I am happy that my Tai Chi journey includes Shirley Russ, a wonderful member of the team of instructors at Wu Xing Martial Arts. I have been training in Tai Chi for two years now, and I have appreciated Shirley’s awesome knowledge and her patience with students.
Shirley says that she teaches Tai Chi with a “great deal of love and enthusiasm for both Tai Chi and the students of the art.” I could not agree more! Shirley does an excellent job teaching us on Wednesday nights along with Serge, who I will have to tell you more about in the future. Shirley is a thoughtful and modest woman who places her students first. I have learned so much from her; somehow, when you practice Tai Chi, you remember who helped you with specific moves that were more challenging. This is still true today as well.
Shirley has not only studied Tai Chi for 40 years, but she also practices Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Push Hands with just as much passion. Push Hands, by the way, is a two-person form of Tai Chi that we often do in class. We also practice Qi Gong in class often as a warm-up for Tai Chi or else at the end of the set to stretch.
Whenever I see Shirley on a Wednesday evening, I am eager to hear about her morning because she goes to lead a class for students on the Toronto Island. She suggested that I should come with her and I told her that I would attend one of her sessions sometime this summer. I cannot wait!
I asked Shirley her thoughts about her own experience in Tai Chi:
I feel very fortunate that I “stumbled” on Tai Chi, which was a rare and unknown commodity in 1975. I immediately recognized that it was challenging in a way that even the vigorous Western exercises I was doing, were not. So I stuck with it and to it, even though it did not come easily to me at first!
The benefits have been too many to mention – improved balance, a more open body, a greater ability to focus and many beautiful sets to do, like the Sword Set and the Partner Set. I have also met and taught a great many lovely people – Tai Chi seems to attract them! So I’m in it for life.