Monday, November 11, 2013

When the student is ready...

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

  ..the teacher will appear. Mine did. On July 29th 1977, in Boston. The day I met Master T. T. Liang. From that day on, my life changed, and it was a good thing considering my upbringing and family situation. Master Liang taught me, inspired me, corrected me, and introduced me to people and concepts and outlooks and teachings that I fear I would have never known. He encouraged me to learn from many teachers and read many books, and to practice, practice, practice! Oh the love and excitement and joy I experienced in those early days stays with me at this very moment!

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” 
-William Arthur Ward

Master Liang was more than patient with an impatient, uneducated, slightly rough young man who was eager to learn all he had to teach. I not only learned Tai-Chi, Praying Mantis, Ch'in-Na, and weapons, I learned a lot about Chinese history, philosophy and culture.

 “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

Master Liang introduced me to four other teachers: Master B.P. Chan, Master William C.C. Chen, Dr. Leung Kay-Chi, and Sifu Lo Man-Biu. Master Liang wanted me to learn from many people and make my own way after an extensive investigation. He never said he was my master or that I was only to study with him.

 “I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
-Albert Einstein

I was introduced to my eldar classmate Paul Gallagher through Master Liang and immediately took him as one of my teachers, learning all things Taoist as well as the T'ai-Chi Classics, Pa-Kua, and much much more. I also saw an older version of Master Liang's teachings and would compare and contrast with what I was learning in my weekly private lessons with Liang with what Paul had learned ten years earlier.

 "Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three." --Confucius

Master Liang not only taught me T'ai-Chi Ch'uan, be he taught me how to learn, and how to teach, a passion I follow as my vocation and life task. I was given my first students and teaching assignments from Master Liang. The first group of students I ever taught the 150 Posture Long Form was at the New England School of Acupuncture, a class Master Liang could not attend, so I got the gig!

 "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
- Benjamin Franklin

I was accepted as a disciple on November 11th, 1988 in St Cloud Minnesota. That was a culmination of years of study, practice, sacrifice, hardship, breakthroughs, and joy. I took my discipleship seriously and have continued Master Liang's mission of spreading T'ai- Chi as the "Whole World's Exercise" echoing Liang's feeling that T'ai- Chi is for everyone regardless of age, health or ability.

 "It is not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted."
-Linda Conway

I miss my teacher daily. I also get to check in with him in my daily practice and teaching. His presence is felt in my Studio by others besides me, including Liang's daughter An-Le and son, Joseph , both who commented on the feeling of their father's presence and personality being there. I feel blessed to have had such an influence in my life. I am still reaping the benefits and seeing all the goodness planted into my life all those years ago.

  "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child."
- Forest Witchcraft

You can have many teachers, but you can only have one master. I have experienced this and have studied with many high level masters and teachers. Only one taught all of me; body, mind, spirit, emotion, and heart. Only one took a chance to trust me and give to me beyond measure, and in the end, point me on my path.

                                                                  Thank you Sir!

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
-Henry Adams


  1. Congratulations, Sifu! Master Liang would be proud of the teacher you've become. I hope to be half the teacher you are.

  2. Wonderfully inspiring article Sifu! You are such a devoted and dedicated student, and a teacher that leads by example. Thank you sir! [Bow]