Jim Roach of Buffalo, NY
is the first certified teacher of Classical Tai Chi
My name is Jim Roach and I started Tai Chi study in 1976. I subsequently studied both Yang and Wu's Style of Tai Chi. I spent much time traveling back and forth to Toronto Canada over the years at least once a week, sometimes more to study with very notable teachers. I had the privilege to study with the Great-grandson of legendary Grandmaster Wu Chien Chuan, and that is Master Wu Kwong Yu (Eddie Wu). In a discipleship ceremony, I was one of the original 14 people to receive that honor. In keeping with his wishes, I gave up studying Karate at that time, even passing up my test for Black Belt.
I became actively engaged in study with Master Stephen Hwa in April of 2003 and was immediately (to paraphrase Master Hwa )"fascinated with the underlying principles that unified Tai Chi's seemingly complex movements." I was thrilled to learn that Grandmaster Young and Master Hwa are an integral part of a direct link to a "golden age" of Tai Chi between the Yang and Wu family that I studied with. I have taught Classical Tai Chi at a number of continuing education programs at colleges and high schools in Western NY. In addition to those classes, I am actively teaching classes in my School at a well-appointed studio location in Tonawanda, NY. I now have 3 of my own students who are certified teachers and Sifus of their own classes. In addition, I started and maintain Facebook social media sites called Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo and Classical Wu Style Tai Chi. Along with that, I write the Classical Tai Chi Blog and Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo website. When I started to study with Master Stephen Hwa I realized how deep this wonderful art is and more than ever I determined that it was indeed my duty to pass it on to future generations.
I may be reached at email@example.com
William Cranstoun - Sacramento, CA
William Cranstoun began studying Chinese movement arts in 1982 with a teacher who taught free qi gong classes in the park in Tucson, Arizona. He also started learning a popular Yang family style, with a feeling that something was missing. The fact that the teacher was constantly traveling and studying with different teachers and then coming back saying something to the effect, "now I’ve got it" did nothing for confidence in him as a teacher. In 1990 he studied Yang style with Chan, Kwok-wah, in Stuttgart, teaching him a large frame form. Bill learned that there was more to tai chi chuan than what he had learned so far.
Through browsing on the internet - Bill discovered Classical Tai Chi four years ago, and has been motivated to practice tai chi like never before. Last year he helped organize a workshop with Master Hwa in Sacramento, California.
Bill has been a Spatial Dynamics teacher, which is an unique approach to Physical Education used in the Waldorf Schools, using games and movement exercises to teach children and adults agility, balance and posture.
At the moment, and mostly in the last 25 years, he has worked in construction, and had to prove the benefits of Classical Tai Chi in his everyday life, as self-defense against stress, succumbing to gravity, and health issues.
Bill states: "Primarily though, through practice we gain an unshakable joy and sense of well-being in life. What can't we manage with that as a foundation? There is a lot of talk of gaining rootedness in Tai chi practice but I would also emphasize lightness and buoyancy, even an enhancement of the sense of humor."
Sifu Cranstoun can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerry Shea - Rochester, NY
Gerry Shea has been a student of Master Stephen Hwa's Tai Chi class at USA Karate at Fairport, NY for approximately eight years. She first became interested in Tai Chi for health reasons. She had constant and relenting lower back pain for two years. She was under a physicians care and had worked with a physical therapist, a chiropractor, as well as an acupuncturist. All had given her some relief but she was still having constant pain in her lower back. After two weeks of taking Tai Chi classes with Master Hwa, her lower back pain disappeared. Ever since, she has been a regular in Master Hwa's classes.
She has been a teaching assistant for Master Hwa for several years. She is a patient and meticulous teacher with a true understanding of the principles of internal discipline in Classical Tai Chi. Students enjoy working with herShe may be reached at:
Ike Schultz - Boston, MA
My name is Ike Kenzo Schultz, born August 4, 1992. I have been a Tai Chi practitioner for about five years. As a young child, I had constant knee problems, which after a year of Tai Chi practice, have since gone away.
