China’s Tai Chi Chuan is more than just a method of self defense, it is conducive to a healthy life, according to Juan Vasquez, Peru’s well-known proponent of the martial art form.
Vasquez, 64, has dedicated his life to Tai Chi, promoting appreciation for the discipline in Peru and across much of Latin America.
“Through practicing Tai Chi, I realized that it helped to prevent many illnesses, in addition to being an excellent method of self defense,” he said.
“It prevents problems related to the nerve system, to the immune system, arthritis, osteoporosis. To women, it can help prevent menopausal problems by helping to regulate the hormonal system,” he said.
A student of Chinese Tai Chi master Chen Zhenglei, who is a direct descendent of the original creators of the Chen style, Vasquez serves as president and technical director of the Latin American Association of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan in Lima.
As a young man, he developed an interest in the martial arts, starting with karate and judo. In 1971, he discovered Wu style Tai Chi with a Chinese instructor living in Peru.
To pursue his studies, both academic and of the martial arts, Vasquez went to Japan in 1977 to do postgraduate studies in economics and an MBA. In Japan, he learned Yang and Chen style Tai Chi at the Chinese-Japanese Society in Osaka.
During his youth, said Vasquez, he occasionally resolved disputes with his fists, but Tai Chi helped channel his youthful restlessness and calmed him down.
He returned to Peru in 1981 after completing his studies abroad, and found a job at the Japanese firm Panasonic. Four years later, he began working as an instructor at the Peruvian Tai Chi Association.
When Panasonic sent him to work in Japan in 1991, he met Chen Zhenglei, who said to him, “if you want to learn the real Chen style Tai Chi Chuan from me, you have to go to Chenjiagou in China, where I live.”
It was all the encouragement he needed. A year later, Vasquez found himself in Chenjiagou, a small village in central Henan province that is the epicenter of Chen Tai Chi.
He has since traveled to China each year to study under Chen Zhenglei, who accepted him as a direct disciple in 2011, after 20 years of rigorous training and dedication.
Back home, the certified Tai Chi coach is a tireless promoter of this martial art, visiting companies, medical schools and associations, and offering seminars at various international occasions.
He has also hosted seminars on the benefits of Tai Chi in other parts of the Americas, such as Mexico, Bolivia and Canada.
He has taught some 10,000 students over the years, including those with serious ailments, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure and asthma.