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In a taijiquan class people are often required to work together.
Sometimes a more experienced student may help other people out.
Are they teaching?
Examples where no active teaching is taking place:
- students are shown what a mistake looks like
- they work with other students and look for that mistake
- a helper might assist in preparing the room or cleaning up afterwards
- they may greet new starters
- they may undertake responsibilities in class that exceed those of the average student
- a more experienced student performs exercises in front of other students and the junior students follow along
- this involves simply copying/imitating
The inexperienced student lacks the necessary knowledge-base to actually teach taijiquan.
Yes, they can effectively 'lead' a follow-me group, but this remains a far cry from teaching because the process is essentially passive.
It makes little demand on the student's knowledge.
Teaching is a dynamic process.
The depth of the teaching is determined by the knowledge-level and aptitude of the teacher:
- an instructor can perform all aspects of the curriculum skilfully
- they can observe, identify and correct faults
- easily comprehensible examples and illustrations can be provided
- a scientific approach demonstrating correct/incorrect methods is evident
- the basic principles of the Art are evident
- full differentiation is apparent
- martial skill is thorough and comprehensive
- questions can be addressed with relative ease
- the material is much more familiar (at least 10,000 hours of experience)
- 10,000 hours of continued improvement, insight and development
- a far broader degree of context and understanding is shown
- biomechanics, martial skill, The Tai Chi Classics and Taoism are intertwined
- adroitness with 36 Strategies, The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings is evident
- The Tai Chi Classics are the primary resource for highlighting the nature of the Art
- The Way and Its Power is frequently referred to and readily demonstrated
- Te is fully understood
- lessons concerning jing, 13 postures, neigong, chin na, shuai jiao, weaponry, self defence and meditation are all immediately to hand when teaching
- every aspect of every exercise, form, drill and application is fully understood
- the subtle nuances, the relevance, the interconnectedness of all things, the significance of the seemingly trivial
- a broader cultural and historical richness is evident
- complex physics principles are rendered straightforward, comprehensible and apparent
- applications look more like 'sleight of hand' rather than brawling
- the training is subtle, understated, with no need for aggression or competition, no need for reciprocity or validation
- a high-level communicator
- can cope with any question or uncertainty with a gentle ease
- possesses the ability to reverse-engineer/dismantle the Art
Teaching and not-teaching ultimately comes down to context.
An instructor understands taijiquan from a broader perspective; they know why things are done.
The student may know what is done, but they do not understand how or why well enough to be teaching anyone.
9 August 1999
Last updated 16 August 2017