Going to China was a dream come true for me. We always use that expression to say that something really great has happened. But I’m not using it that way. I’m really saying it was a dream come true! For two reasons: finally to be able to meet Grandmaster Yang Zhenduo and to share this experience with my teachers. They have taught me so many wonderful things and introduced me to the world of Tai Chi.
I began practicing in 2004, and since then I have been discovering Tai Chi and Chinese culture. We read all the stories, like Journey to the West, or The Three Kingdoms, we study the philosophy, Chinese Traditional Medicine and learn about Chinese history. We also have access to so many movies that show us a little bit of China. I have always wondered what would be like to be there, seeing and feeling China, how are the Chinese people, how they behave, the food, people talking Mandarin on the streets, etc. My teachers have told me so many stories about being there. Especially about being in Taiyuan with Master Yang Zhenduo, that everything that I saw and experienced in this China Adventure was great.
It is a long way from Brazil to China, but somehow we were able to take almost 80 Brazilians to this wonderful event. I also had the opportunity to meet with many people from all over the world, celebrating Tai Chi. We did so much: traveling with Master Yang Jun and his family, practicing with him in the early morning, and participating in the Tournament, attending Grandmaster Yang Zhenduo’s 87th birthday celebration and Master Yang Jun’s disciple ceremony, there were so many special occasions!
All the places we went and everything we saw was amazing for me, as a beginner and first timer. Going to Phoenix City was like being in a wonderland, it was such a magical place. Wulingyuan Park reminded me of those old Chinese paintings with the mountains and the rivers. It was a journey that thought me a lot not only about China and it’s culture, but also about human beings and of course, Tai Chi.
In Taiyuan at the tournament, we could watch, learn, and exchange with both westerners and Chinese in an environment that exalted Yang family Tai Chi at every turn. This was my favorite part of the trip. Everyone was so friendly, so enthusiastic about the event and about this art that everybody was practicing, that it made me feel like I was home. I just felt part of it. We spend so much time practicing on our own, and we get so used to practicing in the same places, with the same people. Being in a place with hundreds of people, so many different people, was really a great lesson and a mind-opener. It took my understanding of Tai Chi to another level. We can study and read in books, but the live experience is totally something else.
The opening ceremony presentation and also the closing presentation when we all practiced together was a memory to cherish. It was very moving for me when I realized that Master Yang Zhenduo was watching us. At the opening ceremony I was in the second row, so I could really see him. Although I could not speak to him, or could not see him giving lessons, or practicing, when I saw him there sitting with such dignity, I was very moved. For me, being in the presence of a teacher like Grandmaster Yang Zhenduo was to be in the presence of a great hero.
When I got back to Brazil everything had changed for me. Practicing Tai Chi after these experiences will never be the same. I really have to thank my teachers for making such a great effort to bring Yang family Tai Chi to Brazil. Not only them, but also I must thank everyone that has been working to spread the practice everywhere. It really can enrich people’s lives and open their hearts.