It's really nice having a roving reporter sending articles home! Often people come from other countries to our Academy in Bethnal Green,  so it's nice having one of our own visit elsewhere and report back. This article is by Karen Dabrowski, who is rapidly becoming a regular contributor here. I hope you enjoy her article about her experiences as much as I did:

Tai Chi in Vancouver: It’s better not to speak Mandarin!

Around half the population of Vancouver is Chinese. They have a lot to do with running the economy and seem to own most of the shops. So it is not surprising that in Richmond, an expensive area of concrete and glass where the well-to-do immigrants have settled, most of the member of the Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Academy are Chinese.

Sifus Paul Ng and Sio-lin Vong (a husband and wife) teach three times a week in a modern academy in Jaccombs Road, an area of industrial estates and businesses including a massive Ikea warehouse. A Japanese restaurant is in the same block.

The studio is palatial, with a laminated wooden floor, leather sofas, plants and tasteful prints. Shoes are left downstairs. Most of the students are advanced and the classes focus on the 108 form, the round form, a shorter form devised by Master Eddie Wu and the yang style 24 forms. There are the usual warm up exercises and push hands.

So what happens when a European (Caucasian as the Chinese call him) comes to the academy. There is a genuine warm welcome from the heart and a desire to know about the person and improve their tai chi practice.

Usually the instruction is in Mandarin, so if you do not speak Mandarin, you are privileged to receive individual tuition in English: a private class for the price of group tuition. Master Paul has many words of wisdom. Above all the practice of tai should be relaxing and enjoyable. Like a violin, not like an electric guitar.

Sifu Paul Ng has been practicing and studying martial arts for over forty years. He started learning the Hung-Gar (southern Style) in the late 1960's and in the early 1970's, went on to study My-Jong Law Horn (Northern Style). At that point in time, he became an instructor. In the 1980's, Sifu Paul Ng learned Wu Shu and was chosen to be the first Wu Shu team member (in 1985) to compete in China. Sifu Paul Ng and his students have participated in non-contact, semi-contact and full-contact kick boxing tournaments.

Sifu Paul Ng's various experiences and continuous practice in the martial arts, have made him an expert in reducing his opponent's power in push hands. He also has the ability to use finger pressure to heal with Chi Kung. In certain cases, Sifu Paul Ng is able to heal with remote Chi Kung.

In 1985 his wife Sifu Vong studied the Yang Style and the Chen Style of Tai Chi Chuan In 1995, she studied the Wu Style of Tai Chi Chuan. Sifu Vong also is an International Ballroom Dancer.

The instruction is conducted under the watchful eye of the masters Wu Chien Chuan, Wu Kung Yi and Wu Ta Kwei who gave benevolently from their pictures at the students, as they do in Wu academies throughout the world.

After the class Master Paul asked one of the students to drive me home as it was after 10pm and he was concerned for my safety. It is wonderful to be part of the extended Wu family.