Testimonials

DIMITRI MOUGDIS: MY TEACHER, MY FRIEND
by Robert A. Anderson

Dimitri Mougdis is a natural: as a teacher, as a practitioner of Tai Chi Chuan. To be taught by Dimitri is a treat—as it is to be taught by any person who has a passion for what he is teaching, who knows how to communicate that passion, and who can pass along to another person effective instruction so that genuine learning can take place. To be less wordy: Dimitri was born to teach Tai Chi Chuan.

I began taking class with Dimitri in 1990. I had been doing Tai Chi Chuan since the early seventies, when I first learned a version of the Yang style in New York City, but I gladly began learning it all over again—“from scratch”—when I realized what Dimitri was all about. Although I am older than him (and so find it a bit odd calling him sifu—which means, literally, “father”) I more than willingly refer to him as “my teacher”: his teaching, I soon realized, is “the real deal.”

When I would go to class (which meant a 140-mile round trip—my home at the time was in Pompano Beach), I would station myself near where Dimitri was teaching other students so I could overhear—so valuable did I consider his instruction, whether firsthand or secondhand. My wife is a former ballet dancer and for many years I have listened to her speak of teachers from her past and the passion, care, and meticulousness they brought to their teaching. Dimitri is like that.

There is something else: respect. In Dimitri’s class it means two things. First, there is the respect that Dimitri has for what he is teaching: the art of Tai Chi Chuan, as he refers to it. Which also involves his respect for those who came before him: a very real and heartfelt respect for his teachers and the teachers of his teachers and the teachers of them, pictures of whom stare down at us from one of his walls. Second, there is the respect that we, his students, give to Dimitri, respect that has to do not only with his power as a martial artist—an internal power, jin, that cannot be explained by our laws of science but can certainly be felt (believe me!) and therefore cannot be denied—but also with the respect we feel he is giving us as students who know so much less about this “art of Tai Chi Chuan” than he does—yet he pays as much attention to the beginning, awkwardly moving student as to one of his advanced students, going over for the third, fourth, fifth—tenth—time the movements that make up this art.

Dimitri is also Greek. (Forgive me, my friend.) And so he likes to talk. (Forgive me again.) And so being in his class is like participating in a symposium: about Tai Chi Chuan, about martial arts in general, about health, about living, about life. Dimitri is like that. To study under him—with him—is a life-enriching experience.

Now I live far away and can no longer go to Dimitri’s class. But that experience will always be with me. Thank you, my teacher, my friend.

~ Robert A. Anderson

INSTRUCTORS

“Meeting Dimitri has been a pivotal moment in my life, having been a student since 2001, the art of Tai Chi has enhanced and enriched my life in every aspect. I know from what I have learned in the last ten years, that finding the Internal Arts Institute is finding the essence of Tai Chi or the jewel of the Internal Arts. Dimitri has attained a personal level of skill that can only be described as profound and continues to evolve, this includes the talent to teach this art to any student regardless of their ability, he is a source of inspiration. I am student for life. Thank you Dimitri.”

John Hetherington

“Started Tai Chi Chuan Sept 2001. I got a comfortable feeling when first entering the school and meeting sifu Dimitri.He is an excellent instructor who personally gets to know each student, as well as there strengths and weaknesses, and tailors there instruction accordingly. A dedicated student will learn quality Tai Chi Chuan at this school.“

Mark Ditchkus 2/2/62
 

STUDENTS

“There are few who possess the “true skill” and authentic teachings of classical Tai Chi Chuan, and there are even fewer who have the ability to teach it. Sifu Dimitri K. Mougdis is one who has cultivated both. His dedication to this art is reflected in the quality of attention he gives to his students and the integrity with which he carries the teachings. Sifu Dimitri’s warm nature, lively spirit, and attention to detail are inspiring and encouraging to students of all backgrounds.”
~Thomas Garbarino, Vermont

“Dimitri, It is my fortune to be your student. It is my honor to call you Sifu.”
Mike Booth, Nuclear Security Response Team Leader

”Tai chi has helped me in all three major areas of my life, physically, mentally, spiritually. Physically, I am much more flexible, much stronger legs and body as a whole. Improved balance and improved my digestive system. Mentally, It has helped me be calmer more relaxed [In all situations] I also experience much less stress and anxiety. Spiritually, It has helped me grow as a person being more caring and giving toward others. More in touch with my higher power and the environment in which we live in. I am grateful to have such a talented, dedicated sifu/teacher/friend to transmit the art to me.”

