Steve Higgins: How I Came to the CTF

I had been a member of the Taoist Tai Chi Society for about 2 1/2 years and was very disenchanted and feeling burned by the time I left it in 1988.  I was fortunate in being able to connect with some Ontario students of Sam Masich and therefore easily made the transition from Mr. Moy’s style to traditional Yang-style with their help. I joined the CTF around 1990.

About 1989 or ’90 I attended a tournament in Toronto that was sponsored by the CTF and the CCKSF.  There I met sifu Andy James of the Emerge club who suggested CTF membership, a suggestion I subsequently took up at the further urgings of Ed Cooper.  What I did not realize until sometime later was that the CTF at that point was in a state of political crisis which would result in its membership falling from 150+ to single digits!

Originally the organization was largely ethnic Chinese and Toronto-centric. Ed and his wife Marsha rebuilt it, but in a different form and with a different base.  The ongoing crises in the Taoist Tai Chi Society contributed to Ed and Marsha’s success.

At that time, there were a number of clubs and practitioners in Ontario who were leaving the TTCS and were looking for a community of other Tai Chi enthusiasts as well as opportunities for tuition.  The CTF provided both.  We held workshops featuring noted teachers such as Dr. Yang Jwing-ming, Dr. John Painter, sifus Sam Masich, Helen Wu, Li Lairen, Chen Zhongwha and others.

In addition, our CTF’s Annual General Meeting became a popular annual event.  Held in Milton, initially at the Martin St. Public School, it featured friendship demonstrations and workshops. It provided a model for our own Cold Mountain Chinese New Year event in Kitchener. Over the years, various CTF Presidents promoted friendly pushing hands opportunities — a great way to make new friends!

The new organization developed in a very different way from its earlier phase in Toronto.  The clubs that needed support were in more outlying areas in the 519, 905 and 705 area codes.  Their members were largely not ethnic Chinese.  Further, they were not geared as much toward the tournament and Kung Fu ambience as toward health issues.  Bringing these different aspects into harmony with each other became a central concern of the organization and was generously supported by Toronto academies of traditional Taijiquan such as the Emerge and Wu family organizations.

The growth of the CTF in those days was stimulated by the lack of alternatives to the TTCS.  Happily, those alternatives exist today. The entire martial arts and Tai Chi landscape has changed.  The continuing challenge for the CTF is to adapt to these changes and to continue to serve the needs of the Tai Chi community at large.

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