When I was at the University of Michigan, my long time friend came to me one day saying, “We love all those Jackie Chan movies. I’m going to go try this Kung Fu school and see what it’s like. Wanna come with?” So we went. It was awesome. It was everything we thought Kung Fu should be. It was hard, low stances that make you sweat, hard blocks, it was beautiful. The style was Hung Gar Kung Fu, a southern style. Once a week they would do an ancillary class in Taiji Chuan. It seemed okay… but it was no Kung Fu!
As most do, I eventually graduated and moved away from the college town; I found myself here in the Twin Cities, looking for a place to learn. Hung Gar, as it turns out, isn’t very easy to find, and not wanting to start over, I decided to look a little deeper into this Taiji thing. So I did a little calling around. Working evenings at the time made things more challenging, and as I called up school after school, I met with a lot of disappointment. I finally spoke with one instructor who said to me, “You should go to Twin Cities T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Sifu Hayward teaches there, and he’s the best guy in town. He taught my wife, in fact.”
I replied with my thanks, and asked if he might have a secondary recommendation, just in case it didn’t pan out there. “Weren’t you listening? I just told you the best place to go!”
On that note I came to try my first day class. I walked in, saw the weapon rack, and never left.
I knew I was looking for a good teacher, at a nice school, where weapons were a part of the curriculum. I had also studied Stage Combat at University and had developed a deep affection for blade work. These things all ticked off my list immediately.
I came to the studio looking for the Martial; I found the Art. Studying there I found out how much more there is to Taiji than a collection of movements to attack my imaginary foes with. I found a sword, yes, but I discovered its movements held a story laying out the path to Taoist Enlightenment. I learned how to learn, and also how to teach.
I found the community I didn’t know I was looking for. I had friends, but I made a family. I’ve become a 7th generation Disciple. I have a Sword-Brother now.
I found that this thing I glimpsed in movies was actually a lifelong practice of Mastery I never want to quit.
I found my Passion.