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Footprints on Fresh Snow - Teaching Tai Chi in Tanzania

Footprints on fresh snow reminded me of when I went to Tanzania to teach Tai Chi wellness for the first time. In America, everybody seems to have heard of Tai Chi in one way, form or fashion. There are countless research materials and articles about the subject. You can Google Tai Chi and get pages of references and images, and you can probably even find a school in your area.

In the rural areas of Tanzania, however, TV and the Internet are not as accessible as they are here in America. The Internet is very slow and intermittent. It felt like I was going back in time. However, all was not lost. When I said Bruce Lee, they knew who I was talking about. When I mentioned Jacky Chan and Jet Li, they got excited. The kids jumped in a karate stance, showing me their best move. I knew I had work to do.

My three foot print on fresh snow moments were: teaching school children some qigong movements, demonstrating various Tai Chi movements and having the great warriors of the Masai tribe participate, and using Tai Chi as an integrative medicine component for a HIV and Health Awareness seminar. For each group that I taught, I was their first exposure to Tai Chi – a first impression, like foot prints on fresh snow. I was elated and scared at the same time. I would be responsible for passing on a generation of knowledge of Tai Chi – a thing not to be taken likely. After I calmed down and settled myself, I was able to get into the moment.

As a teacher, there is nothing like seeing fresh new faces, so eager and energetic. They wanted to learn. They wanted to soak up all the information I had and then some. I knew I was only going to stay for a couple of weeks, so my information had to be concise and condensed, but at the same, provide quality instruction.

In America, I find, we take a lot for granted as Tai Chi students, teachers and wellness educators. But in Tanzania and other parts of the world, there are people that would love to have this knowledge because they see it as gold, a way to help liberate themselves and their families from a lot of suffering. Here, some look at Tai Chi as just simple movements, but for them it is medicine. So the next time you take a step in your form, remember that your knowledge is precious. And one day you may be the one to make footprints on fresh snow.

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