My Name is Inigo Montoya and I am a Tai Chi Master

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inigo-montoya

If you haven’t seen the 1987 movie The Princess Bride — wait, seriously, are there still people who haven’t seen it? What are you waiting for? Rent that thing tonight! (And yes, this article contains spoilers for a 28-year-old movie.)

Anyway, there’s a famous line in the movie.  It goes like this:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.”

It’s an awesome line, don’t you think? It’s especially awesome when delivered by Mandy Patinkin. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Patinkin built his entire career on that line.

If you find it inconceivable that any of this has to do with Tai Chi and Qigong, please bear with me.

I’ll explain all that. But first, a little backstory behind that famous line. (If you’ve seen the movie 25 times, then you can probably skip this section.)

The Backstory

Inigo Montoya absolutely adored his father, a renowned sword maker. One day, a 6-fingered man, the evil Count Rugen, commissioned a sword from Inigo’s father.

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Even an evil 6-Fingered Man needs nice gloves.

When the sword was finished, Count Rugen refused to pay. Adding injury to insult, he also decided to kill the sword maker, Inigo’s father.

Inigo, just a young boy at the time, watched in horror. Grabbing a sword, Inigo challenged the 6-Fingered Man to a duel. But Inigo was far too inexperienced a swordsman. The Count spared Inigo’s life, but left him with a nasty scar on his cheek.

Massive Motivation

For that moment on, Inigo was determined to become the world’s greatest sword master. Then he would find the 6-Fingered Man and deliver this well-practiced line:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.”

In other words, Inigo suddenly had a massive amount of motivation 

Inigo sought out the best fencing masters and manuals, and practiced diligently. Through years of arduous training, the scar on his face was a constant reminder of his deeper motivations. (It also reminded him to practice his line in order to get the full dramatic effect when finally confronting the 6-Fingered Man.)

That’s how Inigo became a fencing master. Substitute “Tai Chi” for “fencing”, and it would have been exactly the same thing.

Now that I think about it, if Inigo had decided to learn the Tai Chi Sword, it would have made an awesome Kung Fu movie!

Who is Your 6-Fingered Man?

The overwhelming majority of Tai Chi and Qigong students struggle with motivation. If you thought that you were alone in that experience, think again. You’re not. You have lots of company.

If you struggle with motivation, then take a lesson from Inigo Montoya and find your 6-Fingered Man.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and makes you want to practice?

What drives you, motivates you, day after day, year after year?

When you wake up in the morning, and you just don’t feel like practicing — what thought will suddenly give you a burst of energizing motivation?

For Inigo, it was the scar on his face that reminded him of the 6-Fingered Man.  That thought motivated him not just to practice, but to become one of the best fencing masters (and best actors) around.

My 6-Fingered Man

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Yours truly practicing outside despite the cold.    And yes, it gets cold in Florida!

For me, my 6-Fingered Man is clear: Depression.

No, it didn’t kill my father. But clinical depression left an indelible scar on me.

I know one thing for damn sure:  I’m not going back to the darkness.  Not ever. Nah-uh.  Not me. No way. No how.

See.  I’m already getting riled up. I’m motivated. I would go practice right now if I weren’t in a cafe writing this article.

Tomorrow, next month, or next year, when I wake up and feel like skipping my morning Qigong and Tai Chi, I’ll just think about depression.

That’s what gets me moving. That’s what gets me outside to practice when it’s too cold or too hot.

Some people will say that you shouldn’t use negatives (like clinical depression) to motivate yourself.

I say hogwash.  We learn from experience, and let’s face it: lots of our experience involves negatives.  The experience hurts, and we say “never again.” That’s part of learning from our mistakes. That’s part of growing.

Depression is my 6-Fingered Man.

What’s yours?

6 Tips for Finding Your 6-Fingered Man

Different personalities will respond to different motivations.  The trick is to find YOUR thing, to find YOUR 6-Fingered Man.

Here are a few tips:

1.  Think about other people. Think about a spouse, a child, or even a pet.  Certain personalities will find more motivation in doing things for OTHERS rather than for themselves.  For example, you might be motivated to stay healthy for your children, rather than for your own sake.

2.  Get angry.  What makes your blood boil?  According Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, anger is not all bad.  It can be fuel.  Sometimes, anger is precisely what we need to get moving.

3. Dream big.  Do you have a dream, even if it’s unrealistic? Does it motivate you? For example, I have a student who told me that she wants to see the earth from space.  Now that’s dreaming big!

4.  Use images.  Some of you will do better with an image posted on your wall, your computer, or your phone. Does a quick glimpse of an image get you motivated?

5. What hurts? A memory from the past? What did you learn from that? What would you change in the future?

6. What energizes you? Does a thought of the future — traveling somewhere, succeeding in something, meeting someone — give you energy?

Mastering the Art of Persistence

Let me be clear that I am in no way advocating revenge.

I’m advocating persistence.

In the 21st century, persistence is an uncommon skill. Most of us want instant gratification. We want the latest gadget or gizmo, and we want it now.

If I could create a pill that would magically turn people into Tai Chi masters, it would probably be very popular.

But that pill doesn’t exist. When it comes to mastering Tai Chi, Qigong, or any art — there is no substitute for persistence.

