There’s a question that has me thinking about the big picture, with this training group now in Amsterdam. It starts with how to find what’s right for you, or for your kids. We have a focus in these trainings on the movement and healing principles found in tai chi, so this question is common.

“I’m loving the exploration of tai chi as ground for movement, health, all of life, and my kids are in a karate class that isn’t like this at all. It’s more kicking and punching and shouting. So how can I pick a martial arts style that’s something good for my kids?”

This comes up in lots of forms, not just martial arts. How to find the right style for me? I’ll share a few thoughts below.

As a start, maybe more important than the style is the teacher. Karate is most often taught as a hard-style art. You learn to meet force with force, study rigid forms, with not much harmony. But, a good karate teacher might do this quite differently.

The beginning of all martial and healing forms in the Far East is in softness, so you’re movable, creating relationship between your body and breath, so your breath moves you, and connecting your whole self from center, so you move as one. You replace isolation with harmony, conflict with peace, first inside you. You’ll find this in tai chi. You can also find it in yoga, mountaineering, calligraphy, or vacuuming. So it’s maybe less picking the right art form, and more finding the right person for you.

Always it’s humans who are teaching, and we just give what we practice ourselves every day, what we’re able to do. Some martial arts teachers got to where they are because they felt disempowered or disconnected, unsafe, some fear or insecurity. Feelings we all have. So there’s an important choice we make. We choose what to do with these feelings.


Developing a rigid, forceful practice might make a martial teacher feel some power, some control. Really the same as yoga teachers, same as all of us. We always have this choice. Disconnection and force, or harmony and peace. The end justifies the means, or the whole picture matters. It’s a choice that plays out in pretty much all we do.


So how to find the right teacher? Try looking at the people and their practices, in making these choices. Is the focus on achieving endpoints, punches and poses, controlling one isolated part at a time? Or is it the entire path, how you do all you do, moving your whole self in harmonious connection? When you see one big picture, everything is important.

These are all good ideas. So maybe most of all when you’re looking – at a teacher, and at your self – what happens when things get tough? Nice words and thoughts can be copied and pretended. What someone does with challenge shows what they practice, and how they live.

The world isn’t so different from what’s going on inside of us. In so many ways, it’s simply a perfect reflection. So we change through the choices we make for our selves, first. How we do what we do, how we move through our own lives. It makes a world of difference, how you get where you’re going.


About Strala Training

Strala combines the movement and healing wisdom of tai chi with the form vocabularies of yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Traditional Chinese and Japanese Medicine, to help people release stress, move easily through challenge, and live radiantly inspiring lives.

It begins with a mindset, that says our best way to get where we’re going is to feel good along the way. It also works miracles for whole health, helping us to find ease in our bodies and minds, and create the right conditions both for healing and optimal performance.

In our Strala Training Courses, you learn to shape your destiny on every level that counts. The unique set of skills you develop – for connecting with yourself and others, unblocking your energy, healing what needs healing and accomplishing challenge with ease – uncovers your ability to create the life you want, and be an inspiring leader to the people around you.

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