I would like to thank you for not only allowing me to take the degree one test this past summer, but encouraging me and giving the necessary guidance. I had a great time, as usual, and taking the test
added a whole new dimension to the Cheng Hsin challenge. I believe taking the test forced me to learn a lot more than if I hadn't. Lastly, I was wondering if you could elaborate on something for me. You have spoken well of Ueshiba in the past. I see a resemblance between some of your techniques and those of Ueshiba. What if any influence has Ueshiba had on you?
I want to thank you again for sharing what it is you have worked so hard to find, and I anxiously await your next seminar.
Of course Ueshiba has influenced me as have many others. I studied Aikido with Robert Nadeau, who studied with Ueshiba (so you've heard many "insider" stories). And I think Aikido done right is very beautiful to watch. Some Cheng Hsin techniques may look like Aikido techniques but when you work with them you will find they in fact are not, they just have a familiar look (Aikidoists have as hard a time learning them as anyone else).
I've studied many martial arts, and when I learned something valuable (i.e. if it had some effective functional purpose for being) I tended to keep it, and what was not valuable, I tossed. But don't misunderstand, I don't believe in jumping too quickly into revision or eclecticism. My philosophy has always been to master what is taught, before I would even think about changing it. This may have slowed me down in some cases, since I was hesitant to change what was asserted, even though I may have failed to find genuine value in it. But it also forced me to discover things I never would have if I had rushed to modify something due to a lack of immediate understanding. Eventually, however, I did begin to toss what proved to be remnants of techniques lost, or that were poor inventions in the first place, and to keep only what showed itself as a useful contribution. Of course by that I don't mean I kept the techniques as I found them, I just kept the direction or sometimes the look, and changed them or redesigned them to be consistent with Cheng Hsin principles. Since, as you know, my commitment is to the principles and not to
any form or specific art.
I never really wanted to create a new martial art by creating all new techniques. That pursuit seemed rather useless and I felt no need to do it. (I have known several people who tried that, and I thought their efforts turned out to be bogus and superficial.) But I did want to communicate the incredibly valuable principles of Cheng Hsin and so this is why Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou, Cheng Hsin Boxing, Cheng Hsin Body-Being, etc., where created.
Of course, standing on the basic design of techniques from other arts has sometimes proven to be a mistake. In trying to "reinvent" a technique to be Cheng Hsin consistent, I have discovered that a distortion of both the technique and the principles was often the result. In such a case, I found it was better to throw it out and start from scratch. But then again sometimes I was forced to learn (invent) a particularly difficult form of using intrinsic strength in order to accommodate the basic design of a technique that I never would have discovered without going down that road. So it seems to have evened out.
Not to understate his many genuine technical and systems contributions, the greatest influence Ueshiba had on me was inspirational. By the time I saw him, I had already gotten to the point of feeling like the world of martial arts didn't hold much more for me. And I was still a young man. But everyone I saw seemed worse than I, or doing systems that lacked what I already experienced as possible. Then I saw Ueshiba and conceded there was more to be done. I admired his attempts to go deeper even at an old age. I loved the beauty of his art. I enjoyed his ideas and intelligence. So it re-inspired me to study more. To look even deeper and push on. This was his main contribution to me personally.