|Posted on July 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM|
As Tai Chi Chih students, we all have certain teachers for whom we feel a special connection; likewise as Tai Chi Chih teachers, we have certain students with whom we develop a unique bond. When I met Frank Bouldin, we were both students. He then became my teacher, and later, I became his. Frank is a tall, lanky, gentle man, with large, laughing brown eyes and deep golden brown skin. When I joined his class, he’d been practicing for a while and our teacher was gently nudging him towards taking a greater role in helping to lead the class. He was shy and lacked confidence, but I got to witness his path as the Chi (Love Energy) carried him along, and he gradually unfolded his beautiful wings and began to fly. By the time I was getting ready for my teacher accreditation course, Frank was often leading our class. Our teacher then assigned Frank to help me to prepare for my teacher training. With a great deal of humility, gentleness and seriousness, he would take me aside after class and reluctantly point out some areas I might improve upon. He was extremely supportive and encouraging as I too, began to experiment with leading some of the movements in class. Both of us being shy, I think he really empathized with my nervousness in front of the group. He was so proud of me when I returned from training with my accreditation, and was eager to learn what I’d been taught. After our teacher went on sabbatical, he willingly turned the class over to me so I could practice teaching, and we co-taught for several months, becoming each other’s students and teachers.
As with most of my other T’ai Chi Chih students, I don’t ask or know anything about Frank’s past, unless it will have some bearing on how he executes his moves (a previous physical injury, for example). It is his presence that most interests me.
Then one day I came to class and it was announced that Frank was gone. You see, Frank was an inmate at Folsom State Prison, where I first came in as a volunteer, learned T’ai Chi Chih from Judy Tretheway, and now teach. Though more than qualified, he could not attend a teacher training, and had no control of his fate when they suddenly decided to transfer him to San Quentin. Though I’d often expressed my appreciation to him, I still felt I hadn’t fully thanked Frank for all of his help and support. Neither Judy nor I ever got to say goodbye. We get peace from the knowledge that we will always be connected to him through T’ai Chi Chih, and sincerely hope that someday a class will exist at San Quentin so that he can continue on his path as a teacher, and get to experience the wonderful Love Energy generated by a group.
Postscript: Frank has been released and is now living in Southern California, where he someday hopes to become an accredited T'ai Chi Chih Instructor.