© 2002, Thomas M. Krapu, Ph.D., All rights reserve
Memorial to and News on David Chen's Passing
Following is news regarding the untimely passing of David Chen. News of a planned virtual (teleconference) memorial service will be posted here as soon as it is finalized so check back.
learn about David Chen's Memorial Fund
Virtual Memorial Service (1/28/06, 7 pm EST)
Here is information about the event that CJ is organizing in conjunction with the funeral (1/1/06).
there are the emails I have received.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan Forum Thread (Members can add to this thread)
February 2006 Silent Retreat dedicated to David Chen.
Various Emails Honoring David
Various Contributions from David's Virtual Memorial Service
The following memorial service can be heard in MP3 format at:
On January 28, 2006, we will hold a conference call memorial service for David from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST, -5 GMT). In order to take part in this ceremony, simply call 1-620-782-8200 and enter the code 909909 using a touch tone phone (long distance charges apply).
Please let us know that you plan to attend by sending an email to RSVP< removed email >Taijiquanclub.com. There is no limit on the number of people who can attend, but we must order the right number of lines for the conference call.
Several people have agreed to speak including Joanne Chang, Ben Lo, Barbara Davis, Frances Gander, Carol McGonegal, Lee Scheele, Kimberly Cass, Warren Connor, Avi Scheier, David Walls-Kaufman, Hsien-Yuan Chen, Russ Mason, Dan Mearns, Randy Atkins, Craig Petrun, P. T. Ho, Vicki Mehl and more. Tom Krapu will introduce the speakers, and I will wrap up the call at 8:00 pm.
will also be a time when anyone on the call can take a minute or two
to share an experience with David or reflection about his life.
Event that CJ is organizing in conjunction with the funeral
As some of you already know, on Christmas day one of our beloved founders, David Chen, passed away while recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor.
David Chen was one of the people I admired most in this world. He was the most passionate, enthusiastic, peaceful and talented taijiquan player I ever personally knew. He encouraged me in starting the Taijiquan Club, and without his support it might never have happened. He was the very first to say "Yes" to being on the Board of Directors - before there was a single member other than myself. He also donated his wonderful artwork to us -both for our logos and the T-shirts that sold at the annual Taijiquan Club Festival. His workshops were always full and garnered the top scores. However - he was not just a talented Taijiquan master and artist: David Chen was a good person with a heart of gold. I don't believe he ever said a mean thing to anyone about anyone - ever. His commitment and dedication are well known.
For the past few months, due to the the difficulties of my teaching and research schedule here at Kutztown University, I have not been active in the Taijiquan Club, and have attended very few Taijiquan events. David's death, however, has hit me very hard. I have shed hours of tears for my friend. The world has lost someone very special. If there is such a thing as sainthood in the world of Taijiquan, David Chen would be a saint.
However - now is not the time to wallow in self pity and tears because of our loss. His death - no, not his death but rather the remembrance of his life - has reminded me of what is really _important_. His life reminds me that Taijiquan needs to play a central role in my life. His life reminds me of how the benefits of Taijiquan need to be shared.
Now is the time to celebrate his life. David's dedication to the world of taijiquan must be carried on. I don't know exactly what or how yet, but I will find a way to honor his soul.
If you have any suggestions for how to honor David Chen, please join me on New Year's Day at 4:00 pm for the David Chen Repast at the:
Western Gateway Hotel
I've ordered a room and simple deli food. Let me know if you plan to come so we can adjust the food order. If you are one of the lucky ones who owns one of the many T-shirts that David designed, I encourage you to wear it.
The funeral is going to be held at 10:00 am on Monday, January 2nd at the:
The viewing starts at 5:00 on January 1st so you can stop by the Best Westerns prior to that if you wish. (Thank Julian Chu for the map link below):
I'll be driving down from Douglassville to Rockville on Sunday late morning and staying overnight for the funeral - returning on January 2nd in the evening. I'll be happy to pick up anyone south of me who wishes to go -just give me a call on my cell at 610-468-5039.
My heart goes out to Joanne and everyone in David's family, his students. We are all better for having known him.
P.S. If you can make it on Sunday, let me know either by emailing me at CJRhoads< removed email >TaijiquanClub.com or calling me at 610-468-5039. Thanks.
