“To find and to understand the principles means to find the heart.”
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Uli and I have been practicing various forms of martial arts for over 25 years. We learned Karate, Kobudo and Tai Chi from our teacherHilmar Fuchs. We studied Aikido for a while with a friend. We explored Jodo with one of the leading experts in North America. We spent some time learning the Yang family style teachings in the school of a direct decedent of the Yang family and current leader of the style. We learned how defensive shooting techniques and empty hand fighting can be combined into a coherent system.
In my day job, I studied physics and learned the importance and effectiveness of understanding first principles and describing the world from there. At the same time, I worked high responsibility and high-stress executive leadership jobs at Microsoft and Amazon for almost as long as I studied martial arts, making it critical for me to understand the balance and flow between focus and relaxation.
Uli is a Medical doctor and by trade has always been very focused on healthy living and nurturing our bodies and minds. She also worked in high-stress environments and has painful firsthand experience as to what that can do to your wellbeing.
All of these experiences come together in this book. We did not want to write a book about how to perform a specific technique or form in a specific style. Rather we wanted to talk about and explain underlying principles that hold true across styles and will lead you, so we hope, to deeper understanding and a richer path through your martial arts journey.
Most of the principles and thoughts in this book come from what we have learned over the years from our teacher Hilmar Fuchs. Some were inspired by other leaders in martial arts and outside of that realm. And yet another set was driven and inspired by questions from students in our classes. Occasionally we had some insights on our own.
My spirit animal is the horse, which, together with the love of Uli and our daughter for horses, inspired the name of our school, Kicking Horse TaiChi (Keru Uma Budo). It also reflects my need for freedom and finding my own way, which you can probably spot in a few of the thoughts and recommendations we’re giving. We truly believe that you need to develop strong roots but then find your own way.
Uli’s spirit animal is the mouse. Like a mouse, she is curious and looks into all corners of a problem to come back up with an unexpected insight that she found. Like a mouse, she also likes to be grounded and stay out of the limelight. Uli is a passionate artist and art teacher at our kid’s school. Being a visual person, she loves using imagination and pictures to support her teaching. Look for her thoughts on visualization and imagination throughout this book.
With that, we hope you will enjoy the book, find a few things that make sense to you and maybe enrich your own practice. We cannot teach universal truths, but we aim to offer ideas for your own explorations.
Have fun, practice, reflect and enjoy every day!
“In western cultures, we often look at martial arts more as a form of acrobatics. Few people look at what is behind the outer shell. To find and to understand the principles (the essence) means to find the heart.
Furthermore, those principles are the basis for a life of morality, humanity, justice, acceptance, and wisdom. This book tries to offer those principles as a foundation for the student who embarks on the journey to discover the art on a deeper layer. Understanding the essence will provide a solid foundation to further develop the technical movements of the art of Tai Chi.
Alfons and Uli have found their path and shared their personal emotions, sensations, and thoughts in this well-written book.”
Hilmar Fuchs, 2018