Just wanted to jump in and say my peice. It may not be worth anything, but here it is anyway.
I can't imagine a better Association of true TCC practicioners than we have here in the International Yang Style TCC Association. We have in our midst some of the best players in the world, and many of us have come over from different lineages, styles and groups. I have found more acceptance/acknowledgement as a former member of another group of TCC practicioners than I have ever heard of before, certainly more than someone who would have come in to my former group could ever expect. My knowledge of a different style was not relegated to the ether, to be "forgotten" or left behind, instead it was embraced, my skills were probed, their applicability to my new styles principles was assessed and my instructor worked on hammering me into a better TCC player overall than I had previously ever considered possible.
I have found nothing but professionalism, patience, perserverance and quality of training at my local YCF Center, the Louisville, KY, USA, chapter. There was never any attempt to say that my old training methods were "bad", only that sometimes they were not appropriate for Yang family TCC as taught by the Grand Master. Those things that were incompatible were set aside for me to explore later on, after I have attained an adequate level of understanding of Yang family TCC, not relegated to some place or thing I should forget about forever.
Bill Wojasinski and Carl Meeks, our esteemed Center Directors, have worked a lot of long hard hours to make this acceptance of others and education about Yang family TCC happen here in KY.
I'll give you an example of how one of these two have worked towards these goals recently.
Bill has been teaching classes in traditional Yang family TCC for FREE, that's right FREE as in you don't pay him one red cent, since (I believe) last April. He started out at a local Japanese garden, a place called Yuko-En on the Elkhorn River in Georgetown, KY, on Saturday mornings and I was pretty amazed at the size of the turnout, that group size remained nearly consistent throughout the run of the class. The class has since moved over to the Kentucky Horsepark, in their indoor arena, since it got too cold at the end of November to continue our training outside and the day moved to Monday evenings, however the size of the class has stayed pretty much the same as far as I can tell. Some people stuck with it and come to the class, others could not accomodate that in their schedule, but the number of people seems to be about the same.
I have trained with Bill now for just over three years, and I have taken all three sections of the Yang family form more than once at his paid classes. What Bill teaches at the free classes is absolutely the same quality, and content, that he puts into the classes for his paying students. Absolutely no diminishing of the transmission of the principles, movements, anything, for the "free" students that come to those classes from what he teaches at the paid classes.
This is first rate education in TCC, given freely, by a person who truly understands what he's teaching, and done only for the love of teaching the art.
I have taken advantage of every "free" class that I have been able to drag my sorry bones to, I don't mind saying. Not because I wouldn't pay for his teaching, I would, have and will continue to do so, but because of the simple quality and sincerity of his teaching at these classes. I learned quite a lot during the regular class session, but I learned even in one fifteen minute session after the regular class was over than I have sometimes in a week of intense seminar training at other schools. That lesson, too, was freely given simply because he felt I was ready for more. He taught me and one of my training partners a new focus for push hands, more "sensing hands" as we've come to call it. But that's not my point...
Why do I mention this here?
Because it goes a long way towards telling me about the character not only of Bill Wojasinski, but of the orginization that he openly and freely represents, the International Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Association, and it's founders, Grand Master Yang Zhen Duo and Master Yang Jun.
As a member of that Association, I wanted to jump in here and let everyone know what a first rate job the Assocation is doing, at least in my neck of the woods which is all I have to go on, to educate anyone who wishes to learn about traditional Yang family TCC, its principles and movements. Anyone and everyone is welcome, no worries about whether or not you can afford it, just show up, open your mind, move your body and learn real traditional Yang family TCC.
How do you beat that?
If the good deeds of those who represent the Association near to me are any indication at all, I would have to say that this is the best Associaton I've ever had the pleasure to be a part of.
I don't think the Association, the Grand Master or Master Yang Jun should change one blasted thing. They are giving us all the opportunity to learn about TCC, direct from the family who have been practicing and teaching that art for six generations of their family. The Yang family has been teaching those outside of their family who wish to learn this art for far longer than any other family branch of TCC before them and even most of them since. That tradition seems to be carried out with more openess and sincerity by the IYSTCCA than I've seen exhibited by a lot of other groups. Having been a member of some of those other groups of practicioners over the years, and remembering clearly what went on in those groups and how, sometimes, the teachers of those groups were less than forthcoming even to their paying students (OK, I've never seen another teacher who taught for free, so I can't really compare with that, but do I need to?), I can say with heartfelt honesty that I believe this Association has got the right spirit.
They sure have managed to convince me, a guy who three years ago didn't feel there was a group of TCC practicioners outside my former group that was worth spending any time on.
Bill met me while I was in that frame of mind and met the challenge he saw there. He slowly chiselled away at the rock inside my skull, and has managed to turn that opinion on its head in less than three years.
Let me tell you, that wasn't easy. I didn't have an easy time of it, I caught hell from some people who are still in the former group of players I used to associate with about it too, which sometimes lead me to backslide a bit. But in the end, I saw Bills sincerity and honesty of purpose clearly, and that is what convinced me to leave those old habits behind and move forward with what he was more than willing, and able, to help me achieve.
He didn't do it by showing me feats of prowess that I haven't seen others do, I've seen the dog and pony shows they don't impress me much anymore. He didn't do it by telling me secrets of the Yang family to entice me out of my shell. He didn't do it by offering me anything but a sincere education.
It was his sincerity, his willingness to teach even me, a nearly completely closed minded individual from another lineage who took the first class, 13 posture form actually, just so I could discount yet ANOTHER bad TCC instructor in my area.
After taking the first lesson with Bill, I began to think that this time I hadn't found yet another bad TCC instructor. After the eight weeks of the course were up, I knew I had found someone who knew his stuff, much better than I did despite my former arragonce about my abilities, and even more he was not the least bit afraid to teach what he knows to me.
THAT is the mark of a true teacher and I haven't met too many of those before in my time in TCC. Only one, actually, but that's another story.
Since I began to train with Bill my understanding of TCC, its principles, movements and applications, has increased beyond my wildest imaginings.
At the same time, I have yet to begin to understand TCC, its principles, movements or applications.
I'm learning more every day and with Bill and Carls help I feel I will continue to progress as far as I could wish.
This is a grass-roots, heartfelt plug for the Association from someone with no reason to do so other than that I believe what I'm saying.
If Bill and Carl are any indication of the quality of YCF Center Directors around the world, I feel that the IYSTCCA will thrive for quite a long time to come.
OK, end of shameless plug.
Bill can stop blushing now.
[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 01-20-2005).]