Tip of the Week: You Are the Solution

Anyone else get a ton of email marketing ads?

As I was thinking about my shortcomings, I realized there is no shortage of information bombarding me!

So the most appealing services, methods, and products are the ones that promise a specific solution.

This service provides comfort and makes us believe that whoever is providing the solution is competent and has the solution. For the record, most coaches, Sifus, and teachers struggle with impostor syndrome (ahem…as I raise my hand).

But I do believe we need to be wary about the fact that a specific solution implies that you have a specific problem.

If I were to sum up all the solutions/problems that have been offered to me, I would probably be convinced to enter the fetal position, never to act or move with any kind of confidence again.

If you want to practice Kung Fu or Tai Chi and move with comfort, ease, and fluidity, you need to believe in yourself, and your body.

I know it’s cliché, but you need to be the solution.

There is a story we all tell ourselves. How are you going to rewrite your story this week?

Sifu Oscar


P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are ways we can help you get started.

1. Schedule a time to observe a class.
Interested in Kung Fu or Tai Chi?  The first step is to watch a class and see if we would be a good fit! Email: kungfu@wahlum.com for an appointment.

2. Become part of my exclusive Coaching Group with CYH Remote Coaching.  Get personalized coaching delivered right to your phone and catered to your specific goals.
Email: kungfu@wahlum.com for info.

Break Through Plateaus In Your Martial Arts Journey

Hey there,

Do you ever feel that an invisible ceiling is inhibiting your progress?

As a martial artist, (or aspiring martial artist) we love mastering new movements, pushing ourselves, and getting those incremental improvements, right?

But life gets busy and we find ourselves wrestling with time. Endless commitments, demanding schedules…

The big thing that holds many students back from progressing is being able to get into certain positions. Low stances, high kicks…

But it doesn’t end there!

Once you can get into a certain position, you also want to feel strong there.

I’ve been working on some mobility training that has been helping and I am looking to start a project soon that’ll take a handful of students through a targeted mobility program.

Reply if you want to hear more about it.

Sifu Oscar


P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are ways we can help you get started.

1. Schedule a time to observe a class.
Interested in Kung Fu or Tai Chi?  The first step is to watch a class and see if we would be a good fit! Email: kungfu@wahlum.com for an appointment.

2. Become part of my exclusive Coaching Group with CYH Remote Coaching.  Get personalized coaching delivered right to your phone and catered to your specific goals.
Email: kungfu@wahlum.com for info.

Take It Day by Day by Brittany Caldwell

Feature story by Brittany Caldwell of the University of Central Florida schools of Journalism


“Take It Day by Day”


Chief instructor Mimi Chan (center) demonstrates a kung fu form to a group of students. Photo by Hao Nguyen, Courtesy of Wah Lum Temple

Cars whiz past a yellow brick wall on North Goldenrod Road. After 40 years in Orlando, the Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Temple still maintains an air of mystery. Tucked back in a forest of bamboo trees, the Chinese martial arts school stands with cultural pride.

Chief instructor and UCF alumna Mimi Chan begins her day with tea and gratitude. She meditates and takes a moment to reflect on her blessings. At Wah Lum, she lights incense to honor her ancestors, a long-standing tradition of respect. She is an athletic woman of average height, dressed in her uniform of a comfy T-shirt and loose pants with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.

Throughout the day, she juggles technical difficulties and coordinating the business with the help of her MacBook and iPhone. Whereas the school would be full of students preparing for kung fu and tai chi classes, this week it’s just Mimi and a few instructors, who are careful to stay healthy as they livestream classes on Zoom. As the operation manager, Mimi runs the show- even in adversity.

“My day has been tackling and putting out fires and how I’m going to plan and implement for all the things to come,” Mimi said.

Because social distancing is being encouraged as a way to combat the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses are at risk. This has been in the back of Mimi’s mind since news of the outbreak in February. But her main concern was the students- the people that made Wah Lum like a family.

“The more we were hearing as things progressed, about how the disease could be spread from people who don’t show symptoms, the more concerned we were,” Mimi said.

She cancelled in-person classes in early March before the Florida government mandate closed fitness businesses. Even though she was saddened by the closure, she did not want to have the virus endanger the health of the students, especially given the range of ages.

