My childhood was spent on the North Shore of Auckland, near a beach and a pony club. I spent most of my spare time riding and looking after horses, also swimming and playing on beaches and in the small boats that my father built. My work for almost 40 years has been in the computer industry – starting with Air New Zealand’s computer systems, then working for IBM in NZ, UK and Australia, and since 1985 I’ve mostly run small Australia/NZ subsidiaries for overseas computer software and services companies, one of whom was bought by IBM 2 years ago – so I’m now working for the IBM Software group. I still sail boats, haven’t ridden horses for a long time, race historic racing cars a bit (it’s a family thing), visit art galleries, music, and theatre whenever I can, and cook for family and friends. In the first week of May 2007 I’m moving to Singapore to spend 2 years in IBM’s ASEAN region; I’ll greatly miss Master Ric Lum’s classes and my fellow students, and look forward to re-joining whenever I can.
First I want to say I am very glad to have the opportunity to return to Master Ric’s classes, after leaving Sydney in May 2007 and an absence of more than 5 years from tai chi practice. The first class I rejoined was shortly before the Christmas break; I enjoyed being able to follow others in the class, finding I then started to remember the basic movements of section 1, and I felt tingling in my fingers when I moved through this first section with the class. It was harder when I got home, and found that some of the section 1 sequences which had felt clear when moving with the class, vanished in the short distance from Jubilee Park to my home!
I realised I would need to re-learn the basic movements and that this will take time, but I’ve also learned that the classes provide the path for this, both in ongoing teaching of each component (including from class members Magda, Danya, Neelica and Rodney in past few weeks) and also through participating in the overall Dance surrounded by all of the class members. Now that classes have started again in January my enjoyment of building the form has increased and I’m frequently surprised – such as by feeling my arms ‘floating’ upwards with the class movements. At the end of the last two Saturday classes Master Ric has illustrated some energy flow movements with class members, almost all of whom smile at the effect of this (as I did too, last Saturday.) I am enjoying the journey and am looking forward to continuing this path with Master Ric and his class.
Subject: REPORT.. “Climb ev’ry mountain..
Sunday 14 April was a beautiful clear, calm day and I enjoyed the drive to Wentworth Falls and found Conservation Hut well signposted: a wonderful view and a good start to the day, drinking coffee enjoying drop-away views to the South West; Sifu demonstrating quiet two-arm movement bringing coffee cup to lips felt very ancient and calm.
Highlight of the morning for me was in session 1 in Wilson Park sitting in a circle on the grass with right hand 2 fingers touching the next person: Sifu on my left, his fingers felt very cool, my fingers touching Rodney initially felt quite hot; we were in shade on the grass but the day was warm and light, Sifu built connection with the group and I gradually came almost fully into the present time! I do find it hard to have a still mind, my thoughts are hard to stop from zipping to past and future, but I felt my awareness slow to a gradually expanded awareness of the present, I was aware of the warm sun, cool touch, soft orange light (I was reminded of a comment from Master Ric some years ago: “eternity is now” – with which I agree, but seldom experience!) in the stillness I could feel my heartbeat and my awareness of being part of something greater – I wondered why I wasn’t frightened by this feeling and decided it was because I also felt entirely free to step out of this situation at any time. But I did not want to leave this “present awareness” state, I was very conscious of choosing to stay there. When Sifu stopped I felt very refreshed and calm, and very aware of the lightness and beauty of the autumn trees around us in the park.
I also enjoyed the Charles Darwin track walk in session 2, with streams and bridges and trees and ferns – and I felt lighter than usual when walking up steps following Sifu and the class.
Thanks to Gerry and others for recommendation of pies for lunch at the German bakery, they are very good!
Overall I felt very refreshed and calmed by the day. Sorry I needed to leave at 2pm after session 2 (and missed Rodney’s somersault!)
Thank you, Brenda
Subject: Class 23 March
This morning’s Dance was especially enjoyable for me as it is the first time in the 3 months since re-joining Master Ric’s classes that I was able to participate right through the Dance without becoming distracted by thoughts such as trying to anticipate what was coming next, or wondering how far through a section we were, or concerned that I was making a wrong move (and so on!) …
As usual, I was aware of Master Ric at point, and of the right and left wings (today filled by Tyrone and Magda.) The weather was clear and calm which for me makes it easier to focus attention. I was in the back row, close to the rectangle and diamond positions filled today by Danya and Ray – who are very enjoyable to follow: when I was facing North or West I felt I could float on a cushion of Ray’s chi energy and when I was facing South or West I felt I could follow a string to Danya. Ray’s flow and his surrounding ‘cushion’ of chi felt stabilising especially when my position had moved ahead or behind Master Ric, and Danya’s moves felt strong and precise and coming from his internal energy flow.
