Hello Sifu Dunn,
Thank you for participating here, it's great to have a practitioner and teacher of your experience on board.
I wanted to ask about your tai chi ruler book and dvd. Is it based on the teachings of GM Lew? I've heard that there are a few different versions of this form out there, not sure what the differences are, or if they are important. Also, what do you see as some of the benefits of this set?
Answer to your question re my Tai Chi Ruler publications (book and video):
1. Yes the material in the book (1990, Dragon Door) and the video (1985, Interarts (my company)) are based on the teachings of Master Share K. Lew. I wrote the book with Master Share K. Lew's expressed permission.
2. However, I learned the TC Ruler system in 1975 from the senior student of Master Lew at the time, John Davidson. Then I practiced that version from 1975 through 1985, and put that version on the video and the book.
3. Around 1989, 1990, I met with Master Lew and he showed me the correct, orthodox, version of TC Ruler. This was an interesting revelation--compared to what I had learned from John Davidson and had practiced for 10 years. So I added Master Lew's corrected version to the book as the "advanced" version of the practice, as seen in the indoor photos of me wear black garb), where all exercises without steps are done with feet parallel and at a 45 degree angle for each side of the practice. I added it as an addendum because I had already had professional photos taken of me doing the Davidson version and I had written the instructional text based the Davidson version because that's what I knew best. Master Lew also knew that that was the version of the TC Ruler I had been practicing because Davidson was the primary teaching in Los Angeles.
4. So that is why in the first pictorial part of my book, I teach the John Davidson version of the TC Ruler.
5. Unfortunately, I was not able to show the final draft of the book to Master Lew before the print run because the publisher was rushing me on a tight schedule. Because everyone in L.A. had been practicing the Davidson version for 10+ years and it was all under Master Lew's auspices, I thought that the Davidson method of practice was the standard "beginners" version of the art.
6. Well, after the book was published in early 1991, I found out that the John Davidson version I had photographed and written about was a "broken" tradition that Master Lew had purposely taught John Davidson due to his own reasons. The Davidson version is an "incomplete" and distorted version of the authentic TC Ruler art. Practicing this version does no harm, but it does not efficiently promote internal energy cultivation the same way that the method Share K. Lew teaches does.
7. Because the book contained the old Davidson version as well as the later correct version, Master Lew was upset one summer (1992) when a couple of his workshop students from Esalen brought the TCR book to him and said that my printed version was different from what he had been teaching them. He told me that he had "lost face" because of the discrepancy between the Davidson version and his authentic version.
8. As fall-out from this lack of communication, and his resulting unhappiness over the Davidson version being published, Master Lew changed his mind about allowing me to write a book and publish a video series on the TTP-31. He had first given me his A-OK at the same time he OK'd the TC Ruler book, but then after TC Ruler book came out with the old Davidson version on it, and that caused controversy, he then changed his mind and said "No" to the TTP-31 video and book. That's the grandmaster's prerogative. To this day, I have respected his wishes and have not published anything on the TTP-31. The last I heard (about a year ago), Master Lew is still adamantly anti-video, and has an edict out prohibiting any of his students from publishing any part of the TTP system on video.
9. Bottom line: as "broken traditions" go, the John Davidson version of the TC Ruler seen in the first pictorial section of my book (and on my 1985 video) is still an effective physical training regimen that strengthens legwork,stances and posture, and does cultivate chi to a certain extent by coordinating eyes, mind, movement and breath. But it is NOT the correct Tai Chi Ruler art. The correct version is seen in the back pictorial section of the book only.