Tai Chi Adventures
I am always glad to visit Shirfu Chiang's studio in El Cerrito, CA. I started to take classes from Shirfu as soon as I learned all the moves of Guang Ping from Diane in 1993. Shirfu, Shirmu (Mrs. Chiang), and his assistants were very kind to the naive beginner that I was, and very helpful. I felt right at home at the Studio from the beginning. It is a beautiful and comfortable studio, with photographs of Shirfu's and Shirmu's teachers all around the walls. In addition there are displays of their own paintings and calligraphy. There's a little Buddhist altar upstairs and a neat kitchen downstairs where Shirfu makes tea for us after classes--if he is not seeing a patient in his examining room AND if we have been a satisfactory class!
Since that first memorable visit, I have gone back many times, have been taught by Shirfu and all his assistants especially Fu Tung Cheng who has studied with Shirfu for more than twenty years.
Two years ago, I joined Fu Tung's yearly French Tai Chi Seminar (Yes! Jennifer, there is a Guang Ping Club in France!), and it certainly was special as the French Club was celebrating their tenth anniversary with Fu Tung. Shirfu agreed to join the group for the last three days accompanied by his wife and daughter. Shirmu taught Chigong. Shirfu corrected our form and taught White Crane and Shaolin. At the end of the workshop he demonstrated White Crane dressed in his white silk outfit. I was bowled over! I couldn't even take pictures, but just stood and watched in the standing post position!
In 1995 Shirfu invited me to join a group of Chi Gong students he and his wife were taking to China. I was the only Tai Chi student so, each morning after we all did warm ups (with kicks), Shirfu gave me a class! Let me tell you it was not easy. Shirmu had to console me many times. She would say, "He was just like this with the children, but it'll be good for you." It certainly was, especially after I took to getting up at five A.M. to practice. He ALWAYS knew if I had practiced! So I improved my set and, especially I got to know Shirfu and listened to his stories. Since then I have continued to visit him at the studio, look at his newest paintings, and drink cups of tea after class.
Last year Fu Tung started classes for beginners and intermediate students at the Berkeley Buddhist Center. I join them every time I am visiting. It is great to be a beginner again. Finally last summer I attended a Chinese Martial Arts Tournament at DeAnza College in Cupertino, CA with Fu Tung and two of his beginning students where I met Henry Look and some of his assistants. Their style of Guang Ping is very different from ours. Never the less, we can be happy that our style is entered in tournaments under its own name instead of "other" as it used to be!