I also felt today that Master Ric was happy in the Dance. His chi energy seemed from my position to constantly gather and explode (I grew up in New Zealand and was reminded of the volcanic mud pools and geysers which mesmerized me in my youth!) I wanted to flow with the form, so looked to Ray rather than attempt to synchronise entirely with Master Ric – Ray smiled at times, as he maintained flow but also meshed holistically with Master Ric.
I also enjoyed the Lesson today – with thanks to Danya for his clear demonstration and guidance in Tai Chi stance. Followed by Melissa, Parvati and ChrisII for lesson in splitting out ‘pieces’ (I think I should say ‘Styles’) from Section 1 – providing a timely reminder of earlier Master Ric advice that we cannot practise flow at the same time as we are practising the detailed style of each movement: these are 2 very different modes! I find it extraordinarily challenging to start a move from a stated point within the form (rather than at the start of a Section) and I am convinced of the importance of addressing this aspect in building capability.
Best wishes, Brenda
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2013 18:39:02 +1100
I am very glad to have the opportunity to return to Master Ric’s classes, after leaving Sydney in May 2007 and an absence of more than 5 years from Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan.
The first class I rejoined was shortly before the Christmas break; I enjoyed being able to follow others in the class, finding I then started to remember the basic movements of section 1, and I felt tingling in my fingers when I moved through this first section with the class. It was harder when I got home, and found that some of the section 1 sequences which had felt clear when moving with the class, vanished in the short distance from Jubilee Park to my home!
I realised I would need to re-learn the basic movements and that this will take time, but I’ve also learned that the classes provide the path for this, both in ongoing teaching of each component (including from class members Magda, Danya, Neelica and Rodney in past few weeks) and also through participating in the overall Dance surrounded by all of the class members.
Now that classes have started again in January my enjoyment of building the form has increased and I’m frequently surprised – such as by feeling my arms ‘floating’ upwards with the class movements.
At the end of the last two Saturday classes Master Ric has illustrated some energy flow movements with class members, almost all of whom smile at the effect of this (as I did too, last Saturday.)
I am enjoying the journey and am looking forward to continuing this path with Master Ric and his class.
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 8:58 PM
I love the way birds gather when we are practising Tai Chi Chuan with you, they seem to be drawn to the energy. They mostly come to the front and look at us (though of course at the front is where I mostly see them! I’ve also seen kookaburras on branches looking down on us) and they cock their heads to one side and watch, and draw slowly closer. The dogs approach in a bouncier, more obviously joyful way – and always have, to you, and to many of our class members, before obediently re-joining their walkers. But I enjoy the intensity of the birds. The park (and “our spot”) is such a lovely location for classes.
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 2:45 PM
The first is what you said this morning, which I really like, and found very helpful (as I’m sure you know, I find it difficult to stop my mind from flicking onto other things, but this thought definitely helps!): “Eternity is now. Because Reality is only ever the present moment.”
And here is a note on coming to class straight from a long distance flight:
On Friday evening I flew overnight from Singapore to Sydney, landing about 7.30am. The time difference of 3 hours makes this a very short night but I didn’t sleep anyway as I was surrounded by large and rather bouncy passengers, and as usual these days the flight was completely full. I got home in time to join the Saturday 9am Tai Chi class only a few minutes late, but still vibrating from the flight. Doing Tai Chi with the class, I very quickly felt my body coming back into balance – I was aware of Chi flow, the vibrating feeling disappeared, and I became much more relaxed. I’m sure this balancing effect also helps get back onto local time – I cooked dinner that evening for some family visitors from UK and I stayed awake without effort and slept well that night.
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2006 8:04 PM
Subject: (latest) viewpoint
I am getting a lot of value from your classes, and am especially learning a lot from the format of watching you.. in one specific move or sequence of moves, and then following you – which may be in either just that move, or in a larger section of the Form. It’s not just that I am “seeing” more than before, I also seem to be understanding more of what you are showing, and certainly it feels different for me. I think I am “trusting” more that we can let go while also paying attention to the move we are in – and when I do this during a class section in which we are following you, there is almost always a part where I feel my move is lifted and carried, with a lightness that is just “there” in your group. This also has a very balancing effect on me, which continues well beyond the lesson.
