Tai chi master teaches in South Vancouver

Fu and a student are in sync as they run through their set Oct. 23. Photo by: Taesa Hodel
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Reported by Taesa Hodel

A local tai chi master will spin swords with anyone — from star athletes in the international arena, to the ordinary women who attend her drop-in classes.

Sprina Fu is the only instructor in B.C., and one of few in the world, who teaches Mulan Quan tai chi. It is the only form of wushu, or Chinese kung-fu, developed by a female master, specifically for women.

Fu’s student Ann Lo explained, “it is meant to combine tai chi kung-fu and performance.” with the dancing music it makes the exercise more interesting.”

Where you can go to practice tai chi

Fu teaches drop-in classes every Monday and Tuesday at Sunset Community Centre. Students in her Mulan Quan class on Monday mornings use real double-edged swords.

Fu’s class is open to men and women. Currently, the class consists of three middle-aged women who concentrate on balancing thin, sharp swords and snapping fans while executing a sequence of movements.

A lot of the sequence involves crouching and holding poses in order to build strength. The addition of long swords and loud fans is meant to build confidence, grace, and power.

“When people get old, they fall down very easily because…our muscles degenerate,” said Lo, “so it’s better to practice young.”

Seal of approval

Certified trainer and author Shirley Archer agrees. “A significant amount of research evidence supports tai chi practice for improvement of lower body muscle endurance and balance, both of which are critical to prevent falls,” she wrote in an email. “It has also been proven to boost feelings of well-being and improve quality of life.”

In addition to teaching her small but dedicated community centre class, Fu is vice-president of the Canadian Chinese Health Qigong Organization.

Fu was the coach for China’s national wushu team before she moved to Canada 10 years ago. “The Chinese government looked for people who were very good, starting from when they were very young, and they trained them to represent the country,” Lo translated. “And she was one of them.”

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