Today I am sitting in Virginia Beach, gazing at the gray, windy, drizzly sky, and the rough incoming waves. I remember the times some twenty years ago when I taught several Tai Chi seminars here at the invitation of my dear friend and colleague Almanzo Lamoureux, also known as Professor Lao Ma.
Professor Ma is a long-time Tai Chi Player, Master Teacher, and a very gifted Chinese calligrapher. More than that, he is one of my dearest friends. (He teaches in Chapel Hill, NC.)
Reflecting on old times and friendship caused me to recall a saying oft-repeated by my main Tai Chi teacher, T.T. Liang (1900-2002), “Tai Chi friends are best friends.” Those words were very meaningful to Master Liang because they had literally saved his life.
A high-ranking customs officer in Shanghai during the 1940’s, Master Liang’s duties put him into numerous life and death situations. In his later years, he loved to regale his students with his real-life tales of smugglers, drug lords, opium dens, and back street gun battles.
Sadly, part of that culture rubbed off on Liang, and in his early 40’s he found himself deathly ill from his indulgence in the “five vices.” (I will leave to your imagination just what those were). In fact, a doctor told him he had barely three months left to live.
Master Liang then decided to renounce his former lifestyle and begin a serious practice of Tai Chi. Even after his decision to live a “clean life,” however, gangsters would frequently appear at his home late at night, demanding that he come and join them in the gambling parlors. That made him realize he needed to find a completely new set of associates—and he did! They became his “Tai Chi friends.”
Following the Master’s example, I too developed a group of Tai Chi friends. The very best of them were my “old-time” students, who would come up to my mountain studio in Vermont to train each Saturday morning—even during the harsh Vermont winters--and drive up the steep snow-covered road for two miles from the state highway.
Of course they came on balmy Summer mornings as well.
What a wonderful energy we had training together! Practicing Tai Chi in a group of high-level players creates a powerful QI-field which is very evident to all. Everyone in the group contributes to and can draw from that field of bio-electrical energy. One of my teachers told me, “If you feel great, come to class to share your energy; if you feel down or depleted, come to class to absorb energy.” And that is exactly how the dynamic works.
Practicing Tai Chi with your “Tai Chi friends” creates a greatly magnified energy, which seems to grow geometrically in proportion to the number of people that are training together. In addition to the enhanced QI-field, there is an interesting resonance, as the players share rhythms of movement and breath.
Tai Chi friends can playfully “intimidate each other to advance,” another expression of Master Liang, as he recalled his Tai Chi friends of decades ago coming to take him to the park to practice, even when he didn’t feel like it. Once the gangsters had given up coming in the middle of the night to drag him off to the gambling dens, the Tai Chi friends started coming in the morning to take him to the park.
So—if you are now practicing Tai Chi, or if you plan to become a student of the art, just remember to find a group of Tai Chi friends. They will inspire you to practice, share their energy and insight with you—and they just might become your best friends!
Here is bit of news:
I am now working on the “Tai Chi Master Key Series™” which will use the Universal Principles of Yin and Yang to enlighten and simplify your approach to numerous areas of life. The “Tai Chi Master Key to Healthy Eating” is NOW available as a 55 page e-book.
You can learn more about it at
Until then, enjoy the late Autumn (or early Spring), and cherish ALL of your friends, whether or not they are “Tai Chi friends.”
Next day at the beach; sunny skies and good humor...
(C) Copyright Paul B Gallagher
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