I am passionate about Taijiquan and Qi Gong. And I am a woman. And I think that women are a bit underrepresented in the Tai Chi and Qi Gong world. I mean, look at all the big masters, they are mainly men! Thus I want to raise the awareness for all the wonderful women in our community. And in this interview I talk to Marilyn Cooper, who initiated Pushing for Peace!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA in 1949. I have been teaching and training continuously in Chinese Kung Fu since the age of 16. I always taught to defray my own tuition costs, and opened my first professional Kung Fu school in NYC in 1980. I have 4 “kids” and 4 grandkids.
I am also a painter. One of my favorite paintings is owned by actor/singer Nina Bradlin in Basel, Switzerland (see picture).
Please share some details of your Taijiquan/Qi Gong journey.
My primary teachers have been Grand Master Kuo Lien Ying and Grand Master Peter Kwok. Kuo taught me traditional Kung Fu and how to train; consistently, and to practice, practice, practice. Peter Kwok taught me a series of traditional forms and systems in an orderly progression from beginner to intermediate to advanced level. Kuo stressed the health and performance aspects, and Peter stressed making the forms function equally for fighting, for health and for performance.
I practice spontaneous style push hands under Zhao Guohong.
For pure health and spirituality, I practice Wudang Qigong from David Wei and meditation from India.
For more career highlights, have a look at this list. To see more of what I do, have a look at this video:
Finish this sentence: When I started learning Taijiquan, I would have liked to know…
That I could achieve my goals without hurting myself from overtraining, resting, and listening to my own pain!
Is there anything that you specifically learnt from your first teacher that you still remember? A lesson or insight that you keep dear to your heart?
Just forms. My 2nd and main master told me, “Don’t go into this as a profession. It’s a lousy living.” I didn’t listen.
ah, I guess there are a lot of peeple not listening to thi advice! But then again we would miss many great teachers and projects. Like Pushing for Peace! When did you have the idea for it and what is it about?
I had the idea right after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. I wanted to bring Tai Chi into the classroom for children and youth.Pushing for Peace is a program that teaches Tai Chi movements and philosophy to prevent violence and increase mental and physical health.
It took more 15 years to deconstruct the traditional forms into a series of 9 (progressive) games that convey the feelings we get from our in-depth forms practices: inner peace, strength, focus, oneness with the universe, focused, grounded-ness into earth, empathic with others.
In this video you can see the example of preventing violence in Kenya:
How can someone start offering Pushing for Peace workshops?
They can organize a group, from complete beginners with no prior experience to advanced level Tai Chi practitioners. I will come or send a Peace Games Ambassador to lead the one-hour workshop. I will send the advertising that you can tweak with time, place and fee. If I come, I can offer a Push Hands workshop or forms training workshop afterwards for $ and offer the Peace Games for free.
Where can we find more information about Pushing for Peace around the world?
All information can be found on the Pushing for Peace homepage, where you can also find all the Pushing for Peace ambassadors here. And I’ll teach the Peace Games in many places (e.g. UK, Paris, Holland, Israel) this November.
Marilyn, thank you for answering my questions! And I hope that a lot more people will become Pushing for Peace ambassadors!
And if anyone wants to meet Marilyn, she is actually one of the presenters at the Immortal Sisters Conference!