From “Lou Reed on Tai Chi” by Gene Ching for KUNG FU MAGAZINE
Lou Reed is a true rock veteran. No one deserves more respect than veterans, especially today. A progenitor of the alternative music genre, Reed is a living rock and roll legend whose unparalleled career has already spanned over four decades. Few can survive a single decade in the cutthroat music industry with as much integrity and authenticity. Fewer still risk pop chart suicide by consistently redefining their art. Instead of replaying his hits, Reed boldly ventures into new territory.
Music and the martial arts share a common bond. Unlike painting or sculpture, music and the martial arts aren’t static. They are dynamic expressions of the moment, best experienced live. There’s nothing like being in the presence of a master, musician or martial artist, when they unleash their honed licks and hardcore chops.
Lately, more musicians are discovering the martial arts as a tool to improve their musical skills as well as a means to some easy exposure. RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Johnny Colt (formerly of the Black Crowes) have all been showcased in martial magazines. But before they were born, before they were even twinkles in their agents’ eyes, Reed had already survived glam rock, heroin, censorship and Andy Warhol. Today, Reed credits his longevity to his Tai Chi practice. While most touring musicians demand a steady supply of top-shelf liquor, high-grade illicits and hand-picked groupies, Reed requests a private place where he can practice for an hour or two every day. “You have to know the form,” observes Reed. “Then you just get this energy out. It’s really great.”
For several years now, Reed has been studying directly under Master Ren Guang-Yi, a champion of Chen Tai Chi (or taiji as Chen students prefer to spell it). Ren and Reed form the most intriguing coupling of master and musician since Ed Parker and Elvis. Like Elvis, Reed took his master on tour, but not just as a personal trainer and bodyguard. Reed invited Ren to perform alongside him from Carnegie Hall to the Letterman show to the Winter Olympic stage in Toronto. It’s been a groundbreaking showcase for taiji, albeit distressing for fans who just want to hear Reed play “Heroin” again. “We took him on a world tour,” beams Reed with audacious pride.
Following Reed’s lead, Ren’s students rallied to create a very special DVD, CHEN TAIJIQUAN: LAO JIA YI LU & STRAIGHT SWORD. Top recording producer Tony Visconti, noted photographer Martin von Haselberg, high-tech guru Mark McGauley and director David Silver joined forces to produce a DVD of unprecedented quality.
You can see a clip of the DVD below. It is available from the YMAA Website.