By Irene Stillwell
It was in 2003 that I was at a conference and saw tai chi master Kenny Perez perform. It was an enlightening experience and convinced me that tai chi would be a valuable event for Arizona Senior Olympics. I spoke with him after the session, and that year, tai chi became a part of the Arizona Senior Olympic Games.
Fifteen years later, tai chi has become a practice encouraged by scores of health organizations and has been hailed as an important sport in the nationwide movement of fall prevention.
Kenny Perez is, in many ways, an enigma. As seen in the pictures above, he is a fierce competitor, a master of his sport and is known internationally for his writings and teaching the art of tai chi. At the same time, he is a family man and a deeply religious person known for his quiet, friendly and kind demeanor.
Perez is a lifelong martial artist. He studied in China and became the first non-Asian student of the legendary wushu grandmaster Wu Bin and has been involved in the promotion of wushu through competitions, demonstrations, seminars, videos, books, movies and television. In 1981, he became a member of the first American wushu team to set foot in China. This year, he was honored to be on the cover of Kung Fu Magazine.
He has won numerous awards for his martial arts skills, but he has a passion for teaching others and passing on the many benefits of this ancient practice. For fifteen years he has donated his time to the Arizona Senior Olympics so that people over the age of 50 can enjoy better health, balance and peace. Arizona Senior Olympics proudly salutes Kenny Perez for his dedication to the health and happiness of Arizona seniors.