About Me

Giving a talk about mindfulness and meditation for Know Your Chicago

From Hardship to Opportunity

Proving the doctors wrong

I was born with extensive spinal fusion and misalignments. I knew I was different in some ways and was in pain most of the time, but I never really thought about it much, since we lived isolated, on a big farm, and my chores still had to get done.

When I was 7, my parents brought me to a series of medical experts. Each one sadly explained that my  severe spine and shoulder issues, along with my compressed lung and enlarged heart, would lead to paralysis within a few years and that the family should prepare for the inevitable: by the time I was 13, I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

The doctors said my only hope was surgery, but, even then, such surgery required me to be immobile in bed for 6 months, with only a 50% success rate and an 80% chance of leaving me in even more pain!

This was devastating news to me. I loved my independence, climbing trees and riding my bike, and chasing the dog/being chased by the dog around the farm. I couldn’t imagine life without this freedom. And I knew I didn’t want the surgery.

I asked my mother if these specialists knew what they were talking about. She said that it was going to be up to me to prove them wrong.

Asking the Universe for answers

At night, because I used to have trouble sleeping, I would often go to my favorite clearing in the woods. Being a kid who didn’t know any better, I started asking the stars what I should do. I listened for the voice of the spirit in the sky, just like I’d heard about in church. I didn’t want to be paralyzed! 

I was young enough to have an open mind and I also knew that whatever answers I would receive wouldn’t be in the form of words. One night, as I relaxed, my body began to sway back and forth. I didn’t fight it. I just assumed it was the spirit in the sky telling me how to move. I came to call these nightly practices my secret moving meditation.

I continued my nighttime practice whenever I could. It made me feel powerful, and these were the times I felt my best. I became stronger and, as the years progressed and I continued my moving meditations, I remained healthy and mobile. The issue of wheelchairs and doctors never came up again.

The fighting years

My family eventually moved to Phoenix. Sadly, because I stood out, the local kids would jump me every day, on my way to and from school.  This meant I had to fight a lot. That was when I discovered that I could easily and instinctively redirect other people’s energies, even with multiple opponents at the same time. 

I didn’t understand what I was doing or how I was doing it, so, in search of answers, I joined the first of many martial arts schools. Unfortunately, after I graduated high school and left for the Navy, I began a period of instigating many bar fights, because I was so good at fighting and it was so much fun. My best friend at the time even wanted to manage me as a street fighter so he could place bets on me!

One night, during one of countless bar fights, I wanted to test a new technique I had heard of, breaking a bone with only two fingers. As was always the case when I fought, everything was in slow motion, and at just the moment when my opponent’s arm was completely extended, I touched my fingers on opposite sides of his elbow. The sounds of the man’s arm breaking was something I will never forget, and it made me sick to my stomach. I realized then that destruction and hurting people was easy and I never wanted to cause that kind of wanton damage again.

Becoming a healer

I still, however, loved the physicality of martial arts, and continued to train in various kinds. Eventually I ended up in a Chinese kung fu school, and it was there, finally, that I discovered that my secret meditations were a form of the ancient self-healing art of qigong (pronounced chee-gong)! 

I devoted myself to studying Chinese martial arts, as well as different forms of qigong, and I became particularly entranced with the martial art of tai chi, or taijichuan. I eventually opened up my own martial arts school, teaching kung fu, self-defense, tai chi, and qigong. 

I also learned that the ancient Chinese whom I studied and admired were not only great fighters, but also great healers. They embodied both the yin and the yang; if they caused damage, they also had to know how to heal it. And that is what brought me to studying acupuncture and Asian and integrative medicine.

The benefits of qigong and real tai chi

Many studies have demonstrated that the earnest and proper practice of tai chi and qigong not only can produce profound physical changes, but also can boost your mental capacities and, by creating new neural pathways, forge new, positive thinking patterns. These mindfulness arts have been proven to reduce stress levels, increase focus, boost energy, and help heal chronic physical problems. 

Qigong is being increasingly recommended in modern medical settings. The ways it works are still unclear, but qigong uses the same energy as famously demonstrated by the Tibetan monks who can raise their temperature at will, reduce or increase their blood flow in specific parts of their body, and drastically slow down their breathing and metabolism. Just as I am able to keep myself healthy and mobile, despite the naysaying of modern doctors, I have also taught my clients how to improve their health in ways that were supposedly impossible.

Traditional tai chi training also offers something very special. The fact that tai chi is actually a fighting art is mostly ignored in America and, sadly, it is taught more like a type of slow-motion dance. While such a practice has its benefits, it dismisses the full power of the art. Martial foundations teach one to function better under mental and physical stress, heighten your reflexes and senses, and improve your capacity for self-knowledge. This transformation ultimately extends to your entire worldview.

My mission

With my wife, Alicia, it has become my joy to spread the knowledge I have accumulated and give others the tools to change their lives. The training I offer transforms lives, both physically and mentally.

I hold an advanced instructor certificate from the American Tai Chi & Qigong Association and am a certified kung fu teacher. I have taught acupuncturists how to focus and deflect their energy in continuing education classes under the State of Arizona Acupuncture Board of Examiners. I am a diplomate in Canonical Chinese Medicine at the Institute of Classics In East Asian Medicine and have earned a certificate in facial rejuvenation acupuncture. I am also in the final year of my doctorate at the Pacific College of Health and Science in Chicago, where I taught meditation and tai chi. 

I provided weekly workshops in kung fu and meditation, pro bono, to the Chicago community for over four years in conjunction with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. I currently give weekly instruction in meditation to the staff at the School of American Pathologists and private instruction in meditation and self-healing techniques, kung fu, tai chi, and self-defense. 

I offer several online course on meditation techniques, as well as some upcoming courses in tai chi. I also have a book in the works about the proven benefits of kung fu and ancient Chinese meditation in combatting the aging process.

I am available for talks and workshops about the power kung fu and tai chi have in slowing down the aging process, both physical and mental, as well as increase mindfulness in the workplace and in daily life. 

For further information, contact me here.