Member Responses to the Special Class by Shifu Tony Wong

 From Shifu Tony Wong:

“Hi Laura,
… Please let your group know that I really enjoy the time with them and whatever they “think” they learn is really based on what you taught them…  Take care and keep in touch!




“Thanks you for inviting Shifu Tony Wong as a guest instructor this last weekend.  I found the visit to be educational as well as entertaining. I enjoyed Shifu Tony’s stories, but not just because they were entertaining.  His stories helped to provide imagery for the things he was trying to share with us.  His demonstrations of the martial applications made me rethink my own tai chi practice.  Since Sunday I have found myself trying to be more grounded when practicing tai chi.  I have come to the realization that during form & I allowed myself to drift through the movements instead of finding or looking for the intention of each.
Some specific things that I realized:
– You always need to be ready to move in any direction.  This can be achieved my always being grounded.  To remain grounded, all of your joints need to remain relaxed, thus ready to move in any direction.
– Don’t forget to look for Chin Na applications.
– Use 3 points for aligning you body…the top of you head, your dantian, Bubbling Well of both feet.
– Pung is an expansion or ward off, but is much more efficient with a sinking of the diantian.
– Ji is a fullness from your back.
– The flexibility of your kwa influences how efficient your martial applications are.
Thank you again for inviting Shifu Tony & I hope that we will have the opportunity to work with him again.”

-Jodie Allen


“The special class was wonderful. For me, it began to solidify a concept that has been nucleating within me. The true “form” of tai chi is that there is no “form.” We practice various forms but within each movement is a myriad of potentials and possibilities that may or may not be obvious. Everything a is a variation on a theme. I have been playing with this in my riding and I saw this idea in life on Sunday.I do enjoy seeing the martial arts side of tai chi as I feel a more direct relationship to my riding, and I still want to try cannon fist some day. It reminds me of the intensity of what I feel over fences and when galloping cross country.”

-Reed Ayers

“I really enjoyed Shifu Tony’s visit.  Besides finding him inspiringly fit and happy, I feel as though I learned a couple of interesting lessons. 
Firstly, I witnessed some concrete examples of tai chi’s polarity.  These came primarily from the discussion and demonstration of the standing meditation.  Wuji appears to relate to form/technique as internal relates to external, as personal relates to interpersonal and as development relates to use.
The discussion of standing meditation yielded the realization that the meditation is not only about establishing a calm metal state.  It is about alignment, both within one’s own body, and between the body and gravity.  Maybe the most interesting thing about this was how personal it is.  I am responsible for finding my own balance, without being married to the ideal of complete symmetry (i.e. to fit the exercise [and actually, all exercises], to my own physiology).   
Additionally, I was previously unaware of the health benefits of this exercise.  It fits with my realization about polarity in that there is a quiet, preparing state in the meditation that promotes readiness to take action.
Lastly, Shifu’s presentation of the martial aspects of tai chi was pertinent to martial study in general.  I saw analogies between the direction of power in the pole shaking and connection of center to either an object or to another person.  The quiet presence of joint locks in many of the tai chi postures was also very interesting.  I guess I should’ve been expecting to hear him talk about chin na, but it was a lovely surprise!!
Thanks again for inviting such a wonderful guest instructor.  I am excited to get back to learning form, with my new learning in mind!”

-Amy Bauer


“I have been thinking about my experience with the weekend seminar all week and I have many more questions than things I think I learned. I think what I appreciated the most about the weekend is how Tony Sifu expressed so much enthusiasm for Tai Chi as a martial practice. I personally don’t relate to the dichotomy of is Tai Chi a meditation for health or is it a martial art. To me the practices are deeply intertwined. I practice martial arts to deepen my connection with myself, and expand my connection into my environment. I need both the martial and meditative aspects of any particular art and Tai Chi certainly lends itself to this perspective more obviously than most martial arts. I observed this idea very much in Tony Sifu’s practice. He clearly takes a great deal of joy in his practice and expresses that joy through both internal and external power. The founder of Aikido stated the true victory is victory over oneself. I don’t study martial arts in order to develop power over others. It is a tool that I attempt to use to flush out the ways in which I inhibit my own true abilities. Wong Sifu is a wonderful example of someone who emulates this principle and has made it his study.

The idea of wuji is one that I have been thinking about all week. How does one maintain wuji at all times? Should one ever give it up. How can I have wuji when I am not standing up straight? Right now these questions are making me feel very clumsy in my form.

I was also very impressed with the level of control Wong Sifu had developed over his dantien. I would like to explore how the dantien is related to all other types of movement. Especially it’s relationship to developing root. I can’t wait to study more. I only wish we had class 7 days/ week because to be honest, I need the structure to get in that much practice.

Thanks for helping us broaden our training.”

-Colin Bauer


“Right after class I sat in my car and wrote down all the key points that stuck in my head from the class that I really wanted to remember for my daily practice.  I have attached these as a word document, with names of certain acupuncture points added from Tony’s website worksheet.

Thank you so much for putting together this very special workshop!”

-Danny Chalfen


“I had a very good experience with Shifu Tony. A significant thing for me about his visit was to meet someone very dedicated to the Art, someone that studied a lot of theory, spent a lot of time practicing and can experience it on his own body. With all of that, Shifu Tony was sincerely willing to SHARE his knowledge and his own experience with us.  I loved the way he talked about his teachers, with confidence and respect, and all the stories of his learning experiences. That was very inspiring and moving for me. One of the things he said: “no matter what I asked my teacher, he would always say – natural, be natural”.  To relax and not go against a force is something for my life.”

-Graziela Cooper


“I greatly appreciated the experience of such a dynamic and knowledgeable tai chi master. He drew on the same body of material as Laura has been teaching.  Thus his presentation reinforced and deepened her work.  His modesty and humorous approach to tai chi was wonderful.
 I found his teachings on standing meditation and the 捧lu擊按 exercise quite interesting and hope that we can incorporate some of these into our morning routines.”

-Frances Dahlberg


“I enjoyed the whole experience very much; it was both fun and interesting.  Laura has been telling us we should have some outside influence, and after this past weekend I understand why.  Shifu Wong seemed experienced and humble, and his martial perspective helped me to see a lot of the power that Tai Chi Chuan can produce.  He did a shoulder strike and sent me flying back, and since then I have been practicing the shoulder strike a lot.  I have been a little preoccupied with it, and I really like the way it feels when I do it with power.  With my martial art background Shifu Wong helped me to tie in Tai Chi moves with martial application.  I also enjoyed his perspective on the 8 Jin.  Practicing a different way helped me to understand each one a little better and see why we practice the way we do.  The last thing I enjoyed was Shifu Wong’s humor and his stories of how he trained.  That gave me a cultural perspective on the art and it’s master’s, and it was fun to hear.  I would love to learn more from Shifu Wong and I’m thankful Laura invited him.”

-Tony Distasi

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Duality of Tai Chi – Mind and Body Exercise vs. Martial Art – Discussion