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Without persistence, you’ll never know the joys of mastery.

You have to resist the 21st century trend toward instant gratification. The good news is that you already know that instant gratification doesn’t really gratify. You know that it is fleeting and unsatisfying.

The joy of mastery is like nothing else on earth. It’s what life is all about.

I believe that mastery is in our DNA. Primitive humans had to master all sorts of arts, skills, and crafts. In the 21st century, we’ve lost touch with that part of our humanity.

Summing Up

My goal is to infect students with so much passion for Qigong and Tai Chi that they end up becoming lifelong practitioners.

To become a lifelong practitioner of any art, you need persistence. And to be persistent, you need motivation.

If you’ve been trying for years to be persistent, but ignored the issue of motivation — then you’ve just found your mistake. Go find your 6-Fingered Man, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do!

Find your motivation, and find your inner Inigo Montoya!

Have you found your 6-Fingered Man? If you don’t mind sharing, I’m sure that others would love to hear about it. Tell us in the comments below!



Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.
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14 Responses to My Name is Inigo Montoya and I am a Tai Chi Master

  1. Jen Vann January 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I love this post!!! I have two “6-fingered men;” depression and fear. The first really did kill my father. Sometimes that is enough to motivate me. Right now, releasing fear, moving through it, and letting go of fear-inducing attachments is my biggest motivator. I’m going to go practice now! Thank you! 🙂

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 16, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Sorry to hear that you lost your father to depression, Jen. Depression is worse, and deadlier, than the average person imagines.

  2. Willam January 15, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    My motivation is mainly for health but also for self defence. Having being born with a gentic disease I am hoping taichi will be able to do something for me in that regard.

    I noticed your new pic Sifu ANthony, I must say the beard suits you handsomely. You look like a real teacher now lol.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 16, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Wait, what does a “real” teacher look like?

      Sorry to hear about genetic disease. Good tai chi and qigong can work wonders. I hope you find a good teacher, practice hard, and get awesome results!

      • Willam January 16, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

        Haha, I just meant it was a bit of a ooo moment to see you sporting a beard but it looks cool and is in keeping with the old masters who liked to keep beards. Must be due to all the taichi and neigong helping to reverse the aging process and makes you look quite sagely too so george clooney eat your heart out 😛

        Thanks Sifu Anthony for you words, I’m just enjoying the journey for now who knows if i’ll make it to the destination.

  3. Robin January 16, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    awesome! one of my favorite movies AND favorite actors, motivation tips is right on time. 🙂

    • Robin January 16, 2015 at 10:56 am #

      eeek! grammar mistype! “tip(no s) is … “

  4. Paul Gebhart January 16, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Hi Sifu–you might like this quote from “Cool Cal:”

    Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

    Calvin Coolidge

  5. Paul Gebhart January 20, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    One more quote: “Only consistent, persistent effort can create the special conditions needed by those who seek the higher Life to shatter the illusion of (their) limited spiritual possibilities.” Guy Finley

  6. Cadfael February 3, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    My six fingered man is my heart.
    25 years ago I had a heart bypass, which has let me down. In an angiogramme 3 years ago it was found that the arteries grafted onto my heart had shrivelled up and disappeared. The cardiologist said I had six months to live, and severely limited the things I could do. But I said “not for me”, and started Tai Chi and Chi Gong, now I am stronger, fitter, and better – and Still Alive, which is a bit of a bonus. Now I teach both arts to others. Sorry six fingered man, you lost!!!

  7. jose pomales March 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    my six finger man is the love I have for my daughter son wife and grandchildren I am not a rich man and the most invaluable thing I can leave behind for my children and grandchildren is my tai chi chuan.i have made Thursday evening family practice night and the children and teenagers in the family has put aside a couple hours to practice with the old man.the perseverance and the discipline that this show me in wanting to learn and of course their great love is my motivation. thank you so much.

  8. Julius marotta April 5, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    My 2001 oddesy,has a six fingered man in it,who would have known.
    This very cathartic,2001 Is when I injured my spine,spent 6-8 weeks in agony lying on the floor.Unable to walk effectively due to crippling pain.So when you are lying on the floor for so long,you have much time to think.
    So after all this time,I made a decision to walk despite the pain.The tears welling up writing this,is a surprise.

    My rationale was that I was in pain lying down or standing up,so it was that I would walk,doing laps around the clothes line,crying openly.I would focus on my posture,I found that if I maintained an erect posture,the pain was less,my left leg from hip to toe was numb,especially big toe.Sleep was intermittent,never slept for longer than two hours.

    Anyway,using abusing only anti-inflamatorys andTHC,I was able to return to work,of course I would collapse in a heap once home,but I could function effectively at work,provided I didn’t talk about my back pain.2003 I requested a spinal scan,which revealed,herniated disc x2,L3-4 L4-5.No pain killers,as these would make me constipated which made back pain worse.Once I had received scan report,I also learnt to relax and let the body heal,I was then able to recover by2004,with only residual numbness below the knee.This also has dissipated since commencing qigong in January 2015.

    There was no killing my six fingered man,it was more a case of learning to live with him.
    Somehow feel relieved in telling my story.
    Thankyou for listening,humbly Juls.

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