Learning about community through teaching others

Sage Petersen practices tai chi along with his martial arts. Enlargephoto

Special to the Times

Sage Petersen practices tai chi along with his martial arts.

Jeanne Archambeault

Mancos Times editor

Getting back to the land, being self-sufficient, growing your own food — these are all things that everyone is trying to do today. Little by little, one thing at a time, and according to their own talents, skills and passions, people are becoming more in tune with the earth.

Sage Petersen is no different. His interests lie in gardening, keeping bees, personal fitness and the martial arts. He’s always on the lookout for ways to combine them, or, at the very least, to make them work together. “It’s about feeling alive, feeling connected, inspired,” he said.

Petersen teaches tai chi and personal training right now. While he lives in Durango, he has taught many Mancos people. “My personal training is dynamic — it’s not about weight lifting,” he said. “It’s about determining where the person is, and focusing on technique. If we do things with incorrect technique, we’re actually damaging ourselves more. My intention is start from ground zero, work on posture, and work up to tai chi, weights, kettlebells and QiGong.”

Kettlebells, he said, are more fluid oriented than weights. You move your body in natural movements. “It can be very creative,” he said.

QiGong is like Tai Chi but more with the skill of chi; actually opening up your body and inviting the energy in, he said.

These are more the “soft” martial arts, which are about technique and energy, as opposed to the martial arts, such as karate and tae kwan do, which are not. “The softer martial arts are used more to redirect energy. The movements are part of the natural flow of things,” Petersen said. He’s been learning martial arts for about 20 years, he said, and tai chi for 10 years.

His dad has been a good mentor for him, he said, especially with the kettlebell training. “He recovered from having a stroke about a year ago, using athletic training with kettlebells.” He said that it helps with neuroconnections, hand-eye coordination, balance, strength, speed and stamina. “It gave me a sense of conviction about the exercise,” said Petersen. “It’s all about self-empowerment and direction,” he said.

Petersen also keeps bees at his place. He had three hives, but with the drought causing bears to come closer to human habitats, he’s lost two of them to the bears’ hunger. “They ate about 150 pounds of honey, pollen, wax and bees!” he said.

Bees can tell us a lot about humans and how they interact with each other, Petersen said. “They’re really important to the survival of our human species,” he said. He cited a quote that was attributed to Albert Einstein about bees — ““If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.” Whether or not Einstein actually said it, the fact remains that bees can teach us a lot about community, nature and organization, Petersen said. “They’re focused — each of them has a job and they stick to it.”

Last spring, he said, he noticed that people had more allergies. When he collected the honey from his hives, it was about 30 percent pollen, instead of the usual 5 percent pollen. “It’s a learning experience. Now I get to experiment with ways to protect my bees.”

Petersen also experiments with gardening and composting. He stores much of the food he grows, not unlike many who grow food. His ultimate goal, he said, is to have a piece of property with buildings on it, “that supports a system of harmony with nature and within ourselves — movement, food, bees — anything that we can incorporate into our lives with self-reliance and harmony.”

“My intention with all of my work is to do something meaningful and help people in their lives and be gentle with nature. And through that I want to understand my life and myself better.”

Petersen continues to teach martial arts and will advise people on bees.

Keeping bees are a meditative sideline for for Sage Petersen. Enlargephoto

Special to the Times

Keeping bees are a meditative sideline for for Sage Petersen.

Sage Petersen, right, and student Evan Bunt are doing a Filipino Martial art called Arnis. Enlargephoto

Special to the Times

Sage Petersen, right, and student Evan Bunt are doing a Filipino Martial art called Arnis.