I will always believe that Tai Chi greatly improves health as well as improves your own body. Tai Chi shows you the ability to use different muscles inside the abdomen and back. It teaches you to know your body and use it efficiently. I also take Karate and have done Karate since I was four. Last year,. I earned my black belt.
After seeing Master Hwa explain the internal aspect of tai chi to some students of his, I decided that it would be something that I should do to expand my martial arts knowledge.
At the time when I started tai chi, I was ten. At first it was strange to me being in a class with people at least twice my age. But once I began learning with the Classical Tai Chi community, that discomfort was soon long gone. I now know that tai chi is for children as well as adults and I am glad I was able to start young. Tai Chi was so interesting to me, it is such a unique martial art in the way it utilizes the internal muscles in the body and explains how to use them. After regularly doing tai chi for a year, I began to notice the blending of the three martial arts I was practicing at the time. Tai Chi did not only benefit my knees but my Karate as well. Tai Chi is not only for health purposes it also has many martial arts applications that some people do not realize. Because of tai chi I learned to turn and utilize my lower abdomen which transferred into many of Karate's teachings. The internal abdominal muscles are used in Karate in many of its Katas as well as various techniques. The problem is that the way to use your internals is never fully explained or taught through dojo Karate classes. Because I now knew how to use the internals, it became much simpler to execute moves using the abdomen. Tai Chi has helped me with Yamani Ryu, a form of weapons training where the abdomen is used through turning motions and finding the body's center for balance.
Tai Chi has become a part of my life and its training helps with people's health but it is also a martial art that has countless martial arts applications.
Before I left for college, I was assisting Master Hwa in teaching his Classical Tai Chi classes.CONTACT: Ike Schultz may be reached at Berklee College of Music, 168 Massachusetts Ave. Mailbox SB1136, Boston, MA 02115-3693
Adele Stockmaster - Sodus, NY
My name is Adele Stockmaster, I have studied and taught Wu form for many years. My goal is to share with others what Master Hwa has shared with me. I am very honored and blessed to be able to study under Master Hwa. Tai-Chi lessons were a birthday gift from my husband Jim and son Jacob. I always tell them it was the best birthday gift I ever received. I do not see my life without Tai-Chi in it. Tai-chi has enhanced my health and reduced stress. For many years I had lower back and shoulder pain due to an accident in 1985, pain is something I no longer have.
As Master Hwa's teaching assistant for the 4 years in his Tai-Chi studio. I have worked with numerous new students ranging for 10 up to 70 years old. I try to make their first session a positive experience and create a desire to come back for more. My teaching experience has reached outside the Tai-Chi studio. I have taught a six-week course at Macedon Recreation Center. Also held workshops at Macedon Public Library and Macedon Methodist Church. Currently, I am teaching at Phelps NY and have 18 students they are mostly retired male and female students.I enjoy sharing my knowledge and passion with others.
You may contact me at email@example.com
Maurice Burda, South Attleboro, MA
I have been in the martial arts since 1976. I began my journey in the martial arts with Taekwan-Do for about one year with Master Hee il Cho. Then I wanted to become more fluent so I began Yang tai chi with Master Ed Lee for about a year, and about 6 months into the training I discovered Kenpo Karate with Master Nick Cerio for 5 years and earned a 2nd degree Black Belt. During that time, I learned about the Hung Gar, Fut Gar styles and the Wu style of tai chi with Master Lou Wei for 10 years.
I met Grandmaster Gene L. Chicoine and studied Shuaichiao, and Grandmaster Change's tai chi, and became a Disciple and earned a Black Belt. I always tried to train in the pure art so I could learn and teach to the best of my ability.
