“Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is continually growing.“
Greetings to my fellow Taiji practitioners and prospective practitioners,
I have tried a few martial arts before but nothing I took very seriously – I was always too lazy and/or weak willed to push through the necessary boundaries in those paths and I didn’t stay with any of them for very long (my new Taiji-influenced perspective now makes me very thankful for this character “flaw” actually…).
My story is, I heard about Ric through my Chinese herbalist who heard through one of his patients that learnt from him (typical Chinese grapevine thing going), and the idea of spending a lifetime in the patient refinement of an art that had no limits has always held appeal, so here I am. That’s about it really, but then again the best things in life often end up being gifts that you never asked for, but were blessed with anyway, aren’t they?
I’ve been doing Tai Chi with Ric and the class since the end of 2005, after my husband and I first noticed Ric in the park from our balcony when we used to live in Glebe. I enjoy being in the park and being part of all the life that goes around – it’s probably the one hour in my week when I take time out to slow down and generally, my mind is clear of most thoughts during Tai Chi. We have also found a special group of people in the regular members of the class. I am now almost 6 months pregnant with our first child and we are looking forward to bringing our baby along to class in the near future.
Dinh’s Tai Chi Diary Entries
*Sent*: Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:34 AM
Subject: *latest viewpoint
*Saturday, 16 December 2006
I was looking forward to Tai Chi today and when we walked to the park there was a nice calm and still feeling in the air. In a small group I went through the movements from where I last left off in section 3 until the end of section 3. I enjoyed it.
When we did the form as a group, during either section 2 or 3, there was a point when a work-related issue came sharply into my mind. I made a very conscious effort to shake it out of my mind including closing my eyes briefly. After that, as I was doing the form for the next minute or two, my arms felt numb. In a way it was as if I felt them more because they felt quite solid but in another way, I felt them less. They felt like a piece of wood floating along a river. Shortly afterwards I sneezed and then for the rest of the form my nose was clogged up so my concentration went towards my stuffy nose and the numbness in my arms was gone.
*Sent*: Sunday, December 17, 2006 2:44 AM
Subject: *Another viewpoint (sorry!)*
My legs have been hurting/aching since we came back from our German trip at the end of September. Initially I noticed it when I was at work ? my legs would tense up and I thought that the stress had gone from my jaw to my legs. At least the tension in my jaw was somewhat less. Then my knees would ache at times when I walked and sometimes I thought they would buckle under me. More recently the pain has moved down my calves although sometimes I can still feel it behind my lower thighs. It now feels more like the muscles are aching rather than the knees. It aches whether I’m walking or not and used to disturb me when I was sleeping at night or resting on the couch.
*Saturday, 28 October*
I haven’t written anything for the last couple of Saturdays. I was using a steroid-based nasal spray since April to control my chronic sinus and it worked like a miracle. I’ve stopped using it since September because it shouldn’t be used for long periods of time. I’ve tried using an antihistamine which isn’t as strong but it doesn’t work. So my sinus is back and it’s hard to do Tai Chi with the sinus.
But this Saturday morning my sinus didn’t irritate me and I enjoyed the class. It was windy at times but when the wind ceased and allowed a warm breeze to settle, it felt calm. I was behind point with Ric being point. The main thing I noticed whilst doing the form was the different pace at which Ric went. Not just the visual difference but during the form and particularly during “Cloud Hands”, it seemed like he was riding with some energy. He seemed quite excited and like he was in his own world.
*Sunday, 8 October*
I had been sleeping a lot this weekend and having early nights. It was easy to wake up today and go to Tai Chi without much effort. Class was good. We did the part of section 3 that I’m up to, in a small group of 3 and then 2. It was easier to pick up the moves than previously, when we practised in a larger group and things seemed faster.
