Something that’s really important for you to know as you read what’s below and see any post, video or picture of me “pwning life” is that life has been a real struggle for me. It’s probably been a struggle for you too. Everyone’s struggle is different and unique to them. Here’s a quick window into my own struggle.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999 when I was 19. Practically every time I’ve had a manic episode it’s been followed with almost a year of depression. I’ve had manic episodes in 2001, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014. That’s a lot of failing at life! Like I said, we all have our struggles and it’s really important for me to tell you that, regardless of how awesome things look now or have looked in the past, that my life isn’t 24/7 winning. No one’s is.
Mastering the Stuff Game
I’ve played video games my whole life! Video gaming is hard when you’re young and broke. My favorite console acquiring RPG story was when I wanted a Sega Genesis (goal). I was broke, my mom was broke and didn’t want me playing games anyway, so I had to figure out how to get it on my own (a quest!).
The strategy I employed was getting employment! I didn’t go out and get a “real” job. I walked about the neighborhood knocking on doors looking for people that wanted their lawns mowed. When I got enough money to get my Sega Genesis, I stopped playing that game and focused on playing video games! That was a short game.
That was a really short game and I beat it quickly. That game just keeps evolving (Speaking of evolving, Evolve was a pretty cool game!) It’s hard to quit playing the getting stuff game! Cars, TVs, snow mobiles, houses, pool tables, swimming pools… it’s endless!
It’s taken me a long time, but I think I’ve “mastered” that game. Not with getting more money to get the, what can feel like, endless things you want. With enough money, you’ll stop wanting more things, so that’s definitely a good strategy… Unless you’re Nicolas Cage! >.<
I went in the opposite direction. I kept getting rid of things down to where now all of my things fit in a backpack. I have a PS4, a Vita, a cellphone a laptop and disposable closes. Really, it’s all disposable with all of “my things” being in the cloud.
Mastering the Money Game
This is a tricky game. It’s ALWAYS good to have more money! Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy time, a sense of security and comfort. These are all things that make being happy a lot easier!
I’ve struggled with the being consistent with the offensive side of this game but, as it is apparent from the stuff game, I’m a master at the defensive side! I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks along the way from books and people for being defensive. We’ll discuss those later. What’s important for you, AND ME, is figuring out how to best master balancing money with life. This is going to look different for everyone.
Even though I’m almost always been “broke” I’ve been able to live a rich life. I’ve traveled to the places I needed to go to study with masters. My time on YouTube once gave me a new car to drive with free gas. I put enough miles on that thing in 6 months to drive around the Earth! There is always an inexpensive adventure to have right around the corner if you look for it.
I will talk at great length about the defensive side of money and you’ll get to accompany on my journey to mastering the offensive side.
Mastering the Passion Game
For whatever reason, nurture, nature or both, we have our passions. Even if they’ve become dormant from years of life sucking, somewhere underneath lies a passion. Could be art, music, poetry or trying to save the world!
“Saving the world” has been a passion of mine for a long time, and I think a lot of people feel this way but… the world is a huge and complex place. Where do I fit in?! Well, this website is a part of that passion, we’ll focus on my other passion right now. Martial arts.
I’ve been playing the “Become a Taiji Master” game for a long time, but that’s not where it started. When I was young I saw karate kid and wanted to be Mr. Miyagi (goal). I asked my mom to sign me up for karate classes at the YMCA (strategy).
Then I saw kungfu movies featuring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Now I wanted to be a kungfu master (game)! I looked in the yellow pages and found a kungfu school near the house and got my mom to pay the monthly fees (strategy).
Finally, through stories I heard and the philosophies surrounding them, I decided to become a taiji master (game). I’ve been playing this game for almost 20 years now. I’ll still be playing it 20 years from now and the game doesn’t end when I become a “master”.
I’ll, as briefly as possible, walk you through the strategies I’ve employed throughout the taiji master gaming years.
Mastering the Taiji Master Game
The journey began with my Shaolin KungFu teacher at the time and a close friend. They both told me stories about taiji being the most powerful martial art in the world. My experiences with taiji told me different, old men doing it for their health, but their stories painted a different picture.
I began practicing taiji with the belief that these stories were true. Eventually my close friend discovered a taiji master in Canada that he flew out to see. He came back with a VHS tape (that’s what we used to call YouTube) of that master doing some pretty amazing stuff. I was determined to see if it was true for myself. Here’s the result of that first visit.
The authenticity of what’s going on is that video is another discussion for another day. Needless to say, I was impressed. Mr. Miyagi, to Jackie Chan and now Master Wang. I had a new blueprint for what I wanted to become (game).
Taiji is a “soft” defensive art. Something you don’t usually hear is that the people that master this “soft” art always come from a background of extremely hard arts! If you want to become a taiji master, you better master some other martial arts along the way! I eventually found myself in Taiwan and there I had the opportunity to train with some Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ) Black Belts. I trained really hard, I tested my taiji principles under real pressure and competed as often as I could. I went from being this guy…
To being this guy…
My taiji master game took me on a lot of side quests! BJJ was one of them. Even though I was in Taiwan, a place filled with master of many Chinese martial arts, I focused on BJJ. When I moved back from Taiwan, I started focusing on taiji again. I asked Master Wang for permission to teach and he gave it to me. A new game to play! I spent months showing up to teach with no one there. I would just read a book and clean the mats (it was in a BJJ gym). I eventually had a student who walked through the door who became a committed student! I did, and do, my best to teach him everything I know!
I tried starting regular classes a number of times (strategy) and they never really worked out for me. I’m more of an informal kind of teacher. What I learned from trying all of those classes is that I don’t like teaching in a traditional classroom setting. I failed that game, but I learned an important part of my playstyle. Now I arrange meet ups where everyone comes to learn and share. All being teachers and masters.
To be a true taiji master it’s important to master the philosophy as well. This involves studying Eastern philosophies (Daoism, Buddhism, etc.) and learning to meditate. I went to a lot of different places, met a lot of different teachers and learned a lot of different techniques. I’m still meeting teachers and learning techniques!
Now here I am, 20 years later. Some people call me master, I’ve gotten really good at the skill I’ve been trying to learn, mastering it even and I’m a lot closer to being a taiji master, whatever that means, now than I was 20 years ago but… that game isn’t over! I’m still playing!