Fifteen years ago today, on Oct. 15, 2006, I wrote my first blog post -- "Welcome to My Blog."
Back in those days, blogs were thought about as online diaries, but I thought it would be a great way to discuss the internal arts, both technique and philosophy.
It was a very good decision to start this blog.
At that point -- in 2006 -- I had been studying martial arts for 33 years. I had been involved in the internal arts for 19 years. I have now been involved in martial arts for 48 years, with 34 of those spent studying Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua and practicing Qigong.
Early posts showed video of Chen Xiaowang and other Chen masters. I talked about the fraudulent claims being made about Qi, including the "no-touch knockdown." I talked about MMA vs. Taiji. There was an early post explaining that the "energies" of Taiji (peng, lu, ji, an, etc.) were actually "methods of dealing with force," not actual energy coursing through your body.
I'm sure if I looked back at some posts over the years, I would want to revise them or even delete them. Your views and insights should evolve and deepen over the years, and mine certainly have.
I have also tried to discuss what you go through as you get older and continue to study and try to improve in your skill. Three years after I launched the blog, I had a near-death experience at Cleveland Clinic. I lost the use of my left lung, and developed a heart problem that has made these arts a challenge. But I kept on pushing.
Persistence is valuable in blogging and also in life. That's one of the messages I have tried to push.
Life-long learning is another important message in this blog. In the past year, I have learned from some outstanding teachers -- Chen Huixian, Tina Zhang, Byron Jacobs and Nabil Ranne. After studying the Chen Village version of Chen style Taiji for 22 years, I decided to see what all the fuss is about regarding the Chen Yu version. Nabil is a disciple of Chen Yu.
A few people thought when I launched my blog, and released DVDs, that I was saying that I am a master. Nope. Far from it. Then, when I started my "online school," I got a few comments that basically said, "Who do you think YOU are?"
But online training became pretty popular last year, with most teachers being forced to go online due to Covid. I was already online, but when I learned about Zoom, and how easy it had made it to do live classes, I started doing them, and those classes have connected me with students all over the world. It feels so good to develop friends. My online classes are like my in-person classes. I have fun. I am serious about the arts, but I like to laugh. I like for my students to have fun, too.
I made videos, I made VHS tapes and then DVDs, not because I think I'm better than other martial artists, but I have a life spent in radio and TV news, media relations, communications and writing. Instead of teaching at the YMCA, or in a strip mall, I was able to teach using my skills in these areas. Writing a blog was easy for me and fun. Doing videos? Nancy shoots them and I edit them. Piece of cake. Launching a podcast? Hell, I used to do radio news and interviewed everyone from the local county clerk to Ronald Reagan (before he was president).
I decided to teach my way, put the material out there, and if people found it helpful they would buy it. If not, they wouldn't.
In 2014, I launched a podcast with the goal of promoting primarily non-Asian, English-speaking internal arts teachers with ties to top masters. I wanted to give publicity to some good teachers who often get overlooked on magazine covers, but they are dedicated martial artists and do a lot for the internal arts. It was a very rare event when Tai Chi magazine put a non-Asian on the cover, so I thought I would launch a podcast to help support these overlooked teachers and also promote the idea that I am a provider of information and a teacher myself. It is a win-win situation.
As it turns out, one guest I was always hoping to have on the podcast was Chen Huixian, a very talented member of the Chen family who lives and teaches in the U.S. (Overland Park, Kansas - in the Kansas City area). Her English is very good, so that is among my favorite interviews. Check it out with this link.
I was very happy that in the wake of my podcast, some of the people who had been guests ended up starting their own podcasts because they saw the value in that project. I love it, and I listen to some of them, especially to Byron Jacobs' "The Drunken Boxing Podcast." It's excellent -- actually better than mine, I believe. Check out The Drunken Boxing Podcast" by clicking this link.
You can find my Internal Fighting Arts podcast wherever you get podcasts -- Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podbean, Google Play and other distributors. You can also go to the podcast's page through this link.
When you are 53 years old, as I was when I started the blog, 15 years creates huge changes in your body, especially when you go from a very strong tournament competitor to a guy with one lung and a minor heart ailment. I don't have near the muscle mass as I did 15 years ago. My cardio is crap due to the lung thing and heart irregularity. But I can keep studying, keep understanding more deeply, and I can continue to work on the forms. I just have to stop and gasp for air more often than I used to. It isn't easy for one lung to keep up with the demands.
I would not have been able to do as much if not for the help and support of my amazing wife, Nancy. She is my videographer, she supports all my martial endeavors, and she is always willing to jump up and help me work on applications. The universe was in perfect harmony the day she came into my life just four years before this blog was launched.
The blog posts have slowed down in the past ten years, as Facebook has sucked a lot of the online activity away. But I plan to push forward and breathe new life into the blog in new, creative ways. Let's face it -- Facebook sucks. The blog has been much more helpful.
There have been 801 posts on this blog in 15 years. It averages 60 page views each day. There have been a total of 329,000 page views in 15 years, but it is a niche audience. If you do a Google search on certain topics, one of my blog posts will pop up on the first page of results. That is as important as the posts themselves. One thing a blog does for anyone is to widen their electronic footprint and show up in search results. That's why I also encouraged the businesses I worked for to start blogs.
What kinds of posts would you like to see? Let me know in the comments or in private messages.
After I was in a ventilator for more than a week at Cleveland Clinic, when they tried to stent a pulmonary vein and ended up tearing the vein and piercing my heart with the wire, I did not expect to live this long. I didn't expect to see my 65th birthday, and now I'm 68. It turns out I don't have an expiration date stamped on my forehead, although it might have said "BEST by October, 2009."
Either way, I'm not the physical specimen that I was in 2006, but we can still improve our internal arts knowledge and skills. I hope you stay with me as we make our way through this wonderful journey.
Thank you for reading my blog. Let's do another 15 years.
-- by Ken Gullette