True Gentleness

by Frederick Gault
Tai Chi Instructor of San Francisco studio
San Francisco, CA  USA

I found Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong's school in the yellow pages. In hindsight maybe this was divine intervention. I had no idea how lucky I was to connect to a teacher with his depth of knowledge. That was seven years ago and I haven't looked back. Right away I fell in love with Tai Chi. It was as if I had been looking for something all my life and just didn't know what it was.

Grandmaster Wong is much more than my teacher. He is the heart of a community of students. I was amazed to see him giving sage advice to small children at the studio. Minutes later he would work with an older student, always taking the time to listen and then work carefully through a movement. What’s more he would do it with a sense of humor. For example; when explaining how I should tie my belt he told the tale of how fighters in ancient China would get the upper hand on their opponent by tugging on their belt making their pants fall down!

Over the years, perhaps slower than most, I began to learn some of the basics. Grandmaster Wong was always there to remind me that we are all passing through history and that it is important for each of us to learn properly and pass the knowledge on to the future. Then a couple of amazing personal transformations happened that showed me the incredible wisdom of my master. I had heard stories of Chi and Jing and the near-mystical power of Tai Chi. Frankly, I didn't really know what to make of it. Then in 1998 I traveled to Southern China with Grandmaster and some other students from The Plum Blossom Federation. During a demonstration in Jian Men City I saw Grandmaster Wong challenge the local Kung Fu students to push him down. First one person, then two and finally a whole crowd of strong young men were trying to push him over. He didn't budge! This was no trick; this was complete mastery of the art. Later we were visiting a Ming Dynasty Gate when a large water buffalo ambled over scattering all of us. Grandmaster just walked over to the gigantic animal, put his hand out in front of its head and stopped it cold. Needless to say I was amazed but more than that I finally saw and understood the power of the art.

A science fiction writer once wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The same can be said of Grandmaster's skills. There is a technology, if you will, of learning how to do Tai Chi and Push Hands properly. But at Grandmaster's level of skill it is indistinguishable from magic! I'm proud to be able to say that my teacher is Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong. I strive to learn from his vast storehouse of knowledge. There is a small engraved stone in the studio that explains why:

Nothing is as gentle as true strength
Nothing is as strong as true gentleness

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