Emails I have received
More details of David's hospitalization and surgery
quite figured out how to access the new site yet. So I'm
I regret to announce that our friend, David Chen, has passed away subsequent to some surgery. This is a great shock to all of us. I'd known David over the phone and email for about five years through the magazine, and we finally met last summer face-to-face for the first time when I was out east. He and I and Jackie Urbanovic, the magazine's cartoonist, and some other artists got together for a July 4th barbecue. Before we ate, David pulled out of an envelope the most marvelous hand-drawn colored drawings, and we all were beside ourselves to see such craftsmanship and conceptual brilliance. David was extremely generous with his time, ideas, writing, and especially his artwork. He helped establish a beautiful and professional presence for Taijiquan Journal. I know he leaves behind a legacy of creativity in every area he touch. I'm sure I speak for all of us in extending our condolences to his family, friends, and students during this difficult time.
Joanne and David
It is with incredible difficulty and with very sad heart that I inform you about David Chen. David was recently diagnosed with a large benign brain tumor for which he underwent a long brain surgery. The surgery for removing the tumor was successful. Unfortunately, a complication set in during his recovery, David passed away in the morning of December 25, 2005. He was only 50 years old and is survived by his wife, Joanne Chang, and two sons Hank and Sean.
David has touched many, many lives; and that we all equally think of this as a tremendous shock. No doubt he is a loss to the greater Tai Chi community, especially to those who are active participants in the Cheng Man-Ching style of Tai-Chi. He is also a loss to the art world. David was a successful illustrator--a small profile of his work can be seen on his websites:
He was a person that was a master and friend at the same time, always available to questions, comments, and reflection on the art and philosophy of Tai Chi. He oftentimes told his friends that the art of Tai Chi has no graduation and no mastery but a joyful journey of learning, refining, and cultivating. The power of his personality, the depth of his commitment, and the scope of his vision will be sorely missed by all of us who shared his passion for making Tai Chi a better tool for health both physically and spiritually.
Joanne has informed me that the funeral will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 2nd, at the Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home, 11800 New Hampshire Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD 20904 (Phone 301-622-2290). Visitation is scheduled from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Monday at the funeral home. A pre-visitation is also permitted from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 1st. Provided below is a map link to the funeral home:
In lieu of flowers, any donation to David Chen's family can be made at the funeral home for further promotion of Tai Chi in memory of David and also for partial offset of funeral expenses. The check can be made payable to Joanne Chang. For those who will not be able to attend but would like to send their condolences or express their sympathy by mail, please send to the family address at:
Please help disseminate this e-mail message to all David's friends that you know of. On behalf of Joanne Chang and their sons, I would like to thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.
Since this is in regard to David, feel free to send it directly to me.
Also, if you have any details about his death I would appreciate them. I am completely in shock. If you give more details let me know which if any are public information.
David "with Professor"
T'ai Chi Ch'uan
February 2006 Silent Retreat dedicated to David Chen.
Finally, someone has registered for my Silent T'ai Chi Retreat (thank you Vicki) in David's honor. This has inspired me (Tom Krapu) to make this next Silent T'ai Chi Retreat in honor of David Chen. I have room for about three to four more people. Anyone who registers for any of these remaining rooms and mentions David's name will have the 1/6/06 pre-enrollment deadline waived and $50 of their retreat fee will be donated in David Chen's name to the fund that his family has set up. (Note: This the fee for this retreat is very low, so I am basically donating any profits to the fund.)
For more information see: http://www.krapu4.com/taichi/silent/SilentFlyer.htm
Various Emails Honoring David
We are sorry to hear about your teachers passing.
You can take comfort in the thought of how many people Master Chen has touched through his dedication to teaching and his gentle spirit towards others as you so beautifully described.
I am sure that he would be happy to know that you will carry on teaching and showing people what you have learned from him.
We send our humble condolences to you and his students and especially his family.
This is indeed a sad note for our Taiji community. Although I myself had only one session with David, his excellent instruction and professionalism will be forever be embedded in my mind. You see, I, too, know what it is like to loose a beloved friend, teacher and mentor. It wasnt too long ago that my former Sifu, Mr. Hen-ping Chiang, passed away as well.
David will be sorely missed by his family and all those that had the fortunate opportunity to study with him (and then some...). My thoughts of peace are with him and his family. May his soul reach out to all of us to continue in our studies and be diligent in practice.