“While all of our students were very mindful and careful, you could just never be too safe,” Mimi said. “I would’ve preferred to make the decision on behalf of the students while having a plan in place.”

Along with two other certified instructors, Mimi is referred to as “sifu,” which means a teacher or a father figure. It’s a symbolic title in Chinese kung fu, where the person guides the student through training but is also like a second family to them.

At 42, Mimi has managed the family business that her father created for the past 21 years. Her father, Grandmaster Pui Chan, and her mother, Simu Suzy, are the owners and influential to decisions. The school is not just a business to Mimi and her family- it’s also a temple rooted in history. She is dedicated to upholding her father’s legacy of authentic Chinese culture and martial arts.

Overseeing a small business amidst the coronavirus is not an easy task but her gratitude for the Wah Lum community motivates her to keep going.

“We run our business like a family,” Mimi said. “All of our students are like family members.”

Some students and instructors are UCF alumni just like Mimi. UCF is not far from the Wah Lum Temple- about 12 minutes away.

Virtual classes don’t mean that the students watch a video at odd times in the day. The schedule is the same as it was pre-coronavirus. If you have a class at 6:30 p.m., you log on to Zoom at 6:30 p.m. The only thing that has changed is the format.

“For us, the priority is keeping our students engaged and active, and helping bring them some normality in a very abnormal time,” Mimi said.

Mimi said they wanted to livestream the class at the school in a familiar place- in front of the martial arts altar.

“It is far better for them to actually feel like they are there with us,” she said. “That way the students can get as traditional of an experience as possible.”

Mimi has been working at least 12 hours each day to organize the virtual classes. When she feels stressed, she uses the breathing exercises they teach in kung fu and tai chi classes. The impacts of the virus on Wah Lum are like math problems that she has to solve, yet she said she enjoys figuring out how to fix them.

“This is very unprecedented so we just have to take it day by day,” Mimi said.

Mimi constantly balances the needs of the business with the concerns she has for her family. Her sister, mother and father fall into the at-risk category for the coronavirus. She said she feels better knowing they are safe while she is working. Her family may be absent from the school but that doesn’t stop them from contributing. Mimi’s mom records tai chi classes from home.

With the Orange County stay-at-home order in effect, Wah Lum will continue with their online classes.

“We will not reopen until it is safe to do so,” Mimi said.

The school depends on students’ membership to support the service-based business. While the virtual classes keep them afloat, it’s unclear what the future may hold.

But even in a pandemic, those closest to Mimi have faith in her coordination behind the scenes.

“We are very lucky that we have someone like Mimi who’s very good at handling problems and looking at solutions,” said Oscar Agramonte, 40, Mimi’s husband and a Wah Lum instructor.

When he is not helping out with kung fu and tai chi classes, Agramonte leads a kickboxing and sparring class. He also has his own associated fitness program called “Control Your Health.”

A UCF graduate, Agramonte got his certification to be a physical trainer while teaching at Wah Lum and realized he could do one-on-one training as a full-time job. He recently made the decision to move his classes online but has found teaching virtually to be a challenge.

“I’m so used to talking to people in person,” Agramonte said. “I feel very relaxed. And when I’m doing it virtually, the energy levels is just different.

“I have to project more. I have to draw the energy out. And I don’t have an instant reaction as to whether they’re giving me that energy back.”

Agramonte is hopeful that with time, the process will get easier.

“It’s harder for me right now because it’s a little bit newer,” he said. “The longer that we get into this quarantine type of situation, the benefit will be that we’ll get better at it.”

The move to online classes poses an obstacle as to how almost 50 students will learn detailed kung fu forms from one screen. In a face-to-face setting, there are separate areas for different classes to take place at once.

“I think you can do [kung fu] on virtual,” said Jeremy Rose, 41, a student for 10 years and a UCF alumnus. “It’s just going to be harder when you’re trying to give so many people something at the same time.”

With one week of virtual classes under her belt, Mimi feels good about the future of online training. There are still some technical things she’d like to improve but she said it was “pretty successful overall.”

She said she appreciates that the students continue to support Wah Lum and how positive they have been with the virtual experience.

