After many years of practice you will know.
Said in answer to a question born out of frustration.
The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. …
Professor Ken Wen Chi, “亓冠文”
A teacher I would be introduced to by Taiwanese soldiers attending training on US Army Land Combat Missile Systems, in Huntsville Alabama home of Redstone Arsenal one of many US Army training centers. .
On my first meeting with him he had asked to see my taiji, he was in his 70s at the time. Watching my movements he remarked (this is not taiji, its slow shaolin)
I said “okay” the practice started from this point.
He mentioned he had learned directly from Cheng Man Ching, that he was one of the high school teachers for teacher Cheng’s daughters in Taiwan. He had asked them if they would introduce him to their famous father who agreed to teach him, although not as formal student.
He learned taiji from master Cheng, but not the push hands part, even with out this component his practice was very deep.
He had me do only the opening movement for some 60 min, and then would add a couple of more movements each week that we met. He would watch my movement, if it was not done correctly, he would not add any more movements for that week we would just work on that movement.
This is how I learned, this is what some might call the traditional way, there was not much explanation, not even an acknowledgment of the movement being correct. If it was he would add more movements with out saying much.
If it was not ,he would say “again” over and over always with a slight smile.
At one point, out of frustration I asked him ” how do I know if it’s right or not” he said in his old Taiwanese accent “after many years of practice you will know” he smiled, I laughed, and went back to practice.
In the end he was right, in that after many years one would know there is no right*. It is said (off by one inch, miss it by one thousand miles) we must be very mindful in practice.
through this process I learned to evaluate, ask and answer my own questions.
Little did I understand at the time, this would prove to be big asset in the future on my path leading to China,
I will never say not to ask questions, indeed during my trips to China to study with master Zhang, I ask questions, asking if my explanation was correct or not. master Zhang, invites questions, his answers are through the art itself, allowing one to feel the answer,
Often enough I could only practice, watch and listen, my Chinese language skill was not good enough to ask something directly.
While others where asking I practiced and listened, to what was said.
I once asked the 1st grandson some questions on taiji practice, he said ” your thinking is very western, ,taiji is not like this its not a step by step process, it can not be explained in this manor” he mentioned this in a gentle way through a person who could translate.
While I do agree with what he said, and the idea in general my feelings about this method are:
“it works in a setting where the practice is expected to take many years, and is very consistent during this time. In other words for many people even the ones there, they may or may not get it, even after many years of practice. To “get it” is not really the point of the practice.”
We are creating, building the foundations, through the practice.
Its very important to build it in such a way so at some point, one will come to a point where the practice itself starts to unfold by its self. To allow this to happen is the point of a practice.
Of course it helps to have a master level teacher guiding you to reach it, even with this there is no guaranty that one will get to a point where they will find it, or it will find them.