Teacher / Student / Sensei
Elliotte Mao is a Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, a Reiki and Qigong practitioner, a consultant and lecturer for Nikken – World’s Leading Total Wellness Research and Development company. She has over 20 years of experience teaching Tai Chi and other health modalities. Inspired by the body, mind and spirit benefits from Tai Chi, she has expanded her classes to all age groups, going beyond the classroom to corporate offices, hospitals, senior centers and television. For classes or more information, please contact her. For information on natural solutions to wellness, visit her website @ www.nikken.com/elliottemao.
Call me Teacher Mao, not SiFu
Occasionally new students will address me as SiFu, Sensei or Master Mao. I quickly remind them to call me Teacher Mao. I am not a Master…yet. I was the assistant to my father Master Chi Ping Peng who studied under notable Master Cheng Man Ching in China.
We taught the exercise for 13 years as the “Father/Daughter Dynamic Duo.” I never expected us to become so bonded and determined to teach Tai Chi Chuan. He was steeped in a patriarchal culture where one does not pass down his trade to a daughter because she will marry and give his secrets to another clan.
Two things led to his change of heart and mind. My dad had five daughters. No sons. And secondly, we both arrived at the same conclusion that this exercise should NOT be kept a ‘secret.’ The Masters Guild in China had warned him to ‘never share the marital arts with the Westerners,” but years of unsuccessful peace talks as a diplomat in Washington DC convinced him that “world peace must come from world health.” He has said to me so many times “When people feel better, they are friendlier, more cooperative. It is that simple.” I know for certain that it applies to me, and it has become my guiding principle.
Master Peng made his transition in 2010. In his remaining hours he said to me “Daughter, as long as there is ONE person who wants to learn Tai Chi, you will teach.” I agreed, thinking it was an easy promise because Tai Chi was NOT a popular exercise in the United States.
To my surprise there has been a steady, growing number of students, spawning 18 classes before the pandemic lockdown. During the pandemic when gyms were closed, teachers furloughed, a handful of diehard students and I set up our homes to do Tai Chi virtually. We have beta-tested Zooms and rooms, confident in the face of uncertainties, that we can continue the wonderful exercise of Tai Chi.
Some students will insist on addressing me as Master Mao because in their words “Master Peng is not here anymore. You are our teacher and you are our Master.” With appreciation and honor for the title, I remain a humble wellness instructor.