“The best thing is that we can still be connected,” Mimi said. “It was a really beautiful thing to see that everyone’s in their home and we’re all still participating in the same kung fu classes.”

After the students say goodbye to the instructors and the Zoom classes sign off, Mimi stays at the school a little longer to work on scheduling and communicating with staff members. After she leaves for home, the temple is truly empty.

Plunged in darkness, the Wah Lum Temple rests, grateful for another day to spread its message of fitness, culture and community.

A day in the life of Grandmaster Chan

img_1089-2O always tells people if they want to lose weight just follow around Grandmaster Chan for one day.  That is definitely one way to burn calories.  A day in the life of Grandmaster Chan consists of waking up before the sun and working in the sun, often until it goes down.  Grandmaster Chan enjoys his time in the garden and tending to his fish.  Whenever he goes on vacation, one lucky person is given the task of watching over his fish and plants. No one wants this job.  All will be going well, and then right before he is due home, suddenly a plant or worse, fish dies!  It is a nerve racking time for us back home and we have been known to try and resuscitate fish!  No CPR or anything, but we were taught to push the fish through the water, as it moves the water through the gills.  We have saved a few this way.


Back to a day in the life of Grandmaster Chan.

He is a creature of habit.  He wakes up goes to the Temple to bisan, and makes his breakfast.  (usually oatmeal and coffee)  While water is boiling or the oatmeal is cooking he will start clearing things around the kitchen.  After his breakfast he starts his outdoor routine.  If you have ever been around the Temple in the morning or mid day, you might catch him doing any of the following: building fences of bamboo, clearing leaves or garbage from the Temple grounds, planting new trees, or even on the roof clearing the gutters.  I am not very happy about that one!  Depending on what area needs his attention he makes his way there and never asks for help.  As a matter of fact when you try to help it often ends up being a bit of a fight…and who wants to fight with a Grandmaster of kung fu?  At that point just volunteer to take care of the fish.

A question I get asked a lot is: Does he still practice kung fu?  And my answer: every day.  Maybe I haven’t ‘seen’ him doing right hand stick or 36 hands this week, but I see him using a broom (stick) to sweep the floors everyday, and I watch in awe as he moves up and down in a squat or to a side to side while cooking, cleaning, chopping, or clearing the grass…just like a form.  He is constantly moving, and constantly working…. working hard =  kung fu.





Nope. I can’t juggle. I actually can barely catch a ball. However, I do juggle tasks and priorities all the time. Same goes for my personal training, unfortunately sometimes it has to take second or even third place in line of what needs to get done.

When the Sifu Test was approaching, I was in kung fu mode 24/7.  I even visualized my forms before sleeping!  Not that I don’t practice my kung fu consistently, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, my year is scheduled out according to my work schedule, and I go from there. This weekend, O is at a 4 day fitness summit learning a bunch of fun fitness things. So for these few days, the priority is taking care of his fitness clients and coaching his classes.  At the same time, I also have to make sure that the kung fu and tai chi classes are covered, as we also have most of our instructors out of town on vacation. This is actually pretty easy, because it was scheduled a while ago.  The tough part is when a wrench is thrown in my perfectly planned schedule.  This is what often happens with my personal training and wellness habits.  I admit there are times when I have run myself so ragged, it was a detriment to my health! I do not recommend this.  When someone tells me they have kids or too much work that prevents them from eating right or working out, I always ask: What is it they always say on the plane? (What? No one listens to the safety talk right?) Well I do, and they say: Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others! This is so true. How can I expect to help my family, cook for O, teach my students, and get work done if I am not taking care of myself?  I am basically writing this out to remind myself that it is important to eat, sleep, work out, relax, and enjoy life. So how do I do it?  Juggling!  I basically make sure that the priorities are always being rotated. (It’s the only juggling I think I’ll ever be able to do)

In tai chi we teach the philosophy of the yin and yang, the balance to life. single whipI try to follow this principle with every little thing. If I am on the computer too much, I set a timer to walk away and get off the screen. If I am eating too many delicious foods, I make sure that I am working it off at kung fu, walking extra on vacation, or making better choices the next day.  If I am feeling guilty from eating delicious foods, I remind myself that it is ok, and reiterate to myself that I can enjoy it… and feel good about it. I am sure you will notice by now that I talk about food and eating a lot.  Good food brings me joy!   So think about what brings you joy, accept it, be thankful for it, and then keep on juggling.

