Tai chi, friend­ship, old iPhones and rock ’n‘ roll

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By HEZI JIANG in New York

Mas­ter Ren Guangyi led a tai chi ses­sion at New York’s Lin­coln Cen­ter on July 30. The mar­tial arts per­for­mance kicked off a day-long trib­ute to The Vel­vet Un­der­ground rock leg­end Lou Reed.

Mas­ter Ren, who taught Reed for 12 years be­fore he died in 2013 from liver dis­ease, said Reed was his best stu­dent, and none of his oth­ers have ever reached his level of un­der­stand­ing of the an­cient art.

Ren met Reed in 2002. “Lou was very in­ter­ested in Chi­nese kung fu and had stud­ied with other teach­ers,” said Ren. “Af­ter he watched me prac­tice, he asked if I would give him pri­vate lessons.”

For six months, Ren went to Reed’s apart­ment sev­eral times a week, never know­ing who Reed was. “We didn’t speak much. He’d let me in, we’d prac­tice and he’d let me out,” said Ren.

“I had never heard of Lou Reed,” he said. “The only Amer­i­can celebri­ties I knew were Michael Jack­son and Michael Jor­dan. But I knew he must be im­por­tant be­cause two or three months in, I hap­pened to no­tice a photo be­hind the door of him in front of the White House.”

Even­tu­ally, Ren learned about Reed’s fame and saw pictures of him on stage, never dream­ing that one day he would be on the stage with him.

“One day in 2003, Lou let me in the apart­ment, and I said, ‘Let’s start’. But he said, ‘No, sit down, I have some­thing to tell you’.”

Reed told him that both of his doc­tors said that his health had got­ten a lot bet­ter since he started to prac­tice tai chi with Ren.

“Lou said that I had changed his life and he in­vited me to per­form with him,” Ren said.

The first show was in Los An­ge­les, and Reed had to serve as trans­la­tor for Mas­ter Ren. “My English was so ter­ri­ble that only Reed could un­der­stand me,” he said with a laugh.

The show was a hit. Mas­ter Ren’s tai chi blended smoothly with Reed’s mu­sic. The two be­came part­ners on stage.

Ren flipped through pho­tos of him­self and Reed on his dated iPhone 4S, and it was slow view­ing. When a re­porter sug­gested he should get a newer, faster phone, Ren said:

“I should, but this was a gift from Lou when it was first re­leased.”

Ren per­formed in more than two hun­dred shows with Lou Reed. Now on his own, he per­forms of­ten for his best stu­dent and close friend.

Lou (Reed) said that I had changed his life and he in­vited me to per­form with him.” Tai chi mas­ter Ren Guangyi

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