Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You need to curb your impatience

I teach a lot of beginners, so many so one might say there is a revolving door. From my observations I would say that people are not as patient as they were when I first started, nowdays they want faster results. I have people pay me money and then never come back to finish their monthly lesson, this is a good example of impatience. In over 35 years of seeing the revolving door turn, not one person has ever said, "I'm quitting simply because you are a lousy teacher". On the other hand and as I have said before, I have learned from my teacher not to compromise on what is taught.

I follow one of the learning paths outlined by Master Hwa in the Classical Tai Chi Forums. Infrequently, I start with teaching the square form first. In one case, I started with the square form because a student could not curtail the extraneous movement of his hands. He studied a Kung Fu style and I could not even stop for moments and explain things. He would burst into movements from his "Katas" while I was trying to talk to him. That is impatience.

My first teacher at Taoist Tai Chi in 1976 was a Clinical Psychologist who frequently told me he was looking for another line of work because he had no patience anymore. In my opinion however, often his comments on beginners were pretty mean spirited. "I'm not going to teach that guy Jim, but you can", "Well you did a good job, at least now he's walking like a human being", etc. On the other hand, he was very knowledgeable about the Tai Chi and quite articulate in teaching it, he just had no patience for teaching.  When I first started with him he wore a T Shirt that said "Patience?", "Patience my ass, I want to kill something".  It was a graphic of 2 buzzards talking to one another in a tree while they gazed on some grazing animals.  Out of 7 students that started, I ended up being the only one left in his class. There was a lot of impatience then, but I think there is more today because I see the revolving door first hand.

How impatient? I once had a student that handed me $200 in cash and never came back a 2nd day. When I called her she said keep it, "I liked what you do, I just cannot do it". There are so few students at my studio, that the tuition money literally goes from my hands to the owners for monthly rent. One might say this a labor of love, yet I love the art dearly and get back much when I do get students that can stick it out through the initial learning phase. Teaching this, articulating it gives me an understanding that is incredibly rich and deep.

On the other hand,  like Wu Gongyi was reputed to have said to his students and in so many words: If you guys don't know how to do  walking in Tai Chi, how are you going to fight. Not that Classical Tai Chi leans the "fighting" way of the Wu's Style in general. It just points out that the learning proceeds from a very basic premise. If you do not establish that, there is nothing to build takes patience. There are numerous benefits to be had even in the bare bones beginnings if one can curb impatience.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Can't agree more with you on this subject!