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Eggert defies stereotypes to become tai chi master

They won't know and could never guess, when they sit down next to Justin Eggert on the airplane headed for China.

"I'm going to a conference on pottery," a passenger will say. "Why are you going to China?"

"I'm going to compete in martial arts," Eggert will say.

This conversational exchange actually happened and the reaction was the same, as it has been all the other times in which he shocked his seat mate on the 13 trips he's made to China.

"Wait! What?" was the response. Confusion and shock make for an interesting facial expression, as someone who has taken too many revolutions on a merry-go-around.

"Most martial arts experts are Chinese," said Eggert, who teaches tai chi at SRJC.

Eggert is — and these are his words — a "white boy." As white as porcelain.

"Most martial arts experts are not large people," said Eggert, a 2001 Santa Rosa High School graduate.

Eggert is 6-foot-2, 240 pounds.

"Most martial arts teachers are older gentlemen," said Eggert, who runs a tai chi academy in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.

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