Reflections On 40 Years

The Taoist Sanctuary is celebrating its 40th year of existence this year, 2013. Hard to believe! I’ve been a part of the “Sanc” for 20 years this year. This school has become my community, my family, my health. I came here (was brought here, actually) looking for stress reduction, tried a Yang style taiji class, and never left. Since the day I walked through the doors, I have learned the entire system of Chen style taijiquan, learned about Chinese medicine, earned the honorific of Tao Shih, got a job teaching at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, became a disciple of the Chen family, and was awarded a 6th level Duan Wei by the Chinese Wushu Association, and found a husband, not in any particular order.  Now, after 20 years, I can’t imagine myself not a part of this school.

The school has gone through many changes, including storefronts, curriculums, teachers, websites, births, deaths, marriages and divorces, and the student body undulates and regenerates like a snake shedding its skin. Some students have been around for almost the entire 40 years, others just started last term. We have tried to adapt to the times, working the schedule so that it suits all lifestyles, offering both short and long forms to suit any attention span, and lately, bringing in the best and brightest teachers of our generation to continue to elevate the level of our practice. Thank you to Jan Silberstorff, David Gaffney, Davidine Sim, and Stephan Berwick for your fabulous and valuable seminars over the past few years. We depend on you to keep Chen style moving forward.

This new website is part of our continued growth. We have always been lucky to be able to rely on our talented students, past and present, to contribute their significant skills to the technological aspects of our mission. A shout out goes to Stuart Compton, Marni Wahlquist, Gabriel Evanoff, Mike Gillingham, and most recently, Clayton Smith, for their gifts to us.

We want to thank all of our Master teachers, past and present. Masters Abraham Liu, Share K Lew, John Davidson – these were the ones who started it all in the 1970s. Master Zhang Xuexin and George Xu introduced Bill Helm to Chen style taijiquan back in the 1980s. Most of all, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our main teacher, Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, for giving us the gift of Chen style taijiquan, along with the instructions on how to properly live our life. Grandmaster Chen Xiaoxing and Master Chen Ziqiang continue to lead us forward in our quest to improve our taijiquan. Master Ren Guangyi in New York City remains a valuable resource for us, and has generously shared his own taiji family with us, including famed rocker Lou Reed, whom we recently lost and will bid goodbye at a memorial service this December.

Lastly, and most importantly, we want to thank our students, all of them, who have made the Sanc what it is today. The energy of the school is warm and welcoming, generates a sense of family and caring, and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather spend my time. Bill and I both hope to be around for another 40 years, and can’t wait to see where the future will take us on this remarkable journey that is our life.