I am sorry to
hear of your master's passing, and I appreciate your
We've lost Madam Wang Jurang, and now David Chin. My heart aches, too.
of the newly begun SACMAT I will suggest that we honor
Peace and Harmony at the New Year,
Please send my
condolences to the family. Madame Wang
From: Lee Scheele
of David" by Craig Petrun
I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn from you of David Chen's passing. I always enjoyed seeing him and pushing with him at the Greater Washington DC Push Hands Gatherings. He had such wonderful, soft, centered, and calm energy.
I would have come to the memorial and to his funeral but I did not know about them until 1 1/2 hours before his funeral, and I had family company from Japan staying with me (and I was out of town until the morning of the 1st).
This is a loss for many of us.
Thank you for emailing me.
I only had the fortune to train with David Chen a few times, when he
traveled to Philadelphia to do seminars, but I consider this a great loss.
His spirit and giving nature made his classes uplifting and encouraging even when I was struggling to learn the material. May those who remain carry his message in their hearts for many years.
What a loss to the tai chi world. My condolences to all of you who knew and studied with David, you all and his family are in my prayers today and always.
Jay Van Schelt
Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness
Bristol Hospital Wellness Center
Bristol, Ct 06010
Finally, we have some unhappy news to report. Those who read our Legal column surely have noticed David Chens colorful illustrations. Sadly, he passed away recently at age 50. The illustrations were always insightful and he never went the way of the cliché. The power of his personality, depth of his commitment, and scope of his vision will be missed by all of us at ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. EC
Andrea Klee, Editor
Just learned that
Master Chen has passed away. His works were the first among my written
toutelage about Tai Chi.
A memorial by Dan Mearns:
Contributions from David's Virtual Memorial Service (1/28/06):
List of Speakers:
The following reflections were read at David's Virtual Memorial Service on 1/28/06:
David cast a very wide embrace of people, t'ai chi styles and methods, and was a friend to everybody he met. Martial arts is often thought of as the pursuit of power. But it's got a lot to do with understanding weakness, in ourselves as well as our opponents. David understood this very well, and he knew more than most just how much we need each other. He was always making connections, getting people together to share what we learn, so we can support each other as we discover just how small and weak and scared and vulnerable we are. Like a true t'ai chi disciple embracing an attack, he embraced the world, took the thunder with the sunshine, and served his art through his service to us.
One of his most powerful lessons is his fearlessness in investing and taking loss. He wasn't afraid to be humble; he had such confidence in his art with no need to draw attention to himself. It's easy enough to say we are willing to invest in loss when we say it in a general or abstract sense. It's another thing to keep it in mind every moment we are in contact with an opponent. David set a high standard and I will continue to learn from his example.
He was someone who followed his heart. When I picture him I always see him smiling and laughing, with a kind of sparkle in his eyes like a child's wonder in seeing the world for the first time, always inquisitive and joyful. And that joy is contagious; we love being around people like that. And I think, how can we do that? Well, I believe following your own heart is the best way for anyone to spread the most joy that we can in the world, whether it's in t'ai chi or anything else, whatever it is that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work, even if it's hard to find out exactly what that is. And David is a great example of that kind of life and work, pressing ahead despite the uncertainty and risk, taking the losses, persisting and persevering, and ultimately flourishing because he loved us and because he was not afraid.
With all his tenderness and humility it's easy to overlook how aggressive he was in his pursuits. And now, while I feel weakened by the loss, I can see him prodding me, smiling and nodding and waving me off, telling me to "go on, go do it, go!" And I see that as part of the challenge that he's set before us: that we have to work harder and help each other more. I think that's what he would expect us to do.
David cast a very
wide net and captured us with his great heart. He gave and gave and
it seems like he's still giving. We will honor him best by continuing
his work, to keep giving each other what he was always giving us.
Eulogy for David Chen - January 28th, 2006
I'm Lee Scheele, a t'ai chi classmate of David's, and a friend through the t'ai chi community that David was such an important part of. Although we lived on opposite coasts, over 2,600 miles apart, I knew my younger kung fu brother was only an Internet post away or, maybe, at the next workshop or tournament I would attend. I always looked forward to our next meeting.
