A History Of Ming Tao T'ai Chi Ch'uan

By Simu Diane Cannon

Traditionally, a T'ai Chi student does not assist teaching in class or teach additional classes until his/her teacher requests them to do so. In the winter of 1990, at the end of one of my private lessons, Sifu Ray told me he wanted me to start teaching T'ai Chi classes on my own.

I was surprised and honored. I had been so focused on training, I was not even thinking about teaching. I felt like I was still learning so much in this art. I had been assisting in classes, and really enjoyed the experience of helping new students learn tools for relaxation, meditation and self defense. But, to lead classes on my own seemed very different. Sifu Ray told me to start small, hold the classes out of my house, and begin to let the classes grow from there.

Due to the trust and respect for Sifu Ray and for T'ai Chi, I assumed he knew what he was doing and began a small class in my basement. Refusing to begin a new path of training in a way that my teacher requested was not an option to me.

The class started with three students and was really fun! We often went way over class time working on specific movements or principles and looked forward to the next time we would meet.

Before long, the class in my basement was beginning to grow. Within the next nine months, I began teaching a class at the YMCA. I was learning how to explain aspects of T'ai Chi that I had integrated within myself, but had not actually discussed with anyone - a very good lesson.

I spoke with Sifu Ray often through this part of my training. He was, and remains, always available and extremely generous with his wisdom and knowledge. As expected, he knew exactly what he was doing. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The more I shared, the more I wanted to know and pass on to others.

Within the next two years, the classes in the basement and the YMCA were going strong and I began a class at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington , Delaware . I was invited to teach day classes in a studio space with one of my former teachers, Alan Tillotson, and one of my classmates of Sifu Ray, Bryan Davis. By 1994, Ming Tao T'ai Chi Ch'uan had begun! Within a year, the DuPont Country Club class started a new group of 45 students! Between the home classes, YMCA classes, Country Club and Studio, I was enjoying T'ai Chi and students in a way I never imagined.

It is now many years later, and I have seen many people change over the years as they practice T'ai Chi. It is an aspect of teaching that remains an inspiration to me. I have witnessed people shift their attitude, change how they hold their bodies, improve their health, gain a better understanding of themselves, even change their jobs and form lasting relationships.

One of the many important lessons I learned early in my T'ai Chi experience, and continues to this day, was not to doubt my teacher. He always seems to have a way of teaching without words, a way of knowing exactly what was good for me to work on and what method would be most successful. It is my hope that I can continue this connection with students as well.

At Ming Tao, I strive to carry on the traditions and principles of the art, the traditions of the teacher-student relationship, and offer an atmosphere that is relaxed and friendly. We play as hard as we train, practicing the Tao.

I thank all students whose paths we have walked together for any amount of time. You have been an inspiration and teacher as well. I am very honored and grateful to be able to continue to experience and share the ancient traditions of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.