I think I am even hearing your classes differently! I have always been very aware of your ability to describe in words what would not have seemed to me to be describable that way! But I seem to be understanding more what you are saying in terms of how to move (or more likely not move!) – such as last week when you used the phrase “F.W.F.” and of course that did have the effect of commencing a weight shift. And it was as if a door had opened to show a fundamental view of the Form I had been missing until now.
Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2006 5:25 PM
Subject: Paradigm Shift
I do think it is quite difficult for many people who are educated in a “western” system to adapt to what the “west” has sometimes called an “eastern” approach.
A student may not realise that your increased expectation of them only occurs when you know they have in fact progressed to a stage where they CAN move to a higher level. Your students really do look like they are doing Tai Chi, and really do feel Chi flow (which is very different from any other classes I know of!) but to your students that isn’t always apparent that they have developed! And it seems to me that many of your students progress because they also learn to appreciate some of what I called (for want of a better word) an “eastern” approach to learning but that does take some adjusting.
( Persig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” about 1973 called this the “romantic” approach and blamed ancient Greece*** for the more rigid straight-line-logic underlying the “western” approach – anyway he was very aware of the chasm between the two approaches. )
*** Socrates was the great pillar of this “romantic” attitude. ‘Tis blokes like Aristotle who messed things up. – Sifu
And in fact you were significantly more enlightening for me a few weeks ago, when you mentioned that Chinese learning derives far more from observation than typical “western” learning (since which time I feel I have improved in learning from observation – or at least I am much more aware of that!)
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 7:16 AM
Subject: 5_spontaneous awakening of Chi?
I find it hard to put spontaneous Chi into words – thinking about this I see it mainly as “connection” – both within our body and to a wider force. I enjoy learning Tai Chi Chuan, and when I come to class I am conscious of participating in an extension of what I could link to on my own. When participating with the class I sometimes feel the spontaneous flow of Chi and a feeling of lightness as if the Chi is lifting my body and connecting it to the greater Chi flow, to and in which Master Ric is guiding his students.
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: wrenched shoulder
Chi as healer –
I arrived at last week’s “push hands” class with a painful shoulder, having wrenched a muscle during travel three days earlier, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to participate fully in the class. However as we went through the exercises my shoulder pain gradually dissipated, and after about 45 minutes into the lesson, during which I had been very aware of chi flow, my arm movement had become quite free and my shoulder felt almost normal again. Prior to this I’d had a lot of trouble turning, reaching or lifting my left arm, so it was a great relief – and a strong example to me of the power of chi flow.
“It seems to me that Master Ric is offering a true means to learning Tai Chi for those who choose to participate fully in his classes, and who are willing to accept that the approach is necessarily different from learning a typical “western” education or skill. Master Ric’s approach to Tai Chi flows from his own extended studies and high levels of attainment, his experience of how this is achieved, and his calling to pass his knowledge to others – he continues to open new doors and development opportunity at every stage his students reach.”
I have enjoyed Master Ric Lum’s Tai Chi instruction for the past two years, and look forward to continuing to develop under his guidance for years to come. I love working with Tai Chi, partly because it provides such a different approach to life and to energy than our more usual “western” exercise, and because of the way it feels and the perspective it brings. Master Ric develops each student’s abilities gradually, guiding our progress on the basis of a traditional Chinese approach adapted to the context of today’s environment in Sydney! Master Ric is a highly perceptive teacher, he continually identifies the next step for each student’s advancement, and assists us to see, understand, and continue to develop. When I first started Master Ric’s classes, he told me that it would take 7 lessons to feel I was developing – that was true, and I notice that most new students take a similar time to adjust to what for most of us is a very different approach to attention and movement, before starting to demonstrate and feel the advantages. After that, it is really up to each individual to choose whether to stay with Master Ric’s approach of continual development – as for any high level attainment it does require commitment; at times it feels like we’re not progressing as quickly as we’d expect for a more typical educational skill (and sometimes it’s clearer to observe the success of others as they develop in the practice of Tai Chi, than to see that you’re also progressing yourself) – but it brings the rewards which are expressed in Master Ric’s notes.