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What inspires me?

Everybody's Tai Chi journey is different. We all started for different reasons and for me, the start of the journey was due to many factors. It wasn't from watching too many martial arts films or wanting to be somebody else.

What inspires me

For me, it is complicated. I wasn't naturally athletic or even active. I've always been interested in Eastern spirituality and martial arts. My family aren't from a martial arts background and despite how it might seem. Martial arts abilities were not something we Chinese people are born with. We have to train hard to get the results. I had my obstacles and I can't say it has ever been easy for me. Beyond class, I found inspiration from various sources. I met people who were a source of inspiration for me. Knowing them lead me to consider doing this differently. Whilst some of life's lessons were tough, it was for my good to initiate changes. These changes shape who I am today.

These sources still inspire me, but some 16 years into my Tai Chi journey and I do see things differently. Seeing my students attempt and not succeed, does make me question whether I am teaching as well as I can? If students aren't progressing, then you have to take responsibility. This is all part of eating bitter. That is to reflect on your abilities and how to improve what you do. This isn't just inspiration, but also motivation and obligation. As a teacher, you can't just pocket the fees and not produce anything to show for it. When students do well, then it is satisfying to watch. Watching other succeed inspires me to do better as a martial artist and teacher. We're learning all the time and the day we stop learning, is the day we stop progressing.

The journey starts with you

Progress in martial arts, like any art isn't simply about going to class and learning everything on the syllabus. There is a lot more than that. The best examples start with teachers and your peers. See how they do it, observe their qualities and how they approach things. It might seem like a good idea to straight out copy, but the end result isn't you and people can see through you. Are you simply imitating or did you actually put in the hours polishing your art?

Good inspiration happens outside the dojo. Why not attend martial arts conventions and competitions? See what's out there and how other people's approach differs from that of your schools or your own. Many good chefs and artists have travelled around. Seeing things, learning about cultures and broadening their skills and knowledge. Then there are libraries, museums and galleries. If you can't travel, surf the Internet and see what inspires you.

Learn by doing

The journey doesn't really go anywhere until you put into practice what your have learned. What you have watch or read are only concepts and mental notes. Do concepts and techniques work? We'll you have to try it out. One things about books written by others, is that they usually are from the point of view of the author and not the read. Great masters have a great pool of knowledge and experience. But do you just take their word for it? Always question what you have learned and adapt ideas to suit you. Those who constantly stay within their comfort zones rarely get far. Why not challenge yourself, because that is part of the learning process. The more you encounter interesting people, places or things, the more you want to learn.

My advice is to go out there. Enjoy what you do and do to the best of your abilities. Be humble and make good friends. Don't envy other people's success or achievements. Find your own and it all comes down to honesty and hard work. And finally, remember that your training doesn't lie.

Thank you for reading my blog.

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