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{finally being tweaked and here published}


I never considered myself a Tai Chi master. The two main reasons for this is that first, I am not a master in that art, and secondly, that I am honest about it. I am and always have been a scholar — a student of the arts who has played the role of teacher in so much as making what I do know available where otherwise it would not. I have always deferred to the true masters when they became available for both me and my students, and felt no regret in pushing them out of the nest after digesting what I could only give them a taste of. But being looked up to as an authoritative souce for so long was a delusion too easy to believe, at least subconsciously. I was a big fish in a lot of small ponds, and an orphan in my own training.

And this is why it was a bit difficult — after years of teaching the little I have learned, practiced, and discovered — to empty my cup and start learning a particular, traditional, lineaged style. I have finally found a teacher that meets the necessary criteria: He has a style consistent with my training; he is more advanced than I in both experience and technical knowledge in one or more areas; and he is someone I have confidence in as a human being. That last point sealed the deal, because for me, the martial arts are a very personal, spiritual thing.

This long article, originally meant ot be a series of articles — my “Tai Chi Journal” — is a contemplation of a one-year journey (2006) into Yang Chengfu Tai Chi. I am coming into it fresh, but not new. For me this is like living a whole childhood in a faraway land, and then coming back to it years later as a man. It is impossible to forget all I have learned (and much I need to unlearn). It is unwise to pretend I know nothing of the theoretics or practice of other styles and schools. My challenge is not to throw out the cup, but empty it. This means to become detached from my previous experiences, keeping them only as a reference point, and even then at arm’s length and not as an immutable foundation.

I will give the reader this journal to be used as a number of things. First, this is a taste of training in a traditional style. This is also a contrast between formally learning a style and simply being exposed to it, studying it piecemeal, and practicing it without a strong foundation. The strengths and limitations of both approaches need to be acknowledged, and training like the other half trains will make these ever-debated positions come alive with hands-on perspective.

Also, I hope the reader will walk away with the ability to make a choice in their own path without having to spend their lives weighing what they have with what could have been. Learn from the mistakes of others who paid the price — we each make enough mistakes of our own as it is.

Lastly, my hope for you is that you can keep your own cup empty, no matter what you strive to learn in life. There is no belief, theory, or concept that is so sacred it cannot be left behind for a better understanding. Question, test, accept, and reject these things as needed. They are only planks in the boat that get you to the shore of real truth. And when you get there, be willing to leave your boat behind.

Peace in All Things,