Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Getting "better" in Classical Tai Chi

Sitback, sitback, sitback till there is a "crease" in the front not merely a "wrinkle". Turn the body, turn the body, turn the body to ward off. Don't bend the arm, don't bend the arm, don't bend the arm...review, review, review...
I have been told by students that telling them to review is "Preaching to the choir" in Classical Tai Chi.  A cliche' if there ever was one...right?  I hear it from students and it seems to be in a way that discourages doing it.  An idiomatic expression that means "you are wasting time" and "what you are doing is useless because you are boring, annoying, I've heard it a million times and I am already persuaded."
  • Well for one, you are listening to me. You are here because you want to be here and you want to hear "preaching".
  • A student or potential student is not the teacher.  A class needs a teacher.  You can think for yourself but you need someone who can see a little further into the future and can focus your efforts.  Someone who can inspire and motivate you.

When I hear "you are preaching to the choir", I can certainly read between the lines because what a student is saying is that they do not want to hear the lesson again.  Or, they do not have a problem, it is the other guy who has a problem.  In other words the student is passively resisting what the teacher has to say.  Why?  It is because teaching that you do not wish to hear again is teaching that you really do not agree with.  If you say you agree with me, not wanting to hear me and telling me to do something else is not a "positive" response to teaching.
"Talk is cheap, put your money where your mouth is". Another cliche', but it certainly has not been "cheapened" (no pun intended) by repetition, review or great improvement. In other words, back up your "agreement" with action and committment. Things are not always a "problem" either, sometimes it simply means doing something good, helpful or better.
"Better", "doing better, "get better", etc. Pure and simple, people forget, you forget, I forget, we all forget.  For as long as you do Classical Tai Chi, you will have to not only learn, learn, learn but you will have to review, review, review.  Want to get better?  Review, and review some more. 
Here is a great quote for your perusal: 
"You need to remember, sometimes the appearance of reality is actually an illusion. My students in class often told me that they thought I was moving a certain way and tried to do the same.  Later they found out that their observation was not correct.  That was the reason I incorporated different views in my DVD lessons, so you could see my moves at different angles to lessen the chance of wrong impression.  Using a fresh eye to review the lesson DVD could also uncover any misinterpretation of my movements."
"Learning Tai Chi often follows an unexpected path: advancement followed by periods of stagnation and even a turn for the worse.  This is because at this stage, you still have not built a firm foundation under your form practice.  Once you are familiar with the movements, you may become careless, neglecting some of the fundamentals in the form playing.  You can test this by critically looking at how you do the tai chi walk.  My experience with my students in class is that such review often showed missing details which they had done correctly years past. Eventually when you full grasp the principles, rationale and common thread of the movements you will be able to maintain an even keel progress and make discoveries on you own"  Master Stephen Hwa
I recall someone telling me they were "scolded" for offering a suggestion regarding someone's Classical Tai Chi form. The individual told them, "I know what I am doing is right because I have been doing it for "x" amount of years."  That is not a reason, that is an excuse. The person and I later discussed the incident and I asked: "Why do you think they said that".  He replied: "Because they do not want to get any better".

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