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Southbanker

06 Jun 2017

Southbanker Image

By Sean Car and Eleanor Long

As well as having been a consistent contributor to the Southbank community for many years, local tai chi instructor Prof Sun Han Xiang (Lily) has led a decorated life to date.

Having instructed the Wulong Tai Chi class in Southbank for the past five years, Lily continues to share her passion for the ancient Chinese martial art with the local community.

It’s a gift she has been honing since the age of five, when she was first introduced to tai chi by her prep teacher in China. It quickly became a significant part of her life and within a couple of years she was competing and winning medals.

“I started with basic exercises and then moved to the wushu martial arts and that included foundation training for all the different forms at a very young age,” she said. “In the local cities competition I got my first gold medal there when I was eight years old.”

However, Lily’s athletic abilities have also encompassed other skills. At the age of eight, she was selected to train professionally in a prestigious diving school where she completed a rigorous daily training regime.

While the possibility of national competitions lay ahead, a bruising encounter in the diving pool led Lily and her mother to reconsider her future.

As the Cultural Revolution came to an end in China in 1976 a more open educational environment became possible. With her exceptional talent in tai chi, Lily was chosen to join a national wushu-training program. Wushu is the general term for Chinese martial arts, with tai chi being one form.

She soon extended her repertoire to other forms, attaining national championship performances with both sword and spear. At just 14 years of age, she was admitted to the sports department of Wuhan University in Central China, majoring in wushu.

At the age of 20 she became a professional teacher covering a broad range of tai chi skill and health qigong exercises. Since turning professional, she said he had never looked back.

“In 2002, I moved to Melbourne and my English was very bad so I couldn’t teach straight away. I studied English at RMIT University for four years,” she said.  

“After that I found a job teaching an advanced class at Melbourne University and I have been teaching ever since.”

Lily is a personal, living testimony to her advocacy of tai chi and the benefits of its practice. In 2016, she was awarded a Chinese Wushu Association 8th Duan in Wushu (9th Duan being the highest) at competitions in Beijing. She also recently became a grandmother to Oscar, who was born in Melbourne.

Lily is a strong advocate for the health benefits of doing tai chi regularly. She contends that engaging in these gentle exercises can enhance all energy levels, balance, flexibility, muscle strength and sense of wellbeing.

She encouraged locals of any age to come along and sample her Wulong Tai Chi sessions, which take place for one hour at the Boyd Community Hub every Friday morning.

“The ladies that have been coming here to Boyd have come such a long way. Their bodies have changed and they’re much fitter than before. You can see just how much better their posture is,” she said.

Wulong Tai Chi is held at Boyd on Friday mornings at 8am. For more information visit wulongtaichi.com.au

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