Then I came across Classical Tai Chi on the internet and it got my attention immediately! I saw Master Hwa go right into Internal movements that is so very important for the complete body connection without any fluff. This is truly what the Great Masters had that made them so powerful and healthy. I began about 4 years ago and I still smile inside thinking about how this is one of the gems that will not be lost or forgotten, it has been put together with nothing missing, so there is no guesswork, truly a complete art.
I teach in South Attleboro, MA, off RT., 10 min. from the Emerald Mall in North Attleboro, MA, near Providence, RI.
Thomas Cobb, M.A. - California and France
T'ai Chi for me began in San Francisco in 1971 with the Chuang Ping form. Students from all over the Bay Area would gather starting at 4:30 AM in Chinatown under the watchful eye of an 82 year old T'ai Chi master. As a young man he had used his Kung-Fu as a guard on wagon trains carrying gold across northern China, he was a hero of WW II and then a legislator in Taiwan for the Kuomintang before retiring to San Francisco. My two years of study in his studio was magical and fascinating, and even though I only learned the 'outside' of the form I was hooked. I was not in the 'inner circle' of his students and although I learned the entire form, the best result I can report is that I had learned to 'wave my arms around'. Two more years with one of his elder students didn't help much to clarify the situation.
So when I found an accomplished teacher of the Wu Style a few years later I was overjoyed to be taught the 'inside' of the T'ai Chi form. I learned the first day that there was nothing mystical about the force generated by T'ai Chi, the power of T'ai Chi is generated by learning how to the connect the body effectively. He had been trained to fight using T'ai Chi in Hong Kong. Through various lineages of the Wu Style I have learned a rounded square form, a round form, free fight and throwing applications, neigung, fixed and moving step push hands and sword, saber and spear weapons forms.
All the while I was training in T'ai Chi I was practicing as a psychotherapist and biofeedback therapist in hospitals, pain clinics and private practice in Northern California. I used my T'ai Chi training in body mechanics, relaxation and awareness training to help my patients recover from chronic pain and functional illnesses. I felt like a physiological anthropologist; I discovered that the ancient T'ai Chi and Qigong masters had learned how to play the autonomic nervous system like a harp. By combining skills learned from T'ai Chi with western scientific instrumentation (Clinical Biofeedback) I could help foster permanent recovery from chronic and debilitating illnesses in my patients.
I then had the great good fortune to discover Master Hwa and the internal discipline he teaches. I knew immediately that what Master Hwa teaches was the missing piece for my training. This advanced internal methodology, passed down from Wu Chien Chuan through Yang Wabu to Master Hwa, was either hidden or missing from every other form of T'ai Chi I had ever seen. It was obviously valuable and powerful for both the martial artist and the healer. I bought the DVDs and spent many hours learning the Classical T'ai Chi round form and then the square form. I was able to study with Master Hwa personally, reviewing the internal principles and every move of the forms. I am very grateful for his training, skill, generosity and patience. I am excited about teaching Classical T'ai Chi and passing it's valuable skills to future generations.
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phyllis Grannis, M.A. - California and France
Early on, as a graphic designer and photographer, I have to say that my fascination with T'ai Chi began with seeing the form in motion. I was captivated by the movements, the sequence and the focus of the practitioner which left me with the question...how can anyone learn all that?
As a licensed psychotherapist and biofeedback therapist, I have trained extensively in relaxation therapy, meditation and pain management. I have found that T'ai Chi literally incorporates many of these concepts and much, much more.
I have been practicing the Wu style form for twenty years. During that time, I have learned the rounded square form, a round form, the sword and spear forms, neigung and various styles of push hands.
After moving to southern France 10 years ago my partner and I started teaching the Wu style rounded square form to students living in surrounding small villages. As a teacher, I learned there is nothing better for improving your own practice than teaching the form to others.
Then I discovered Master Hwa and was thrilled to find someone willing to teach the internal discipline of the Wu style. I bought all the DVDs and taught myself the Classical T'ai Chi internal round form and square form through persistence and Master Hwa's excellent teaching. I then attended his workshop to meet him, flying to New York state from France. I was not disappointed.
