by Rick Pietila on 2015/10/22

image1It is said that you can obtain an idea of the skill level of an instructor by the quality of his/her students. Not only by how they move and fight, but also who they are. These are all things that are a direct reflection to the lineage of a martial art with a focused and true path.

Master Chen asked me, shortly before accepting me as one of his disciples, if there was one point, or a moment where I noticed improvement in my practice. While at the time I did not recall such a defining moment, and was unable to provide an answer, I now realize it.  For me, it was the moment I decided to trust.  Simple really.  I had trained martial arts for years in the past, with instructors of different philosophies, not all of which lead me toward my goals, in fact some personal derailment was a direct result of a particular lineages philosophies, others did me a world of good. For me, I needed a system that is consistent in its teachings, as well as consistent in its people.  A system with a proven history that could also offer hope of future goals if I just followed the procedure, and truly opened myself to it.

Admittedly, at first I did not know what to make of Taijiquan vs other systems of martial art. When I tried my hand at it, it felt awkward and was as if the skills were unachievable, unobtainable.  A few years have gone by now, and I have been told I show a slight improvement. No matter how minor, that in and of itself is motivating. We need motivation to decide how, when and how much we will train. That motivation comes from trust. Trust in the method, in the principles and procedures, as well as trust in its leaders.

Why is trust important?  We could say that it is, that you expose your vulnerabilities, your values, your current practices and your skills to those around you and yourself over time.  For some, self doubt or insecurity can ensue, no matter what age, or where our physical development currently is. In the video “How to Learn”, Master Chen talks about derailment and staying focused on a path.  He states that “one look”, and your off that path. For me, the strength to be able to stay focused, again comes from trust in a method, but also, trust in ones self practices as taught and repeated to us by our instructors. On a basic level, we are an amalgamated collection of our past experiences, despite what wisdom we think we understand at the moment. Knowing this, in order to believe that our futures might hold some display of obtained skill or personal enhancement, requires faith. Faith is a direct result of trust, with consistent resolve. Longevity in training is derived from faith.

No matter what the initial inspiration, we come to taiji with different goals in mind.  Health needs, self defense wants, mental/emotional improvement hopes, etc, or perhaps the simple curiosity to the unknown. It is said that effective instructors teach the student to teach themselves. To truly digest a systems teachings, one must have faith in teaching themselves by following the examples around them, and testing the validity of its practices. This faith will flower to confidence, confidence to understanding, understanding to repeatable result. However, none of this without patience.

At least for me, I have finally found these qualities and many other positive attributes in the Practical Method system after a lifetime searching for a path, and have learned, not to over think, just to follow the procedure, not glance outside, and simply trust.

About Rick Pietila

Rick Pietila is a practicing disciple of Master Chen Zhonghua and has studied Practical Method Taijiquan from 2012 to present. He currently lives and teaches PM and Hunyuan Qigong in Weston Florida

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugo Ramiro October 22, 2015 at 11:51 am

I appreciate the article, trust can be difficult. Thanks for writing it!


Karen Adam October 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm

A very thoughtful article on trust. Trust in you – in your heart. And trust that where you are is where you should be – reasons unknown. Enjoy what you are doing, obviously that is the Practical Method right now. But trust in yourself is important, that way when the people you trust do not live up to your expectations damage is minimal. That is a very big life lesson.


John Upshaw October 22, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I can appreciate the honesty that is contained within the contents of this article. The statement of “if I followed the procedure, and truly opened myself to it”. Here within the statement possesses several obstacles for many; past disappointments in others and oneself frequently lead to apprehension. This prohibits the transmission process as one does not allow oneself to be open to unfamiliar teachings, constructive criticism, and the need to control the outcome as a means of gaining the facade of security. This article speaks to the need of trust, faith and vulnerability…in fact I stand by the notion that those that do have considerable amounts of growth, both in taiji and personally, as compared to those that do not.


Karen Adam October 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm

One can only grow if one lives life. In life there is always black/white, sad/happy, success/failure, life/death. This is the way of the universe and no matter what, it is not changed. You can read into what you think people are, but you don’t really know. One reads a newspaper article, five people can read the same article and there will be five different ways that article is understood. Knowing and not knowing. You can use all the words you want to describe what you think is….but in the end what you get out of the article, well that is just for you. No one truly understands each other’s perception because no one is God. Some people think they are God but they are not. Whatever you think God is. It is Tao. No one knows. People put labels on people all the time, because they don’t understand those people, that in itself does dis-service to the labeller and the one they are labelling. One lives their lives from the many, many memories and things they have done. To hide from those memories would be cowardly. Just saying. Myself – no disappointments, well, maybe because I didn’t win the lottery. But other than that one accepts what is brought to them. Believe in what is presented. The way that you see. In time to come, the vision changes. This is life and this is growth. A one year old does not see the world the same as a 60 yr old. They should not and they do not. I am saying here to embrace where you are, to breathe it, to accept it. The old hippy thing. If living and breathing the Practical Method is where you are, then embrace it. Trust in you that this is what is. Your creation.


