Testimonials : First Impression

My background & early exposure

I saw videos of Master Chen on youtube and I was Very impressed.  I watched them periodically until one day, 4 years later, I registered for a workshop with him in Toronto (after I was laid off, and had a bit of both time and money).   It was clear that he had an amazing understanding of movement (and obviously, Practical Method Tai Chi Chuan).

One event that happened in that 1st workshop / exposure to him, which was an enlightenment, was that I touched his foot as he was doing “in with elbow”.   And I understood that all movement was driven by his foot / qua / center system.  And that after studying dance actively for 20 years, I didn’t know anything about how to use my legs or hips.

I started taking his online classes, and they were full of great exercises and insightful corrections.  I hope I am improving there, but I think it is slow.  But regardless, even if the body is improving slowly, there is no doubt that my eye / ability to understand is evolving, and that this is very valuable.  I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to study in these classes with him online.

I went to the Iowa workshop after taking that 1st workshop in Toronto, and then studying videos and online for about 7 months

A week in Iowa

After the first few days, I began to understand what “stretch” means.   He had given me this correction a couple of times in the online classes, and I wanted to work on it – I thought it was an important thing for me to focus on, but I didn’t really know what to do.  Now I begin to know what to do.  This was very satisfying. My current understanding is that it is neither tensing the muscles in place, nor is it “limply” stretching, but rather an extreme extension which creates space in joints and charges up the facia/tendons/etc, in the desired direction.

There were also many pieces of instruction on different details that start to educate my eye … many more details later.

A private lesson with Master Chen

I am so lucky that I have access to a master who is a great practitioner, a great teacher, very open with information & willingness to let you feel him do things, and who speaks English and is in North America.
I registered for a private lesson with him.   You go to a workshop and having a little bit of hands on, on the topic that he feels is most important for you, really helps you be on a right path.   I felt I had my first taste of what it is to feel what it is to do practical method.   I remind myself to follow instructions, however, and not just go back to the feeling.

I think my capacity went up a notch in the first few days of the workshop, and another notch after my lesson with Master Chen.  I started to better understand “gears” in the body, and the way you use a gear to indirectly create power … the movement is perpendicular or at a 45% angle, and I genuinely need to not let my body try to drive the wanted result, but just do the technique.  Not “end game”.   So hard.  


Many wonderful people – helpful & generous, but also very interesting, and with their own unique insights into life in general. Lou mentioned to me in the Toronto workshop that it was a great group of people, but I didn’t understand. Let me say in writing, Lou – you were right, so many great people 🙂

I would come without the community, because Master Chen and his teachings are so profound, but the community definitely makes it more fun 🙂

Psychology & Science. Thinking

Master Chen also shares many stories which are educational.   He’ll talk about science and make analogies with Tai Chi.  I majored in physics in college, and most people who talk about physics but don’t know it are spouting garbage.  Master Chen is not – what he says is profound, relevant, and such a completely different perspective.   It is very interesting.

And there are periodic stories about how we should think as students to progress, to not be in our own way.   He said, and I am sure he is right, that each of these funny stories about other people is also a story about us.  That the story he was telling about someone else where the other person was being so wrong-headed, is actually a story about me / each of us (just more subtle).  I need to be careful of being too wrongheaded, of not listening enough.  Of not believing enough.  Of interpreting too much through a personal lens.  

One example is often when people ask questions that are not on the topic he is teaching, he’ll make it clear that it isn’t a good question.  This really isn’t the typical American way, but it is clear he is correct … better to focus 100% on what he is saying and talking about, so you have more hope of learning it.   Having a distracted mind can only make something that is already difficult even harder!  

There are many ways that my thinking is too opinionated, I think.  But at the same time, I do know he is such a master of this, and I need to not just listen, but hopefully learn to think more like he thinks.  I appreciate that he doesn’t just work to teach us Tai Chi, but also works to teach us how to think and learn.  Kelvin & Winston also had a great conversation on this same topic with a couple of folks late one night – thank you both for your help in this workshop!

I think I also am getting a better appreciation for the use of physical props, and to practice in the right way.  Every time I used a prop I realized how I wasn’t as accurate as I thought.  

Realizing there is hope

I had a large part of me that believed I would never “get” it.  That there was too much to the practical method.   The more I learn, the  more nuanced, subtle & difficult it gets.  

I studied for the 8 months after my 1st workshop online, and honestly, I didn’t think I would develop any skill.  If studying Practical Method was climbing Mt Everest, I thought I would start hiking, and not even be able to make it to base camp.   With such a bleak view of my future progress, why did I stick to it?   The answer is that I thought I would learn amazing amounts along my journey, even if I didn’t get very far.   It had already had dramatic changes in my dancing and movement.   With rewards so high, and the luck of such an opportunity to study with him, how could I not?

However … in this workshop, I realized that with hard work and time … I could learn!  I could start to climb Everest.   Realistically, I’ll never reach the summit.  I will never be even close to as good as Master Chen.  But there is hope now … I see that I can make real progress, and begin the ascent.   Somehow knowing that I can make real progress is very encouraging.  The impossible has now become possible.

My name is Paweł Maciejny. I work as a teacher, I am also a player and a trainer at the rugby club
in Bielsko-Biała and a volunteer firefighter at the Volunteer Fire Department Żywiec – Sporysz. Read more

Participating in the European Practical Method Meet-Up 2020 in Żywiec in Poland was a great joy for me. Read more