Baby Steps are the Key to the Internal Arts
Tai Chi - An Athletic Art

A Great Group of Friends

Chris_ken_jay_blog Jay and Penny Stratton were kind enough to host a Going Away Party tonight for Nancy and me. I think I'd be very disappointed if my teacher left town. This Friday, Nancy and I will leave for Florida.

This isn't easy. My students have become our friends. The weather was perfect for tonight's barbeque at the Stratton's. And you should see the woodwork this guy does. What an artist!

Grill_king_blog2Jay is also an artist on the grill. Also at the party were Skip Hackett, Vicky and Boris Arratia, Greg and Carol Surrierer and their daughter Rhiannon, Chris and Kim Miller, Kim Kruse (now married but I'll be darned if I can remember her married name), Chris and Kat Lierly, Doug and Jane Outterson, Jon Stratton and his friend Taylor, and Colin Frye. John Morrow also stopped by.

Over the years, a lot of students have left me, but I've always been there. Vicky said tonight that she always knew the school was there, even if she wasn't, and it gave her comfort. I understand that.

Ken_kim_kim_blog  Working full-time and teaching about 7 hours a week (10 hours for more than half the year in 2006) has been very difficult. I've put off a lot of activities I had planned, including videos and books about the arts. Since I don't plan to teach at this pace after we move to Florida, I'll free up a lot of time to study, practice, and produce more teaching materials. Another thing that will help -- I'll live only 8 miles from work instead of the 65 mile distance between my home in the Quad Cities and ACT, my employer the past 8 years.

Ken_colin_blog2 The Internet makes it very easy to share information. In the coming weeks, I plan to explore ways of teaching through the Internet. Hidden pages the public can't see, but students can access them for written material and videos. I'll teach a lesson and the students here can practice.

I promoted several worthy students during the last class yesterday, and tonight I handed out sashes. Each one can achieve a black sash if they just keep practicing. John Morrow attended the party tonight, too. He's such a good man, and a great friend and martial artist. I'm hoping my students can drop by his school to workout sometime.

Ken_rhiannon_blog Rhiannon was there tonight. Her parents, Greg and Carol, started in class last year and they've been wonderful additions to the school. I love people who are interested, dedicated, and would drive over an hour just to come to class. Lately, they've done that twice a week. The photo above shows Rhiannon, who doesn't want a piece of me. No she doesn't. I have a black sash and I can whip a 10-year old girl. I'm not kidding.

Nchris_ken_greg_blog Her father, Greg (shown here on the right) said something very nice to me as I was leaving tonight. It caused me to reflect philosophically for a while as Nancy and I drove home. It's hard to understand the impact you have on other people sometimes. I'm just a martial artist who is a little farther down the path than my students, and my responsibility is to share what I know so someday they can pass me by. Time isn't stopping. I'm getting older every day. Sometimes it's hard to realize that I want to become very good at Chen tai chi, but in 6 years I'll be 60, and in 16 years I'll be 70. Realistically, there's only so much time left to maintain a high level of physical strength. You can run, but you can't hide.

Ken_vicky_boris_blog The best thing I can do is to keep working and trying to maintain physical strength while improving the subtle skills that it takes to be really good at Chen tai chi. As I continue down this path, I'll maintain contact with these wonderful people as long as they want.

Ken_nancy_skip_blog_2 Teaching martial arts has many benefits. It forces you to practice harder. It gives you insights into the art that being a student can't give you--in teaching, you're forced to think deeper, and when students suddenly ask you questions about a form, or the meaning of a movement, you better have the answer. But the best thing about teaching is the opportunity to bring people into your life who enrich it. I've been very lucky to know these people and to be their teacher. As I told several of them tonight--it's not over.


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Kim Miller

How can we really say goodbye? We can't. I don't have the right words to describe how much kung fu has come to mean to me in the past year and a half, and I know I'm not the only one. For some of us, the school isn't just a school, but a family as well. It is really hard to be losing our "head of the family". I guess it's not really losing but it is going to be so odd not to see Ken 3 times a week, and yes I'll even miss the bad puns. Once something like this gets in your blood it stays forever. Ken, you have made a big impact on a lot of lives and we are going to miss you so much. My only regret is that we hadn't found Kung Fu Quad cities years ago and we hadn't started training with you until we did. I know I have changed a lot in the last year and come away with great things. Kung fu has helped me get over my horrid stage fright, the last two tournaments I finally got though my forms with out freezing or blanking out halfway though. I also learned that when traveling away for tournaments, one must remember to account for people, gear, and the "hardware" to be brought back. I had no idea how much could be crammed in to a RAV4. =) I know I speak for Chris as well when I say recieving out purple sashes felt like one of the best accomplishments. We hope we can make you proud as we continue to train and deepen our "kung fu distance education". Ken, thank you so much for all you have brought to our lives.

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