Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" dross

Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" dross

Postby Dannyboy » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:43 pm

Hi all,
I, like many people, I'm sure, am really interested in Tai Chi (however you spell it and let's not even go there) and Qi Gong( same applies) because of its reputed benefits and lots of other reasons BUT I have, for such a long time , since I first heard about it,been put off joining a class because I can't seem to find one that isn't either run by some ex-banker who wants to semi-retire by running a lofty ego-trippy course or a young dude who, with the best will in the world, has only been "practising" for 4 years or a flashy website setup that purports to offer the "genuine", real blood-line, true original Yang-style Yeung 3rd generation grandmaster blah blah AAAAGGGHHHH!

Anyone help me here please? I'm not trying to be facetious or pious or cynical beyond reason , I hope....

I just don't want to study Tai Chi with a reconditioned Pilates teacher who's decided that this Tai Ch lark is more lucrative, neither do I want to learn it in a "precious" environment where the colour of your silk clothing is all important and the lineage is all etc etc

Where to go for honest, real Tai Chi ( alittle old Chinese lady at Clapham Common bandstand at 6am is preferable to Heaven Mountain River Flowing doo dah expensive flashy chain....

HELP!
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Feb 13, 2016 1:58 am

Greetings, Dannyboy!

You are wise. You need no help!
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby fchai » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:30 pm

Greetings Dannyboy,

You are already asking the right questions. There are indeed a plethora of dodgy purveyors of "authentic" Taiji out there. The Yang form of Taiji is the most popular and widespread but there are other forms/styles of Taiji as well. There is the original Chen family Taiji, the Wu (two styles), the Sun. There are apparently some other ones as well, but I know little of them, eg. Fu style.
Within the Yang style, and here we are only discussing the 'large frame' form of Yang Cheng Fu, there are a number on "lineages" arising from Yang Cheng Fu's students. The form I do, for example, is that which comes down the Tung Ying Jie lineage, one of Yang Cheng Fu's students and the teacher of my teacher. Others, have lineages that come down directly from Yang Cheng Fu, eg. Master Yang Jun. There is also that which comes from Cheng Man Ching, etc.
However, irrespective of which lineage it is, we all teach/do the full form as taught by Yang Cheng Fu, with only some variations arising from interpretation. That being said, there are also, "abbreviated' versions of the full long form. However, if you want to have some degree of confidence that the Taiji school you enrol in knows what they are doing, check if they teach the long form. Then, check what they teach against the form taught by recognised Masters, eg. Master Yang Jun, Master Tung Kai, Ying, etc. These can be viewed on YouTube.
All the best and take care,
Frank
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby T » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:43 pm

Lineage is only a place to start looking. And there are many out there that think they have a lineage because they trained with someone a couple times. If that were true I could claim a lineage to the Chen family...and I can't...because training with one of the Chen family a few times does not put me in a lineage, nor for that matter does it mean the Chen family member I trained with even considers me a student. But there are many who do not see it that way so, to me, lineage is only a place to start looking.

But as a note, don't always be put off by an ex-something or other who wants to semi-retire and teach taijiquan, that is what I will probably do, but that will not be for at least another 7 years. And by that time I will have trained Yang taiji for almost 30 years and I am in a lineage that comes from Tung Ying Chieh. Now I may be a horrible teacher, or I may be good, but I have a lot of years in...like I said, Lineage is only a starting point. Just don't limit yourself by ruling out us old guys :)
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby woodenfish » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:22 pm

Hello Dannyboy

I put off studying Tai Chi for a long time for the same reason as you, and eventually solved the problem by chance: my wife and I took shelter from a sudden rainstorm in the doorway of a dilapidated inner-city Kung Fu dojo, run by a Chinese teacher who (it turned out) also taught Qi Gong and Tai Chi. He was patient, funny, wise, inexpensive and completely unpretentious. It was the perfect place for us to get started, and set us up for what is now a wonderfully rewarding daily practice. Obviously you can't replicate this experience, but if you live in a city, as it appears, I suggest that you look in deprived or run-down areas. You can ask in Kung Fu or karate places (they are numerous and thus easier to find); some may teach Tai Chi on the premises, or else may know of a Tai Chi teacher. If not, try somewhere else. Be fearless: nearly everyone who wants to learn martial arts (barring psychos, who are unwelcome in all dojos) has pretty much the same motivations as you have for wanting to learn Tai Chi. As for the people you want to avoid, they will be studying somewhere else, and good luck to them. Hope it works out for you!
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:17 pm

Dannyboy,
I realize I'm late to this discussion, hopefully you will read this at some point.