When we did the form today, during section 2 when we did “Sea Bottom Seek Noodle”, we were bending over and I felt a drop of water fall onto the bare skin of my lower spine/tail bone. I thought it was a drop from the tree, then my negative mind thought it must be a bird dropping. It felt incredibly real and I was sure it was bird poo. As we continued the form, I felt it slide a bit down my left side. I was sure everyone could see I had bird poo on the top of my trousers. We went on to do section 3. I wanted to wipe it but knew that if I saw it on my hand, it would stop me from finishing section 3 so I left it alone. The bird poo felt cool and wet especially when it slid down my side. When we finished, the first thing I did was ask Gregor “do I have bird poo on my bum?” He said “no” and I was shocked. I swear I felt it drop. But when I touched my skin it was completely dry. When we told Ric later on he mentioned ‘Kundalini’. I am still stunned that there was nothing on my bum when the physical sensation felt very real and lasted throughout sections 2 and 3.
*Saturday, 7 October*
I was looking forward to class because it felt like a long time since I’d been as I didn’t go last Saturday. I made the mistake of taking my daily antihistamine (nasal spray) before class. On usual days, the drug makes its way into my throat/mouth from the nose and it tastes horrid. This usually passes after a short time. Today it really stayed and seemed worse when we did the form at the end of the class, especially during section 3. It lasted for over an hour, into our coffee break after class. It felt like poison going through my body. All up, section 3 felt very muddled up today and long and tiring, especially with the drug in me.
*Thursday, 28 September*
My 2nd time to Tai Chi class on a weekday morning. Today it was really tough getting up and going to class. I felt very grumpy. We didn’t do section 1 or 2 so section 3 felt very quick and less tiring.
*Monday, 1.15am, 25 September*
Today will be my first day back at work. I woke up during the night and couldn?t go back to sleep. I also remembered something I had wanted to write in my diary on Sunday but forgot. It’s this: on Sunday Ric came to our place. He mentioned that certain foods are good for Tai Chi, one of these being the red bean broth. My mum used to make red and green bean broths and ironically, I’ve had desires in the past year or two to ask mum for the recipe so that I can make this for Gregor as I wanted him to try it?!
*Saturday, 23 September*
It was good seeing the group again after being away on holidays for 2 weeks. When we did the form, it was good to do section 1 and section 2. But I felt tired and impatient during section 3 and felt like I’d had enough of Tai Chi for that morning. My sinus was fine before (during that morning) but during section 3 I felt a bit irritated in the nose.
Nicest thing: when Ric was positioning us for the form, I was directly behind point. Then I heard Ric say “stand behind point” or something like that behind me. When I turned around I saw he was talking to Lionel. I felt something was wrong, with me in between Lionel and point. I gestured to Ric to query whether he wanted me to move. His response was a clear no. I turned facing point and it still felt odd.
Shortly afterwards, Ric asked me and Miranda to move a little to the left so that our mid point was behind point. We did, and there was no longer an obstacle behind Lionel and point, only space. It suddenly felt better, felt right.
*Sent*: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Subject: *Repulse Monkey Feelings
*As I get closer to performing the ?Repulse Monkey? sequence a little
more correctly (little while to go yet); it is really reinforcing the
correct alignment of my waist and entire spinal column, especially up to
‘holding the cross’ and through to the end. If I am not straight my
lower back feels overextended. As well, I feel a constriction through my
neck & shoulder.
Also when Ric talks of….”neither assist, nor resist, but
persist?…..the straightness seems to allow some reflection (complete
calmness in me) and has started to give me a lot more sleep. Further,
the ?turn-in? allows me to sink into the weighted leg. A by-product has
been increased suppleness in my shoulders thus making the posture more
enjoyable & insightful. [I have had injuries in that region before.]
Also the upper neck and sacral areas seem to be connected to one another.
* Update on Push Hands /two person training
*As my feeling of the qi has become a little more layered [with small
amounts of depth], I have come to the realization that two person
training for most individuals is a waste of time, as it is generally
merely application of brute force (?I push-you push?).
Physical force is just too shallow, too stop/start, and too easy to read.
