Master Michael Lee
My brother John and I attended one of NSW Chin Woo’s annual Christmas parties in Sydney’s Chinatown back in the 90s, and we were fortunate to have sat at the same table as Ric Lum Sifu. During the party, many fine masters displayed various styles of martial arts on stage. When I asked Ric why isn’t he performing tonight, Ric being very humble but humorous (with a smile) said that he’s not up to the high standards and didn’t feel like performing!!! It was very interesting and calming to converse with Ric that night. John and I have kept in close contact with him ever since.
A few years ago, during a profound and valuable conversation with the honourable Lum Sifu in person, being inquisitive (as I started training martial arts at a very young age, CHI “internal gung” in my interpretation feels like a warm sensation that travels through my body at control of own mind/will), I questioned about how the sensation of CHI would feel like from a Tai Chi practitioner’s point of view. Ric didn’t explain much but led us to a tree near the side of a street and showed my brother John and I the starting posture of Tai Chi Stance and instructed us to relax our shoulders and roll them forward; what came after was totally amazing as John and my arms floated up without effort or muscle contraction and with a 90 degree turn of both palms, my arms would slowly descend back to the starting position. After achieving the arm lift for numerous times, I felt revived and my vision became very bright and I was able to see objects clearly into the far distance. It was great feeling CHI for the first time, but regrettably this experience wasn’t enough to broaden my mind to learn Tai Chi Chuan as I devoted most of my free time to other sports.
My brother John had an accident 6 months ago and wanted to practise Tai Chi with Ric to aid his injuries. I volunteered to drive him twice a week to Ric until he could drive again. My first Tai Chi lesson came the same day when Ric kindly invited me to learn with John.
John and I were trying to perfect a Tai Chi hand movement called the “Tiger’s mouth” at the office when John unconsciously emitted a strong cool breeze to my forearm about 10 inches away as I was trying to show him what I thought was the correct way. I didn’t tell John what he had done straight away because I needed to confirm if it was something else, so I turned off the air conditioner and closed all the doors and windows and asked John to try it again, YES, the cool breeze was so apparent this time it felt like a small portable fan was blowing from his palm.
Approximately three months ago, I was in front of a shop with a group of friends when my friend’s neighbour was walking her dog (an Alaskan Malamute “full-grown”). The dog seemed so friendly when it came to me, so I sat down and stroked it a few times when to my surprise, without warning the dog lunged at me. All I heard next was a vicious growl from the dog, loud screams from my friends and all I could see was the dog’s mouth wide open, teeth and two protruding fangs inches from my face. I was trapped in a sitting position with a friend crouched beside me and a glass sliding door behind me. At that moment I instinctively protected my face by palming the dog’s neck with my left hand, but it jerked back sharply and bit into the index and middle fingers of my left hand. At this instance time had almost stood still as I felt the crushing jaw and the sensation of teeth sinking into my fingers; what followed next felt like I was practising very slow Tai Chi with options and plenty of time to handle this situation. I formed a fist to grip it’s fang with my injured left hand to prevent the dog’s teeth from further penetration of my fingers, pulled it’s head towards me and simultaneously circled my right hand over my left and knocked it’s head. It felt like I had only connected with the dog’s head lightly but the dog seemed to retreat rapidly. Afterwards a friend drove me to the nearby medical centre and I told her how disappointed I was that I couldn’t hit the dog hard enough as it had moved too swiftly to teach it a lesson. However, when we got back to the shop, a group of friends who saw the whole event couldn’t believe how quickly I had intercepted, tapped then bounced the dog a metre away. Funnily enough, I had experienced the effect of ‘slow motion’ in a couple of dangerous situations and while training Gung Fu intensely before; the dog attack only lasted a split second or two but definitely felt like 30 seconds of Tai Chi to me.
A month ago, I had a sore lower right back and leg pain from excessive bicycle riding and Mantis Gung Fu training but after a session of Tai Chi with Ric, my leg joint had loosened up and my lower back pain was gone. Strangely these types of pain usually linger on for nearly a week.
Ric is a brilliant teacher with such talent to analyse each individual’s capabilities and apply the relevant or necessary method to harness the correct posture for better understanding of CHI flow in each position of the Tai Chi form. Learning Tai Chi from him is so effortless and joyful that every session is treasured.
Master Michael Lee
Nam Fong Tong Long