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At Home with the Range

Harvard University’s Sanders Theater is such a magnificent building that it, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission. The abundance and quality of the stained glass windows, the high arches and exquisite wooden finishing has an inner beauty that befits its’ majestic outer stone structure. It felt like an ideal locale for elite local Martial Artists as well as those from China to perform recently. Being with my group of Taijiquan Gong Fu students while awaiting a recent Shaolin Warrior and Monks demonstration felt like we were participating in a spiritual ceremony. Chinese Martial Arts, especially Taijiquan, is based upon the practice of Qi Gong. That inner work of cultivating the life force is essential for health, self-protection, scholarly pursuits and spiritual enlightenment. Hence, the Sanders’ structure, in a prime location, with an appreciative audience, provided the main ingredients for what could potentially have been peak performances.
The beauty in traditional Asian Martial Arts becoming available to the masses over the last century is that one can choose to train at any level that one wants. One’s Gong Fu, or time and energy commitment can be at the pre-school level of a few hours and months a year with an accent on fun, socializing and exercise. Interest could grow to the college level of homework approximating class work, as well as the consideration of one’s study being applicable to life. The Gong Fu may even be a way of life, akin to a post doctorate way of being. Martial Arts’ availability to the masses has produced an unprecedented sharing of the secret knowledge that previously only a few may have been privy to.
There have also been the necessary and inevitable growing pains due to the cultural exchange and change in accessibility of information. I recall feeling like my first Taiji teacher, Master John Chueng Li, and I were barely able to bridge the cross-cultural gap. I was one of the first non-Chinese students to be allowed to learn Taiji in Chinatown 35 years ago. He had no English verbal skills and I had no Chinese kinesthetic skills. It felt like only a silk thread connected us, yet it was strong and pliable. After my elder Master passed, I continued my study with my present teacher, Grandmaster, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming in 1989. He was traditionally trained from youth and had attained his Phd. at Purdue U. Our international organization, Yang’s Martial Arts Assoc. had it all. Dr. Yang was a leading author and teacher in the field, our Boston school was like a mecca for the world of Martial Artists to train with us, we had access to top quality events and our performance and competition participation helped us hone our craft.
So when I heard of the Sanders Theater Martial Arts demo, I canned my school’s annual event and opted in for that a kin experience. I got to meet and greet some old training buddies, bump into former students and see some fellow students that I had known of, yet had not previously encountered. The performance abilities ran the range of time and energy commitment. I felt quite appreciative of the few whom had obviously made the life-long labor of love to our field. There was an especially warm glow for me regarding Masters Rick Wong and John Loupos, whom trained with us many moons ago. Their continued growth as teachers and practitioners is centered in my soul, heart and mind. And I am at home with the range of practitioners too. After all, if not for the Martial messages masses movement, my own meandering through the magic of my Masters’ meaning may not have manifested in me.