Tai Chi community

Tai Chi Sword with Sam Masich May 2018

We had the pleasure of attending the Partner Sword Workshop by Master Sam Masich, hosted by Sifu Steve Higgins, of Cold Mountain Internal Arts on May 22, 2018 in Waterloo, Ontario.

Three of us arrived from Aurora, Ontario; Giovanni, myself and my son, Nolan. As we are young blood when it comes to sword work, the opportunity to learn from Master Masich was not to be missed. It was also enjoyable to see familiar faces of fellow students and teachers gathering in from locations such as Oakville, Guelph and London.

We looked at properties of sticking and sensing sword, the fizz or energy in the blade and keeping the point on target. We put this to practice within the 5-Section Two Person Sword Form from the Masich Internal Arts Method. For example while in Big Pole Star, keep your point directed down toward your partner. As his sword thrusts, drop your sword, connect and file your blade along his to subdue the energy of his sword in one smooth motion.

The opportunity to see and discuss a concept as well as practice it with a variety of partners really brings the work to life in deepening our understanding and amplifying our practice. The evening closed as Jill Heath and Master Masich demonstrated the entire 5-Section Two Person Sword form followed by the presentation of certificates for participants of the workshop.

Thank-you Sifu Steve for hosting this event!

Wendy Williams runs Taiji Training classes in York Region including Aurora and Newmarket, Ontario under the Turquoise Tiger Healing Arts Centre.


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Phoenix T’ai Chi Centre 30th Anniversary Celebration

Phoenix T’ai Chi Centre, founded by Sifu Steve Holbert’s instructor Sifu Gloria Jenner, held its anniversary celebration on the first Saturday evening of May this year at a Unitarian church in London. Peter Reist and I were fortunate to be in attendance, with Peter contributing a bagua demonstration to the program.

The occasion reminded me of our own club’s Chinese New Year events. It opened with a Lion Dance and provided an opportunity for club members past and present to catch up with one another. There was a buffet as well as several live music performances on guitar and one on harmonica.

The Phoenix student body began by demonstrating the opening of the Yang 108, followed by a brief retrospective by Sifu Jenner on the club’s history. Other demonstrations included Chen Man-Ching’s 37 form, sword and sabre forms, and the same double-fan two-person form popularized in our club by Lisbeth Haddad.

I want to specially mention two presentations. One was ‘Eight Ways to Move Chi’ presented by June Ross. She invited the audience to stand and led us through an eight-step qigong form which she received from her instructor Judy Elliott. Many of its elements are familiar from our own practice, making it a nice ‘party favour’ to bring home to share with Cold Mountain:

• Arms at sides, shoulders back and palms facing forward • Raise arms to the sides, up to about elbow level • Bring hands together in ‘Monkey Presents Fruit’ at level of solar plexus • Face palms together as if holding a ball, then move them apart to expand it • Bring palms closer together to compress the ball • Perform a small microcosmic orbit • Push palms out in ‘Pushing Mountains to Front’ gesture at level of lower dantien • Lower hands in ‘Conclusion’ • Roll shoulders back and palms out to return to starting position

The other presentation I wanted to specially note was by Terry Lynn Clarkin on tai chi for diabetes. The Oneida Nation community just southwest of London has a serious diabetes problem, often poorly controlled and in younger people than would be seen elsewhere. Clarkin has been hosting classes at Banting House in London, the historic home of the discoverer of insulin, teaching a short medical tai chi and qigong form developed by an MD for diabetes management. Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the entirety of her presentation, but it was an important reminder of unmet health needs in our region and of how tai chi clubs can be of service to the larger community.

Megan Hine has been a member of Cold Mountain Internal Arts since 2013, focusing on Yang style, and is responsible for the Cold Mountain archive and video library.

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Megan's and Wendy's articles highlight different ways in which the bonds that connect the Tai Chi community can be enriched and strengthened.

In a sense our clubs constitute a culture. Its milestones, such as significant club anniversaries, need to be recognized and commemorated. And our training within our clubs can be enriched by shared exposure to the expertise of others. Different clubs have different cultures within them. Yet all share a common foundation in the art they study. Philosophically, Tai Chi is about harmony.

The focus of my personal Tai Chi practice has always been on meditation and self improvement. This extends to the perfection of defensive skills as well, because the capacity to engage in self defense or the defence of others is one hallmark of a harmonious character. Ideally our perfection of the art should free us from the twin-tyrannies of anger and fear and render us more serviceable to others.

A great warrior once said that meditation is the art of paying attention to the little things. The evening in Kitchener with Sam Masich focused mainly on only 3 moves of a two-person sword form. But studying the energies entailed in these very precise two-person interactions was absolutely engrossing. For two hours the cares of the world fell away as members of different Tai Chi clubs together concentrated on harmonious interaction.

It was what it is all about!

Sifu Steve Higgins

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