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    Apprentice Program in Martial Arts

    The Cheng Hsin Apprentice Program is an intense training and undertaking, often years in duration. It is the program in which the full scope and depth of the Cheng Hsin endeavor is encountered and actualized. The program is open only in the spring (March) every other year (2012, 2014, 2016 -- since I am getting older it may not continue past these dates)

    I offer the following for your consideration regarding the seven-month Cheng Hsin Apprentice Program.

    First let me try to orient you a bit to such an undertaking. In the past, the Apprentice Program dealt primarily with such principles as clarity, honesty, accountability, keeping one's word, commitment, integrity, and personal transformation, before tackling such subjects as martial skills and teaching skills. It was a very challenging course as well as a very rewarding one. Not everyone finished. Such a reorientation to one's relationship to life, self, reality, others, etc., is a powerful part of this undertaking. Although in this particular course we will focus primarily on learning the Cheng Hsin martial skills, there will also be occasion for ontological work, mind work, and, to some degree, undertaking a personal transformation. This is not easy. It requires trust and discipline.

    That is one reason I want every applicant to have done some work with me prior to this program. Some have expressed interest without having attended a workshop or camp. This is not a good idea. You'd be getting into something of which you have no experience, and only a slight idea of the reality of such an undertaking. It will be hard work, NOT a fantasy. I suspect that many of the people who would like to entertain such a fantasy will in the end find it "impossible" to attend. Yet, consistent with the apprentice program of the past: one creates commitment, all else follows. I am always ready and willing to be surprised by an individual’s level of commitment. This work is about creating possibilities, not being stuck behind circumstance.

    My main regret when closing the original center was having to shut down the Apprentice Program. Of all the work Cheng Hsin has done, I’ve always felt that the most important -- and the thing I'd really like the whole world to do -- is the personal transformation aspect of the Apprentice Program.

    Here are some comments from former apprentices:

    A seven month apprentice program . . . has the potential to be a life altering experience for anyone who participates.
    Katie McQueen, M.D.
    All serious students of Cheng Hsin owe it to themselves to consider the value that the Apprentice Program will have in their lives.
    John Nieters – Apprentice Trainer

    I have noticed remarkable changes in my perceptions, attitudes, and abilities. Prior to this involvement with Peter I never considered or even conceived of the possibility of achieving true skill. Working with Peter has allowed me to experience the presence of mastery....

    There is a lot of power in being in the presence of a master. More than just words gets communicated. Frequently, I have felt that the bulk of my lesson with Peter was happening on levels that were way beyond words. In a sense, my Body-Being really receives the lesson and only much later does my cognitive mind catch up and give words to what took place. My Body-Being learns from Peter by experiencing him presencing mastery.

    When I consider what I have learned I really don't feel I would have reached the same understanding for years, if at all.

    James Kapp
    A comment from a student of private lessons:

    Peter has been excellent in working with my stiffness and energy problems in T'ai Chi, T'ui Shou and free-fighting. When we work on centering or weight shifting, he shows me what I'm presently doing with my body and my energy-feeling, and always has some movement I can do or an exercise we can do together that results in my having an expanded feeling of being in my body. Then I will go back and do a T'ai Chi sequence or a T'ui Shou technique with him, and it will feel physically more simple, instead of being a complicated struggle.

    In private lessons I am forced to change; if I do T'ui Shou or boxing in my same old way, I will end up getting thrown around the room, or punched all over. Anyone . . . can tell you that when Peter Ralston is fully there with you, you’d better turn off your internal bullshit and be present with him. The situation demands that you start transforming yourself "now," by shifting into being with your partner, and not with an emotional projection of what is going on. This "supportive confrontation" speeds up your growth remarkably, here and in your whole life.

    Bob Smith

    I want you to know that I see it as my job to confront you on more levels then simply martial skill.

    How you learn, how you think and react, beliefs you have that don't serve you -- these are all subjects that may be challenged.

    And of course there is a lot of daily physical training. This can be challenging in a physical sense, but also in an emotional sense. Working with others day after day, running into frustrations, being asked to do more than you feel capable of, living with other people -- these can all create friction and distress.

    You should be prepared and mature about your decision to undertake the program. You will also be asked to help out on the property on occasion, helping to prepare for the month-long, keeping the dojo clean and functional, helping to clean the pool, etc.. The program includes your participation in the entire month of the Cheng Hsin Retreat (during which you will be fed and live like the other participants). You will be BUSY for seven months!

    I'm sure there is more to communicate, and I'm completely open to questions, but I suspect this letter should give you an impression of my intentions. Consider in earnest if it is something you want to do.

    If it is, then make a commitment and you will find a way.

    Apprentice Program Outline

    Length: Seven months: mid-March through October.

    The program ends with the Fall Series Retreat.

    Hours per day Training: 8+ hrs. (minimum)
    Instruction per day: 2 hrs. (minimum)

    Sample Schedule: Mon. - Sat. (Sunday: 9 -- 11am only)
    8:00 --10:30 am Training
    2:00 -- 4:30 pm Training
    6:30 -- 9:30 pm Training

    Apprentices will sleep in the dojo -- cots, bags, foam, etc. will be supplied.
    Apprentices will keep the dojo clean and spotless.
    Apprentices will buy their own food and cook their own meals at the dojo.
    Plates, cups, hot plate, microwave, refrigerator, etc. are supplied.
    The Apprentice group must have at least one car (no more than three).
    The pool and hot tub are available at certain times.

    Cost for the entire program: $13,500 (this includes the month-long Cheng Hsin Retreat).
    Expect to add to that 1,495, which is half-price tuition for the Fall Workshop Series, which occur at the end of the program. That brings the total to $14,995.

    This is definitely the least expensive price for the value offered - the equivalent cost for the amount of small group private lessons given during the seven months would be $50,000 - $70,000; and that would not include training an additional 1,200 hours while living at the training facility.

    A non-refundable deposit of 3,995 is due by Nov. 1, five months before the program starts. The remaining tuition for the whole program will be due up front on arrival. I'm not open to people "trying" it out for a while, or giving up in the middle.

    Depending on how advanced one is when he starts, I will want each apprentice to move through one to two degrees.

    Depending on the needs of the participants, the program may be open to some modification. But commitment and discipline are not optional.

    The 2004 and '06 and '08 programs were a great success! This is really the way Cheng Hsin was meant to be learned!

    Think about it long and hard. If you are ready to take on this program and to commit yourself to some serious transformation, let me know and I will consider your application.

    If you are accepted, I will inform you of registration procedures and what to do next, and will begin coaching you on ways to prepare. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know and we will see what we can create together.

    Good luck,
    Peter Ralston