It has been a year since Bob passed away and all of his students miss him. His Taichi skills were authentic and very high level. It was a privilege to have known and studied with him. However, we are also incredibly grateful that Bob trained his successor so the his tradition of teaching the entire Yang Style curriculum can continue. And luckily this is available to us in Sonoma County and the Bay Area as well as online.
As my friends and students know, I have been studying T’ai Chi for over 50 years. I hunted for teachers online and in person and I have studied in Europe, on the west and east coasts of the US with very qualified teachers. I have learned 3 styles of Taichi and at least 12 forms, including weapons forms. I have enjoyed all my instruction and learned an incredible amount about how to control my body and promote health and mobility. I had always been told and still believe that it was important to learn the martial aspects of T’ai Chi because those skills are actually important and the solo form is not complete without them. But I can truly say that all my instruction over the last 50 years missed the mark. The martial instructions I received were more long force and hard style based even though they were wrapped in a softer T’ai Chi container. It wasn’t until I found Bob that I discovered what I consider to be authentic T’ai Chi which uses yielding and adherence for both defense and offense. And, finding this I discovered that what I had always been told was true, the martial aspect does really inform the solo form because the solo form is not the entirety of T’ai Chi training. The solo form is part of the overall training in the curriculum and helps cultivate some basic skills that need to be extended into partner work. And knowing this I can understand the solo form is not nearly or even close to the complete Taichi skill set that makes up the marvel known as T’ai Chi.
The full Yang style curriculum was designed by the Yang family as a means to transmit the legendary skills of T’ai Chi as a boxing art. Bob was personally taught by a student of Yang Cheng Fu and he then spent a lifetime refining and developing the art. He would have been the first to tell you that the studying the curriculum is the best way to transmit the art. And in Olesya, Bob’s widow and successor, we have a skilled teacher who has learned the entire curriculum from the best.
I have been fortunate enough to study with Olesya privately over the last year and I can truly say that I have learned more in the last year from her than I had previously learned in the last 50 years with all my training. Now, she has decided to open her school to the public for beginning and experienced students. If you are reading this and you already have some T’ai Chi training and want to learn more you owe it to yourself to check her out. If you are new to T’ai Chi and have some interest in gaining skill in this gentle but powerful art, check her out as well. You can find her at whitecrowtaiji.com. At whitecrowtaiji.com you will see a video of the entire curriculum all the way from the solo form to an advanced Sanshou form. Unlike externally oriented schools that use hardness and force, the learning the Yang style T’ai Chi curriculum requires cooperation. Everyone in the school helps each other learn in a cooperative way. But don’t be fooled, the cooperation leads to real skill on the part of both training partners. All the legendary benefits of Taichi are available and Olesya insists that she and her students enjoy all aspects of the training. The training is physically, intellectually and spiritually challenging but also a lot of fun. We are so fortunate she has decided to stay in the Bay Area and continue Bob’s teaching. This is a real opportunity for anyone who is drawn to explore the beauty and power of this amazing art.