I was born in Austin, Minnesota USA in February of 1968. I moved to the neighboring state of Iowa as a child. My early experiences in life set me on my path in martial arts and a career of helping struggling children. I was a homeless orphan at the age of 15. I was fortunate enough to have been taken under the wing of someone who taught me kung fu every morning with no fees…it taught me many life lessons besides the martial aspects; such as commitment to others, commitment to the art, self-discipline, and an overall respect and awe for being a part of something that had a bountiful history, honorable tradition, and rich with culture.
I received a Masters of Social Work degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis Minnesota. I am also a Registered Play Therapist- Supervisor. I have counseled children that struggle with many types of issues for the past 27 years.I currently live in the countryside of Cedar Falls with my wife and two daughters in a restored farm house that was built in the late 1800s. I have an older daughter that graduated from college. I work in Cedar Falls at an Out-Patient Psychiatric Clinic as a Therapist that specializes in working with children and their families.
Personal History with Practical Method
I started learning Chen Style Practical Method under disciple William Krumm in 2005. The first year I learned the “rough chorography” to the . My first workshop with Master Chen Zhonghua was in 2007 in Fairfield, Iowa. My second workshop with Master Chen and first private lesson was in 2008, again in Fairfield Iowa.
Tim Duehring started teaching and mentoring me in 2009. We organized our first of many Midwest Gatherings where we would meet for a weekend to train Practical Method. Most of those that participated in the gathering are now Disciples of Master Chen. During that time I traveled to train with other disciples as well.
My third workshop was in Arkansas. Fellow Iowan, and disciple brother, Levi Sowers drove through a snow storm to get to that workshop that initially prevented others from attending. It was a close, personal and intense training session that lasted close to a week.
In 2012 I flew to New York to attend a Camp in New Jersey, which Michael Calandra hosted Master Chen. Following the camp I went through the ceremony to become Master Chen’s 92 disciple. 3 months later I met Master Chen in Las Vegas, with 3 others, for a weekend to learn and train. I attended another workshop in New York City. Levi Sowers and I have organized 3 workshops in Iowa, which participants from all across North America came to participate. The pre-workshop training was an added bonus. This coming July 2017, Levi and I have organized the ftwo North American Chen Style Practical Method Camps for Master Chen.
I teach a group of kids and a group of adults through my work. I also have a few of private students. I have practiced nearly every day for the past several years. A quote by Grand Master Hong Junsheng that I live by:
Hong Junsheng’s three-character canon, “learning”:
Follow the Rules
Ability has Increased
Midwest Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method History
Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method was first taught in Iowa by John Brown of Fairfield and a little later by William Krumm of Cedar Falls. Mr. Brown hosted Master Chen Zhonghua in 2007 and 2008. During that time, William and the late Paul Hutchenson were disciples of Master Chen that resided in Iowa.
In 2009, Tim Duehring, Levi Sowers and John Upshaw organized the first Midwest Practical Method gathering, which Tim led. They met at Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor Iowa. Following that they met several other times for weekend long training sessions. After Tim moved to Daqingshan, Levi led the gatherings. He held one workshop in Milwaukee Wisconsin that had around 25 participants.
Initially, Tim was the only disciple of Master Chen, which changed as the years passed. Following is a list of individuals of the Midwest group that became disciple of Master Chen Zhonghua:
Name Disciple # Date Location of Ceremony
Levi Sowers 80 3-Feb-11 Bentonville Arkansas
John Upshaw 92 3-Jun-12 New York City
Erwin Ramthun 136 17-Sep-14 New York City
Jeff Clevenger 175 13-Sep-15 Iowa City, Iowa
Chris Dusek 176 13-Sept-14 Iowa City, Iowa
Members of the group have traveled extensively to learn under Master Chen. Locations traveled to include Canada, Bentonville Arkansas, New York City, Las Vegas Nevada, and Pheonix Arizona. Levi studied on Daqingshan for a few weeks as well.
Levi Sowers and John Upshaw have organized 3 Midwest Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method in Iowa that was taught by Master Chen. People came from Canada, Puerto Rico, Texas, Georgia, California, Arkansas, Virginia, and Minnesota to participate. On July 28th of 2017, we organized the first North American Chen Style Taijiquan Training Camp with Master Chen Zhonghua. Participants are signed up will travel from all across North America. The Second North American Chen Style Taijiquan Training Camp is scheduled for July 25th 2018.