Meaning of the Black Sash

written by Inna, Master Li Pei Yun’s Tai Ji student

    Before I joined our school in September of 2008, I had no idea what Tai Ji was. I don’t think I had ever heard the word before, and even if I did, it never registered in my mind. Now, almost 4 years later, I sure know the phrase. I am trying to learn and understand what Tai Ji is. I had realized that Tai Ji is about patience, consistent practice, and a learning process about your own mind and body. Its constant process and improvement can be seen every single day. Still, I continue to learn and understand what Tai Ji is to this day.

    Needless to say, I joined Master Li’s Center after I tried our usual Tuesday class and never looked back, regretted, or wanted to quit. It did not take long to gain an appreciation for the school’s curriculum which puts an equal importance on the variety of forms and techniques as well as the knowledge about your own internal energy and capabilities. I learned to be more patient, focused, learned to listen to my own body and mind. Also I realized something else – listen to Master Li. After a couple of weeks of training, I asked him if I had to learn broad sword form, since I really didn’t like that “pirate” weapon; or if I could choose to learn a different weapon like staff or fan instead. Well, I still can’t wait to learn Chen style fan form or for Master Li to create a staff form for us; but guess what, I fell in love with the broad sword, and at this point if I had to go to the battle today, broad sword would be a weapon of my choice.

    Another important lesson I have learned from my time at this school is that Tai Ji is not about quantity but quality. I have to confess: some time ago I thought my class was almost a waste if I didn’t learn something new. I thought I was stuck and not moving forward fast enough. How little I understood at the time. In China, I got to know an extraordinary man. This year he is celebrating his 80th birthday. That man knows only one form, the 24 hand form. But you should see his focused face, precise and clean moves; nothing can distract him from what he is doing; not rushing, his mind and body are in full harmony. He is practicing the form every day in local park and never seems bored. We have a tendency to rush ahead, learn as much as possible as fast as possible, skip moves, and take shortcuts. Where is the enjoyment of each move, where is the understanding of what is behind each move? Only recently have I discovered the delight behind each move, learning to listen to my body during each move, and trying body and mind to move in harmony.

    Today is very special day for me. I feel strong. As a matter of fact, I think I am in a better physical and mental shape than I was in my 20s. It took a lot of training and thinking, practice and patience to be where I am now. Up to this point, I was learning how to crawl and how to walk; still very far away from running. At one point Kevin said about Master Li: “It’s not fair. He is too good!” One thing is certain, we’ll always have that image to move towards to. Even though we’ll never be as good as Master Li, through consistent training we can move closer. I myself am not done. It is today that I start a new page in my own Tai Ji book. I know that from now on I have to work and train even harder, to think more, to be even more patient with myself and others. With the help of Master Li and my fellow students, I hope to move toward a deeper understanding of what Tai Ji is all about. Thank you Master Li. Thank you my friends. Without all of you and your help and support, I would not be where I am today.

My Black Sash Testing Day: 04-26-2012