The annual Tai Chi Gala in Albany this year celebrated the Year of the Water Snake — and it was an intense weekend of study, learning, reflection and great opportunities to study with some of the most learned and well-known shifus and healers in the nation.
If you are not familiar with the gala, it is a gathering of great Tai Chi instructors enjoying a chance to share their wealth of knowledge. This year's instructors such as Dr John Painter, Shifu William C. Phillips, Master Ken Lo, Master Donald Wong, Sigung Richard Clear and Shifu Shariff Bey — and others.
Credit for this great event rests on the shoulders of Shifu Loretta Wollering and her tireless efforts in organizing the Tai Chi Gala.
The workshops included Qi awareness, flat sword principles, push hands, Tai Chi ruler, freestyle Tai Chi fighting and Hung Ga tendon training. At the end of the weekend there is even a Ba Gua week with Dr. John Painter.
These are just samples of activities from which participants could choose.
The festivities started Friday night with registration, dinner, and kung fu movies played on a big screen.
Saturday begins early with a stretching class or Qi Gong class to get you prepared for the day.
Participants choose from a large selection of classes: there are four time slots, and each offers as many as four different classes.
After dinner, the instructors give demonstrations of their prowess. This is always popular. It starts with a lion dance then proceeds to forms, sword forms — and this year there was even a push hands demonstration.
The Best Western of Albany provided the venue and the menu. The hotel staff was amazing, totally professional and eager to serve. All meals were available at the hotel; unfortunately, the food this year did not match the quality of years past, but we hope it will be back on track next year.
If you want to take a Tai Chi vacation next June, keep an eye on the Tai Chi Gala website for details.
I almost forgot: if you do go, check out the tea ceremony with Master Ken Lo. It's incredible.
Hope to see you there next year.