Spotlight on:Sifu Calph
"It was love at first sight." That's how Sifu (Chinese for Teaching Master) Calph describes her first experience with tai chi. In 1980, Sifu Calph was a mother of two young children working full time in Virginia supporting a husband in graduate school. Aerobics, cycling, swimming, and other exercise kept her fit, but her life was a whirlwind of schedules, grocery shopping, laundry, and meetings. Husband Ed suggested she sign up for a tai chi class being taught at the local community center.
"I didn't know a thing about tai chi," Sifu Calph says. "But after my first class, I knew I loved it."
What she found so appealing was the balance tai chi brought to her life. "It calmed and centered me in a way I'd never known," she says.
Sifu Calph studied tai chi in Virginia for five years and then for another seven with a Twin Cities school after moving here in 1985. In 1992, she and her husband visited the school of Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong in San Francisco. It changed her life completely.
"I watched him do forms and my mouth fell open," she recalls. "I could see right away that he was a master, that he was in a completely different league from my previous instructors."
After watching her demonstrate everything she knew of tai chi, Grandmaster Wong invited her to study with him. Since then, she has regularly visited his school to receive intensive training, and Grandmaster Wong visits the Twin Cities each year to provide her with personalized instruction.
The year she began training with Grandmaster Wong was also the year Calph opened Chinatown Tai Chi Center in Dinkytown (near the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). Several students from her previous school joined her at Chinatown Tai Chi Center.
The school moved to its current location in the Spring of 2004. It is in a nice, open gymnasium with nearby parking in a safe neighborhood. "I'd like to grow the school, especially to provide more opportunities for advanced classes," she says.
Regardless of where she teaches or practices, Sifu Calph says tai chi will continue to enhance all aspects of her existence. "Whether I'm at work, in a crisis, driving in the car, or whatever, tai chi improves every single part of my day," she says. "It's truly a life art."