To truly be movement of a subtle texture our internal calmness must
overcome or control the pervasive influence of the external surroundings.
*Sent:* Wednesday, January 25, 2006 5:18 PM
Subject: *A brief memoir
*I began Tai Chi Chuan because I had a spinal problem and needed
something to help me in a holistic way. I started in 1998. The classes
were at Narrabeen, Dee Why and Glebe. I studied up until June 2005 in
the same class.
The experiences were most enjoyable especially when the energy of my
classmates and instructor where positive and we were all keen to work
together to grow with our Tai Chi Chuan.
Some of the results from the previous training included increased
physical & mental stamina, stronger will, ability to know others and
hopefully for others to know me, internal stillness (sung), invest in
loss, two person training was excellent
I also found out about how hard it is to become an instructor (patience
with a student?s learning ability , poor instruction methods , ego,
timing , respect for student?s ability , humbleness , creativity ,
direction , good energy.) These are some words that did not always seem
to be thought about in the last class I attended.
I pondered because my instructor was changing things that he thought
worked better; he is not a master. It seemed to stop/start and had way
too much Qigong; we didn’t flow like other students in the same school
but trained under different instructors. No instruction in the Thirteen
Postures or their meanings, no ‘strategy discussions’ from the Thirteen
Postures. Also the instructor spoke of Tai Chi Chuan as a great way of
looking after oneself, unfortunately he could not disseminate his
technique to the class, which caused great angst to the students on
occasions. Which caused the instructor to question what is wrong with
his students (personally I felt you would look at your instruction
method maybe a little????)
I’ve trained with Ric since June 2005
The benefits that I?ve gained so far are that I am starting to practise
Tai Chi Chuan form, I feel as though open/close are within my grasp ,
don’t overextend , laughter helps and have mind like a child?s. The only
drawback for me (my uncouth side ) is that we haven’t commenced two
person training as I guess those forms allow me not to have to go to a
Gym and when done properly the internal feeling is very humbling, but
Patience is a virtue they say.
Comparison of Old to Ric;
With Ric I have a much better Flow and feel of my energy, internally my
organs feel softer and I feel as though I am moving forward. No stop /
start. Leave your ego at the door when training with Ric. Ric is able to
simplify or I find Ric is able to intricate. That is very helpful as you
move along the winding river.
Before I was with Ric you could feel the egos in the room, not letting
go. Getting too far ahead of themselves until the students had an
understanding of a pattern or technique that they were learning caused
consternation among most students and instructor. Any discussion of Qi
or energy was frowned upon, Too much qigong caused everyone to have a
lot of hollow points throughout their form, no continuation of Flow. Too
much talk not enough action.
What is Tai Chi Chuan????
Tai Chi Chuan is like a sassy woman. Once you have discovered her and
she has touched you with her spirit, you have a lot of trouble breaking
Advice for Newcomers
Turn up for class, respect your instructor and fellow students, listen
and look, expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed. The key is to
‘laugh at oneself’: it’s not that important!
Frau Sieghilde Kirchmayer
Friday, May 20, 2005 9:36 PM
10 years ago I met an Austrian Tai Chi teacher, took a few lessons but decided to stop because I just could not learn the movements from him. After 2 more years I met a Chinese teacher in Salzburg who had newly arrived to teach Tai Chi Chuan. Although I was more successful with him I stopped soon after because I was extremely busy at the time and there was also a feeling of something missing when I practised; I could not feel the energy flow. And 4 years later I met an old Chinese man who gave private lessons in Peking Form, which was quite easy to learn but left me completely unsatisfied. The feeling of emptiness was intense….
When I came back to Sydney last year I started to search for a “real” Tai Chi Teacher until one of my friends saw Ric teaching in the park and told me about a special teacher she had met.
After 7 lessons practising with Ric Lum I felt my energy level rising and my migraine, which had become chronic in recent months, disappearing. Before I had to work with physiotherapists regularly to open my chest and to improve my posture. I had a tendency to pull up my shoulders and all these bad habits….
