Tai Chi Chuan, No. 1

I have wanted to write about the internal martial art Tai Chi Chuan for a long while. I have not had the nerve. What do I know about anything? I have practiced Tai Chi for over ten years with Dr. Pablo Mendoza and Mr. Kenny Green, both currently in Columbia, Missouri. I have attended workshops. Nothing more than 10 years of daily practice, really. Intensity of practice has varied over the years. There have been months when I practiced two hours a day, and periods of time when I practiced twenty minutes a day while my hot cereal cooked in the early morning. I am currently attempting to find the right balance of Tai Chi practice and sitting meditation.

For those who are interested, and find importance in, instructor linage then I can tell you Pablo studied at the Taoist Sanctuary in San Diego, California in the mid- to late 1990s. Pablo put it on a certificate. The certificate is in a box somewhere. I have been told the Taoist Sanctuary has not taught the Yang style since the late 1990s, and has moved to the Chen style.

I practice what I call Yang style of Tai Chi. I started studying Tai Chi with the Chen Man-Ching form—which is not a Yang Family form—and have been concentrating on the Yang Family standard long form. I have no idea if they would approve or not. Someday, when I have the money and the opportunity arises, I would like to study with an official Yang Family instructor.

Pablo has a Taoist background. Kenny is just Kenny. As a result, and what attracted me into a long-term relationship with Tai Chi is their relaxed Taoist-spiced attitude towards life and Tai Chi practice. I am not a Taoist. I am Presbyterian.

So, there I am in a park, minding my own business moving through the Yang Family standard long form when someone I have known for years comes up and says:

“Your Tai Chi is all wrong. You are not doing it the right way.”

So, respectfully I ask: “What do you suggest I do differently?” I get a lecture about placement of my little toe and the outer joint of my pinky finger in relation to the inside of my knee. My eyes glaze over and at some point he says something about my earlobes.

My first, inner-punk response is to say, “You are taking this way too seriously. Here, lick this metaphoric, hallucinogenic toad.” However, my inner-Hedon would respectfully suggest if your ego throws a fit about how anyone practices Tai Chi in a park, or randomly posts to a blog, you should go and read, then meditate on the first song/poem of the Tao Te Ching attributed to Loa Tzu and written in the 6th century B.C.

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