Shido-geiko (learning-by-helping)
Written by Rachel

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Tai chi students are asked to undertake shido-geiko responsibilities in class. We look for people who are helpful, considerate and show an enthusiasm for the art, the class and Sifu Waller's teachings.
If you demonstrate an aptitude for shido-geiko, you may prove be a strong instructor candidate later in the syllabus. Shido-geiko is considered to be a privilege.
You have an opportunity to help pass-on the art.

What is shido-geiko?

It is important for you to understand what 'shido-geiko' means. You are not teaching. It is not really about you helping others. The onus is upon how showing others affects you and your understanding.
The benefit to others is a by-product, not the point itself. Shido-geiko is an essential learning tool. If you dismiss it, there will be a gaping hole in your tai chi comprehension.

Mark is an extremely successful high school mathematics teacher. When we asked him when he really learned calculus, he said, "When I first taught it. There is no better way to learn anything than to actually teach it. When I teach something, I have to confront many fundamental questions: What is the motivation to learn this topic? What are the basic examples? On what aspects of this material should I focus? What are the underlying themes? What ties the ideas together? What is the global structure? What are the important details? These questions force me to discover the heart of the matter, and see exactly what I truly understand and what I still need to work on."

(Edward B Burger & Michael Starbird)

Avoid misconceptions

Shido-geiko does not mean 'assistant

Demonstration & explanation

Sifu Waller did shido-geiko in various classes in the past, in addition to Peter Southwood's tai chi class. It teaches you how to explain things.
You learn more about your own practice than you would by simply training with others of your own grade, or at home by yourself.

Expressing the teaching

Shido-geiko is a challenge; it requires the student to articulate skills and ideas in a way that makes sense to other people. This will require considerable effort.
Much of what is learned is not fully understood, and the act of expressing it to somebody else will not be easy.
In order to explain, you must dismantle things, give examples, illustrate and demonstrate. You will need to answer questions and to re-consider your own misconceptions.

Initial responsibilities

Shido-geiko responsibilities need to be pretty mild at first:

  1. Welcome new starters, assist with the completion of registration documents

  2. Assisting beginners with their induction

  3. Reminding new school members to bow (etiquette)

  4. Leading the 7:00 PM qigong group

  5. Leading the 8:00 PM partner work group

  6. Assisting Rachel with section 1 form introduction

These preliminary skills give the student an opportunity to experience 'sharing' and the challenge of effective communication.

Greater responsibility?

If a student wants to take on new shido-geiko responsibilities, this is certainly an option. Helping can be mild or it can be a pre-cursor to teacher training.
We prefer to let the student decide what suits them best.


Responsible, appropriate tuition is paramount in our class:

Qigong/form/partner work: Having first notified the class members that you are still undergoing training, you will not attempt to teach techniques beyond the level reached in your training programme, nor will your class deviate from the age limits/class sized permitted by your training organisation.

Massage: Having first notified the recipients they are receiving treatment free of all charges, as part of your training, you are restricted to performing practice treatments for case work only. Furthermore, you must not offer treatments outside of your capabilities, which at all times must be governed by the phase reached in your training programme and your tutorís assessment.

(Insurance criteria)

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Page created 18 April 2008
Last updated 06 September 2023