December 1988The development of Tai Chi Chuan skills is generally accepted to take a long time. But just what goes on during the long periods of growth and non-growth?
In this issue of T'AI CHI, some experts refer to various levels of development and one, Chen Xiaowang, describes a number of different levels.
The actual levels are not as important as the idea that there is a progression, which is not the same for everyone, and that it involves both inner and outer maturation. It is a form of Yin and Yang ripening.
The value of seeing and understanding such levels is that they give us a larger perspective and continuum. Most of our frustration with Tai Chi Chuan comes from discontent with our sense of progress.
The danger of looking at levels, however, is that they best suit the person who has drawn them up. They may not fit the development of others. Also, levels are not growth. They are ways of describing it.
Another problem is that it is too easy to establish levels and then package and merchandise them.
Look to the integrity of the person who would establish your goals. Try to understand what his real motives are. A little common sense goes a long way.
One problem with creating our own levels is that it is difficult to project higher levels than we have already experienced.
What we don't know is hard to imagine. But we can gain insights from the experience of persons such as Chen Xiaowang. If we keep working, we can move to higher stages and lift others along with us.