Spotlight on:Troy Pongratz
In the summer of 1996, I sought out a Tai Chi school. At that time searching on the web was not an option so I actually used the Yellow Pages. I did not get a good read from the first school I called but I did from China Town Tai Chi. I got such a welcome from Sifu Phyllis Calph that I did not look any further. I had wanted to learn Tai Chi for some time but I lived in Mankato for years prior and there were not too many options available. I studied Judo for a few years but it never became my passion. I wanted to learn Tai Chi as a martial art (Tai Chi Chuan). A good Tai Chi school can be hard to find but a Tai Chi school that teaches push hands and the applications of the forms is even harder.
What I loved and still love about Tai Chi is that it is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. Tai chi is a journey for me, one of constant discovery and learning. It is so rich and complex that it can be studied for a lifetime and there will always be room to grow. It would be foolish to think that one can ever completely "know" all of Tai Chi.
If taken seriously Tai Chi will not only challenge your mind and body it will challenge your very being. If you decide to study Tai Chi long enough you will discover areas of your personality and values that are not as strong as other attributes. If not overcome and addressed these attributes will hold back your development. However, if you dig deep and face the challenges the rewards will be life long and benefit many other aspects of your life.
A Tai Chi school is a special thing. Your fellow students are a big part of learning Tai Chi. Learning by yourself and just following a DVD or searching online will get old fast. The comradery and social aspect of Tai Chi should not be overlooked as a source of richness as well. Respect your fellow students, respect yourself.