I loved to dance. I still do. I was attracted to Tai Chi because of it's dancelike movements. So when I started studying it at a local community centre, I fell in love with the gentle circular movements and internal rhythms. I also adored watching my beautiful sifu Valerie Huston, perform and teach us in her elegant way. I admired the athleticism of my teacher Marc Tasse, and tried to make my moves look like his.
It wasn't until many years later, that I actually learned how to do it properly and why it was a self healing internal art.
At first glance it seems to be all arms and hand movements - A sort of slowed down martial arts movie, but later after many years of participating, listening and observing, I now understand how it is all about the core of the body moving, massaging, advancing, retreating and a lot less about the 'prettiness' of the moves.
Still the love of the movement was what kept me interested all these years, and for that I am grateful.
I remember one wet Sunday in the winter when we retreated from our outdoor class, to our teacher's rec room to watch movies of some old tai chi masters, including his father and his teacher from Hong Kong.
I remember being confused as to why they moved so little, so inconspicuously that I really didn't 'get' it.
Our teacher David Lau kept telling us that Tai Chi is an internal art, yet with external moves. and still I couldn't let go of the external perception which was my own benchmark.
One broken leg later, I was forced to turn my practice inward and found the deeper movements of tai chi. Did I really need to break my leg to find this out? Maybe.
I now look at Tai Chi in a totally different way. I work at my moves from the inside, I align myself without physical strength, although the strength is there.
I now understand a bit more of the many pearls of wisdom that I heard but did not understand at the time.
This is why I tell my students, it doesn't matter how beautiful it looks, it's more important how it feels.