You Never Walk Alone

(Alan Hung, Student)

I could feel the tension in the air with every fiber of my being as I stepped onto the stage. The realization that all my past experiences culminated in this very moment helped me overcome the last hurdle to advance to the final round of the competition. Of course, I did not walk this path alone. Other people’s encouragement and their belief in my abilities helped me persevere to win a very prestigious award: the 2017 United States Chess Federation Junior Grand Prix.

While playing in chess tournaments, I was not afraid of taking on challenges. The accumulation of points is based on how well you play against opponents of higher rating. If you defeated an opponent of a higher rating, the difference in rating points would be added to your cumulative points. Most people would shy away from playing against an opponent better than themselves because most of the time they would lose. In Tai Ji Men, I learned to always look on the bright side and seek out new opportunities to better improve myself. Often, people would only focus on the negatives or choose to stay in their comfort zone, only stepping out of it when absolutely necessary. In my mind, playing against higher rated opponents is a win-win situation. If I win, I gain a lot of rating points. If I lose, I gain valuable experience so that I can do better next time. Before the award ceremony, I was asked whether or not I would like to say a few words when receiving my award. At first, I declined because I did not prepare a speech, and there were hundreds of people in the audience. I simply planned to walk on stage and quickly walk back off. However, as the award ceremony proceeded, I saw every award recipient say at least a few words. As the time for me to step onto the stage drew closer, I thought to myself, “I managed to speak in front of presidents and ambassadors at the UN. Plus, this is a very special occasion. I must not let go of this opportunity and allow it to slip away.”

I thought about the many, many times at Tai Ji Men when I had to speak on stage. Initially, I had no confidence and felt very scared when speaking in front of others. However, surely but slowly, with encouragement and guidance, I was able to deliver speeches confidently. When the time came, instead of just accepting the trophy and walking off the stage, I took the microphone and improvised a 3-minute speech. I spoke from my heart and shared my own story of growth and perseverance, and how the people around me inspired and encouraged me. I am certain that I could not have delivered an improvised speech if I had not joined Tai Ji Men. I am very thankful to Shifu and all the brothers and sisters of Tai Ji Men. Without them, perhaps I would never have learned to think on the bright side; to step outside of my comfort zone; and to be brave, confident, and believe in myself.

My story is not unique in Tai Ji Men. Many other brothers and sisters share similar experiences. We all grow together, play together, and change together in this very positive and happy environment of Tai Ji Men.

Photo Caption:
Left, Alan Hung, Winner of 2017 United States Chess Federation Junior Grand Prix
Right, Mike Hoffpauir, Former President of USCF