How does material history relate to an oral tradition? How does the study of that history fit into everything else that we do in this organization?
The more I work with the historical materials of Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi®, the more I feel like the unofficial historian of the organization. The wealth of materials that we have kept, related to everything that we do here — the instruction, programs, food(!), demonstrations, outreach — it’s all fascinating because it all shows how we have achieved, and are continuing to achieve, the aims and objectives set out by Master Moy.
We often talk about the blueprint, the foundation of the tai chi that we do. For me, one vital aspect of this is helping people. Tai chi helps people regain and maintain their health, both physical and mental, and every activity of the organization, from health recovery programs to maple syrup production, supports that.
So how does the archives project relate to this aim and objective? To begin with, the study of the history of the organization can help those of us who didn’t know Master Moy, to see this foundation in everything that he did with the organization. At times it is easy to forget how we are following that blueprint; it can be easy to doubt the structure because it’s often invisible.
It’s like with tai chi: I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like I just don’t get it, like I don’t have the structure even though I’m trying to follow the form. At those moments, the most helpful thing I can do for myself is lighten up, smile, and trust the form. Trust that even if I don’t feel it now, I am still benefiting from the training in many ways.
The archives project, when I look at it in this way, is a reminder, hopefully not just for me, but for many participants, of what this organization is truly about, and why we are doing this in the first place. Through the study of historical documents, we can deepen our understanding and appreciation of the ways in which we have worked to fulfill our aims and objectives. And trust the form, as we continue to do this work into the future.
– Allison Hasselfield
The FLK Archive Project is an initiative to identify, organize and preserve materials that are essential to the history of the organization. These include photos, videos, pamphlets, newsletters, annual reports and correspondence among others. Allison Hasselfield is a volunteer at the International Centre who is currently involved in this project. Her blog posts provide a window into what she is doing.