From the Archives

I am taken to a different place each time I look at this photo. For me personally, I was coming out of the end of a two-year+ illness. Life was utterly bleak during that time, but here, I look strong, if exhausted. As we set up the photo, Master Yan stepped forward to look at my stance, then swiftly kicked my left leg outwards so that my adductors were stretched to the max and I sunk down another couple of inches. Then he resumed his position and I tried to hold the posture and pretend it was easy. I can feel my muscles burning just looking at it.

Master Yan Gen Lai, visiting from China

"One more time!"

This photo was taken in 2007 when Master Yan Gen Lai came to Melbourne as a guest of Celestial Tai Chi College. Master Yan is a 12th generation exponent of Chen Tai Chi, a Tai Chi, Push Hands and Wushu Champion. He spent two months here and taught us a short-form Chen tai chi and a Chen-style Qigong Form. Many of us went to our regular classes and then attended extra classes to learn the tai chi and qigong. It was a very busy and intense time of learning. Made slightly trickier as Master Yan did not speak any English. But we got by with the help of various students who were able to pick up his particular dialect of Cantonese. Towards the end of the two months Master Yan would happily say to us, “one more time, one more time!”

The qigong class was during the day, so my daughter often came with me if I couldn’t find someone to mind her. She was four at the time and kept herself happily amused at the sidelines. Drawing is her thing and she outdid herself with a brilliant portrait of Master Yan. He was so delighted I just wish I could have understood what he was saying.

One more memory from that time was of the retreat. We spent a long weekend in Myrniong, which is a lovely spot out west of Melbourne. It was the end of November and heating up nicely. Which brought out the flies. I don’t think Master Yan had encountered flies before and he was thoroughly amused and distracted by them. Someone pulled out some fly netting which delighted him even more, so naturally we all took mountains of photos. I don’t remember doing a huge amount of tai chi!