I often gets enquiries from new comers over the phone. They tend to ask two general types of question: “How fit do I have to be to do the class?” and “What style of Tai Chi do you teach?”. On the face of it, these questions might seem valid, but in the majority of cases these people don’t ever turn up for a class. So what’s going on here?
What really underlies these questions is fear. The ‘how fit’ question is really about thinking that you’re too unfit, too busy, too old, too uncoordinated etc. Mainly it’s fear of looking like an idiot in a class full of ‘honed’ martial artists. The fear of the unknown. If you can’t overcome this fear then you’ll always be making excuses to yourself. The biggest lesson you can learn is that everyone, talented or talentless, all had a first class. They all had to start somewhere. EVERYONE HAS A FIRST CLASS! Other people live their lives and you live yours. What they do has got nothing to do with you. Likewise, if you go to a class and feel intimidated then you’re comparing yourself with others. Again, how does what they do or how they look affect you? If you’re looking at others then you’re taking your eyes off your own way, your own path. The best way to overcome this fear is to just go to a class. It won’t kill you and you’ll be sorry that you fooled yourself for so long in not going.
Talent is a very overrated quality. The likes of Mozart may have had innate natural ability but he was worked day and night by his father. Talented people only succeed when it’s combined with outstanding tuition and vast amounts of hard work. Over the 30 or so years of teaching I’ve seen many exceptional people just drop out. They simply don’t have the stamina or perseverance to continue; if anything it’s too easy. It’s the trials and tribulations of having to overcome something within you – some weakness - that keeps you coming back for more. If an endeavour is easy then it means nothing too you when you overcome it. You’re defined as a human being, to the only person it matters – you – by the struggle. The gem that’s Robert Silverberg’s novel ‘The Book of Skulls’ gives some insight into this.
The “What style of Tai Chi do you teach?” is an interesting question. What’s really here is a statement not a question as it’s usually followed up by “Well, I’ve been doing x number of years of y’s system”. It’s not a question about the system at the Rose Li School (all the information you’re likely to need is on the website) but rather someone wanting reassurance that they won’t be out of place in the class environment. Again fear – the ego - underlies what’s going on. You have to be out of your comfort zone if you’re ever to learn anything. This is what is meant by always having a beginners mind. Another type of beginner's questions is - do you do things that are self-defence orientated? or do you do sparing? I 'll answer these questions with one sentence: the School teaches the whole, complete Chinese Internal Martial Arts system.
So, in the end, just go to a class. If you like it and it’s for you then fine. If not, at least you’ll be a little wiser.
One of the reasons to practice Nei Jia is to optimise your movement. Optimisation of movement means that the range of movement becomes smaller. If we take this to its logical conclusion, then the simplest movement must be no movement at all...Something must be wrong here! One of the key characteristics of Nei Jia is spiral motion. The movement we make with a limb must be spiral, together with the movement around each joint. So, we simplify movement but the complexity of the movements around each joint increases. As we increase the complexity of the movement around our joints we can feel the restrictions within this movement. Introducing spiral motion within our joint movement not only stretches the connecting muscles in a non-linear way but also sends lubrication to the joints, thereby going some way to actually restore free joint mobility. This is one of the reasons why Nei Jia must comprise of constant motion. Tai Chi, in particular (and Nei Jia in general) is designed to implement non-repetitive motion that systematically engages every active joint in the body to this complex, spiral motion.
Nei Jia accesses the specialisation part of the brain. But not the frontal lobes which deal with communication and social skills. It does this by breaching the gap between the body and the mind by the use of specialised breath exercises. Thus the autistic child can remember all of the details of the Houses of Parliament and draw them in great detail but not have good language or writing skills. So pussy cats are specialised killers. They are autistic as their frontal lobes are not as fully developed as humans. Humans have developed over time to be able to hunt effectvely in packs. Communication. Pussy cats are therefore in the most part lone killers.