Important women in my life.
I can’t talk about my martial art teachers without recognition the women family members first.
Grandmother Ann: A source of giving and compassion, she was a gardener and learned Japanese flower arrangement from a Japanese teacher in California. She always signed her letters and cards “Love Grandma and the spirit”. Grandmother Vera as a blessing too, but she passed away early. Grandmother Ann lived to 98!
Mother Madge: Is one of my greatest teachers next to my dad. She is a master gardener. No words can express the impact a mother has on a child.
Aunt Vonnie: retired nurse and very compassionate, she went to check out Pacific College of Oriental Medicine with me and we did Qigong together. She has always been a close family member.
My wife Patcharee: she is a great meditator and highly intelligent. She was practicing meditation even as a young child in Thailand and people took notice. She comes from the Theravada Buddhism of Thailand. My mother-in-law Boonlu is also a shining example of Buddhism with compassion, humility, and loving kindness. Both are very devout.
Sisters’ Danielle and Kristi: Danielle helped turn me on to meditation and Tai Chi, she mentioned a guy teaching “martial arts in the park” and the guy was Wilson Pitts who happened to teach Taijiquan, Baguazhang, and xingyiquan, along with boxing and Chinese medicine and neigong. Kristi has helped me greatly when I needed legal counsel.
Ok on to some very important martial art teachers I have had the pleasure to work with:
Amy Tseng-Ballons: While not necessarily a martial arts teacher to myself, (though she did learn her family style of martial arts at a young age and is teaching her grandchildren) she is my first and most important Chinese doctor of oriental medicine. Chinese diet therapy (identifying cold, cool, warm, and hot/fire foods), basic herbs for anyone, acupressure for point knowledge, her recommendation to go deep into meditation, Qigong, and Tai Chi. This had a lasting and laid the very foundation of who I am today. I am not sure where in life I would be if I had not learned “the diet” and getting treatments of acupuncture from her.
Coach He Weiqi: She was a famous coach from Shanghai and had a undefeatable team for many years in China. She was recognized as a top coach from China, and invited to teach Wushu to the Richmond Virginia parks and recreation. I spent many years with Coach and she gave me many opportunities like assisting both childrens wushu classes and adult Tai chi classes as assistant instructor. I also helped with team travel to two trips to Shanghai to train with Grandmaster Fu zhongwen, train, and competitions. From Coach He I was able to learn 24 form tai chi, Yang long form, yang straight sword, yang saber, push hands, Da lu, competiton training, compulsory long fist, 18 tai chi qigong, Xiang Gong fragrant qigong, 42 compulsory tai chi, Baguzhang of Sun Zhijun. Coach also brought many teachers. Madame Zhu Ru taught compularoy chen tai chi in 56 movements. Coach He helped with my interst in Chinese medicine by purchasing and selling the Shanghai College of Oriental Medicine encyclopedias to several of her top students.
Cas Overton taught Tai Chi at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Dance department, so I took some courses for elective credit while in art school. She was a student of Chungliang “Al” Huang of San Francisco. I took Tai Chi courses I and II. She taught some warm-ups, silk reeling moves (yin yang tracing) and a yang short form not similar to any other form I learned. She taught some massage that was Feldenkrais method.
Odessa Brooks, taught the Wu style 37 form. The paper handout listed the form and had Madame Wu Yinghua name on it. The form was different but very close to Wang Peisheng’s 37 form version. Anyways I was interested in Wu style because of books and magazines called it the form that was small frame from the Yang family and the Wu Quanyu was able to get Yang Luchan’s neutralizing skill.
Madame Leann Gehan, she taught 36 Liang gong shir ba fa (warm-up), 24 form, 48 form, and 42 sword and we did the Tai Chi forms 2 times each! It was a tough 2 hour class and you definitely felt strong afterwards. She also did Tui-na and worked on my back when I had some wushu injuries in her home clinic. She was from Shanghai and even survived a plane crash!
Coach Lu Xiaoling: When I moved up to Northern Virginia I went to Omei Wushu school to try to get on USA Wushu team with Coach Lu of the Wushu federation. From her I polished the compulsory forms both old and new: Long fist, Straight sword, Spear, 42 Tai chi and 42 tai chi sword as main sets, but also learned cudgel/staff and broadsword. I tested for years at the school and got Black sash level 3. Also learned other forms: 32 tai chi straight sword, 16 tai chi spear, Modern and traditional Baguazhang and xingyiquan.
