How I began to study taijiquan as a young boy
Study with Professor Yao
My dreams were still about studying with professor Yao one day, so I worked extremely hard. After three months, I was rewarded: Dr. Wu took me to Professor Yao. He lived at 124/20 MaoMing Road, only 15 minutes walk from where I lived, and so, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, I went along to his class after school, where there would be 7 or 8 students.
Professor Yao had many students, and some of them had important positions, like Long YiRen, who was Vice-President of China some time ago. I was only twelve at the time and was afraid of asking anything, so I just listened, and worked very hard. After each class, I could barely walk upstairs to go to bed. And I practised at home every day for about 3 to 4 hours, leaving a pool of sweat on the floor after I had finished.
Professor Yao was a Buddhist. He radiated so much gentleness that just looking at him made you feel happy. He was very precise in using Taiji forces. Whilst he was teaching, he would usually treat people as well.
He would hold his hand above the head or behind the patient's back, and at the same time use his eyes to correct his students' postures. Teaching very often happened through mental transmission. He would also tell very simple stories to explain the Taijiquan techniques and the richness of the underlying philosophy.
To keep me interested he would sometimes perform tricks. One day he put a football in the middle of the room and asked me to pick it up. Easy, I thought, so I went to pick up the ball, but it was so heavy I just could not lift it, not even with all my force. Other students tried too, but none succeeded. The last one to try was a big, strong man, and while he was trying to lift the ball, Professor Yao counted to three. The ball became as light as a feather, and the man just flew backwards with the ball. There were many other games like this, but I do not have the space here to tell them all.
Studying with Professor Yao was extremely enriching, not just in terms of Taijiquan techniques, but in terms of self-development, helping me develop strength of character. I also became very healthy and strong.