I am a passionate walker, but during the previous months I had serious problems with blisters on my feet; after just 2 hours of walking, one toe was cramping and pulled inwards and got very painful even after short walks. I had to support it with cotton pads to walk nearly normally. I could not wear my normal shoes anymore; I felt pressure everywhere…Right after the first week of practice the problem was gone. Today I have no problems at all while walking and I now run up staircases quite effortlessly. It felt like slowly but constantly my whole back and hips got relaxed and easier to adjust, and I became aware of my bad posture. Also my regular back pain after sitting or lying down disappeared. More and more I became aware of my body and I experienced a new feeling of satisfaction, fullness and inner peace.
While practising Ric’s very special form of Tai Chi Chuan, a sense of detachment from outside influences takes place. When I go swimming I can adjust better to cold water, a very significant experience of being less sensitive to changing temperature.
Now, after almost 13 weeks of teaching from Ric Lum I feel a lightness in my movements which I could never imagine to gain after such a short time. The teachings happen also on a very subtle level, increasing sensitivity and awareness for my inner progress.
I’m sorry that I have to interrupt the teachings now for 3 months when I go to Europe, but I am looking forward to completing the 108 movements after my return. I ‘m enjoying my daily practice more and more; it feels like a gift, which gets unpacked by and by.
Thank you Ric!
Master John Lee
Choy Li Fut
Southern Praying Mantis
*Sent:* Thursday, February 24, 2005 9:32 AM
*Subject:* John’s Tai Chi feeling
Just written a few sentences of the Chi effects that I felt in
practising Tai Chi today.
Today I was working on “parting the wild horse’s mane”. I began feeling
the chi moving my body to the right place, the circle steps landed in
the right place and my body and arms “flow and sink” on their own. Also
the figure eight chi flow is apparent in my body as I part the mane.
Pretty “Wild” Stuff!
I met Ric Lum Sifu many years ago in one of Chin Woo’s annual X’mas
party and found him to be very interesting and a knowledgeable person.
I’ve trained in Martial Arts since 1973 and also met many elite masters
over the years; Ric Sifu was the only one that got my attention even
though he did not perform a single form at the party. Around Sep, 2001
in Kensington, Sydney, I was teaching some classes in a Catholic school
and during my lunch break, Ric started sharing some of his Tai Chi with
my brother and me under a tall tree on a side walk. The experience of
this gathering has changed my way of viewing Tai Chi Chuan forever.
Ric started to instruct us to relax and sit in a Tai Chi stance, then he
told us to relax our shoulders and drop our arms forward; then in a
couple of seconds later, our arms raised up on their own as they were
carried upward by a pocket of air. My brother and I looked at each other
and thought what the hell was going on??!! We could repeat this action
for many reps, and the sensation was just wonderful. After the lesson,
my brother told me he could see objects far away and with very clear
vision. For myself I was pretty excited just to feel the Chi for the
A few years later I decided to begin some lessons with Ric Sifu, mainly
due to an accident that I had a few months ago, and I was looking for
some form of recovery of my health. Anyway, after a week of learning Tai
Chi from Ric Sifu, I could get the Chi flowing and lifting my arms
again; in fact, one day my right arm lifted up over my head for almost
45 minutes without any effort on my part. ?Pretty amazing stuff?, I told
my brother and my martial art students during a practice session in
Condell Park High School.
During a Gung Fu training session a month ago, I was teaching my
students about some Mantis forms, and after the training session, I was
playing with some moves in Ric’s Tai Chi form. One of my students
Godfrey came over to see what I was practising, and at that moment he
could feel my chi transmitting to him. Godfrey told me he could feel the
cool chi in his palms as I was doing the moves, It was pretty amazing!!!
Another student Tyson also felt this cool chi in his palms as he was
doing the Southern Mantis Sarm Bo Gin form; they both smiled and looked
at me as if I was an amazing person!
