On our First Saturday Senior Student Seminar last month on June 1st, we were visited by an old friend and student from Tidewater T’ai Chi Club days (1975-1985), “Doc” Savage, his son Aiden and a student of his flying in from Texas, Enero Maura.
It was a happy coincidence that they came the day before our own Hector Morales’ Red Sash rank raising ceremony. The ceremony involved Hector leading seniors thru the entire Wudangshan 108 Taijiquan Form for his very first time, and replacing his Green Sash of Commitment with the Red. After 4 years of training in the 154 posture’s basic rote choreography, he finally begins training in the Art of Taijiquan, and at senior student level! It was pure luck that Doc, Aiden and Enero were able to be in attendance for this important milestone of Hector’s Taijiquan’s training. (This month, on Senior Saturday, July 6th, we repeated a Red Sash Rank raising with senior student Dan Marlow.)
Hector, by the way, had studied Taijiquan before in Puerto Rico, but his training then was focused on Form, without much inclusion of the other two pillars of Taijiquan: Fundamentals and Function, or the “How” and “What” of the particular Form of Taijiquan taught. As our main goal at this beginning stage of training in our school, as most schools, is basic patterns of posture, sequences and sections, or Form’s rote choreography, our work with Fundamentals and Function is also limited, but now Hector’s work with learning and using Form begins! His prior teacher and training were unknowing participants in his Big Test of a moth ago. They laid down more of the groundwork, that we helped finish. Hector did an exemplary job!
It was satisfying and reassuring to hear from Doc that although I too, some 40 years ago, focusing mainly on Form, I still brought to the students’ awareness some inclusion of Fundamentals and Function. These equal partners to Taijiquan Form were important to Doc, who has a Wing Chun school in Florida, since his Wing Chun teacher, Duncan Leong, emphasized them in his teachings and that’s how Doc became my student, to augment his Wing Chun training.
So Doc and I have been friends for a good four decades. We had some excellent excursions to to Omega Institute workshops with Master T.T. Liang, Paul Gallagher assisting, in up State New York. And with hosting Paul, Raymond Haywood, and William C.C. Chen with Laura Stone assisting, in our Tidewater Taijiquan Club in Norfolk, Va. One of our strongest connecting link over the intervening years, however, has been his 18 year old son, Aiden.
Aiden is a quiet, amazing 6 ft 5 inch hulking lovable giant. This was the first time I actually met him although he has called me on every one of my birthdays since he was big enough to hold a phone in both hands to wish me “Sheng Ri Kuaile!” He has made this obligatory annual call because he also was born on our shared birthday and Western Zodiacial sign of Taurus the Bull! It is not that common to know someone sharing your birthdate (right, sister Laura Stone?), and for me at least, it fosters the the creation of a stronger bond with the fellow earth traveler. But adding to the special character of this same-day birthday bond, he was as well born under the same Asian Animal sign of “Year of Snake!”, AND...exactly 60 years apart! He was born exactly on the day I was experiencing the last of my 5 twelve year cycles of Metal Snake!! And y’can’t get any more Holy Tofu than that!!! Knowing this young man as I do, I know he will be calling me on May18th long after I’ve forgotten the name of the nursing home I’m confined to!
This reunion of old and new friends was one of those moments in life that will live in memory as long as the grass grows, rivers flow, and wind blows!!