Students share their feedback and experience.

Seattle School of Yang and Chen Taijiquan and Qigong - Wise Orchid Martial Arts
Wise Orchid’s Seattle School of Yang and Chen Taijiquan and Qigong

I’m amazed at how well you teach over Zoom, and how much care and effort you’ve put into making it not just work, but work really well. I remember those early snow-day zooms a few years ago and how difficult and awkward they were, and while this is not nearly as good as studying with you in person, I’m so grateful that you’ve put in the time and thought to make this such a good experience.

 – Melinda M.

Tai Chi and Qigong practice at Pratt Park, Seattle

I’ve studied Chen-style tai chi with Viola for about a year and a half, and I am continually amazed by the skill and passion she brings to her teaching. From my first classes (when I was an absolute beginner) to now (when I am learning broad sword and other advanced forms that make my head spin), I have always felt just enough of a challenge/stretch to get me out of my comfort zone, while still feeling nurtured and grounded. I now go to classes three mornings per week, and I can’t say enough about what that practice has done for my physical and emotional well-being.

Something I really appreciate is that Viola models how to keep learning and growing. As masterful as she is – and I have never seen another martial artist of her caliber – she still travels as far as Chen Village in China to study with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei so she can refine her practice and bring new ideas back to the school. Through Viola’s dedication and generosity, Wise Orchid has blossomed into a very special community, and I am proud to be a part of it.

– Aaron G., Composer

I received a word-of-mouth recommendation and decided to try out Viola’s Qigong class. She is patient, passionate, funny, and relatable. There isn’t an ounce of pretense in her flexible body! I saw the class benefit students of all ages, some with injuries, all seeking some peace of mind. It helped me recalibrate after spending my days with my two young kids.Viola shows her students the benefits of continued practice. She doesn’t tell you to keep up with it – she leads you to wanting it for yourself. I continued on with qi gong until I felt comfortable practicing on my own. Now I study tai chi with Viola.I keep learning new things, and she keeps presenting new challenges. This is such a great way of getting exercise and learning key skills to center yourself in a busy world.

– Tasha M., Community Organizer


Viola this last week’s class was amazing (as are they all) but, most amazing of all, I think you may have changed my life, at least a little. It was your discussion of mindful walking versus hurtling through space body first. That struck me so much because I am a hurtler, always have been. Guess that’s why I’ve fallen down so much my whole life.

After class, I tried to walk mindfully as I did my shopping. I was a whole lot slower, yet I felt so much more stable and connected to the earth. It’s going to take some focus to overcome a lifetime of bad walking practices, but I’m gonna try.

Thank you, my teacher. You rock!!!

– Diane Campbell


We in Seattle are so lucky that Sifu Viola has chosen our community to offer the teachings of Tai Chi and QiGong. Even after a few classes with Viola my ability to meditate longer improved.  I have become more relaxed and open to the ups and downs of my busy life.Viola is extremely knowledgeable and masterful in transmitting the movement of Tai Chi and the inner experience of QiGong. Watching her demonstrate a movement there is no doubt in my mind that I am in the presence of a master.

– Lovoka Knezevic, Cross Fit Trainer, Architect

Tai Chi Costa Rica Retreat

Costa Rica Tai Chi Qigong Immersion Retreat 2018 – Spiral Qigong

One of the few things I have really appreciated in life is martial arts. Can’t say that I’ve studied consistently but I’ve researched extensively for the past nine and a half years and I’ve studied where I can. I got the bug to study Tai Chi again, specifically Chen style, so I set out to look what schools were available in Seattle where I live now.  I am picky.  I was looking for a Sifu with authentic lineage from the Chen Village where Tai Chi was born with experience and a good heart. Well, I found it.  From the novice to advanced student, Viola, with her kind heart, patience, vast knowledge, and overall excitement for teaching what she has made her life’s work, will provide you with the most amazing tools to begin or continue the most rewarding experience of self-discovery.  She teaches different styles, different places, different times of the day all over Seattle. If you are in Seattle and have a passion for or interest in the Internal Arts, you are cheating yourself by looking elsewhere. Students are the best judge of a teacher and I have found everyone I met thus far to be nothing short of wonderful. Come as you are, just bring your curiosity and your passion.

