First in a new series of uninhibited and totally unjustified rants on the state of 21st century Tai Chi from the monk in the pot.
If I hear any more of this nonsense I’m going to have withdraw to planet teapot.
DIVISIONS IN THE UNITY
Why is it that the Tai Chi world is still so divided over its martial and health benefits? Why are so many schools or individuals dismissed for choosing one side over the other? Haven't we outgrown this debate yet?
A MARTIAL BACKGROUND
As someone who came to Tai Chi from other martial arts, I initially came looking for the fighting techniques, but I soon discovered that it was a superficial and rather silly search in an age of 'smart' bombs, 'intelligent' warfare, cyber-wars and drone strikes. I found something far more significant than a fighting method. I found something more powerful and deep within the art that had little to do with prowess, speed or explosive energy techniques. I found a deep training in rooting, grounding, yielding, structural strength, breathing, co-ordination and balance that had little to do with competition, it even questioned the notion of what it meant to win in combat. It was an art rich in philosophy and an art that epitomised cultural diversity whilst offering tools to embrace change and evolution.
Tai Chi is such a diverse and historically broad discipline that it’s impossible for it to be all things to all people. Ever since its creation, the art has been evolving, seeking an audience for its many variations. Now, whether your school has still not evolved, whether it has frozen in 19th century China or migrated to other lands, whether your school has chosen to employ Tai Chi in the exclusive field of martial, health, spirituality, environmentalism, politics, growing-sprouts, surfing, stamp-collecting or Cartesian philosophy - hey, that's fine, but it's down to you.
Seems a bit of a shame to me though if your'e still in the 19th century combat mode. Bit like spending years developing callouses on your knuckles in order to gain an 'Iron Fist' only to find yourself getting Tasered in your first fight. At some point, believe me this will happen, you will ask yourself: Is there a more productive way of spending my time? Of all the world's challenges - poverty, housing, climate change, corruption - In my training am I focussing on the real enemy here?
Rant over. As you were. You can go back to the punch bag, the incense stick, the mantra.
2017 was by any account a remarkable year - globally forces realigned themselves as many of us watched in awe from the sidelines, disempowered, both politically & economically, yet technologically experiencing a sense of greater engagement and hope. Perhaps it was in vain, but still we lived in hope. Hope that somehow it would all lead us towards a less fearful, more tolerant and sharing world. And now, as it closes we must decide:What's it to be - the red pill or the blue pill Neo?
I wanted to mark this 12 months in a memorable way. So I bathed off the negative traces and washed away the blues as my feet froze in the cold Devon sand and my joints ached at the prospect of entering a cold Boxing Day sea. But hey, you only live once.
So How was Your Year?
Did you manage to spend time with the people that matter to you? Did you get to be in the place that you wanted to be, doing the stuff you wanted to do? I'm not saying I did, but it feels that I inched nearer. A few incidents stand out in the life of a teapotmonk - and so I thought I'd recap and share them with you.
However your year ended, take strength from the knowledge that a new one is almost upon us. Of that, we shall have to see how it unfolds. I wish you well and that should you be seeking a metamorphosis, it all turns out well.
1: The End of the Podcast
Once more the hosting services for my podcast series - in this case a company called Opinion - pulled the plug on their platform, meaning that the Tai Chi series - Empty Your Cup - no longer had a home. Some of you may remember that this happened a few years back with series 1 - Talking Tai Chi with the teapotmonk. Perhaps now is the moment to rethink the podcast. So for fans unable to now access either series, I shall be uploading them all to this website later this year - fear not, they will be available for reasons of posterity, if not applicability.
2: The Online School
2017 was the year that I began to explore life outside the Teachable platform. I released my Tai Chi Breathing course in November on Udemy, and although the process is slower and in many ways more demanding than on Teachable, I hope to extend the course selection over the year on this platform.
Those that are enrolled on any of the Teachable courses - expect a new year code finding its way to your inbox in the new year. Not sure what the difference is or why I would work with two different platforms? You can read the articles on medium here or the ebook here.
3: Books etc (Grab one below)
Most of the year I was engaged with other writing, scripts for videos or work related to Spain. But, I did get out the series of articles on Medium and the Teaching and Learning Online ebook as well as the short introduction to Tai Chi: 10 Things About Tai Chi. (WANT A COPY? GRAB A FREE COPY BELOW IN EPUB FORMAT)
All these were added, as I customarily do, to the Gumroad package each year, so if you haven't yet checked out the complete library of Tai Chi - its got even better of late.
4: Going Live
Facebook grew to become an interesting venue for Live work this year, as both a supplement for those working through my online courses and as a source of discussion for anyone interested in the principles of the art. Having previously tried Periscope and Google hangouts without a great success, Facebook live enabled sessions that would reach a wider and more diverse audience than any previous platform. Expect more of this in 2018 - but you'll only get notified if you are a subscriber of have liked the page on FB. If you missed the mini series I ran throughout November, you can catch up over at the Youtube channel here.
5: Video Work
Other than the new Breathing Course - see video below - It was mostly Live sessions and playful shorts - expect more of this in 2018 and if you want something more regular, come over to Instagram (teapotmonk) where you will see even shorter snippets and static images uploaded weekly.
And so to 2018
And who knows, perhaps another elusive appearance - not unlike the World Tai Chi day in Birmingham - as well as the many Online ones.
As I'm now around Devon in the UK as well as Andalusia, Spain, maybe, our paths might even cross? Wouldn't that be good?
The First Session
November 2017 was the month in which the mOnk went LIVE. If you have followed any of the developments on the Facebook page you will know that a series of talks began at the beginning of the month on different aspects of learning Tai Chi. This was to coincide with the launch of the new Tai Chi Breathing Course on Udemy and the release of the 10 Things ebook.
Now the series is over, you can still catch the live sessions as they have been uploaded to the teapotmonk Youtube channel here.
If you haven't already done so, then go visit the Facebook page as I'll be starting a new series of LIVE sessions again soon. Liking the page means you¡ll get a notification when I'm going LIVE. Hope to see you over there soon.
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