Dear members of Baji Association,

the time has come for me to pass on the Chairperson’s torch and return to my humble origins as an aspiring martial artist. I’ve spent the last four or perhaps even five years on our association’s board of members, three of which as Chairperson. This is a long period of time by any standard and to bring things this era to a close I would like to address two things that I hope members of our association will spare a moment to think about.

1) Our association is a bridge between the East and the West

It is no coincidence that Master Lü Baochun decided to settle down here in Finland. If you find yourself sitting at the same table with Master Lü in the wee hours of the night, ask him to tell you the story of how it was that he ended up coming here of all places.

Life flows down its unchartable pathways and the great Dao moves us like straw-dolls but within this creative chaos, all things have a direction, an intention. Finland has always stood between the East and the West. We live in a stable democracy that is counted as a member of the Western sphere of influence and values. According to many measurements, this is one of the best places in the world to live. Perhaps it is due to the relative luxuriousness of our surroundings that so many of our association’s members have had the possibility to spend years, even decades learning these ancient Chinese health and combat arts. The skills that strengthen the body cannot be separated from the mental and spiritual skills on which they are based. The bridge that we have diligently built overcomes the gaps between continents and milleniums, as well as the gaps within us as humans.

We are very privileged to be a part of such a rich and life-affirming tradition. It is our duty to nourish this tradition so it can be passed on to future generations.

2) Stronger together

The idea of a gongfu-family refers to a society where the lives and human relationships of its member have become intertwined through years of training together. This may seem like an odd idea in a time where the individual and his or her independence is emphasized but it is of vital importance. The martial art family is based on flexibility and moderation, it feeds and pushes a person forward when one must go beyond oneself and reach a higher level.

None of us has learned gongfu in a vacuum but rather as part of a family. And perhaps the best thing about families is that they look like us. Together we can decide what kinds of things we want to invest in. This is why I encourage anybody who is interested to think about whether or not they want to join the board of members of the association and be part of planning what will happen in the next few years. I can guarantee you that this work is rewarding.

I wish all of you a very good New Year and good training. I also wish you plenty of setbacks and tough breaks, because this is where the most intense development takes place. See you in class!

-Antti Seitamaa

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