October 3, 1999 - Reported by Keoni Everington
The picnic commenced with a group photo of all the participants followed by a photo of all the masters of the various schools represented. Food was soon available to all and the weather was pure San Francisco -- partly cloudy but not too cold or windy.
The demonstrations were kicked-off with a Lion dancing performance by the Tian Long Men School under Sifu Dino Salvatore, complete with firecrackers and musical accompaniment. At a later point in the day's performances, Sifu Salvatore's school also performed some fierce Choy Li Fut.
The Chinese-American Tai Chi and Qigong Association under Sifu George Young performed with grace and ease. One of the group sets showcased an unusual weapon -- the Tai Chi Ring. This group also gave an encore performance as the second to last act of the program.
Shandong Chen-Style Taiji -- Sifu Bill Lee gave a powerful performance. This style is quite unusual and rarely seen outside China. The movements of his hands gave the impression of sharp spears or knives.
Kuo-style Taiji -- Sifu Kimo LePree wowed the crowd with his amazing flexibility and the rare style of Guan Ping Yang shi Taijiquan. In this style of Taiji, all hand movements are performed with a flat palm and widely spread fingers, quite different from Yang style Taiji. Sifu LePree was taught by Master Kuo Lien Yiang (originally from Inner Mongolia, who brought this style to America in 1965.
Jason Liang (Liang Xing Jie) from the Beijing Sports Training College gave a stunning performance of the International Compulsory 52 Chen Style Taiji Form. His stage presence and explosive movements captivated the crowd.
Sifu Michael Chark and Students Mu Lan Hua Ja Quan
Sifu He Mei Hong and students then took the stage to perform Friendship Sword, Taiji Fan, Mu Lan Double Fan. The latter I believe Sifu He Mei Hong can be seen performing in a brief cameo at the end of the current Best Buy commercial on network TV.
Sifu Clarence Lee, Students, and friends Gong Fu
Sifu Jane Yao's school performed the Large Frame Wu Style. Master Yao is a martial arts descendant of Hao Shao Ru, the founder of Large Frame Wu Style. Also, a student of Master Yao's performed a Baguazhang set.
Master Liang Qiang-ya's student Haruwn Wesley demonstrated "Dragon Palm" from Fu Style Baguazhang. Also of note was the performance of Liang Yi which is a mixture of Sun, Wu, Yang, and Chen styles of Tai Chi and Fu Style Baguazhang.
The first free-sparring performance was presented by Sifu Ron Guardino who exhibited the Great Wall Baguazhang Style. It was one of the more colorful and entertaining free sparring performances of the event.
The Abada Capoeira School under Mestranda Marcia Cigarra gave a spectacular demonstration of Capoeira. The troop was quite unique, representing a Brazilian style developed by African slaves. The uniforms were white and each member wore colorful braided belts to signify rank. Another unique feature was the selection of lively African-Brazilian instruments that students played during the performance. The demonstration started with individual feats such as cartwheels and aerial maneuvers. Next were a series of brief free-sparring sessions called Roda that began with basic Capoeira kicks between two students, but as the sessions progressed the speed and the difficulty of their contortions escalated which led to a spectacular finish in which the mestranda and another Capoeirista were sending blindingly fast spin kicks at each other.
Sifu YC Wong has the unique distinction of being a direct martial arts descendant of the legendary Huang Fei Hong. His students gave us the next sparring session, showing Hung Gar in action. After serving as referee for the intense sparring, he gave the crowd a look at Hung Gar Qigong. Even when doing Qigong, Master Wong had a very fierce countenance. As announcer Bill Chin mentioned to the crowd, the style had very obvious self-defense applications.
Sifu Bryant Fong's contingent demonstrated a variety of different styles with multiple sets performed simultaneously. The Tai Chi segment included Guan Bo (a standardized Tai Chi warm up set in Mainland China) Yang, and Chen styles.
The Baguazhang segment included Lianhuanzhang, Tornado Broadsword, Fan, and Fu style Flying Dragon Straight Sword. The Wushu segment included Shaolin broadsword, Tibetan White Crane (fist and staff), and Guan Dao.
Hung Sing Tung MO Ying-Hung Gwoon
Sifu Janet Gee was a real showstopper with her fierce rendition of Choy Li Fut; she really seemed to transform into an enraged tiger or lioness complete with roaring, clawing movements, and an intense facial expression.
Sifu Joyce Ng Mulan Sword of War
The presentation given by the Golden Gate Park Tai Chi Class featured the Yang-style Umbrella. This was one of the more anticipated segments of the show because it was an opportunity to see Yang-style Umbrella practiced in the open. I, for one, had never seen this even during my many trips to China and found it to be very fascinating and practical. Yang-style Umbrella seemed to be a very fun style to learn and yet highly practical in self-defense. The umbrella is such an innocuous accessory!
Bill Chin -- You have got to hand it to the guy; he was both announcer for the entire event and performer in the last show of the day. Bill Chin was also responsible for promoting and producing this year's event, and all the previous Taiji Picnics! Throughout the announcing, he was very knowledgeable about the vast cornucopia of martial arts styles and was familiar with most of the performers. He was able to give insightful and often witty commentary about each participant as they progressed through their respective sets. He also demonstrated a long traditional Yang form of Tai Chi flawlessly. Then he showed that he could put his money where his mouth was and gave a convincing exhibition of martial arts skill in a final free-sparring session. Although he was the last act of the day, the best was saved for last and most of the crowd seemed to acknowledge this by staying to the very end.
We realize we have missed a few performers, and we apologize. Please contact us if you were at the Taiji Picnic and have more information to add!
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