James Tam

Exploration of Perceptual Aspects of Taijiquan
James Tam Nov 12, 2018 Read more


A BIG thank you to Brennan Toh and John Dahms for organizing the Ottawa-Gatineau Workshop on Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method that just ended yesterday (2023.10.21-22). This is especially BIG, because both are very busy people and we are all very thankful for their willingness to take time out to help us in our training. (Master Chen Zhonghua was unable to make it to Ottawa this year.)
All participants enjoyed and benefitted a lot from the teachings of Brennan Toh, John Dahms, Hugo Cascoduro, and Rick Pietila. The training, instructions, and demonstrations were outstanding — clear, thorough, practical and effective. Words alone cannot express the degree and extent of change such a workshop can impress upon an individual’s progress in learning Taijiquan/Tai Chi Chuan. I learned a lot and was very impressed and motivated in seeing how the instructors have excelled in their training and development, as proved by the depth and details of their teachings and demonstrations. Their generosity and willingness to share their knowledge are commendable. Special thanks to Hugo Cascoduro for driving all the way from Toronto, together with Suzanna Chwang and Jen, to help out with the workshop. As well, thanks to Rick Pietila (who is currently on work assignment in Ottawa), for also teaching and taking care of the photography/videography at the workshop.

At this workshop, one of the many key things that I learned was the meaning of “potential”. We need to increase our “potential” through stretching. Only through stretching do we find our limits; it is not till then can we make a breakthrough, with the unleashing of our full potential — a switchover.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4zJMIsT3xs (Illustration of stored elastic energy unleashed from one state to another)


Rachelle Bergeron, a long-time disciple, host, and organizer of Master Chen Zhonghua workshops in Ottawa, received a special present from her hubby recently — a sword rack that Emile himself made!


Master Chen Zhonghua always amazes me, whether it is at the next workshop (there is always something new and amazing) or looking back — such as in this video captured during a workshop in Ottawa ten years ago… an easy, seemingly simple, and clean bounce:

What do you see in the video?

John Upshaw:  Everything is on a line. He added the right leg to the line…left arm to right leg…

Lou Sacharske: Watch his right shoulder, as he adds the right leg, there is zero deviation to telegraph the execution.

James Tam: I believe the rotation axis is the one joining Shifu’s left shoulder and front foot. And, the stick (effective energy pathway) is from his back foot to Steve’s upper back.

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Peter Wu led a two-day push-hands workshop in Ottawa, November 11 and 12, 1999. It was the fifth workshop of his North American tour. Other workshops that he held were in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, and Winnipeg. In the United States, Atlanta and San Francisco were his other stops. Read more