Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bacolod’s Oldest Tai Chi Group will Turn 9 This July 17 Part I: In the Beginning

The oldest existing documented group of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners in Bacolod city and perhaps, the Negros Island, the Tai Chi Circle of Bacolod (TCCB), will be celebrating its 9th year anniversary on July 17, 2009 in Bacolod City.

The schedule for the group’s assembly, however, has yet to be finalized in consideration of the availability of its members, most of whom are career entrepreneurs and professionals with some even coming from Manila.

The first introduction of Tai Chi Chuan in Bacolod and Negros has not been formally researched and recorded but it would be safe to say that the first practitioners of the art in the island were ethnic Chinese since in the early days the Chinese kept to themselves their heritage, including those of their martial and health culture.

It would also be safe to say that these Chinese practitioners came from Fujian Province, Mainland China and spoke the Hokkien dialect as with all other Chinese migrants in the Philippines.

The first known, or popularly known, person to publicly teach Tai Chi Chuan in Bacolod is Pacheco Villaluna Sifu. There were other practitioners of the art, such as Mentong Chua of Wu Style Tai Chi, who studied his craft in Hong Kong, but who didn’t teach the art.

Tai Chi Chuan “Grand Ultimate Fist” later became more popular because of its health benefits, most notably with the establishment of the Wushu Federation of the Philippines (WFP) in the mid 1990s in Binondo. Bacoleña Stella Unson, the daughter of the late Petye Unson, won a medal in the Tai Chi Chuan event in the Sea Games. She was later featured in the front cover of the inaugural issue of the Rapid Journal, the longest running martial arts resource in the Philippines, in 1996. She became the first Bacoleña/o to be given such honor.

Also during the mid 1990s Master Li Jun Feng, National Coach of the People’s Republic of China, came to Bacolod to teach Tai Chi Chuan.

Although there had been many developments in the spread of Tai Chi, there was an absence of a close knit group of practitioners that can be defined as a club, society or association. Not until, Tai Chi Circle of Bacolod (TCCB) was formed on July 17, 2000 by enthusiasts-professionals as a low profile, non-profit group dedicated to the concentrated study of the hundreds of years old Chinese Nei Jia “Internal Family” art of Tai Chi Chuan “Grand Ultimate Fist.”

True to its original objective, TCCB gives free instruction to all those who are interested in the health-based practice of the 24 simplified form, 37 Chen Man-Chin form, and the 108 Yang long form. The 24 posture form is common to all Tai Chi practitioners in Bacolod but the 37 and 108 are only practiced by members of TCCB at least up to this point.

The primary focus of TCCB is to improve one’s quality of life through cultivation of the mind and inner peace, correct breathing, non-impact/non-injurious physical exercise through Tai Chi Chuan, proper diet and health centered lifestyle. Tai Chi was originally founded for fighting and recently modified as a competitive sport but the group’s teacher, Peter John L. Yap, focuses on the health aspect of the art because it is a more pressing concern for the modern society’s stress-intensive lifestyle.

According to Yap Sifu, “I believe more important than fighting is knowing how to defend oneself against elements that will ultimately threaten our lives - illness. The enemy is not only from without but from within.”

TCCB offers Tai Chi lessons for FREE. Training is every MWF 8:00 P.M. at Oceanlight Import and Export, Magsaysay St., Bacolod City. Interested parties may contact Mr. Jose Uy Jr. at 434-7664.

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