Practical Method Phoenix, AZ Workshop October 1, 2016 – October 2, 2016
by Chris Liu on 10/4/2016
When I discovered the Practical Method, I started watching a lot of Master Chen’s videos. This led me to read more in depth about Taiji and its rooted philosophy in Taoism. I watched, and read, and thought about it every day for over a year then one day, I finally believed I was ready to meet Master Chen.
Upon meeting Master Chen, I was happy to see that he is a small person (I’m 6’1). It proved to me right away that his ability must be heavily based on skill and not size.
The workshop was pretty standard as I expected from all the videos I watched. Basic foundation exercises led by senior students while Master Chen goes around and correct students. He will also stop everyone from time to time and explain why we make these mistakes and what we must do in order to correct them. If there were any questions, he would gladly explain in detail and demonstrate it. In simple terms, we worked on “what” and Master Chen explained on “why”.
The training was difficult but rewarding. Simple actions had incredible amounts of details in it and required intense concentration. We took breaks often and Master Chen would explain Taiji philosophy.
Listening to Master Chen talk was when the art really shined through. His ability to rely on Taiji to explain everything from martial ability to daily life showed that the art goes beyond just fighting techniques.
Master Chen is what we call in Chinese “Ling” (灵), quick and agile, not only in physical movements but in the mind and spirit. The people in this world who possess the “Ling” quality are often perceived as highly intelligent. Their minds are alert and can adapt to just about any situation. I was able to see this in Master Chen as he explained and demonstrated Taiji. Students often asked questions and Master Chen responded clearly and offered explanations that were easy to understand.
Master Chen also possesses “Jing” (精), a highly refined spirit or vitality. People who possess this characteristic are sharp and have a strong will. Their skills are highly refined and perfected. This quality can be seen when Master Chen physically demonstrates the art and system. He would explain the answer, show it from different perspectives, used physical objects, and demonstrated on his body. It was clear his actions followed specific set of principles that are highly applicable.
True mastery of an art cannot be achieved by memorization. It cannot be achieved by acquisition of belts or ranks or techniques.
The opportunity for mastery only presents itself when the fundamental principles are fully understood.
We must learn through asking “why” and not “how”. Asking “how”, as Master Chen put it, is like being spoon fed. One must arrive at the answer through constant questioning and thought. When we fully understand “why” we achieve “what”. The “what” is Taiji.
Master Chen explained this with an analogy of mathematics. A Mathematician has to understand the function of the formula in order to be able to apply it. The numbers plugged in are variables. The results will vary but the formula does not change.
Taiji is the same as it requires that your actions must follow a procedure. This procedure is fundamentally rooted in law of nature (physics). Taiji is a formula that deals with combat as well as in daily life.