~Mark Ditchkus (as a student)

“Tai chi, as practiced at the Internal Arts Institute, teaches humility, rewards perseverance, and reveals itself in a progression of epiphanies that constitute continual rebirth. It amounts to a simple truth endlessly refreshed and revealed with increasing illumination. Only a great teacher can make it thus.”

~ JC

"As a Physical Therapist, learning Tai Chi from Dimitri enhanced not only my personal health, but also the outcomes I have treating my patients. I've found Tai Chi to be effective at treating people with a wide variety of conditions, including but not limited to balance problems and joint pain. Dimitri is a wonderful, enthusiastic, friendly, knowledgeable, and dedicated teacher. He is very sincere about passing on true Yang Tai Chi to his students. I highly recommend him."

~ Kevin

"I have been doing Tai Chi for 5 years with Sifu Dmiitri. When I started, I had no idea of what Tai Chi was, only that someone that knew me said that this would be good for me. Along the way I have found that my health has improved greatly. Much less allergies, very rarely would I catch the cold/flu. My body and mind feels much stronger, and grounded. The Tai Chi is very profound in its meaning that can not really be described but must be experienced over time. It has opened up to me as a deep form of meditation, bringing greater concentration to the mind and awareness of oneself and others. The tai chi form not only helps generate and circulate the energy/life force in the body, but also brings you in tune with the life force/chi in the universe. The tai chi is more than just yourself. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have Sifu Dimitri as an instructor and to learn this form. Even my daughter who is now 9 has begun the form and is also a student. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others. Not every teacher can transmit this knowledge- Sifu is not only highly skilled at the art, but teaches according to each students needs and level. I am always deeply grateful to Sifu and the person that led me here."

~ Usha Maharajh

“My experience with Dimitri Mougdis has always been absolutely superb. He is an outstanding teacher with love and sympathy and empathy to share with every student however inept or however wonderful they may be. He is interested in all of us, makes each one feel that we are an important part of the Tai Chi experience and also a part of the continuing learning process of this discipline which has been evolving for centuries. Having seen the people in China doing Tai Chi in the parks in the mornings, I have a wonderful feeling for the continuation of an ancient discipline which we share with so many. My thanks to the founders of this amazing art and to those like Dimitri who continue to prolong its life and to share it with all of us”.

~ Petey Cox

“Over the last 7 plus years, it is hard to put into words, what training at Internal Arts Institute has done for me. I started there wanting to learn another martial art and over time found that Tai Chi Chuan has permeated every part of my life, in so many ways that I didn't expect. First was the health benefit that I received, as I have not been sick with the flu or a cold since I started. Second is my vitality and core strength, is now the same as it was in my late twenties and early thirties. Lastly, I am more relaxed, as well as patient both my work and home life. I can't thank Dimitri and the Gin Soon Federation enough for opportunity to learn all they have taught me.”

~ Michael LaCerra

“I started practicing the Yang style Tai Chi Chuan with Sifu Dimitri Mougdis in the summer of 2003 after struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia for twelve years. It was not strenuous and was the only form of exercise I found that did not exhaust me. After several months I noticed the fibromyalgia pain had decreased greatly and by the winter of 2004 the fatigue had dissipated. In August 2005 I was involved in a car accident and was not able to practice Tai Chi. I was hospitalized twice in 2006 for a Crohn's/severe Celiac disorder. I moved to Washington to be with family because I was extremely ill and was hospitalized four more times while there. I tried eleven different Tai Chi classes while in Washington and found only one that had a slight positive impact on the digestive disorder I was suffering from. I have returned to Florida three times (for a total of 15 months) since moving to Washington with the specific intention to practice Yang style Tai Chi Chuan with Sifu Dimitri Mougdis whose method of instruction is personal and exact. Each time the digestive problems (which have been diagnosed as IBS and a variation of Celiac disease) have improved greatly.

The practice as taught by Sifu Dimitri Mougdis not only has a very positive impact on my physical health but also on my mental/emotional perspective. I am calm and experience the joie de vivre that often leaves us when we are ill for so long. At this time I am preparing to move back to Florida in order to continue studying with Sifu Dimitri Mougdis. Always grateful,”

~ Sylvia

"My experience at the Internal Arts Institute in Stuart is complete satisfaction with the results I see from the practice and instruction provided the physical,mental, and even spiritual aspects are much more than I expected. The combination of sifu Dimitri's intuitive style for each individual and the unselfish assistance of the senior students make the class an extraordinary experience-all in a very friendly and supportive atmosphere."

