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Tai Chi comes to the United Nations in New York City, 1961

January 20, 2015

“Contrary to the vigorous health exercises in our western civilization, the tranquil exercises are composed of calm, unhurried movements designed to build up energy and not expend it…”

 

Period photos of Delza leading a small class at the UN.  October 1960. Source: http://taichiquan.info/uploads/taichi-masters/sophia_delza-taichi_longevity-2.jpg

Period photo of Delza leading a small class at the UN. October 1960. Source: http://taichiquan.info/uploads/taichi-masters/sophia_delza-taichi_longevity-2.jpg

The popularization of Tai Chi in America dates to the mid 1960s, when early exponents such as Cheng Man Ching and C. K. Chu arrived in New York City, and began instructing local New Yorkers in the art. Another Tai Chi master, Da Liu, had fled political upheaval in China, and arrived in New York City in 1956. According to this article, Liu “became a Tai Chi teacher at The UN’s Chinese institute and was absolutely one of the first Tai Chi pioneers in the West.”

The following account appeared in the Schnenectady Gazette on July 12, 1961. It details Tai Chi instruction that was being given at the United Nations, and is one of the earliest articles that we have been able to find covering the practice of Tai Chi in New York City. The instructor mentioned in the article is one Sophia Delza, who can be read about in this excellent article, as well as in her New York Times obituary.

Unfortunately, the right column of the article is partially cut off (a defect in the original digital file):

1961-7-12_SchenectadyGazette_TaiChi

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