On Yang

(From Shifu Damirís ĎDesperately Seeking Yin: Tai Chi Chuan as the Masters-of-the-next-level-see ití)

Practice, practicality and our worldly affairs

Practitioners who do a lot of reading? They usually lack reality. Both exercise-practice and reading are areas in which one is focused on oneself, disengaged from the wider context. For true results, there needs to be an interaction with the world.

Thatís why we insist that a student should find a place, organise a role in the world, giving it letís say seven years, or five, or three, depending on the individuals abilities and personal effort.

Some say: Iíll practise first, and when I achieve perfection, Iíll start teaching and that will be a sort of interaction with the world.

But thatís simply not good enough.

One has to apply oneself in multiple areas. Even if a serious student sees martial arts as his lifelong priority, he should nevertheless acquire some other qualification, a trade, some skill unrelated to that chosen area. It could be anything, really; the point is there should be some versatility. Without versatility, we end up with a skewed lower pyramid which cannot make contact with the upper realm.

If a student is living only on the physical and mental planes, there is no threefold Endeavour. The life of the emotions needs to be added, through interacting with others in a way which they understand. The way of interaction which most people understand best is through worldly things: a career, marriage, children, any of these social imperatives.

A student who is not actively engaged in any of these, who is concentrated solely on his practice and later on teaching, cannot articulate his knowledge except through physical training. This is not good enough for a possible aspirant. This is as if he were trying to form a threefold endeavour with two strands only, or to build a pyramid with only three sides to it.

Without a well-defined, useful role in society, one cannot become a true student, let alone a teacher.

We see a number of students who are at an age when they believe itís too late for all of this. Theyíre, say, 40 or 50, and have never held a steady job, or acquired any formal education or profession, so they say thereís no time for that, Iíll just become an instructor.

Can such people become true teachers?

We doubt it.

They can become instructors of skill, thatís all. By avoiding having an active role in society, they set a poor example to their students.

And a true teacher teaches by example.