Keru Uma Budo

Kicking horse martial arts symbolizes the life philosophy we adopted after 25 years of practicing and teaching budo.


Purpose and Mission

Our purpose is to help people live healthier, happier and more balanced lives through Tai Chi and Mindfulness.

Our mission is to provide the roots and principles to get students started on a lifelong journey that they can eventually take to the next level on their own. 

Finding the Heart: Principles for Tai Chi and Life

"To find and to understand the principles means to find the heart." - Hilmar Fuchs

Uli and I have been practicing various forms of martial arts for over 25 years. We learned Karate, Kobudo and Tai Chi from our teacher Hilmar Fuchs. We studied Aikido for a while with a friend. We explored Jodo with one of the leading experts in North America. We spent some time learning the Yang family style teachings in the school of a direct decedent of the Yang family and current leader of the style. We learned how defensive shooting techniques and empty hand fighting can be combined into a coherent system.

Most of the principles and thoughts in this book come from what we have learned over the years from our teacher Hilmar Fuchs. Some were inspired by other leaders in martial arts and outside of that realm. And yet another set was driven and inspired by questions from students in our classes. Occasionally we had some insights on our own.

With that, we hope you will enjoy the book, find a few things that make sense to you and maybe enrich your own practice. We cannot teach universal truths, but we aim to offer ideas for your own explorations. 

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 While we prefer the printed version for fidelity and better ability to be used as a working book during your practice, we also have a Kindle version of our book. 

Buy on Amazon - Kindle

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Body and Mind


Keru Uma Budo

Keru Uma Budo - kicking horse martial arts - symbolizes the life philosophy we adopted after 25 years of practicing and teaching budo (martial arts).

Like a wild horse, enjoy life and your freedom, roaming green pastures under wide open skies. Build affectionate relations and friendships. Be compassionate. Have fun. There is no limit to what you can do.

However, you never want to get in the way when a kicking horse feels that it needs to defend itself or its family.


Tai Chi

Tai Chi Ch’uan / Taijiquan is an ancient Chinese martial art and health system focused on preventive care. It is often referred to as meditation in motion.

Through slow and precise movements we will work on our balance and body control. In all exercises we keep close awareness on our breath and energy flows. This will increase awareness and counterbalances our often stressful lives through an hour of mindfulness.

Multiple studies have shown that Tai Chi decreases stress, improves balance, bone density and overall wellness. It has also been proven to slow down age related memory issues.

Practicing Tai Chi will make you feel more energized and will improve your posture.



Ikebana is the traditional Japanese form of flower arrangement.

There are hundreds of different schools of Japanese flower arrangement. The one Uli is teaching is one of the newer ones. The Sogetsu school of Ikebana was founded by Teshigahara Sofu in 1927 and is now headed by his daughter.

Working with flowers and seeing their inert beauty teaches appreciation for nature, meditation and fits perfectly into the recent uprising of minimalism.

“When children are young, give them roots. When they get older, give them wings.” (Hilmar Fuchs)

Shu Ha Ri - How we learn


Teaching and learning in traditional martial arts is divided in three phases: Shu (obey), Ha (detach) and Ri (leave). Over the years of studying the art, a student moves through those phases until she finds her own way. Don’t try to hasten to Ri too quickly, it takes decades. Trying to find shortcuts will distract and confuse rather than help the progress.

Shu – This is the phase that every student in every martial art starts with. The purpose is to exactly follow the teacher’s instruction and precisely copy her. During this phase the body will learn the movements and subconsciously get a ‘feel’ for the principles at play.

Ha – After years of practice a student will more deeply understand the principles that are lying behind a martial art and its techniques. She will understand what’s critical for the art and what’s just an expression of style from different teachers. The student will start to learn what interpretation and variation will work best for her body. This is the time when students start to experiment with the art and slowly and carefully go beyond the boundaries of what they are presented with in class.

Ri – After decades of practice, the student’s body will have learned the principles of the movements. It will have become a natural part of her body. The student will have discovered what works best within the special abilities and constraints of her body as well as what works best for others that she teaches. It is now time to find her own interpretation, to develop the art further and contribute to keeping it adapting and alive. The student will leave the teacher to find her own way, although she will never lose the connection to her roots or her teacher. Even in Ri a student is not finished learning. She will seek out other masters and other arts to broaden her understanding and bring new ideas back to her art.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” (Buddhist proverb)

About Us


Alfons Staerk

Alfons has been practicing Tai Chi, Karate, Kobudo and other martial arts since 1992 and holds a 4th degree black belt in Karate (awarded 2005; he received his 1st degree black belt 1996). He has been giving classes for all age groups since 1993 with a special focus on self defense as well as health aspects.

Alfons received his Karate instructor and examiner licenses from the German Olympic Sports Confederation in 2004 and his Tai Chi instructor license for Komatsu-Ha 2009 in Florida.

Professionally Alfons is a senior technology manager at Fortune 500 companies (including Amazon and Microsoft) and passionate people coach.


Ulrike Staerk

Uli started Tai Chi, Karate and Kobudo in 1993 and holds a 3rd degree black belt in Karate (awarded 2006; she received her 1st degree black belt 1999). She has been giving classes for all age groups since 1997. Uli has a strong interest in holistic health and wellbeing, combining exercise, nutrition and the arts. 

She received her Karate instructor and examiner licenses from the German Olympic Sports Confederation in 2004 and her Tai Chi instructor license for Komatsu-Ha 2009 in Florida. In 2016 she was awarded with a Yonkyu Shihan teacher diploma by the Sogetsu School in Tokyo, Japan.

 Uli is a well-known Tai Chi and Ikebana teacher in our local community. She serves as staff teacher for ‘Mindfulness for Kids’ at the local Elementary school, where she also leads the art docent program. Before moving to the US, Uli practiced as Medical Doctor at the University of Aachen in Germany. 

“Empty your cup so that it may be filled. become devoid to gain totality.” (Bruce Lee)

The magic of Tai Chi

Qi Gong and Tai Chi sequences performed by Uli.

“Learn and forget. Make the technique a part of your body before you move on.” (Morihei Ueshiba)

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Come join a class!

We are giving classes at Studio Beju in Duvall, the Sno-Valley Senior Center in Carnation and the Snoqualmie YMCA.

Please join us and try out Tai Chi.

We can also arrange for private lessons or small group Ikebana classes.

"Don't think. Feel." (Bruce Lee)