I believe that real progress in Taiji must be the product of many small achievements over many years. I am really pleased that the last three months has been marked by a number of small achievements. Looking back some even feel like big achievements, but in the course of a Taiji life I think they must be small. I had a few goals this summer including doing 100in one day (just like our Grandmaster Chen Fake was said to have done), to compete in a push hands tournament, to learn Erlu and some weapons forms and to lose some weight. I didn’t accomplish all of these goals but in others I accomplished more than I had thought I could.
Even though I didn’t accomplish all of my goals I don’t feel that I failed, instead I only made some adjustments in my goals according to what was realistic. For instance I hoped to do 100in one day but instead my best was only 45. It is a lot less than 100 but considering that one year ago I could barely do three without being completely exhausted I think that my smaller achievement of 45 is a huge accomplishment. I did compete in a competition against Chinese competitors in both form and push-hands and I won silver medals in each. I didn’t complete the choreography of any weapons forms but I made a good start and I did complete the choreography of Erlu.
Before coming to the mountain, years of stress, overeating, under-sleeping, and general neglect of my body and mind had left me overweight, out of shape and mentally exhausted. Although, after this summer, I am still overweight and far from being in top shape, I lost close to 40 lbs and increased my health and stamina in a huge way. Since coming back to train in Taiji with Joseph (after an 11 year hiatus) I have found a positivism, calm and strength which had been missing from my life for a long time. My energy level still fluctuates from day to day, but overall I have made some very real progress towards a healthier and better life. I do want to develop authentic Taiji fighting skills but I know that this will come gradually with time, patience, and persistent practice.
I feel that bringing Taiji back into my life had been a major catalyst towards better mental and physical health even before traveling to China. Coming to Daqingshan has only amplified these positive benefits. Besides training daily with Master Chen and learning many important lessons in Taiji, I have benefited in a lot of different ways this summer. My experience has included eating organically produced and well-prepared meals, relaxing in a beautiful setting with loads of fresh air, and the chance to see some of the many historic sites in China. We also met and learned from many important masters from the Practical Method and Hunyuan systems. This included a chance to witness a historic meeting of Grandmaster Hong’s remaining disciples. Above all else, however, I have started deep friendships with some amazing people who I hope will develop into life-long friends and Taiji collaborators. I can say with total sincerity that I am extremely proud to be a part of this Taiji family and to be in the company of so many talented, hard working, kind and intelligent Taiji brothers and sisters.
I know that I am only at the very beginning of what I plan to make a life-long journey in Taiji, and this summer on Daqingshan has really helped to further strengthen my resolve to make Taiji an important part of my life. So a big thanks is in order to my teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua and all of his students who made this summer on Daqingshan possible for all of us. I also owe much gratitude to Master Sun Zhonghua and Master Hong Sen who offered all of us priceless insights, guidance, coaching and encouragment. And of course I am forever indebted to my lovely wife and daughter who recognized how much good this would do me and encouraged me to find a way to come to Daqingshan.
If anybody reading this has any inclination to come to Daqingshan, whatever your reasons, I think you should find a way to make it happen, it could be one of the best things you ever do with your life