Authentic Tai Chi Teacher in Donegal, Ireland, with over 20 years experience

At the time I started studying with my tai chi teacher I had never heard of Tai Chi Chuan. I had been reading books on meditation and was very interested in learning how to do it, so I decided to seek out a teacher to study with. Long story short I randomly encountered master Li practicing chi kung, which I thought looked like meditation, in a secluded garden. I also thought that he looked like someone that was very adept and could teach me so I approached him. After laughing heartily at me and looking me over he agreed to teach me meditation. Later he explained to me that he also practiced a tai chi system and I began studying that shortly after. From the first movement I learned I was instantly hooked.

Master Li’s Yang Style Tai Chi system.

Master Li’s system was a very meditative practice, he told me that he had integrated a form of chi kung method into his Tai Chi practice and that it was very good for health and longevity. He learned tai chi from his uncle who he was sent to as a lad because he was small and often sick. This is how master Li came to learn Tai Chi and acupuncture, and acupressure. Later on during WW2 master Li learned a form of xie xi chi kung from a general in the flying tigers unit, which he integrated into his tai chi and acupuncture practice.

II studied the Yang Family Public Tai Chi Form (108), the sword and big knife, push hands, Da Lu, Ba Duan Jin and of course the seated xie xi chi kung. After 6 years of dedicated practice, I made a little bit of progress in these areas and master Li said that if I ever wanted to teach he would give me permission. He also asked if I would like to learn his acupressure (not the acupuncture) method, which was dependent on a foundation chi kung. Shortly after this however I moved back to Donegal for family purposes. I was not able to return to the states very much for a few years and Master Li passed away while I was in Ireland. I was resolved to practice what he taught and improve my tai chi.

After I moved back to Ireland I attended a Tai Chi class in Letterkenny, Donegal to meet people and keep my practice-focused, after the first 8 week course they asked me to teach it, but at that time I had no interest in teaching. I also traveled to Dublin, Cork and London to attend seminars and visit Tai Chi teachers from different styles. I soon discovered that authentic tai chi teachers are very hard to come by and it’s harder still if you’re trying to carry on from a specific method. In the end I made new friends but I didn’t find a system that was compatible with what I had already learned. One of the main difficulties I had was finding a system with a compatible breathing method.

Tai chi chuan teacher master li, shaolin teacher Master Wong and myself

My Second Tai Chi Teacher

At this time I was reading a lot of Chinese martial arts books. One of these books, introduced the idea that the three “sister arts” of Tai Chi, Xing Yi and Bagua were branches of a single root. I found that historically there were high level tai chi masters in China that shared this belief.

Since I couldn’t find another tai chi teacher compatible with my existing art I thought I might have more luck finding a teacher in the other two related arts of Xing Yi or Bagua. Shortly afterward I again had to move back to the states and I met my second teacher, Shifu Victor Chao.

Shifu Chao is a Bagua Master from the Yi Zong tradition in Tawain, where master Li also lived after the war. Shifu Chao’s system has a breathing and standing meditation practice very similar to master Li’s, which made it possible to keep learning without overwriting everything I had learned previously. Of all the teachers I met Shifu Chao’s system was the most compatible with what I had learned previously and on top of that Shifu Chao can generate a lot of force with his palm strike.

The Yi Zong school is one of the few remaining schools that teaches the three arts of Tai Chi, Xing Yi and Bagua together with a traditional approach. Another similarity between Master Li and Shifu Chao was a low tolerance for bullshit or performance-geared tai chi training so prevalent now. Both of them did not teach for the money and were choosy about who and what they taught.

After studying with Shifu Chao for 4 years I moved back to Donegal Ireland and started up a tai chi class of my own. I also found that there was a very good Yi Zong teacher in France, Edward Hines, so I have been able to keep up my studies. For the last 5 years I have been studying along a teacher training curriculum facilitated by coach Edward and taught his own teacher, the master Luo De Xiu.