Transition from Kung Fu and Dim Mak to Tai Chi

Ken Shue, long time student of Golden Lion Academy  Murrumbeena Kung Fu and Tai Chi shows that the transition from kung fu to tai chi is a natural and welcome possibility to keep fit and healthy. Read Ken’s story below.

My Journey from Kung Fu and Dim Mak to Tai Chi

After a recommendation from a fellow workmate, who had started training at Golden Lion Kung Fu, I went along to my first Kung Fu lesson at Murrumbeena in 2011.   Whilst I had dabbled in martial arts as a teenager, recommencing training aged in my early 50’s, was long overdue.  I was seeking to improve my fitness, strength, and flexibility, whilst de-stressing from work. Kung Fu training proved to be the perfect outlet for me.  Sifu Craig Rayner’s training style was a good mix of discipline, and fun, combined with the very welcoming family atmosphere at Golden Lion.  Training with the experienced students, or “older brothers and sisters”, as Sifu Craig called them, was very valuable as they were all very open to helping improve my kung fu techniques and even let me get a few kicks and punches in during sparring. Although I reckon my bruise count was always higher than theirs at the end of each tough session.

I passed my Level 1 grading in mid 2012 and my Level 2 grading in mid 2013.  In addition to gradings, I took part in various workshops such as the Twin Sticks.  As I progressed, alongside the bare hand forms, I also learnt cudgel forms as required to pass gradings. Being able to learn weapons was a major attraction for me having only ever learning bare hands martial arts previously.  Wanting to further expand my knowledge of self defence applications, I spoke to Sifu Craig about starting Dim Mak training with Grandmaster Dr Pier Tsui-Po. While Golden Lion Kung Fu works on technique, power and speed (smooth as silk, hard as iron, fast as lightening), learning Dim Mak added the aspect of “pressure point defence” and under strict application “kill techniques”.  As such it is only taught to more senior students who have covered the basics of kung fu already.  As such I was greatly honoured when I was accepted into Dai Sifu’s classes, which I commenced in early 2015.  At that time I was also working towards my Level 3 Kung Fu grading.

So at this stage I was really enjoying my training twice per week, and I was on track to achieving another step in my level of Kung Fu. Unfortunately an injury threw me off track rather suddenly.  In May 2015 I was at regular Dim Mak training.  While practicing pouncing round-house kicks on pads, my right Achilles tendon literally “popped”, leaving me in a heap on the floor.  In hindsight I remember that just prior to this happening I had been on holiday in Tasmania and had done quite a bit of hiking, including hill climbs. Possibly this had weakened my Achilles in advance and that fateful kick was just the final straw !  The doctors fairly quickly confirmed a full ligament rupture which meant an operation to re-attach the tendon and then after a period on crutches and in a boot, 6 -8 months rehabilitation to learn to walk again !  Needless to say, I had to give up training for a period.

After I got back on my feet, I spent some time traveling overseas before thinking about a possible return to some sort of training. I contemplated re-starting Kung Fu and chatted with Sifu Craig about this. However, from back-packing in Europe over 3 months, I had picked up another injury to my lower back, and was undertaking more rehab at Kieser physio. Considering what my body was telling me, I decided to try some Tai Chi lessons to ease back into regular exercise.  I was rather surprised how difficult it was to perform and control the much slower Tai Chi movements, particularly compared to the focus on speed in Kung Fu.  The emphasis on good balance and leg strength was also great to regain my confidence in my Achilles tendon.

After initially learning Tai Chi 24 form, I progressed to the 40 form, later adding the Tai Sword 42 form and more recently just completing the Li Style form and Yang Style 46 Sabre Routine.  Once again the teaching and guidance of Si Gung Charles, Sifu Darlene, Lincoln and Michelle, and my fellow students, has been most encouraging and a large part of my continued enjoyment of attending classes and pursuing my continued training at Golden Lion.  Tai Chi is seen by many as a form of exercise that can be practiced by young and old, improving strength, balance, flexibility while keeping the mind active, but also meditative. However,  somewhat like Kung Fu and Dim Mak, learning about the martial arts applications of the seemingly slow and graceful moves, is also a major component of understanding the art form.  I know that I am early in my knowledge of really understanding the art of Tai Chi, but each lesson takes me another step closer to understanding beyond the fundamentals.  I am hoping my body will keep up on the journey!  Enjoy.

Ken Shue, Golden Lion Murrumbeena Kung Fu Tai Chi Academy