Practicing and Teaching T'ai-Chi
I put this book together in 1994 from notes and journal entries that I made over my first ten years of T'ai-Chi training. It includes specific tips on improving in the art as well as general everyday applications of T'ai-Chi principles. Here is an excerpt from the Preface to the book:
I have throughout my training been looking for an approach to the art that included all the aspects of my life that kept coming up. A sort of unified field theory of t'ai-chi. I continue to grope for a more complete understanding. This little book started as notes to myself. I phrased them as instructions for a master (what I saw and learned) to a student (my actual day-to-day self!). When I decided to "go public" with my notes, I didn't want to preface each statement with "I have found that..." or "In my opinion..." I just said what I saw as if it were fact. I make some pretty strong statements. I like strong statements. Right or wrong they are definite and clear. It's up to you (and me) to test everything written here and elsewhere to see for ourselves if it feels right. T'ai-chi like any art ia an on-going research project. I work on everything I have written about here. I am addressing my words as much to myself as to anyone else!
Here are some excerpts from the book:
When you attend to structure and form, you may lose your softness and relaxation. When you attend to softness and relaxation, you may lose your structure and form. Gently let your attention rock between them until you have both alive and correcting themselves.
Be willing to make no progress. Most of what you experience in t'ai-chi is not progress. Work hard, practice, and study your movements. Progress will come and go. Your relationship to you body and self is what is important.
Just because you "know" some aspect of t'ai-chi, continually be open to understanding it again-fresh and new. There are so many levels of work and the words to describe them may be identical. "Don't use force or arm strength when you push." This has a different meaning as you progress. When your teacher corrects you, see if you can let go of saying "I know" as an instant response. If you are being corrected you might not know, or you might be being introduced to a new, deeper level of the work.
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For the past 2 years I have not written any poems at all. Recently, after attending several local Poetry Slams, I decided to enter and read some of my own. I found that I really enjoyed sharing them out loud. I’ve also become interested in writing more poetry. Before embarking on a new phase of writing, I decided to “clean house” and organize what I’d already written. The result of that housecleaning is this book.
I teach T’ai-chi for a living and spend a lot of time outdoors teaching and practicing. To me T’ai-Chi is an interesting mix of wild nature and human nature. When I’m practicing T’ai-chi I feel my animal biological self, meeting my human civilized self. For this reason I prefer to practice T’ai-Chi in parks, where nature meets culture, rather than in a civilized training hall or out in the wilderness. A lot of my inspiration comes from what I observe in this ongoing process of balancing my wild nature and my civilized nature. Love and relationship is another arena where these two natures meet and is another source of inspiration for me.
I hope you enjoy these short poems and feel inspired, not only to write some of your own, but to share them with your friends and community.
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