Four years ago today, I launched my membership site to teach Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua. For years, I had received emails from people asking how they could learn when there were no teachers in the area.
On July 4, 2008, after working furiously for two months, I launched this site to help those people.
At first, I thought people could earn certification through the site by studying the video lessons and then get feedback via video, and then take their test via video.
But after a few people tried, it became obvious that these arts are simply too difficult, and require more detailed body mechanics than a person can learn just through video. It's the same as any sport or activity that requires specific skills. I compare it to playing basketball. When we play, in our minds we look like Michael Jordan. To an observer or a coach, we look more like Charlie Chaplin.
So I decided to de-emphasize the certification aspect of the site. When people email me now and ask if they can be certified through the site, I tell them it's very difficult and probably isn't the best way to use it. All I can do is be honest.
Some members study and then, when they are near the Quad Cities, they stop in for a lesson. All members are free to drop in on any of our practices at no charge.
Rather than call it an "online school" I refer to it more often now as an online "resource." Some of the members are teachers, and many of them are studying with teachers and use the website to supplement what they are already learning. Or not learning, as is frequently the case. Often, their teachers are not teaching them the skills they find on the site. Their tai chi is empty, and they suspect this, but they aren't sure why until they join the site.
There are now more than 560 video lessons on the site covering Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua, Qigong, and more. I started with basic instruction and have covered more advanced material over time. Eventually, there will be at least 1,000 videos, e-books, audios, and other material.
It's a website where -- 24 hours a day 7 days a week -- you can get input, information, and instruction on these arts. Some of the ways it can help:
- If you are working on a particular art, the website contains video and written instruction that will give you the proper basics, including the ground path, peng jin, whole body movement, silk-reeling, using the kua and Dan T'ien rotation.
- If you're working on a particular form, each movement is broken down into detailed instruction with an emphasis on body mechanics.
- Even if you're studying a different style than I teach -- if you're studying Yang Tai Chi or different styles of Hsing-I and Bagua (I teach Shanxi and Cheng), you will still find instruction on movement and body mechanics that your teacher isn't teaching -- in fact, if you study Yang style, most of this information has not been given to you.
- These are self-defense arts -- fighting arts. The fighting applications of each movement is shown clearly. Sometimes, there are fighting applications even for exercises, such as Bagua tea-serving exercises. For Laojia Yilu, more than 400 self-defense applications are shown for that one form.
- If you're teaching one of these arts, you'll learn new techniques, body mechanics or other exercises for yourself and to teach your classes.
- If you are a student, you will find information that your teacher might not even know, giving you an edge over other students in class.
- Our private Discussion Board gives members a place to ask questions and receive helpful, instructive, non-judgmental replies. It's a different experience than most online Discussion Boards, that can be full of insults, ignorant flaming and profanity.
If any of these sound interesting or helpful, you should try two weeks free on the website. Compared to what you pay for in-person classes, it's an amazing bargain for just $19.99 per month.
I'm very proud of this site. I have enjoyed the messages from members over the years, the friendships I've developed and the things I've learned. Some members have been with it from the beginning, and some come for a few months and then leave.
New video lessons are being added regularly. I plan to continue growing the site for many years. It's a labor of love -- the love of the internal arts.