– Roger Currier


Loved it so much, I signed up for another 9 weeks at South Seattle Community College. Viola is a great instructor–patient, answers all questions thoroughly and thoughtfully, responds to comments respectfully. The QiGong forms are, for me, terrific–I’m in a very stressful situation and find myself able to de-stress and find some peace.

– Mary Jo Watanabe


Viola, thank you for the beautiful Tai Chi/QiGong classes at Renton Senior Center. I always knew these disciplines had much to offer me and now that you’ve become my teacher, I think I’m finally starting to “get it.”  Your kindness, your skill, and maybe best of all your sense of humor make these sessions pure bliss. (I like my fellow students and the lovely setting, too.) Oh, boy, am I having fun!

– Diane Campbell

I am lucky to have found Wise Orchid Martial Arts.  I began Tai Chi classes in January and have discovered a truly beautiful art. Viola is a wonderful instructor:  patient, skillful, fun, and self-less.  The classes are well structured and I always leave inspired to do more practicing.  Anyone looking to learn this art would do well to contact Wise Orchid!

– Kati Ortiz, Immigration Attorney

As an acupuncturist, I have had exposure to a few Taiji classes in the last 10 years. QiGong was my first choice in school as it seemed less intimidating. However, my old and respected Chinese herbalist recommended Taiji to keep up my health. I found Viola’s teaching style easy to follow (for a change!) in her free community class. I committed to and began taking twice-weekly Taiji classes with Viola Brumbaugh in October 2009. After 2 weeks, I noticed twinges in my knees coming from an unstable back that went away. My hips were more flexible. Playing my violin in Tuesday night orchestra was interesting as my neck had had a workout from Taiji in the morning. After 2 months, I noticed my neck would not hurt after playing the violin, and that my shoulders were stronger and more relaxed. Finally, I’m noticing I look different in the mirror. My shoulders are an inch lower than they have been since childhood. I’m not “holding my head” with my shoulders anymore. Like any therapy or exercise routine, Taiji needs to be a regular thing to continue to make a difference. This is a good exercise choice for people on a budget, for people with chronic health issues, and for people who want to prevent health problems in the future. That is why I refer my patients to Viola after their healing has reached a good level with acupuncture. Thanks Viola–I’m as relaxed every day as I am after a good massage or acupuncture treatment!

– J Miranda Taylor, L.Ac, M.TCM

Sifu Viola’s class is attended by young and old, skilled and unskilled, all regular people, trying to improve.  Her classes are never boring as she is constantly introducing new things for us to try.  Her knowledge of the art is exceptional, her form perfect, & her explanations of each move complete & thorough so the class understands the intent behind each move.

Her students believe in her.  They trust her.  They respect her.  They feel challenged by her.  It is an honor being in her class.

– Leon Harris, Tai Chi Instructor

Tai Chi exercises all my muscle groups and gives me a greater awareness of my body and breathing. I have found not only improved muscle tone, but also a large improvement in my sense of balance. Doing the form brings me relaxation and inner peace. It has become an integral part of my life and I intend to practice it for the remainder of my life. Viola is not only well grounded in the art, she is an excellent teacher.

– Ed Roy, Retired Air Force

I so much appreciate the time I’ve had in your classes. You are a gifted teacher, and I am privileged to be your student. You have positively influenced me in many ways. Now I am more inclined to keep my weight distributed between both feet, and my knees are learning to bend into my work rather than locking and causing me hip and back pain. What a difference! Since I have been practicing Tai Chi, I am more aware of what’s going on in my body. Taking Tai Chi is one of the best decisions I ever made.

Not only does Tai Chi revitalize me, I’ve also finally learned to relax, thanks to Viola’s patient guidance.

– Bedford Smith, Contractor, builder of fine custom furniture 

My husband and I started out in one of Viola’s classes in early 2008. I developed cancer and my husband passed away. Rough times.

When I was able, I returned to the Tai Chi class. I was greeted with such compassion and caring from Viola and my class.

I am progressively getting stronger and slowly improving my movements. I am very confident that Tai Chi is responsible for a lot of my body and mind strength. I shall always be thankful for Viola coming into my life.

– Jane Clark, Cancer Survivor

Thank you for the wonderful introduction to the art of Tai Chi. I’ve sampled so many exercises including belly dancing, Brazilian beach dance, tap dancing, yoga, etc. Tai Chi is something I plan to continue incorporating into my life.

