Nancy and I went to a driving range a few weeks ago to hit a bucket of golf balls. A golf pro was working there, and we found out that he charged just $25 an hour for private lessons. We took a lesson and got some pointers on driving the ball. Did it help? Not a lot -- yet. Like any sport, including tai chi, it takes practice for the body mechanics to sink in. But it was fun and I definitely learned some important points--intellectually if not physically.
I thought about this golf pro when I watched Tiger Woods win the US Open last week. Here's a guy working at a driving range in Tampa, giving golf lessons, but he probably couldn't even qualify as a caddy for Tiger Woods. If Tiger watched this golf pro swing a club, he would probably offer all kinds of advice. But the golf pro had a lot to teach me.
In the world of Tai Chi, people like Chen Xiaowang have the relative skills and position of Tiger Woods. Grandmaster Chen could look at almost anyone performing Chen tai chi and offer many "corrections." Does that mean the person being corrected shouldn't teach? Of course not.
I began developing DVDs after about 3 decades in the martial arts. I felt I had something to offer. I started with tournament sparring because I had so many years of success at it. The reaction was very positive. Then, I began putting my knowledge of the internal arts onto DVDs. I had watched and collected many internal arts DVDs and was frustrated at how little actual instruction you get. I put my TV news experience to work and my teaching experience to create DVDs that go beneath the surface. The emails I've received from martial artists around the world, and the repeat purchases by so many of them, have let me know that even though my form and movement will never be confused with Chen Xiaowang's, I have a lot to offer to people who aren't as far along as I am. This past weekend, I gulped hard and released my first Chen Tai Chi DVD -- the 19 Form. It's a lot more than just repeated movements. In one section, I spend an hour going through movement and applications with my buddy Sean, who has studied other martial arts but not Chen tai chi.
Like the golf pro down the street, don't let the fact that you aren't Tiger Woods or Chen Xiaowang stop you from helping people (and yourself). Share your knowledge. The market will tell you whether you're doing the right thing. Just never forget that you must keep learning, growing, and improving your skills. As I continue to study, practice, and put more material out on video, the market (made up of martial artists) is telling me that I'm on the right track.