Here's one of the reasons I enjoy Tai Chi (and it's associated philosophy, Taoism) so much: a Tai Chi teacher isn't looked upon with special reverence, just respect.
After having experienced a spiritual path that places the master, or guru, up on a pedestal, it's refreshing to practice Tai Chi -- where the teacher is looked upon quite differently.
I like how John Lash, a Tai Chi teacher himself, puts it in his book, "The Spirit of Tai Chi."
No one can know with the mind what Tai Chi and the Tao are. These are things that cannot be grasped with the mind. One can only stand in awe of them. The Tai Chi journey is thus a journey without signposts or guides.
This means that the traveler is completely on his own. There is no guru, guide, or authority that can say, "This is the way." Each of us must find our own nature and flow with it where it leads us.
...The Tai Chi school is a ship that sails towards the Tao upon uncharted seas. The teacher is the captain of the ship. He is a captain who does not know the way, but he can handle a ship and has a good feeling for the sea.
He guides his ship by relying upon his own intuition and his past experience of the journey. He has no chart or guide.
...In other words, the Tai Chi teacher is experimenting with life. Every second of his life, he stands at a crossroads with no sign to point the way.
...I am a Tai Chi journeyer. I do not know where I am going for I have never been there.
So are we all, when it comes to the course of our lives. None of us knows for sure what will happen after we take our next breath.
And nothing at all of what will happen after we take our last breath.
[Next day update: Today The Rambling Taoist has a post that reflects the watery theme in the passage above. "A Diving Platform" points out that the core writings of Taoism aren't scriptures to be taken as gospel, but as a platform to dive in on your own from:
In this same vein, the works of these three visionaries provide great insight and a foundation into Taoist philosophy. They tease out ideas and concepts that often seem foreign and contradictory. Their purpose is to provide you with a place to gain your footing. But none of them want you to stand there flat-footed -- they want you to dive into life and to swim in your own direction at your own pace!
Which reminds me of another reason I like Tai Chi: my teacher encourages us to modify the forms (or "dances" of Tai Chi movements). In traditional karate this is a big no-no, unless you're an umpteenth level black belt.
But we frequently add moves, or take some away, in traditional Tai Chi forms. Individual expression is encouraged, rather than discouraged. When you feel the Tai Chi spirit moving you to move in a certain way, you follow it -- rather than thinking "Oh, no, I'm doing something different!"]