About Our Teacher
More about our Teacher, Gary Huff
Born in 1961, living in Kansas City since 1991. He began learning Martial Arts in 1978 in Springfield MO with Master Sensei Mike Kaylor. He attended the Southwest Mo State University earning a B.A. Degree in Studio Arts in 1983.
While at the University he was a student and Assistant Instructor at the SMSU Karate Club. After 8 years he attained his first Black Belt rank from Master Mike Kaylor and Master Larry Leon Williams.
Since then, Mr. Huff has learned Martial Arts from several sources and Teachers.
He has earned Black Belt Ranks in 8 Different Martial Arts.
5th Degree in Shin Nagare Karate Do, Midori Yama Budokai
5th Degree in Eagle Claw Kung-Fu, Shihan Leo Wilson and Master Ken Baker
4h Degree in Okinawan Shinko Kobudo, Master Larry Leon Williams, Master Ken Baker
2nd Degree in Matsubyashi Ryu Shorinryu, Master Larry Leon Williams
2nd Degree in Pai Lum White Dragon Kung-Fu, Grand Master Daniel K Pai, and my Sensei, Master Mike Kaylor
2nd Degree in Shin Shin Jujutsu, Midori Yama Budokai, Master Ron Rogers
2nd Degree in Mushin Ryu Jujitsu
2nd Degree in Shiho Karano Jujitsu, Soke Rydner
Along with Learning from Masters in Martial Art Systems that rewarded students by ranking, Mr. Huff also learned from Chinese Martial Arts and Teachers that had no ranking systems in place. Instead they accepted students on a more traditional basis and taught them within more informal groups.
Mr. Huff learned from the Chinese Boxing Institute International (CBII) from 1987 - 2002.
His Teacher was James Cravens. Mr. Huff learned the curriculums of the Yang-Chen Tai Chi Synthesis, Chinese Boxing Boards, Pakua, Crown Eagle Chin-Na, and various other Principles and Forms from White Crane, Wing-Chun, Wa-Lu, and Chen Tai Chi.
Mr. Huff learned Yang Style Tai Chi from Master Tao Ping Siang. Master Tao came to Kansas City for Seminars with Three Dragons Way and stayed with Mr. Huff for weeks at a time.
“Master Tao was a very giving Teacher and a man of quiet words. His teaching was profound and full of meaning for me and the fortunate students who got to encounter him. He taught Pushing Hands every time I was with him and his skill of yielding was the highest of any I have yet to encounter. When I first pushed with him I wasn’t sure if there was a body underneath his suit or his sleeve. He was like a ghost or a cloud.”
Mr. Huff started learning Chen Style Tai Chi from James Cravens and Gaofei Yan in the 1990’s. He learned the Lao Jia Yi Lu and Cannon Fist as well as the Broadsword and Straight Sword. In 1997 Grand Master Chen Quanzhong (Uncle Chen) came to Kansas City and taught a Seminar to Three Dragons Way, he and Gaofei stayed with Mr. Huff for two weeks.
Uncle Chen Returned to Kansas City the next year and we had a large turnout for our seminar in Kansas City. Uncle Chen was very open with his teaching. Three Dragons Way arranged for him to teach mini-seminars around the city going to a community center, a High School, the headquarters of Cerner Center, three retirement centers, and the mid-Continent Library in Raytown MO where his seminar drew such a crowd (300 plus) that the Library was overwhelmed as well as the surrounding streets.
“We learned from Uncle Chen many of the traditional teachings of the Chen Family. His favorite weapon was the Guan Dao. At the time (1997) I didn’t have any Guan Dao to practice with so I started drawing cardboard replica for him to approve. After several versions we settled on one that had the appropriate shape. I then taped this cutout to a staff and determined the right height and balance for the weapon from him. As a note, Uncle Chen was 75 years old in 1997. His generation saw a lot of fighting and resistance to Japanese invaders. AS such he learned from teachers that had used many of the traditional weapons like the spear, sword, and Guan Dao for fighting and not just for a training tool or Form in a tournament. His teaching on how to make a Guan Dao is a treasure and highly revealing as to its’ martial use. I have since learned the Guan Dao Form and from the understanding that Uncle Chen gave me about how it was to be used for combat made a big difference in understanding many of the complicated moves.”
