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Jing Ying's Tai Chi Lineage

Is a lineage important?  What's important is to have a good quality program and a good teacher. The problem is knowing how to recognize the quality of a program or teacher when you don't know much about the subject. A lineage can be one of the factors to help you evaluate a program.

In traditional Eastern cultures, lineage is considered very important, but we may think it isn't so important in the West. However, if you were looking for a doctor, would you prefer to go to one who doesn't have a dgree but had read some books and did a lot of practice on his own and assures you he has really figured out a good system of treatment, or would you prefer one who had a degree from Johns Hopkins University? If you need a good neurosurgeon, would you prefer the guy who spent a lot of time at the local butcher shop dissecting pig brains, or the guy who trained with Dr. Ben Carson? When some people buy wine, their only concern might be if it is red or white. Other people want to know the variety of grapes used, the area they were grown, the specific winery or even the year of production. That's a lineage.

Of course, a lineage alone is no guarantee of excellence. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University may have finished in the bottom half of his class, or someone can truthfully say they studied at Hopkins even if they dropped out after a semester. A person who tells you they worked with Dr. Ben Carson may fail to mention that all they did was clean the operating room after the surgery was completed. A bottle of wine from an excellent vintage can still spoil.

Knowing who your teacher's teacher is (lineage) can provide clues about quality, but when someone says they studied with a teacher, you don't know if they spent a few hours at a workshop, took regular classes but were just an anonymous student in the back of a class, or if they received a lot of personal attention and were recognized as an excellent student.

Fortunately, there is an aspect of lineage that can provide another indication of quality. Any student can choose a teacher to study with, but in traditional chinese martial arts, there is a special relationship in which the teacher chooses a student. That special student is known as a disciple. Originally, martial arts systems were very secretive. Having the best system was often a matter of life or death. You didn't want your enemies to learn your best techniques to use them against you or have time to develop counters. Your techniques were a trade secret not to be shared freely. When you took students, your teacher would restrict you from openly teaching certain core "secrets" of your system. However, that restriction never applied to your own family members. So, when certain students earned your trust and respect, you might adopt them into your family in a Bai Shi ceremony. As a family member, you were now free to teach them the complete system. A disciple can alsobe  known as an "indoor" or "inner-door" student.

Most regular students might be taught in an open courtyard outside the residence of the teacher. Only a select few were invited into the residence as disciples to train behind closed doors. The idea was that the higher levels and "secrets" of the art could then be shared freely away from prying eyes. The teacher is expected to share his full knowledge with his disciples and the disciples are expected to be good representatives of the teacher. This applies to character as well as skill!

Shifu Billy Greer is a disciple of Chen ZhengLei, an indoor student, certified teacher, and a 12th Generation Inheritor of the Chen Style Tai Chi system. He is also certified to teach "Tai Chi for Arthritis" by Dr Paul Lam and the National Arthritis Foundation.

Chen Family Code of Ethics

12 Qualities of Character
  1.  端 (Duan) - Propriety, dignity of bearing (duan)
  2.  公 (Gong) - Fairness, impartiality
  3.  仁 (Ren) - Kindness, benevolence
  4.  浩 (Hao) - Nobility, broad mindedness
  5.  忠 (Zhong) - Loyalty, faithfulness
  6.  诚 (Cheng) - Honesty, sincerety
  7.  敬 (Jing) - Respect, esteem for one's teachers and elders
  8.  正 (Zheng) - Integrity, decency
  9.  义 (Yi) - Righteousness, what is right
  10.  勇 (Yong) - Bravery, ready to fight for a just cause
  11.  信 (Xin) - Trustworthyness, good faith
  12.  德 (De) - Morality, ethical conduct

The “Twenty Prohibitions” of the Chen Family Code of Ethics

1.) Do not rely on a position of authority to bully others.
2.) Do not defer to the strong out of fear or insult the weak.
3.) Do not fear for oneself, come to the aid of others in danger.
4.) Do not commit crimes.
5.) Do not rely on your gongfu skills to fight with others.
6.) Do not take advantage of a superior position to become arrogant.
7.) Do not sell your art on the street.
8.) Do not travel here and there to set up a clique.
9.) Do not wallow in luxury, or live a pauper's existence.
10.) Do not be prideful or self-satisfied.
11.) Do not get into arguments with a crazy or violent person.
12.) Do not contend with the ignorant.
13.) Do not be proud toward the poor or fawn on the rich.
14.) Do not hanker after ill-gotten gains.
15.) Do not have anything to do with drinking or prostitution.
16.) Do not refuse to pay any public or private obligations.
17.) Do not use public office for personal ends.
18.) Do not pursue the trappings of high office or a handsome salary.
19.) Do not betray your country or be a rotter.
20.) Do not slack off and waste your time by not practicing.