~ Phil Morgan

“After practicing external martial arts for over 10 years, our switch to Tai Chi and Qigong has been beneficial both physically and mentally. Dimitri Mougdis is a real sifu.....patient, generous and not dogmatic. The excellent teacher-student dynamics and instruction contribute to a quiet and settled environment, with the more experienced students perpetuating this commitment. This is one terrific school!!”

~ Richard and Lorraine Roberts

“I had long searched for a Tai Chi instructor. While living in North Carolina I found many Karate instructors but no Tai Chi instructors. In September 2004, we had been in Florida for several months and were ready to return to North Carolina. I had gone to get a haircut before we left and Lo and Behold right next to the barber’s shop was a new Tai Chi studio. I stopped in and met Sifu Mougdis; he outlined his background and what his training consisted of and how he taught. I was thrilled and could not help but flash to the old Chinese saying “When the student is ready a teacher will appear.” We were going to be gone for four months but I told Sifu as soon as I returned I would be in to see him. When we returned in December 2004, I became a student of the Internal Arts Institute.

Sifu Mougdis teaching style is incredible. All his sessions are one on one and he takes the time to be sure you understand the Tai Chi principles involved. Finding a qualified instructor is very hard but Sifu Mougdis’ lineage has a direct link back to the Yang family. At the time I started at the Internal Arts Institute I was 62 years old and had problems with my knees. I have arthritis in both knees and they tended to fill with fluid and become very stiff. Sifu took into account my limitations and felt that the Medium Frame Tai Chi form would be best for my circumstances. Having trained with Sifu for almost seven years now and doing my Tai Chi form daily, as well as Pan Gu Qigong which I also learned at the Internal Arts Institute , I have had no problems with my knees. They no longer fill with fluid, my balance is much better and I have to credit this to the Tai Chi Training I have received.
An additional very positive aspect is the group of students at the Internal Arts Institute. Dimitri instills a spirit of helpful cooperation. I have never met a nicer more dedicated group of people.”

G.R. ~ Palm City, FL

“I had been involved in the martial arts since 1968 and have been able to train in Okinawa ( Go Ju Ryu ) and in Korea ( Tang Soo Do ). For a number of years I taught Go Ju Ryu at the YMCA in Lake Wales , Fl. I started having hip problems and thought that Tai Chi would be kinder to my body. I had also burned out as an instructor and wanted to be a student again.

My Tai Chi journey began with the standard 24 form and then I began studying a wu shu version of the Yang Family long form. When my teacher moved on, I and a training buddy began to search for a high level of instruction in the Yang tradition. We visited schools , went to tournaments and chased leads about quality teachers. We heard about a school in the Stuart area and Mike was able to visit it and came away very impressed. When I was able to visit, I came away just a little doubtful, as it was so different than my past training and I would have to change & start over. (I might of had a case of ego going on ) I decided to give it a three months test to really get a feel for the school and training. As I write this note, it as been over five years since I started my test run.I and a buddy drive two hours to train and two hours back.

Why would I drive that distance to train ? It is the quality of instruction I receive that keeps me coming back.”

Curt Templeton - Lake Wales -Fl.-

“Frankly, my Tai Chi Chaun experience has been challenging, compelling and profound. I plan to practice and improve for the rest of my life. Every one who wishes to learn about themselves and their relationship with the universe should consider dedicating time to determine what it provides to them.
I advise that it was not easy in the beginning, but it was revealing and enjoyable. Combined Tai Chi and Qigong has improved every aspect of my body and life. How much is up to me.

It is difficult to determine if it is the art or the nature of the people drawn to practice the art, but the students and instructors are very welcoming and sharing and create an environment that is unusually attractive. I feel and obtain energy when with them.

Sifu Dimitri is a combination of my favorite teacher, best coach and closest friend. He has the skill, knowledge, sensitivity, honesty, and dedication to transmit his life of learning and teaching Tai Chi Chaun.

Fortunately, I have found a master and mentor in Dimitri that is unsurpassed in my experience of nearly 70 years.”

~ Gary Reeves

“I have traveled extensively around the world in search of a true and knowledgeable teacher of Tai Chi Chuan. I've never seen in my life the knowledge, dedication,and passion that Sifu Dimitri teaches at the Internal Arts institute. This is a man, who embodies compassion, diligent focus, and knowledge of classical Yang Style Tai Chi that few people in the world today have. He is a very rare gem of a teacher.”

~ Robert