Reflecting on the passing of several of our Great Elders in the Martial Arts. Were does that leave us, the next generation(s)? Life is too easy now. The Great Ones had a hard life. Digging water out of mud holes, deeply corrupt governments that persecuted them, famines. Still, they perservered. Now, so many weak excuses for not training. I cut my finger, I have to iron tonight, my muscles are sore. What is really being said is, “I don’t care enough.” Why? Life is too easy, its too damn easy to not care. Salute to the Great Ones who cared enough to not make excuses in the face of a life we will never know.
The above was not written by me. A very skilled and respected Tai Chi teacher posted it. It sparked discussion, has me thinking, and it make me uneasy.
I also salute the grand masters of the art and acknowledge with gratitude the hard road they travelled. Because they worked hard, my lessons are easier to come by and certainly easier to understand. I know very well how deep my own teacher digs and how very generous he is. It is because of his strong legs, that I have been able to be on and off this path over the years.Â I’ve also seen a lot of amazing people join in and drop out of this passing parade. I cannot and will not say that those who are not willing to â€œeat bitterâ€ just donâ€™t care. No one can say how easy one persons life is over another.
Nowadaysâ€¦ in my world, Tai Chi is personal.
I have spent most of my adult life studying Tai Chi. I have trained hard, made sacrifices and no one could say I didnâ€™t care; but what I care about, and how much I care is not for others to say.
Life is different for us today. I am grateful it is. My life is indeed easier than most who have gone before me. Thatâ€™s a good thing.Â No one beats me if I don’t practice. And just as some parents want more for their children, I believe most teachers want their students to excel and surpass them. They studied hard for themselves and in doing so they make it easier for us.
For the most part Tai Chi is a recreational art, and even for the many die hards who chose to dig deep, most of us crackers are in it for love â€” not duty. We donâ€™t need to eat bitter. Certainly I have the luxury of leisure interest.
Unlike a few great grand masters and elders in the martial arts I do not practice or learn because of family honour or tradition. My skill is not dependent on defending my community or country. What I do and don’t do is for joy and for personal growth.
I have chosen to trained hard and slack off over the years, Iâ€™ve skipped practice, and still gone to the pot lucks and parties. I’ve taught in more than one empty room. I’ve quit teachers and found new ones. Iâ€™ve had breakdowns and breakthroughs over the years. And because of my easy and privileged life, certainly not in spite of those who have gone before me, I am able to care about other things in my practice.
In other words, my sweet practice is mine.