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All Lives Matter

While bicycling home to Canton from Forest Hills on a fine Fall day, my mind falls back to the wonderful free lecture that I had just attended. “It all comes down to conquering one’s laziness and selfishness” is the essence of Martial Arts Master, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming’s (YMAA.com) presentation. Geeze Louise, I had just completed three intensive years in experientially oriented Masters programs in Education and Therapy. We had studied and practiced incredible structures developed to aid helping professionals in guiding ourselves and humanity through the challenges of life. And those brilliant modalities could be justifiably reduced to such a simple concept as conquering one’s laziness and selfishness?
 
Twenty years of Martial Arts training with thirteen years of teaching under my belt and I was still a ronin (Japanese term for wandering wave), looking for my True Teacher. There were several quality Taiji schools in Boston that appealed to me and I was clearly at a choice point. True to form, within the week, I had a dream that I was free-climbing the rock face of Blue Hills. Nearing the rim trail, Dr. Yang and several students were hiking and came into view. Do I continue my solo skilled cool climbing or jump the bramble bushes and board the bus of YMAA? I made the leap, awoke from the dream and proceeded to propel the pedals in the persistent pursuit of the pugilistic arts with my new teacher.
 
That turning point was over 25 years ago and I miss my Master. It has been over five years since he semi-retired to northern California. It’s also been two years since I was out there to train with him and his group of ten “Phd” candidates-in-training who live there with him. I miss the common focus and the wide range of personalities of people from around the world who populated our Boston mecca for Martial Arts. I remember teaching one class and slowly realizing that I was leading a class of international students from his over 40 schools and English was their second language (at best). I loved it and gradually found more of my full humanity in our diversity. One of our fellow students, Rami, was fond of emphasizing the differences of opinion that was a constant in our discussions. He noted that everyone had the opportunity to opine, curiously listened, really listened and we all seemed to benefit from the debating. Most of the time we agreed to disagree and did it without hostility.
 
I also recall how proud of his Chinese heritage my Master was - appreciative of the ancestors who dug the wells, developed our traditions, paved the way… He often gave gratitude to the ancients who inspired those who so desired to dedicate oneself to the spirit work of the self-protection skills. Equally, we freely discussed how humanity has such a proclivity for violence. “Be as the thorny rose” was a common theme. Cultivate your beauty and protect it from those who want to do damage, as all matter has spirit, all spirit matters, all matter lives and all lives matter.
 
It was a decade ago that I completed the Taiji testing and thereby changed the Mister Roger moniker to Master Roger and consequently changed Master Yang’s label to Grandmaster Yang. Though Master labeling and the like abound in this land of self-promotion, the label is a misnomer if one’s day to day destiny dedication to conquering one’s laziness and selfishness diminishes. Read more about my 20& years with my teacher by going to zazenzone or whiddenschool.com and “A Score with the Master”.