From our founding in May 2017 to retirement in November 2018, Master Shen Chew and Lee Chew introduced us to Chen Tai Chi. As the ‘Master of Balance’, Master Shen guided our learning of the Chen style basics in iterative layers of detail, so that we developed balance as well understand the fundamentals of the form.
Though trained in other styles, it was in his wisdom that we first improve of our sense of balance and appreciate its significance. Chen style served that purpose, and we would come to learn from Shen and Lee first the “Essential 18 Forms”, and later, some key forms of Chen’s Tai Chi’s Old Frame Routine One.
Both Master Shen and (Sifa) Lee were incredibly agile and flexible– abilities that made us embarrassingly rigid by comparison. Considering their senior years, this was all the more impressive. They provided the best instruction in Tai Chi to date.
While Master Shen could be a somewhat exacting task master at times, he had both an interesting way of blending philosophy with the science behind the movements…and a sense of humour. His manner of pointing out the derivatives of the forms from the martial arts were often delivered with a seriousness that was, whether he intended to or not, carried off with an at-times dramatic if not slightly flamboyant flare. He put smiles on our faces.
Lee Chew, also a certified Tai Chi instructor, was the extra set of eyes, and a good tutor. It can be honestly said that while Master Shen was masterful in his craft (illustrating why he has been a successful competitor in Tai Chi competition events), there was admittedly a noticeable elegance and grace to Lee’s movements across the forms. A couple of us even had the privilege to spectate her more elaborate demonstrations of Tai Chi at a public event: Her performance was outstanding and memorable. (Visit our Archive page for photos and video of some performances).
Shen and Lee exuded an infectious passion for Tai Chi. They were also a dear couple generally, who willingly made the drive to and from Bradford– which, naturally, garnered among the co-founders (at least) a sense of reverence.
With the passing of time comes inevitable change. With all sincerity and deep sentiment, Shen and Lee, who saw our fledgling grassroots group through some of its first growing pains, will always be part of our heritage as a founding community of practice.
We wish them well in their retirement.