All living entities move in cycles, and Tai Chi Chuan as a living, breathing Dao (or 'way') is not impervious to these effects. It is sad to say that in 2004, one of the greatest ambassadors of Tai Chi Chuan moved on into the next world.
Grandmaster Ip Tai Tak, Fifth generation of Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan and first disciple of Great Grandmaster Yang Sau Chung passed away on the 25th April 2004. An extraordinary man, who had devoted his life to the study, practice and development of Tai Chi Chuan. The impact of his unexpected passing has not only deeply affected myself, my son, members of TCAH and the Academy, but has also moved the wider Tai Chi community and beyond.
Grandmaster Ip Tai Tak was more than my Sifu. He was a guide and mentor, not just to me, but also to my son. Years on from my discipleship, the importance of representing the sixth generation of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan is secondary to the relationship I have formed with my Sifu. That bond is indescribable. It encompasses trust, humility, honesty and mutual respect, and goes beyond duty, dedication and admiration. I miss him deeply.
Sifu Ding and family
P.S. I give thanks to all of you that have shared their thoughts and memories of Grandmaster Ip. I would like to share one of the tributes by Bryan Nuttall, JDIATCC instructor. Other tributes have been published in issue 40 of Tai Chi and Alternative Health magazine.
"Being part of a Tai Chi lineage
school brings a strong sense of surety and belonging to a tradition that weaves its way back to the original founder, Yang Lu Chan and beyond. With the recent death of Grandmaster Ip, it felt like the ground we walked upon so surely and confidently shook everyone to its core. There was a real sense of loss that this link to the past had been broken. The passing away of such an inspirational master was, and I am sure still is, surrounded with sadness and regret.
The permanence of Tai Chi is its constant ability to evolve and move forward. From each preceding generation, Tai Chi goes from strength to strength. Tai Chi’s foundations are not built from ephemeral skill but from a series of concepts and principles that can be uncovered by those willing to dedicate their lives to the task. Master Ip’s legacy is embodied as much in the spirit of Tai Chi as in the principles themselves. What separates true masters from the ordinary is this ability and courage to keep looking and to keep evolving. Master Ip’s spirit and teaching has influenced us all whether we had the privilege to work with him or not. His spirit is self-evident, being assuredly passed on through the delight, enthusiasm and dedication of his disciple, Master Ding.
Grandmaster Ip’s guidance, experience and knowledge will be sorely missed. His spirit is now irrevocably bound up within the teaching of those that preceded him and his legacy will be carried forward with the disciples that follow in his footsteps. Despite this sad time, all is well ".