I came to Tai Chi in mid-life. In the Fall of 1988, I was practicing yoga on a Sunday morning outdoors at Lake Merritt in Oakland and I noticed a Chinese couple practicing their Tai Chi form nearby. When I went over to speak with them, I was startled to find they were 25-30 years older than I had assumed from watching their fluid, graceful movements, performed with such precision and dignity. That was how I wanted to move as I aged and I have now been practicing Tai Chi for over 25 years.
My first instructor was William Fong, a Yang stylist, who taught students individually in a very traditional manner, for which I am forever grateful. Classes were help 3 days a week for 3 hours. Forms were taught after three months of exercises, shifting weight and relearning to walk. I studied with Sifu Fong for 4 years, learning the 108, the broadsword and the 2 person fighting form.
One year after starting with Sifu Fong, I encountered a Tai Chi class pushing hands, once again on Sunday morning at Lake Merritt. I knew I had to do this! I convinced the teacher, Sifu Alex Wong, to allow me to participate in push hands in his class without learning their Southern Wu form until I completed the Yang long form. For 2 years. lessons in Wu and Yang overlapped, with classes 6 days a week. Ultimately, it was Wu’s style’s small frame and internal focus which fascinated me,. It improved my balance, posture and patience.
I have been Sifu Wong’s student since 1991. Sifu Wong is a 5th generation Southern Wu stylist. WIth him, I’ve studied Wu style’s small frame, 108 move sets (slow, middle, fast and joint), sword, saber and push hands. I’ve travelled with Sifu Wong to Hong Kong and Macau on 2 occasions to study with Sigung Lau, his teacher. Periodically, I detour to explore other aspects of my tai chi practice from different perspectives with different teachers of other disciplines, but I am in my heart a Wu stylist and I LOVE push hands.
Tai Chi fascinates me by the way it is a martial art, complex and simple- a synergy of body mechanics, sensitivity, visualization, physics and a touch of metaphysics. It has changed me and is present throughout my daily life.