VISION AND DIRECTION IN TAI CHI CHUAN
I have come to you to respectfully ask for advice regarding Tai Chi Chuan. I've studied martial arts for 14 years, and practiced for 9 of those years. I'm a former Shaolin Kempo instructor. I did Tai Chi Dance (unfortunately devoid of internal aspects) for 3 years. There are no real Tai Chi Chuan masters in my area, but I do have many books on the internal arts, including your excellent volumes.
-- Daniel, USA
I am particularly happy to help martial artists like you who are sincere in their training, but due to lack of proper guidance, are not getting as much benefit as they should, or would like to obtain even better results than what they are getting.
To obtain excellent results in martial arts, or any endeavor, it is crucial to have vision and direction. Many people waste a lot of time because they lack these two crucial points.
Firstly, one must differentiate between vision and fancy. Many people, like after seeing a fantastic kungfu movie, fantasize to become a kungfu master, but they have no idea what kungfu really is nor the time and dedication needed in its training.
To have vision means to have a clear idea of what you will be like when you have successfully attained your aims after a reasonable period of training. It also means to have a clear idea of the time, effort and sacrifice involved.
Before you define your vision, it is essential to have a sound philosophy of the art you are pursuing. If a person regards Tai Chi Chuan as some form of graceful movements to maintain health and elegance, his vision will necessarily be limited by this philosophy. In your case you have no problem with Tai Chi Chuan philosophy as you have a rich collection of Tai Chi Chuan literature.
Considering your understanding of Tai Chi Chuan philosophy, your substantial experience in martial arts, and your readiness to train hard, your vision of developing internal force for health and combat efficiency is relatively modest. (Those who have attended my Intensive Tai Chi Chuna Course accomplish these objectives within one year.) I would suggest that while you make health and combat efficiency through internal force as your immediate objectives, you should widen your general aims to include acquiring vitality to enjoy your work and play, cheerful disposition to enhance your personal, family and social lives, as well as cosmic awareness to further your spiritual development.
Having defined your vision, you work out the direction to attain your vision. It means translating your objectives and aims in words into practical realities in daily life. It includes an evaluation of available and potential opportunities and resources, as well as an assessment of how much and how far you are ready to sacrifice to attain your objectives and aims.
I would like to remind you not to fall into the trap that many people have fallen, of understanding your objectives and aims merely as hollow words. Many people think that their training gives them vitality to enjoy their work and play, without realizing that actually their training brings them injury and stress. Many people use words like “cosmic awareness” and “spiritual development” without knowing what they really mean. They say their training gives them “cosmic awareness” and “spiritual development” because it is fashionable to say so, when their training may actually dull their spirit and awareness.
The above is taken from Question 1 June 2004 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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