" When you drink the water, don't forget the well ."
November 11, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of my discipleship ceremony with Master T.T .Liang. I took that moment seriously and do my best to spread the art of Tai Chi through classes, seminars, retreats, articles, dvds, and books. I've taught in both private and public classes as well as in corporate and collegiate settings.
To be a disciple is to be a disciplined student. Constantly seeking to learn, improve, refine, and share. To take what was hard won from the previous generations and add to the ever changing, while maintaining the principles and theories and training methods. To acknowledge your lineage, take your place in history, and perpetuate the timeless lessons of Tai-Chi.
The ceremony is ancient, and evolved from the Peach Garden Oath. In a culture where family and clan was of the utmost importance, three warriors pledged themselves as brothers. It was the first time that heart and mind was put above blood and name.
"When saying the names Liu Pei, Kuan Yu and Chang Fei, although the surnames are different, yet we have come together as brothers. From this day forward, we shall join forces for a common purpose: to save the troubled and to aid the endangered. We shall avenge the nation above, and pacify the citizenry below. We seek not to be born on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. We merely hope to die on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. May the Gods of Heaven and Earth attest to what is in our hearts. If we should ever do anything to betray our friendship, may heaven and the people of the earth both strike us dead. "
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms
The ceremony can simple or complex. It can weave elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and history. The following is part of the oath from the ceremony of the Shao-Lin Temple:
Learn service. Learn fidelity. Learn kung-fu.
Respect the ancestors. Respect the master. Respect the teachings.
An altar is a place of sacrifice. We sacrifice the most precious treasure, our time. The altar is also a place of respect, gratitude, and honor, tinged with pride. The altar can be as simple as a place for an incense burner, or as complex as to house the lineage and mementos.
November 11, 2017 I initiated four disciples at my new Academy: Julie Cisler, Fred Sparks, Karen Barton, and Dan Polsfuss. I have known them for many years, some for decades. Their skill, dedication, teaching ability, and contributions to the art, elevated them beyond the scope of enthusiasts and admirers to lineage holders and inner-door students.
October 13th, 2018 I initiated four more disciples at the Academy: Margo Bock, Wanda Koehler, John Stitely, and John Feely. As with the previous inquiries, I vetted this group concerning years of practice, knowledge acquired, levels reached, and gave each a task to complete to further test them and give them time to be clear about their intentions.
As I look back on my discipleship, I also look forward to those individuals who are helping me carry on Master Liang's message, "Tai-Chi is the whole world's exercise." I am proud and honored to guide such admirable and hard working inner-door students. They have humbled and inspired me, and on my own anniversary, I see Master Liang smiling down on us all...