my tai chi teacher about life choices

Jan and Marie own an old farm set in a peaceful landscape with wild flowers dotted meadows.Twice a week I park my car along the narrow street in a row of other cars belonging to a bunch of people that at least have one thing in common: they all want to learn tai chi.

It’s quite an experience, learning tai chi with Jan.
It’s intense, demanding, meditative. Yet, there’s always room for a laugh.

He has come a long way. Used to have another job. Changed his life. Seems happy.
I wanted to learn more about his choices in life and just asked him about it.


What did your life look like before you became a tai chi teacher?
I had a good time producing and directing television programs. We had a fine crew and enjoyed what we were doing. Television work gave me the opportunity to meet all kinds of inspiring people including the king. I’m still grateful for it.
But as time moved on, budget and conditions became more important than creativity.
As a result I lost every joy in my profession. Eventually I quit my job.

Just like that?
In the meantime I had discovered tai chi while making a television program.
I instantly knew that tai chi was part of me. I decided not to waste any time and started learning it intensively. I followed courses and classes and before I knew, I was slowly growing into teaching myself.

Why tai chi?
Tai chi suits me. Its structure fits me.
It keeps stimulating my creativity. It’s an infinite circle of learning. A process that never stops. There ‘s always a new layer to discover. I need that.
Tai chi also makes me go through life in a more grounded way and it has made me more sensitive.
It helps me to smooth the things of the past.
In my opinion tai chi is more complete in comparison to other martial arts as it kept a gentleness that many disciplines lack.

What’s your approach to teaching tai chi?
I regard tai chi as a tool you can use to make yourself a better, more complete person. To become your own master.
My task as a teacher is to instruct this tool.
I like making a healthy mix of all elements that make part of tai chi: motor control, standing, the chi.
It’s very fulfilling to notice that students use tai chi successfully in everyday life and benefit from it.

What ‘s your life motto?
Do good and don’t look back.

What do you mean by that?
Take good care of yourself and of others.
In my case that means: what I do has to correspond to who I am. If it doesn’t, I get out.
When I feel that my life’s on the wrong track, I immediately adjust.
That’s why I quit television. It didn’t feel right anymore.
I honestly believe this is very important, it prevents a lot of problems mentally and physically.
Of course, I couldn’t do this without the support of my wife. I value Marie’s opinion a lot. What I do would make no sense without her approval.

What was your best decision up to now?
Probably my farm. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Hardest obstacle to overcome?
The Belgian state that forces people into a status of self-employed entrepreneurship with the inevitable taxes and obligations. A system that worked well in the past but doesn’t fit modern society anymore.
I believe in sharing and solidarity but as it is now, only few starters succeed.
I ‘m very much in favor of the idea of a basic income for everyone. It gives you  the possibility  to develop and grow at your own pace. A freedom from which I believe you and as a result society would benefit .

What would you advice people in regard to making life choices?
Do what your heart tells you to do. Listen to your inner voice. Our cells are smarter than we think.
When you do what presents itself on your path you create a flow. Your path of life will be much more serene and obvious.
When you do the opposite, when you ignore opportunities that present themselves you create a breakdown.
This implies that you have to turn what you think you might do into a physical action.
The thing is that people often fear change. When change presents itself, people start postponing out of fear or insecurity. They feel safer with a status quo.
But when you are courageous and you take up your life as it was meant to be, you trigger something in your system that will be the start of something new and then you change. It will give you energy.
This is a process that you can’t impose on people.
Feeling their own power is what people sabotage the most.
I often see that happening in my class.
It ‘s not my task to make it happen. It ‘s my task to provide them with the tool so they can make it happen on their own.
I can see transformations in my class.
When you do tai chi, you connect  your body with your mind. That ‘s why tai chi is a powerful instrument to make change happen.

How do you handle perfectionism in life?
When I play my violin I know how the music should sound like.  At that moment that’s my goal. Inevitably I will be confronted with restrictions and limitations which I accept.
After all, I ‘m not a laureate in the Queen Elisabeth Contest!
On the other hand, when I ‘m teaching tai chi, there’s no room for nonchalance.

I created something good here.
I ‘m very lucky that I can earn a living doing what I really like.


Taking a break.

Want to learn more about Jan?
See his website


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