I was recently talking with an old friend of mine now living in Perth who tracked me down and rang me out-of-the-blue. I had taught my friend Taichichuan many years ago. I never thought this person would survive into their elder years but there you go wrong again thankfully, not that I would condone my friends early life-experience. You know as a young person my friend would have no qualms about loading a shotgun and robbing someone or business, would have no concern for inflicting hurt upon others with steel pipes, glasses, knives, bottles or bricks and was handy with his fist to boot. Violence was his first and last resort, he was on occasions a stand over merchant acting on behalf of unsavoury collection agencies. I think it fair to say my friend was a "little messed up" back in the day...
My friend during his run-a-bout years gave as well as got, and had survived being confronted with guns and knives, being bashed, jailed and incarcerated on numerous occasions through early life. I remember, when practicing push-hands many years ago and noticing the scars on my friends arms and face. So I was pleased to hear from my friend and that my friend was still alive unshackled and in good health; had a big family, lovely grandchildren and was helping young people to try and avoid walking the same road my friend had trod, not as an attempt to make up for or gloss over the things of the past, but to assist in breaking its cycle through giving back and sharing a few experiences with others in the hope it may bring a change for the better into the lives of others?
My friend also informed me Taichichuan was still much apart of their daily life and said - I was thinking and decided to track you down to say thank you for having taught me Taichichuan all those years ago it gave me breathing space and I realised only a short time ago how meeting up in your backyard all those years ago contributed to me becoming a happier and more healthy person.
I didn't know what to say really, it did make me feel good to know that learning Taichichuan had been of assistance to my friend.
After my friend and I finished our conversation it made me really think how we never really know the load a person may carry when they walk in for their first Taichichuan lesson nor can we measure or really know the impact the simple act of sharing Taichichuan can have on a persons life or how much it may mean to them, it can be literally a life-line for some, as indeed it was for my old friend.
Its so true you know, we never can tell where the ripples of a simple act may lead or how far they may spread? My unexpected phone call was a healthy reminder for me, in that, whatever Taichichuan may mean to me, it can mean a whole lot more for others in ways I might not even begin to envisage and how I should be ever mindful of the transformative potential of Taichichuan?
Happy practice to all. Long may we continue to polish our jade.
John Hartley, Founder and Principal Instructor of Inner Health School of Taijiquan, Adelaide