May 7, 2003: Master Ni’s Retirement

Last Thursday Master Ni announced his retirement after the month of May.

The Saturday and Wednesday night classes have been reviewing Hand Sparring. The Thursday night class has been devoted to Wu Tang Sword, which he has been teaching to four new students for the first time. This was about his 6th or 7th class that he had taken through the 60 weeks necessary to learn Wu Tang Sword.

Preceding the Hand Sparring he had reviewed Wu Tang in the advanced class for about the tenth time. He had a few moves he couldn't do completely, such as the Swan Lying in the Snow. But other than that he was in top form, unto the end:

His spine ram rod straight,
His arms and movements always curved,
His weight shift seamless and nearly imperceptible,
Soft and gentle as a young girl.
Relaxed as only a man of 88 years can be.

In the last few years he seems to have been getting better and better, rather than declining. This is why his announcement was so shocking.

There were many tears and questions.

As to why?
He responded with a smile.
When I asked if it was just time?
He said Yes.
When we said that we appreciated him teaching us for all these years -
He just laughed.

The class immediately agreed to continue practicing together -
As we've been doing movements together for over a decade -
It's a hard habit to break.

Whatever happens, it will be different without the one and only Ni to guide us.