Your guidance thru the various positions, and especially your words, have helped me so much. There are so many different facets to each move. Just when I thought I had it you’d point out another adjustment to make it even better. In addition to all that, Viola, you encouraged us to play with various poses. Not to take it all too seriously. I had lots of fun and enjoyment in your classes.

I thank you, Viola, and my body thanks you, too.

– Gerri Wall, retired teacher

I am 56 years old and a new student in Tai Chi. From my very first class with Viola, I recognized not only her quality as an instructor but also her quality as a fine and caring person. She has instilled in me a love for this gentle and beautiful martial art.

Viola has shared not only the physical knowledge of Tai Chi form and movement but also the history of where each style of form originated and the purpose of each movement. She has taught us the discipline and benefits of practice and in less than a year’s time I can recognize those benefits in myself and in my fellow students. She has patience while maintaining just the right amount of “nudge” with each student depending on their individual fitness level to encourage them to improve. Viola is so giving of the knowledge, skills, and her love of Tai Chi and she is always open to questions and ideas. I feel valued and that it is as important to her that I achieve my goals as it is to me. I recommend her highly and know that any future students she teaches will be lucky indeed to learn from such a master.

– Rob Geiser

After studying martial arts for many years, and then taking many years off, I was not in the best of shape, mentally, physically, or spiritually. I began my quest for a teacher in the style that I felt would be a good match for my situation but I had terrible luck.  Every door I knocked on was a modified version of the Wing Chun system, and being a traditionalist, that’s not what I wanted.I had a relationship with Sifu Viola through her dogs, and we hit it off due to common interests.  Before you know it, I was her student.Sifu Viola has technical knowledge and understanding of internal martial arts that is unlike anything I have ever seen. She understands the application of her knowledge, and is excellent at teaching it, and making the information understandable. I have never felt like she was feeding me with an eye dropper, and I always felt that my health, structure and understanding of the technique were her priority. This is a woman who has dedicated her very soul to Chinese culture and the preservation of the internal martial arts, she has studied in mainland China, and is truly a gem in our city. I know being a Hung Gar stylist who knows something and who does not, and your cup will never be empty with her. I personally recommend Sifu Viola, and she is the only person in Seattle, that I trust enough to emulate by being her student.

– Steve Walter, Dog Trainer

I find a calmer more focused “me”. I encourage others to practice tai chi for a more sane and less stressed world. Thank you, Viola!

– Jim Biava, Realtor

Viola is a wonderful, patient, and insightful teacher.

– Tom Broderich, Patent Attorney


Since I started practicing Tai Chi, I’ve gained strength, endurance, and flexibility. I like the variety of exercises (silk reeling, warm up, the form, transition practice) and your teaching methods. Thank you Viola, it’s been a great experience.

– Terri Mitchell


This is the only class (vs. Yoga, Nia, etc.) that I always look forward to. I’ve slowly gained balance, mostly physical, but a little in spirit too. Thanks!

– Susan Miller, Artist

Qi Gong at Wise Orchid has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself.

I first started taking classes with Viola a few years ago. It was during a time when I was doing a lot of PT for a knee injury. After my surgery, I continued my practice as it simply made me feel good energetically. What I did not realize was how much deeper this practice goes on an emotional level. Cleansing my body from the inside out by gathering fresh energy through inhalation and moving out stagnant energy with exhalation is so vital.

More recently, I had a breast reduction and within 6 weeks I once again returned to my practice. I noticed my mobility and flexibility improving week to week. What I was not anticipating during my recovery was getting vertigo from an inner ear viral infection. Qi Gong helped me yet again!!

Even if I felt unsure about certain movements that involved my balance or head position, I trusted my body to adjust as needed. Viola has an innate gift of teaching as well as creating an environment where we feel safe to be vulnerable. Tears flowed from my eyes as I celebrated my body’s return to health. My knee feels better, my recovery from surgery is positive and my vertigo has passed. Most importantly, I feel connected to my body in a holistic way by taking these classes. I’m inspired by the other students who are 25 years older than me and whose knees are more flexible than mine. I cannot thank Viola enough for sharing her skill and lifestyle with the greater Seattle community.

-Nisha K.