singapore; in 2006 that organization named Signoriello Fighter of the Year.
AUTHOR & TRANSLATOR. Chu’s first book, “Tai Chi Chuan Principles & Practice” (Sunflower Press, 1980) includes his translations from Chinese of classical Tai Chi Chuan texts including The Tai Chi Treatise and a famous Question & Answer dialogue with Chen Wei-Ming, along with Master Chu’s commentary and interpretations by other famous 19th and 20th century masters. In his 2006 introduction to the third edition, Chu wrote: "Looking back...I see how the tai chi classics are more relevant today than ever. In the 1970s few people had heard of tai chi here in America. Now we have the opposite problem. It's almost as if there's too much tai chi.... The authentic meaning, once available only through a few rare sources, now threatens to be lost in a mountain of information.... For this reason I say consult these classic texts at all times.” These classics were part of Chu’s everyday instruction: “four ounces,” he would say, “deflect 1,000 pounds.” Other of his books, in addition to numerous instructional videos, include Why Tai Chi? (2011) and how-to guides The Book of Nei Kung (1986), Eternal Spring Chi Kung (2004) and Chu Meditation (2002). He was also working on two more books: one on Taoist philosophy and another how-to guide, this one on the tai chi short form.
Born in 1937 in Hong Kong, Chu was educated in martial arts and calligraphy as a child. He studied: Northern Shao Lin from Master See; Fut Ga (Buddha Fist) from Master Lee; Cheng Wing-Gung's Wu style Tai Chi; Yang style from Master Chan a student of Yang Cheng-fu and Tung Ying-jeh; and Judo from Gom Jen (Golden Well), a Japanese Master. Chu has never claimed to be a lineage bearer.
He came to New York in the 1960s for college and graduate studies. He earned a masters degree in physics from Queens College where he met and married Carol Monsees. They raised four daughters at their home in Forest Hills, Queens. Chu always said he began teaching Tai Chi to further his own training. He studied with Master William C.C. Chen and assisted teaching at his school; and he took classes at the Judo Center in the East 70's. By 1970, he was teaching Tai Chi both at Aaron Bank's Karate Academy and Hank Kraft's Judo School in Queens. Finding he had so many students he opened his own school in 1973. On typical weekdays in the 1980s he would leave a full day of teaching at Brooklyn Tech to open the Times Square studio for four hours of classes starting at 4:30 PM, to arrive home by 10PM.
Master Chu is survived by his wife, Carol, their four daughters Elizabeth, Linda, Diane, and Stephanie, and nine grandchildren. The family asks in lieu of flowers that contributions in Master Chu’s honor be made to the Tai Chi Chuan Center (http://taichichuancenter.org). A memorial will take place at St. Peter’s Church (54th and Lexington in Manhattan) on the afternoon of November 9th, 2013.
Contact: Jeremy W. Hubbell, 212-221-6110, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://ckchutaichi.com, Twitter @ckchutaichi, http://facebook.com/CKChuTaiChi.