Our seminar tour is almost complete and it’s been great training with old friends and making new ones. We had a diverse group of teens to mature folks, YMAA & non-YMAA students, locals & travelers, new & experienced practitioners, regulars & first-timers. Jon and I taught at YMAA Boston, Gateway Taiji in Portsmouth NH, YMAA Quebec, and Jon has sessions in Connecticut and western MA this Sunday. We hope to do this circuit on a regular basis during our breaks. Thank you to all the organizers at each school. We’re very grateful and we hope everyone had a good time like we did.
We started off teaching Short Rods basics in Boston. It was only 3 hours so we went over basic blocks and strikes. Short Rods are one of my favorite weapons and also fairly practical compared to other ancient weapons so I hope we can do a longer follow up workshop and introduce more techniques, applications, and the White Crane sequence.
Students learned sword basics, San Cai Jian (Three Powers Sword), and San Cai Dui Jian (Three Powers Sword Matching Set) at both Gateway Taiji and YMAA Quebec. The sequences are requirements in both the Shaolin and Taiji curriculums so we had students from both disciplines. The unique aspect about these sequences is the solo version can be split in half and the halves match each other to form the matching set. It’s instrumental in helping students understand the applications and sense of distance, and many of them appreciated this. Jon and I each took a group of students and taught them different solo halves. Then they paired up and practiced the matching set. When you teach, you learn, and I polished some finer details I didn’t have before.
This was our first time at YMAA Quebec and as I walked up the stairs, I felt like I was stepping back in time into a real, old school training studio. The space was the largest I’ve seen with high ceilings and walls painted red and jade green with Chinese decorations and details. Even the office and restroom doors were labeled in Chinese characters. The students are fortunate to have this training space and I hope they can help the school grow. I look forward to visiting again, but most likely not in the winter.
Six hours of training can be a lot and students can look pretty frustrated or defeated at times. I know they’re focusing on the drills and trying to remember corrections, but sometimes I feel the cause of their suffering. After the workshop, some will come up with a big smile and say, “Thank you, I really enjoyed this and learned a lot!” and that contrast always amuses me.
The best part about the seminars was the reminder that I made the right choice in pursuing a deeper understanding of martial arts for myself and to share it with others. It’s the right choice for me and I intend to explore different ways of accomplishing this. When I train, it feels right. (Not my form, it feels like I have a million things to work on.) It feels right to train, like I’m feeding my soul. Teaching is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences for me. I’m not saying I enjoy every lesson since most of it depends on the student their dedication. It’s those moments as simple as a student saying, “Thank you.” It’s knowing that a student listens and observing them working hard to fix their corrections repeatedly. It’s coming back after a few months and seeing growth and improvement. Keep it up, everyone!