I absolutely loved the "Light of Life" workshop presented by Christophe Clarke. I am still on "Cloud Nine" from listening to his philosophy of life. What struck me was his passion for life and his belief that each of us can help our ailing planet with our own spirits and deeds. We are all a part of the same whole. He stressed that we should not resist our environment but become a part of it. I am reminding myself of this now when I'm in traffic or in too cold an office. Rather than fight it, I should choose to become part of it.
The Push Hands session was fantastic! I now understand how to use Lift Hands, Rollback, and Fair Lady in push hands. I know that all moves should be executed in push hands just they are in the form! There is a reason for every nuance. A huge difference between executing the moves kind of like the form and exactly like the form.
It was a personal challenge for me to participate in the push hands tournament rather than run out the door in terror. I saw it through and it was fun!
Two days later my legs are still like rubber, and that's a good thing.
Dear Master Gohring:
Thank you so much for inviting Shirfu Christophe to our school. The Light of Life seminar was appropriately named. I originally signed up only for the first day. By the end of the first day there was no way I could not take the second day. I was so exhausted after the first day, and we were mostly listening and thinking. I can't wait to see and hear the taping because I want to revisit the concepts and philosophies we discussed. I did not know that I would hear the answer to a very old philosophical question. Obviously, it's all about the chicken. The chicken came first of course!
I had never learned push hands before but I felt comfortable learning it and working with everyone. I can't wait to learn more push hands and maybe even to compete someday. He spoke with and worked with everyone in the room to make sure we all understood. Everyone was treated as beginners no matter what sash they wore. He pushed us to look deeper within and work harder. The time flew by so fast because I did not want to stop learning from him. The phrase “pain is temporary” applied so well. I did not realize I had muscles in some places until I found all the sore spots. There is no room for the word try in my vocabulary now. It is either do or don't do.
To hear Shirfu Christophe speak and to watch him move was inspiring and spoke to my soul. I felt like he was giving us little sips from the fountain of youth. I wish I had the chance to speak with him more. I felt a reaffirmation that life is good as I realized how much everyone who attended took home from the seminar. I hope that you invite him back again. I also hope that the two of you work together more in the future. It was wonderful to see two powerful personalities work together so smoothly.
As an avid practitoner of Yang style tai chi for several years now, I must say I found Christophe Clarke's workshop very informative in an area of study that I think many tai chi students can benefit from today. That is - how do we truly apply the movements we learn in our tai chi form to the practice of push hands? I look forward to studying this further with Christophe at his next workshop!
Dear Master Gohring:
I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your inviting Christophe Clarke to our school to provide (among other things) instruction in push hands. Despite the fact that push hands makes Tai Chi different from, and superior to, other kinds of Chinese martial arts, it has always been difficult for me – so much so that I would actively avoid it. Christophe presented it in such a gentle rhythmic way that it seemed perfectly natural and undaunting. From these fluid basics he moved on to how push hands can be used to foil an opponent, even one much larger and heavier than the practitioner. It was fun to be able to move (if only slightly) Thomas when practicing the three defensive moves.
The Sunday workshop made me wish that I had been able to attend the Friday evening demonstration and the Saturday session. Like all your students I appreciate that you arrange for external Masters to come and share their expertise with us. They provide additional insights into the world of Tai Chi.
Dear Master Gohring:
Thank you so much for offering this Tai Chi workshop at our school. I honestly am at a loss for words to describe how I feel. I went home after the free demonstration Friday evening and told my wife that the free demonstration, performed by Shirfu Christophe Clarke, was worth the price of the entire workshop. What an amazing evening!
Master Clarke spoke with conviction and clear purpose, weaving Tai Chi principles into the fabric of our everyday lives to show us that the two are inseparable. Ward off, roll back, press and push are not just a sequence of moves ... they are life itself. He said, "The matador does not stand in front of the bull." When you are faced with difficulties you must learn to ward off. He said that Tai Chi is learning how to be pushed. When life pushes ... we ward off ... roll back ... press ... and push.
I am a fairly new student, just a few weeks past graduating to the gold sash, and I was a bit worried that I would be too slow. I saw myself holding back the entire workshop with my lack of experience. But ... the time just seemed to fly past and I was never worried about such things once the workshop began. Master Clarke thanked us for coming ... he praised our efforts ... he took time to recognize everyone in the workshop. It felt good to see folks having fun while working so hard. I mean I still have a smile on my face ... I had a great time!
Thanks again for offering this workshop at your school. I hope you will invite Shirfu Clarke back again when schedules permit. I am sure that everyone attending the workshop feels the same way as I do .. when I realized how gifted a speaker Shirfu Clarke was ... how great a teacher he was ... how entertaining and fun he was ... I also realized how great it was to have a Sifu of like mind and heart.