Tai Chi Is All About Fixing Our Faults

練太極拳就是在改過

My Tai Chi teacher, Liu Hsi-heng, used to quote his teacher, who said, “Training in Tai Chi is all about fixing our faults”. His teacher, Cheng Man-ching, was exhorting his students to diligently work on improving their Tai Chi, to not be complacent, and most importantly, to continue to bring mindful attention on what they were doing in Tai Chi.

When people praised Mr Liu’s Tai Chi skill, he often referred to these words of his teacher’s as a way of saying that he was not perfect, even though he was a bit further down the road than us. He was always working to improve, and insisted that we not blindly follow him in any imperfections he may have – that if we were to see a bit of his Tai Chi that was not in accord with what he taught about the principles of Tai Chi, then we should use the principles as our supreme guide in Tai Chi .

As his Tai Chi students, we could seldom see anything vaguely resembling a fault in his Tai Chi. However, that dedication to honestly examining one’s own, and even our teacher’s faults, was an inspiring example. This is not an unhealthy focusing on the negative. Those areas that are not yet smooth and natural are unpolished stones waiting to be refined through our practice. It is from this continual willingness to look at what needs improving that a true kind of humility can arise. Mr Liu was a model of that, still practicing assiduously to refine his Tai Chi well into his 80’s.

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