Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ji Chang’s Way to Master any Skill

A long time ago, in the Spring and Autumn period in China (770-456 BC), there once lived a man named Ji Chang who wanted to be the greatest archer in the world. He decided to find the best possible teacher.

Gan Ying was a great master of archery. As soon as he pulled his bow, wild animals would drop to the ground, and birds would fall from the sky. Gan Ying taught his disciple, Fei Wei, who was said to be even better skilled than Gan Ying himself. Ji Chang heard that and was determined to learn archery from Fei Wei.

Fei Wei told Ji Chang: "You must learn not to blink. Only after you have mastered this task can you learn archery from me."

Ji Chang went back home. He crawled under his wife’s loom, watching as she wove. He watched the shutters move quickly up and down next to his eyelids and began training himself not to blink. One day, two days, three days passed. At last, two years later, Ji Chang mastered the skill of not blinking his eyes. Then he went to see his master, Fei Wei.

Fei Wei said: "This is not enough. You must now learn the ability to be able to see small, microscopic things as if they were very clear and large. Learn this and then you can come to me."

Ji Chang went to home and picked a tiny louse from his bed-sheets, tied up with a strand of hair and hung it in the window. He stared at it every day. Three years passed, and he was able to perceive the tiny louse as big as a car wheel. When he stared at other small things, he could also see them as if they were clear and big. Ji Chang brought a bow and arrow, and shot the louse. The arrow went through the middle of the insect, and the hairs around its body did not break. Ji Chang quickly went to find Fei Wei. This time Fei Wei said, "You have really learned the true archery skills now."

Whether this is a true story or a legend does not matter. The key is to realize that there are many times when you will do all the work toward achieving your goal all alone. A good teacher may show you the way, but it is up to you alone to do the important work. In the process of learning things, including Tai Chi, this is a valuable lesson.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2010

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