After reading about the free trial to Chen Zhonghua’s online workshop, I had to give it a try. So, I went the online workshop home page and read the description about membership benefits. They are as follows:
Contents updated weekly, bi-weekly or monthly in the following:
Learning through video clips. Online video with written
instructions. Mini Lessons on concepts and techniques.
Section on Common Errors in Taiji learning.
Online discussion forum. Daoist/Taiji stories.
Discount products on select items. Workshop listings.
Direct online submission to a variety of sections.
Sign up NOW to receive information and benefit FREE.
Okay, sounds cool. So how do I sign up? It was a little confusing for me at first, but I had to look around for the ‘register’ link on the webpage. I have updated the benefit summary above with a direct link to the registration page. After getting to the registration page, you MUST click on the ‘FREE’ icon to sign up for the 3 month free trial. After that, you will receive an email that is used for validation purposes.
After loggig into the site as a registered member, I notice a little section in the lower left hand corner that is listed as a “Private Shop for Registered Members”. This is basically a little store where members can purchase things like a video clip of Hong Junsheng and Xu Guicheng Push Hands for $1.00, 2002 Hunyuan World Notes PDF for -$0.12 (that’s right, a negative costs for an item. I guess it must be free then??), and payment methods for attending workshops and classes. Nothing too fancy yet..
The “User Menu” contains links to instructional videos, notes, routine names, free downloads. Being the cheapskate that I am, the first thing I checked was the free downloads. Most of the free material was workshop registration and waiver forms. However, also under the PDF section was the 2002 Hunyuan World Notes PDF that was referenced in the store section. I guess it’s free after all! This PDF contained roughly 6 pages of notes covering positive/negative circles and other important points for practice. Definitely a good read and worth time to register for the site!
The “Advice” section contained articles about workshops, some stories (most found in other places on the net) and quotes. Then I noticed a section called Mini Lessons. These were little training tidbits to keep in mind while practicing taiji. A lot of these contained quotes from Hong Junsheng. Some of the snippets were written by Chen Zhonghua. Others were written by “Administrator” and “Editor”. Personally, I think it would be nice to have a consolidated page dedicated to Chen Zhonghua’s mini lessons instead of mixing it in with other authors.
Next I headed off to the “Common Errors” section of the site. This is of interest to me as I find the Hong Practical Method as taught by Chen Zhonghua to have different perspectives on the ‘principles’ of taiji (Ex: Misunderstanding Double Heavy?). One of the more interesting articles was about habit and learning. To find out what that is, you’ll have to register on the site and read for yourself 🙂
The “Instructional Videos” section mostly contained links to videos on Youtube with some extra text commentary. The commentary is pretty good and definitely adds an extra dimension to the material.
I tried to check out the forums, but unfortunately they were down.. 😦 I was hoping to read about some interesting discussions between Chen Zhonghua and some of his students. Perhaps it will be up and running before my trial ends.
I then tested out the “Direct Submissions” feature where I can submit my own FAQs and news, but I got a message stating I was not allowed to submit. When I clicked on my ‘subscription page’, I was taken back to page that asks me if I want a free trial or pay for membership.
Overall, it’s not bad for a free three month trial, but I was hoping for more. Actually, I was hoping for some kind of feedback system where you could submit a video of yourself to Chen Zhonghua for some personalized feedback. This was the first thing that came to mind for me when I read ‘online workshop’. Perhaps something like this could be implemented on the site’s forum where you post a video of yourself online and have critique come from either Chen Zhonghua or some of his disciples. That would be super cool IMO.
Perhaps given more time, the forums will be in working order and the site will be redesigned a bit to make navigation easier. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as this could really turn out to be something cool depending upon implementation and dedication of the community members.