Friday, January 13, 2017

A Private Class with Grandmaster Wai-lun Choi, Fall 2016

At the end of October last year, I traveled to Chicago and had the pleasure of taking another private class with my teacher, Grand-master Wai-lun Choi. I try to visit him every time I go to Chicago and his basement kwoon is now as familiar as his old school on West Irving. I can even find his house now!



We started off with Q & A . I always keep a notebook around when I practice or teach, that way when questions come up, I can jot them down for the next time I see Master Choi. I also write down questions from students and classmates. Sometimes I need to know, and at other times I need to confirm. Plus, some questions really get Master Choi going and he teaches a ton, and at other times my questions just piss him off!

We talked about the history of Liu Ho Pa Fa and the qi-gong and meditation methods in that system. Master Choi related many aspects of training and reminded me, " Many styles, but one body." He talked a lot about developing instinct and the need for correct learning and practicing. He said to be clear about your martial arts goal and that "there is no end to this art!"



After some in depth discussion, we went to work. Master Choi went over sensitivity with me and I got to practice hands with him. I have to say, he is even more soft, sensitive, and powerful than ever! He emphasized that that coiling chase hand can cover many angles and attacks. He showed that the push/pull aspects of combining the Dragon with the Tiger made a good combination. Together they make the toi-fong unbalancing technique used in Tai-Chi pushing hands and many other styles. He said the Dragon and Tiger don't fight each other, they work together.

We went over how to train the eyes with a simple ball hanging from a string. Of course, anything Master Choi does is useful, needed, and deep in theory and application. It turned out to be a lot more than a ball hang from the ceiling! We also went over heavy and light bags and different training and benefits of both. "Don't let the heavy bag hit you! Use it to test your structure." Plus a swimming noodle to practice solo chin-na was funny and frightening at the same time!



As it usually does, the two hours flew by and I had to go back to Minnesota. I did make tentative plans for Master Choi to visit this Spring, and will keep you posted. I'll leave you with a treasure from my notes. Many times I've heard from Master Choi, "Tension bothers your breathing." This time he said,

"Tension bothers your instincts."




Monday, January 9, 2017

Fall Seminar in Massachusetts



I was invited to teach a seminar in Western Massachusetts last October at J R Roy's Martial Arts Studio. I was reminded that it had been 30 years since I was last there! Because I saw Richard on a regular basis at Warm Springs retreats and for visits to Minnesota, I always feel connected to him and his school. Not to mention the correspondences he has maintained with me for all these years.

J. Richard Roy has been learning, practicing, and teaching martial arts since the early 1970s. As a teacher, he has achieved the difficult balance of maintaining traditional values and training with modern ideas and concepts. I feel he has also balanced the business with the human aspects of transmitting the arts. 


Actually, Richard and I are classmates under some amazing teachers. We both studied with Master Paul Gallagher, took years of private classes with Dr. Leung Kay-chi, and attended seminars with the late Master B.P. Chan.

Richard was initiated at one of the Warm Springs retreats in Pennsylvania, on June 30th 2001 as a 7th generation disciple. He told me that he has done one round of the solo form since that day, and has not missed a day in 16 years!! That is 5672 rounds of Tai-Chi! Of course, that is not counting all the rounds he does with class!



The first day of the seminar I received the most warm and heartfelt welcome. I got to reconnect with many old friends, as well as meeting even more friends, which made my trip one of the best seminars I've ever conducted. Not only Richard and his students, but many of Master Paul Gallagher's students from Deer Mountain Academy came by as well. Joey, Rob, Janey, and Mark were wonderful to train with again.





The weekend classes covered some basics like Standing Meditation, single postures, and Solo Form updates and training ideas. A huge group for pushing hands, including many karateka who wanted to experience Tai-Chi partner work, reviewed many ideas and levels of Master Liang's priceless pushing hands teachings and insights.


"I've learned so much since I've committed to practing everyday the specific thing: A Round. It's become THE most stable thing in my life, my cornerstone habit that I connect to all my other daily practices. And it works!! Now I'm addicted and I cannot get rid of it!!"

-J.R. Roy






13 Techniques of Wu-Dang Sword were reviewed and corrections and updates for Tai-Chi Sword rounded out a full two days of group training. Lots of talks with Richard, some private time to train and discuss, and family time with Ginny, Dylan and Jenna, made my time fly by! I am planning on returning soon, not 30 years from now, and plans are being made for Richard to come to Minnesota to introduce us to Modern Arnis, something I've wanted to learn for years.



 "I was blessed and could bless."
-W.B. Yeats