“Uncle Chen loved to perform Fa-Jing. He made interesting sounds when he would practice and we tried imitating them on occasion. Once he overheard me and proceeded to use his shoulder bump to demonstrate why he made those sounds. I had a lot of grass stains from that lesson. He also was fond of doing standing exercise, Wu-Ji, or zhan-zuan. I would like to say that we stood for long periods of time, but none of us were strong enough to stand for the 60 - 90 minutes that he would in my back yard. He taught us many things, one of which was how strong Tai Chi could really be. He was the first Tai Chi Master I ever saw that liked to hit things to exercise his force. He would make a little correction on our stance and we would begin to shake. When he came into the room his smile would light everything up. His Taiji Body was great and we are proud to say he shared some of what he knew with us.”
I had moved to Kansas City and was practicing with the Midori Yama Budokai regularly. My Karate and Kobudo Teacher, Larry Leon Williams, lived in Independence MO. and I would practice in his little basement on Monday nights as much as possible. He was good friends with my first Teacher, Sensei Mike Kaylor. From these Teachers I had learned basics that would serve me for the rest of my life. I feel fortunate to have had such men teaching me then. I grew a lot from my lessons from these two Masters. I was young and had little experience then, they helped me take larger steps.
Early on in the 1980’s I found myself wanting to learn more Pai Lum (White Dragon Kung-Fu) so I sought out Professor James Cravens. He had once been a top student of Daniel Pai who was the Grand Master of Pai Lum. But when I met Professor Cravens he had since become a student of another Master known as Kai-Sai. So instead of progressing more in Pai Lum, I began learning what he called, “Chinese Boxing.” The Boxing contained many principles and training exercises as well as Martial Art theories and strategies that helped me to understand more deeply how combative arts worked.
I made arrangements to practice with Professor Cravens while he was in Tennessee and when he moved to Florida. Our school hosted many seminars with him over the years often having him to Kansas City four times a year. He taught us during 100 degree plus summers and even a couple of ice storms in January/February. He always was clear and well versed on the curriculums and material, and his academic approach to learning rubbed off on many students causing them to not only want to participate in the “rough-stuff” but to take notes along the way. Professor Cravens embodied a scholar warrior to me and is a model of a Martial Arts Teacher.
Professor Cravens’ Teacher, Kai Sai passed away in December 1986 and Professor continued the teachings through the Chinese Boxing Institute International USA Branch. I am proud to say I was part of this group and shared time with these kung-fu brothers and sisters. During that time was when I met Master Tao Ping Siang and Uncle Chen. Through the CBII I learned about many of the Chinese Martial Arts and Internal Training.
It was in 2001 that I met Grand Master Chen Zhenglei at a seminar in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Professor Cravens had hosted Chen Zhenglei as well as Ju Tin Cai and Chen Xiao Wang in Florida. Professor Cravens had decided to learn from Chen Xiao Wang and my heart was in learning from Chen Zhenglei. So began a parting of ways with the CBII and Three Dragons Way. I became a Disciple of Chen Zhenglei in 2005 after making trips to China and training with him and his other close Disciples. I also began bringing Grand Master Chen Zhenglei to Kansas City every year for 10 years, the last year being in 2013. Our School travelled to China many times and we travelled to Chicago, Thunder Bay Ontario, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. We support Grand Master Chen Zhenglei whenever we can and carry on his teachings.
My Disciple Ceremony was held in Zhengzhou China, Henan Province. This is the capital of that Province and I have taken student groups there for years to attend Tournaments and Taiji Training Camps. I made lots of friends there and enjoy travelling there to see the sights as well. I always like going to Chenjiagou and Shaolin Temple. One of my favorites is to go to Louyang and see the temple to Guan Gong. The Mountainside by the river with giant carved Buddha’s is pretty cool too.
The Ceremony was televised over one of the local stations and we used to have a video of it on our site. I made a speech to Grand Master Chen and those in attendance about the fact that my Father had recently died when Grand Master Chen was visiting me in Kansas City. Since the death of my Father I had taken Grand Master Chen to be like a Father to me now I was grateful for him to accept me into his Taiji Family. As Grand Master Chen’s Son read the speech in Chinese, the room became silent and many had tears by the end. I think of Grand Master Chen Zhenglei as a Father figure to me and he knows that I honor him by practicing and teaching the lessons he has taught me. I look forward to our future and more Taiji.
