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This article appeared in the Department of Rehabilitation December 2010 Newsletter DORWAYS
Tai Chi Master
DOR Consumer's Martial Arts Technique Impacts DOR Director
Submitted Retired Deputy Director Art Lopez
Mr. Yu Tung Ho sustained a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair. After his injury, Sifu (Master) Ho immigrated to the United States and used his passion for Tai Chi to change his life.
Sitting in his chair day after day, Sifu Ho practiced the slow and deliberate movements of Tai Chi. His mobility was limited to his upper body, but Sifu Ho visualized his lower body moving in tandem, keeping pace, as he played out the form over and over again.
"Tai Chi is not only about physical movement, but about becoming aware of the inner flow of energy. I mentally visualized the energy flowing into the muscles in my legs," recalls Sifu Ho. After three months in his chair, he was able to beginning moving his legs and took his first steps on crutches.
Over the years, Sifu Ho has been able to stop using his crutches and uses a cane now occasionally to maintain balance. He came to the DOR for assistance and made a plan with his counselor to go to school for accounting. He graduated with honors in accounting and worked as a finance manager, before retiring.
Sifu Ho taught Tai Chi for 24 years, and although he was diagnosed with liver cancer, he still managed to make it to teach his classes. His classes at the Fresno Tai Chi Club were free of charge. "I wanted to give back something to the society," said Sifu Ho.
Art Lopez, recently-retired DOR Deputy Director for EPS-North Central, who trained under Sifu Ho, carries on the tradition, while instructing DOR Director Tony Sauer on the Tai Chi art form. Director Sauer used Tai Chi as a means of going into a meditative state and finding his center after a hectic day at the helm of the Department of Rehabilitation.
Where some may have dismissed the idea of practicing any form of martial art, Tony’s attitude of saying yes to life’s challenges and opportunities is perhaps the secret to his fulfilling life.