After that session, I began to experiment in lifting my students? arms
using this cool chi, and to my surprise I was able to do it. It got
better as I was practising more and more tai chi everyday, and now to a
point that I could feel their arms in the actual lift!! The chi in my
Tai Chi movements is now more and more connecting than ever; by that I
mean I could feel different chi flowing in my movements and also
discovering many of the hidden chi compartments within the form.
As for my Southern Mantis Tong Long and Choy Li Fut Gung Fu, well, I
have to say that I have taken a giant leap forward, by that I mean my
students could see that I have roundness and internal power even within
my linear Mantis forms. As for Choy Li fut, well those low stances feel
effortless to do now. This is one amazing journey of true Tai Chi, and I
must thank Ric for sharing his knowledge with me and my brother Michael.
I have been learning Tai Chi from Ric Lum for about eight months. I have had strange undiagnosed pains in my knees and hands and was consequently unable to do much in the way of exercise previously. When I started Tai Chi I found it hard to do more than the first couple of movements, and am now successfully performing the whole set(108 sequences) – sometimes twice a day – plus walking and generally leading a much more normal life. Quite early on in my learning I found that at the end of practice I would be greeted by a kind of ‘explosion of peace’, this still occurs. I am, according to my wife, much better balanced than when I began the practice, no longer gripped by panic attacks and the feeling of imminent death. This might be a coincidence, but Tai Chi offers a meditative form of movement, which involves the person at all levels and has undoubtedly contributed something to this benefit. I can heartily recommend Ric as a patient, encouraging and complimentary teacher (he is the first person to ever praise any physical activity I’ve engaged in, anyway). The lessons are superficially easy, but there is always more to extract from them.
I have always done some kind of dance or yoga classes but it was my poor health which prompted me to learn Tai Chi from Ric. I was living beside Jubilee Park and would see Ric practising most days. It was clear he was a Master, and it was also clear that I was needing some help for my health as I was coming down with one virus after another. Also being in my mid-forties I was beginning to think about aging. I was inspired by my aunt who had learnt Tai Chi all through her seventies.
I wondered if I would ever have the patience to do such a slow practice as Tai Chi- now I find I love this slowness, so much happens within it. Practising in the park I enjoy not only my own slowing down but the sense that the whole world around me in the park also seems to be in slow motion. I feel on much firmer foundations after my Tai Chi lessons and I try and take moments throughout my days to practise a little more to touch base with the grounding, spaciousness and calm I have found through Tai Chi.
Practising Tai Chi outdoors is very important for me as I love to feel the connection with the earth and the natural surroundings. I also particularly love the way that birds and dogs show up to have a look at what we strange humans are doing.
Learning Tai Chi from Ric Lum over the last four months has been highly enjoyable and very beneficial. I feel much less stressed, my digestion has improved and my energy levels are higher and steadier. I love the spaciousness of the practice along with Ric’s simple yet subtle teaching methods. I always feel I’ve progressed each session and doing Tai Chi alongside Ric is a wonderful experience which clears mind, body and soul. I feel I can look forward to years of learning from Ric; he is a skilled, patient, good-humoured and generous teacher who teaches on many levels at once.
*Sent:* Wednesday, December 21, 2005 7:46 AM
*Subject:* Re Eva
I have been attending classes taught by Master Ric Lum for the last year. Whilst I have always had difficulty learning new things physically, I found the Tai Chi classes brought an unprecedented level of both challenge and reward.
The most notable were experiences of coming to an edge where the mind had NO IDEA where or what the movement was all about. By traversing such areas I found a landing, a support from the flow of Chi, a song that supported every movement.
I started feeling Tai Chi like a piece of music. Whilst practising some sequences, I felt where the connection to the Chi vanished, where the ‘false notes’ were. It did not have so much to do with the execution of the movement as with its connectivity to the Chi flow.
I have enjoyed the Tai Chi classes. The park and the trees have offered an unprecedented level of references, which my physical body had difficulties with.
