Greetings. Feels like summer here at the moment, but still lovely. Our practice at the Park was made even more interesting by the addition of dozens and dozens of small fishing boats, plying the Straits, right in front of us, fishing for salmon. I empathize with the fish, one of the most beautiful and heroic of our earth’s creatures, but I do enjoy eating salmon when I have a chance.

Tai Chi Welcome Mat
Last weeks tip stirred up quite a few comments. The one about welcoming visitors to our Tai Chi practice in the park. One reply was especially interesting. It was from Glenn Eisen who practices and teaches in Tarrytown, New York.

He shared some details of places where he joined in on other instructors classes, felt welcome, and enjoyed the experience. As I had shared, it has been my policy for the last 44 years to offer free classes on Saturday to all comers. Some share their different styles, while others are content to play our form and gather what we have to offer.

The Yang style is the most popular style and has been for a long time. Yet, each and every instructor brings his or her own flavor to playing the form and how it is taught. The 24 form is a bit like the English language – people all over the world can understand it and it is almost always very similar. My Modified Yang form is unique to me and the people I have taught, so it is not as easy to go to a new place and fit right in. Port Townsend is not centrally located, takes some effort to get here from other places, so visitors are not as common as we would like.

So Glenn had an idea to set up a registry of Tai Chi teachers who offer classes that visitors could drop into. I think this would be great. The name “Tai Chi Welcome Mat” popped into my head. All instructors who welcome visitors would register, putting all the important information into the list. It would include the information as to whether the class would be free or have a drop in fee attached. How many classes could a visitor take if there is no fee? The Gilman Studio has a policy of offering “the first class free” no matter what. We also, usually but not always, allow out of town people to attend all classes for free, for a limited time. And of course, Saturday in the Park is always free to anybody, local or not.

Glenn suggested social media as a place for this registry. I myself have elected not to join Facebook or other meeting places, not because I don’t believe in them, but because I am just too busy to take on more at this time. I thought about maybe a blog. In any case, this form of communicating is not my strength, so I am hoping one of you can take on this task. I would be happy to lend my support where and when I can. I think it would be a great service to our Tai Chi community. I would also expect this service to be offered free to anyone, with no fees to sign up as an instructor or guest.

I look forward to hearing from you about this. Please, any ideas. Glenn and I already are gearing up for this to happen. Thanks, in advance, for your help.

No More War, Please
Lately, I have been reading a history of the 20th Century, written by two Americans. What strikes me most is that, but for a few brief periods, our country has been constantly involved in war in some form. Millions of people, mostly young, have been killed for reasons too complex and contradictory to understand. As a teacher of Tai Chi Chuan, I must consider myself a martial artist, yet the idea of war is abhorrent to me. I see my job as helping people gain the skills and philosophical strength to move around conflict and into inter-action: a mutual exchange resulting in peaceful resolution. The stronger the individual gets, the less he has to fear his neighbor. The less fear, the more he is able to love and understand, which results in peace. We must use our internal arts training to strengthen our middle Dan Tien, our heart center, and let that energy express itself as compassion and understanding.

Best Wishes,