Interview with Dr. BOB BACHER
What is Tai Chi for you?
Tai Chi for me is many things. It is a martial art, health care system, and way of life.
Tai Chi reminds us to strive to maintain balance in all aspects of a life that is constantly changing.
How you started your path in the world of Tai Chi?
When I was 15 years old, I witnessed a friend at school get attacked and beat up by a bunch of bullies. That incident caused a very strong emotional response inside of me. I was upset, angry, and I felt helpless in that situation. After school that day, I got on my bicycle and went looking for a school to learn self defense. I found a karate school in the neighborhood, and that same evening my father took me to observe a class. The moment I entered that school, I knew I had found my path in life. What I didn't know was to what extent it would affect every aspect of my life.
Among many Tai Chi masters how did you choose your teacher and school?
In all of these years training martial arts (since 1969), I studied with many great teachers in a variety of arts and systems/styles. I learned from all of them, always keeping the attitude of a beginner, and always striving for the truth and my potential. I practiced 3 major styles of taijiquan, and was very fortunate after many years to meet my teacher, Master Wang Xi'an. Master Wang is the 19th generation lineage holder for the original Chen style tai chi. As Chen style is the original system, I found it fascinating, so rich with technique and principles. Once I began serious training with Master Wang, I put aside all the other forms and arts and decided to concentrate full time on his system of Chen style tai chi. When I met Master Wang, I realized that all my years of training were just to prepare for him and his teaching. His system, his skill, and his humble character made him the perfect teacher for me. I am very thankful and perfectly content with Master Wang's teaching. He continues to open my eyes to the beauty and depth of tai chi every time I meet with him for training.
At one point of your path you decided to become a teacher, what inspired this choice?
I was assisting my first karate teacher after only 5 months, and at age 19 I opened my own karate school. From very early on it seems I was destined to be a teacher After a number of years training with Master Wang, he authorized me to teach his system, and told me that I need to share what he taught me in the West. As a Chiropractor, I have used tai chi principles and movements with my patients as a form of therapy for a wide variety of conditions. What I saw over and over again was how efficiently and effectively tai chi works for healing injuries and chronic diseases. I decided that before I get too old, I need to share the knowledge and skills I acquired through Master Wang's teaching. At a certain point I put aside my work as a Chiropractor and began teaching full time. I tell everyone now that teaching tai chi is the best job in the world Every day helping people to heal themselves and prevent sickness and disease.
The teachers who teach traditional Tai Chi touch all aspects, which of these animate more your interest?
Tai Chi is first and foremost a martial art. A martial art must fulfill two functions: 1) it must be good for health for one's entire lifetime, 2) it must be practical for self defense for one's entire lifetime. I know of no other martial art that fulfills these 2 functions better than tai chi. The training methods I learned all my life covered both health cultivation and self defense methods. I do not separate them in my practice or teaching, they hold equal weight.
What role do the martial aspects in your courses?
One of the first statements I make when beginning a workshop or class, is that tai chi is a martial art. I want everyone in attendance to know this from the very start. In teaching, I believe it is important that everyone knows the roots of tai chi. Our training methods do not separate, we have one method that trains both health and self defense at the same time.
Could you cite three key elements to be a good practitioner of Tai Chi?
Actually there are three main elements that define tai chi:
1) Use of intention to guide movement (Yi bu li) - use intention, not external force
2) Letting go of all tension (fangsong)
30 Continuous full body spiral movement (chansijin) - silk reeling
These must be understood and manifested always during practice:
What would you recommend to students who are now entering for the first time in their lives in a Tai Chi school?
1) Show respect sincerely for the school, the teacher, and the other students.
2) Keep an open mind and observe and absorb as much as you can
3) Practice on your own to determine what feels right or not, and always look to do better.
4) Be patient with yourself, and take time to learn properly.
5) Maintain humility and the attitude of a beginner, and always remember there is more to learn.
6) Practice every day.
And what would you recommend to students who practice Tai Chi for 10 years?
Same as the answers to the previous question
Tai Chi is just tradition or can also be innovation?
All of my training since I was a kid has been traditional. I learned never to make up my own movements or forms, to respect the elders and ancestors who passed this art down for centuries intact. Tai chi as I learned is complete and there is no reason to change it. When we change it we take the risk to destroy it. Today there are many simplified forms, and mostly what I have observed is they do not follow the principles of correct alignment or natural body movement. I do not see the sense in practicing this way, it is detrimental to
progress. And then the original art is lost. Of course there is the evolutionary process. But I think people have to really be careful when they start improvising and changing things around. The Chen family tai chi can take one to an extremely high level of development. If and when I reach that level, ask me again...