Soon after that workshop, I along with my partner, were fortunate to be able to study with Master Hwa in Florida. It was a magical, intense and enthralling experience.
I am grateful and honored to have had that time to study with Master Hwa. Learning internal discipline and the application of the moves in the form gave me a surprising ability to issue force with no effort. My "one inch punch" left my partner amazed at the power I was able to exert even with a cushion between my fist and his stomach! Master Hwa smiled and said, "now you have an emergency weapon". His knowledge, generosity, expertise and clarity made it an experience of a lifetime.
I teach both in California and southern France. My intention is to create more opportunities where I can inspire others in the practice Classical T'ai Chi in both in the U.S. and Europe.
I can be reached at: email@example.com
Michael Fittipaldi, Western New York
I began classes with Master Hwa at Faust's USA Karate in Fairport, NY in the fall of 2006. I was first drawn to the martial art choreography of the form. I enjoyed performing the martial postures without having to worry about the risk of injury from a real fight. Then, upon developing a deeper understanding for the internal movements in the form, I noticed, when applied to other activities such as walking, skiing or playing soccer, I felt stronger yet more efficient. Being a bass player, this is a constant goal. I was always told to use the larger muscles of the back so the smaller muscles of the hand and arm can remain relaxed to achieve the most resonant sound.
As of the summer of 2011, under Sifu Jim Roach's tutelage, I began studying push-hands and a more detailed analysis of how martial arts apply to the form. I would like to thank Master Hwa for allowing my practice of Tai Chi to become a reality. Master Hwa's patient and efficient teaching, combined with his DVD series, book and square form manual, provide me with thorough references to clarify and deepen my understanding of the form and internal discipline.
Michael Fittipaldi can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Kostusiak, Western New York
Prior to discovering Classical Tai Chi in 2005, I studied with Sifu Roach for 20 years. This was when he was a disciple of Wu Kwong Yu, in Toronto. I had been interested in the martial arts, having read my first book on the subject , "Zen Combat," 1971, by Jay Gluck. The book covered many Japanese martial arts and I was particularly fascinated by Aikido and its purely defensive approach to the martial arts. In college I studied Wing Chun and Hung Gar, but I longed for that softer, more internal style, I had only heard and read about
In 1985, I met Sifu Roach, who was teaching Wu Style Tai Chi out of a small tea house in Allentown, a neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. I studied with Sifu Roach for several years before moving away from Buffalo. When I returned to Buffalo, I found Sifu again and studied more. Then again, work took me away from Buffalo. I continued my practice and walked the Tai Chi path alone for several years.
I returned to Buffalo again and in 2005 received a phone call from Sifu Roach. He told me he had been studying with Master Hwa, a student of Young Wabu who had learned from Wu Chien Chuan. He told me that Master Hwa, a retired engineer, had the most complete knowledge of Wu Style Tai Chi. We agreed to meet at our favorite Tai Chi Studio, Delaware Park, and Sifu began to explain to me and demonstrate what he had learned from Master Hwa. It was as if a bright light shined through the years of searching and finally I found what I had been looking for. I have studied and practiced with Sifu Roach and Master Hwa since then, dedicating myself to Classical Tai Chi and feeling fortunate that I can walk this path with such great teachers.
I feel we all walk our own path through life. We sometimes walk alone and sometimes walk with others. I have been walking the Tai Chi path for many years and am fortunate enough to have walked with Sifu Roach several times along this journey. After walking the path for a long time, he introduced me to Master Hwa who was on the path ahead of us. I am humbled by the opportunity to walk with both of them now. I believe over the horizon, Grand master Young Wabu walks ahead of us. In front of him Wu Chien Chuan still walks.
Practicing Classical Tai Chi allows one to live in the springtime of their life. This means not only physically but mentally as well. By constantly leaving oneself open to learning, the form will continuously reveal new lessons. This mind body relationship is what keeps us young.
