July 29th, 2014 by Jan

Master rant alert.

In the martial arts it is a big deal to be called a Master. It means you’ve not only put in serious time, but that you know your stuff.

Most of the old Chinese guys in the Internal Arts are called Master out of respect. But, since the internal arts don’t have belt or promotion recognition, how are we ever to know who really is a Master and who isn’t? Basically, old, Chinese and male gets the title. A few old, Chinese women do too, but they had to be quite humble in receiving it as well as protest a bit at first.

But, what if you are a middle aged, white woman? Okay, what if you are a middle aged white woman with 30 plus years of training and you know your stuff?

You wouldn’t think she would have to defend or deny the title. And yet…

It takes four years to get a degree from university, and then another year in graduate school to get your “masters”. So you would think after a decade or two of serious training, never mind three or four decades… it is pretty much a given. And yet, a Tai Chi teacher uses the M word in a bio or on a web page, and all hell breaks loose.

“Who do you think you are?” shouts a stranger. “Master? Prove it!” “How dare you!”

I mean really.

I took a 60 hour gardening course back in the 80s. I was given the title of Master Gardener. I hardly knew the difference between an elm and an ash tree at the time, much less a lichen and a moss. Still, I had the badge and certificate, and people turned to me for answers. Thankfully today we have the Google and I’m off the hook in the garden. What I’m getting at is that I didn’t know very much on the subject, yet held the title. Why can’t someone with some serious backup not be able to claim her work?

So anyway — why the uneasiness about Mastery in Tai Chi?

Yesterday, I followed a huge kuffulle about a tai chi teacher who dare advertise her self as a Master.

For crying out loud. The woman has put in more training hours and personal study than a Phd. with tenure.

Her on the job experience is unbelievable, teaching 10 – 20 classes a week. She travels to train, and to teach, she brings in other teachers for her students benefit. She continues her journey in earnest, and some bozo, gets all huffy about the fact that she dare, use the title Master in her advertising.

For crying out loud! Move on.

Despite her training, time in the art, and knowledge of her subject, what I saw yesterday demonstrated her true mastery in the martial arts and why I won’t ever hesitate to call her Master.

In the storm — she stood. True Mastery at its best.

I salute.

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