In gratitude for the teachings
May the Song Be Heard By All
*Sent:* Saturday, June 04, 2005 1:02 PM
*Subject:* Gerry’s experiences.
A few weeks ago during the warm-up, without consciously moving, my arms followed yours, sort of like a puppet on a string.
Today I found that I no longer felt I had to think about what I was doing, but rather it flowed more naturally. It actually felt a lot more comfortable as well.
*Mrs. Linda Cameron, CYPRUS*
*Sent:* Tuesday, March 29, 2005 11:47 PM
*Subject:* Re: DVD Music
I am slowly practising the Tai Chi from the DVD.
I felt my Chi movements immediately in my hands and upper back.
The DVD is beautiful although as a beginner it takes patience to follow all aspects of each move. Patience is a very good facet of my Being to develop.
Happy New Year Ric
Hope your trip was great.
Well your DVD has arrived and I braved the torrential rain to go collect it from school.
Anyway the DVD was a very welcome distraction and I watched it and did not want to stop it as I was entranced with the movements and the feelings it brought to me over all that distance. I felt I was watching a dance between you and a much beloved being, maybe your Higher Self. It is very beautiful to watch. I have not had time to practise yet as very busy this morning so some time today will play with the moves and give you some feedback.
Thank you so much
”I can definitely say that the form of Tai Chi that Ric Lum teaches is beneficial for someone who is not able to do any other exercise. I have not enough breath (damaged lungs) to do aerobic exercise, nor enough muscle power (ME/CFS) for anything more than a short walk, but I can do 35 minutes of this particular Tai Chi and feel more energetic at the end of it. It was fabulous for me to find something that I could actually do with my body that didn’t hurt it more, that was absolutely gentle and non-punishing, and allows me to feel like I am dancing (almost). When I started Tai Chi, 6 months ago, I could do only 5 minutes without muscle pain. I have gradually built that up to 35 minutes. My muscles are still fragile, but they are in much better shape than they were 6 months ago, and I feel more healthy in general. Doing a short round of Tai Chi before bed allows me much deeper, better sleep. Ric Lum has been constantly encouraging, insightful and helpful with his advice over this time.”
-Kathy Rose, Mullumbimby
“I have been doing Tai Chi Chuan with the teacher Ric Lum for 6 months. The benefits from this particular practice of Tai Chi have so far proven to be beneficial in many ways.
When I began Tai Chi I was quite unfit, lacking energy and suffering bouts of depression. Since practising Tai Chi I have felt my overall energies have come into balance and have integrated in a more harmonious and new way.
Through Ric?s guidance and teaching method I have begun to develop a heightened awareness in regards to the positive effects Tai chi has had on the physical body as well as the subtle.
The benefits have included the clearing of negative thinking and the clearing of subtle blockages, becoming one with the flow in a way that makes you feel more energised without over exerting oneself, increased flexibility, muscle relaxation and overall balance.
Six months down the track I can say that Tai Chi classes with Ric have helped me to become more centred in my being, more connected to the flow of things including a newfound enjoyment in mundane activities. It also helps with becoming less reactive angry and I am not as volatile as I used to be. SO whoever is contemplating classes in Tai Chi with Ric Lum just give it a go and prove the benefits for yourself.”
-Amie Zar, Dulwich Hill, Sydney
“I forgot to mention the feeling of immense pleasure and gratitude/deep satisfaction that I feel just after I finish my sessions of Tai Chi. It almost qualifies as a feeling of reverence at what I have been given.”
“Tai Chi put me into such a deep space that it took about half an hour to come back.”
“At night I do one round of section one immediately before bed and find that it increases the depth of my sleep immensely.”
Sent*: Monday, August 03, 2009 11:33 AM
PS: I haven?t really had an opportunity to say it-but my experience with Tai Chi to date has been positive and meaningful–and your relaxed and humorous (but rigorous) approach to teaching the Art, is one I?m enjoying immensely. I must add that the ?Class Culture? (if I can call it that) is highly supportive-I?ve really appreciated that?.