I have been extremely fortunate in that I have tripped, by shear blind luck mostly, into some very good and "authentic" teachers of TCC in my time.
However I've also had the opposite happen and have worked with some people who seemed to be a good choice as a teacher at first but turned out to not be so good as a teacher in the end.
The latter actually happened AFTER I'd had the good luck to have very good teachers and "should have known better".
Go figure.
My point is that it's not easy even for those of us who have had the good fortune to learn quite a lot from a good teacher to always recognize a bad one.
Why?
Because even a bad teacher of TCC can have good skills at TCC. Some of the worst teachers I've ever me even had a provable "lineage".
I knew enough about TCC to have been certified to teach it when this happened to me, however I was looking to improve my skills so I found a "teacher" who seemed to fit that bill. They were highly recommended, had all the pedigrees and such anyone could ask for, the whole nine yards in fact. But in the end it didn't turn out well. Their skill did not equate to their having any ability to teach it to someone else, nor was their moral code of conduct up to any appreciable standard.
You cannot discount the morality of a teacher, believe me. Unfortunately there is no way to know until you get to know them. I have no magic fix for that.
From that experience I learned the hard way that being good at doing something does not, in any way, equate to being good at teaching it.
However the flip side is also true, someone with only mediocre skills, at best, at TCC can be one of the best teachers of it you'll ever have the good luck to meet.
Some of my most profound lessons on TCC have come from learning the art from a run of the mill, everyday kind of guy who is out there cranking along as best as he can teaching TCC in his local rec center, senior center, even in the local park out under the trees.
So don't count out the little guy just because his first name isn't "Master". Sometimes they're your best bet to get to the real art in the fashion that will suit you best.
I say that because I'm one of the "little guys" myself.
I am an everyday guy (I named my school "Everyday Taiji Cooperative" in part because of that), teaching every day to a small group of people, none of which have any desire to be the next Yang Lu Chan or Bruce Lee.
Fortunately.
I have the lofty sounding title of "Affiliated Director" with the International Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association. Soujnds pretty cool, huh? I do like it.
What that means in reality is I've got just about enough skill at TCC to not get my face slapped by most people who aren't a Master, and that I can stand up, see lightning, and hear thunder.
However I have been teaching TCC for nearly 25 years now through two different schools. I don't know that I can say that I have a claim to "lineage", but I do have certifications to teach this art, at least at the most rudimentary level, and I've got a few years experience in doing so under my belt.
My teaching bona fides are bona fide, in other words.
But it doesn't make me a Master, I am not and never will be, all it means is that I've got enough skill at teaching TCC to have some idea of what I'm doing.
Here's the question that I ask of every new student, mostly to determine the path down which I would like to take them:
Are you looking to learn the martial art, to achieve the health benefits, or both?
Depending on their response to those questions I take them down slightly different paths in their training but all of my students are taught the principles of the art regardless of which route they decide to take.

After all of that being said...
Here's what you need to ask yourself before you even start to look for a teacher.
"What do I want to learn from this?"
Be honest with yourself when you answer this question because it will be your basis for searching for your teacher.
If you're looking for a teacher who can take you to the pinnacles of TCC martial excellence then you're not going to want to learn from a guy like me.
I can teach you the basics, sure, I can even prepare you for your next teacher with a solid foundation in the art that will serve you well in your next school. No brag, fact. I've done it more than enough to know it's true.
But I can't teach you to be a Grand Master with consummate martial skills.
Because I am not one of those myself.
You'd be better served, at least after you learn the foundation of the art, to find a Grand Master with a background in the martial art as well as with a proven track record of teaching skilled martial artists over at least a decade. Do your homework, don't settle for any less. They're hard to find, but not impossible.
I can give you the names of several if that's what you want. Up to you to figure out how you'll get to them to learn it.
If, however, like most people all you are looking for is to gain the health benefits inherent in the art of TCC and possibly a little bit of self defense skills while using it...
Then you could do worse than training with a guy like me.
First though, you have to know what you want. What I want for you doesn't make a tiny bit of difference.
Then you have to go find someone who can teach that to you. Those types of teachers are fairly common. You've received some good advice already on how to find them so I will go no further with any here.
You will have false starts. Trust me on that, they happen to almost everyone.
All you can do is brush yourself off, pick yourself up, and start over again someplace else. And you'll keep doing that until you find the teacher that is right for you.
If you are honest with yourself though, right up front, about what you really want out of this art then the time you spend finding your teacher will be much less.
If you convince yourself that you want something that you really do not...
No one will be the right teacher for you, regardless of their "lineage".

Bob
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Re: Put off Tai Chi by all this lineage and "authenticity" d

Postby global village idiot » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:44 pm

I studied Tai Chi twice previous to my current sifu.

First was some guy with questionable reputation (though extremely good with Traditional Chinese Medicine). The overriding reason was it was within walking distance to my home.

Second time was "downrange" during my first tour to Iraq. One of the KBR contractors practiced it, and would share what he knew if you showed up. His actual job was supervising the team of Iraqis who cleaned our porta-johns twice daily. I learned a lot from him.

A few months ago I took it up again. Not many people in my area teach it. One had moved away last year (I reached him in California via his cell phone), and one who had no idea what "push hands" was. The third one I phoned did know what push hands was, what it was for, and incorporated it into his class.

He sounded older but that's no indication. His studio has a website which is extremely simple, but said he'd been teaching a long time. I showed up to his studio and one of the first things I looked at was the painted sign on the wall that advertised Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan.

It was well done, but faded and the paint had chipped away in some spots.

That right there told me all I needed to know. I walked right in and it felt like being home.
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