In sharing I Liq Chuan, I am often asked if I continue to practice the arts I've previously studied. The answer is no and the answer is yes.
In October I will turn 50 and will have been diligently training for 40 years. How can one erase or even separate out the effects of such duration written on the body and mind? It's not possible. My previous practice is deeply inscribed on my perceptions, views and approach to life. According to this I must say, "Yes, I still practice".
However, I choose to consciously empty my cup in order to learn. I am learning I Liq Chuan now. According to this I assert, "No, I do not practice".
The question that is really being asked is "Why do you study I Liq Chuan?" or "What is the value of I Liq Chuan" or, after learning about the depth, quality and scope of my previous lineage, "Is I Liq Chuan Better?". The answer is always "It depends". For me, I take very seriously the idea that we grow and change continuously throughout our lives. If this lifelong process is acknowledged and consciously directed I call this self-cultivation. Self-cultivation is what I do and have always done. The methods I have valued since childhood are from Chinese Internal Martial Arts. I appreciate integrity, consistency, tolerance, openness, elegance, patience, hard work, subtlety, precision and effeciency. True growth requires iron discipline. The kinds of people who are attracted to I Liq Chuan share many of these core values, so I Liq Chuan is better for me.
I Liq Chuan is a living art. The co-founders are father and son and are still teaching publicly. This matters to me. It is why I chose to become a disciple.
As some of you know, I was born 10 weeks early and at age 8 I had a childhood disease that kills or paralyzes 99% of victims. I was fortunate to survive birth and disease with minor neurological damage and some dura matter scarring. Competitive swimming, weightlifting, kickboxing, heavy manual labor and life's stresses made me a back surgery candidate by age 30. I chose to train my way out of it. Approaching 50, I'm better in every way than at 20. All the postural and 99% of the the neurological damage is resolved. The heavy yin emphasis of my previous training was not able to restore full range of motion and addressed none of the specific neurological damage on my left side. I Liq Chuan's precisely balanced view of Tai Chi Principles and vigorous partner training enabled me continue my healing process.
I seek the retreat training format. The neuroscience clearly shows that true growth requires intensive, immersive and sustained efforts. The worldwide I Liq Chuan training community provides many opportunities for this sort of experience.
I value real world testing. We systematically test ourselves with structure, pushing and pulling, with relaxation in the most refined softness, with energy the most subtle mental changes, and through big medium and small movements at all ranges. We test in order to fully explore ourselves. I appreciate this completness.
The I Liq Chuan curriculum has been developed in English for western practitioners without losing its cultural authenticity. This constantly amazes me. Never would I have expected to be so fortunate.
I hope no one takes this as a criticism of their practice. I received great benefits from my previous training and am grateful to my teachers. My lifelong self-cultivation continues using I Liq Chuan as the core methodology and philosophical reference.