Assistant Vice President Teaches Tai Chi to Americans for Two Years

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University [Time]    2012-11-23 11:42:15 

Taiji Quan, the essence of Chinese martial arts, is becoming widely accepted all around the world these years. Serving as the bridge for cultural communication, it enjoys high popularity in countries like the United States. Recently, Dr. Suzanne Droleskey, the Assistant Vice President for Students and International Exchange Affairs of Texas A&M University came all the way from America to attend the Taiji Culture Summit, a part of the Fourth World Taji Quan Health Conference.


Dr. Suzanne Droleskey became fond of Taijin Quan nine years ago. She started to promote Taiji Quan in her university in 2010. During this summit, she listened to the Taiji masters carefully and also presented her interesting experience of teaching Americans Taiji.

It was in a school activity that Suzanne came across some students performing Taiji sword elegantly. She joined these students and exercised to play Taiji Quan under the guidance of an elderly Chinese lady in the garden immediately. Although this Taiji master couldn’t speak English, nor could Suzanne speak Chinese, they communicated effectively through Taiji. After years of industrious practice, Suzanne could exhibit solid abilities in various disciplines of Taiji Quan and Taiji sword skills.

In the year 2010, when Suzanne learned that the Confucius Institute (co-established by the Texas A&M University and the Ocean University of China) planned to offer Taiji Quan course, she volunteered to teach. Thanks to her 9-years’ learning experience, she adopted terms and concepts which were easy for the American trainees to understand so as to explain the profound nature of Taiji. She conducted all the courses in combination with skilled demonstrations and patient instruction. As a result, the trainees, ranging in age from 18 – 85 years old, showed a growing enthusiasm for learning. After a semester of practicing, Suzanne was so pleasant to know that most of her students benefited magnificently from playing Taiji.

“My student, 22-year-old Julius said in his feedback that he enjoys Taiji Quan because it helps him relax his mind. Sylvia, aged 72, suffered from peripheral neuropathy (loss of nerves) in her left foot. After six weeks of Taiji Quan, Sylvia was able to feel her foot again for the first time in several years.” Suzanne said that these evaluations given her many good ideas, and propelled her to advance in teaching.

Suzanne said that there was also an increasing number of people signing up for the course. “Beginning with the Yang-style Taiji 24 form, the course will also be involved with other styles and forms. Due to the fact that enrollment for the summer course was limited, there were still nearly 20 students waiting to join.”

It is obvious that there is a growing interest in Taiji Quan among Americans. Suzanne analyzed that there is a large aging population in America. A group called the “Baby Boomers” who were born between 1946 and 1964 are looking for ways to regain strength, balance and flexibility. Taiji Quan turns out to be an effective tool recommended by U.S. medical professionals, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the U.S. National Safety Council. Also, for American youngsters, Taiji Quan is an appealing option for them because it can be practiced anywhere by anyone of any age, without the limitation of required skills or special equipments. What’s more, the appearance of martial superstars like Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and the wide spread of martial movies like Mulan and Kung Fu Panda have encouraged another generation of U.S. children to become interested in Kong Fu and other martial arts.

However, many martial arts studios exist in U.S. cities and towns only to teach such things as Kong Fu and Karate, there are fewer options to learn Taiji Quan. Also, many college students and other adults can’t always find teachers with enough skills to teach them as some of the martial arts studios in America are focused on children or high school age students, not adults.

“This is a very interesting time for teaching Taiji Quan to Americans.” Suzanne admitted that the need is intense, the interest of U.S. students is growing, but outside large cities, there are not always options for students to learn Taiji Quan.

However, Suzanne showed great confidence for the development of Taiji in America. “U.S. medical professionals are recognizing the important health benefits, and students of Taiji Quan are eager to tell others about it. So I am convinced that the interest will only continue to grow. ”

Based on her abundant experience of teaching Taiji to Americans, Suzanne said that the challenge will be how to meet the demand and encourage the enthusiasm of students who want to learn from a teacher who shares the same classroom with them, instead of speaking from a DVD or an internet video, and who has sufficient expertise to teach students with a variety of experience levels.

Confucius once said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Suzanne said that she hoped to learn from those much wiser than she was and willing to share what she could. Till now, the Confucius Institute partnerships that have been forged between Chinese universities and universities outside China have created a possible way for Taiji Quan to be shared with people all over the world. After this conference, Suzanne would go to Beijing Sport University to further study Taiji Quan. She would make her best endeavors to promote Taiji Quan in America.

By Zhao Xin