Please enjoy this blog contribution by Peter Houser, a long time student at the Sanctuary and two time participant in our Chenjiagou taiji trips.
The lesson for me on this trip is “hope”.
There are hundreds of persons practicing taiji in Chenjiagau. Many are fine athletes and have been practicing for decades. They leap and spin and strike with great speed and balance and seem to set an unreachable standard for achievement.
However, watching Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang correct students shows a very different approach. His corrections address only core principles: head up, back straight, relaxed, no inappropriate torques or bends or deviations. He lifts strong persons out of their deep stances, repositions their hips and back and shoulders and elbows and hands, and their form is changed completely. Simple, like uncarved wood, all of the movement and strength following the grain, following the Tao.
Any of us can aspire to those skills. We must simply find the right teachers, persons such as Bill and Allison and Jan and David and Davidine, plus our Chinese masters who are the wellspring. Then we must dedicate ourselves to our practice and occasionally “eat bitter”.
This contrast was most clearly evident in two 15 year old girls. One was beautiful and elegant, dressed in expensive pink silks, and when she kicked her leg went far over her head. But when she asked for corrections, Grandmaster hardly knew where to begin; she ‘danced’ her move, with her chest lifted and no internal connections. By contrast, a girl was practicing Lao Jia Er Lu in the courtyard wearing simple clothes. Her form and posture were very good and she generated tremendous power in her strikes.
That gave me great hope. I aspire to her level of skill, simple and relaxed and well connected, and I think that it is within the reach of anyone who commits to the practice.