This week I had an amazing experience practicing tai chi in Havana Cuba. There is an incredible Chinese martial arts school in Havana’s China Town where many locals gather in the mornings to practice tai chi. The name of the school is Escuela Cubana de Wushu and it is headed by Master Roberto Vargas Lee. Master Lee is an accomplished martial artist who received a 4th degree black belt in karate before he began studying Chinese martial arts in China He is now a world-class master of wushu and tai chi and heads one of the largest martial arts schools in the western world.
We arrived at Escuela Cubana de Wushu at 7:15 AM and were greeted by around 20 locals who had also arrived early to stretch and get ready for tai chi. Within the next 15 minutes there were at least 60 people filling the practice area. Their ages ranged from their mid-thirties to their seventies and eighties. One of the women told me she was 92 years old and had been practicing tai chi regularly for many years. Around a third of the participants were male. Everybody was wearing a silk Chinese jacket of various colors and several were wearing a complete silk tai chi uniform.
The Escuela Cubana de Wushu complex is one of the best martial arts training schools I have seen anywhere in the world. There is a huge outside courtyard that comfortably held the 60 plus people in our morning tai chi group. In addition, there is an indoor training hall with Chinese decorations and martial arts weapons tastefully displayed on the walls. Each training hall has a raised stage where the instructors are located so everyone can clearly see them. An excellent speaker system broadcasts music and instructions, making it easy and fun to perform the tai chi forms. With a large ying yang painted on the floor, the beautiful Chinese decorations and the Chinese flag flying next to the Cuban flag I felt like I was in an authentic martial arts school somewhere in China.
Photo by Tiffany Chang. All Rights Reserved
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