Student Notes-Quality vs Quantity

A funny story from my student. Bear in mind she has not started to learn push hands or drills. At the moment she is still struggling to learn the form practically one move at a time.

The learning struggle is because learning Tai Chi is a lot more complex than learning Aikido which she learned for a short time previously. Though she also did 6 months of Tai Chi under another teacher it was not enough to prepare her for what I had to teach.

I was telling her one night how the way I learned was monkey see, monkey do when I started out. However, by the time I got to my last teacher the learning was drastically different. It wasn’t so much do as wait, understand the why and what before you begin to do.

So the way I would teach her is show a move, go through the principles and how they lead to the movements, how to check if the movement is correct. When the movement is difficult to catch then I would have to explain how it is used to give a better idea, perhaps even break the movements down into smaller chunks.

This was what I did for Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. One movement was how to move the arms. There is a way to move the arms such that you can use it to defend against a straight punch and get into a position of attack. So this is the background of this funny story.

Somehow or rather she was telling her other half about what she learned. So she demonstrated Grasp Sparrow’s Tail and he could not believe that all she learned in an hour of lesson was this one move.

Now I happened to know that he is a top dog in an MNC so I understand his concern. After all, if you are in management you would expect that if you pay X amount of dollars then you should get a certain amount of teaching in return because to most consumers more equals value. However, not being interested in martial arts I don’t blame him if he didn’t understand the difference between learning a lot in one lesson and not going home with a corresponding amount of skills and learning little but actually leaving with something.

To my student’s credit, despite her excuses of dumb blonde each time I shook my head at how slow she is learning, she stood up for herself. She didn’t try to show more form movements to justify the lesser amount of learning.

Instead, she asked the hubby to punch her. Then she applied the defensive movement and sent his punching arm off. She was elated that she could use the movement. This is a good example of how a determined learning attitude could help anyone, even a practically total beginner to Master Tai Chi Today.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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