Born in San Francisco, her martial arts studies began as a teen. After her successful competitive career in the 1980’s, she began to teach and incorporate Chinese medicine into her kung fu classes. Her seminars include active practical exercises suitable for all levels of fitness. Sifu Valerie teaches Chen Taiji, Long Fist, Bagua and weapons classes in Golden Gate Park, and San Francisco State University. Licensed Acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Sifu Valerie’s acupuncture practice is located near USF in San Francisco. She is available for training workshops and private lessons. Email with your location and desired workshop date.
Eastern Sun Western Moon When the student is ready the teacher will appear. This saying could be how I’ve lived for decades. Each appearance of excellent teachers has guided my fortunate path. After decades of being a student, the transition from being the dutiful apprentice to the truth of my own role as a teacher is so ever challenging and enlightening. Life can be defined by whom you¹re surrounded by. When the teacher is ready the student will appear. Shifu Adam Hsu is my principle kung fu teacher, and whom encouraged me to teach on my own. He is a traditional martial artist and a professor of classical Chinese literature. As a female instructor one of my challenges in teaching is the transition from one who listens to one who is heard. When I first began teaching I thought that as a woman I would attract mainly female students. In fact, my class in the park is made up of both female and male students. Women can especially excel in our kung fu style because a considerable amount of physical strength is developed from the legs and hips. They are likely to have the fortitude to thrive with this training. Most of my opportunities to teach and train with other women have come thanks to organizations such as PAWMA, (Pacific Association of Women Martial Artist ), NWMAF (National Women¹s Martial Art Federation) and FIST (Feminist Historically) Since I am from a Chinese-American background, accepting this traditional aspect is inherent in me.
As a contemporary teacher I use a variety of motivating factors and opportunities for students to participate in without fear or judgments. Students are encouraged to creatively learn from their peers with different interactions including one-on-one and small and large groups. Teaching is a precious gift. It enables me to express and share attitudes, perceptions and feelings with students and learn the truth of ourselves from one to another.
Exerpt from the anthology Women in the Martial Arts, edited by Carol A. Wiley North Atlantic Books 1992
A Mirror For Me To See My Life The first couple of years I focused on the Islamic Style Long fist. At that time it was the basic style that Sifu Hsu recommended because its open, expansive movements and strong stances provided a strong foundation for leaning other styles. I spent the first year on tan tui, ten lines of basic kicks and punches in combination. The sequence of movements was easy to learn because I had many years of experience in learning forms. But that experience became a detriment, and my instruction in the first three years of class was ‘to wash away my old habits.’ I had to clean up my movements from my previous style, or I would never capture the pure flavor of the Islamic Style Long Fist. Undertaking the physical and psychological change of style was slow and different from what I was used to.
The slow, careful movements of Tai Chi Chuan ideally act in your body like a coil, able to contract or expand at different speeds in a spiraling motion like a spring. This method of issuing power is called ‘reeling silk.’ Having your mind and intent (yi) fully in the moment of Tai Chi movements develops deep concentration and focus, practical skills necessary in daily life. We practice a series of eight static postures called the ba shi. As long as I’ve been in class, the ba shi has been the moment of truth. I always felt better and stronger after I did them. After probably three or four years, I became stronger, able to feel calm and relaxed, and look forward to doing the stances as meditation. Now I feel It’s an absolute necessity to do them because it’s the most effective leg training to build muscle and ligament strength and develop the proper body alignment needed for more complex movements in advanced form. Not only has the ba shi helped me physically, but mentally and psychologically as well.
Bagua influenced me in a different way than Long fist or Tai Chi. The unusual extreme body twist that’s required felt uncomfortable and awkward at first. The depth of understanding and ability to meticulously interpret movements requires one to relentlessly strive for detail in form and take brutally honest corrections with humility and an egoless mind. . . . . ‘Face the truth,’ is a favorite quote from Sifu Adam Hsu. My practice has become my reflection, a mirror for me to see my life.
Below is a 1976 newspaper article from Singapore:
|The sweet smile of American-Chinese Valerie Lee can be quite deceptive. Beneath all that feminity lies the ability to combat with those physically stronger than herself. And yet, she says, she feels there is “nothing special” at having intruded into the male-dominated field of pugilistics. After all, pugilistics to her is but a form of discipline and good health. “Besides it keeps my mind occupied,” said the 19-year old San Francisco State university student in an interview at Ambassador Hotel yesterday. Valerie is among 11 exponents of the Lai Hung Chinese Martial Arts from America and Hongkong, who will compete at the Fourth South-east Asian Pugilistic Invitation Championship at the Gay World Stadium for Saturday to Dec 26. She said: “I feel I can gain so much experience form taking part at the championship here. It is an opportunity that I shouldn’t pass over.”|