I came to China in 2008 to study kung fu. I was practicing kung fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country, which is home to this beautiful martial art. I visited tourist places, and I also went to Shaolin Temple to see some real kung fu. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same.
I stayed in Yangshuo, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and learned from my kung fu teacher for two years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher part-time and focused on learning a lot of kung fu.
However, after two years, I started to hear more about tai chi and how it helps you cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued and found a good teacher to teach me Chen-style tai chi.
I started to practice tai chi In 2010. I loved the slow, graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique, and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions.
In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach tai chi to expats that I met. Some people wanted to know a bit more about tai chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the "tai chi master," and people were texting me to get information on my teaching schedule.
I am thinking of starting a project to teach tai chi as a lifestyle - the movements, the history and the philosophy.
I never thought I could be a tai chi teacher in China.
When I tell Chinese people that I teach tai chi, the first reaction is almost always, "You are not old!" Apparently, for Chinese people, you have to be old to practice tai chi. I always say, "It's because I don't want to become old that I practice." Tai chi helps balance your body and mind and makes your body stronger and because of that, you will not feel old as quickly.
I find it a shame that many young Chinese people do not want to practice tai chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy - Chinese medicine, arts and martial arts. However, in China they are becoming less and less popular. In the future, will Westerners teach Chinese about their traditional culture?
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.