Do you remember a particular testimony of one of your students about the benefits derived from the practice of Tai Chi?
There are hundreds of stories from my students and the benefits they felt from regular practice of tai chi. I still hear comments on a daily basis from students how good tai chi makes them feel. First I hear about the physical benefits, such as more relaxed, more energy, sleep better, stay more calm when under stress... Later I hear about the chronic health issues and pain that dissolve away and don't return. Then I hear about how the mind becomes more and more quiet and still. As a Chiropractor using tai chi as therapy, there have been many cases in which serious health problems reversed themselves though the regular practice of tai chi, too much to go into here. Enough to say, it is an amazing health and healing system that works from the inside out.
It is said that the teachers learn from their students. Does it happened to you to learn something important from your students?
My students are constantly reminding me how to become more human and more compassionate and more patient. How valuable is that?
Can you tell us about a special experience related to your practice of Tai Chi?
Every time I practice tai chi is special. I will relate one unusual story here. A few years ago I was practicing early in the morning on the beach where I lived in Costa Rica. The beach was empty except for a group of horses wandering around on the beach. All of a sudden as I turned around, there were 7 horses surrounding me, full size and baby horses. They were all in a circle and not more than 3-4 feet away from me. At first I thought they were going to eat me, but then I remembered that horses don't eat people... They were all absolutely still, and all staring directly at me with full intention. This went on for a full 10 minutes. A very strange feeling. Then, just as they appeared, they walked away calmly as if disinterested. A few people passed by with very astonished looks on their faces. After a minute, I decided to just relax and enjoy it. Til today I can not tell you why the horses did that, but one thing is sure, they were curious about what I was doing. I know that horses are extremely sensitive. Maybe they picked up on something different like that I was moving in a very relaxed way? Can't really say. But it was an experience I will never forget
Have you ever written any books?
I have two books available. One is called How to Tai Chi in 10 Minutes a Day, and is available through Amazon as an ebook and paperback. This book is a detailed explanation of tai chi basic training and a great reference for everyone, with or without previous experience. The other book is called Tai Chi Changshou, and is an explanation of my revolutionary new health care system. This ebook is free through my website by signing up for a monthly newsletter. Visit my home page at www.dochenstyletaichi.com to receive a free copy.
Can the practice of Tai Chi combined with other disciplines health benefits generate useful synergies?
When a person understands and can manifest the principles of tai chi in their daily life, it can enhance all aspects of health and life. For example, athletes will learn efficiency in movement and become more relaxed. One of the main benefits of regular tai chi practice is letting go of stored tension, which is the cause of pain and sickness. So regular practice of tai chi is going to be of benefit to all kinds of disciplines.
Can you give us an example where the Tai Chi was useful in your everyday life?
In the practice of tai chi we place great emphasis on how to move by relaxing. Also, much attention is placed on how to calm the mind. These two benefits make tai chi the absolute best form of stress management. So any time in my life that I was faced with a stressful situation, I had built up such large reserves in my nervous system, that I did not suffer the effects of that most would under similar circumstances. This becomes extremely valuable in today's world where the potential for stress is so great.
Dedicating an invitation to the reader of this interview, how would you continue this sentence?
"I suggest you to practice Tai Chi because ..."
Each minute, each day, each year that you practice this art, you will accumulate more and more benefits for health, healing, reducing stress, and reversing the aging process.... it will be the best decision you ever made in your life.
DR BOB BACHER is the President and Founder of Tai Chi Changshou, a revolutionary new health care system that focuses on building radiant health from within rather than treating sickness. He is also the President of Wang Xian Taiji North America, dedicated to sharing the wonderful benefits of tai chi for health and self defense.
Dr. Bacher has more than 47 years experience with tai chi, meditation, qigong, karate, and yoga, and has been a Doctor of Chiropractic since 1980. He studied tai chi extensively in Chen Family Village, China, the birthplace of this art, under the strict guidance of 19th generation Grandmaster Wang Xi'an.
Dr. Bacher travels worldwide offering workshops, retreats, and conferences in his Tai Chi Changshou system to help people live healthier more productive lives.
Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/TaiChiChangshou/