If you are new to
the world of Asian culture and martial arts it will seem a little
strange to talk about things like "Lineage" and "Credentials"
- especially with respect to TaiChi.
The fast paced world we live in is full of imitations and superficial
"eye candy" substitutes for the "real thing."
We buy beautiful looking fruit and get home to find it is tasteless.
Go on an Asian holiday and you will find that "Rolex"
watches sell for US$10 (if you haggle) in Penang outside the
Snake Temple! Now and again we hear of University lecturers
or Corporate Managers getting sacked after a belated background
check shows that their Certificates, though real, derive from
impressive sounding Universities that don't really teach.
Chen style Beginner (China)!
Most people we deal
with are well-meaning and relatively sincere and open. However
it is a hectic, crowded world we live in and it runs on "spin",
"hype" and exaggeration along with superficiality,
self-deception and wishful thinking in ourselves and others.
The sad fact is that when we are "green newbies" (even
when we deal with sincere people) the end result can be the
same - we get "short-changed" and less than what we
expected. So newbies have to be wary and an awareness of a teacher's
credentials can help reduce the risk of time wasting mistakes.
almost by definition, lacks the experience necessary to easily
judge the true value of a proposed puchase or committed endeavour
whether it be the buying of a first car, a packaged World Trip
- or joining a TaiChi Club.
above, in varying degrees, are precious investments of your
time, hard-work and even money. You want some degree of confidence
that in 12 months time you will feel that you have not squandered
your precious resources - that your watch still works and gives
accurate time, that your new house is sound, that your teacher
really knows their stuff. Unfortunately a Beginner, left to
his/her own resources, will only get this sort of experience
when it is too late for regrets!
Citizens Class Howick 2003
the savvy beginner, before any big endeavour/purchase, tends
to enquire as to...
(1) the reputation of the seller;
(2) drag along someone with experience to advise them;
(3) apply their own common sense, intelligence and limited experience
as best they can to the issue at hand.
credentials or reputation can help you make an informed decision
as to the first two of the three criteria just mentioned. You
may like to read our lengthy article on "How
to Pick a Good TaiChi Teacher." to learn other ways.
Keep in mind that even good credentials are not an iron-clad
guarantee of a good teacher but they are a jolly good starting
this a bit too serious?
Of course you might not care a hoot about learning genuine
Traditional Chen style TaiChi! Maybe you just want a light hearted,
low impact, group form of exercise which looks good, has unique
health benefits and motivates you to keep it up. Well that's
fair enough and you need not go into all this lineage/credentials
stuff because almost any TaiChi, superficial or otherwise, will
do a lot of this for you.
we find that some people have de-motivating experiences with
many TaiChi clubs because they feel they aren't "going
anywhere" or lose confidence in their teacher's real skill
level or teaching ability. Further, the full range of TaiChi
health benefits cannot be aquired by learning the superficial
"outer" movements. Someone with genuine traditional
theory, skill and long experience needs to show you how to learn
the "internal" movements - which is an Art.
TaiChi Day (Auckland 2003)
especially Chen style (the original parent one), is regarded
by Chinese not simply as a "martial art" but also
as a cultural Art Form of the highest level. This ancient and
practical Chinese learning regarding the human body and its
defence, its movement and energy efficiency, its fitness and
health - is as much a distillation of human wisdom as that knowledge
collected and held by European Universities and Medical Schools
or by professional Artists and Dancers. Even professional dancers
seek out traditional Tai Chi teachers to enhance and balance
their Western techniques.
you are going to take up TaiChi why not receive the full range
of benefits (including its deepest artistry and health aspects)
by learning the genuine traditional skills and techniques. You
may like to read more from "What
is Chen Style?"
Chen Village, "Lineage" and "Generation."
If you have read through the "What
is Chen Style?" FAQ (frequently asked questions) you
will understand that what is now called "TaiChi" evolved
in Chen Village China. This remote village is still the "cradle"
of the parent TaiChi form known as "Chen" style. It
is full of highly experienced TaiChi enthusiasts and Masters
- some of whom teach full time and pass on their hard learnt
wisdom and experience to both Chinese and overseas students.
TaiChi lovers from around the world regularly seek out this
old fashioned village or its travelling Masters (eg the "Four
Tigers") for extended periods of live-in training or workshops.
style is no longer a secret art and has been taught openly since
the 1928 (Beijing). However one must understand that, for practical
reasons of time, student numbers, differences in student ability
and bonds of affection, that the fullest teaching and the passing
on of the highest knowledge cannot be communicated to everybody
who learns. Masters tend to make extra commitments of time and
energy to formally chosen students ("direct disciples").
Such "direct disciples" are chosen to be authentic
"flag-bearers" or rallying points of a Master's tradition
to assist yet another new generation of Tai Chi enthusiasts.
recognised teacher becomes the next generation in a line of
discipleship extending back many known generations.
Fa-ke" was a 17th Generation Chen Master (of the highest
martial skill and repute - being handsome also helped). As he
was also the
oldest son in the leading family of Chen village he was by that
reason the chief "standard bearer" of the family Chen
Zhu Tian Cai (Auckland
of his senior students (also family members) dedicated their
lives to passing on the Chen Teaching. They taught that group
of Chen Village lads (and many others) now known as the "Four
Tigers". They are now 19th Generation Masters and are the
present living Standard Bearers of the Chen Village tradition.
club belongs to the lineage passed down by one of these Four
Tigers (Zhu Tian Cai).
there is some helpfulness in a teacher being able to demonstrate
connection to the Chen Village Masters or at least to a past
Master of known repute and high standing. If a teacher can also
demonstrate the depth of their association with this Master
that strengthens their credibility further.