I have spondylolistheses. I have had it for a long time. I was diagnosis in 1992 when back pain finally forced me to see a doctor. I saw many doctors and got little relief. Some recommended surgery but I certainly would not attempt surgery when they could not guarantee that it would work! I learned to live with the pain. I began seeking alternative solutions and I soon discovered Tai Chi.

"Tai chi is a martial art."
"Oh? That's cool."
"Tai chi is good for back pain."
"Hmmm…and it's a martial art you say?"
"Yeah, supreme ultimate boxing."

It didn't take me long to decide to give this a try. Supreme ultimate boxing? Are you kidding me?

I started reading anything and everything that I could find about tai chi or should I say tai chi ch'uan. I visited different schools and began taking classes. Dissatisfied with the quality of instruction I was getting, I continued my search for a teacher. Luckily it was not long before I stumbled upon a website for H. Won Tai Chi Institute. I read the articles on the site and I came away with the impression that sifu Gim was very…sure of himself. He wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade. He talked about power training, which I had never heard about. So I visited the school.

When I arrived at the school I found an eclectic mix of people, young, old, female and male, but I could not immediately spot the teacher. A guy that I thought was in his early thirties greeted me. It was not long before I realized that this was Sifu Gim. From the moment I walked into the modest studio, I felt the difference between this school and all the others that I had visited and attended. Sifu took the time, even while power pushing with a student, to answer my questions. He even gave me a hands on demonstration of true tai chi ch'uan power. I was amazed. I had never seen anything like this before. Here was a teacher that clearly had more knowledge than any that I had ever been in contact with, freely sharing his thoughts with me, a total stranger. In that first visit I learned more about tai chi ch'uan from Sifu Gim than I had at anytime before. My experience with other schools went something like this - Here is our brochure, here is what it costs, and here is when you can come.

I was clear that this teacher was passionate about his art and wanted to share what he knew. There was no air of secrecy or mysticism. Sifu Gim shoots from the hip, he gives you the facts and lets you make up your own mind from the moment you meet him. His confidence/arrogance is justified. The most impressive thing is his willingness to demonstrate his power, rather than relying on rumors and hearsay. I honestly could not tell you if any of my previous teachers had any power because they never felt it necessary to demonstrate. In fact they rarely taught their students themselves leaving that to senior students almost exclusively, which resulted in a lot of inconsistency in the instruction. Their attitude was almost cult-ish, you are just supposed to believe on blind faith or reputation. Sifu on the other hand instructs all his students with the precision of an engineer and unlimited patience. There is nothing arbitrary and nothing is left to interpretation.

I could go on and on about how great my teacher is but if you really want to know just visit him yourself. I have an even more incredible story to tell.

As I mentioned earlier, I have spondylolistheses. This condition has three degrees of severity, grade 1, 2, and 3, with 3 being the most severe. My doctors told me that this condition is not reversible. In other words, you cannot go from a grade 3 to a grade 2. Well that's exactly what has happened with me and I have the x-rays to prove it. Amazing. What is even more amazing is that this is exactly what Sifu said would happen. I have been training with Sifu for a few years now. I have had first hand experience of the profundity of this man and his art form. I am stronger now that I have ever been. My condition is quickly becoming a footnote and I am now beginning to really reap the benefits of this art form and enjoy a better quality of life.