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Cop-cancer patient teaches Tai Chi

By Zha Minjie   (Shanghai Daily)

10:06, September 11, 2012

(Photo from Xinhuanet)

Slow music fills the air as a middle-aged man practices tai chi and nine police officer students watch and try to mimic his movements.

The man is in a half-crouch, back straight, hands circling forward and backward, then he stands up, legs shaking a bit as he ends his demonstration at a police station.

"My legs are still not as strong as they should be because of my illness," says community police officer Xu Fangqian in Huangpu District, who is also a 55-year-old cancer patient.

While tai chi is a relaxing pastime for many people, for Xu it's a life-long passion, a passion that has both drained him and restored him.

"I hate tai chi and love it too," says Xu who has taught thousands of students about traditional Chinese quan, or shadow-boxing.

Xu says overwork as well as pouring all his energy into tai chi may have contributed to his diagnosis in 2004 of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and following torturous radiation therapy. The nasopharynx is located behind the nose and above the back of the throat.

He was teaching tai chi almost all the time when he wasn't working and many people sought him out for lessons.

Xu is tall and fit, though he tires easily now, and he has never smoked.

He still receives treatment but he has rallied, going back to work and teaching tai chi. He has been on the police force since 1990.

His tai chi journey started when he was nine years old, the last of seven children in a martial arts family. He first learned Shaolin boxing but since he was weak and undernourished, his coach said he should switch from powerful boxing to gentler tai chi, and so he did.

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