I may be reached at email@example.com.
Shaun Collins began taking Tai Chi in the summer of 2008 to supplement his martial arts knowledge. Meeting Dr. Hwa at a martial arts picnic, Shaun watched his demonstration on internal energy movement and signed up for his class that week. This began the long, rewarding process of relearning movements he thought he already knew and retraining muscles to work more efficiently and with better structure. All of this came with great help from Dr. Hwa, Gerry Shea, Ike Schultz, and many others of which he is extremely grateful.
Starting the class at a younger age, he was fortunate not to have back or knee pain but was surprised to discover how poor his posture had become from hunching over a desk all day. With that corrected he hopes the future will be just as pain-free as his youth.
Knowing the amount of work and commitment it takes to learn any aspect of Tai Chi, he respects anyone who can set aside the time and begin learning. He currently helps Gerry Shea teach at Faust USA Karate, 6780 Pittsford-Palmyra Rd., Fairport, NY 14450, tel. 585-425-3370.
The health benefits and martial arts aspects of Tai Chi intrigued me for some time prior to beginning formal study. Residing in Western New York, I discovered several options for classes in Buffalo. Understanding the importance of finding a quality teacher when learning a martial art; I explored different possible styles and schools in the area.
Eventually, I came across Classical Tai Chi, with its focus on internal discipline. Intrigued as I was of both the health benefits and the martial arts possibilities as they relate to the art of internal movement, I soon contacted Sifu James Roach, who I have been very fortunate to study under since 2011. Both the instruction provided by Sifu Roach and the incredibly rich DVD series and book Uncovering the Treasure by Master Stephen Hwa have been indispensable to my ongoing studies. To them I am most grateful, as I would have surely never had an opportunity otherwise to learn an art that is so unique and rewarding.
I believe that if one is diligent in their practice, Classical Tai Chi can offer a great many benefits to the mind and body, which one begins to learn are not separate after all. It is this firm belief that motivates me to teach and help others share in the array of benefits offered through its rigorous and rewarding study. It is my hope that my efforts, as both a student and teacher, work as an expression of my ongoing gratitude for the opportunity that was granted to me.
I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anh Le - Buffalo, NY
I've been fascinated with martial arts ever since I was a little kid. Tai Chi was, and still is, the one art that intrigue me the most. Growing up with strict parents, they did not allow me to study martial arts. When I had the opportunity to go on my own, I immediately took classes. The first style I studied was Hung Gar at Mandarin Kung Fu. Although this was great, I knewthat there was something missing in the art. I kept thinking that this is not right for me and there has to be something more. Because of this, I took up many more styles to explore and expose myself to different arts (Southern Praying Mantis, Jeet Kune Do, Boxing, Muay Thai, Karate, and Sanshou). I never settled on any of these arts until I found Wing Chun.
Wing Chun was different. The concept of Wing Chun is not using brute force against brute force—deflection instead of blocking. Not to be greedy and yet not afraid. I studied Wing Chun for about two years and really enjoy learning the art. With a small build, I know I cannot overcome opponents with force. Wing Chun was a good art for me. However, after two years of study I was beginning to think that I was not advancing. I did not understand where power comes from and how to generate power without tensing up. Although I was doing really well in Wing Chun, I decided to give it up and look for Tai Chi.
I found Classical Tai Chi on the web and contacted sifu Roach immediately for class. On day one, Sifu Roach was able to explain the difference between internal and external martial arts (which I had no clear understanding prior to meeting Sifu Roach). He explained how to train and generate power in classical Tai Chi. Sifu Roach clearly explained and demonstrated internal power. I have studied under Sifu Roach ever since and believe classical Tai Chi is the martial art for me. Practicing Tai Chi comes with great health benefits as well. With Master Hwa and Sifu Roach's teaching, I will keep on learning and practicing Classical Tai Chi. The journey never ends.
I may be reached at email@example.com