When he walked into the plane, Krishnan immediately recognised him and they waved at each other. Then I waved at him and told Krishnan – “what an amazing presence he has!!”. There were so many people in front of him, and he was quietly standing at the back, but his presence was so strong. You didn’t have to be a martial arts specialist or even a person who is remotely interested in martial arts to know that you are in the presence of a “centered” master of his craft.
Sifu George Thomas, was Krishnan’s classmate in school and then his Karate master for eight years. When Krishnan and I got married, I went for a few classes too but didn’t have the discipline to continue :). I did ask George if there was a way that I can become a Karate master without the effort and practice and he just laughed the way he does. Today George is a Tai Chi Master and teaches the Fu Sheng Yuan Tai Chi through his academy. Read about George and the Tai Chi Academy here About George Thomas.
When I met George 27 years back, the first thing that struck me was the balance in him. Emotional balance manifested in physical balance. This was a person who was in control of his life and did just that which brought contentment to him. The movies have corrupted our idea of the martial arts – Bruce Lee seemed angry all the time, Jackie Chan keeps fighting, Van Damme starts with “Blood Sport”… while the real mastery of the martial arts brings a lot of peace and balance into one’s life. The mind is centered and its really meditation in motion. A simple way to judge if the martial artist is a master of his craft is to see him/her teach – if its taught as an exercise or as a way to fight, just don’t waste your time. George of course has spoilt Krishnan and me for life – we can never learn from anyone else because everybody goes up against him and they dont fit the “Sensei” or “Sifu” mould.
We lost touch with George when we moved out of Chennai in 1997 and when we met him on the way to Indore on March 27th, it was after 20 years. Luckily the aisle seat passenger on our row of seats agreed to swap with George who had the aisle seat behind us and we spent an hour catching up. The honest truth is it didn’t feel like 20 years had gone by!!. George had apparently seen us walking around in the terminal before we boarded the flight and since Krishnan has a shaven head, he had a slight doubt if it was him, but the minute he saw me and Krishnan together, he was sure and the flight got announced, so he couldn’t get hold of us. Well, friends can never be missed and we ended up being on the same flight.
We are so glad to be back in touch and hopefully this time around, I will have the discipline to learn Tai Chi from Sifu George. Karate will have to wait :):).