VLADY STEVANOVITCH – an excerpt from The Way of Tai Ji Quan
The Importance of a Master
One cannot go beyond certain limits in the study of an art, whatever it may be, without being taught by a Master. A Master is someone who has mastered an art, which means that he knows it in depth and has practised it so long that it has become not only his possession but also his second nature. He must also be capable of teaching it. Sometimes the student goes beyond his teacher. That’s very good, and there is much to be happy about. But if the teacher is not very advanced himself, the student has not gone very far by going beyond him.
This dependence is even greater in martial arts and other Far East disciplines in which the role of a Master is not limited to teaching. In fact, his teaching is reduced to a minimum and is often almost non-existent. It is the physical presence of the Master which is of prime importance. It is his example, his behaviour, his attitude, his way of living through which something passes on from Master to student. Following a real Master is the best way to become absorbed in his art.
But there are some Masters who also have something else to transmit. They are not always well known, and often one has never heard of them. And yet they are the ones who carry and transmit the very essence of all eastern disciplines. This special something is what makes an art into an Inner path. The outcome is not a work of art, but an opening towards the knowledge of an otherwise inaccessible level.
Amongst several possibilities, I have chosen the word ‘Xy’ to describe this thing. It will be the topic of another study, for this one is a book of practice. I will just mention this Xy, this indefinable entity which, like life, is transmitted from generation to generation. This thing, without which we remain forever ourselves, whatever we do. Nothing more than ourselves. I only mention it, but I must inssist one cannot find the Xy by oneself, nor learn it, nor imitate it. Just like life, the Xy is passed on by transmission, there is no spontaneous generation.
I have said that the inner path leads to an opening out, to a new knowledge. Actually, it is from there that everything begins. Therefore it is only then that one realises that the path followed is the Inner Path. Above all, one knows that one has been correctly guided, for any path is an Inner Path under the guidance of a real Master.
Tai Ji Quan is a possible way. And, if we have the choice, it is good to give it preference. It is certainly better to do calligraphy with a Master than to do Tai Ji Quan with a mediocre teacher. But to be guided on the path of Tai Ji Quan by a real master is a prodigious experience. To discover through one’s body the logic of the movements, to discover through the movements the energetic interferences of space and of one’s body, to open oneself up to the influences of the whole of nature, is the privilege of the Inner Path of Tai Ji Quan. As with other Inner Paths, it leads to knowledge, but Tai Ji Quan does it through the extraordinary mastery of the body. Radiant health, enjoyment of life that withstands all obstacles, physical and mental wellbeing, are some of its outcomes.