Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Principles can take alternative forms

Joel Glover
Englewood, CO
I wanted to express my gratitude for your willingness to make yourself available for these types ofworkshops. My schedule and commitments tend not to permit much time for these, but when I get to them I am so grateful for the outcome. I left the seminar with two strong impressions that have already helped me.
One has to do with lineage. I have studied a Chen Pan Ling tai chi chuan style for just under 10 years, butI don't really have a consistent instructor or class anymore and I have no clue on my lineage and can point to no "secret transmission." I feel like I am getting the "secrets" from you, like avoiding is better than blocking. In addition, I began to recognize that honoring lineage could serve to hinder or restrict learning what truly works and could force one to learn and even teach aspects that don't work. So, I feel better (less insecure) about being something of a mutt in the tai chi world. I especially appreciate the chance to get to "play" with other practitioners and to recognize that they are not superior because of their "lineage."
The other has to do with usefulness. I am involved in various levels of combat almost daily and I continue to try to use the basic Cheng Hsin principles. However, my combat is either in court, or negotiations, or on paper. In some ways it could be perceived as more abstract but for me it is more concrete. I don't need to imagine being in fights. I am in them. I was in them last week and will be in them this week. I continue to try to implement a system to apply the Cheng Hsin principles in the conflict resolution work that I do in the commercial world. They tend to work very well. The workshop helped reinforce for me those principles and to see their application in the combat that I do on a regular basis. For example, perception - seeing through your opponent's eyes; experiencing and knowing losing to know winning; timing; letting your opponent continue their attack so you can lead them instead of having them do something else; accepting and immersing in the loathsomeness of the combat; presenting; yielding; not committing to a particular outcome; recognizing anger in your opponent; doing everything right and still getting your ass kicked; and many others -- all had direct, concrete applications for my work. They may not always improve the results, but they help me enjoy the work that I do much better.
So, thanks for the help. I recognize that I may not fit the mold of your typical students but what you do really helps me on a daily basis and I look forward to continuing to work with you at other

Not to worry about lineage, it means nothing. If you study t'ai chi, then your lineage goes all the way back to the founder of t'ai chi. Where else could it go? The secret is not in lineage, but in finding real teachers who know what they are talking about. And then of course you have to practice what you learn.
Remember when applying the Cheng Hsin material to your work, the principles for combat will work just fine, but the form and method of applying them may have to be different. Consider, for example, what is it we are accomplishing through yielding, why do we do it, what does it provide, and what is the principle?
Then you can know better how this may apply to your work. It may take forms that don't look like yielding, or like yielding looks in the martial sense.
Good luck and thanks for your letter.

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