Karen Adam October 22, 2015 at 5:14 pm

This is your truth


Ferry Yunianto October 22, 2015 at 9:34 pm

when you decide to become disciple then you trust and open your self to the teacher. open to any instruction and teaching, and try to be consistent in learning and practice it.


Carlos Hanson October 23, 2015 at 1:44 am

This is something I have had to work through since I started the Practical Method. Before I met Master Chen, I decided I wanted to learn from him based on the detail he offered in his videos. He had the depth of teaching I sought. After experiencing both Master Chen’s skill and his training at my first seminar, I knew I made the correct decision.

Prior to studying the Practical Method, I practiced Chen Style Taijiquan and read everything I could about it I could. I also read about Taijiquan in general and other related systems of martial arts, Baguazhang and Xinyi, for example. I watched many YouTube videos of other teachers and practitioners. I had a lot of things in my head that I thought I understood.

I think it took me over two years to finally release what I thought I knew and get down to just doing what I was told. It was a very weird place to be. I experienced the skill of Master Chen. That was not in question. I knew that if I followed his instructions I would learn. I intellectually understood his lessons. However, my previous knowledge would creep into my mind and say “this doesn’t make sense”. Sometimes it seemed I would stand outside my body wondering why I wasn’t following the instructions Master Chen gave me.

Clearly, I didn’t fully Trust what I was learning even though I could see the potential of the path. In the end, I did the only sensible thing I could. I stopped reading. I stopped watching other videos. I tried to do exactly what I was told without regard to any conflict that would arise in my mind.

I believe my choice to fully Trust has only occurred in the last two years, even though I had already decided four years ago that the Practical Method is for me and Master Chen is who I want for my teacher. I also think that the decision to Trust made me practice more and that if you don’t put in the time, you won’t get a dime. Not sure why I decided to rhyme. It just happens some times.

Anyway, I appreciate the article. I had thought to write something similar someday. Clearly, everyone has something to share that will speak to others.


Karen Adam October 23, 2015 at 9:11 am

Very nice articles here. Not sure why I slipped in on them. Was actually reading on some of the material. I am not a disciple and I think you can tell that. I never will be. I always found it interesting, the concept of discipleship. Being a westerner I think it is something foreign to me. I have no problem giving trust to life, most of the time anyways.
I guess when the true teacher and the true student meet there is always that comfortable knowing and trust with each other and both teacher and student work towards the end goal, of learning the concepts of their interest. I imagine they kind of support each other in that. Student trains and teacher teaches. Some teachers and student’s relationships last a long time, some not so long. Some are actually fleeting. Interesting concept but the need for it? Not sure I understand that. Being special?


Rickygene October 24, 2015 at 6:41 am

Hi Karen Adam :).

The above article ‘Trust’, was written as an idea that is somewhat self explanatory and not really meant to lead into the discipleship topic, but since you asked, I’ll try my best to answer (others feel free to offer explanations if I fall short here:). I love topics that can lead to new discussions! 🙂

A discipleship is an ‘agreement’ of sorts that binds a student and teacher on a journey together, to pass on knowledge of a given philosophy, style, or as we say, lineage. The agreement is just like you stated, the teacher teaches, and the student gives every effort to learn. This relationship can be likened to that of western culture aspects of tradesman- Journeyman/Apprentice, college level schooling- Professor/Understudy, or business office- Executive/Intern, etc. College students sometimes say things like “I’m a ‘college name’ Gradute”, or “I’m an Allumni of ‘college name’.” etc etc. When one desires to become a disciple, and if they are accepted, they can then say, I’m in the lineage of “lineage name”, in our case; Chen Style Practical Method.

The master/disciple relationship is not only limited to the martial art world in the east but also Chinese Traditional Medicine schools, Yoga schools of India, Art teachers of Japan etc etc, though different titles can be given to the relationship. The actual word comes from the Greek word μαθητής (mathētēs) which refers generally to a “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent,” etc. In the ancient world, (not modern east or west) however, it is most often associated, with people who were devoted followers of a great religious leader or teacher of philosophy. So, the word ‘disciple’ itself is a fairly modern one, with a long history of other names, but, same concept or definition mostly. In mandarin: 弟子is: [ dìzǐ ] (学生; 徒弟) disciple; pupil. Or, 徒弟 túdì.



Leave a Comment
Leave a comment on the content only. For admin issues, please click the "contact" button on the top left.

Previous post:

Next post: