History of Tai Chi in Fort St. John, B.C.


In the fall of 1978, the Northern Lights College was operating out of three different locations, the main one being a remodeled building on 100th street.  The building had formerly been Henry’s Motel and now is the Senior Citizen’s Center.  Another building on the property was being renovated to house Students’ Services but was just a large empty space. It was in this space that Tai Chi in Fort St. John began. 

It was in the spring of 1979 that David Walker began offering Tai Chi classes at 7:00 a.m. in this space. At this time the classes were just for the college staff.

David Walker was the head counselor and psychology professor of Northern Lights College. He had studied and learned his Tai Chi from Master Raymond Chung in Vancouver, B.C.  David taught the Tai Chi long form three times a week.

In the fall of 1979 David began offering beginner Tai Chi through the Continuing Education Department on Wednesdays, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., followed by an advanced class from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  The classes continued at this location to 1981.  

David also brought in visiting professor Charles Danny Daniels to give demonstrations of his style of Tai Chi. This presentation included a film of Tai Chi Master  Raymond Chung.  This was the first of many guest presentations introducing various styles and forms of Tai Chi.

In the fall of 1983 the college moved into the current facility on the by-pass road. Tai Chi classes continued to be offered through the Community Education program and were held in what was the Multi-purpose room, now approximately where the library is.

Jodi Shelkie started Tai Chi in 1982 with David Walker at the college in the multi-purpose room, learning the 108 form during the class and met privately with David for four years to work on push-hands forms

In 1987 the club brought in Sam Masich to give a workshop. Jodi Shelkie learned the 5 sectin form at this workshop and then travelled to Sam’s workshops on Bowen Island to gain the Tai Chi Level 1, 2 & 3 teaching certification.  Jodi then took over from David teaching the Northern Lights Tai Chi classes.  David still came to the classes but wanted a break from teaching and became a student in learning the 5 section form.  David and Jodi still met to do push-hands.

In the year of 1987 Jody Decker joined the Tai Chi classes at Northern Lights College with instructor Jodi Shelkie.  For the next few years the small group met in various places and continued to practice, at times without the instructor Jody Shelkie, who was away. The students practiced in the Dr. Kearney Schoollobby and the hallway at North Peace Secondary School.  Jody Shelkie returned and rented space from Les Nyffler in his Karate Dojo, in the basement of the Remax building and held classes on Monday nights.  The focus of the practice material became the Five section Tai Chi curriculum developed by Sam Masich.  At this point Jody Decker was assisting as instructor and the two women formed the Rising Tai Chi club and created the club logo.  The logo was of the sun rising up from the ocean, representing this new club rising up in its formation. The two instructors continued to travel and train under Sam Masich.

Eventually Jodie Shelkie left to join the RCMP and Jody Decker took over the club.  The club continued to meet in the Karate Dojo and slowly grew in size while classes expanded to twice per week.  In 1999 the Rising Tai Chi club moved to the Ambrose school gym to accommodate the growing number of students.


Tammy Bilodeau began her study of tai chi and qigong in Fort St. John, BC, Canada under Jody Decker and Jodi Shelkie in 1993.She continued learning with Jody Decker while training as an assistant instructor. When Jody Decker moved, Tammy became the head instructor and director of the Rising Tai Chi Club in 2001, changing the name to Willow Moon Internal Arts, School of Tai Chi and Qigong, in 2009.

In 2008 the school expanded the class curriculum to include daytime and weekend classes.  The long standing evening classes remained in Ambrose school gym and while daytime and Saturday classes are held in various other locations.  Tammy was hired to teach tai chi classes in Taylor while the “Village on a Diet” television series was produced in 2010 and following that began teaching regular classes in Taylor. Over the years from 1994 to present, the school enrolment has expanded from the 6-10 to the current 85 or more students learning and practicing Tai Chi and Qigong.

In 2005 Tammy began studying with Grand Master Shou-Yu Liang and Helen Liang of Vancouver. Tammy is also a regular student of Tai Chi experts Sifu Shanti, of Nelson, B.C, and Sam Masich of Berlin, Germany. Tammy teaches Yang style Tai Chi, weapons forms and two person partner work. She also teaches Bagua and a large variety of Qigong. Tammy practices all the internal arts, including Bagua, Xingyi and Liuhebafa (water style). She teaches from beginner to advanced classes, from seniors and to school age children and remains dedicated to bringing this practice of health and wellness, to the community of Fort St. John.