I attended my first “Taste of China” in 1999. I had not yet begun my Taiji journey in earnest, but I attended for a couple of reasons. The event was held in the small rural town in Virginia where I was born, and Janice and I were visiting my Mom, 15 miles away in Strasburg. Janice had been studying Taiji for a few years and was very interested. Since I was a martial artist who figured one day that I would learn taiji, why not spend some time at the conference and make the family visit easier, too? Turns out, that would be the last time I saw my Mom before she died.
I remember Janice learned a fan form, I think from Madame Wang JuRong and Master Helen Wu. I took a push hands workshop with Chris Luth and Elaine Waters. But what I remember most was the Saturday night Friendship Demonstration at the local high school – especially William C.C. Chen and the physical flexibility of his son, Max, pushing hands and bending backwards, and the way Nick Gracenin astonished me with his chain whip form ( really? tai chi? wow? ). The funny thing to me today, is that I don’t remember seeing Sam Masich at all ( though I know now that he was not only in the demo, but the emcee too!)
This Year’s Theme: Transformation
Fast forward 13 years, and more than a few taiji lessons later, and wow……what an amazing weekend I just had at the Grand Finale event. After 30 years, Pat Rice is retiring the event. Read more about this year’s event on Sam’s home page) In this final year, many of the great masters attended, and the turnout of participants was more than twice what was expected. My teacher Sam Masich, and two of Sam’s teachers Master Liang, Shou-yu, and Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming, were there.
Also, Master Wei-lun Huang, Master Helen Wu, Nick Gracenin, Jose Johnson, Kathleen Cusick, Jay Dunbar, Yang Yang Ph.D., were there. I enjoyed many great workshops – beginning the weekend with Taiji for Transformation with Jose Johnson, on to Wuji and Daoist Qigong with Master Liang, and Martial Grand Circulation and Taiji for Health with Dr. Yang, and the Five Animal Frolics with Kathleen Cusick, and of course, workshops with Sam Masich – his newfangled PengLuJiAn method -for partner and solo practice.
But the best parts for me were the demonstrations and discussions both nights. I learned so much about the breadth of internal arts and I loved hearing the personal stories of these dedicated and top-level masters of these arts. The other really wonderful part of the weekend was seeing so many of my taiji friends and making new ones. And of course, I definitely have a recollection of seeing Sam this time!
I only wish I could attend again next year…….alas, I must say Happy Retirement!
Til the next move
enjoy your practice,