Teacher, No Teacher, Teacher

My process of learning and studying Taijiquan is not unique. I know this because one of my earliest inspirations in Taijiquan study, Jou, Tsung Hwa, said so. Now, Jou was not talking directly to or about me, but he shared his journey with Taijiquan in his books, and those stories spoke to me and my journey.

The title of this post paraphrases the Zen saying "first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is." Learning a new art or skill is like this. First you see the mountain, and think that others have climbed that mountain, and you would like to as well. So you start climbing the mountain, and the trail goes up and down, back and forth, and you are not sure if you are on the right trail, or even the right mountain. You think back to when you decided to climb the mountain, how beautiful it was in the distance, but now, when you look around, you can not see the mountain because you are too close to it. Finally, you reach the peak of the mountain and looking back you can see it with all of its peaks and valleys behind you.

Jou, Tsung Hwa shares this experience of learning as well saying "If you do not make progress, you can not blame your teacher, because no teacher can transfer awareness to you."

Jou did not have a teacher for most of his life. According to the introduction of The Tao of Tai Chi Chuan Way to Rejuvenation he was introduced to Taijiquan fairly late in life, at about my current age, then moved away from his teachers and studied on his own. It was this self-study, and his desire to share it with us, that made Jou, Tsung Hwa one of the most influential teachers of the past century.

He certainly had a huge impact on me, because I understood his frustration with finding a "good" teacher and studying on his own. Jou goes on to say "If you have no teacher, do not place your highest priority on finding the "right" one. None of my teachers were famous Tai-Chi masters, and for over ten years I have not had a personal teacher. In that time, I have discovered the only real secret: you must develop on your own."

This is the Zen experience of mountain, no mountain, mountain. The decision to climb, climbing, and realizing the summit, are up to you.

This blog reboot is my new mountain. About a year ago I saw this mountain, and made the decision to climb it. I have spent the last several months preparing my climb, and now I am ready to start.

(Originally posted on focustaijiquan.com)
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