Saturday, December 30, 2023

MMTCA 2023 in Review


Sanshou with Paul Gallagher at Wu Ming Valley House circa 1980

“Aspire to inspire before you expire.”

-Eugene Bell Jr

2023 has been an amazing year for the studio, the students, and me! Even though this year had a very sad, and dark time, the death of my brother, Master Paul B. Gallagher, still it was filled with light and learning. I had one of the longest outside practice streaks of my life. I even practiced in the rain one day. And I had so many partner practices filled with lots of sensitivity, two-person forms, sparring, and fencing. Truly, I look back on the year and I’m filled with gratitude for the time I got to refine my own art and practice, and see many of you improve, refine, and grow. Thank you all!

Chinese New Year was fun with a demo at St Sahag, which was zoomed out as well. Father Tadeos joined us to watch and cheer on the students. We had a delicious banquet at Peking Garden afterwards. 

Outside classes at both East River Flats and Bohemian Flats were spectacular this year! The weather was awesome, and we only missed one or two classes from May to October. We taught the Taiji Saber and reviewed Taiji Sword. Lots of Pushing Hands, Cheng’s Dalu, and Willow #2.

My YouTube channel surpassed 1000 subscribers and I learned a lot of ways to share videos and lessons with the public. Thank you to all who subscribed and promoted my channel. I’m taking tutorials during the break and will be posting even more videos and information for you all.

Original art by Eli Chaisson

“Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”

-Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr

This year I got the first group through my 150 Posture Long Form, on the left side! I’ve got the counts pretty much standardized, and I’ve been working on uniting Master Liang’s Taiji with Master Choi’s Taiji, to express the amazing skills and knowledge of my two main teachers. I jokingly say that my form came from Master Liang’s form and Master Choi’s form getting together and having a baby, with Master William Chen as the midwife! Here are a few ideas on what I’ve synthesized to make my form.

The Five Steps/ Six Directions I learned from Master Liang break down as follows:

Forward and Backward comes from the legs.

Left and Right comes from the waist.

Up and Down comes from the legs.

The Five Steps/ Six Directions I learned from Master Choi break down as follows:

Forward and Backward comes from the legs.

Left and Right comes from the waist.

Up and Down comes from the spine/mid-back. Sometimes up comes from the legs and sometimes down comes from gravity.

I absolutely respect Master William Chen and his teaching that you bend, or tilt, in your postures to connect with the sub-conscious about what you are going to do. You “un-tilt” or straighten up when you go to do the action consciously! Master Choi teaches you to bend your back, or close your chest, to store energy. You straighten your back, or open your chest, to issue energy. I will be fleshing out this 9 Joint Unity for you in 2024. All I can say is I’ve never felt as much power, energy, and coordination!

Speaking of solo forms, the 150 Posture Long Form worksheet with the names, counts, and much more are now available. Email me and I’ll send you one.

The past year I’ve been hosting a monthly zoom Pushing Hands class. It’s been regularly attended and we’ve gotten through the 15 minute Pushing Hands basics workout and Wang’s Dalu. I’m going to continue through 2024 and introduce Willow #3 and some concepts and practice ideas for that.

Thursday Nights we’ve been hosting a hybrid zoom/in-person class. Taiji and Xingyi were featured. Some people have been learning the Taiji Cane form successfully online and I’m going to continue this hybrid type of class for 2024.

I’ve been saying this for years, but my Pushing Hands book is almost finished. Editing wizardry from Rondi Atkin, and Dan Dale guiding a photo shoot with many disciples, has brought my life’s work so close!

We had our first archivist meeting this year. People in many regions and schools are storing, cataloging, and preserving videos, movies, documents, and study materials for you and for the future. We are working on standardizing and cataloging the vast number of materials so we can have easy access to the wealth of the Taiji and related arts materials. For Minnesota, John Stitely and Dan Dale are keeping the archives. Bryan Davis and Chris Venaccio in Delaware. Jeff Chaison and Mark Deaver in Massachusetts. We are expanding and adding all the time and will keep you informed as we catalogue and document our systems and arts.

I’ve set 2024 as the year I teach the long version of the Taiji Sanshou, which Master T.T. Liang called “the Dance.” I’ve updated and refined many of the techniques and sections and am excited to share this treasure trove with you.

I was invited to both Massachusetts and Delaware for seminars and workshops. It’s such a treat to work with students who are more like family than seminar goers. And I was able to record some interviews with Sifu Richard Roy and Sensei Jeff Chaisson. You can find those on my YouTube channel.    

