When we have visitors, we try to make them feel comfortable. But sometimes, it’s the visitors who really go out of their way to make this place feel like home.
I met Vivian a few years ago when we both visited the RC. Since then, she’s come back several times for seminars and regular training. She was here during Chinese New Year and like always, she brought bags and a cooler full of food. Not only did she spend hours helping us cook on multiple days, but her cooking was also fantastic. She’s originally from Hong Kong, so she made Chinese New Year food and even brought some decorations to hang up around the main house. I like being festive on holidays and it’s even more important while I’m here because we’re in a kind of Martial Arts Groundhog Day and we don’t celebrate most holidays.
Vivian is in her 40s or 50s and I only mention this because it goes to show that you can train martial arts at any age and enjoy it. She started practicing Taijiquan in 2010 for health and as a hobby and promised to train for at least 10 years to allow her art to mature. She went to Vancouver to take a seminar with Grandmaster Liang, Shou-Yu, who told her about Dr. Yang. She found out about the 10 year program and wanted to visit the Retreat Center, which was only about 5 hours from where she lived. She said her “poor skill” kept her from coming, but she gathered the courage and first visited in the summer of 2012. She mainly practices LiuHeBaFa and Baguazhang, but she also takes Kung Fu classes twice a week to build strength.
I like her spirit. Vivian doesn’t do everything on our schedule (visitors are not required to), but she’ll join us when she can and often does her own training including Bagua walking and her sword sequence. This time, she started learning San Cai Jian (Three Treasures Sword) and wanted to learn Lian Bu Quan (Continuous Stepping Sequence) after watching us practice. Vivian also likes to compete! It’s not a bad thing if you don’t like to compete, but it’s nice to see someone over 40 who likes to go to tournaments. We hope to see each other at the Tiger Claw Elite 2014 in San Jose this May. It’s definitely nice to chat with new friends (who don’t already live here :p) who enjoy martial arts as much as you do.
By the way, it doesn’t matter what skill level you think you’re at. If you come here and want to learn, you’ll leave with more knowledge and experience than when you first arrived.