The forever “Sensei”

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 :):).

7 thoughts on “The forever “Sensei””

    • Ah I love walking. Its my most favourite activity. I also used to cycle a lot, just haven’t done any cycling for the past one year because I am getting my frozen shoulder fixed. Tai Chi will happen a few years down the line. 🙂

  1. I’m so delighted that you re-connected. Tai chi is much gentler than karate. I remember in China seeing the old folks practicing tai chi in the parks every morning. What a great tradition, one I wish we would adopt in the US. If it were a common practice, our elderly would be a lot more fit than they are now. That’s a potential Chinese import I would be happy to support.

  2. Bindu-ji, this is really weird. I used to practice Karate as a bachelor, but did not keep long enough at it to become good — because other responsibilities overtook this hobby. As an art it requires more dedication than other hobbies, and I simply was negligent!
    But George is somewhere close to where I live and used to run a meat shop opposite the Redeemers Church in Kilpauk. I do not know him personally, but when we used to pass by his shop I invariably asked my wife ” wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn Tai Chi together?” We were busy building a family, and never got round to meeting George: and his meat shop seems to have moved.
    Who knows, after you meet him again I met get a chance to try it out!


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