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A documentary about the great Tai Chi master, Cheng Man-Ching, who brought his profound teachings West in the swinging, turbulent 60s.
A documentary about the great Tai Chi master, Cheng Man-Ching, who brought his profound teachings West in the swinging, turbulent 60s.
A documentary about the great Tai Chi master, Cheng Man-Ching, who brought his profound teachings West in the swinging, turbulent 60s.
358 backers pledged $38,287 to help bring this project to life.

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The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West

$38,287

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The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West will be the first feature documentary about the great master, Cheng Man-Ching.  The story of a legendary man who brought ancient traditions to the modern world, teaching Westerners how to seek an ethical, open-minded, joyful, natural way of life. We've spent ten years filming, interviewing and gathering archival material in order to tell the fascinating story of how Cheng brought Tai Chi and classic Chinese culture to New York during the tumultuous 1960s.

“It is about time this wonderful teacher’s journey West was documented.”  Tony Visconti – Musician, Producer, Tai Chi Practitioner

What is Tai Chi? A centuries old Chinese exercise/martial art/spiritual practice. Tai Chi is called the “supreme ultimate” martial art. But it’s much more than a fighting system. Tai Chi is also an exercise and health regimen that improves balance, strength and energy. Tai Chi is known as a powerful spiritual practice. It is a physical expression of Taoism and Confucianism.

What was it about Tai Chi that attracted the radical youth of the 60s? Cheng Man-Ching was part of a centuries old lineage. He left China to spread Eastern philosophy. Coming from a conservative, traditional society he found his most eager students among the hippies, artists and radicals in 1960’s America. They in turn spread his teachings, helping them take root in the West. It’s a dramatic, extraordinary story. 

He gave away the Chinese secrets of martial arts. Many in the Chinese community were opposed to Cheng teaching Chinese “secrets" to American students. He was ostracized and even locked out of his school, but Cheng wasn’t stopped by intolerance. He established a new school and gladly taught all races and nationalities, men and women.

A message from the filmmakers.

 Our film is almost done! Over the past 10 years we have shot approximately 50 hours of footage in digital video comprising interviews, Tai Chi meets, classes and ceremonies. We have shot amazing, moving interviews with Cheng’s students who tell how he changed and gave meaning to their lives. Cheng’s family shared reminiscences of his personal life. We have exciting period footage and photos of Cheng teaching and practicing Tai Chi. 

Why we all need this film: There are very few films about the history and benefits of Tai Chi. We feel that it's very important to pass on knowledge of this profound practice to future generations. We present Cheng's students, now masters in their own right, as they emotionally recount his lessons. 

You can help us make this project happen by contributing to our funding campaign: Up to this point all equipment and labor has been donated. Now we are going into the expensive editing process and are in need of funds in order to make this film happen.

Please join us! Your support is crucial. We are very close to the finish line and need some help from all of you. Let us offer the world an informative, moving film about Tai Chi.  Please join us and donate!

Who are we? We're professional filmmakers who are also Tai Chi practitioners. We're reaching out to the entire Tai Chi community around the world in order to bring this work to completion. And that's exactly why this platform - Kickstarter exists!

What is Kickstarter and how does it work?When you donate (pledge) to our film via Kickstarter, we only receive the money if we meet our goal of $23,000. If we don't reach our goal, we receive nothing and your money goes back to you, so you donate $0.

Is the donation tax deductible? When you donate to Kickstarter your donation is not tax-deductible.  If you wish to do a tax-deductible donation, we have tax exempt status via Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), our non-profit sponsor. Simply go to our sponsor's official web page http://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/650/The-Professor/  and donate.

Can we exceed our Kickstarter goal? Yes, absolutely. Our goal is set to a very minimum of what we need to start the post-production process so every extra dollar put above our main goal will go directly towards finishing up the expensive editing process, the sound mix, music and Mandarin subtitles. 

Risks and challenges

We've spent 10 years shooting this film and now it's time to get it out there. We are preserving a vital piece of Tai Chi history and knowledge before it slips away. No one has ever reached out to the international Tai Chi community to join in on a project. The world desperately needs Tai Chi -- for health and peace of mind. Help us spread the word via Master Cheng's wise teachings!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Every dollar donated helps bring these sublime teachings to the public's attention!

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    We'll thank you on our web site plus email updates on our progress!

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    All of the above
    + a digital download of "The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West"!

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    All of the above
    + a DVD of the film!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    This is for our overseas supporters, who'd like to get a DVD of the film + our big thanks and exciting updates, of course!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of the above
    + a "Thank You" credit in the film!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    All of the above
    + a private class with Tai Chi teacher Carol Yamasaki in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (transportation and lodging not provided).

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    A "Thank You" credit in the film + a DVD + a digital download of the film
    + a private lesson with Tai Chi master, Ken Van Sickle in New York City (transportation and lodging not provided).

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    A "Thank You" credit in the film + a free DVD + a digital download of the film
    + free script consultation/analysis from award winning screenwriter, Barry Strugatz.

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    A "Thank You" credit in the film + a free DVD + a digital download of the film
    + a signed original photograph of Cheng by Ken Van Sickle.

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    A "Thank You" credit in the film + a free DVD + a digital download of the film
    + a signed Chinese art print by Tai Chi master and calligrapher Maggie Newman.

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    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    A "Thank You" credit in the film + a free DVD + a digital download of the film
    + original signed art print by celebrated artist, Caldecott medalist, Ed Young.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    An "Associate Producer" credit in the film + a Chinese Banquet with the filmmakers in NYC (transportation and lodging not provided).

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Funding period

- (30 days)