BY ELIZABETH KELLOGG
OLLI at OU offers a wide range of educational courses. From politics to religion, music to literature and technology to health seminars, the opportunity to learn is abundant. However, for the first time, the fruits of an OLLI course have come to fruition in a very distinctive way. After practicing tai chi with Phil Joy and his wife, Ling-Ling, for nearly five years, Bill Audas made the decision to pursue his tai chi teaching certification, and the results were a success story.
“I chose to pursue certification because I had been at it so long, and Phil suggested it,” Bill said. “I thought, why not? I had months to polish up and prepare. The certificate says a lot.”
Tai chi was first introduced to the OLLI program through Bill Audas. He suggested the course and practicing tai chi instructor of 33 years, Phil Joy, as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle and way of life. He saw all that tai chi had to offer and wanted to present it to a group.
“I’m in it for my health,” Bill said. “It’s excellent for helping older people keep their balance. It’s very peaceful. When you first start, there are so many details to pick up. It’s constant little things to learn. We are so busy living. We need to slow down and get rid of some of the stress. It really helps improve the immune system.”
Phil Joy introduces the material in a way that is both instructional and engaging. Dividing the course into two sections, Phil first teaches the philosophies and understandings behind tai chi, and then moves the students outside and leads them through an instructional practice.
“I hope students can see how valuable a tai chi routine can be to the quality and longevity of their lives,” Phil said. “When they come to see the actual physical, emotional and spiritual depths that the tai chi paths guide one towards, then I feel immense enjoyment and satisfaction.”
Phil’s teachings have surpassed OLLI courses and have led some students to “expand their life experiences,” he said. For example, David and Karen Dexter accompanied Phil’s wife, Ling-Ling, on an excursion to Taiwan to visit and practice within the Yang Family Michuan Tai Chi tradition that is presented in Phil’s OLLI courses. In a similar fashion of expanding life experiences, Bill Audas chose to pursue his teaching certification.
“I realized that with a little refinement Bill would succeed in our quite difficult Michuan Certification process,” Phil said. “For formal certification, he is required to complete the entire sequence without assistance, in front of his peers and under the critical review of established teachers of the lineage. He is allowed no more than three mistakes of understanding of any of the postures or their transitions.”
Both Phil and Ling-Ling worked with Bill to answer his questions and teach him, as they learned from their teacher, Master Wang Yen-Nien. Once they felt that he had what he needed, a date was arranged for him to invite friends and family members and proceed with a formal demonstration of his tai chi teachings.
“Bill received formal approval to teach others Yang Family Michuan Tai Chi Chuan in the same manner and fidelity that was handed down to Ling-ling and myself,” Phil said.
The tai chi course at OLLI continues to encourage new life experiences and lifestyles each semester it is taught. The information is abundant, approachable and open to any and all who are prepared to start the journey.
“We need to build a social sharing society of advice, information and wisdom about how to live a long, happy and fulfilling life” Bill said. “Tai chi comes to us as the premier Chinese model for providing such social services to the community. Community leaders should be intensely interested in what can be gleaned from their 800 years of experience with tai chi.”
This spring, OLLI at OU is once again offering the tai chi course taught by Phil Joy, with a very exciting focus. The course will be titled Recent Findings on the Health Benefits of Tai Chi. You will not want to miss out on this incredible opportunity. The class will take place on Wednesdays from April 5 – May 10 from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
“Phil is a treasure of information about tai chi, martial arts, health, and he’s a Taoist,” Bill said. “There is nobody else in Oklahoma that knows what he knows.”