Chu Tai Chi
By Darcy Sender
I am lucky.
I have had fourteen operations in the past 10 years, some of them major, including open heart surgery and a complete re-building of my left foot. I also developed asthma after being downtown on 9/11, and I had Lyme Disease for six years.
Everything I had was correctable or treatable.
As I said, I am lucky.
But I started to feel as if my luck was the left-handed kind.
I never fully recovered from one operation before I needed another. I spent all my time in the OR or at work; all my vacation days were sick days. I could not keep up with my friends.
After I developed asthma, I coughed constantly for a year. When I contracted Lyme Disease, the doctors misdiagnosed it as rheumatoid arthritis — it was not treated properly for several years. It became entrenched and left me with systemic tendonitis. I was in constant pain, always exhausted, and becoming increasingly deconditioned from lack of exercise.
I tried to push through it. I went to the gym and followed a light exercise program. I tried Yoga. Everything made my symptoms flare.
It was stressful.
I started to look for a Tai Chi studio to help me deal with this stress, but I needed to find a program that was physically accessible to me. And I had other requirements. I have an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies and a Masters from Columbia University in East Asian Languages and Cultures, so I am something of a purist when it comes to such things. I wanted authenticity — I wanted to be taught by someone who understood Taoism, even if we never discussed it — and I wanted this person to be intellectually disciplined, not someone who was going to put a Pop Culture spin on a major philosophy.
What were my chances?
Personally, I did not give myself very good odds. Then I found Master Chu and his studio. I was thrilled: this was someone who knew Taoism, someone who was a scientist, and someone who had developed a program called Eternal Spring specifically for people like me. Unbelievable.
I started classes. I just knew this was going to help me manage stress. I also thought that if I could keep it up without aggravating my tendonitis, I would be less debilitated. All true. But I never expected it would give me a way to control the previously unrelenting pain I experience. It does. Talk about unbelievable.
One more thing. I had given up long ago on the idea of making physical progress because every time I picked myself up, I got knocked down. Progress had become an ‘out of the spectrum’ concept for me. My goal was not to lose any more ground.
But after twenty Eternal Spring classes, I was strong enough to take my first real Tai Chi class. Now I am learning the Tai Chi form. My pain is under control and I am no longer too exhausted to take advantage of the life my doctors gave back to me.
How lucky is that? Well, it is, but Master Chu is the person who made that luck for me.
If you have a medical issue, check with your doctor, as I did, before starting, then go for it.
You might have the Chu Tai Chi kind of luck too — it’s amazing!