Sinclair Martial Arts

Healing Exercise and Martial Arts
• Tai chi • Qigong • Kungfu • Practical Self defence


I have no competition.

I have no competition.

There are other tai chi teachers in my neighbourhood, and there are several other martial art teachers. Some do the same or similar style as I do. But we are not in competition with each other.

I look at it like this:
The more that people teach and promote martial arts, the more people there will be doing martial arts. The benefits of martial arts are so broad and deep that we should be as much in demand as doctors. The more the public is educated about the vast benefits of the various styles, the greater the demand will become.


Not ever teacher is right for every student, and not every student is right for every school. So, many teachers are required to offer the range of choice and opportunity to promote the art. If the only local grocery store only stocks one kind of vegetable, then there will be some people who just won't like vegetables. But if there is a wide variety of vegetables from which to choose, more people will add vegetables to their shopping lists. If there is only one school in town, then whenever a potential student visits that school and doesn't find it to be a good fit for them, that person may be turned off of the art forever. But when there are several teachers, the depth and breadth of the art is more obvious, and students are more likely to find schools that will improve their lives. Even having two teachers offering the same style is not a problem for me, because we don't all attract the same kinds of students. For instance, I seldom teach children. Honestly, they scare me.

"My, uh, studies establish without a shadow of a doubt, that children are, by adult standards, insane. And more than a little immature!" - Dr. Munroe, WKRP in Cincinnati. S1E6



I have successfully taught kids as young as six. But I prefer to send them to schools with organized kids programs. There have been exceptions, when there was a specific skill set that they needed, or the student was a particularly good fit more my teaching style. I have taught boys ad girls to defend themselves, I've helped some to develop self control, to gain self confidence, and to find peace of mind in their tormented lives. I have even taught one 9-year-old to non-violently deal with physical and emotional outbursts from his 6-year-old brother. There are few things more rewarding than the gratitude of parents when they tell me that there is finally peace in their home. But my successes are largely due to my decision to recognize my limits, and my willingness to send students to other teachers. In spite of my successes, I prefer kids to be at least 9, or 12, or 18…or even 30, before they train with me. But some of the exceptions I have made have been glorious successes, while others have been glorious disasters. (No refunds, sorry.)


I send adults to other teachers, too. It is best for all of us if students find the right teacher for each of them.
Martial art teachers are a unique and poorly understood breed. You might be amazed at how well we get along.

I cannot delude myself into believing that that I am any better than any other teachers. There is far too much evidence to the contrary. But I have some unique skills that other teachers appreciate. Many of my students are instructors or black belts from other styles. Some come from around the world to train here, even though I would be a white belt in their schools.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunity to train with other experienced teachers is an opportunity that most of us jump at when we get the chance.

Sure, a part of me feels a little uneasy when I learn about another teacher opening a school in my neighbourhood. 40 years in martial arts does not lessen my insecurities. In fact, the more I improve, the better everyone else seems to get. But mostly, when a new teacher opens up shop nearby I think, "YES! I'm not the only freak who believes he can make a living at this."

Tai chi Tuishou evolution

Training for combat does requires us to be non-combative. Training for competition is often about being non-competitive. Realism has its place. But we can't train the elements if we are stressed or under fire.

I don't teach a style, or an art. I teach people.

People come to me to learn a martial art, or to improve their health, or to learn self defence. When people ask my what I do, I usually say, "I teach tai chi." But sometimes the question deserves a deeper answer.  

 
Friend: "So, you teach tai chi?"
Me:
"Yes."
Friend: "What style do you teach?"
Me:
"I don't teach a style. Style is a personal expression of an art. But the art is not a style."
Friend: "Okay. What art do you teach."
Me:
"An art cannot be taught. It is too profound and too personal for one person to pass on to another."
Friend: ".....um...okay. But you do consider yourself a teacher. Don't you?"
Me:
"If I flatter myself, yes. I call myself a teacher."
Friend: "Well, then what do you teach."
Me:
"I teach people."
 
I encourage students to find themselves, their power, their balance, and their place in the world. I try to find ways to help them understand their relationships between the mind, the body, the environment, their peers, their families, and the universe. I try to help them to feel how every thought has an emotion, every emotion has a physical effect, and every physical effect resonates throughout the Universe. 
 
I try to help people to find balance and harmony within an inherently violent world, by realizing that balance is a verb, and harmony is a constant process. Self defence is best practised in peace time, and that inner peace is a powerful weapon in times of conflict. 
 
The most effective way for me to do this is to let go of style, dogma, and even the art itself. I have to find where each student is and start there. I can't lead them from somewhere that they are not.
 
In this respect, teaching is like self defence.
 
For when we are in combat, we must know the enemy and know ourselves. We must follow in order to lead. We do not strive to control so much as to regulate. We do not confront conflict so much as adapt to it.  When an opponent has begun an attack, it is already too late to stop it. Confronting a stronger opponent's strength head-on is usually the least efficient method of defence. 
 
Likewise, when a student has difficulty understanding a concept, dogma will never conquer misunderstanding. I must try to see what the student sees. I cannot force my understanding upon them. But I can help them see through their own understanding, and to expand their view. In the process, I learn to be more adaptive, more responsive, and better at my art. 
 
 
Early in my career, I would encounter students whom I thought to be unteachable. At the very least, I doubted their ability to grasp the finer points. I have learned, since then, to suspect such students of being divinity in disguise. When a student with an obvious mental, emotional, or physical disability comes to class, part of my mind says, "What secret super power does this one have?"   
 
I have also discovered that the best way to teach students is to learn from them. 

Tai Chi - Chai Tea


I don't know why it is that every place I have taught tai chi in Canada has been next to a cafe or pastry shop that serves chai tea.
In Vancouver, it was Bon Mangé, or Grabbajabba, or Starbucks. In Orillia, it was Euphoria. Now, we are next to Patilero.

Is it coincidence or synchronicity? Do I subconsciously choose pun-ready locations?






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