Shaolin Wahnam Gainesville

Michael and classmates enjoying some Shaolin Kungfu

Dear Sifu,

As I am sure you know, today, in the USA, is Thanksgiving Day. I have so many things in my life to be grateful for, more than I can count. But I simply cannot allow this day to pass without expressing my gratitude to you, my Sifu, for your generosity, your teaching, your example, and your impact on my life. I have not words to express my gratitude.

I have been in love with Kung Fu since the first day I stepped into a Kwoon at the age of 14, and that love has subtly shaped my life ever since. At that time my heart began to long for something I knew was hidden within the world of martial arts, and I traveled the world looking for it, studying Taekwondo, Hoong Ka, Shorinji Kenpo, Wushu, Xanda and others in America, China, and Japan. However, the first time I heard the word "Shaolin", I knew somehow that it was what my heart had first been searching for.

And while my first attempts at finding it fell short of what I was looking for (I trained for a year at the very same academy in Northern China that my Siheng Robin Gamble attended for a short while), I am still grateful for them, as ultimately they led me to your book. “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”, and then to your Qigong Intensive in Sabah in 2007. There was no doubt in my mind or heart, even before the first lesson commenced, that I had found a Jewel like no other, and I will live my life joyfully attempting to be worthy of it.

I was a very bad student in the beginning! Perhaps it is childish of me to say, but please forgive me, Sifu. Though my practice was inconsistent and lacked discipline in the beginning, I am working hard to become a good, and eventually a great, student. In 2008 I had the honor of attending your Shaolin Intensive Kung Fu course in Penang. I feel that each time I learn from you, my heart opens more, and my life changes for the better.

At this course, I had the good fortune of meeting my Siheng Anthony Korahais. After receiving his help during the first two days of the course, and then having lunch with him one afternoon to discuss the possibility of training with him in Gainesville, I decided that I would move to Florida to continue practicing the Kung Fu I learned from you under his guidance.

I have been in Gainesville now for over a year, and I have been so blessed by my Siheng's constant generosity and wisdom. Not only from my Siheng, but also the patience, compassion, and generosity from my Wahnam Family -- Akemi Korahais, Adam Bailey, Chris Didyk, Christina Bickley and others -- has enriched my practice and my life in ways I could never have anticipated. Again, I am so grateful. Were it not for my Sifu, none of these wonderful people would have come into my life. Thank you so much.

The 18 Lohan Arts, One Finger Shooting Zen, and Taijiquan courses you so generously conducted here in Gainesville were spectacular, and have greatly enriched my practice. It is amazing how deepening my practice of One Finger Shooting Zen, which is not currently my primary force training practice, has simultaneously deepened every other aspect of my Kung Fu practice. It has been wonderful to experience first hand the truth of your recent article and discussions on the benefits of practicing more than one force training method within our school.

It is now my intention to attend the Wing Choon course in Costa Rica on the Blue Mountain in March, and I am very excited! It has been some time since I've learned Kung Fu directly from you, and I am eager to learn more, and to train with my other Family members from around the world.

My Kung Fu training has become a strong and supple backbone to the rest of my life. It seems that the deeper I go into my training, the healthier and more prosperous my daily life becomes. Above all else, thank you for this, Sifu. When I was younger, I was sacrificing my 'normal' life for the sake of Kung Fu. But now, through Shaolin Wahnam, they nourish one another.

I am so excited to see where this road will take me in the future. So, on this Thanksgiving Day, thank you Sifu for so generously spreading these Shaolin Arts! Without them, I do not know where I would be. Thank you for teaching me to open my Heart, and for giving me the means by which to live my life joyfully, powerfully, and to the benefit of myself and others. I will never be able to thank you enough.

Your student,
Michael Helgeson
November 26, 2010

Shaolin Wahnam Gainesville

Michael sparring with Adam

Grandmaster Wong's Reply

I am glad of the progress and wonderful benefits you have received from our arts, though it was no surprise. It was great to see you again at Gainesville. It was a very good decision that you moved to Gainesville to train with Anthony. He is one of the best instructors in our school, and the Gainesville team is excellent.


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