WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH TAI CHI & ZEN – Barry Sant 19/07/18

To be able to explain this I must go way back to childhood. For those who may or may not know me, as a young child I was extremely soft, sensitive and fearful.

I was bullied or let me put it another way I felt that I was bullied, at pre-primary, primary and high school which followed me all the way through too my early years at work.

I hated school, hated being fearful and hated myself for feeling this way, generally speaking I only felt safe at home and if I was put in any new environment I would have different levels of anxiety depending on the situation I was in.

I was, and still am well loved by my family but when I was younger and taken out of the security of my family I had extreme difficulties and was embarrassed by it so never really told anyone, although to my family it was probably obvious.

This fear was mainly judgement, judgement by my peers, teachers and work colleagues. I never felt that I was good enough, good at anything, at school I really struggled with learning to read which had a knock-on effect with all my other school work and kids being kids would always take the mickey.

So due to my noticeable lack of confidence my parents enrolled me at a very early age into a Judo club. At first, I also hated this, my first instructor was one scary mother f****er who expected complete discipline from all of his students, he was a really tough, extremely large and powerful man who seemed to shout a lot.

However, later in life I came to realises that I owe this man so much as this discipline stayed with me throughout my life. Without this skill of discipline there’s no way I would have trained so hard and in training hard I got results and getting result gave me confidence. I was still fearful but at least being able to cope a little better on my own and also through this determination I taught myself to read.

This is why I can honestly say Martial Arts saved my life, it gave me the courage to start living, which meant enjoying my life and in later years as a security operative it has literally save my life on numerous occasions.

But I was still fairly fearful of judgement, fearful of what people might think about me, did they think I was stupid, did they like me etc this mentally really held me back for years. I might have come across confident as a young man in his twenties but underneath there was a fearful little boy which kept popping up time and time again.

I eventually excelled on the Judo mat and just loved the art, on the rugby pitch I managed to achieve county and regional north midlands teams and in all my martial arts, gaining a black belt/sash in four completely different martial disciplines. I have been a doorman and bodyguard which as you can imagine I have had hundreds of physical confrontations and pretty much reaching high levels of competence in most things that I did, but I was still not completely settled & felt i was always trying to prove myself to others & basically trying to be someone else, due to this fearful little boy and his fear of judgment.

Then Tai Chi and Zen came into my life & I found balance. I just love these arts, just by the way they are practice is the very nature of reality, the essence of life. I love the discipline that’s needed to be able to practice these arts well and that it doesn’t matter how good we are, it’s all about the practice and our own journey. When you practice Tai Chi or Zen to practice properly you need 100% focus and awareness on what’s going on inside your body and mind.

When in the ‘zone’ all other external issues just fall away, problems at work, at home, personal demons etc. When I practice these arts I’m not trying to be someone else or something else, I’m just being me, becoming one with the art and letting go of all my demons, judgements, expectations and fear, it allows me to be my true self.

In my later years & for the first time in my life I feel completely comfortable in my own skin, having confidence, strong enough to voice my opinion even when the majority disagree, being comfortable with the fact people have different view points to mine and that’s just fine. Even though i’m no longer frightened to express myself i also have no real desire to enforce my own opinions on others, even if they just don’t get it. Knowing that I am a good and capable person with high standard of morals, who wants to give back to all those who suffer in silence from their fears and demons, Tai Chi and Zen has allowed me to love life and to finally become FREE of most attachments.