My first encounter with tai chi was in the early ’70s in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I remember being moved by its slow, rhythmic, dance-like motion and was captivated by its beauty. I knew instantly that I had to study this art form. Much to my delight, I soon discovered that hidden within tai chi were both a powerful martial art form and the practice of meditation through movement. When I returned to Ann Arbor, my study of tai chi (Yang style) was initiated with a local, colorful and soft-spoken Volvo mechanic, Bob Thorson, and his teacher, Phil Ho. The opportunity to learn this ancient practice was very exciting to me.
In the late ’90s, back in Ann Arbor, I decided to expand my study and learn other forms of Chinese martial arts. I had heard that Richard Miller was very skilled in martial art forms and, coincidentally, I happened to see him practicing with his group in a park in my neighborhood. I was very impressed, and soon my daughter Ari and I began to study tai chi with him in the Chen style, which is the original and oldest form of tai chi. I have also studied bagua zhang, another Chinese internal martial art, which is fast, crisp, very strengthening and powerful.
My good friend and lawyer, Marty Kriegel, and I have had many discussions about the interface between tai chi, qi gong and yoga. Several years ago, Marty asked me if I’d like to learn a short form of Yang tai chi that he had learned in Hong Kong. In the summer of 2009, I studied and practiced this short form with Marty. It is the form the Chinese government had developed so that the Chinese people would have an exercise option that was shorter and less complex than the longer traditional Yang form.