Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Address Change

Greetings!  I hope this finds you well.

If you don't already, please use for my default address.

Delete the sbcglobal address if you have it. still functions but I would prefer you use the above gmail address.

Also, some of you are in my address book because of a Tai Chi connection.  If that no longer exists and you wish to stop receiving emails about classes, workshops and camps, please let me know and I will remove you from any lists.


Center States Tai Chi Chuan Association
Kim William Kanzelberger, Director
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Thursday, December 1, 2011


I'm often asked what it takes to be a "master" of Tai Chi.  Some people take the title 'master' to simply refer to rank or achievement among one's peers.  In this hierachical universe there can be many masters.  How many graduate students become Masters of Arts or Sciences?  In the martial arts there can be a master of an individual school or a particular style.

Even though many of his peers and students believe him to be a master of Tai Chi, my teacher of 35 years, eschews this title.  He remains humble and often tells us that his knowledge is small compared to his teacher's and practitioners of the past.  It often seems as though he's measuring his knowledge against the virtually limitless potential of the art as a whole which could certainly engender an attitude of humility.  If the term master has any meaning beyond rank, athletic prowess or self-promotion, it's coming to the realization of how little you know, thereby retaining your beginner's mind.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More on Change

Change is reality of our existence and attempts to resist change are always unsuccessful and produce great suffering.  Learning to relax makes us better able to flow with change.  Since every situation is different, we concentrate on principles rather than techniques.

Relaxation is hampered by two types of tension: resistance and grasping.

Culture and Context

A few days ago I received an email from a person wanting to know if he could teach classes in Chinese language and culture at my taijiquan studio in Kansas City. He wrote that learning the language and culture was crucial to one's taijiquan development. 

I wrote back and said that, while I had a keen interest in Chinese philosophy and culture, my teacher (Chinese to the bone) never stressed that learning these things was essential to developing a deep understanding of taijiquan. Naturally, some background was necessary, but it was more about basic principles and perseverance in practice. It was about learning to relax-whatever the language or culture 
I have met many taijiquan players in my nearly thirty years of experience-a handful of whom had some deep knowledge of the essence of the art. A few were well-versed in Chinese language and culture, but most were not. As a result, I never felt there was a necessary correlation between comprehension of taijiquan and facility with the Chinese language or familiarity with Chinese culture. Conversely, I know one Chinese gentleman whose knowledge of classical Chinese language and philosophy is extremely erudite, but hasn't the discipline to practice taijiquan daily. Even though he has been practicing for many years, his understanding is still largely conceptual. 

Not all of the cultural accoutrements that come with Eastern mysticism-or Western science for that matter-are necessary or helpful. Some things deservedly need to be shed as they are more baggage than benefit. It is good to know the roots of the art that you love and practice, but it is also important to recognize and inhabit your own cultural milieu and not fret if you haven't mastered the intonations of the Chinese language. I am not saying that learning to speak Chinese or studying Asian culture is without value. It can be very intellectually satisfying in many ways. My point is that the wisdom of taijiquan is no longer tied to any one country or culture.

Many of the Eastern contemplative arts, including taijiquan have become, like Western science, part of world culture. We should be grateful for the generosity of those Chinese taijiquan teachers who gave of their time and talent to build a cultural bridge that propelled taijiquan onto the world stage. It was a selfless thing to do, and therefore an essentially taijiquan thing to do, because it necessitated letting go. When you allow your child to go out into the world you have to accept that they will forever be changed. It was a very forward-looking, "modern" stance to take, not typical of the traditional Chinese world view . This modern stance emphasized the belief that taijiquan was too important and wonderful to be constrained by any one culture and that it must continue to evolve if it was to thrive.

Taijiquan truly does transcend the boundaries of language and culture. As the Denma Translation Group said about the wisdom of Sunzi's Art of War: "It is a natural flowering of common human faculties present in all of us." 

This article appeared in the Winter 2004 Issue of Taijiquan Journal (Vol. 5, No. 1)  Seven years after penning it, I am still in agreement with the sentiments presented.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts on Centering

We often use the word 'center' and it's different variants to describe a certain state of mind/body/spirit.  Over thirty years ago I chose Center States Tai Chi for the name of my Tai Chi 'center' which wasn't simply about being geographically positioned in the heartland.  What does 'center' mean?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tai Chi: A Multi-faceted Art Form

When I began studying Tai Chi, before it received very much media attention, I learned that it was a multi-faceted art form.  A health exercise, a meditation, and a martial art.  It was profound, something you could study for many lifetimes and still glean more benefits and insights.  As it came to be a more familiar practice in the West and began receiving more media attention, this broad, multi-faceted art form was reduced to an exercise for the elderly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow-up: Sensing Hands vs Push Hands

When I asked teacher what the literal translation of t'ui shou was, it was, in fact, "push hands", even though the word used for "push" in our form is an not t'ui.  Apparently they're synonymous.  Then without any prompting he said that some people preferred "sensing hands".  When I asked him what he thought about that it was largely a non-issue for him, but he said it might be all right as an alternative translation and understood the emphasis on sensing.