David's considerable skills in the art of t'ai chi ch'uan were, of course, apparent to any of those who can judge such things - but even more impressive to me was his dedication to continuous improvement. Through diligent study, perseverance in his personal practice, and careful reflection on what he learned from a broad range of sources, David just kept getting better and better every time we met.
When I would see him at tournaments David was a graceful Form competitor. More importantly, though, he one of the few top competitors whose Form you could see was clearly driven by martial functionality... and, unlike most top Form competitors, David was also a formidable push hands competitor. I never told him this, but I've told a few others through the years - David was one of the few up and coming t'ai chi players I've met who I thought had what it takes for really great accomplishment in the art. Although what he had accomplished in t'ai chi was already impressive, David was on a path to much greater accomplishment. Accomplishment made possible by his unusual combination of natural talent, access to excellent teachers, and willingness to do the hard work of learning.
Thinking of David brings back fond memories of his generous spirit - like the night before a long ago push hands competition. As we talked and played it had become clear that I didn't train for competition and that many (if not most) of the techniques I regularly use in free play would be illegal under the tournament rules. Realizing how clueless I was, David patiently demonstrated the rules we'd face the next day and explained how to adjust to the different strategy they required. It was all the more generous because David knew we'd probably compete with each other on the tournament floor.
Like others The First Cheng Man Ching European Forum in Perigueux, France a few years ago was a time that evokes many special memories of David. Time we spent in the courtyard of the old city... more discussion in their room with me subjecting poor Joanne to nuanced corrections the night prior to her Form competition (a competition in which, I might add, she did a beautiful job despite my interference)... watching David's own championship performance there in Perigueux... having David execute a great throw on me during our push hands bout... and, maybe my all-time favorite t'ai chi picture (perhaps you've seen it on David's Web site) - Avi Schneier, David, and me side-by-side in Single Whip posture; three sizes of bears all wearing their medals.
And now, tomorrow begins a new year in the Chinese calendar. The first year without my classmate and friend, David Chen.
My deepest sympathies are with Joanne and the family. I hope it is some small comfort knowing that many lives were enriched and inspired by knowing David - and his memory will be honored.
Thank you for
letting me say a few words in an effort to convey the great respect
I have for David's life and accomplishment. I feel fortunate to have
In Memory of David Chen 1955 12/25/2005
Paraphrased: "David was the kind of person who you learned the most from in push hands. It was always time well spent. Time toward your development that was never wasted. Life is so short, and t'ai chi development cannot be rushed, so every moment spent in your development is precious. I always felt that with David, my time was well spent, no time was wasted. The paradox: It never felt rushed. He was one who was fully present, open to mutual learning, and grounded in principled practice. He lived the spirit of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
Tom Krapu then read from contributions that David made the the T'ai Chi Ch'uan Forum (link). David was a prolific contributor. Two of his early contributions follow:
Wed, 11 Apr 2001
Hi, I have learned that in the western culture an error is an error, just correct it and its done, and there should be only one correct way.
In the Eastern culture, an error is a learning lesson of correctness, and one correction may lead us to another error, since there isnt a perfect Taiji practice, we are all in the process of making errors and correction, over and over until the last day. In general, Chinese value the experiences from making errors as well as the knowledge of being correctness.
I believe in emptying first, let the experience fill.
Mon, 29 Jan 2001
A late student of the Professor asked him why after 40 years of practicing he still made mistakes and not reaching the immortality?
replied as: I practice Tai Chi for becoming a better person, not for
becoming a Buddha.
This statement became my central belief of studying Professor's Tai Chi Chuan. Thus, I have been telling my students that I do Tai Chi for becoming a better "me", not for becoming a grandmaster, not for becoming an invincible, and certainly not for (Tom choking up at this point) becoming a better-than-you.
I have been a
student in David's school for about seven years. I remember first
seeing David perform at the Taste of China event. To watch him perform
the Cheng Man Ch'ing Tai Chi Ch'uan form, or the associated sword
form, was a truly amazing spectacle. This was a man who had found
the self-control, fine motor skills, concentration, and internal calmness
to perfect these challenging forms and develop from them an internal
softness and self-awareness.
- Lon Holland
At the historical monastery in Ossendrecht, Holland
Love you David, and you will always be in our Memories
Thank you for your interest.