"Be the Towel!"
My Tai Chi (and Kung Fu) teacher, Sifu Dave Godfrey, was teaching his advanced Tai Chi class about the energy called Fa Jing, and to demonstrate the projection of this particular energy through the body he had us using towels. “Don’t focus on the towel and trying to move it” he said, “Be the towel!”. We all laughed and the association of ‘Be the towel’ with ‘Be the Tao’ was impossible to miss. Funny, yet it says it all. Dave is one of those rare teachers that doesn’t hold back his knowledge, he respects the tradition it comes from and the wholeness it holds so well. Back to the source, which is ultimately a central goal in Tai Chi. Although a much younger derivative of the Chinese martial arts tradition, its roots draw from the undercurrents of ancient spiritual disciplines and accumulated knowledge of the energy channels that exist in the human body; Tai Chi carries that wholeness well. It lives in the inner stillness at the centre of external motion, found through the harmony of Yin and Yang and in extension everything that is. There are but a handful of Tai Chi traditions that developed out of the original early 1800s original teachings, that is to say until the dawn of the new age. In the last twenty years a plethora of variants have appeared on the scene, all with fancy new age names, mostly taught by practitioners that often claim to be spiritually advanced, enlightened, miraculous, life changing, and above all unique. So unique that they develop their own forms, principles and practices, and a unique ‘brand name’ for their Tai Chi (and a hefty monetary price for lessons, retreats etc!). Not that there’s any huge ego attached to doing that, is there? I am glad to say that isn’t Dave. He teaches Yang family style traditional Tai Chi. Even in his beginners classes students have witnessed the benefits for themselves (see testimonials in the Loong Mang Pai facebook page). This is because Tai Chi does work, and Dave certainly knows how to teach it. True teachers are hard to find, and often, like Dave, they focus on the teaching rather than dressing up the ego. Respect! Be the Way!