The Butterfly, the Hurricane, and the Cow Hands

Sifu Antonio’s wife, Suelen told me that the students requested that for the grand opening show in Brazil, I do at least 1 butterfly kick.  It seems to be my signature move.  It makes me laugh because the very few films I have worked on always involve this movement. Mulan, Mortal Kombat Conquest, etc.


Growing up I always called the butterfly kick the hurricane kick.  Why? My father called it hurricane, so it was the hurricane kick.  Fast forward to when I was 16 and trying to learn Cantonese.  I started dissecting words and expanding my vocabulary.  The Chinese for the movement I was so famous for was Wu-dip-tui, which translates to… Butterfly kick.  What!?! For 16 years of my life I called it hurricane and now it’s a butterfly?  I was so frustrated!  Why would my father call it hurricane?  I am not sure really, but the tornado kick in Chinese is a jumping crescent kick, so I am guessing he confused tornado, hurricane, and then the whole thing got jumbled.  Either way, it was crazy to have that discovery after so many years.  I also have an affinity for the butterfly kick, because it was a move I absolutely could NOT do.  I could do gymnastic aerials before I could do the butterfly kick.  So what did I do?  I practiced and did thousands of them.  Maybe 10,000 (DYK: 10,000 is the number of hours for mastery according to Malcolm Galdwell, but before that book came out the number of days for mastery according to the Wah Lum Handbook states… you guessed it, 10,000!)

That’s my short story…

Oh, wait. Cow hands.  You are probably wondering why I have cow hands in my title.  My mom is the chief tai chi instructor at the Temple. She is a master of tai chi and has been studying extensively for decades.  Around the same time of my butterfly epiphany, she also had one of her own.  She would teach the students cow hands, because that is what my father taught her.  One day she decided to print out all of the moves of the form for everyone and translated the Chinese.  The Chinese translation for our ‘cow hands’ was actually cloud hands!  My father had been pronouncing it cow hands, but meant cloud hands.  Ah, communication.  So much fun! I can only imagine how many things have been lost in translation, or pronunciation through the years.

Oh, wait, wait.  Did anyone get my title comparison?  Hint: any C.S. Lewis fans out there?

Tai Chi at Sea

In my previous post I talked about kung fu at sea. Tai Chi at sea is equally as challenging as kung fu, as I need extra balance on a moving ship. Most days are smooth sailing, but there are some windy and rocky sea days that make tai chi really difficult. I admit, when I am at home I rarely practice tai chi. If I do not get my kung fu training in as often as I would like, you can only imagine how frequently I fit in tai chi training. I find tai chi and meditation really challenging because it requires one to move slowly. I try to meditate in the morning to start my day, but my mind is usually racing to ‘get to work’. I’ve been working on reminding myself that in order to ‘get to work’, meditation helps me to reset and gets my brain ready to function properly.

The thing I like most about practicing tai chi at sea is the same things I like about kung fu at sea; the fresh air, the ocean, and the overall atmosphere. I also welcome the challenge of doing chen tai chi and really having to root yourself into the moving img_2350ground. Watching my mom do tai chi is inspiring because she really roots herself into the ground despite the moving ship. She is after all the tai chi master. (note: one of the great films of the 90’s: Tai Chi Master with Jet Li)

Our daily routine has been doing kung fu in the morning and tai chi in the afternoon. This might seem odd to those who know tai chi is usually done in the morning, but we meet the needs of our instructors’ schedule. As many of you who frequent the Temple early mornings know, my father is a morning person, so that is when we do kung fu.


Since I have been practicing chen tai chi (the older form of tai chi and the one most like kung fu), it feels good to practice in the afternoon, as I need to be warmed up to tackle it. For me, the biggest challenge with tai chi is the fluidity and pacing. I am so accustomed to kung fu, that learning to slow down and pace myself is not easy for me. However, I know that this is the yin and yang to life, and practicing both kung fu and tai chi will help keep me balanced in the long run.

Which do you prefer?