"WWU's Gene Golden hopes to spread the word on the value of Tai Chi Ch’uan" by Ryan Myrvold
Having moved from New York, Maine, Florida, California and finally to Bellingham, Gene Golden found his place, having started The Golden School of T'ai Chi Ch'uan and as instructor of physical education at Western, where he teaches Tai Chi Ch’uan. Tai Chi is a martial art focused on meditative movements and Golden said the self-defense aspect focuses on redirecting and controlling the energy and momentum of others.
Golden said one of the biggest misperceptions about Tai Chi is that it is simply a group of people moving and meditating outside, as opposed to a valuable martial art capable of saving lives. “Students don't know that it's a martial art and think it's just a calming exercise. But why would you not want to know the coolest stuff about the system that is designed to protect you in extreme, unimaginable circumstances?” Golden said. While self-defense is a valuable aspect of Tai Chi, Golden said he finds Tai Chi integrates very well with his and his students’ personal lives, as the mindset and meditative practices connect to other facets of their lives. Golden said he sees Tai Chi as a force that unites his interests, and that he hopes his students will see it that way as well. “If you spread it out like spokes on a wheel, Tai Chi gets more interesting as it supports and makes a connection of all those interests," Golden said. Golden began practicing Tai Chi Ch’uan in 1975, and started teaching in 1980 after learning the system from Grand Master William C.C Chen, who Golden simply refers to as William — a level of relaxed informality Golden keeps with his students.
"My students are able to apply Tai Chi to apply Tai Chi to something meaningful in their lives. That’s the way Tai Chi is. You can take it in whatever direction you want."
“My students are able to apply Tai Chi to something meaningful in their lives,” Golden said. “That’s the way Tai Chi is. You can take it in whatever direction you want.”
Even though Tai Chi is a serious art that requires discipline and focus to learn and master, Golden said it is supposed to be fun, first and foremost.
“William Chen was hysterically funny, and I realized that if people teaching Tai Chi aren’t funny then they don’t understand the art,” Golden said. “William would crack everybody up all the time.”
As more awareness happens around Tai Chi, Golden said he hopes more people will take his classes and understand how Tai Chi can bolster their lives.
“When they first walk into the class, they don’t understand anything about Tai Chi. They have some feeling they’ll be more peaceful or healthier. So, it’s my job to fill in all else that could be,” he said.