I trained in these Arts with these Fine Masters and learned many lessons. Not just how to defend myself and teach others, but how to live the way of a warrior. Each Teacher taught me their Martial Art and their philosophy of fighting and living. (In times of War practice for Peace, in times of Peace train for War. Sun Szu)
At Three Dragons Way, I teach the Chen Style of Taijiquan form Grand Master Chen Zhenglei. We have a great curriculum for students to learn and train themselves with. Whether they want to just learn a little or devote years of practice to, our school has a lot to offer. We do not limit ourselves to just Tai Chi but we also include many of the lessons that have been learned over the years from various teachers. Three Dragons Way is a School of Chinese Boxing that teaches Chen Taijiquan and Realistic Combative Adaptability.
I have taught Martial Arts since 1981 way back at the SMSU Karate Club when they still had McDonald Arena. There used to be a brick road between the Arena and the Hammond Library in those days. I got to attend a seminar with Bill Wallace at the Arena and he showed us how to stretch our legs and chamber a half dozen kicks all the same way. That guy was awesome! We saw Joe Lewis come to Joplin and give us some pointers on footwork and we had never seen anyone so smooth and fast with every technique you could think of. Chuck Norris was at SMSU helping promote George Bush for President and gave a talk to our Club about the importance of learning from losing and how Karate had principles for living your life and not just for fighting. When I lived in Indiana in Bloomington, I got to practice with William CC Chen several times at the Laura Stone Tai Chi Center, and travelled to nearby schools to practice with Wally Jay and George Dillman. Martial Arts were not just a hobby they were part of a life I was living.
I’ve attended too many tournaments to mention and competed so many times I have a box full of old trophies that I managed to keep from some of the more memorable times. I went through so many belt tests and demonstrations they became almost boring except for the old “walk-in-the-park” self-defense skits. Where someone is walking along and they are attacked and show their defensive skills. I always liked going to workshops and working out with “masters” who had some kind of skill or theory to teach. Most of the time they were great, once in a while they weren’t so great. I learned something from all of them.
From seemingly humble beginnings of looking through phone books in every new town to see what Karate Schools were there to our internet filled world today, learning Martial Arts still takes a teacher and a student. I teach Martial Arts and I also like to make things in my woodshop. (I’ve made a lot of Martial Art Weapons and it’s a passion of mine. From time to time I make more traditional wood working projects, but every time I see a piece of wood or lumber I am thinking sword, staff or guan dao…
I live in the South Eastern part of Kansas City Mo in a modest home with a big backyard and a fantastic woodshop that I have filled with all kinds of martial art toys and practice apparatus as well as woodworking tools. My son who was born in Southern China in 1998 is adopted and this last year we built a traditional woodworking bench together. It was featured as woodworking bench of the month for September 2014 on the Lake Eerie Toolworks Woodworking web site.
My wife and I were married in August 2010. She is from Shanghai and lived most of her life in China. We still travel to China for Tai Chi and seeing friends. She is an interpreter for many hospitals in Kansas City as she was a medical doctor in China. She also is our Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Instructor for Three Dragons Way.
I teach many classes of Tai Chi in Kansas City and enjoy Life. I’ve seen many students come through Three Dragons Way and they have all learned something from me. I learned things from them too. Some have stayed for many years and others have gone on to do their own things. I really enjoy teaching older adults at retirement communities and have developed several curriculums for them as there are independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. All residents can benefit from Tai Chi exercises.
For the future of Tai Chi there are so many different ways of teaching with all the new technology. I still believe in some of the traditional values of teacher to student teaching either one on one or in small groups. Commercialization is fine for a mass teaching of general principles and exercises, but the true passing on of the Art of Taijiquan is done by those who are willing to learn and teach on a deeper level, the Teacher and the Student.
Martial Arts Teacher, Woodworker
Kansas City MO USA
Three Dragons Way School of Chinese Boxing, Inc.