Two coaches from the Beijing Wushu Team who spent a significant amount of time at Chinese Martial Arts institute were Coaches Li Ying and Li Jing. both were very helpful in making correctings and refinements to compulsory wushu forms. Li Ying was the resident teacher, while Li Jing visited often to coach and do seminars.
Nancy Bloomfield was my massage school teacher. I had originally gone to Qi elements school of Tai chi and massage to learn the 88 two man “San shou” set, but found out that they had a massage school there. Since I had learned massage from 2 other Tai Chi teachers I thought it would be a great idea to get certified. I had wanted to get certified in acupuncture, but all the schools were in California, New York and other faraway places. Nancy taught Yang Zhenduo’s version of yang long form, and her other Tai chi instructor was certified under Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. He taught several qigong sets, primarily: the All-season Triple burner warm-up with 4 season qigong, a Tai Chi primary set qigong, a coiling qigong (white crane influence), and ba duan jin. After certification and licensing I did not use it as a career change, just as a bartering tool mostly to help mixed martial arts (MMA) , Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and Boxing coaches and fighters.
She did teach mainly Swedish/Deep tissue for national certification, but also taught “Tai Chi massage” a method that used the whole body like tai chi when doing massage, that she learned from her Taiwanese teacher C.C. Liu.
Helen Ni, is not necessarily a teacher of mine, but a classmate from the acupuncture school Virginia University of Integrative Medicine. She had some experience with Chinese kung fu, Tai Chi, Wing Chun, and neigong. She has been very helpful with a few translation request from Chinese to English that helped clarify some bad translations. She was the one who brought up Taoist Neigong to me. While I had learned some martial neigong from Taijiquan teachers and Tibetan Buddhist methods from Tenzin Wangyal Rincopche and a few other monks, she reminded me of the importance of long time sitting, real dan tian activation, and internal alchemy that was not important to me as a martial artist. She mentioned Longmen pai “Dragon Gate” teacher Nathan Brine to me and I did his online program and book. The pandemic in 2020 got me back to hours of sitting meditation to work on internal alchemy and quiet sitting. I have her to thank for that.
Julia Fairchild is Wang Yen-Nian’s inheritor of Yangjia Michuan Taijiquan and Jianshan Pai Taoist tradition. Since I had learned some neigong in the 90’s with Wilson Pitts (Tao foundation) and Mike Basvandano’s (Dancing mountain school: Michuan Yangjia Taijiquan/Jianshanpai), I felt it was important to be clear on the methods with private lessons and online seminars that Julia conducts. From her, my neigong has really transformed and improved this year (2021) and am looking forward to the knowledge she shares. The sessions I have with her are very clear and she gives good detail and reasoning for the particular way of doing somethings. While I have read many books on neigong from many masters (Zhao Bichen, Wang Mu, Hu Yaozhen, Zheng Manjing, Jiang Weiqiao, Chen Yingning, Sun Xikun), her lesson are right there and on par with these other great masters and what they write. I’ve gotten a lot on how to work with nature, sun, moon, star and the inner methods, signs and stages during alchemy sessions.
While it may seem I have had a lot of teachers here, the long term everlasting relationships are mostly with Dr. Amy, Coach Weiqi, and Coach Lu. Some teachers like Cas Overton I’ll reach out and say hello on Linkedin. I don’t know if Madame Leanne is still alive as it has been over 20 years as she was in Virginia Beach. Same with Odessa, it has been almost 30 years since I saw her and couldn’t find her on internet. Julia sends out info on her mailing list and does online seminars for memebers and non-members of Yangjia Michuan association, Nancy, I reach out to time to time about massage and check in to see how she is doing since she is local. Coach Li Ying and Li Jing are still teaching in USA somewhere, but I am not doing much modern wushu after age 30, almost 20 years ago.
The Yang Side: in the future I may write about Wilson Pitts of Tao Experience foundation, Tidewater Tai Chi teachers Larry Mann and Don Davis, Sifu Mike Shea, Washington DC Taijiquan folks: Dr. David Walls-Kaufmann, Sifu Paul Ramos, Stephen J. Goodson, C.P. Ong, MMA/Boxing/Muay Thai coaches: Jeff Ruth , Derek Sierra, Brooks Miller, and Dave Carter, Coach Christopher Pei, and Australia’s Sifu Damon Bramich.