Monday, June 20, 2011

Having sufficient light and heat to find "Treasure" in Classical Tai Chi




Plutarch said: "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignighted".
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire". William Butler Yeats
Regarding finding treasure, I can only relate in my own fashion what my teacher has told me:
The lighting of an educational "fire" for light and heat to gain "treasure" can be fraught with problems :  There can be many causes of this. Admittedly students like the wood  are  "green", and it will be harder to get it to 'catch'. If not enough starting material such as paper or in the case of Classical Tai Chi things like "silk reeling","basic walking"  is used, it won't generate enough heat to get the fire going. Putting pieces of wood that are too large such as forging ahead too far too fast,, in the form on one's own,  soon smothers the fire and it will die. If the fire is arranged so that air cannot get up through the wood,or one has built a "spaghetti like learning structure" as I outline below it will likely sputter and die.
My teacher has said: "Silk reeling exercise is encouraged for not so advanced students so that they can  experience some internal energy flow rather quickly. For advanced students who can play the form with ever  move using internal discipline, silk reeling exercise is no longer necessary, since the entire Form practice is a complex silk reeling exercise  with internal flow continuing without stop from beginning to the end." 
As I see it:  The problem with learning too much of  the form before "silk reeling" is like putting too much wood on a fire that has not really been burning for very long.
There was a student back in 2005 that purchased the DVD, Vol. 2 and did not purchase Vol. 1, Overview.  He stated at the time that he felt he should get input from every possible source rather than confining himself to one commitment.  He would continually say things that made it crystal clear he did not understand the overall structure, rationale and goals of Classical Tai Chi.  My teacher addressed that in an email to him because he said he did not feel it was necessary to view the "Overview DVD Vol. 1":
Master hwa said: "I think if you have studied vol 1 Overview, it will be much clear,to you the overall structure, rational and goal of learning Classical Tai Chi. Vol 2 Form Instruction is teaching details. It will take a while learning individual trees before you can see the forest."
The only thing this student seemed to accomplish was to be "lost".  He seemed to want to clutter himself with too much information as fast as possible.  The problem with "clutter" is that one cannot see the forest for the trees as my teacher says...the way is not clear.  In the early stages of learning one needs direct pathways to find stuff...I refer to the establishment of "neural pathways" in the brain.
Why burden oneself, complicate things with "neural paths" that resemble nothing better than a giant plate of noodles, with no starting point or end?  The same holds true for starting on Vol. 2 DVD before viewing Vol. 1 Overview.  That would be like buying a map that resembled a plate of noodles.
It also occurs to me that folks don't much like my telling them how to get their learning organized, to get the "neural paths" in order. Cetainly, my aim is not to force anyone to do things right, it can be frustrating to students if viewed that way. However, I've seen too many students that aim too high or burden themselves with all the wrong concerns.  Remember, the ignition of a fire cannot be rushed, it takes proper structure time and patience....and there is a distinct rationale to reaching that goal.





2 comments:

Rick said...

I think one of the things you have to trust if your are going to learn something from someone, is their experience in choosing the content to present to the student. If you don't have this trust, why bother?

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