I received an email from a guy in Kansas a couple of weeks ago. He had seen one of my videos and began asking questions about the internal arts. He had practiced several arts over the years and was now studying Wing Chun from a guy who also teaches Tai Chi but only for health purposes.
He wondered if he was getting the real deal.
I asked a few questions and told him some experiences I've had with instructors who taught Yang tai chi for meditation and health, versus the Chen style instructors I've had who teach body mechanics for internal power. This is not mystical -- it's physical.
Finally, I directed him to the school of Chen Huixian, a niece of Chen Zhenglei who teaches in Overland Park.
At the same time, he signed up for the 10 part free video course that I offer on my website. Here's what he wrote after seeing the second or third video, when I explain peng jin and clearly demonstrate the physical nature of this skill:
"Ken, you have no idea how much that has helped because I really did believe those various energies were, indeed, flowing in me and it took something special to discover or sense them -- and until that happened, they couldn't be utilized properly. Knowing them for what they are has been liberating! I believe those facts alone have saved me a couple of years of searching."
It's absolutely true. The internal body mechanics are not the result of some invisible energy flowing through your body -- which, ironically, has never been discovered by science.
The internal body mechanics are the result of proper structure and concepts such as peng jin, ground path, whole-body movement, spiraling movement (silk-reeling), dan t'ien rotation and opening/closing the kua.
That's the foundation, and without these skills you can waste decades chasing something that doesn't exist. My new friend is right. Most teachers will tell you that internal strength is like a Holy Grail. But a good teacher will clearly demonstrate the mechanics in a physical way, correct you with a hands-on approach, and show you how the movements are used in self-defense. Only then can you understand the "intent" of the movement. A good teacher teaching a legitimate art will not waste your time doing taiji for the purpose of "cultivating chi" but not body mechanics and demonstrations of self-defense applications that put the power into the internal arts.
We'll get the truth out one student at a time.
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