Sunday, January 3, 2010

Peter Yap Sifu: Tai Chi Chuan’s Silent Sifu By: James U. Sy Jr.

In the past, I had written several news items and articles about the Tai Chi Circle of Bacolod (TCCB), the oldest recorded existing Tai Chi Chuan group in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental (founded: 2000), and the reader’s feedbacks were favorable. The day after one of my articles was published, three people approached the group to join. This is good since the group is focused on promoting the health of its members through the diligent practice of Tai Chi Chuan and what’s more they don’t charge for these lessons.

In another case, a reader who knows me approached me and asked some more information about the background of the group’s teacher, Peter Yap Sifu (Sifu is a familial title used in the Chinese Martial Arts which means “Father Teacher” and refers to the head a school or family). For the benefit of everybody who wants to know more about Mr. Yap, here are some pertinent backgrounders.

Peter John Lloren Yap Yan-Lian (B: 1944) is the eldest among 8 children by Ramon Yap Tian-See, who was from Lam Wah, Fujian, China, and Narcisa Lloren, a Filipina. He had to do hard labor at an early age, being the family’s bread winner. After all the hard work and sacrifices, he started his own business in 1975 in Bacolod City.

Yap started Tai Chi Chuan “Grand Ultimate Fist” relatively late. He used Tai Chi to rehabilitate himself from the wear and tear that was caused by hard labor in his early days. He learned a modified 108 posture form from a local Tai Chi Chuan master in Bacolod.

In 1992, Kung Fu action star and real life Chinese Martial Arts and Chi Kung/Qigong (Energy Skill) Master Li Jun-Feng, was sponsored by Cecil H. Magsaysay to teach Tai Chi Chuan in Bacolod for a month. Master Li was about 54 then. He was the Head coach of the Beijing Wushu Association and Counsel of the Research Committee of Chinese Qigong. He was one of the trainers of the then young 5 times All China Wushu champion and future Kung Fu superstar Jet Li Lian-Jie.

During Master Li’s first visit he taught the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan simplified 24 posture form. The venue of practice was the property owned by the prominent businessman Benjamin “Bebe” Lopue Jr., which is now known as Benjamin Hall along Lacson St.

In 1993, Master Li went back to Bacolod and taught the 42 steps form at the Taoist Temple located at Kamunsil St. at the back of the University of St. La Salle. Enrique Dy Achiaw arranged with another prominent businessman Kaya Uy Se Kay, the owner of the temple, for the Tai Chi practice to be held there. Many had joined practice, among them prominent local martial artists such as Elmer V. Montoyo and Rene F. Cornel. Master Li invited Yap to his apartment for more concentrated training. Yap did daily training under Master Li.

Yap Sifu doesn’t consider himself a martial arts master. For him, learning is a life long pursuit; You only stop learning when you are dead. While it is true that Tai Chi Chuan was developed as a formidable form of martial art, the modern society no longer requires fighting to resolve matters. Tai Chi Chuan as taught in 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. TCCB’s focus is primarily on the teachings of the late Grandmaster Cheng Man-Ching.

TCCB members practice the 24 simplified form, 37 Chen Man-Ching form, and the 108 Yang Style long form. The 24 posture form is common to most, if not all, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners in Bacolod but the 37 and 108 are only practiced by members of TCCB, at least up to this point.

Since the TCCB’s founding in 2000, not less than 70 had already joined. However, most have come and go for one reason or the other. Currently the active members are Atty. Alexander Ang, Charles Atas, Andy Benedicto, Pepe Chiu, Guillermo “Bill” Gomez, Ianna Gomez, Bob Jereza, Pepito Khey, Bing Lim, Humberto “Toti” Lim Jr., Atty. Celedenio Perez Jr., Loubert Saho, Phoebus “Junby” Teruel, Ram Traigo, Jose Uy Jr., and Stephen Young.

TCCB offers Tai Chi Chuan lessons for FREE. Interested parties may contact Mr. Jose uy Jr. at 434-7664.

No comments: