My Early Journey


After discovering Taijiquan I went into a phase of exploration where I used every resource I had available to learn more about the various family styles of the art. This was a very different routine from when I first discovered those blue and yellow books by Yang, Jwing-Ming. During those first years, practicing Taijiquan was everything. I moved outside, eating, drinking, and practicing under a Pin Oak tree. At heart; however, I am a skeptic, and seeing Taijiquan through the narrow lense of one author did not satisfy my intense need to learn more about the art.

During this process I learned that most ardent practitioners go through this phase with their Taijiquan studies. For me, this phase extended to the arts of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan as well.
My early passion with Taijiquan was at the very earliest days of the Internet and there was little material to be found there. The “big box” bookstores had the more popular titles, but the really interesting material was found in the pages of Tai Chi or other martial art magazines. At $50 or $60 dollars a VHS tape, and $30 or $40 dollars a book you only had to get burnt once to become a real skeptic about this material. After one of the VHS tapes I bought for $40 was only 30 minutes in length, I became just such a skeptic. It would take weeks for me to choose an additional purchase. When I became a pest to both the vendors and publishers of the material, seeking additional information about the products before making a purchasing decision.

Today, you can use YouTube to (at least) see previews of all the videos I bought during this phase. Sometimes, the whole video has been uploaded. Unfortunately, the same videos I bought 10 or 20 years ago are for sale at the same price only in a different format.

I share this because my first pass at content on this blog is to share with you my journey with the family styles of Taijiquan. As I do this, I will share the good and bad material I used for my study, and point you to free, or lower cost solutions for your study. I will also share what worked for me in my practice.
I have multiple purposes in doing this: First, I hope to save you some time, pointing you to resources you may not have known existed. Second, I want you to stay engaged in your Taijiquan studies. I know that nothing can ruin that engagement quicker than a bad teacher, or getting ripped off.

Finally, I want you to know that it is ok to study on your own. Nothing bothers me more than someone saying “you should find a good teacher” in the martial art discussions I find on the Internet. What are you going to do? Leave your job, and maybe your family, to embark on journey across the world in search of a “good” teacher? That might make for good fiction, but not a prosperous reality. Even more disturbing than the “find a good teacher” mantra is that immediately after you bite and ask where or who a “good” teacher is, the discussion quickly degenerates into a my v. theirs lineage brawl.

I know that there are many good Taijiquan teachers running very good schools throughout the globe. I would go as far as to say that anyone willing to lay out the cash and time to put up with a bunch of half-hearted students two, or three times a week is a good teacher. It is not something you do for the money.
I also know that some of the best of these teachers have put their instruction onto video. Some of this instruction is better than anything you will get at any school, even if you happen to attend one of their own schools.

While I agree that spending some time with a group practicing Taijiquan is a good idea, I refuse to buy into the idea that any study except that is no good. According to most of the really, really good teachers, the ones we call Masters and Grandmasters today, personal time is the best time for practice.
It is with this attitude that I approach the upcoming series of posts; I hope you find them helpful.
(originally posted on focustaijiquan.com)
Please join me,
Troy
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