2023 saw the deaths of so many of Professor Cheng Man-ching’s American students. They are the generation that helped to spread the art and make it more accessible. R.I.P. Ed Young, Ken Van Sickle, Carol Yamaguchi, and Hsu Yee Chung, head of the Taiwan Shr Jung school.

This year saw the passing of another early pioneer of American Taiji, and my closest friend and brother in the world, Master Paul B. Gallagher. I met Master Paul when I was 19 years old, and I had the luxury and great good fortune to have him in my life for almost 45 years. I spoke with him weekly and talked with him the week before he died. I traveled to North Carolina for his internment, and to Massachusetts for his celebration of life. The loss is still so fresh for me, and I miss that I can’t just talk to him, share with him, or visit him in this realm. Rest In Peace dear brother…

I’d like to thank you all for your support, dedication, interest, and appreciation. I wish you a 2024 that is at least as full and rewarding as 2023. May the Wood Dragon bring you abundant health, energy, and purpose!

I bow to the floor,

-Sifu Ray


“Highest source of spirit.

For the highest good of all concerned.

With the light of perfect protection.

For something of greater or equal good.”
- an anonymous healer I know

Monday, December 4, 2023

MMTCA December Newsletter 2023

Taiwan Taiji Association, early 1960s. You can find Prof Cheng, M Liang, RW Smith, Wm Chen and many others!

“When you are a light to yourself you are a light to the world.”



Merry Hanaramayulekwanzmas! I love this dark time of the year filled with so many celebrations of Light! Take time to look inward and see your own incredible light.


Classes will continue as usual this month, including the beginner class on Saturday, until Thursday, Dec 21, my last official class of the year. We’ll be closed from Dec 22nd to Jan 5th. Classes resume January 6th, 2024, and we’ll have a few changes to our curriculum and schedule. One change is that I will continue the beginner class but will move it to 10:30-11:30 AM.

Some of the forms and practices I’ve got planned for next year are to continue Sanshou, advanced pushing hands drills and Willow #3, teach Xingyi Sword and do a Xingyi weapons review, continue solo and two-person Taiji Cane, continue Yin Fu 8 Palms, and maybe a visit from the Fast Form…


Huang Yuanxiu and Tian Shoulin

I scheduled one open practice for Thursday, Dec 28th from 6-8PM. Bring your canes and weapons, and practice Sanshou to your heart’s content! Margo will be there to open and close, and to practice!


I’m planning on a one-day, in house retreat, at St Sahag, to get together, practice, discuss, and to grab some food. I’ll get a date to you in the next newsletter.


Wu Yinghua, double sword.

Speaking of retreats, Twin Willows Tai Chi Studio is planning a retreat in June of 2024 and I’m the instructor. I’ll have more details next month. Consider driving with me and a few people from Minnesota who are going!


Starting January 6th, 2024, I’ll be offering a beginner Taiji class from 10:30-11:30 on Saturdays at St Sahag. If you know people who are interested in starting Taiji, let them know. The cost is 50 dollars a month.


Prof Zheng Manqing

Book suggestion- The Tai Chi Cane by Sifu Bob


Starting in January next year, I’ll be resuming the monthly check-in on zoom. Like last year, we’ll meet, talk about our training, ask questions, and discuss all things Taiji. Let me know if you are interested and how you can sign up.


Speaking of monthly zoom, the monthly zoom pushing hands class will be Monday, Dec 18th. We’ll continue with Wang’s Dalu, and some new ideas for the Pull drill.


Wang Yennian, right, one of M Liang's teachers in Taiwan.

As of this writing, I’m at 976 subscribers to my YouTube channel. At 1000, I get many more benefits including being paid by the advertisers. As I grow my channel, I can also make private groups and classes too. If you are a subscriber, thank you so much! If you are not, please subscribe, it costs you nothing but a click! Spread the word and help me out!


FYI I’m looking at one of the last Saturdays in February of 2024 to celebrate Chinese New Year, the Wood Dragon! I’ll have a date for you next month.


Paul Brennan Translation- Answering Questions About Taiji by Chen Weiming

School shirts, long Ts, and hoodies-

Thank you so much for one of the best years of my life! My practices, classes, filming, teaching, writing, and learning were all at another level. I will write a year end blog and flesh out some of this, but for now, thank you all! Bow from the waist, to the floor…

-Sifu Ray


“Humans follow Earth,

Earth follows Heaven,

Heaven follows the Tao,

Tao follows Nature.”

-Taoist proverb


Contact info

my phone- 1-218-341-9894








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Possibly the last photo of Yang Shaohou, seated with cap.