I have been studying Tai Chi with Sifu for eleven-and-a-half years and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I just turned sixty-three years old, and I feel no different now than I did when I started studying with Sifu. In fact, I believe I am biologically younger than I was when I started. Sifu is seventy-nine and moves like he’s in his twenties. This is my goal as well, and I believe that with this practice it is a realistic and achievable goal. I have a BS in Finance and worked in the banking field before leaving the workplace after twenty years. I am fortunate to no longer work outside of the home, so I have the time to practice every day. I not only have an established practice, but I try to incorporate Tai Chi into everything I do throughout the day.
If you are serious about learning real Tai Chi, look no further. This is not health-club Tai -Chi; it’s not an exercise program, although there is probably no form of exercise more beneficial for health; and it’s not a routine you learn in a few weeks, to repeat over and over. It’s a path that we embark upon and follow; it’s a discipline that we practice every day; and it’s a philosophy that we live by.
I started taking classes at the school as a beginner. Tai Chi was attractive to me as I had practiced yoga and meditated for many years, but I really had no idea, at the beginning, what Tai Chi was all about. Deciding to study and practice Tai Chi with Sifu has been one of the most important life decisions I have made.
At sixty-three years old, I don’t feel that I have aged at all. Certainly, I appear older, but I feel the same as ever. I attribute this in large part to my Tai Chi practice. Although I was reasonably flexible as a result of my yoga practice, I learned from Sifu to be “loose”, not flexible. As a result, my yoga practice improved immensely, even though I practice much less these days, favoring Tai Chi instead. My yoga improved more from Tai Chi than it ever would have from yoga alone. With regard to endurance, I cannot say enough about what this practice has done for me. I can hike long distances and rarely get tired. If I do get tired, I notice that I recover very quickly.
Sifu teaches us that we have two engines powering our body. One is our cardiovascular system; the other is our Chi. For example, my husband and I like backpacking, and a few summers ago we did a week-long guided backpacking trip in the high-country of Yosemite. On a particular day, we had a steep climb that lasted for a few hours. I was the only one in the group who was able to do the climb, right alongside our twenty-eight-year-old guide, with a heavy pack on my back. I attribute this in large part to my Tai Chi practice, as I practiced the principles during the climb. As for strength, when I practice headstand, a yoga posture that requires a lot of strength in the torso and arms, I can hold the posture for long periods of time while remaining comfortable and relaxed. My balance has also improved as a result of practicing Tai Chi as well. When practicing yoga, I can remain in balancing postures for extended periods, something I previously struggled with. A real-life example of this happened a few years ago when I was a passenger on a Chicago city bus. I was standing in the aisle, when the driver slammed on his brakes. The other standing passengers fell all over the place but as a result of my Tai Chi posture, I remained upright. Also, recently, while hiking on Kauai, I was able to more confidently walk narrow paths and ledges. I can see that this is going to come in handy in old age. My mother is ninety-four and one of her biggest handicaps is poor balance.
As I mentioned before, Sifu is seventy-nine years old and moves like a teenager, even his skin looks like that of a younger person. He tells us all the time that there is no age limit to learning this practice and that being either male or female doesn’t matter, anyone can learn. He is incredibly attuned to his students and knows our strengths and weaknesses. He is kind and amazingly patient. He tirelessly works to help each of us learn. He demonstrates for us, and it is mind-boggling to watch him. Male students, much younger and more physically strong than he is, try to hit or attack him, at his request of course, and they don’t stand a chance. His Chi protects him. Chi is real and when you begin to practice you will know this from your own experience. Sifu tells us all the time, that if we practice, we will someday be better than he is. I can’t imagine that, but it is certainly something to strive for. There is a defense aspect to the practice as well. Sifu says we never fight to win, only not to lose. I like that.
Finally, in addition to the physical benefits of practicing Tai Chi, I find that the meditation aspect of the practice has resulted in a clearer and calmer mind and feeling more connected to nature, to others and to the world around me.
In summary, I feel very fortunate and blessed that my life path led me to Sifu and this school. I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect there are not many masters/teachers like Sifu. He gives of himself 100%, to all his students. His life purpose seems to be to pass along his knowledge and practice to his students. I highly recommend Sifu and this school to anyone with a genuine interest in learning real Tai Chi. If you sincerely put in the time and effort required, you will not be sorry. I can’t say thank-you enough.