Tai Foo (Philip) Lai was born in Hong Kong in 1954—the year of the horse according to Chinese astrology. His first name in Chinese means giant tiger.
Life in Hong Kong
Despite having a difficult life, his parents were incredibly hard working and always managed to provide the necessities for their children. As a refugee from China, Philip’s father was homeless when he arrived in Hong Kong. Yet, when he retired he was a sergeant marine police officer. His ability to overcome difficulties and his accomplishments were a source of inspiration to all his children. On several occasions throughout his life, Philip has used his father’s example and inspiration to turn adversity into opportunity and success.
It was in 1960 that Philip began kung fu martial arts training under his father who was a kung fu master. It was through this training that he first started learning about and becoming interested in traditional Chinese medicine. His father, who was very knowledgeable in Chinese medicine, would painstakingly instruct him on how to heal the injuries caused by martial art combat. Philip has many fond memories of going to the mountains with him and being shown which plants to collect in order to create the appropriate remedy. When he was a teenager, he assisted his father in teaching classes in kung fu and traditional Chinese medicine.
Around the time he was 18 years old, Philip joined a survival training camp and leadership camp given by the professional army. It was a true turning point in his life—it gave him a chance to explore and understand his true physical and spiritual potential. His training enabled him to work with youths in the community and he quickly realized that helping others and sharing his knowledge would be a major part of his life.
Move to Canada
In January 1977, Philip’s parents had saved enough money to buy him a one-way ticket to Canada. It was important for them to educate their children to ensure their prosperous future. Upon his arrival in Canada, Philip had virtually no money, spoke very little English and knew nothing of the culture. The uncertainty of life in a new country and the longing for his family and homeland made him feel unhappy and dismal at times, but never disheartened. Upon arriving, he lived with his older brother (who had arrived the previous year) and an uncle who helped them both in the beginning. Philip and his brother were both determined to make it on their own as quickly as they could.
Philip worked hard to complete his education. He always remembered what his father had told him, that no matter how bad you think you have it, you could overcome any obstacle if you set your mind to it—and he did just that. He spent every weekday studying the course material under the Certified Management Accountant Program and on the weekends worked tirelessly in a restaurant. He also persevered at learning English in order to overcome the language barrier.
After becoming a Certified Management Accountant, he found employment in the accounting department of a large retail chain head office and has been working there ever since.
Shortly after his arrival to Ottawa, he realized that people were interested in learning kung fu. As a result, he began teaching it to his friends—this marked the beginning of his teaching career in Canada. Later, he also began providing kung fu and Chinese language classes at the Ottawa Chinese Language School.
Practising Qi Gong
Over time, Philip became more interested in being able to activate one’s self-healing abilities. Consequently, he began to learn more about medical qi gong. He studied under several great qi gong masters, such as Master Yan Xin, Binhui He, Effie Chow, Sikung Lowe and Zhi Xiong Gao. He attained the level of Qi Gong Master from Grandmaster Sikung Lowe in 2002. In 2002, Philip founded the National LAMAS Qi Gong Association of Canada. In 2015, after many years of providing the community with qi gong instruction, he changed the association's name to the Philip Lai Qi Gong Association. The new association promotes the use of qi gong by offering classes and workshops as well as providing training to those wishing to become instructors. (For more information on the benefits of practising qi gong click here)
Practicing qi gong several times a day for many years has helped Philip reduce, if not alleviate entirely, the daily stresses of life. In addition, it has virtually eliminated his health problems. With focus and meditation, he is able to disconnect from pain—he does not need freezing while having fillings repaired at the dentist. He practices what he knows daily and also believes that he should continue to learn more. There is always room for improvement and life is about learning. He dedicates a minimum of half a day per week to study and research new material concerning the different kinds of qi gong and traditional Chinese medicine.
Philip is very committed and dedicated to sharing his knowledge with people in his community that are interested in learning it. With over 30 years of experience and knowledge in traditional Chinese medicine and self-healing techniques as well as in practicing and instructing kung fu and qi gong, he has a lot to offer. It is his ongoing quest to teach what he knows of self-healing to benefit his community. He is a compassionate individual with sound virtues who constantly tries to appreciate the people that surround him by setting himself in their situation. He will never judge and is always accommodating to special needs, whatever they may be.