I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to take a Tai Chi class taught by Peter Hugh or Kwok Ming Hugh, an “approved” teacher of Chen Man-Ching’s Yang short form.
I’d been invited to attend his class with Judy, and was delighted when Ernita joined us to practice as well. Judy and some of her friends have been practicing with Peter for over 21 years.
Just a bit of history—We’d met these lovely ladies (Judy, Arlene, and Ernita) at a Heart Retreat a few years ago, right after my husband’s heart attack. He swears they are responsible for helping him change his diet. He also believes he has been able to maintain those changes because of their friendship and continued support. And I do, too!
During the days at the retreat, I was able to watch them go through their Tai Chi movements—all of which were performed so very beautifully. So you can imagine that I was thrilled to be asked to join them when we found out we would be making a return visit. Here’s a pic of our friends and me in San Francisco.
(L-R) Arlene, Judy and me just outside the Palace of Fine Arts, and Ernita in her lovely kitchen.
I’d just finished a Qigong Intensive in the bay area with my teacher and her sifu—both of whom are accomplished Qigong and Tai Chi practitioners/instructors. As the weekend progressed with Kay Hutchinson McNeill and Dr. Arnold Tayam, one thing became glaringly obvious to me. It was highly unlikely I would master even the tiniest aspect of any form in just one Tai Chi class—no matter how hard I tried or how great the teacher was! Especially when knowing not only that the more advanced forms of Qi Gong can be very challenging, but that Tai Chi has its own complexities.
In her infinite wisdom, my teacher’s advice for me was to simply enjoy the experience and appreciate the opportunity—to enjoy being with my friends and their teacher without expectation or agenda. And, it turned out to be very fulfilling and refreshing!
The setting was absolutely wonderful! We were at the China Beach area in San Francisco. Unfortunately, we were unable to go down to the water’s edge this time because someone had damaged the facilities. Nevertheless, the location was still absolutely breathtaking!
When Judy introduced me to her teacher, he was delighted with my Texas accent—even though I thought, “I don’t have an accent! lol” I asked him briefly about his lineage, and he directed me to this website The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West where one can purchase a DVD documenting Chen Man-Ching’s contribution to Tai Chi. We talked a bit about my Qigong practice, and then class started. The lesson was a review of the first four forms they’d previously learned since one of his regular students was a beginner. And of course, the more experienced students didn’t mind, because the forms can always be refined and deepened.
The movements themselves were very gentle, yet demanding. It wasn’t long until many of us had shed our jackets—even though the morning was cool and crisp. I discovered that one of the most challenging things for me was to relax. I was used to holding a certain tension in some of my Qigong postures from the weekend intensive—but it seems Tai Chi calls for a different type of relaxation. Peter would come round to each of us helping us to shift our postures from time to time. Part of this was to help with our energetic alignment as well as to aid in the relaxation process.
When he came to me, he would say, “Relax your back, relax your abdomen…” Or he would say, “Relax. Relax. Relax.” Though I was having a hard time relaxing, he told me as he changed my hand position on one occasion, “Your hands are warm…you have good Qi.”
So what were my takeaways? Do I remember all of the forms he reviewed that day? No…well…maybe the 1st one! Did I master even a tiny aspect of any of them? No. But what I do remember is that there is a level of relaxation I need to recall and practice. And, most importantly, I received an affirmation regarding my Qi flow as well as my Texas accent…