When I was about nine years old the TV show “Kung-Fu” and other shows like the “Green Hornet”, movies like “Enter the Dragon” came out. These made me want to learn Martial Arts. However, I lived in a small town in Iowa with less then three thousand people and no Martial Arts school. It wasn’t until I moved out of Iowa and was living in Colorado that I had the opportunity to study Martial Arts.
2). So, was Kwai Chang Caine, on “Kung-Fu”, your first glimpse of the Asian Martial Arts?
The character in the “Kung-Fu” was one of the first, but Bruce Lee In “Enter the Dragon” and other movies and seeing Bruce Lee in episodes of “The Green Hornet” also sparked my interest in Asian Martial Arts.
3). Speaking of Kung-Fu, did you want to begin studying Kung Fu or did you begin reading books on the Martial Arts and Kung Fu.
I started by reading books on Kung Fu and other forms of the Martial Arts before I began studying any Martial Arts forms. I was trying to find out what form of Martial Arts I wanted to study.
4). As Caine practiced “Pseudo” Kung-Fu on the show, why did you decide to study T’ai Chi.
When I was a senior in high school my parents moved from Iowa to New Mexico and I moved with them. In New Mexico, I had a girlfriend that was doing Tai Chi and she would practice and show me what she was learning in her class. I started to read up on T’ai Chi and became interested in the movements. When I moved to Colorado I had a job handing out flyers and invitations for a local art gallery and visited several Martial Art schools while on my rounds. Most schools did T’ai Chi as supplement to their Martial Arts training but one of the schools did T’ai Chi as there main Martial Arts training and it is there that I started my training in Martial Arts.
I started my training with the short Yang Style form. When a student at the school finished the short Yang Style form, and other students also finished the short form, a new advance group would be formed but only when there was 15 or more students at that level to start a group. I finished the short form faster then the other students at that time so my instructor started me on Kung Fu animal forms because he was a Kung Fu Master before he switched to focusing on T’ai Chi. When the advance group started, I was still working on learning Kung Fu while at the same time, the group class was working on the long Yang form of Tai Chi. (The Yang Chen Fu form.) After that, I worked on the Sword form, two Staff forms, Broadsword, Chen Man-Ch’ing form, You Long Gong Taiji form and the Chen style of Tai Chi.
6). At what age where you when you truly began studying under a teacher of T’a Chi, and did you first study the Ch’uan Style”? (What do you remember about your instructor and their teaching?)
I started my T’ai Chi training In 1988 when I was 23 years old and I have always done T’ai Chi Chuan. There are five styles of Tai Chi: Chen, Yang, Wa (Hao), Wu and Sun. All of them, in turn, trace their historical origins to the Chen Village in China. The word T’ai Chi means “Supreme Ultimate” and Chuan means “Fist”.
My favorite style of Tai Chi would be Chen because that is the origins of all the other forms of Tai Chi.
I have had only one primary instructor and through him I have worked with other instructors like Mike Sigman.
7). What made you want to become an Instructor and at what age did you begin teaching?
At first, I became a student instructor. I had the ability to learn forms fast and retain them easily. I was at my school four hours every day and also worked on forms outside of class. After I had been at the school for six years I moved to a new town and didn’t want to lose what I had learned over the years so I started to teach.
To be Continued